Visual and Studio Arts

What Will Studying the Visual and Studio Arts Look Like in Fall 2020?

Visual and Studio Arts faculty are committed to providing all students, those on campus and those working online, with a comprehensive and individualized arts education. Our dedicated faculty have been formulating innovative ways to substantively connect on-campus studio work with off-campus art-making practices, both of which are vital to an artist’s creative life. Our classes will employ a combination of technical demonstrations and image/video lectures, with intensive one-on-one and small group instructional interaction and critique.

Heimbold’s studio spaces and facilities will be open to students on campus within the structures and guidelines set by the College and by each professor. Students working online will be guided individually in setting up their work-space within their specific environments, and supplied with the same art materials as their on-campus peers.

Each course will maintain a balance between group instruction and class discussion, with individual and small group conference discussions held in person and online. Demos and workshops, along with regular lectures by visiting artists -- all held on Zoom -- will supplement your studio work and enhance class cohesion. Students will be invited to interview contemporary artists as part of a regular Instagram series, to participate in “critique week,” where faculty and students share feedback across disciplines, and to meet in groups with students from other colleges to share ideas and make connections remotely. Finally, our newly designed Visual and Studio Arts website will provide space for students to exhibit and showcase the work they make to a wider audience, with thematic shows held regularly alongside class exhibitions and solo artist highlights.


The visual and studio arts program is dedicated to interdisciplinary study, practice, experimentation, and collaboration among young artists. Students focus on traditional studio methods but are encouraged to bridge those ideas across disciplines, including experimental media and new techniques. The program offers courses in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video art, installation, creative programming, interactive art, interventionist art, games, and simulation. Students pursue a multidisciplinary course of study while gaining proficiency in a wide range of methods and materials. Working within a liberal-arts context, students are also encouraged to form collaborations across fields of practice and often work with musicians, actors, and scenic designers, as well as biologists, mathematicians, architects, philosophers, or journalists. Conference work, senior show, and senior thesis allow the integration of any combination of fields of study, along with the opportunity for serious research across all areas of knowledge.

The Heimbold Visual Arts Center offers facilities for woodworking, plaster, printmaking, painting, video making, and installation. Advanced studios offer individual work areas. In addition to art studios, students have access to critique and presentation rooms and exhibition spaces, including a student-run gallery titled A* Space. Courses are taught in the traditional seminar/conference format, with studio classes followed by one-on-one conferences with faculty. All students are encouraged to maintain a presence through social media and are especially encouraged to supplement their work in studio through participation in the program’s ongoing series of special topic workshops—small three-to-five session mini-courses ­that cover current thought in art theory, discipline-specific fundamentals, new technologies, and professional practices. Past workshops have included woodworking, fiber arts, metalwork, printmaking, letterpress, figure drawing, printing for photographers, creative coding, virtual reality, MAX/MSP, online portfolio design, writing an artist’s statement, navigating the art world, the art of critique, applying for grants, and more. Students who invest significant time in the program are encouraged to apply for a solo gallery show in their senior year and may take on larger capstone projects through a yearlong, practice-based senior thesis.

In addition to these resources, the Visiting Artist Lecture Series brings a wide range of accomplished artists to campus for interviews and artist talks. In a feature unique to the program, faculty routinely arrange for one-on-one studio critiques between students and guest faculty or artists who are visiting campus through the lecture series. Art vans run weekly between campus and New York City museums and galleries. Visual-arts students typically hold internships and assistantships in artist studios, galleries, museums, and many other kinds of arts institutions throughout the city.

Visual & Studio Arts, First-Year Studies Program

Our first-year visual arts program is designed to give students a rigorous, yet self-directed, introduction to a diverse range of studio disciplines. As a visual and studio arts FYS student, you will choose one studio class in the fall and a new studio class in the spring. This approach will give you exposure to two distinctly different disciplines over the course of a year within the general field of visual and studio arts, forming a multidisciplinary foundation at the outset of your studies. In your chosen class, you will immerse yourself in the materials and ideas vital to that discipline, working with other first-year and upper-class students in class and on conference work.

In addition, the whole student FYS group will participate in FYS Project, a weekly series of experimental, multidisciplinary workshops intended to expose students to the fundamentals of the visual arts and to lay the groundwork for each student’s interdisciplinary college experience.

2020-2021 Courses

Visual and Studio Arts

FYS Project

Open , FYS—Fall

This course is required for all first-year students in visual arts.

FYS Project is a weekly small workshop class that introduces first-years to each of the disciplines in the program. Meetings alternate between discussion and critique while offering small experimental studio projects in printmaking, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and new genres. FYS Project brings all first-years together from the start of their program and encourages a broad range of art-making disciplines and ways of thinking about art. The class ends with a group exhibition intended to introduce first-year artists to the wider college community.

