What mask do you wear?
First-Year Odyssey class explores how tradition and masks intersect in modern society.
Masks have several uses in modern society. They can be worn over the face of a child preparing to trick or treat with friends, as shield of protection for soldiers going into battle or over the face of an actor, paying tribute to an ancient Greek play.
Regardless of their use, masks conceal the identity of the individual who wears it. It protects them from the scrutiny of onlookers and allows a freedom that self-confidence and pride cannot emulate.
T. Anthony Marotta, a professor in the theatre and film studies department, has dedicated his life to the study of masks. He teaches a First-Year Odyssey seminar titled “Masks: Exploring the World and Yourself Through Masks.” This course, offered every fall and spring semester to UGA freshmen, is designed to “explore the world and the self with a remarkably revealing tool: the mask.”
Marotta conducts his class like most professors at UGA. His students watch films, read books and discuss their findings. However, unlike most courses, at the end of the semester, each student has the ability to create their own mask, a paper mache representation of the self. It can be the mask they wear with friends, family or teachers. It can be an actor or musician whom they connect with personally. Or it could be goofy with the purpose to scare their neighbors and hallmates. Whatever they choose, Marotta wants them to think about what their mask will tell the world.
One of the first exercises he has them complete is making a list of the 50 masks they wear in life. The exercise exposes students to how many overlapping faces they present to the world and why certain faces are worn with certain types of people. In class, they discussed how they felt about certain masks and why they were more comfortable in some and not others. The answers of each student touched on topics of social issues, diversity, inclusion and what it truly means to be accepted in life, and specifically, on UGA’s campus.
Marotta designed his class for this intended purpose. He wanted freshmen to have a better understanding of themselves and how they approach the world.
“I want them to gain confidence about the people they are and their public faces,” he said. By learning about oneself, these freshmen learn and see life differently. Introspection opens their eyes to diversity, social awareness and why people act the way they do.
Freshman year is a pivotal time in college. It is the beginning of adulthood and a chance for new students to explore the world, said Grace Zheng, who signed up for the course for this exact reason.
“This class allows me to explore the world. We are going to different places and studying different cultures in a very in-depth way,” said Zheng, a first-year health promotions major.
Some students, like Zheng, take the class looking for an interesting odyssey course. Others take it for a break in their schedule. However, the students agree, the greatest benefit they have received from this course is the overwhelming knowledge of self. They are more confident, more self-aware and better able to open up about the implications their daily masks have on their environment.
Masks free people from societal judgment, Marotta said. When people put on masks in everyday life, behavior becomes bolder because true identity is hidden. Like Clark Kent, people may look the same, but they have the ability to change the globe with the masks they wear.
- Samantha Kiett, UGA News Service
Other courses taught by T. Anthony Marotta
THEA 3500: Foundations of Acting
A series of group and individual activities are designed to develop basic acting skills. The course also includes exercises for the actor’s voice and body. Open only to theatre majors.
THEA 7511: Body Re-education
The course begins by diagnosing the individual’s accustomed use of the body, employing the theories of F.M. Alexander to examine alignment and conditioning of the body in neutral. Drawing from diverse vocabularies such as Feldenkrais, modern dance and contact improvisation, we explore the organic use of the body in motion.
Other interesting arts courses at UGA
DANCE 2620: World Dance Forms
Dance forms indigenous to specific regions of the world will be explored through movement, video and discussion. This course is designed to explore West Afrikan, hip-hop and house dance vocabularies and composition. The forms studied may be modified according to faculty expertise.
ARST 3120: Aqueous Media
This course covers synthetic media (acrylics), casein and water media other than transparent watercolor.
ARST 4420: Sculpture and Spatial Context 2
This class will result in construction of a fully realized 3-D maquette or full-scale sculpture beginning with drawing of objects, landscape, architecture and the human figure.
ARST 3420: Sculpture: the subtractive process 1
Direct carving in wood or stone.
ARST 3450: Intermediate casting in metal
Production of sculpture in refractory molds and sand casting, both representational and non-representational, with emphasis on aesthetic development and mixed media.
ARST 3710: Advanced Weaving
Woven structures on multi-harness looms.
FYOS 110: Animation
This seminar examines the creative techniques involved in three areas of animation: 2-D traditional, 2.5-D motion graphics and 3-D computer animation. We’ll discuss the principles of directing animated motion and talk about narrative structure related to animated films as short as 10 seconds to 90 seconds. Students will create simple animated examples of 2-D, 2.5-D and 3-D animation using digital software in the Theatre and Film Studies Dramatic Media Labs. Students do not need any previous drawing or computer experience.
MUSI 2040: History of Popular Music
Rotating subjects in popular music, drawing upon a wide variety of influences and ethnicities. Course content will be drawn from such topics as jazz, Hispanic styles and influences, folksong and American musical theatre.
WMST 4310: Gender and Music Video
Examination of music videos from the 1980s until the present. Music videos will be treated as texts from which we can glean cultural understanding as well as explore new ways of analyzing aesthetic communication and musical meaning.
ARHI 4590: Millennial culture and the inhuman: art and culture in the year 2000
Treating the millennium as a symbolic and literal event, this course considers how the idea of the year 2000 shaped culture both before and after the millennium’s ultimately uneventful passing. Special attention will be paid to the concept of the inhuman, as conjured in contemporary art, film, television and advertising.
ARST 1080: Three-Dimensional Design
Three-dimensional forms and space using various materials and methods.