Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

What Will Studying Filmmaking & Moving Image Arts Look Like in Fall 2020?

The Filmmaking & Moving Image Arts program views the upcoming fall semester as an opportunity for students to embrace the college’s ethos of deep learning by focusing on pre-production, animation or screenwriting as preparation for on-the-ground film production in the spring and into the next few years.

We intend for our classes to provide everyone, students and faculty alike, with new visual information and thoughtful, intelligent challenges. Classes for fall semester have been designed to help students build a strong scaffolding for their production work down the road. To this end we are offering a variety of options in theory and practice, screenwriting, producing, storyboarding, animation, and documentary planning and research.

Filmmaking & Moving Image Arts’ production spaces, labs and equipment will be available to students on campus and those who live locally - within the structures and guidelines set by the College and by each professor. Students working online will be guided individually in establishing production protocol within their specific environments. All efforts will be made to accommodate online students’ technical needs.

We are planning to hold hybrid FYS classes with the potential for in-person meetings for other classes where possible. Any face-to-face meetings will follow the requirements of social distancing and participants will be required to wear a mask at all times. Our students who will be on campus or have access to campus will also have the ability to reserve equipment and schedule time in our labs and the soundstage for individual work or for working in small groups with approved social distancing practices.

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Sarah Lawrence College’s undergraduate filmmaking and moving image arts program (FMIA) offers a vibrant, dynamic, creative incubator to ignite the imagination of the next generation of media makers. The program seeks to help students navigate the intersection of art and technology as they acquire the tools and skills of the discipline and develop their critical and creative voices.

Cognizant that not every student will graduate to be a writer, director, producer, or game developer, the program recognizes that—with the enduring power and influence of cinema, television, the web, and social media—students in all fields of study benefit from media literacy and theory and a deep understanding of the ways and means of media development and production. The FMIA program explores a broad scope of media making, including narrative fiction, documentary/nonfiction, experimental film, animation, cinematography, storyboarding, and directing actors, as well as editing, producing, screenwriting, writing for television, writing and producing for the web, writing for games, and game development.

Interdisciplinary work across the liberal arts is encouraged, and both formal and informal collaboration among the music, dance, theatre, writing, visual arts, and other disciplines continues to emerge and flourish.

Our program offers an intensive “semester-away” program—Cinema Sarah Lawrence—where students work on the development and production of a feature film shot on location in Nantucket, Massachusetts. We also offer exchange programs in animation with CalArts and study abroad opportunities in film in Paris, Cuba, and at the world-famous FAMU film school in Prague, among others.

Sarah Lawrence College offers state-of-the-art facilities for the FMIA program, including the Donnelly Film Theatre that seats 185 people and has a 4K digital cinema projector, an intimate 35-person screening room, a teaching/editing lab, a 1,400-square-foot soundstage, an animation studio, and a sound and Foley recording booth. Our equipment room offers Sony, Canon, Blackmagic, RED, and ARRI cameras, along with sound, grip, and lighting packages.

Recent graduates routinely have their work represented at some of the world’s most prestigious film and media festivals, most recently at Cannes, Palm Springs, and Slamdance. Graduates who choose to pursue advanced degrees are finding traction at the top film schools in the United States and abroad.

2020-2021 Courses

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

First-Year Studies: Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking

Open, FYS—Year

Nonfiction filmmaking is a tool and practice of observation. It has a way of starting out as a quest for truth and becoming a new way to be in the world—as a witness, a scholar, and an artist. During the course, we will hone our creative practice alongside building a foundation of practical, hands-on production experience. This art form requires an ability to both co-create and lead, to build relationships and practice humility as you honor your subjects. In this introductory course, students will be exposed to a wide range of nonfiction possibilities, particularly those opened up as we “decolonize the archives.” Screenings will also vary, tailored to the interests and questions that students bring to class. Each student will make several 1-2 minute, short exercises in addition to a 4-5 minute conference film. Finally, students will be asked to create a digital space where all of their work will live, learning how film is professionally distributed and innovating themselves as they lean into their own knowledge as digital natives. This course will have weekly conferences for the first six weeks; biweekly conferences thereafter.

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First-Year Studies: Finding Your Voice in Film—Narrative Fiction

Open, FYS—Year

This course will be an introduction to all facets of film production, from screenwriting through exhibition. The first semester will focus primarily on the art and craft of screenwriting, and students will emerge with a screenplay that they will then produce during the second semester. In addition to written assignments, students will produce several video assignments that will familiarize the students with the equipment and techniques of filmmaking. Students will form film crews from within the class and will learn the various roles on a film set. Students will learn some basic production management skills that they will then apply to the making of their own short films. This course will have weekly conferences for the first six weeks; biweekly conferences thereafter.

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Film and Television: Screen Story Narrative Structure

Open, Lecture—Spring

This lecture will explore and demystify screenwriting for contemporary feature films, television series, and hybrids, which are indeed the blueprints for the ubiquitous programming that has exploded across the myriad platforms and venues in the world of screened entertainment. Through screenings of films and TV shows—coupled with the reading and analysis of attendant screenplays, teleplays, and television pilots—as well as assigned readings on structural theory for the screen, we will delve into the divergence and convergence of screenwriting across a variety of media. We will ask: What is a feature film? What is a feature-quality movie that is premiered on one of the ubiquitous streaming platforms (that seem to proliferate daily)? Is it a TV film? Or a feature on TV? Rather than a TV series, is this material really a nine-hour movie? Or is it a three-hour TV series? How does story structure unfold in the feature-film realm and the television realm? How do the structures in film and TV differ—or do they? How does character intersect with structure? Cinema language, dramatic theory, screen dramaturgy, practical screenplay style/format, and cinematic and TV story structures will be plumbed, including sequencing, episodic, three-act, four-act, seven-act, teleplay, and the so-called character-driven form. This course is for students who love film and television and wish to understand the varied elements that create the narratives to which we are drawn. It is useful for emerging screenwriters, directors, storytellers, fiction writers and playwrights, and anyone who finds themselves laser-focused on a screen—be it a 70mm film image on an Imax® theatre screen or a digital video image on a 136mm iPhone®. The course format will include a combined weekly screening with a lecture, as well as biweekly group conferences.

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Sonic Experiments: Listening and Queer Worldmaking

Open, Seminar—Fall

This is a two credit non-conference seminar class. Students in this course will have access to check out equipment through the Audio Visual department. Students will not have access to Filmmaking program equipment or spaces.

