Art History

The art history curriculum at Sarah Lawrence College covers a broad territory historically, culturally, and methodologically. Students interested in art theory, social art history, or material culture have considerable flexibility in designing a program of study and in choosing conference projects that link artistic, literary, historical, social, philosophical, and other interests. Courses often include field trips to major museums, auction houses, and art galleries in New York City and the broader regional area, as well as to relevant screenings, performances, and architectural sites. Many students have extended their classroom work in art history through internships at museums and galleries, at nonprofit arts organizations, or with studio artists; through their own studio projects; or through advanced-level senior thesis work.

Sarah Lawrence students have gone on to graduate programs in art history at Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Bard, Williams, Yale, University of Chicago, Oxford University, and University of London, among others. Many of their classmates have pursued museum and curatorial work at organizations such as the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago; others have entered the art business by working at auction houses such as Sotheby’s or by starting their own galleries; and still others have entered professions such as nonprofit arts management and advocacy, media production, and publishing.

2018-2019 Courses

Art History

First-Year Studies: Gods, Heroes, and Kings: Art and Myth in the Ancient World

Open , FYS—Year

In modern terms, myth has come to be commonly understood as the antithesis of history. Whereas history is taken as a reasoned, factual account of the past and how things came to be, myth appears to operate in the realm of fiction or fantasy. Myths may have the claim of venerable tradition, but they are no longer accepted as an accurate record of events. The ancient world, however, made no such black-and-white distinctions. In antiquity, myth was accepted as early history. Its heroes were real, and their actions were thought to exemplify essential paradigms of political order and morality. Consequently, this course will apply a different approach in which myth is distinguished from history not by a truth test but, rather, by virtue of its function as a means of cultural self-representation. We shall examine the myths of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome—both in their literary form and in various media of visual art. Throughout, our goal will be to understand the potency of these narratives as vehicles of social or cultural values and as tools of power legitimizing and justifying closely entwined notions of religious and political authority. The course will close by considering how, in Late Antiquity, Christian narratives and ideologies in the literary and visual arts developed from the mythic traditions that preceded them.

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East vs. West: Europe, the Mediterranean, and Western Asia From Antiquity to the Modern Age

Open , Lecture—Year

Historically, competition or conflict between the European or Mediterranean West and the regions of the Middle East has been seen as a struggle between Christian and Muslim worlds with roots in the era of the Crusades, whose precedent and implications reach into the present time. While this course will focus extensively on the medieval period, it seeks to do so by situating the relations between Christian Europe and the Muslim world within a larger context as the result of geopolitical patterns that long antedated the emergence of Christianity or Islam. In the fall, the course will begin with the Greek invasion of the Near East under Alexander as a war of retribution for the Persian invasion of Greece more than a century earlier. We will consider how the political structure and culture of the multiethnic Hellenistic Greek kingdoms emerged from the wreckage of the Persian Empire and how Rome subsequently built on Hellenistic Greek experience and conflict with the Near East in establishing its empire. We will examine the emergence of Christianity as an example of a Roman or Western response to an originally Eastern religion and, conversely, the emergence of the Islamic faith and its new empire as an Eastern challenge to the Christianized Roman Empire of Late Antiquity. In the spring, we will see how this approach affords a very different view of the Crusades and the battle for the Holy Land as the outgrowth of longstanding cultural and political interactions or competitions that transcend religious faith and doctrine. The course will look at Christian and Muslim cultural relations in Spain and then close by examining the rise of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which originated as a Muslim regime in Eastern Europe and became a major power in Asia only after it had conquered the remaining symbol of the old Christian Roman Empire, Constantinople, in 1453. We will consider primary historical and literary sources, as well as major artistic monuments.

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Genealogies of Modern and Contemporary Art, 1890 to the Present

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture is a superlecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

What was modernism, and how do we describe the shift to what is called contemporary art? Beginning with Henri Matisse, the first half of the course will examine how modernists found a new visual language to navigate a world ravaged by fascism and war; altered by industry, technology, and rationalized forms of labor; and tested by shifting national, ethnic, and gendered identities. What representational strategies did artists use to respond to this upheaval? The fall semester serves as an introduction to the historical avant-gardes in the United States, Mexico, and Europe—including Fauvism, expressionism, cubism, Dada, surrealism, muralism, and abstract expressionism—but it will be organized around thematic questions: What is abstraction as a turn away from the modernized world? What is the relationship between high art and mass culture? What were the political ambitions of modern art, and how were they vocalized materially? How were artists working at the margins speaking back to what they saw to be dominant forms of representation? The second half of the course examines a sea-change that began in the 1960s, as artists tested modernist categories of painting and sculpture; challenged relationships between high art and mass media; incorporated new technologies such as television and video into their art; and questioned the hierarchies of art’s production, reception, and display through protest, activism, and participation. By the end of the ’60s, art faced a crisis that affected its production, medium, spectatorship, and institutions, leading German philosopher Theodor Adorno to note the loss of art’s self-evidence. Looking closely at the art of Europe and the United States and at exchanges with Japan and Brazil, the second half of the course explores a moment of radical artistic critique in which artists transformed traditional categories of artistic production and challenged social, political, and cultural norms. In the last 20 years, all of this shifted with the return to traditional categories of painting and sculpture and the rise of the global art market. We will conclude with a look at contemporary practices as a shift away from avant-garde radicality. Although the course introduces students to some of the issues surrounding art since the 2000s, the main focus in the spring will be to provide a historical context for art from roughly 1960 to 2000—and students will be introduced to major movements, including happenings, pop art, Fluxus, minimalism, conceptual art, site-specificity, Earthworks, feminism, video art, institutional critique, installation, and activist art. Readings will vary from theoretical and scholarly appraisals to artists’ writings and manifestos. Visits to area museums will be part of the curriculum.

