Music

What Will Studying Music Look Like in Fall 2020?

The Music program will continue its tradition of providing students of all levels with a rich musical experience. A basic Music Third that consists of individual instruction (instrumental performance, composition, or voice) – the central area of study around which the rest of the program is planned – theory and/or history, performance and concert attendance will be available for five-credits to any interested student regardless of whether or not they are on campus.

In addition, certain individual components, including private lessons, will be available to non-Music Third students for 1 or 2 credits. See course descriptions for details.

In Fall 2020 music will have a combination of in-person and online classes. It is expected that First-Year Studies in Music will be conducted in person, with each student following the guidelines outlined by the College – wearing of masks at all times and practicing social distancing. For first-year students, transfer students, and those students who have access to campus, practice rooms and studios, including the Electronic Music Studio, will be open to students one at a time or in small groups of two to four. Masks and social distancing will be required at all times by any student or students using any of the music facilities. Students will be required to book the space in advance and will be responsible for cleaning surfaces, such as piano keys and music stands, with sanitizing wipes before and after each use. Use of the Electronic Music Studio will require the wearing of gloves to handle to equipment. Small ensembles, where each musician is able to play their instrument wearing a mask, may meet provided that they maintain six or more feet of distance. Larger studios, such as Marshall Field Room 1 or the jazz room, will be reserved for such groups.

Whenever possible, individual lessons and conferences will be conducted in person with both the student and the professor wearing masks and practicing social distancing at all times. In the case of voice or any wind instrument, students will stand behind a plexiglass panel at least 10 feet away from the accompanist and/or instructor. Only rooms that can maintain safe distancing will be used for in-person teaching.

Performance Ensembles that are not able to meet in person will take place through Zoom or another platform and become recording projects. These recordings, edited by electronic music students, will be posted on the SLC website and the Music Soundcloud page. Vocal recitals or juries will also take place online.

For questions, please contact John Yannelli, program director, at yannelli@sarahlawrence.edu.


The music program is structured to integrate theory and practice. Students select a combination of component courses that together constitute one full course, called a Music Third. A minimal Music Third includes four components:

  1. Individual instruction (instrumental performance, composition, or voice), the central area of study around which the rest of the program is planned
  2. Theory and/or history (see requirements below)
  3. A performance ensemble (see area requirements below)
  4. Concert attendance/Music Tuesdays (see requirements below)

The student, in consultation with the faculty, plans the music program best-suited to his or her needs and interests. Advanced students may, with faculty consent, elect to take two-thirds of their course of study in music.

2020-2021 Courses

Music

First-Year Studies: FYS in Music

Open, FYS—Year

In this class, we will study the major styles and techniques of Western classical music. No prior knowledge of music or music theory is required. Technical and analytical terms will be introduced as we go, but students who have had some background in music theory will be able to do more advanced work in conferences. The material will range from the music of the Middle Ages to the present day. Musical works will be examined in detail, as well as in the context of various other issues: What was the role of art in society? How did music relate to the other arts? What social and economic issues affected the dissemination of music? What role does history and interpretation play in our understanding of music? Students will meet for weekly conferences during the first six weeks of the semester and every two weeks thereafter.

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Introduction to Electronic Music and Music Technology

Open, FYS—Year

Permission of the instructor is required. First-year students who take this component as their FYS will have additional weekly conferences in the fall and biweekly conferences in the spring.  This course is also available as a two-credit, stand-alone, yearlong class.

The Sarah Lawrence Electronic Music Studio is a state-of-the art facility dedicated to the instruction and development of electronic music composition. The studio contains the latest in digital audio hardware and software for synthesis, recording, and signal processing, along with a full complement of vintage analog synthesizers and tape machines. Beginning students will start with an introduction to the equipment, basic acoustics, and principles of studio recording; signal processing; and a historical overview of the medium. Once students have acquired a certain level of proficiency with the equipment and material—usually by the second semester—focus will be on preparing compositions that will be heard in concerts of electronic music, student composers’ concerts, music workshops, and open concerts.

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The Beatles

Open, 3-credit seminar—Fall

This course may also be taken as a semester-long component.

The impact of The Beatles has been immeasurable. In their seven years as a recording band, they explored and enlarged every aspect of songwriting technique, producing one musical milestone after the next. This class will trace the development of The Beatles chronologically through their 12 original English albums and the singles that were released alongside them. We will focus on the ways in which The Beatles used harmony, phrase structure, rhythm, structural ambiguity, and sonority in continuously innovative ways. We will also look at some of the of musical styles and cultural phenomena that The Beatles assimilated and transformed, from early rock & roll, Motown, and The Goon Show to 1960s counterculture, and explore how The Beatles, in turn, influenced music and culture in the 1960s. There will also be guest-led discussions by other members of the music faculty on the following topics: The Beatles and the evolution of studio recording; the use of electronic music techniques (Yannelli); Norwegian Wood and the great sitar explosion (Higgins); electric guitar techniques (Alexander); and acoustic guitar techniques (Anderson).