Sound studies is a burgeoning field of research, which has attracted critical attention across multiple disciplines—music, history, cultural studies, urban studies, science and technology studies, and environmental studies. By reorienting ourselves vis-a-vis our sense of hearing, we will explore how sound offers a mode of knowing attuned to different sonic registers of the everyday. This course will offer an introduction to diverse theories and practices of sound, with special attention to critical race theory, feminism, queer and trans theory, and global studies. How do we listen to voices unheard? How do we engage experiences of pleasure, repression, rage, and isolation that lie beyond dominant language? How do marginalized groups build communities through voice, sound, performance? Throughout the semester, we will explore the works of queer, trans, and indigenous intellectuals and artists of color (Fred Moten, Wu Tseng, José Esteban Muñoz, Gloria Anzaldúa, Rebecca Belmore, Tavia Nyong’o), as well as produce our own audio pieces. No prior experience in recording and editing is required.

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2D Animation: Short Narratives

Open, Seminar—Year

Instructor: Robin Starbuck, fall; Scott Duce, spring.

In this class, students develop frame-by-frame animation and short-storytelling skills by focusing on the process of creating animated exercises and shorts. Instruction includes story development, visualization, character, continuity, timing, digital drawing, rotoscoping, and compositing. All of the production steps required to complete a short, animated film are demonstrated and applied, in the fall, through exercises that aim at the production of a final short, animated film by each student, or team of students, in the spring semester. Participants will develop and refine their personal style through exercises in story design and animation fundamentals directed at translating ideas into moving images. Digitally-drawn images (with the option to include live action and photographs) will be assembled in sync to sound. Compositing exercises cover a wide range of motion-graphic features, including: green screen, keyframing, timeline effects, 2D and 3D space, layering, and lighting. Working in frame-by-frame animation, students will be provided with a strong working knowledge of Harmony Premier, a creative, efficient, digital software used in the film and TV animation industry. The method of working for students includes digital drawing on a student’s own computer or digital tablet. The teaching system for this as an online course includes small (3-4 students) online group meetings, alternated with one-on-one individual conference meetings with the professor. This system allows students to form community groups while also providing each person with the opportunity to progress according to their own creative interests. If the class meets on campus, we will continue with class meetings and individual conferences. Students must have access to an internet connection and a reliable computer able to handle media software. Course requirements: 1T (min.) media external hard drive and a digital drawing tablet. Software and online meeting system TBA. No prior drawing or animation experience is necessary. 

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Character Design

Open, Seminar—Fall

This course focuses on the concepts of animated motion, drawing form, and character design development as a pre-production stage to animation. Students will gain knowledge in drawing by engaging with formal spatial concepts in order to create fully realized characters both visually and conceptually. Through the development of character boards, model sheets, beat boards, and scale boards, students will draw and conceptualize human, animal, mechanical, and hybrid figures. Students will research characters in their visual, environmental, psychological, and social aspects to establish a full understanding of characterization. Both hand-drawn materials and digital drawing will be used throughout the semester. Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, and Final Cut Pro software can be utilized for character boards, model sheets, and walk-cycle animatics. Students will produce work on their own and engage in both online individual reviews with the professor and group online meetings. Online methods of working for students will include digital drawing on their computer, iPad, digital tablet, or iPhone. Traditional drawings on paper will also be produced, with students photographing or scanning works into a digital format to be reviewed and critiqued through the class online connection. The final project for this course will include a concept-based, fully developed, multicharacter animatic. Knowledge from this course can be used to create and enhance animations, to establish a character outline for an interactive media project, or to help in developing a cast of characters for a graphic novel or narrative film. Preferred software: Storyboard Pro, Harmony, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X. Alternative Software: Procreate, Clip Studio Paint, ibis Paint, Adobe Fresco, Rough Animator, Pencil2D. Review software: Online meeting system TBA, Drop Box, and Sync Sketch.

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Storyboarding for Film and Animation

Open, Seminar—Fall

This is a three credit non-conference seminar class.

This course focuses on the art of storyboard construction as the preproduction stage for graphics, film/video, and animation. Students will be introduced to storyboard strategies, exploring visual concepts such as shot types, continuity, pacing, transitions, and sequencing into visual communication. Both classical and experimental techniques for creating storyboards will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on production of storyboard drawings, both by hand and digitally, to negotiate sequential image development and to establish shot-by-shot progression, staging, frame composition, editing, and continuity in film and other media. Instruction will concentrate primarily on drawing from thumbnail sketches through final presentation storyboards and animatics. The final project for the class will be the production by each student of a full presentation storyboard and a low-res animatic in a combined visual, audio, and text presentation format. Knowledge of storyboards and animatics from this class can be used for idea development and presentation of your project to collaborators, pitching projects, professional agencies, and, most importantly, for you, the maker. Students will produce work on their own and engage in both online individual reviews with the professor and in group online meetings. Online methods of working will include digital drawing on the student’s own computer, iPad, digital tablet, or iPhone. Traditional drawings on paper will also be produced, with students photographing or scanning works into a digital format to be reviewed and critiqued through the class online connection. Preferred software: Storyboard Pro, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X. Alternative Software: Procreate, Storyboard Animator, Storyboard Fountain, Storyboarder. Review Software: Online Meeting TBA, Drop Box, and Sync Sketch.

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Producing for Film and Television

Open, Seminar—Fall

What is a producer? Producers are credited on every film, television show, and media project that is made. Producers are crucial—even seminal—to each and every production, no matter how big or small. Yet, even as a pivotal position in the creative and practical process of making a film, TV show, documentary, animated, or digital project, the title “producer” is perhaps the least understood of all of the collaborators involved. This course demystifies and answers that mystery, examining what a producer actually does in the creation of screen-based media and the many hats that one or a small army of producers may wear at any given time. Students will explore the role of the producer in the filmmaking, television, documentary, animation, and digital content-creation process from the moment of creative inspiration through development, production, postproduction, and project delivery. Students will gain production management skills through learning nuts-and-bolts production software exercises, breaking down projects into production elements, creating script breakdowns, schedules and budgets, writing loglines, synopses and treatments, exploring script coverage, and delivering final class-project presentations. The course provides step-by-step, real-world producing guidance and offers filmmakers, screenwriters, directors, and creators a window into the importance of—and mechanics pertaining to—the producing discipline, as well as a practical skill set for creating and seeking work in the filmmaking, TV, documentary, animation, and digital content world. Software labs are required. This course will be delivered via a combination of instructional methods, including synchronous live interactive weekly online classes, assigned weekly readings, asynchronous film viewing, prerecorded presentations, self-tape video assignments, small breakout groups, seminar-style conversations with guests, written assignments, and one-on-one and group project conferences in real time.