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“A Talent for Every Noble Thing”: Art, Architecture in Italy, 1300-1600

Open , Seminar—Year

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 art works 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 first semester 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. The second semester will 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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Architectures of the Future, 1780 to the Present

Open , Seminar—Year

Through PowerPoint presentations, readings, and discussion, the course gives a challenging, inclusive, and nuanced understanding of buildings and monuments; visionaries and builders; users and functions; and thoughts, practices, and theories of architecture from the Enlightenment to today—all claiming in one way or another to rethink the past, realize the present, and, most importantly, create the future. We will learn to read architecture and read with architects; to contextualize form and its urban, sociopolitical, and epistemological implications; and to see how architecture gives form to context, sense to experience, image to philosophy. Over 200 years, notions of ideal beauty, type, and function mutated to progress in form and function and contemporary iterations in theories of the unformed, the sustainable, the mysterious objective, the abject, and the playful. We will analyze major movements (neoclassical, arts and crafts, technological sublime, art nouveau, Bauhaus, postmodernism, deconstruction, new pragmatism, figural, digital, sustainable) and figures (William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Sam Mockbee, Zaha Hadid, Jean Gang). Readings will be drawn from history, philosophy, literature (realist, sci-fi, and visionary), Diderot, Edmund Burke, William Blake, William Morris, Buckminster Fuller, Heidegger, Foucault Benjamin, and others. Projects, papers, an architectural notebook dedicated to class notes, readings, drawings, musings, etc., and a conference project will be required in the history, theory, philosophy, and sociopolitical context, including women as users, patrons, and makers of art and architecture. Well-formulated design projects are a possibility. This course shares connections with visual arts, film, and a broad range of subjects in the humanities and social sciences.

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Masterworks of Art and Architecture of the Western Tradition: Part 1

Open , Seminar—Fall

This is not a yearlong course, but students taking Part 1 will have priority in enrolling for Part 2. (Not open to students who have taken FYS: Art and History)

This is a discussion-based course with some lecture segments, in which students will learn to analyze works of art for meaning against the backdrop of the historical and social contexts in which the works were made. It is not a survey but will have as its subject a limited number of artists and works of art and architecture, about which students will learn in depth through both formal analysis and readings. The goal is to teach students to deal critically with works of art, using the methods and some of the theories of the discipline of art history. The “Western Tradition” is understood here geographically, including works executed by any political or cultural group from the Fertile Crescent, the Mediterranean, and extending to Europe and the Americas. Part 1 (fall semester) will include works from Ancient Mesopotamia through the end of the Middle Ages. Part 2 (spring semester) will cover works from about 1500 to the present.

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Arts of Spain and Latin America, 1492–1820

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course will explore the art and architecture of Spain and Latin America as its lands emerged from colonialism to forge strong independent identities. We will focus on selected topics, including extraordinary artists such as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Cabrera, and Aleijadinho, as well as complex issues surrounding art and identity in contested and textured lands—in particular, Casta painting, colonialism, and arts of revolution and national identity. Students may, if they wish, extend their conference work to later artists (e.g., Diego Rivera, Frida Khalo, José Bedia, Belkis Ayón, among others).

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Masterworks of Art and Architecture of the Western Tradition: Part 2

Open , Seminar—Spring

This is not a yearlong course, but students taking Part 1 will have priority in enrolling for Part 2. (Not open to students who have taken FYS: Art and History)

This is a combination lecture and discussion-based course, in which students will learn to analyze works of art for meaning against the backdrop of the historical and social contexts in which the works were made. It is not a survey but will have as its subject a limited number of artists and works of art and architecture, which students will learn about in depth through both formal analysis and readings. The goal is to teach students to deal critically with works of art, using the methods and some of the theories of the discipline of art history. The “Western Tradition” is understood here geographically, including works executed by any political or cultural group from the Fertile Crescent, the Mediterranean, and extending to Europe and the Americas. Part 1 (fall semester) will include works from Ancient Mesopotamia through the end of the Middle Ages. Part 2 (spring semester) will cover works from about 1500 to the present.