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The Music of Russia

Open, 3-credit seminar—Spring

This course may also be taken as a semester-long component.

This course will survey the great contributions to Western music by Russian composers, from the first half of the 19th century to the end of the Soviet era and beyond. We will study these works in the context of the important historical events and intellectual movements that galvanized Russian artists: the desire to find the appropriate expression of Russian identity, the ambivalence toward the achievements of Western Europe, the ideals of civic responsibility, the aestheticism of the later 19th century, the Russian Revolution, and the repressions of Soviet society. Composers to be studied include Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Gubaidulina. We will end the course with a look at of some of the emigré composers—such as Stravinsky, who composed his most Russian works for non-Russian audiences.

 

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Music and the Romantic Imagination

Open, 3-credit seminar—Fall

This course may also be taken as a component of a Music Third.

This course will examine a broad range of musical works from the 19th century, including symphonies by Beethoven, Berlioz, Tschaikovsky, and Mahler; song cycles by Schubert and Schumann; piano music by Mendelssohn, Wieck, Chopin, and Liszt; chamber music by Brahms and Franck; and operas by Verdi, Wagner, Bizet, and Mussorgski. Our primary focus will be on attentive and analytical listening. We will also draw on a variety of documents and secondary literature to try to understand the development of the major romantic genres and music traditions in the context of important societal and artistic forces of their time. We will include consideration of the changing image of the composer, music as autobiographical expression, nationalism, folklore and mythology, music for domestic performance, public concert life, virtuosity, and the role that literature and art had in providing inspiration to musical compositions. Course requirements include listening and reading assignments, class participation, in-class essay exams, and a presentation. Students who take this course as a seminar will also complete a term paper. While there will be no conferences, occasional individual consultations will help to shape the presentations and papers.

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Transformation Sounds: Ethnomusicology and Social Change

Open, Seminar—Fall

This course may be counted as either humanities or social science credit. This course also may be taken as a semester-long component.

This course features the interdisciplinary study of music and culture by focusing on the role of music in social change. Why is music so important to social movements? How is music used to both challenge and support certain ideologies and institutions of power? How have governments used music to build national solidarity, and how have activists used it to incite change? How can we relate these phenomena to our own experiences with music in daily life? We will explore answers to these questions through historical and ethnographic literatures and learn about the diverse settings in which music and politics intersect. The course presents some theoretical foundations of music, self, and society and then examines music and politics in specific contexts. Class sessions will explore topics such as American spirituals during slavery and emancipation, Islamic political movements in Iran, and the role of music and sound in the Occupy Wall St. and Black Lives Matter movements. We will learn the many ways in which music becomes a resource for modeling the kind of social and political transformations that people hope to create in their communities or nations. For example, we will observe governments’ and citizens’ musical appropriations and reappropriations and will trace the ways in which groups often claim and adapt a single musical genre to differing ends. In addition, we will analyze musical responses to Covid-19 to better understand the varied experiences of people around the world. Throughout the course, we will listen to and discuss numerous musical examples and gain familiarity with the musical genres that we study. Class sessions will be devoted to discussing readings from a wide range of fields, including ethnomusicology, anthropology, history, and sociology. This course may be modified for an online format, if necessary. No prior experience in music is necessary. Participation in the Solkattu Ensemble (Indian vocal percussion) is strongly encouraged.

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Music, Structure, and Power: Theories of Musical Meaning

Open, Lecture—Spring

This course may be counted as either humanities or social science credit. This course may also be taken as a semester-long component. No prior experience in music is necessary.

How do we listen to unfamiliar music? What ideas, principles, and ideologies influence how we hear? What do the sounds of music tell us about society? This course explores the practice of music theory and the search for musical meaning with examples from around the world. We will describe unfamiliar music and then understand it, using various attempts to translate its meaning. Course themes include musical and cultural difference, the relativism of musical perception, structuralist approaches to music theory, the politics of representation, decolonizing music history, and others. Course units will draw from varied ethnographic case studies from ethnomusicology and anthropology and may include examples from India, Indonesia, China, East Africa, West Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. Class sessions of this course may be modified for an online format, if necessary. Participation in the Faso Foli (West African percussion) ensemble is strongly encouraged.

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Guitar Class

Faculty recommendation required.

This course is for beginning acoustic or electric guitar students.

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Keyboard Lab

Placement arranged by the piano faculty.

This course is designed to accommodate beginning piano students, who take the Keyboard Lab as the core of their Music Third. This instruction takes place in a group setting with eight keyboard stations and one master station. Students will be introduced to elementary keyboard technique and simple piano pieces.

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Studio Class

Placement audition required.

The Studio Class is a beginning course in basic vocal technique. Each student’s vocal needs are met within the structure and content of the class.

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Theory I: Materials of Music

This course is a prerequisite to the Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition and Advanced Theory sequence. This course will meet twice each week (two 90-minute sessions).

In this introductory course, we will study elements of music such as pitch, rhythm, intensity, and timbre. We will see how they combine in various musical structures and how those structures communicate. Studies will include notation and ear training, as well as theoretical exercises, rudimentary analyses, and the study of repertoire from various eras of Western music.

