Identity, Self-Discovery, and the Arts

Jenevieve DeLosSantos (Rutgers Early College Humanities Program)

Whether written, painted, or performed, art has long been a creative outlet for the telling of personal narratives. This interdisciplinary seminar will examine key artists who used their craft to fashion and work through the understanding of their own identity. Arranged thematically, the course will explore how artists mediate ethnic identity, personal trauma, gender politics, life transitions, and coming-of-age tales through their art. Topics will include artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, literary selections like Junot Diaz’s “Drown,” confessional poetry, as well as contemporary popular culture, like Lin Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hits In the Heights and Hamilton. Together, we will explore what constitutes identity, how one grapples with discovering and representing his or her sense of self, and how the arts can serve as a conduit for self-expression. Students will have the option of producing a creative work, or writing a short reflection paper on an elected case study.