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Concept Art

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course will explore the preproduction aspects of animation concept development. Students will gain knowledge in character development, background environments, object and prop design, flora and fauna, scene building, color keys, aerial mapping, and techniques for digital painting. Through the development of scene paintings, model sheets, and animatics, students will draw and conceptualize spaces, characters, and props that are visually harmonious and consistent in form and function. Students will research and produce narrative outlines that include visual and environmental components to establish a full understanding of an animated project. Both hand-drawn materials and digital drawing will be used throughout the semester. Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, and Final Cut Pro software will be utilized for character design, background paintings, and concept presentation animatics. The final project for this course will include a fully developed, multicharacter/environment animatic. Knowledge from this course can be used to create and enhance an animation portfolio, establish a concept outline for an interactive media project, and help in developing a cast of characters and environments for a graphic novel or an animated film. Software: Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, Harmony, and Final Cut Pro X.

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The Creative Business of Film, TV, and Digital Media

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

This course expands on students’ knowledge of filmmaking and digital media, focusing on the importance of, and involvement in, the creative and business roles of producing entertainment. Framed on real-world film and TV producer experience, this course will help students understand best producing practices; understand the roles that lawyers, agents, managers, and sales agents play in a project; learn about networking, representation, marketing, and the best ways to get their work “out there”; learn how to navigate the film festival and exhibition circuit; learn how to prepare their project materials, including press kits, trailers, and key art for presentation; as well as prepare themselves for a career in film, television, and/or digital media. This course examines the intersection of art and commerce and how to navigate both while creating any artistic work. Students will bring in projects and work in a collaborative and guided environment to create the materials needed to move their projects to the next level. Course work includes written and verbal assignments, class presentations, assignments based on invited industry guests, and final presentations. Students should come prepared with a completed script, film, or project on which they want to focus for the semester. Upon completing the course, students will have an extensive understanding of the integration of the business and creative aspects of film, television, and digital media, as well as a further understanding of the producer’s role from creative development to final delivery.

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Writing for Directors/Directing for Writers

Open, Seminar—Year

When asked what advice he could give aspiring young film directors, Akira Kurosawa replied “…if you generally want to make films, then write screenplays….Write, write, write...” Indeed, though the roles can be separated, there is an expansive overlap of skills in writing and directing narrative fiction films. A good writer can “direct” a reader on the page, and a good director can “write” in imagery. This class aims to explore the interplay between writing and directing through a series of assignments, culminating in a short film that each student writes and directs. This yearlong writing and directing workshop will give students the basic skills necessary to produce a short film. Starting with writing the script, students will learn screenwriting formats and styles and workshop their screenplays until they are ready to direct. Students will then learn directors’ previsualization skills, such as storyboarding, creating shot lists, and drawing floor plans. Basic production management skills will be covered so that students can organize their films and be ready to begin producing their films in the second semester. Students will shoot several short exercises to learn the importance of shot choices and camera placement. First-semester shooting assignments will all be done on the students’ personal devices (phones, tablets, cameras, computer desktops) and then migrate to shooting on the school’s equipment in the second term. All work will be reviewed during the workshop, and students will learn to analyze and critique their and their colleagues’ work.

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Introduction to Cinematography: Fundamentals

Open, Seminar—Fall

This is a two credit non-conference seminar class. Students in this course will have access to check out equipment through the Audio Visual department. Students will not have access to Filmmaking program equipment or spaces.

The cinematographer plays a critical role in shaping the light and composition of an image and capturing that image for the screen. This introductory-level course will present the basic tools of lighting and film production. Students will explore cinematography as an art of visual storytelling and will investigate the theory and practice of this unique visual language and its power as a narrative element in cinema. In addition to covering basic camera operation and techniques, students will explore composition, visual style, and the overall operation of basic lighting and grip equipment. This course will include video tutorials and live demonstrations. In addition, we will explore the implementation of cinematography and lighting through the study of the short-film format. Students will analyze shorts before class and prepare weekly outlines for discussion. The outlines will include interpretation of the film, the use of lighting to emphasize and complement the narrative, followed by how the film was produced from the cinematographer’s perspective.

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Experimental Documentary: Theory and Practice

Open, Seminar—Fall

In this course, we will examine experimental documentary form as political/social/personal discourse and practice. We will take as a starting point avant-garde documentary cinema and explore it in the manner that theorist Renov defines as “the rigorous investigation of aesthetic forms, their composition and function, and the manner in which poetics confront the world.” This class will acquaint students with the basic theory and purpose of experimental film/video documentary, as compared to more commercial documentary formats, and will introduce critical methodologies that will help participants both understand the discipline of experimental documentary and establish aesthetic designs for their own work. We will survey a wide range of avant-garde documentary films and readings, from the 1920s to the present, and pair those with the student’s own film production. This course recognizes the importance of developing filmmakers being cognizant of the fundamental theories of experimental film, as well as their gaining corresponding experience in the basics of alternative forms of film production. Throughout the semester, students will produce a few experimental nonfiction shorts from several aesthetic approaches. Within this practice, issues such as whose voices are heard and who is represented become of crucial importance. This class will be equally balanced between viewing, reading about, and analyzing films and producing and editing short films with simple tools. The online class offers an opportunity for a rich engagement with experimental film forms while also allowing participants to produce nonfiction film exercises that examine issues of the world from both personal and more objective perspectives. The teaching system for the online course includes small (3-4 students) virtual group meetings, alternated with one-on-one individual mentorship meetings with the professor. That format will allow us to form community groups and also provide the opportunity for students to progress according to their own creative interests. Students must have access to an internet connection and a reliable computer able to handle media software.  If the class meets on campus, we will continue with class meetings and individual conferences. Course requirements: 1T (min.) media external hard drive

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Through the Lens: Visualizing and Creating Images for the Screen

Open, Seminar—Fall

This is a three credit non-conference seminar class.