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Introduction to Painting

Open , Seminar—Fall and Spring

Technical exploration, perception, development of ideas, intuition, invention, representation, and communication are at the core of this class. We will begin the course in an observational mode, introducing practical information about the fundamentals of painting: color, shape, tone, edge, composition, perspective, and surface. We will paint still lifes and transcribe a masterwork. We will look at the work of both old masters as well as contemporary painters. We will also take a trip to a museum to look at paintings in the flesh. The course will include demonstrations of materials and techniques, art historical presentations, films and videos, reading materials, homework assignments, group and individual critiques. In the second half of the course, we will complete a series of projects exploring design principles as applied to non-objective (abstract) artworks. Using paint, with preparatory collages and drawings, we will engage with strategies for utilizing non-objective imagery toward self-directed content. Each week will bring a new problem, with lessons culminating in independent paintings. Projects will emphasize brainstorming multiple answers to visual problems over selecting the first solution that comes to mind. The last part of the class will be devoted to a personal project. The students will establish their theme of interest, which they will present during our conference meetings. Then, students will carry out research and preparatory work and develop a series of paintings. Drawings in this class will often be produced in tandem with paintings in order to solve painting problems and illuminate visual ideas. Revisions are a natural and mandatory part of this class. The majority of our time will be spent in a studio/work mode. The studio is a lab where ideas are worked out and meaning is made. It is important that you are curious, that you allow yourself to travel to unexpected places, and that you do not merely rely on skills and experiences that are part of you already but, rather, challenge you to openness and progress. The process will be part critical thinking, part intuition, and, in large part, physical labor. Working rigorously during class and on homework assignments is required. The goal of this class is to establish the roots of a healthy and generative personal studio practice. You will also strengthen your knowledge of art history and take into consideration the wider cultural, historical, and social contexts within which art is being made today.

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Painting: A Sense of Place

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

To look at a place closely—to spend time with it while drawing or painting it—is, in a sense, to own it. In this course, students explore their own sense of place in different locations that include both interiors and landscapes. Students will travel to various destinations to collect source materials, such as drawings, photographs, written notes, and painting sketches; they will work on larger and more complex drawings and paintings in the studio. Through quick studies and finished paintings, students will observe and create an intimate relationship with their chosen landscape motifs. Throughout the semester, students will work both large and small, both quickly and slowly. Some paintings will take a few minutes, and some will take several days. The course emphasizes fundamentals of drawing and painting, as well as the formal, cultural, and political connotations that a landscape genre can contain. The course is supplemented with keynote presentations, class critiques, and field trips

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Painting: Narrative

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

Taking inspiration from history of art, literature, and cinema, students will be introduced to a variety of approaches on how to construct narratives in the language of contemporary painting. What is narrative, and can it be expressed abstractly as well as literally? How can color, value, and mark-making be used in painting to create a narrative progression and a passage of time? Students will explore various narrative themes, sourcing from autobiography, political events, literature, films, mediated images, and other personally relevant content. Observational painting will be used as a point of departure to examine various strategies in order to construct a visual world. Students will proceed to develop technical and conceptual skills that are crucial to the painting process. The work will fluctuate between in-class projects and homework assignments. The curriculum will be supplemented with PowerPoint presentations, film screenings, selected readings, field trips, and group critiques.

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Printmaking: Relief Print

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course is designed to introduce students to a range of relief printing techniques while assisting students in developing their own visual imagery through the language of printmaking. Students will work with linoleum and woodblock materials. Students will develop drawing skills through the printmaking medium and experiment with value structure, composition, mark making, and interaction of color. Students will explore the history of printmaking media, the evolution of subject matter and technique, and the relationship of graphic arts to the methods of mechanical reproduction. Course objectives will include becoming familiar with using printing equipment, printing an edition, critically discussing one’s work, and developing a process of visual storytelling. The course will be supplemented with technical demonstrations, critiques, field trips, and slide lectures.

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Printmaking: Intaglio

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course is designed to introduce students to a range of intaglio techniques while assisting them in developing their own visual imagery through the language of printmaking. Throughout the semester, students will practice dry-point, etching, aquatint, soft-ground, and sugar-lift techniques. Students will explore the history of printmaking media, the evolution of subject matter and technique, and the relationship of graphic arts to the methods of mechanical reproduction. Course objectives will include becoming familiar with using a print shop, printing an edition, talking critically about one’s work, and developing a process of visual storytelling. The course will be supplemented with technical demonstrations, critiques, field trips, and slide lectures.

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Silkscreen Printing

Open , Seminar—Fall

In this course, we will cover the fundamental techniques of silkscreen printing, a form of printmaking that utilizes and expands upon the simple concept of the stencil. We will cover a range of basic techniques that lend themselves well to a home setup, including hand-cut stencils, printing multiple layers, drawing directly on the screen, and the basics of photo sensitive emulsion. We will also look into ways that silkscreen can be combined with other media, opening up its aesthetic possibilities. Students will be encouraged to independently explore subject matter, ideas, and aesthetic modes of their own choosing, as we develop an accumulative understanding of technical knowledge. The goal of the course will be to master the basic process of silkscreen in service of developing a sophisticated language using this versatile medium.

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Narrative, Printmaking, and Artist Books

Open , Seminar—Spring

In this course, we will explore different ways that narrative can be achieved through conventional and experimental applications of printmaking and bookmaking. How is a story told in a single panel? Over a series of pages? How might conventional means of storytelling be subverted and abstracted? Stories retold? How do the formal choices in making an object affect the way a narrative unfolds? Does a story always require words? And does the form of a book always imply narrative no matter how abstract its content? Over the course of the semester, a variety of basic printmaking processes will be covered—including monotype, silkscreen, and relief cut—along with an assortment of bookbinding techniques, including simple folding, pamphlet binding, accordion binding, Japanese stab binding, coptic binding, and other types of stitching that can be employed. Students will be asked to produce both one-of-a-kind artist books and easily reproducible books to then be distributed on the Sarah Lawrence College campus.