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Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition

The materials of this course are prerequisite to any Advanced Theory course. Survey of Western Music is required for all students taking Theory II who have not had a similar history course.

As a skill-building course in the language of tonal music, this course covers diatonic harmony and voice leading, elementary counterpoint, and simple forms. Students will develop an understanding through part writing, analysis, composition, and aural skills.

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Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Analysis

Prerequisite: successful completion of the required theory sequence or an equivalent background

This course will focus on the analysis of tonal music, with a particular emphasis on chromatic harmony. Our goal will be to quickly develop basic understanding and skill in this area and then refine them in the analysis of complete movements and works. Our repertoire will range from Bach to Brahms, and we will try to incorporate music that class participants might be studying in their lessons or ensembles.

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Advanced Theory: Jazz Theory and Harmony

Prerequisite: Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition

This course will study the building blocks and concepts of jazz theory, harmony, and rhythm. This will include the study of the standard modes and scales, as well as the use of melodic and harmonic minor scales and their respective modals systems. It will include the study and application of diminished and augmented scales and their role in harmonic progression, particularly the diminished chord as a parental structure. An in-depth study will be given to harmony and harmonic progression through analysis and memorization of triads, extensions, and alterations, as well as substitute chords, reharmonization, and back cycling. We will look at polytonality and the superposition of various hybrid chords over different bass tones and other harmonic structures. We will study and apply all of the above to their characteristic and stylistic genres, including bebop, modal, free, and progressive jazz. The study of rhythm, which is possibly the single most important aspect of jazz, will be a primary focus, as well. We will also use composition as a way to absorb and truly understand the concepts discussed.

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Compositional Tools and Techniques

Prerequisite: Theory I or equivalent performance on the diagnostic exam.

This course will be an introduction to a wide array of compositional languages, primarily within a notated context. We will talk about a wide variety of harmonic palettes, including some examples of microtonality à la Ben Johnston and Alois Hába. We will explore various serial procedures, such as the “classical” serialism of Schoenberg and Webern, and the rotational ideas of Ruth Crawford Seeger and Stravinsky. We’ll discuss various methods for guiding improvisation, including the “diamond clef” compositions of Anthony Braxton. Rhythmic and metric ideas will be introduced, including asymmetric time signatures, metric modulation as pioneered by Elliott Carter, and rhythmic serialism as in the work of Milton Babbitt and Olivier Messiaen. We’ll talk about the potential uses of rhythmic and harmonic symmetry—as, for example, in the chord progressions of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. You will learn about these both through score study and through your own small compositional projects. As we jump from topic to topic, I will also have you practice increasingly complex notational mini-projects and will introduce you to the rudiments of orchestration for keyboards, strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. At the end of the year, you will have a broad range of musical languages with which to express your own personal voice; and you will have had considerable practice in communicating those ideas effectively.

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Advanced Theory: 20th-Century Theoretical Approaches: Post-Tonal and Rock Music

Open to students who have successfully completed Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition.

This course will be an examination of various theoretical approaches to music of the 20th century—including post-tonal, serial, textural, minimalist, and pop/rock music. Our primary text will be Joseph Straus’s Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory, but we will also explore other relevant texts—including scores and recordings of the works themselves. This course will include study of the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Pink Floyd, Ligeti, Bartók, Reich, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Corigliano, and Del Tredici, among others.

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Introduction to Electronic Music and Music Technology

—Year

See full course description under Lecture and Seminars.

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Recording, Sequencing, and Mastering Electronic Music

Permission of the instructor is required.

This course will focus on creating electronic music primarily using software-based digital audio workstations. Materials covered will include MIDI, ProTools, Digital Performer, Logic, Reason, Ableton Live, MaxMsp, Traction, and elements of Sibelius and Finale (as connected to media scoring). Class assignments will focus on composing individual works and/or creating music and designing sound for various media such as film, dance, and interactive performance art. Students in this course may also choose to evolve collaborative projects with students from those other areas. Projects will be presented in class for discussion and critique.

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Studio Composition and Music Technology

This component is open to advanced students who have successfully completed Introduction to Electronic Music and Music Technology and are at or beyond the Advanced Theory level. Class size is limited. Permission of the instructor is required.

Students work on individual projects involving aspects of music technology, including but not limited to works for electro-acoustic instruments (live and/or prerecorded), works involving interactive performance media, laptop ensembles, Disklavier, and improvised or through-composed works. Projects will be presented in class for discussion and critique.

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Survey of Western Music

This course is also available as a two-credit, stand-alone, yearlong class. This component is required for all students taking Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition and is also open to students who have completed the theory sequence.

This course is a chronological survey of Western music from the Middle Ages to the present. We will explore the cyclical nature of music that mirrors philosophical and theoretical ideas established in Ancient Greece and how that cycle most notably reappears every 300 years: the Ars nova of the 14th century, Le nuove musiche of the 17th century, and the New Music of the 20th century and beyond. The course involves reading, listening, and class discussions that focus on significant compositions of the Western musical tradition, the evolution of form, questions of aesthetics, and historical perspective. There will be occasional quizzes during the fall term; short written summary papers or class presentations are required in the spring.