This course will center on developing a visual framework toward the production and editing of an original short film, with a focus on cinematography. Students will pitch story ideas that will be developed and prepared to be shot by the end of the term. Topics discussed will include camera techniques, camera movement, lighting, exposure, filters, and interior/exterior location production. In addition, we will break down a script into visual elements, design a look book, and review the production process from script to screen as it relates to cinematography. Additionally, when available, online instruction tutorials and guest visits will be included as part of the preproduction process. Throughout the course, students will produce simple and practical lighting scenarios and will shoot location exercises with available resources. As a final project, students will produce a 3-5 minute short film with available resources or present a completed production book ready for production.

Experimental Hybrid Film: Video and Animation

Open, Seminar—Spring

Whether dealing with abstraction or narrative sequence, experimental films reflect the unique vision of their makers. Focusing on the concepts and practical study of hybrid experimental film, students will shoot their own footage, produce animations, and, if they wish, later integrate that with found footage. While most forms of animation serve the particular needs of commercial media, the inclusion of animation in experimental film has the ability to deconstruct an idea or movement and reassemble it in a new way. Through a series of short, independent, and collaborative projects, students will learn the techniques and materials necessary to explore a variety of experimental and animation practices and to assemble that work with live-action film/video. Students will work in both film and animation and learn to composite that material for the production of their work. The central focus of the class will be on concept development and material exploration for the completion of several short, hybrid films. A variety of frame-by-frame animation techniques in destructive and constructive animation—including object animation, motion graphics, and digital drawing—will be taught. Through technical instruction, discussion, screenings, and experimentation, we will seek to refresh and extend traditional modes of experimental cinema production. The aim of this course is to explore freely with materials in order to trailblaze fresh narrative and aesthetic possibilities. Final projects will be professionally crafted and may be executed as experimental films, animations, instillations, and/or video projections. Experience in film or animation would be beneficial but is not required. Course requirements: 1T (min.) media external hard drive.

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Cinematography: Color, Composition, and Style

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course will explore the roles associated with film production, focusing on cinematography and lighting for the screen. In addition to covering camera operation and basic lighting techniques, students will explore composition, color palettes, and application of a visual style to enhance the story. The semester will revolve around weekly exercises, followed by creating and producing original work. Work will be discussed and notes incorporated into the next project. Students will be required to produce a short project in addition to the work completed during class times, incorporating elements discussed throughout the semester, as part of conference work. Students will develop, write, shoot, edit, and screen a final project by the end of the term. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop that immerses the student in all aspects of film production. By the end of the course, students should feel confident enough to approach a film production project with the experience to take on introductory and assistant positions with the potential for growth.

Writing and Storytelling for Animation

Open, Seminar—Fall

Animation is a unique discipline within filmmaking. Often relying less on words and more on visual interpretations, animation offers unlimited conceptual possibilities for the creative screen writer. This course will focus on the creation and development of story, characters, and the multiple styles and methods of expressing a narrative in highly visual terms. The first segment of the course delves into the art of writing pantomime; creating scripts, outlines, and storyboards; and referencing legendary animated films that utilize wordless stories. From there, the class will move into defining music and creating stories within the framework of prerecorded media. We then progress into the various styles of scriptwriting, from voice over narration to interviews and finally to dramatic dialogue and writing for characters. Specific limitations and possibilities are discussed, mostly within the context of the differences between animation and live-action writing, as well as comparing structures of the short story, feature script, and serial script. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to explore a diversity of personal experiences, expressing stories that may not be traditionally heard or brought into a script and film format. By the nature of its inherent use of aesthetic and its ability to reflect the multitude of visual material and stories of this complex world, animation is particularly good at embodying diverse experiences and cultures. The art of animated storytelling is a conceptual and highly visual and personal exercise; therefore, throughout the duration of this course, I encourage students to accompany written work with visual references—whether photographs or drawings. The final project for the course will be to complete a fully developed script for a five- to 10-minute short animated film.

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Writing the Short Screenplay

Open, Seminar—Fall

The goal of this class is to develop, write, and workshop a short screenplay—up to 15 pages. Students will pitch stories in an open, roundtable process that will provide an opportunity for them to understand the potential and feasibility of their ideas. The class will explore the elements of screenwriting, including: story structure, character development through action (behavior) and dialogue, visual storytelling, and point of view in order to expand and deepen the writer’s narrative craft. We will schedule readings of at least three screenplays each week, followed by critique and discussion of the work. The course will culminate in table-reads of each screenplay, a process that allows the writer to hear his/her work read aloud by classmates/actors in each role, leading to a final, production-ready draft. For conference, students may choose between developing another idea for a short script or long-form screenplay. Those who need extra attention to make their in-class projects production-ready by the end of the semester may also receive that opportunity in conference.

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Introduction to Television Writing: Writing the Spec Script

Open, Seminar—Spring

The fundamental skill of television writers is the ability to craft entertaining and compelling stories for characters, worlds, and situations created by others. Though dozens of writers may work on a show over the course of its run, the “voice” of the show is unified and singular. The best way to learn to write for television—and a traditional component of your application for important career development fellowships and for your portfolio for agents, managers, show runners, and producers—is to draft a sample episode of a preexisting show, known as a spec script. Developing, pitching, writing, and rewriting stories hundreds of times extremely quickly, in collaboration, and on tight deadlines is what TV writers on staff do every day, fitting each episode seamlessly into the series as a whole in tone, concept, and execution. This workshop will introduce students to those skills by taking them, step-by-step, through writing their own spec (sample) script for a currently airing American television series. The course will take students from premise lines through the beat sheet, then outline, to writing a complete draft of a full teleplay for a currently airing show (no original pilots). The class collectively decides a handful of shows on which to work. All work will be based on that handful of shows, which will include comedies, dramas, and animated shows originating on broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms. If this course is held remotely, it will be taught live, synchronous, via Zoom or similar platform.

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Nonfiction: Developing and Writing the Documentary

Open, Seminar—Spring

As the universal human desire to tell true stories burns brighter within all of us than ever before, documentaries embody and deliver powerful dramatic narratives rivaled by the best of scripted media. As our world is rapidly changing, nonfiction storytelling is taking center stage. This course introduces the student to the adventurous and intriguing world of documentaries, both long- and short-form, from the earliest recorded masterpieces to today’s box office hits, while exploring everything in between. The course covers a wide range of documentary forms, styles, and storytelling techniques and teaches the critical steps needed to realize an idea. Documentary genres explored include portrait, family, inspirational, art, language, competition, political and social justice, and music documentaries. Students learn how to evaluate, define, and develop subjects and characters and to clarify themes and ideas while learning the craft of writing before, during, and after production. Vital skills include developing loglines, synopses, topic summaries, artistic and social impact statements, aesthetic approaches, interview questions, and compelling treatments. This course provides an overview of the process by which documentary ideas become documentary films, and students will come away with a firm understanding of how to shape a documentary idea into a format that can be directed and produced.