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Drawing Faces

Open , Seminar—Fall

Portraiture has a rich and complex history. The act of drawing a face gives artists an understanding of how to translate what they see onto paper through line, light, shadow, volume, and space. Intentionally manipulating this same graphic language can embed portraits with the complex emotional and psychological states that lie beyond mere visual representation. Politically, socially, and historically, portraits have been a means to establish class and gender, provide immortality, and document the human condition. In this course, you will learn the fundamentals of drawing through the subject of the portrait. The act of looking will be primary for us, as seeing the face accurately, as it truly exists, is a constant challenge for artists. As the semester progresses, we’ll move from observational, realistic portraits into interpreted, experimental drawings that challenge traditions and norms of portraiture. As you learn to draw what you see, you’ll simultaneously begin to reveal qualities that are not visible—those psychological, political, symbolic, and personal aspects of portraits that make them individual and unique. Students will work on daily drawing exercises inside and outside of the studio in order to build a disciplined drawing practice that allows them to work in transformative ways. For context, we will look at a range of historical and contemporary examples of portraiture and will visit New York City exhibitions to see art works in the flesh. A visiting artist working in portraiture will visit class, as well.

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1,001 Drawings

Open , Seminar—Spring

This will be a highly rigorous drawing class that pushes young artists to develop a disciplined, sustainable, and experimental drawing practice with which to explore new ways of thinking, seeing, and making art. Each week, you will make 50 to 100 small works on paper based on varied, open-ended, unpredictable prompts. These prompts are meant to destabilize your practice and encourage you to interrogate the relationship between a work’s subject and its material process. You will learn to work quickly and flexibly, continually experimenting with mediums and processes as you probe the many possible solutions to problems posed by each prompt. As you create these daily drawings, you will simultaneously work on one large, ambitious drawing that you revisit over the entire semester. This piece will evolve slowly, change incrementally, and reflect the passage of time in vastly different ways from your daily works. This dynamic exchange will allow you to develop different rhythms in your creative practice, bridging the space between an idea’s generation and its final aesthetic on paper. This course will challenge you to ambitiously redefine drawing and, in doing so, will dramatically transform your art-making practice.

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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 deelply pursuing their own art-making 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 image-making 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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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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Architecture Design Studio: Perception and Representation (Amidst a Pandemic)

Open , Seminar—Fall

This design studio introduces students to architectural design and representation with a particular focus on human perception and the body in space. Rather than thinking of perception in the framework of the classical five senses, dividing the human sensorium, we will be concerned with the interplay and cumulative “ecology of perception” among optics, vision, and movement and the manipulation and modulation of these stimuli to produce architectural effects. In this way, light, vision, touch, balance, corporeal awareness, locomotion, and their interactions become an assembly of tools and devices available to the designer to produce experimental architectural perception-machines. Initial design explorations will be informed by the scale of the human frame, as well as the spaces between individuals. These early projects will draw from the ever-shifting and contested frameworks of pandemic-era social distancing to develop a wearable prosthetic architecture. Subsequent projects will grow in scale to culminate in a building-size design proposition. We will use the tools of architectural representation—drawings, visual media, models, and prototypes—to explore how space is perceived and represented, as well as how architecture as a material practice mediates our perception of the world around us. We will approach the act of design itself as a complex and iterative series of intensive procedures of translation and discovery, requiring visual and tactile awareness and feedback. Creative work will be advanced through successive assignments and design briefs that increase in scale and complexity over the semester. Prior experience in digital drawing, 3D modeling and model fabrication can be helpful but is not a requirement.

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Architecture Design Studio: Enclosure and Environment

Open , Seminar—Spring

This studio continues the enclosure and environment thematic from spring 2020; it is open to new students, as well as to continuing students.

This open-level design studio introduces students to architectural design, with architecture’s capacity as enclosure to produce alternate climates, biomes, and ecologies forming the major conceptual framework for studio projects. The studio will explore, through research and design speculation, the history and possible futures of the architecture of the nonhuman world. From very early on, we will be aware of the widest possible range of spatial and temporal scales: from the microscopic and instantaneous, to the planetary scale, and to the longue durée of geological time. Landscape and environmental factors will be treated as architectural fundamentals integral to the design process rather than supplemental components or afterthoughts. Consequently, projects will be highly attuned to natural history, climate, and site specificity. Creative work will be advanced through successive assignments and design briefs that increase in scale and complexity over the semester. Prior experience with hand drafting, digital drawing, and physical and digital modeling is beneficial but not a requirement.

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Performance Art Tactics: Sound as a Resource

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course offers students the opportunity to theoretically explore contemporary sound practices in visual art through a broad-strokes overview. We will explore the histories and concepts of sound art, surveying a range of important artworks in the fields of performance and sound. Examples of artists works that we will review include John Cage, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Laurie Anderson, Pauline Oliveros, and Anna Halprin, to name a few. We will discuss some technologies used by performance and sound artists; the implementation of sound in visual art; and the function of sound as utilized in performance, interactive installation, sculpture, social media, film, and video art. Students will be able to conceptually relate the form and function of sound in visual art by developing the potential to consciously implement the form.

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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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New Genres: Art From Code

Open , Seminar—Fall

A practice-based introduction to visual arts programming, this course is designed for artists with little or no programming experience. We'll meet twice weekly to code together, working on short, in-class exercises that start with basics like color, shape, and motion and then move on to small simulations, interaction, and installation. We’ll survey some of the pioneers of computer art, including Vera Molnár, Grace Hertlein, and Georg Nees, and try our hand at recreating a few of their famous works. This class tries to visit exhibitions of computer art, as well as galleries that support new forms. Students are encouraged to hold an end-of-semester exhibition. Attendance at the noncredit Visiting Artist Lecture Series is required.