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Christians, Jews, and Muslims and the Arts of Medieval Spain: Art, Religion, and Identity

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

How can we read peoples’ sense of identity in the arts? How do religious identities interact with national, regional, and cultural identities? Is European identity necessarily Christian? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this seminar. From 711 to 1492, the Iberian Peninsula was home to a number of kingdoms with constantly transforming demographics, cities marked by religious pluralism, and kaleidoscopic political alliances between political and religious groups. Opposing forces rarely aligned simply with religious affiliation in medieval Spain. If documents give us a biased and incomplete picture of the relationship between and among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, the arts can provide a different kind of testimony to these rich and complex histories that continue to have an impact on our lives today. This is an intermediate course. Some of the things that would qualify you to enroll for this course would be: having previously taken a course in medieval art or Islamic art; having taken a course in medieval or Islamic history or civilization; or the ability to conduct research in Spanish. You are also welcome during interviews to make a case for other skills or background that you feel might qualify you.

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Object, Site, and Installation

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

How do we understand sculpture’s literalism, its insistent presence in time and space? Taking our cues from the histories of sculpture, readings in sculptural aesthetics, and theories of objects and social space, this focused seminar examines how modern and contemporary artists have defined sculpture in relation to the body, light, and touch; the pedestal, museum, and public sphere; commodities and everyday objects; and other media such as photography, film, video, and sound. We begin with the legacies of neoclassicism and the fraught status of sculpture in modernism and conclude our story with large-scale, immersive installations in contemporary art. Along the way, we find artists remaking the category of sculpture by blurring the boundaries between public and private; using reproducible and two-dimensional media; and making objects that incorporated commodities, things, bodies, and detritus. The course will touch on discourses of modernism, surrealism, minimalism, site-specificity, installation, and participatory art while offering students a toolkit for thinking about theories of objects and relational aesthetics; race, representation, and monumentality; social and public space; and histories of installation and display. Exploring a range of focused case studies—whenever possible, in situ—this course asks what a 20th-century sculpture was and how it operated in the public realm. This course will also entail a focused consideration of the Bruce Nauman exhibition at MoMA and a field trip to Dia:Beacon; students will be encouraged to focus their conference papers on works seen locally.

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Theories of Photography

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

What is a photograph? The question seems simple enough, given the pervasiveness of photographs in our image-saturated world. Yet, as this course will explore, a photograph is a representational framework with competing rhetorical meanings. On the one hand, it is a verisimilitude of the visual world, a proof, resemblance, or transcription. On the other, a photograph is a pictorial invention, a fabricated image that is shot through with its own social and pictorial conventions, located in part through the photograph's framing, lighting, cropping, and point of view. Tracing these contradictory definitions, this course explores how the photograph has been defined and tested from its origins. The seminar will engage—through methodologies of close reading—the canonical texts of photographic theory from key 19th-century sources to modernist and postmodernist texts, as well as more recent writing on race, photography, and the colonization of the body; photography and identity; theories of the archive and representations of labor; photography, war, and violence; and intersections between photography and film. Our discussions of theoretical texts will also be grounded in a consideration of photographs themselves, so that students learn close, analytical visual reading. We will learn to think broadly and diversely about a photograph as an image, an archive, a display, a material thing, and a commodity. We will rely on New York’s rich photographic collections to ground our discussions, and students will be encouraged to focus their conference papers on works seen locally.

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First-Year Studies: How Things Talk: The Linguistic Materialities of Late Capitalism

Open , FYS—Year

One of the effects of advanced capitalism is to complicate the distinction between words and objects and between humans and things. Within the radicalization of market ideologies characterizing our contemporary moment, what counts as inalienable spiritual values as opposed to alienable material entities? Is kindness a virtuous demeanor or a form of immaterial affective labor that requires the performance of specific acts of speech? What should and what should not have a price? Which is the original, and which is the copy? Is a brand a symbol that stands for a product or a product in itself? How can we distinguish medium from message? This course provides an introduction to anthropology’s theories and methods through an investigation of how words and things mediate and enable human experience, creating the complex semiotic landscapes that we inhabit. The aim is to problematize the conventional conceptualizations of language and materiality and show how, within a regime of advanced capitalism, life and labor unfold through complex interplays of semiotic codes, affective registers, and material objects. Throughout the year, students will be introduced to a series of theoretical and ethnographic readings aimed at illustrating the blurred boundaries between words and things, subjects and objects, signs and referents, artworks and artifacts, gifts and commodities, and alienable and inalienable possessions. Aside from achieving a deeper understanding of how our life is shaped by our relation with things and language, students will also be introduced to the craft of ethnography as a method of research and a genre of writing. At the beginning of the fall semester, each participant will be assigned two objects and will be asked to explore them—as an individual item or as a class of objects—through a series of short essays and ethnographic tasks, which may or may not provide the material for a larger conference paper. Contrary to the classic approach in which the ethnographer engages the description of a specific cultural context through the narratives, beliefs, experiences, and actions of human agents, these thing-centered essays will provide mini-ethnographic sketches of how objects produce cultural meanings and social relations. During biweekly group conference meetings, held throughout the fall semester, students will compare notes on their ongoing thing-ethnographies, share their findings, and discuss their theoretical concerns and methodological problems. Students’ thing-ethnographies will also be presented periodically to the entire class during dedicated workshops. The format of these short presentations will be at the discretion of the participant, but students are encouraged to make use of digital voice recording, photography, and video to illustrate the objects and their contexts of use.