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Screenwriting Within the Lines

Intermediate, Seminar—Fall

Previous study in screenwriting is expected.

The landscape for the screenwriter has dramatically changed during the past several years with new opportunities to write producible short films, YouTube® sketches, and web series seen by millions of viewers, as well as long-form “films” or “movies” initially conceived for, and destined for, the “silver screen”—a screen that is seemingly changing in color, size, and setting on a daily basis. The disarray of the current film and television industry has created both confusion and opportunity. Nevertheless, the baseline expectation in the contemporary narrative “screen form” of storytelling still remains: It is the expression of a character or characters progressing through a structured journey or series thereof. Elemental to this process is having your audience believe your characters, believe the universe that they inhabit, and find “truth” in the screen story that you’ve created. In life and in film, we laugh, we cry, we cringe, we shield our eyes, and we stare in wonder when we see and feel the truth. It’s ironic that in our quest to create dramatic fiction, we must actually “tell the truth.” Designed for the emerging contemporary screenwriter and director, this course includes opportunities for those creating a new idea; adapting original material into the screenplay form; rewriting a screenplay, teleplay or web series; or finishing a screenplay-in-progress destined for whatever screen or screens the writer aims to assail. A review of screenwriting fundamentals during the first few weeks, as well as a discussion of the state of each project, will be followed by an intense online screenwriting workshop experience. Published screenplays, several useful texts, and clips of films, television series and web series will form a body of examples to help concretize aspects of the art and craft. There will also be individual, one-on-one, on-line conferences with the professor. Students must have access to a reliable internet connection, a computer with a web-cam, and the ability to use a designated online learning management system (TBA).

 

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Advanced Projects in Writing for the Screen

Advanced, Seminar—Spring

This class is for the serious, advanced screenwriter. Consideration for entry requires a writer’s statement about the project(s) you wish to pursue, a list of courses taken, and screenwriting experience, as well as a five-page screenwriting sample. The class will be devoted to conceptualizing/reconceptualizing, developing/redeveloping and structuring/restructuring your project, naturally depending upon your starting point. The class will then be devoted to completing a first draft and polishing the project. For those choosing to focus exclusively on short-form work, the expectation may include an additional short screenplay or an outline for another future script. The seminar, workshop, and conference structure will be devoted to this overall process. The candidate’s writer’s statement, list of courses taken, and experience, as well as the five-page screenwriting sample, must be emailed in advance of any interview to fstrype@sarahlawrence.edu, at which point an interview will be scheduled between instructor and student.

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Histories of Modern and Contemporary Art, 1860–1955

Open, Lecture—Year

This course is an introduction to modern and contemporary art from 1860 to 1955 and the first of two sequential surveys offered this year. (Students may take either or both.) What was modernism? And how did artists respond to a world ravaged by war, fascism, and imperialism? How did they engage or escape from industrial forms of life and explore shifting national, ethnic, and gendered identities? A central topic of the course is how the history of the Western avant-garde was also the history of colonization and cultural appropriation. And even as the course serves as an introduction to canonical historical avant-gardes in the United States, Mexico, and Europe (Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Constructivism, Vorticism, Dada, Surrealism, Muralism, the Harlem Renaissance, and Abstract Expressionism), we will also explore alternative modernisms—including so-called “outsider” art, queer modernisms, and modernisms in India, Japan, and Latin America. This course is an introduction to the discipline of art history, so students will gain a vocabulary for slow looking, learn the values of different kinds of writing about art (manifestos, letters, statements, poems, and art historical and theoretical accounts), and consider art in its social and political contexts. Lectures will offer a broad overview, and 90-minute weekly group conferences will closely investigate artworks by a single, underrepresented artist. Assignments will include visual analysis essays, weekly informal worksheets, brief reading responses, short Zoom presentations, and research essays on underrepresented artists. Students will have the opportunity to work with librarians to research and write new pages on modernist artists across the globe who are not represented on Wikipedia and upload them to that site. Throughout, we will be thinking about the kinds of assumptions and value judgments that go into deciding a modernist canon and how we can create and contribute alternative histories to the discipline.

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Programming the Web: An Introduction

Open, Seminar—Spring

This seminar introduces the fundamental principles of computer science via the use of HTML and JavaScript to create interactive web pages. Examples of the kinds of web applications that we will build include: a virtual art gallery; a password generator and validator; and an old-school, arcade-style game. We will learn JavaScript programming from the ground up and demonstrate how it can be used as a general-purpose, problem-solving tool. Throughout the course, we will emphasize the power of abstraction and the benefits of clearly written, well-structured code. We will cover variables, conditionals, loops, functions, arrays, objects, and event handling. We will also discuss how JavaScript communicates with HyperText Markup Language (HTML) via the Document Object Model (DOM) and the relationship of HTML, JavaScript, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Along the way, we will discuss the history of the web, the challenge of establishing standards, and the evolution of tools and techniques that drive the web’s success. We will learn about client-server architectures and the differences between client-side and server-side web programming. We will consider when it makes sense to design from the ground up and when it might be more prudent to make use of existing libraries and frameworks rather than reinventing the wheel. We will also discuss the aesthetics of web design: Why are some pages elegant (even art) when others are loud, awkward to use, or, worse yet, boring!

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Composition

—Spring

Composition literally means placing materials (i.e., beings, both animate and inanimate), movements, actions, sounds, words, light, etc. with one another. Composition is the process of creating relationships, both between materials and within time and space. Various faculty members bring distinct approaches to the contemporary practice of artistic creation and composition. This course is taught in and through an embodied practice of dance, but the principles are universally applicable to any art form. Students will be asked to create and perform studies, direct one another, and share and discuss ideas and solutions with peers. Students are not required to make finished products but, rather, to involve themselves in the challenges and joys of rigorous play. This course is most appropriate for students who have already completed Beginning Improvisation.

