This course will focus on the songs, films, performances, painting, gender play and self-invention and reinvention of David Bowie as a source of creative inspiration. The course will, in part, take its shape based on the interests of the students who enroll in it. Bowie obsessives—you know who you are—are, of course, more than welcome. However, if you are new to his music and merely curious about how it might inspire your own creativity, your adventurousness, sense of wonder and willingness to take a deep dive into his work are all that is required.
We will listen to and discuss Bowie's songs, watch documentaries and performances, explore his influence across the arts and culture (very much including style and fashion), and engage critics and artists who have grappled with his work in meaningful ways. For those reasons, the course will be more improvisatory than strictly schematic—that is, we will follow various threads in Bowie's work as they emerge in our discussions and as our mutual fascination guides us. The goal is for us to achieve an understanding of his work that is as visceral as it is intellectual.
The class will do some analytic and critical writing, of course. But students who are so inclined will be encouraged to pursue their own creative work—which is to say that, in consultation with the instructor, short stories, songs, poems, plays, paintings, photography or videos inspired by Bowie's life and music will be acceptable projects to complete the course's requirements. You will be allowed a great deal of freedom in charting your own independent course, in other words, as appropriate to our subject, who regarded his very life as a work of art under endless, restless revision.