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Understanding Experience: Phenomenological Approaches in Anthropology

Open , Seminar—Spring

How does a chronic illness affect a person’s orientation to the everyday? What are the social and political forces that underpin life in a homeless shelter? What is the experiential world of a deaf person, a musician, a refugee, or a child at play? In an effort to answer these and like-minded questions, anthropologists in recent years have become increasingly interested in developing phenomenological accounts of particular “lifeworlds” in order to understand—and convey to others—the nuances and underpinnings of such worlds in terms that more orthodox social or symbolic analyses cannot achieve. In this context, phenomenology entails an analytic method that works to understand and describe in words phenomena as they appear to the consciousnesses of certain peoples. Phenomenology, put simply, is the study of experience. The phenomena most often in question for anthropologists include the workings of time, perception, emotions, selfhood, language, bodies, suffering, and morality as they take form in particular lives within the context of any number of social, linguistic, and political forces. In this course, we will explore phenomenological approaches in anthropology by reading and discussing some of the most significant efforts along these lines. Each student will also try her or his hand at developing a phenomenological account of a specific subjective or intersubjective lifeworld through a combination of interviewing, participant observation research, and ethnographic writing.

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Specters of the Subject: Hauntologies of Ghosts, Phantasms, and Imaginings in Contemporary Life

Advanced , Seminar—Year

“The future belongs to the ghosts,” remarked the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1996. As his interlocutor Bernard Stiegler phrases the main idea behind this statement, “Modern technology, contrary to appearances, increases tenfold the power of ghosts.” With the advent of the Internet, various forms of social media, and the ubiquity of filmic images in our lives, Derrida's observations have proven to be quite prophetic, such that they call for a new field of study—one that requires less an ontology of being and the real and more a “hauntology” (to invoke Derrida's punish term) of the spectral, the virtual, the phantasmic, the imaginary, and the recurrent revenant. In this seminar, we consider ways in which the past and present are haunted by ghosts. Topics to be covered include: specters and hauntings, figures and apparitions, history and memory, trauma and political crisis, fantasy and imagination, digital interfaces, and visual and acoustical images. We will be considering a range of films and video, photography, literary texts, acoustic reverberations, Internet and social media, and everyday discourses and imaginings. Through these inquiries, we will be able to further our understanding of the nature of specters and apparitions in the contemporary world in their many forms and dimensions. Students will be invited to undertake their own hauntologies and thus craft studies of the phenomenal force of specters, hauntings, and the apparitional in particular social or cultural contexts.

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Sacrifice

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Fall

This seminar explores themes of sacrifice in classical Indian and Western traditions. After exploring case studies from ancient India and Greece, we analyze survivals of classical sacrifice in contemporary literature and cinema. Sacrificial practices bridge religious, political, and economic aspects of culture. The sacrifice of a scapegoat channels violence and legitimizes acts of killing or destruction in order to serve social interests of surrogacy and catharsis. As sacrament, sacrifice represents transformational mystery. As ceremonial exchange, it facilitates negotiations of status, observance of boundaries, and the redistribution of goods. In specific cultural settings, sacrifice functions as celebration, as a manifestation of goodwill, as insurance, and/or as a source of communion. Seminar topics include: offerings, gift exchange, fasting and feasting, the warrior ethic, victimization and martyrdom, bloodletting and scarification, asceticism, and renunciation. The seminar addresses the politics of sacrifice and scapegoating through critical inquiry into sati (widow immolation) in India, charity and service tourism, court rituals and judicial proceedings, the targeting of ethnic scapegoats, and gender bullying. Primary texts include Hindu myth and ritual, Greek tragedies, Akedah paintings, the Roman Catholic Eucharist, and selected contemporary short stories and films. Readings are drawn from anthropology, literature, comparative religions, and cultural studies.

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Landscapes in Translation: Cartographies, Visions, and Interventions

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Fall

Open to students with developed skills in critical thinking and analysis of texts. A background in humanities, social sciences, or arts is preferred.