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TBA

Guest Artist Lab

—Spring

This course is an experimental laboratory that aims to expose students to a diverse set of current voices and approaches to contemporary dance making. Each guest artist will lead a module of three-to-seven class sessions. These mini-workshops will introduce students to that artist and his/her creative process. Guests will present emergent, as well as established, voices and a wide-range of approaches to contemporary artistic practice.

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TBA

Lighting in Life and Art

—Year

Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation that allows us to see. Light’s qualities and its interaction with space have profound effects on the affect of an experience. We all know that the feel of a midsummer afternoon is not the same as that of a cloudy, gray afternoon or a subway car or a sunset or a night with a full moon. What qualities of light generate these disparate feelings? The art and practice of crafting light is the subject of this component. We will examine the theoretical and practical aspects of light in multiple settings. This will begin with a practice of noticing what we might typically ignore. From there, we will approach learning how to craft the conditions of light primarily, though not exclusively, within a theatrical environment. Understanding the historical conventions of theatre—in particular, those of theatrical dance in the United States—will provide a point of departure to begin to think beyond those historical conventions. Emphasis will be on learning basic lighting skills, including those of stagecraft. Students will collaborate with, and create original lighting designs for, the Time-Based Art works when such needs are appropriate to the artistic proposal.

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Time-Based Art

Open, Seminar—Year

This course is open to students with a broad range of interests and can function either as a component of a Performing Arts Third (in dance, music, or theatre) or as a two-credit stand-alone course.​

In this class, graduates and upperclass undergraduates with a special interest and experience in the creation of time-based artworks across various disciplines will design and develop individual creative projects. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and discuss relevant artistic and practical problems, both in class and in conferences taking place the following afternoon. Attributes of the work across multiple disciplines of artistic endeavor will be discussed as integral and interdependent elements in the work. Participation in mentored, critical-response feedback sessions with your peers is a key aspect of the course. The engagement with the medium of time will be the sole constraint imposed on the students’ artistic proposals. While, typically, many of these works might include embodied action that could fall under the discipline of dance, this course is open to any student who is interested in cultivating discourse across traditional disciplinary artistic boundaries, both in the process of developing the works and in the context of presentation to the public. As such, the inclusion of live performers is not a requirement. If students plan on making works including dance and are living on or near campus, they will have access to the dance studios by booking time in advance and following social distancing and PPE requirements. At the completion of the fall 2020 semester, all student works will be exhibited virtually in screenings and/or postings in an online platform.​

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Yoga

—Fall

This yoga class is designed with the interests of dancers and theatre students in mind. Various categories of postures will be practiced, with attention to alignment, breath awareness, strength, and flexibility. The physical practice includes seated and standing poses, twists, forward bends and backbends, traditional yogic breathing practices, and short meditations. Emphasis is placed on mindfulness and presence. This approach allows the student to gain tools for reducing stress and addressing unsupportive habits to carry into other aspects of their lives. Attention will be given to the chakra system as a means and metaphor for postural, movement, and character choices. The instructor has a background in dance and object theatre, in addition to various somatically-based practices that she draws upon for designing the classes to meet the individual needs of the class members. Virtual attendance is a requirement.

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Landscapes in Translation

Intermediate/Advanced, Seminar—Spring

This course investigates the multiple ways in which landscapes have been imagined, interpreted, physically shaped, and controlled in a variety of historical and contemporary sites. The literatures of environmental humanities, landscape design, and political ecology provide theory and cases. The first section, Cartographies, explores ideas of landscape in Euro-America, Southeast Asia, and colonial-era Africa. We examine how landscapes on a variety of scales, from “bioregions” to nations, are imagined, codified, and transformed through representational processes and material moves ranging from mapping to making walls. The second section, Visions, investigates how landscapes are imagined and embodied in fine arts and literature, as well as in garden and urban design. Readings draw on examples of landscape making and design in colonial New England, Indonesia, and other sites. We examine contemporary examples of landscape design in response to climate change, especially sea-level rise in the Netherlands, United States, Indonesia, and China. We also study reworkings of the urban landscape to integrate more productive, biologically diverse “fringes,” as well as rooftop farms and apiaries. The third section, Security-Scapes: Landscape Imaginaries and Embodiments, investigates the rise of “security-scapes” or “surveillance-scapes,” dating from slavery in the United States to the Department of Homeland Security in the post-9/11 era. Contemporary urban-design imaginaries and plans for “resilience” and “smart cities” are investigated. We draw upon websites, advertisements, and new scholarship in security studies, landscape design, and critical political theory. This course is open to students with developed skills in critical thinking and the analysis of texts and other representational forms.

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Contemporary European Cinema

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course provides an overview of major directors and trends in European filmmaking since the founding of the European Union in 1993. While the course strives both for geographical diversity and to highlight the most significant filmmakers working today, it is organized thematically rather than as a survey of directors or national cinemas. The major themes to be considered—borders and circulation, national and European identities, European (including colonial) history and its representation, and trends in film aesthetics (“slow cinema,” new forms of cinematic realism)—structure the course’s units; but, in many cases, films will treat several (or all) of those themes. An analysis of those broader dynamics will allow us to examine the intersection of politics, identity, and history in a rapidly-changing Europe and to consider the question of whether “Europe” itself can be demarcated as a specific cultural space within the context of an increasingly borderless, globalized culture. Directors to be studied include Michael Haneke, Béla Tarr, Claire Denis, Alice Rohrwacher, Steve McQueen, and Fatih Akin.

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Sonic Experiments: Listening and Queer Worldmaking

Open, Seminar—Fall

This is a two credit non-conference seminar class.

Sound studies is a burgeoning field of research, which has attracted critical attention across multiple disciplines—music, history, cultural studies, urban studies, science and technology studies, and environmental studies. By reorienting ourselves vis-a-vis our sense of hearing, we will explore how sound offers a mode of knowing attuned to different sonic registers of the everyday. This course will offer an introduction to diverse theories and practices of sound, with special attention to critical race theory, feminism, queer and trans theory, and global studies. How do we listen to voices unheard? How do we engage experiences of pleasure, repression, rage, and isolation that lie beyond dominant language? How do marginalized groups build communities through voice, sound, performance? Throughout the semester, we will explore the works of queer, trans, and indigenous intellectuals and artists of color (Fred Moten, Wu Tseng, José Esteban Muñoz, Gloria Anzaldúa, Rebecca Belmore, Tavia Nyong’o), as well as producing our own audio pieces. No prior experience in recording and editing is required.