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New Genres: Conceptual Art

Open , Seminar—Fall

Artists have always been rebellious, but nowhere do we see their rejection of “business as usual” as emphatically as in the field of conceptual art. “I will not make any more boring art,” Baldessari promised. “My intention,” Duchamp said “is to completely eliminate the existence of taste.” For conceptual artists—whether you shoot, draw, code, paint, sculpt, or perform—what is most important is the idea that you choose to get the thing started. In fact, as Sol LeWitt explained, “The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” This studio takes an idea or concept as the basis for a finished work. Students will be encouraged to choose a material best-suited to their project and should be open to working in any medium: photography, sculpture, video games, installation, performance, interactive art, and so on. Since much of conceptual art is based in digital production, this course will include an overview of basic digital art skills, including graphic design, simulation, visualization, interaction, projection, and video installation. In moving from concept to artwork, we’ll go through a series of exercises that explore the strategies of conceptual art, including enactment, counterproduction, abstraction, remix, reduction, appropriation, play, time, chance, risk, identity, and more. Readings will be chosen for their correspondence to student themes and concerns. Artists surveyed include Duchamp, Beuys, Cage, Acconci, McMillian, Gaines, Golden, Ono, Hammons, Kosuth, LeWitt, Denes, Eliasson, Creed, and others.

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Practices, Techniques, and Strategies in Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

$200–$400 materials expense per semester

The course offers a trio of necessary skills to build a photographic practice, including critical theory, art histories, and technique. Students will learn analog and digital, from photographic capture to scanning and printing. Through a series of assignments and lectures, students will consider the overarching concepts that inform their work. Dynamic themes include working within and against a field of influence, the roll of documentary and conceptual approaches to photography, subjectivity versus structural systems of production, and photography as event and narrative. Our time will be divided between group critiques and lectures. In the spirit of experimentation and play, drawing from research, and the everyday, students will test their theories in practice. Students will develop a cohesive and original body of photographs and develop a generative practice based on a process of making, thinking, and remaking. Final work will be compiled into an artist-made, print-on-demand book.

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Ideas of Photography

Open , Seminar—Fall and Spring

This course is a hybrid. Each week of the first semester, a different photographic idea or genre will be traced from its earliest iterations to its present form through slide lectures and readings. And each week, students will respond with their own photographic work inspired by the visual presentations and readings. Topics include personal dress-up/narrative, composite photography/photographic collage, the directorial mode, fashion/art photography, new strategies in documentary practice, abstraction/”new photography,” the typology in photography, the photograph in color, and the use of words and images in combination. In the second semester, the emphasis will shift as students choose to work on a subject and in a form that coincides with the ideas that they most urgently wish to express. No previous experience in photography is necessary nor is any special equipment. A desire to explore, to experiment, and to create a personally meaningful body of work are the only prerequisites.

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The New Narrative Photography

Open , Seminar—Fall and Spring

A photograph presented alone and without a fully descriptive caption is like a simple utterance. “Ooh,” “Aah,” and “Huh?” are its proper responses. When pictures are presented in groups with accompanying text (of any length) and perhaps in conjunction with political or poetic conceptual strategies, however, any statement becomes possible. The photographs can begin to function as a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire treatise. Whether working in fiction, in nonfiction, or in a fictive space, artists such as Alan Sekula, Robert Frank, Susan Meiselas, Taryn Simon, Jim Goldberg, Ronie Horn, and others have been in the process of transforming photography with their work for the past 30 years. Or perhaps they have created a medium: The New Narrative Photography. In this course, students will initially study the work of these narrative photographers and either write about their work or make pictures in response to it. The culmination of this experience will be the students' creation of their own bodies of work. If you have a story to tell or a statement to make or a phenomenon that you wish to study and describe, this course is open to you. No previous photographic experience is necessary nor is any special equipment. The opportunity to forge a new medium is rare. This course aims to create the forum and the conditions necessary for all to do so in a critical and supportive workshop environment.

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Basic Analog Black-and-White Photography

Open , Seminar—Spring

This is an analog film-based course that introduces the fundamentals of black-and-white photography: acquisition of photographic technique, development of personal vision and artistic expression, and discussion of photographic history and contemporary practice. Reviews are designed to strengthen the understanding of the creative process, while assignments will stress photographic aesthetics and formal concerns. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to make frequent visits to gallery and museum exhibitions and share their impressions with the class. The relationship of photography to liberal arts also will be emphasized. Students will develop and complete their own bodies of work as culmination of their study. This is not a digital photography course. Students need to have at least a 35mm film camera and be able to purchase film and gelatin silver paper throughout the term.

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Figure Drawing Seminar

Open , Concept—Fall

The purpose of this course—an introduction to figure drawing from live male and female models, using a variety of drawing materials, techniques, and artistic approaches— is to help students obtain the basic skill of drawing the human form, including anatomy; observation of the human form; and fundamental exercises in gesture, contour, outline, and tonal modeling. In shorter drawings, students will explore the fundamentals of drawing, such as measurement, mark-making, value structure, and composition. Students will be encouraged to investigate formal and psychological possibilities in the genre of figure drawing.

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On Color

Open , Concept—Fall

In this course, we will explore the curious ways in which colors interact with one another. We will perform a multitude of color experiments in order to witness for ourselves the wide range of phenomena that arise from the relative nature of color. We will use Josef Albers’s seminal text as a guide, as we explore concepts such as color intensity, brightness and value, illusions of transparency, additive and subtractive mixtures, and the Bezold effect, among others. In addition, we will discuss psychology and color perception, learning about color constancy and optical illusions, as well as take a simplified version of the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test to see how sensitive we are to discrepancies in hue. Lastly, we will extend our examination of color to various cultural contexts and works of art.