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The Modern Concerto: Evolutions and Styles

—Fall

This course is also available as a two-credit, stand-alone, semester-long class.

This course will begin with the origins of the concerto form in the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras and will then explore the many -isms of the 20th and 21st centuries as they manifested themselves in that format. The course will function as both a history course—introducing the biographies of many composers, as well as the evolution of the most important stylistic trends of the modern and contemporary eras—and as a music literature course to acquaint the student with seminal concertos and unsung classics of the genre. In addition to the usual common-practice suspects, students will be introduced to the lives and works of Amy Beach, Dmitri Shostakovich, Unsuk Chin, Tan Dun, John Corigliano, Sofia Gubaidulina, Alban Berg, Giya Kancheli, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Philip Glass, and others. The evolution of many styles will be explored, including spectralism, serialism, microtonalism, eclecticism, minimalism, and brutalism.

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The Modern Symphony: Evolutions and Styles

—Spring

This course is also available as a two-credit, stand-alone, semester-long class.

This course will begin with the origins of the symphonic form in the Classical and Romantic eras and will then explore the many -isms of the 20th and 21st centuries, as they manifested themselves in that format. The course will function as both a history course—introducing the biographies of many composers, as well as the evolution of the most important stylistic trends of the modern and contemporary eras—and as a music literature course, acquainting the student with seminal symphonies and unsung classics of the genre. In addition to the usual common-practice suspects, students will be introduced to the lives and works of Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gloria Coates, Anton Webern, Galina Ustvolskaya, Amy Beach, Per Nørgård, Wolfgang Rihm, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, John Adams, and others. The evolution of many styles will be explored, including spectralism, serialism, microtonalism, eclecticism, minimalism, and brutalism.

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Jazz History

This course is also available as a two-credit, stand-alone, yearlong class. This is one of the music history component courses required for all Advanced Theory students.

Jazz music of all styles and periods will be listened to, analyzed, and discussed. Emphasis will be placed on instrumental styles and performance techniques that have evolved in the performance of jazz. Skills in listening to and enjoying some of the finer points of the music will be enhanced by the study of elements such as form, phrasing, instrumentation, instrumental technique, and style. Special emphasis will be placed on the development of modern jazz and its relationship to older styles. Some topics: Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, roots and development of the Big Band sound, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, lineage of pianists, horn players, evolution of the rhythm section, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, be-bop, cool jazz, jazz of the ’60s and ’70s, fusion and jazz rock, jazz of the ’80s, and modern trends. The crossover of jazz into other styles of modern music, such as rock and R&B, will be discussed, as will the influence that modern concert music and world music has had on jazz styles. This is a two-semester class; however, it will be possible to enter in the second semester.

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The Beatles

—Fall

See course description under Lecture and Seminars.

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The Music of Russia

—Spring

See course description under Lecture and Seminars.

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Music and the Romantic Imagination

—Fall

See course description under Lecture and Seminars.

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Transformation Sounds: Ethnomusicology and Social Change

—Fall

See course description under Lecture and Seminars.

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Music, Structure, and Power: Theories of Musical Meaning

—Spring

See course description under Lecture and Seminars.

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The Blues Ensemble

Audition required.

This performance ensemble is geared toward learning and performing various traditional, as well as hybrid, styles of blues music. The blues, like jazz, is a purely American art form. Students will learn and investigate Delta Blues—performing songs by Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Skip James, and others—as well as Texas Country Blues, by originators such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Chicago Blues, beginning with Big Bill Broonzy and moving up through Howlin’ Wolf and Buddy Guy. Students will also learn songs and stylings by Muddy Waters, Albert King, and B. B. King and learn how they influenced modern blues men, such as Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and pioneer rockers such as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix.

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Jazz Colloquium

Audition required.

This ensemble will meet weekly to rehearse and perform a wide variety of modern jazz music and other related styles. Repertoire in the past has included works by composers Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock, as well as some rock, Motown, and blues. All instruments are welcome.

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Jazz Performance and Improvisation Workshop

Placement audition required.

This class is intended for all instrumentalists and will provide a “hands-on” study of topics relating to the performance of jazz music. The class will meet as an ensemble, but the focus will not be on rehearsing repertoire and giving concerts. Instead, students will focus on improving jazz playing by applying the topic at hand directly to instruments—and immediate feedback on the performance will be given. The workshop environment will allow students to experiment with new techniques as they develop their sound. Topics include jazz chord/scale theory; extensions of traditional tonal harmony; altered chords; modes; scales; improvising on chord changes; analyzing a chord progression or tune; analysis of form; performance and style study, including swing, Latin, jazz-rock, and ballade styles; and ensemble technique. The format can be adapted to varying instrumentation and levels of proficiency.

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Jazz Vocal Ensemble

Audition required.