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Shakespeare and the Semiotics of Performance

Open, Lecture—Year

The performance of a play is a complex cultural event that involves far more than the literary text upon which it is grounded. First, there is the theatre itself, a building of a certain shape and utility within a certain neighborhood of a certain city. On stage, we have actors and their training, gesture, staging, music, dance, costumes, possibly scenery and lighting. Offstage, we have the audience, its makeup, and its reactions; the people who run the theatre and the reasons why they do it; and finally the social milieu in which the theatre exists. In this course, we study all of these elements as a system of signs that convey meaning (semiotics)—a world of meaning whose lifespan is a few hours but whose significances are ageless. The plays of Shakespeare are our texts. Reconstructing the performances of those plays in the England of Elizabeth I and James I is our starting place. Seeing how those plays have been approached and re-envisioned over the centuries is our journey. Tracing their elusive meanings—from within Shakespeare’s Wooden O to their adaptation in contemporary film—is our work.

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Japanese Literature: Translations, Adaptations, and Visual Storytelling

Open, Small Lecture—Spring

No previous background in Japanese studies, literature, art history, or film history is required for this course.

This lecture course is an introduction to Japanese literature from the 10th century to contemporary fiction, and we will explore the connections between and among literary texts, translations, and visual adaptations—paintings, hand scrolls, performing arts, film, and manga. We will read selected works of Japanese literature in English translation(s), including early Japanese tales such as The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, The Tale of Genji, Life of an Amorous Woman, and modern novels and short stories by writers such as Shimazaki Toson, Hayashi Fumiko, Ota Yoko, Nakagami Kenji, and Murakami Haruki. With each text, we will examine other texts that are in conversation with these literary works and explore the content and forms of those conversations. In addition to the lectures, there will be weekly group conferences and regularly scheduled film screenings throughout the semester.

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The World According to Ariyoshi Sawako

Open, Seminar—Fall

No previous background in Japanese studies or literature is required for this course.

In this seminar, we will read a variety of works by Ariyoshi Sawako (1931-1984), one of Japan’s most talented storytellers in the last century. Ariyoshi’s novels vividly portray the lives of women in different historical moments, such as the dancer Okuni, the originator of kabuki theatre, in Kabuki Dancer; the wife and mother of Hanako Seishu, the first surgeon to perform surgery using general anesthesia, in The Doctor’s Wife; and a mother, daughter, and granddaughter whose lives reflect changes in modern Japan in The River Ki. Many of Ariyoshi’s works also expose social issues, such as The Twilight Years, her immensely popular novel on the challenges of caring for aging parents, and Compound Pollution, her environmental novel that brought greater public attention to the harmful effects of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Early in her writing career, Ariyoshi received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to study at Sarah Lawrence College, and we will also consider how her experiences at Sarah Lawrence may have influenced the directions she took in her subsequent writing. Ariyoshi’s literature will provide us with a lens to consider various topics, such as Japanese performing arts, history, gender, social issues, and translation. In addition to these readings, we will view some film adaptations of Ariyoshi’s literary works.

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Archive of the Senses: Evoking Communities Through Perception

Sophomore and above, Seminar—Spring

This course is designed for students with some familiarity with working in a variety of media and who wish to explore them further in relationship to our local communities. Progressing through a series of projects involving all of the five sense perceptions and a variety of material and media, students will explore what it means to use everyday technologies today. Each project will ask students to explore the nature of sensation and of mediated experience. What happens to us when we capture our sensory perceptions? How do media technologies influence our perceptions of the world? How do other kinds of diverse knowledge, techniques, or know-how that exist in communities come into play in relation to digital apparatuses? During the course of the semester, students will have the opportunity to work with writing, sound, image, and procedural rhetoric as a way to experience public environments, as well as to represent individual and collective stories about them. Additionally, we will study a selection of media theories relating to a wider range of technological apparatuses inaccessible to our actual use (such as the electron scanning microscope or fiber-optic cable landing sites) in order to situate our projects within a larger, global framework. For qualified and dedicated students, course work may include volunteer work with a local community partnership.

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Art and Visual Perception

Open, Lecture—Spring

Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak. —John Berger

Psychologists and neuroscientists have long been interested in measuring and explaining the phenomena of visual perception. In this course, we will study how the visual brain encodes basic aspects of perception—such as color, form, depth, motion, shape, and space—and how they are organized into coherent percepts or gestalts. Our main goal will be to explore how the study of visual neuroscience and art can inform each other. One of our guides in these explorations will be the groundbreaking gestalt psychologist Rudolf Arnheim, who was a pioneer in the psychology of art. The more recent and equally innovative text by the neuroscientist Eric Kandel, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science, will provide our entry into the subject of neuroaesthetics. Throughout our visual journey, we will seek connections between perceptual phenomena and what is known about brain processing of visual information. This is a course for people who enjoy reflecting on why we see things as we do. It should hold particular interest for students of the visual arts who are curious about scientific explanations of the phenomena that they explore in their art, as well as for students of the brain who want to study an application of visual neuroscience.

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3D Modeling

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course introduces students to the process of constructing digital objects and environments within the virtual space of the computer. Emphasis will be on a strong grasp of form, space, and composition. Fundamentals of hard-edge and organic surface modeling will be thoroughly exercised, while further exploration of the digital tools will cover shading and texturing, lighting, and rendering with the virtual camera. Over the course of the semester, students will be challenged to create increasingly complex objects, environments, and imagery. Through intensive hands-on studio time, as well as through readings and discussion, students will also be encouraged to consider the conceptual ramifications of working in illusionistic digital space. Contemporary examples of computer-generated imagery in art, film, and media—juxtaposed with historical views on visual illusion from art and philosophy—will form a broader context in which to examine the medium.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio: Our Nine Senses

Advanced, Seminar—Year

This course is intended for advanced visual-arts students interested in working across disciplines and in more deeply pursuing their own artmaking processes. Students making work in and across painting, drawing, sculpture, video, photography, sound, new genres, and performance are supported. Students will maintain their own studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. During the fall semester, students will be given open-ended, exploratory prompts based on nine human senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, balance, temperature, proprioception, and pain) from which they will be asked to experiment with how they make work and will be encouraged to work within new mediums. In the spring semester, students will focus exclusively on their own interests and will be expected to develop a sophisticated, cohesive body of independent work accompanied by two group exhibitions. We will have regular critiques, readings, image discussions, and trips to galleries and artists’ studios and will participate integrally within the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for disciplined art students interested in making work in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Digital Imaging Studio