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New Strategies in Documentary Photography

Open , Concept—Fall

In the early 1980s, in response to a mounting critique of so-called “documentary photography,” a number of photographic artists turned to alternative methodologies to express their ideas and their concerns. Prominent among them was the artist Martha Rosler, whose writings were central to the critique of photographs as conveyors of truth. Using photographs in combination with text, video, installation, sculpture, and performance, her work has communicated feminist and antiwar messages in novel and powerful ways. The late Allan Sekula also coupled words with photographs. His most notable work, Fish Story, constitutes a political and philosophic examination of globalization in a manner that permits “the social referentiality of photographic work” while making important historic and theoretic points that are nowhere seen within the photographs themselves. Other exemplars of new documentary photography to be studied include Susan Meiselas, whose use of the personal photographs and writings of her subjects changes the very nature of the documentary process and gives a voice to those who have previously been spoken for. Her Kurdistan, In the Shadow of History will be studied as an exemplar of this form. The artist Jim Goldberg also employs his subject’s words, oftentimes painting them directly on the image of the depicted in a highly expressionistic manner. His work is concerned with inequality and global displacement, among many other things. A number of “new documentarians” have turned to installation, using still photographs and video to create powerful, immersive experiences that forward their ideas and concerns. We will study the work of Alfredo Jaar in this regard. The  work of La Toya Ruby Fraser will also be studied, as it represents a model of how picture-making may be combined with community activism, whether it be the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, or the health care system in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Weekly readings will be assigned, films will be screened, discussion will be held—but the primary work of a student in this course will be in the making of artworks in response to prompts.

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Art for Good

Open , Concept—Spring

Some 60 or 70 years ago, the idea of art as a comfort to middle- and upper-class tastes and values, a kind of visual soporific to be occasionally consumed as needed, began to come under assault. The methodologies of the Fluxus Movement, the happenings of the 60s, and various conceptual practices of the 70s provided a ground from which artists such as Hans Haacke or Neo Rausch could make work that was critical of prevailing economic or political realities. In 1971, when a pointed artwork by Hans Haacke caused the Guggenheim Museum to cancel his retrospective, the then director of the museum wrote to Haacke to say that the institution’s policies “exclude active engagement toward social or political ends.” Unfortunately for the museum, a constantly expanding and ever-more vital ocean of such work has ensued. Using curator Nato Thompson’s Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century as our text, we will examine the work of artists whose work has intentionally called for a different social or political order. Exemplars to be studied may include (in no particular order) David Hammons, Ana Mendietta, Carolee Schneeman. Felix Gonzalez Torres, Marthe Rosler Alfredo Jaar, Pussy Riot, Barbara Kruger, Francis Alys, Suzanne Lacy, Fred Wilson and Ai Weiwei, and Doris Salcedo, to name but a very few. In addition to readings, each student will write a short-to-medium length paper and also make an artwork.

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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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Creative Practice

Open , Concept—Spring

This class in anchored in attending artist lectures that regularly take place on campus. A set of questions will be posed prior to each lecture, and students will be asked to respond to those questions in writing after attending the lectures. Those questions will be both related to the practice of the artists as well as to the ways in which they have constructed their lives in order to make room for creativity. There will also be a number of artists visiting the classroom in person and via Skype, which will give students the opportunity to continue the conversation about studio practice, life choices, how they built their life as an artist, and what feeds the artist’s curiosity on a daily basis and inspires them to keep on returning to their studio. We will discuss how to ask those questions and how to lead a conversation in an artist studio. In addition, students will be attending exhibitions and responding to them both in writing and in discussion. At the core of the class is a deeper look at the many ways of building a sustainable creative life.

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Printmaking: Monoprint Seminar

Open , Concept—Spring

This course is an opening foray into the possibilities of painterly printmaking and experimental processes that merge printmaking with painting and drawing. The course will also cover fundamentals such as basic drawing and color mixing. As a means to explore their individual ideas, students will investigate a wide range of possibilities offered by monoprint techniques and will experiment with inks and paints, stencils, multiple plates, and images altered in sequence. Students will begin to develop a method to investigate meaning, or content, through the techniques of painterly printmaking. There will be an examination of various strategies that fluctuate between specific in-class assignments and individual studio work.

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Senior Exhibition

Advanced , Concept—Spring

Requirements: To be eligible for a senior exhibition you must have at least 20 credits in the Visual and Studio Arts by the end of your fall semester as a senior. Interested students are encouraged to attend an informational meeting in the fall semester of their senior year (date and time TBA).

This course is intended for those students interested in exhibiting their work in a solo senior exhibition. Through a combination of group meetings and one-on-one studio visits, we will discuss your work’s development, the general conception and installation of a solo exhibition, and the various practical considerations inherent within the process of mounting a show of your own artwork. Students will be expected to visit gallery and museum shows as research and then to create and install their own solo exhibition during the semester, accompanied by a small printed catalog documenting their show. All students must attend opening receptions (time TBD), and we will visit each exhibition as a group to give feedback and critique. Additional classes will cover writing an artist statement, documenting your work, professional practices, and more.

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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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Problems by Design: Theory and Practice in Architecture, 1960 to the Present.

Open , Large Lecture—Spring

This course will involve works in philosophy, theory, criticism, politics, and social analysis that deal with the aesthetic, formal, infrastructural, and sociopolitical questions raised by design strategies, buildings, and utopian or speculative projects. Our focus will be on methods and movements such as blobs, dots and folds, fractal form, fractured landscapes, datatowns and metacities, ascetic aesthetic/minimalist consumption, megastructures, themed urbanism, transformational design grammars, and economic models for sustainable growth/development/design. Topics will be introduced in PowerPoint presentations. Authors will include Adolf Loos, Martin Heidegger, Jane Jacobs, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Sterling, and Anthony Vidler. Buildings will include work by major architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Bjarke Ingels, Elizabeth Diller, and Jean Gang. Movements discussed will include Modernism, Post-Modernism, Formalism, Situationism, Minimalism, Counter Culture, Green Urbanism, and Parametrics. Assignments will involve analytical and critical papers, directed discussions on close reading of texts, historical context for ideas, and buildings that are prescribed, described, or proscribed by theory in practice. This course complements courses on urbanism, visual arts, environmental science and studies, literary theory, physics, and, of course, art and architectural criticism and history.