No longer do vocalists need to share valuable time with those wanting to focus primarily on instrumental jazz and vice versa. This ensemble will be dedicated to providing a performance-oriented environment for the aspiring jazz vocalist. We will mostly concentrate on picking material from the standard jazz repertoire. Vocalists will get an opportunity to work on arrangements, interpretation, delivery, phrasing, and intonation in a realistic situation with a live rhythm section and soloists. Vocalists will learn how to work with, give direction to, and get what they need from the rhythm section. It will provide an environment for vocalists to learn to hear forms and changes and also work on vocal improvisation if they so choose. This will not only give students an opportunity to work on singing solo or lead vocals but to work with other vocalists in singing backup or harmony vocals for and with each other. This will also serve as a great opportunity for instrumentalists to learn the true art of accompanying the jazz vocalist, which will prove to be a valuable experience in preparing for a career as a professional musician.

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Jazz Vocal Seminar

Audition required.

This course is an exploration of the relationship of melody, harmony, rhythm, text, and style and how those elements can be combined and manipulated to create meaning and beauty. A significant level of vocal development will be expected and required.

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Seminar in Vocal Performance

During the course of their studies and with permission of their instructor, all Music Thirds in voice are required to take Seminar in Vocal Performance for two semesters.

Voice students will gain performance experience by singing repertoire selected in cooperation with the studio instructors. Students will become acquainted with a broader vocal literature perspective through singing in several languages and exploring several historical music periods. Interpretation, diction, and stage deportment will be stressed.

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Solkattu Ensemble

—Fall

No prior experience in music is necessary.

Solkattu is the practice of spoken rhythmic syllables that constitute the rhythmic basis of many forms of Indian music. Indian percussionists, vocalists, melodic instrumentalists, and dancers use solkattu to communicate with each other in order to understand the rhythmic logic of Indian music. In this ensemble, students will develop individualized rhythmic precision and physical confidence, as well as group solidarity, through the practiced coordination of reciting patterns of syllables while clapping an independent rhythmic cycle. Using the voice and hands, students will internalize rhythmic relationships through physical embodiment by moving to progressively more complex rhythmic patterns and rhythmic cycles. Students with no musical background and musicians specializing in any instrument will benefit from the ensemble—all are welcome.

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West African Percussion Ensemble Faso Foli

—Spring

Any interested student may join.

Faso Foli is the name of our West African performance ensemble. Faso foli is a Malinke phrase that translates loosely as “playing to my father’s home.” In this class, we will develop the ability to play expressive melodies and intricate polyrhythms in a group context, as we recreate the celebrated musical legacy of the West African Mande Empire. These traditions have been kept alive and vital through creative interpretation and innovation in Africa, the United States, and other parts of the world. Correspondingly, our repertoire will reflect a wide range of expressive practices, both ancient in origin and dynamic in contemporary performance. The instruments we play—balafons, the dun dun drums, and djembe hand drums—were constructed for the College in 2006, handcrafted by master builders in Guinea. Relevant instrumental techniques will be taught in the class, and no previous experience with African musical practice is assumed.

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Baroque Ensemble

—Spring

Audition required.

This performance ensemble focuses on music from roughly 1600 to 1750 and is open to both instrumentalists and singers. Using modern instruments, we will explore the rich and diverse musical world of the Baroque. Regular coachings will be supported by sessions exploring a variety of performance practice issues, such as ornamentation, notational conventions, continuo playing, and editions.

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Awareness Through Movement for Performing Artists

—Fall

This course may be taken multiple times.

This course will offer a selection from the thousands of Awareness Through Movement™ lessons developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. The lessons consist of verbal instructions for carefully-designed movement sequences. The movements allow students to better sense and feel themselves and thereby develop new and improved organizational patterns. The gentle movements are done in comfortable positions (lying, sitting, and standing), and many performing artists have found them to be hugely helpful in developing greater ease, reducing unwanted tension and performance anxiety, and preventing injuries. Another benefit is the often increased capacity for learning and, perhaps most importantly, an increased enjoyment of performing and the creative process.​

 

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Bluegrass Performance Ensemble

—Spring

Though experienced players will have plenty of opportunities to improvise, participants need not have played bluegrass before.

Bluegrass music is a 20th-century amalgam of popular and traditional music styles, emphasizing vocal performance and instrumental improvisation, that coalesced in the 1940s in the American Southeast. Through performance, this ensemble will highlight many of the influences and traditions that bluegrass comprises, including ballads, breakdowns, “brother duets,” gospel quartets, Irish-style medleys, “modal” instrumentals, “old-time” country, popular song, and rhythm and blues, among many possible others. The ensemble should include fiddle, five-string banjo, steel-string acoustic guitar, mandolin, resophonic guitar (Dobro®), upright (double) bass.

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Beatles

—Fall

Acoustic Beatles. For singers and/or guitarists, this ensemble will take on any Beatles songs that work with acoustic guitar. Singers and guitarists of any level are welcome, as are singers who play some guitar and guitarists who sing. 

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Folk

—Spring

Folk and Folk Rock. This ensemble will cover the US folk-rock music movement from Guthrie through the hippies, including union songs and protest songs. Singers and guitarists of any level are welcome, as are singers who play some guitar and guitarists who sing.