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 first section, Cartographies, explores ideas of landscape in Euro-America, Southeast Asia, and colonial-era Africa. The literatures of critical geography and political ecology provide theory and cases illuminating connections between the position of the cartographer and presuppositions about the nature of the territory being mapped and managed. We examine how landscapes on a variety of scales, from “bioregions” to nations, are imagined, codified, and transformed through representational processes and material moves. The second section, Visions, investigates how landscapes are embodied in fine arts and literature, as well as in garden and urban design. Readings draw on examples of landscape design in colonial New England and Indonesia and on contemporary examples of landscape design in response to climate change. 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, Control: Emerging Security-Scapes, investigates the rise of militarized “security-scapes” or “surveillance-scapes,” dating from slavery in the United States to the Department of Homeland Security in the post-9/11 era. We analyze the visual surround and landscapes seen by remote drone “pilots” scanning Los Angeles and Somalia and surveillance of the occupied Palestinian landscapes. We draw upon websites, advertisements, and new scholarship in security studies, media studies, and social theory.

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History and Aesthetics of Film

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture is a superlecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

This class will provide a detailed survey of the history of moving-image art, as well as an introduction to key aesthetic and theoretical concepts in the study of film. We will study the major elements of film form—editing, photography, shot composition, sound, mise-en-scene—as phenomena emerging from specific historical contexts and chart their development both over time and as they travel around the world. While the emphasis of the earlier part of the course will be on film art’s European and American origins, we will approach it as a truly global phenomenon with considerable attention devoted to East and South Asian, African, Latin American, and Middle Eastern cinemas. While the basic structure of the course will be chronological, we will develop the vocabulary and viewing skills necessary to identify and analyze the key components of film texts as we proceed; for example, our examination of editing will be situated within our discussion of 1920s Soviet cinema, while possible uses and aesthetic implications of sound will be examined alongside a number of diverse early experiments with sound. Other key moments to be studied include the development of the “classical” Hollywood cinema (and challenges to it), the emergence of new national art cinemas in the post-World War II era, the radical cinema traditions of the 1960s and ’70s, and developments in film aesthetics since the introduction of digital filmmaking techniques in the 1990s. Key theoretical approaches in film studies will also be situated in their historical context, including early debates around film’s status as art from the 1910s and ’20s, inquiries into the relationship between photography and reality from the post-World War II period, and Marxist and feminist analyses of the ideological implications of film form and its relationship to the spectator from the 1960s and ’70s.

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Scandal! Surrealism across Poetry, Painting, and Film

Open , Seminar—Fall

This seminar will provide an in-depth survey of surrealism, one of the most important, exciting, and enduring artistic movements of the 20th century. Surrealism was also the first literary and artistic faction to seriously engage with the new medium of film, and its makers represent the first generation of artists to have grown up with film. Developing as an offshoot of Dadaism in the wake of World War I, surrealism was officially founded in 1924 with the publication of André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto. The groundbreaking work of Sigmund Freud, exploring the unconscious, provided a major source of inspiration for these artists, who were struggling to understand themselves and the horror they had just survived. Surrealism would be not only transnational—moving beyond its original roots in Paris to become a truly international avant-garde movement—but also transmedia, whose proponents were poets (Breton, Louis Aragon, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard), painters (André Masson, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí), and filmmakers (Germaine Dulac, Man Ray, Luis Buñuel), who often collaborated. Our weekly screenings will begin first with a surrealist precursor, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, followed by two masterpieces of surrealist film, Buñuel and Dalí’s Un Chien andalou and L’Âge d’or, which not only changed the way most of us see and think about cinema but also paved the way for horror films. We will trace surrealism’s influence in Buñuel’s later career and, in Hollywood, through the work of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, the Coen Brothers, and Martin Scorsese. Our readings will explore, in translation, the writings of the surrealists themselves, along with key secondary literature. Student conference projects will concentrate on one visual artwork from the upcoming exhibition, Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s, from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.

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Realisms

Open , Seminar—Fall

The seminar will examine key genealogies, debates, and critical responses relating to cinematic realism: the diverse historical “realisms” on which it draws and the range of meanings, uses, and abuses of the term. Questions of realism have been carried over from the traditional arts and literature but have undergone a sea change with the advent of photography and cinematography. While the concept of realism seemed bracketed by postmodern discourses, realism as an effect and as a value or aspiration still haunts the cinematic imagination and engages the media at large. The claim to presence carried by photographic indexicality; the cultural conventions of mimesis and illusionism; the shifting values of document, witness, testimony; the relation of the material and the referential, of the authentic and the composed—all ensure the continued fascination with realism and its myriad forms through our time. Traversing fiction and documentary, features and shorts, mainstream and experimental forms, the seminar will consider both classical cases and challenging examples from diverse cinemas and cultural moments and discuss the political implications of realism and its capacity for transmutation and revival. Screenings will include Wyler’s Best Years of our Lives, Bresson’s Mouchette, Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, Kiarostami’s Close-Up, and many others.

