Peter de Sève has designed and illustrated cherished animated characters, including Sid and Scrat, from ‘Ice Age’. His illustrations feature in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Mulan (1998), A Bug’s Life (1998), Tarzan (1999), the four Ice Age films (2002-2016), Finding Nemo (2003), Robots (2005) and Hop (2011), as well as a variety of media formats i.e., The New Yorker magazine and children’s fiction i.e., The Duchess of Whimsey. His iconic characters have become part of popular culture internationally.

De Sève will be discussing his personal journey as an artist, as well as his experience in storytelling through illustration and animation. In the class, students explore “ordinary life” within an American context from the late 20th through the 21st century. The approach of the course rests on the belief that storytelling matters. Stories told in film, series, blogs, music and illustrations teach us about the nation’s past as well as the unfolding present. The class also learns about environmentalism and gender in the 1970’s and explores (dis)empowerment in the representation of disenfranchised groups. Similarly, the course delves into the constructions and consequences of media frames of the (dis)abled “other” in the study of Netflix series. Several theories, such as the “oppositional gaze” theory articulated by Bell Hooks, will be used to enrich understanding of power and privilege. In addition to Peter de Sève, the class will host visiting activists, artists and scholars who educate, inspire and lead civic engagement. Examples include Native American activist Cassandra Spade who will speak about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW) in Canada and the United States; Science Fiction author and Historian Prof. Dr. Faren Siminoff; dancer and artist Dr. Zeynep Gunduz and Professor Bill Kirkpatrick, expert in Disability Studies.