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Chamber Music

This component will be taught by Ms. Mort and members of the Affiliate Faculty

Various chamber groups—from quartets or quintets to violin and piano duos—are formed each year, depending on the number and variety of qualified instrumentalists who apply. There are weekly coaching sessions. At the end of the semester, groups will have an opportunity to perform in a chamber music concert.

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Chamber Music Improvisation

Open to a limited number of students. Audition required.

This is an experimental performing ensemble that explores a variety of musical styles and techniques, including free improvisation, improvisational conducting, and various other chance-based methods. The ensemble is open to all instruments (acoustic and electric), voice, electronic synthesizers, and laptop computers. Students must be able to demonstrate a level of proficiency on their chosen instrument. Composer-performers, dancers, and actors are also welcome. Performance opportunities will include: concerts; collaboration with other programs such as dance, theatre, film, and performance art; and community outreach.

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Guitar Ensemble

Faculty recommendation required.

This class offers informal performance opportunities on a weekly basis as a way of exploring guitar solo, duo, and ensemble repertoire. The course will seek to improve sight-reading abilities and foster a thorough knowledge of the guitar literature. Recommended for students interested in classical guitar.

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Senior Recital

—Spring

Audition required.

This component offers students the opportunity to share the results of their sustained work in performance study with the larger College community. During the semester of their recital, students will receive additional coaching by their principal teachers.

Master Class

Taught by music faculty and guest artists

Master Class is a series of concerts, instrumental and vocal seminars, and lecture demonstrations pertaining to music history, world music, improvisation, jazz, composition, and music technology. Master classes take place on Wednesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in either Reisinger Concert Hall or Marshall Field House Room 1. They are open to the College community.

Music Workshops and Open Concerts

Music workshops present an opportunity for students to perform the music that they have been studying in an informal, supportive environment. In this class, participants will present a prepared piece and receive constructive feedback from the instructor and other students. Along with the specifics of each performance, class discussion may include general performance issues, such as dealing with anxiety, stage presence, and other related topics. Each term will consist of three workshops, culminating at the end of each semester in an Open Concert that is a more formal recital. The entire College community is welcome and encouraged to participate.

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Anatomy

—Year

Prior experience in dance and/or athletics is necessary. Students who wish to join this yearlong class in the second semester may do so with permission of the instructor.

How is it possible for us to move in the countless ways that we do? Learn to develop your X-ray vision of human beings in motion through functional anatomical study that combines movement practice, drawing, lecture, and problem-solving. In this course, movement is a powerful vehicle for experiencing, in detail, our profoundly adaptable musculoskeletal anatomy. We will learn Irene Dowd’s Spirals©—a comprehensive warm-up/cool-down for dancing that coordinates all joints and muscles through their fullest range of motion, facilitating study of the entire musculoskeletal system. In addition to movement practice, drawings are made as part of each week’s lecture (drawing materials provided), and three short assignments are submitted each semester. Insights and skills developed in this course can provide tremendous inspiration in the process of movement invention and composition.

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Anatomy Research Seminar

—Year

This is an opportunity for students who have completed a full year of anatomy study in the SLC dance program to pursue functional anatomy studies in greater depth. In open consultation with the instructor during class meetings, each student engages in independent research, developing one or more lines of inquiry that utilize functional anatomy perspectives and texts as an organizing framework. Research topics in recent years have included investigation of motor and experiential learning, development of a unique warm-up sequence to address specific individual technical issues, inquiry into kinetic experience and its linguistic expression, detailed study of knee-joint anatomy, and study of the kinematics and rehabilitation in knee injury. The class meets biweekly to discuss progress, questions, and methods for reporting, writing, and presenting research, alternating with weekly studio/practice sessions for individual and/or group research consultations.

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Ballet

—Spring

Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester with permission of the instructor.

Ballet students at all levels will be guided toward creative and expressive freedom in their dancing, enhancing the qualities of ease, grace, musicality, and symmetry that define this form. We will explore alignment, with an emphasis on anatomical principles; we will cultivate awareness of how to enlist the appropriate neuromuscular effort for efficient movement; and we will coordinate all aspects of body, mind, and spirit, integrating them harmoniously.

Faculty

TBA

Butoh

—Spring

This class is open to dance, theatre, and any other students who are curious and interested in discovering alternative approaches to body and movement practices.

In this class, students will engage in a series of somatic, improvisational movement and vocalization practices that reflect principles of butoh, Zen, and Noguchi Taiso (Water Body Movement). Through engaging in those practices, we will explore a way to liberate our body from a sense of self and from existing concepts of a body in order to realize unprecedented transformation and evolution of the body. Students will be descending a ladder into a well that is hidden deep inside the body and will keep digging the well until the water splashes out.

Faculty

TBA

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.

Faculty

TBA

Hip-Hop

—Year

An open-level course teaching and facilitating the practice of hip-hop/urban dance technique and performance, the class will examine the theory, technique, and vocabulary of hip-hop dance. The course will facilitate the student’s development and ability to execute and perform hip-hop/urban dance steps.