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A Talent for Every Noble Thing: Art, Architecture in Italy, 1300–1600

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course involves an in-depth survey of the major monuments of Italian art and architecture from 1300 to 1600. Equal emphasis will be given to the histories and societies of major city-states such as Pisa, Siena, Florence, Venice, and Rome; the canon of artworks by artists such as Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo; readings of major critics and historians of Italian art; and the broader intellectual trends, social realities, and movements that provide a context for our understanding of the artists’ and, to a lesser extent, the critics’ creations. Thus, unified Italian church designs will be juxtaposed with gender-segregated social practice, theories of genius with concepts of handicraft, pagan ideals with Christian rituals, creative expression with religious orthodoxy, and popes with monks, dukes, financiers, and “humanist” intellectuals. The course will focus on a close reading of texts surrounding the first polemical “humanist” pamphlets about art in early modern history—Alberti’s On Painting and On Architecture—and will include works by Erwin Panofsky, Ernst Gombrich, and Michael Baxandall. We will also engage the development of the “High” Renaissance and the intellectual and aesthetic debates surrounding Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael as philosophers, naturalists, geniuses, models, and marginalized outcasts. Class papers will deal with developing a vocabulary for compositional analysis, critical issues in Italian intellectual and social history (particularly, gender studies), and varied interpretive strategies applied to works of visual art and culture. Conference projects may involve selected topics in religion, history, and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance and art and architecture in Europe and the “New World” from 1300 to the present.

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Art and Ecology

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar introduces students to the relationships of art, science, and the environment from the 19th century to the present, along with what it means to look closely at visual representation. We will consider the European tradition of landscape painting as a cultural formation, telegraphing ideologies about industry and Western expansionism, and also look closely at indigenous representations of the land as a counterhistory. We will consider 19th-century discourses on ecology, pollution, and urbanization and painting and also take up sculptural Biomorphism in the early 20th century as a critique of industrialization. Readings will look closely at earthworks, site-specific sculpture, and body art in the 1970s, along with discourses on ecology and systems theory that were central to artists. And we will engage contemporary discourses across the globe on eco-aesthetics, eco-criticism, and artistic responses to climate change and globalization. How have artists and curators enacted ecological modes of thinking in visual form? What do those projects tell us about changing definitions of nature and human, of sustainability, climate change, and Anthropocene? Readings will cull from art history, ecology, geography, political theory, and environmental politics. This course will entail several field trips to area collections and include visiting speakers.

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The History of the Museum, Institutional Critique, and the Artist as Curator

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Fall

This course looks closely at the art museum as a site of contest and critique: How are museums not neutral spaces but, rather, powerful institutions that shape narratives about the objects they collect and display? Readings will consider the origins of the modern art museum in Europe in the 17th century and explore how the histories and conventions of display impacted art’s reception and meaning. We will analyze the history of institutional critique in the West in the 1970s to look at how artists have taken aim at the museum as a site of discursive power, raising questions about the kinds of value judgments that go into determining what counts as art. We will also explore recent trends in curatorial practice toward the artist as curator: What happens when the museum becomes a medium for contemporary artists? Lastly, we will investigate recent protests at museums around issues of representation, patronage, and power. We will use the opportunities opened by remote learning to engage with and interview curators and activists across the globe in our Zoom seminars. And we will investigate what access and protest looks like in this virtual age, as museums take their collections online and activism takes different shapes. Because this course considers the historiography of art, some previous course work in art history is expected; but with its broad historical and topical coverage, this course will have something for everyone—regardless of their background in art history.

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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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Anatomy

Component—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

Component—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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Choreographic Thinking: Sensing, Rupture, and Change

Open , Seminar—Spring

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), as a two-credit stand-alone course, or as a five-credit seminar with an accompanying conference project in the form of a research paper or an artistic project.

A broad definition of choreography might be the organization of beings (animate and inanimate) in time and space. But what exactly is choreographic thinking? With what aptitudes does it engage? Choreographer Susan Rethorst has described the mind of a choreographer as having “a kind of spatial emotional map of a situation, the emotional psychological reading of place and of people in relation to that place and each other…in which sensitivity to phenomena leads to an engagement with the affect of movement, shape, relation, and space.” So choreographic thinking is a practice of heightened perception that, in turn, informs a practice of organization. Nevertheless, all perceptual senses are not commonly deemed of equal importance. While vision and hearing are typically held in high regard, proprioception (the sense of where one is in space) and kinesthesia (the sense of motion) are often misunderstood or disregarded altogether. At the same time, everyday metaphors across a range of fields evoke the choreographic. We speak of political movements, economic precarity, climate change, population migrations and displacements, crop rotations, life journeys, cultural exchanges, etc., etc. Through a selection of readings by theorists and artists, both in and outside of dance, we will examine the concept of choreographic thinking, how the sensorial and affective self is engaged in this embodied practice, and how we might apply these types of aptitudes to a myriad of endeavors and areas of study.

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Composition

Component—Year

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

Component—Year

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

How Art Works

Open , Seminar—Fall

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), as a two-credit stand-alone course, or as a five-credit seminar with an accompanying conference project in the form of a research paper or an artistic project.