Open, Seminar—Fall

This course focuses on contemporary techniques for digital image manipulation with an emphasis on Photoshop skills, including imaging, retouching, and compositing workflow. We will cover proper use of adjustment layers, layer masks, retouching, and even design and basic animation. The skills covered will build a solid basis for further exploration and interventions within the realm of photography, illustration, and more radical digital experiments. While proper technical processes are emphasized, we will equally explore expressive use of the software, creating original, personal work through independent projects. The broader class discussion will emphasize computer-generated and -manipulated imagery beyond the basics of Photoshop as a driving force in art and media that now informs all imagemaking and reflects and informs our culture in general. Students are encouraged to explore the potential of digital tools within this greater context and that of their individual work and interests—visual arts-related or otherwise—stressing open-ended visual possibilities, as well as technical and conceptual rigor.

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Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Spring

Since the early 20th century, artists have explored performance art as a radical means of expression. In both form and function, performance art pushes the boundaries of contemporary art. Through this form of expression, artists have produced powerful works about the body and the politics of gender, sexuality, and race. This course surveys performance art as a porous, transdisciplinary medium open to students from all disciplines, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, filmmaking, theatre, dance, music, creative writing, and digital art. Students will learn about the history of performance art and explore some of the concepts and aesthetic strategies used to create works of performance. Drawing on historical and critical texts, artists’ writings, video screenings, and slide lectures, students will use a series of simple prompts to help shape their own performances. Artists and art movements surveyed in this class include Dada, Happenings, Fluxus, Viennese Actionism, Gutai Group, Act-Up, Joseph Beuys, Judson Church, Ana Mendieta, Gina Pane, Helio Oiticica, Jack Smith, Leigh Bowery, Rachel Rosenthal, Jo Spence, Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Terry Adkins and the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, Carolee Schneemann, Martha Wilson, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Lorraine O’Grady, Joan Jonas, Karen Finley, Janine Antoni, Patty Chang, Papo Colo, Paul McCarthy, Matthew Barney, Ron Athey, Orlan, Guillermo Gomez Pena, Narcissister, Annie Sprinkle, Vaginal Davis, Kris Grey, Carlos Martiel, Autumn Knight, Amanda Alfieri, Hennessey Youngman, Savannah Knoop, Shaun Leonardo, Francis Alys, Andrea Fraser, Tania Bruguera, Zhang Huan, Regina Jose Galindo, Aki Sasamoto, Pope.L, and many more.

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Photogrammetry

Open, Concept—Spring

Photogrammetry is the process by which, using specialized software, multiple photographic views of an object or space are analyzed and reconstructed into digital 3D models. These uncanny virtual recreations from the real world can then be used as digital props and environments in rendering, games, and animation projects. In this course, we will work with this exciting process, generating our own models and importing them into 3D software to edit, texture, and combine them into larger virtual scenes or export them as assets for games, visual effects, or other more experimental uses. We will work in both controlled studio environments as well as “en plein air,” with the ability to capture manmade as well as natural objects and spaces, subsequently generating their virtual doppelgangers in the computer and transforming their meaning as digital art objects.

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The Episode: A Course in Connections

Open, Seminar—Spring

This will be a course in the episode, a flexible way of putting together content—fictional or nonfictional—in this world or another. The episodes that we know best are streamed online. We also read them, often without noticing their form. They are different from chapters or short stories. We will start by introducing each other to our favorites. Then we will do enough exercises to catch ourselves doing something right and continue until we have six episodes that connect, not necessarily conventionally. These will be supported and critiqued in small groups, while weekly exercises get presented to everyone. This course is a sneaky way to get people to write and revise something long over time. Students can write fiction or nonfiction, for adults or children, and include poetry, songs, or drawings in their work. 

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Writing About the Arts

Open, Seminar—Fall

This class will examine and produce a range of work—from the journalistic to the critical, from the practical to the mystical—in the vast landscape of arts writing. We will write liner notes, catalogue copy for gallery shows, short reviews, long reviews, critical essays, and deep and subjective interior meditations on our experience of artists and their work. We will read broadly across time—possibly including, but not limited to, Samuel Johnson on Richard Savage, Wordsworth and Coleridge on themselves, Nietzsche on Wagner, Amiri Baraka on Billie Holiday, Virginia Woolf on Thomas Hardy, Thomas De Quincey on Shakespeare, James Baldwin on Richard Wright, Glenn Gould on Barbra Streisand. Mark Strand on Edward Hopper, Jean-Luc Godard on Nicholas Ray, Pauline Kael on Sam Peckinpah. Students should feel confident in their familiarity with one or two art forms, broadly understood, and should expect, along with the reading, to write several small and two large (8-12 pages) pieces. Conference work will comprise research projects on those artists or works of art, or both, that class members, in consultation with the instructor, decide are their special province.

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Ecopoetry

Open, Seminar—Year

In this poetry class—a yearlong school of poetry and the living world—we will consider the great organism Gaia, of which we are a part. We will read and write poems every week. We will ask questions: When did we begin to think of nature as apart from us? Why did we begin to speak of the animals as if we are not also animals? What are the stories and myths that have determined our attitude toward what we are and what we believe? We will read some of these stories and myths (myths of creation; Eden, the lost garden). We will read the long and rich tradition of poetry addressing itself to this subject, from the early indigenous peoples through the Zen monks and Wordsworth and right up through Gary Snyder to utterly contemporary poets writing right now. We will read books and articles that teach us about the other animals and living entities that we call plants and trees and planets and galaxies. Each student will research an aspect of the living world and teach the rest of us what they have learned. And we will write poems that incorporate that knowledge. We will read books of poems but also watch films, take field trips, and meet with each other outside of class in weekly poetry dates. By the end of the class, my hope is that each of us will have a greater understanding of the great organism that we call Earth and will create a collection of poems that engage the questions that our class raises: What is time? What is death? What is Eden? Where is the garden now? Who are the other organisms? How have we, as a species, affected the other organisms? How have we affected the oceans, the Earth, the air? How can poetry address the planetary emergency? Required for this class: intellectual curiosity, empathy, and a willingness to observe the world, to pay attention, and to write poetry that matters. This is a class for experienced writers, as well as for those who want to give writing poetry a try. All are welcome.

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