Faculty

Hula

—Fall

This beginning-level dance class is designed to introduce students to Hawaiian hula dance through percussion, song, and dance. Through demonstrations and movement participation, students will explore a variety of movements and learn basic hula terminology from the distinct and unique culture of the Polynesian islands. Students will design a storyline through the hula movements learned over the course of the semester.

Faculty

Movement Studio Practice

—Year

This course will be taught by various faculty, and there will be various levels of the course. Level 1 will be taught by Peggy Gould. Level 2 will be taught by Jodi Melnick and Angie Pittman. Level 3 will be taught by John Jasperse and Angie Pittman.

In these classes, emphasis will be on the steady development of movement skills, energy use, strength, and articulation relevant to the particular style of each teacher. At all levels, attention will be given to sharpening each student’s awareness of time and energy and to training rhythmically, precisely, and in accordance with sound anatomical principles. Degrees of complexity in movement patterns will vary within the leveled class structure. All students will investigate sensory experience and the various demands of performance.

Faculty

Music for Dancers: The Logic of Interaction

—Spring

This component will provide students with the opportunity to play a full array of percussion instruments from around the globe: African djembes, Brazilian zurdos, Argentinian bombo, Peruvian cajon and quijada, Indian tabla, traditional traps, and more. Students will also be able to program and execute electronic drums, such as the Wavedrum and Handsonic. The focus will be prevalent toward enhancing a dancer’s full knowledge of music but will expand the vocabulary for choreographers, actors, and composers, as well. The purpose of the component is to grant students the tools needed to fully immerse themselves in the understanding of the relation of music, dance, and the performing arts. Students will expand their knowledge of terminology and execution and will be able to learn the basic rudiments of notation. We will analyze the interaction of music from both intellectual and cultural points of view. We will learn how to scan musical scores with various degrees of complexity and explore the diverse rhythmic styles that have developed through time and through different geographical and social conditions. Classes will consist of group playing. All instruments will be provided and made available for practice.

Faculty

TBA

Performance Project: Rosas danst Rosas

—Fall

Fumiyo Ikeda, assisted by John Jasperse

In 1983, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker had her international breakthrough with Rosas danst Rosas, a performance that has since become a benchmark in the history of postmodern dance. Rosas danst Rosas builds upon the minimalism initiated in Fase (1982): Abstract movements constitute the basis of a layered choreographic structure in which repetition plays the lead role. The fierceness of these movements is countered by small, everyday gestures. Rosas danst Rosas, originally created in 1983, is unequivocally feminine: Four female dancers dance themselves, again and again. While the choreography will remain the same, this restaging in 2020 will be framed with a contemporary viewpoint on gender; students of any gender identity are welcome. The exhaustion and perseverance that come with it create an emotional tension that contrasts sharply with the rigorous structure of the choreography. The repetitive, “maximalistic” music by Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch was created concurrently with the choreography. This restaging of Rosas danst Rosas will focus primarily on the 2nd movement. The Fall 2020 Dance Program Performance Project, Rosas danst Rosas (1983) by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, is made possible with the generous support of the Barbara Bray Ketchum Artist-in-Residence Fund.

Faculty

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.​

Faculty

West African Dance

—Year

Students may enter this yearlong course in the second semester with permission of the instructor.

This yearlong course will use physical embodiment as a mode of learning about and understanding African diasporic cultures. In addition to physical practice, master classes led by artists and teachers regarded as masters in the field of African diasporic dance and music, along with supplementary study materials, will be used to explore the breadth, diversity, history, and technique of dances derivative of the Africa diaspora. Afro Haitian, West African, Orisha dances (Lucumi, Afro Cuban), and social dance are some genres that will be explored. Participation in year-end showings will provide students with the opportunity to apply studies in a performative context.

Faculty

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.

Faculty

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. 

Faculty

Beginning Italian: Viaggio in Italia

Open, Seminar—Year

This course, for students with no previous knowledge of Italian, aims at giving the student a complete foundation in the Italian language with particular attention to oral and written communication and to all aspects of Italian culture. The course will be conducted in Italian after the first month and will involve the study of all basic structures of the language—phonological, grammatical, and syntactical—with practice in conversation, reading, composition, and translation. In addition to material covering basic Italian grammar, students will be exposed to fiction, poetry, songs, articles, recipe books, and films. Group conference (held once a week) aims at enriching the students’ knowledge of Italian culture and developing their ability to communicate, which will be achieved through readings that deal with current events and topics relative to today’s Italian culture. Activities in pairs or groups, along with short written assignments, will be part of the group conference. In addition to class and group conference, the course has a conversation component in regular workshops with the language assistant. Conversation classes are held twice a week (in small groups) and will center on the concept of viaggio in Italia, a journey through the regions of Italy through cuisine, cinema, art, opera, and dialects. The Italian program organizes trips to the Metropolitan Opera and to relevant exhibits in New York, as well as offering the possibility to experience firsthand Italian cuisine as a group. By the end of this yearlong course, students will attain a basic competence in all aspects of the language.