What is art? Since human beings have been engaging in creative endeavors in various ways for millennia, it shouldn’t be difficult to say what art is or, for that matter, how it functions. Yet the difficulty of agreeing on any one definition of art becomes quickly evident. The historically siloed nature of the disciplines of poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance, music, dance, theatre, film, etc.— each with its own particular attributes—might present certain obstacles to answering the question in a unified fashion. But perhaps the problem lies elsewhere. Perhaps creative endeavors have functioned in many different ways and served many different purposes, in different cultures, and at different times. This course is, admittedly, an incomplete but nevertheless broad survey of some of the ways in which art has been conceived of, how it has been made, how it has functioned, and how people have thought about its changing nature and purpose. Assigned readings will include texts from various fields, including the philosophy of art and aesthetics, literary theory, performance studies, gender studies, cultural theory, anthropology, and psychology, as well as texts from artists themselves. Our readings will range from accessible to challenging. Throughout, I will be teaching from the perspective of a dance artist. These readings will be accompanied by our own experiences and discussion of artworks in various media.

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Lighting in Life and Art

Component—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

Component—Year

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 direct individual 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, the constraints of presentation of the works both in works-in-progress and in a shared program of events, and the need to respect the classroom and presentation space of the dance studio will be the constraints 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. Toward the end of the semester, within the context of Winter and Spring Time-Based Art Events, this course will culminate in exhibitions, screenings, and performances of the works in a shared program with all enrolled students. The performances, screenings, and exhibitions will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

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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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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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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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Storyboarding for Film and Animation

Open , Seminar—Fall

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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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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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 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 lecture, there will be weekly group conferences and regularly scheduled film screenings throughout the semester.

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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 Virgil’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.”

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Literature in Translation: 20th-Century Italian Literature and Culture

Open , Seminar—Year

The course will explore 20th-century Italian literature, focusing on important intellectuals, works, and movements that helped shape it and their connection with the arts, cinema, and society at large. Italy had become a unified nation by 1860, and its literature addressed issues such as (national and personal) identity, tradition, innovation and modernity, the role of literature and of the writer, and the changing role of women in Italian society. We will also explore the interrelation between Italian literature and crucial historical events such as the Great War, the rise and fall of fascism, World War II, the Resistance, the birth of the republic, the postwar economic boom, the students’ and women’s movements of the 1960s and ’70s, and the terrorism of the “Anni di Piombo.” Among the authors and intellectuals we will explore are: Sibilla Aleramo for her literary treatment of the issue of female emancipation at the beginning of the century; Luigi Pirandello and his work as a novelist and playwright; Gabriele D’Annunzio as a poet, playwright, and novelist but also a war hero and politician; F. T. Marinetti, whose futurist manifestos and literary works reflected his desire to renew Italian art, literature, and culture in general; B. Mussolini’s fascist regime, its dictates, and their influence on propaganda literature and cinema; Ignazio Silone’s novels on the fascist era; Roberto Rossellini’s neorealist cinema; Italo Calvino’s, Beppe Fenoglio’s, and Elio Vittorini’s literature of the Resistance; Primo Levi’s depiction of the Holocaust; and influential women writers such as Anna Banti, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, and Dacia Maraini. Readings will be supplemented by secondary source material that will help outline the social, historical, and political context in which these authors lived and wrote, as well as provide a relevant critical framework for the study of their works. On occasion, we will watch films that are relevant to the topics and period in question. No previous knowledge of Italian is required. Students proficient in Italian may opt to read sources in the original language and write their conference projects in Italian. Conference topics may include the study of a particular author, literary text, or topic relevant to the course and that might be of interest to the student.

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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 theater, 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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Poetry and the Book

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Fall

Putting a book of poetry together is a difficult and complex task. The poet must consider not only the order of the poems but also the internal narrative of the book as a whole: how its constituent parts “speak” to each other; how key themes and patterns are developed and articulated; how to begin the book; and, even harder, how to end it. Yet, students often encounter poetry primarily through anthologies, with the result that first affiliations are fragmented and obscured. In this class, we take the opposite tack and explore the book of poetry as an event in itself. We read and discuss books by English-language poets across two centuries, from William Blake’s artisanal, hand-tinted works to Frank O’Hara’s portable “lunch poems.” How have individual writers sought to shape readers’ experiences through the patterning of content? What kinds of creative decisions—from cover to typeface—affect the appearance of a poetry book? What happens when a poet’s work is edited posthumously? Or when a book appears in multiple, evolving versions? How has the work of some poets intersected with visual art? Possible authors: Tonya Foster, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, Frank O’Hara, Anne Carson, Harryette Mullen, and others.

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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, coursework may include volunteer work with a local community partnership.

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Time to Tinker

Open , Small Lecture—Spring

Do you enjoy designing and building things? Do you have lots of ideas for things that you wished existed but do not feel you have enough technical knowledge to create it yourself? This course is meant to provide an introduction to tinkering, with a focus on learning the practical physics behind basic mechanical and electronic components while providing the opportunity to build things yourself. The course will have one weekly meeting with the whole class and three smaller workshop sessions to work on team-based projects. (You are expected to choose one of the three workshop sessions to attend weekly). The course will be broken down into multiple units, including: the engineering design process, tools and materials, basic electronics, introduction to Arduino, basic mechanics, and 3D printing. There will be weekly readings and assignments, and each unit will include a small group project to demonstrate the new skills that you have acquired. For a semester-long, team-based conference project, your team will create an engineered piece that will be exhibited and presented, as well as write a report reflecting on the design, desired functionality, and individual contributions that led to the finished product.