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Romantic Europe

Open , Seminar—Year

Between the 1790s and the middle of the 19th century, European culture was largely shaped by the broad current of thought and feeling that we know as “Romanticism.” This course will examine the rise of the romantic sensibility in the decades between the 1760s and 1800 and survey diverse manifestations of Romanticism in thought, literature, and art during the subsequent half-century. We will pay particular attention to the complex relations between Romanticism and the three most portentous historical developments of its era: the French Revolution; the birth of industrial society in Britain; and the rise of national consciousness among Germans, Italians, and other European peoples. Readings will include prose fiction by Goethe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Walter Scott; poetry by Wordsworth, Shelley, Hölderlin, and Mickiewicz; works on religion, ethics, and the philosophy of history; and political treatises by the pioneers of modern conservativism, liberalism, and socialism.

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The Enlightenment

Open , Seminar—Year

The 18th-century Enlightenment was arguably the most important single episode in the last thousand years of European intellectual history—the true watershed between the “premodern” world and the “modern” world. Yet historians have found the Enlightenment to be a singularly elusive phenomenon. Enlightenment thought was woven of several very different strands; the champions of “enlightenment” shared a surprisingly large number of assumptions with their supposed opponents; and some of the beliefs that we regard as most characteristic of the Enlightenment were already being attacked by Rousseau and other adventurous pre-Romantic thinkers before the century was half over. This course will examine the development of the Enlightenment from its origins in the age of the Baroque to its demise in the era of the French Revolution and Romanticism. While the course’s central focus will be ideas, values, and sensibilities, we will also consider the economic, social, and political context of the Enlightenment and examine the revolutionary upheavals in European politics and culture that brought it to an end. We will conclude by discussing several key texts of the 1790s that typify the revolt against the Enlightenment outlook with which the 18th century ended.

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The Blues Ethos and Jazz Aesthetics: A History of African Americans in the City

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

By the 20th century, African Americans in the city produced the genius of blues and jazz, including distinctive aesthetics of pleasure in music and dance. Artists like Bessie Smith, Ma‘ Rainey, Billy Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young, and Duke Ellington were paradigmatic in that cultural production. Those aesthetics influenced the black imagination in social, political, and cultural development, including not only the Harlem Renaissance and Chicago Black Renaissance but also the Black Arts Movement. With that cultural and historical background, students in this seminar will explore a variety of research projects.

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Gender, Race, and Media: Historicizing Visual Culture

Advanced , Seminar—Year

In this course, we will engage with the field of visual culture in order to develop a critical framework through which we may understand visual perception as a set of practices that inform, and are informed by, structures of power. Throughout the semester and the year, we will consider the following questions: What does it mean, from a historical perspective, to live in a society that seemingly privileges visual perception? How does power figure into past and contemporary viewing practices? How have visual technologies been leveraged to situate alternative practices of looking more squarely within the Western public’s fields of vision? We will accomplish this by focusing on the rich scholarship of visual culture theory, media and communication scholarship that foregrounds gender and racial analysis, and the excellent work that bridges media/visual studies and women’s history. We will work with a variety of texts, such as art, advertising, print magazines, television programming, film, and social media. Readings roughly span the 19th century through the contemporary era. Through our readings, we will observe the ways in which the 19th-century production and circulation of images of the “other” and a gendered gaze began to take on a particular potency in the United States and Europe with the growth of industrialization, commercial advertising, and immigration. Twentieth-century scholarship will focus on, among other things, the rise of a global media landscape in which the lines between producers and consumers of media became increasingly blurred. An examination of contemporary viewing practices will enable us to consider some of the implications of a radically fractured “mediascape” and its attendant struggles over ownership of meaning, as media technologies enable visual processes of signification to spin out wildly in unpredictable and surprising directions.

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First-Year Studies: 20th-Century Italian Literature

Open , FYS—Year

No previous knowledge of Italian is required.

The course will explore 20th-century Italian literature, focusing on important literary figures, works, and movements (e.g., futurism, neorealism) that helped shape the century. Italy had become a unified nation in 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.” We will examine sources ranging from manifestos and propaganda to poetry, fiction (novels and short stories), memoirs, and diaries; the main focus, however, will be on the novel. Texts will include those authored by Gabriele D’Annunzio, Ignazio Silone, Vasco Pratolini, F. T. Marinetti, Italo Svevo, Grazia Deledda, Sibilla Aleramo, Alba de Céspedes, Alberto Moravia, Anna Banti, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, and Italo Calvino. Readings will be supplemented by secondary-source material that will help outline the social, historical, and political context in which those authors lived and wrote, as well as provide relevant critical frameworks for the study of their works. Individual conferences will be held every other week; conference topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, or topic relevant to the course and that might be of interest to the student. On alternate weeks, we will have group activities that may include film screenings, museum visits, and talks relevant to the week’s topics.