Faculty

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.

Faculty

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.

Faculty

Studies in Ecocriticism: The Idea of Nature in the Western Tradition

Open, Small Lecture—Spring

As the capitalistic and predatory model aggressively promoted by the United States continues to reveal itself as a major threat for biodiversity and the environment in general, it is vital to explore and understand the concept of “nature” at the core of the Western tradition and how it was shaped over the course of more than 2,000 years. This course will create a series of bridges between and among the history of literature, philosophy, and science, with implications for many other disciplines. Most importantly, we will discuss the Western and Judeo-Christian concept of nature in the context of race and ethnicity in America today by confronting it with works and arguments developed by black, indigenous, Latine, and Asian American authors. Among many themes, we will study how antiquity came to develop a concept of “physis,” so different from our modern understanding of physics, but also shaped our aesthetic eye with the creation of the pastoral genre and the idea of agreeable and tamed landscapes or set a model for a utilitarian relationship to nature with Hesiod and Vergil’s agricultural treaties. We will also analyze specific places, such as the forest in medieval chivalric romances and American “wilderness” fictions, or chaotic landscapes admired and imagined by the Romantics, or the sea as depicted in Melville’s Moby Dick. The 17th-century scientific revolution and its mathematical and mechanistic approach to nature will lead us to discuss with Descartes the concept of animality in parallel with contemporary philosophers such as Deleuze and Guattari, who make use of models like the burrow or territoriality imported from the animal realm. Going into a completely different direction, we will question the characteristics of a Judeo-Christian conception of the world, organized around a remote and immaterial god, in direct opposition to a more organic understanding of nature as a “motherly” and immanent figure with all of the reservations that such a figure implies. These are some of the questions that we will explore, and the focus of our discussions will be to bring new voices in order to deconstruct the Eurocentric concept of “nature.”

Faculty

Interrogating God: Tragedy and Divinity

Open, Seminar—Fall

The Greek gods attended the performances at the ancient theater of Dionysos, which both recognized and challenged their participation in human affairs. The immediacy of divine presence enabled a civic body, the city, to enter into conversation with a cosmic one, a conversation whose subject was a shared story about the nature of experience and its possible significance: tragedy. Divinity is less congenial about playgoing in later periods, but it seems to have lent tragedy both a power to be reborn and a determination to address the universe even as Christianity, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and the Industrial Age reimagine it. In this course, we shall read essential Western texts in which the constant of human suffering is confronted and the gods are called into question even as they shift their shape. Among our authors are Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Goethe, Byron, Ibsen, Beckett, Susan Glaspell, and August Wilson.

Faculty

Wilde and Shaw

Open, Seminar—Spring

Toward the end of the 19th century, Oscar Wilde stated repeatedly that he was “an Irishman”—and, therefore, beyond good and evil as defined by gentlemanly codes—while George Bernard Shaw deemed nationalistic allegiances absurd and (prophetically, given the wars of the 20th century) lethal. In their stances, we can begin to see how the complexities and paradoxes of Irish identity—ethnic marginalization, religious zeal (secularized), linguistic play, knowing laughter—informed their ultimate self-definition as citizens of the world and thereby enabled them to fashion distinctively challenging art. It is also no exaggeration to say that each left the English language not as he found it. Wilde’s life was short, and we shall read a good deal of his oeuvre: his fairy tales, his plays, his novel, much of his poetry, many of his essays. Shaw’s life was long, and we shall focus on his plays written before World War I, along with two brilliantly painful postwar works: Heartbreak House and Saint Joan. And, in both, we shall see how revolution can come disguised in conventional forms, as both playwrights transform drawing-room comedy into political commentary whose implications have yet to be resolved.

Faculty

Forms of Culture in the Information Age: Spanish for Advanced Beginners

Open, Seminar—Year

Course taught entirely in Spanish. All students should take the placement test prior to registration.

This course is designed for students who have taken Spanish before but need to review the essentials of grammar and develop effective communicative skills at a post-elementary level. The course will start with a thorough review of the basics of Spanish morphology and syntax. Vocabulary building will take place through an intensive program of readings that will include the study and analysis of poems, lyrics of songs, newspaper articles, short stories, and adapted novellas. The linguistic exploration of those materials will be complemented by the active exploitation of musical compositions, excerpts of scripts, and the viewing of films, as well as selected episodes of TV series. All forms and manifestations of culture originated all over the Spanish–speaking world—fashion, art, film, music, photography, theatre, science, politics, comics, video games, gastronomy, etc.—will be the objects of our attention. These and other forms of cultural expression will be incorporated into the course of study, as long as Spanish is their vehicle of expression. The syllabus will be complemented by contributions from students, who will be encouraged to locate materials suitable to be jointly exploited by the class as a whole. Weekly conversation sessions with the language assistant are a fundamental part of this course. Students will complete guided conference projects in small groups and also have access to individual meetings to address specific grammar topics.

Faculty

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.

Faculty

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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