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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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The Senses: Art and Science

Open , Seminar—Spring

The perceiving mind is an incarnated mind. —Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1964

Sensory perception is a vital component of the creation and experience of artistic works of all types. In psychology and neuroscience, the investigation of sensory systems has been foundational for our developing understanding of brains, minds, and bodies. Recent work in brain science has moved us beyond the Aristotelian notion of five discrete senses to a view of the senses as more various and interconnected, with each other—and with the fundamental psychological processes of perception, attention, emotion, memory, imagination, and judgment. What we call “taste” is a multisensory construction of “flavor” that relies heavily on smell, vision, and touch (mouth feel); “vision” refers to a set of semi-independent streams that specialize in the processing of color, object identity, or spatial layout and movement; “touch” encompasses a complex system of responses to different types of contact with the largest sensory organ—the skin;, and “hearing” includes aspects of perception that are thought to be quintessentially human—music and language. Many other sensations are not covered by the standard five: the sense of balance, of body position (proprioception), feelings of pain arising from within the body, and feelings of heat or cold. Perceptual psychologists have suggested that the total count is closer to 17 than five. We will investigate all of these senses, their interactions with each other, and their intimate relationships with human emotion, memory, and imagination. Some of the questions we will address are: Why are smells such potent memory triggers? What can visual art tell us about how the brain works, and vice versa? Why is a caregiver’s touch so vital for psychological development? Why do foods that taste sublime to some people evoke feelings of disgust in others? Do humans have a poor sense of smell? Why does the word “feeling” refer to both bodily sensations and emotions? What makes a song “catchy” or “sticky”? Can humans learn to echolocate like bats? What is the role of body perception in mindfulness meditation? This is a good course for artists who like to think about science and for scientists with a feeling for art.

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Contextualizing Communications: The Poetics of Seeing

Open , Seminar—Spring

Seeing is not a natural process or an individual activity; rather, it is embedded in social forces and imbued with historically and spatially constructed meanings. This seminar is designed to interrogate how we communicate and make meaning from such a vantage point. While this course takes a broadly construed sociology of culture as its point of departure, it understands sociology as what a British sociologist called a “parasitical” discipline that frequently disrupts and violates disciplinary borders and boundaries. The course will follow in that vein. Our initial readings, which will include Raymond Williams, Edward Said, Aime Cesaire, and John Berger, will set the conceptual framework for what follows. We will draw upon literature; film and music; (auto)biography; letters, diaries, oral histories; and archival and legal texts emanating from different parts of the globe, with an emphasis on cultural productions about and from the global South and/or diasporic communities. Our analyses will be framed in terms of a number of themes and questions, relating those to the contexts within which the works were produced. We will start with an overview of historical and methodological questions; examine colonial texts and their critique, the production of nationalism(s), and identities; censorship, post-coloniality, and the violence of “home”; and conclude with transformative visions. It is hoped that this perusal of a diversity of genres and voices will enable us to rethink the relations between objectivity and subjectivity, fiction, biography and fact, political and social censorships to which their producers subscribe or against which they struggle, as well as struggles over voice and/in the remaking of space. Our goal is to problematize naturalistic "ways of seeing” (a term borrowed from John Berger) and thus show how seeing (through sonic, cinematic, and literary constructions) is both an ideologically regimented activity and a creative form of emancipatory action. Rather than seeing our readings as the expression of individual genius, we will engage with them as a way to become astute readers of the material poetics of social life.

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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...—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.

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Intensive Semester in Yonkers: From the Known to the Unknown: Getting to Know the World Through Writing

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

This course is open for interviews and registration. Please visit Intensive Semester in Yonkers for program information and application.

We will begin the semester by writing about the familiar—how it becomes beloved, despised, forgotten, lived within. We will explore how we experience the familiar at different ages while we take notes on the new, using words, photographs and sketches at our sites, on bus rides and walks, and in restaurants, parks, and churches. We will move from writing about the known to writing about how we get familiar with the new. We will pick five or more pieces to finish, revise, and edit for conference work and make chapbooks, using sketches and photographs to illuminate the world of our words. We will read other people's explorations of their worlds, known and new, in an anthology that includes these writers, graphic novelists, and oral tale tellers: Dominican-American Junot Diaz, Iranian Marjane Satrapi, Malaysian Lat, Russian Isaac Babel, Italian Natalia Ginsberg, The Arabian Nights, African-American folk tales, and poems from three languages, both ancient and modern. Students may take this course individually or apply to participate in the Intensive Semester in Yonkers.

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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 content—fictional or nonfictional—in this world or another, together. 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. The course is a sneaky way to get people to write and revise something long over time. People 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 out 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 and 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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Poetry Workshop: Wearing a Mask: Persona Poems

Open , Seminar—Spring

When I state myself, as the representative of the verse, it does not mean me, but a supposed person.—Emily Dickinson, in a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

For centuries, poets have spoken in the voices of other people. From the early Greeks to Shakespeare, to Walt Whitman, to Emily Dickinson, to Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Robert Hayden, Lucille Clifton, Louise Gluck, Patricia Smith, Nick Flynn, Jorie Graham, Tyehimba Jess, etc. What is made possible when one speaks in the voice of a character that is not oneself? What is possible speaking through a character in an ancient story or myth? What is made possible when one gives voice to a character nothing like oneself? Who dares to speak in the voice of a flower? Of a bee? Of a storm? Of a star? What if one gives voice to the fragments of voices within one’s consciousness? In this class, we will read poems where the poet has spoken in a different tongue, or worn the mask of someone else, or of something else. Each participant will be expected to deeply read assigned collections each week, to meet with another student in a weekly poetry date, and to bring in one new persona poem each week. I hope we will find that outside the limits of the personal story is a cosmos of possibilities for empathy, revision, wonder, instruction, and finding another way in: slant.

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