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First-Year Studies: Fops, Coquettes, and the Masquerade: Fashioning Gender and Courtship From Shakespeare to Austen

Open , FYS—Year

This section of first-year studies traces the representation of gender difference and romantic attachment on the page and stage from 1590 to 1820, a crucial period in the consolidation of modern assumptions about sexuality, marriage, and gendered behavior. The emphasis will be on drama and prose fiction; but we will also sample a range of other expressive forms, including lyric and narrative poetry, visual satire and portraiture, conduct literature, and life-writing. Along the way, students will be introduced to some of the most compelling figures in European literature, all of whom share an interest in the conventions of courtship and the performance of gender: John Milton, the foremost epic poet in the language (we will read Paradise Lost in its entirety); Aphra Behn, England’s first professional female author; bawdy comic playwrights like George Etherege and William Wycherley; the innovative early novelists Eliza Haywood, Daniel Defoe, and Samuel Richardson; the masterful verse satirist Alexander Pope; the pioneering periodical writers Joseph Addison and Richard Steele; the cross-dressing memoirist Charlotte Charke; and Mary Wollstonecraft, the founder of modern feminism. Bracketing the yearlong course will be extended coverage of the two most influential authors of courtship narratives in English, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. Additional attention will be paid to earlier writers on sex and marriage, such as Ovid and St. Paul, as well as to contemporary work in queer theory and gender studies. We will also consider select films that reflect the legacy of early modern fictions of gender by directors like Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock. Please note that this course will necessarily include candid discussions of sensitive subject matter, including sexual violence.

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The Bible and Literature

Open , Lecture—Year

The Bible: the story of all things, an epic of human liberation and imaginative inspiration; a riven and riveting family saga that tops all others in its depiction of romance, intrigue, deception, seduction, betrayal, existential dread, love, reconciliation, and redemption; an account, as one commentator described it, of God’s ongoing “lover’s quarrel” with humanity; a primary source book for major literature across the planet, still powerful in its influence on the style and subject matter of both prose and poetry. In the first term, this course will provide close readings of major biblical narratives and poetry in Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Lectures will explore and interpret a number of patterns and literary types: the major historical narratives of both scriptures; the poetics and speech acts of creation, blessing, promise, covenant, curse, and redemption; the visionary prophetic tradition from Moses to John, the writer of the Apocalypse; the self-reflective theological interpretations of history by Hebrew chroniclers and the New Testament letters of Paul; the sublime poetry of the Psalms, the Song of Songs, and the Apocalypse of John; and the dark wisdom of the Book of Job and of Ecclesiastes. The second term will study the work of major writers who have grounded their own work in biblical themes, narrative patterns, characters, and images and who have so transformed their biblical sources as to challenge their readers to rethink what scripture is and how it works. Selections will be drawn from the work of Dante Alighieri, John Milton, John Bunyan, William Blake, Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison. If there is enough interest in the class, there will be a “Bible Blockbusters” film series on Sunday evenings during the spring term.

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17th-Century British Literature

Open , Seminar—Year

Prerequisite: At least one year of a college-level class in the humanities or a strong AP course in literature.

In England during the 17th century, the great ordering coherences of medieval and earlier Renaissance thinking seemed to disintegrate under the warring impulses of individualism and authority, empiricism and faith, and revolutionary transformation and reinforcement of tradition. Yet, even as monarchy and established church were challenged and torn apart, the 17th century produced an extraordinary flowering of drama, poetry, and prose that expressed the contradictory energies of the period. This course will study English writing of the 17th century in a roughly chronological sequence. The first semester will explore the aesthetics and ideology of the Stuart court and the robust and bawdy urban center of London through a reading of masques and plays by Jonson and Shakespeare and their contemporaries; dramatic and meditative experiments in “metaphysical” and moral verse by John Donne, Ben Jonson, Aemilia Lanyer, George Herbert, and other poets; various developments in scientific, philosophical, and meditative prose by Francis Bacon, Richard Burton, and Thomas Browne; and the early poetry of John Milton. The second semester will study major writing in the period of the English Revolution and Restoration. Our focus will be on Milton, but we will also study the poetry of the Cavaliers, Katherine Philips, Andrew Marvell, and John Dryden and the prose of Thomas Hobbes, John Bunyan, Aphra Behn, and Margaret Cavendish.

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Translation Studies: Poetics, Politics, Theory, and Practice

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

Linguistic proficiency in a foreign language is strongly recommended.

