I learned how to analyse images critically within a historic/cultural/political context. I learned plenty about the less-attractive sides of US history – notably, significant events that are remarkably close-to-home but get glazed over in history classes and media coverage (ex, “Desert Storm” and the massive problems underlying the prison system).
Ten years from now, I’ll remember the deep injustice of the prison-industrial complex and all its intricacies tied into race and class because, unsurprisingly, the good majority of my friend-group is composed of middle-class people who will likely never see the inside of a serious prison (since they can afford lawyers to defend their cases) and thus need not ever understand the inner workings of the incarceration treadmill.
I’ll remember that A Fistful of Dollars was shot in Italy and based off a Japanese movie. I’ve never watched anything by Sergio Leone, but Ennio Morricone writes good film scores and I’d always wondered a little at the non-American-sounding name being attached to a film so inherently American (but in course-end retrospect, less so).
I’ll remember Andy Warhol’s five minutes eating a hamburger in a starkly-furnished room, with New York sounds off to his left. A minute in of watching a man put processed meat and bun into his mouth, my brain decided it needed to assign a meaning to the experience, and by doing so, qualified it as art (semi-according to Hall’s essay on presentation and authorial intent).