Translation is the process by which meanings are conveyed within the same language, as well as across different languages, cultures, forms, genres, and modes. The point of departure for this course is that all interpretive acts are acts of translation, that the very medium that makes translation possible—language itself—is already a translation. Because difference, “otherness,” or foreignness is a property of language, of every language, perhaps some of the most interesting problems that we will address revolve around the notion of “the untranslatable.” What is it that escapes, resists, or gets inevitably lost in translation? And what is gained? Does linguistic equivalence exist? How do we understand the distinction between literal and figurative, formal and vernacular, expression? And what underlies our assumptions about the authenticity of the original text or utterance and its subsequent versions or adaptations? Although translation is certainly poetics, it is also the imperfect—and yet necessary—basis for all cultural exchange. As subjects in a multicultural, multilingual, and intertextual universe, all of us “live in translation”; but we occupy that space differently, depending on the status of our language(s) in changing historical, political, and geographic contexts. How has the history of translation theory and practice been inflected by colonialism and postcolonialism? How are translation and power linked in the global literary marketplace? Our readings will alternate between the work of theorists and critics who have shaped what we call translation studies and literary texts that thematize or enact the process of translation, beginning with Genesis and the Tower of Babel. In addition, a workshop component to this course, involving visiting members of the foreign-language faculty and other practitioners of translation, will engage students directly in the challenges of translating.

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First-Year Studies: The New Elements: Mathematics and the Arts

Open , FYS—Year

The development of linear perspective in Renaissance painting presents one of the clearest examples of the intersection of mathematics and the arts. To paraphrase art historian Erwin Panofsky, perspective recasts perceptual space as a uniform, infinite, abstract space with its own logical and aesthetic properties. The mathematics needed in perspectival constructions was worked out by Euclid in antiquity. What novel aesthetic and logical forms are made possible by the mathematics beyond Euclid’s Elements? This seminar will explore the bearing of modern mathematical ideas on 20th-century Western creative and performing arts. While we will not aim for a comprehensive survey of the entire last century, we will investigate a sequence of case studies, including: De Stijl and the painting of Piet Mondrian; serialism and the music of Arnold Schoenberg; the Bauhaus in Germany and its legacy; OuLiPo, “a secret laboratory of literary structures” in postwar French literature; American postmodern dance; and structural film, among others. Mathematical topics will include sets, logic, non-Euclidean geometry, topology, and chance. A central goal of the seminar is to assess the meaning of structure as it pertains to artistic and mathematical practices. This course assumes no particular expertise with mathematics or cultural history. Seminar readings and a program of art viewings will establish a basis for investigating the relevance of fundamental mathematical concepts to modern literature and the arts. Outside the seminar, students will attend both individual and group conferences. Weekly individual conference meetings for the first six weeks of the fall semester will give students the opportunity to develop their first individualized conference projects, focusing on a particular mathematical structure. Individual conferences after the first six weeks will be held on a weekly or biweekly basis, depending on student progress. During the fall semester, a series of group conferences will afford students time for art viewings and collaborative writing and problem solving.

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First-Year Studies: The Senses: Art and Science

Open , FYS—Year

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 to 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. This is a collaborative course. The main small-group collaborative activity is a sensory lab where students will have the opportunity to explore their own sensory perceptions in a systematic way, investigating how they relate to language, memory, and emotion. The other group activities include some museum visits: The American Museum of Natural History has a current exhibit devoted to the senses, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an encyclopedic collection that will be the focus of a group curation assignment, and MOMA holds a wealth of abstract perceptual possibilities that we will investigate together.

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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 visual neuroscience and art-making 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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Lost and Found: Collage and the Recycled Image

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course will consider the use, reuse, and, therefore, possible reinterpretation of existing images and discarded materials in the production of new works of art. The creative potential of viewing the familiar in a new context will be the focus of our exploration. Issues such as recognition, replication, prime objects, invention within variation, appropriation, history, and memory (both personal and cultural) will be examined. Each student will be expected to nurture and sustain a unique and individual point of view. The course will revolve around daily exercises, clearly-defined problems, and assignments both inside and outside the studio that are designed to sharpen awareness and reinforce the kind of disciplined work habits necessary to every creative endeavor.

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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. Conference work entails research into historical movements and individual artist’s working methods. 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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3D Modeling

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course introduces students to the process of constructing digital objects and environments in 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 readings and discussion, students will also be encouraged to consider the conceptual ramifications of working in computer 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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Introduction to Digital Imaging

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course covers contemporary digital practice, with an emphasis on Photoshop skills and imaging techniques from scanning to printing. Proper digital workflow is the focus, while working through the basics of image manipulation tools, color correction, and retouching. The skills covered will build a solid basis for further exploration of photography, fine-art printing, and more radical digital experiments. The broader classroom discussion emphasizes computer-generated and -manipulated imagery as a new paradigm in contemporary art, photography, and culture in general. Students are encouraged to explore the potential of digital tools in the context of their personal work—visual arts-related or otherwise—stressing open-ended visual possibilities, as well as technical and conceptual rigor.

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First-Year Studies: The New Narrative Photography

Open , FYS—Year

A photograph presented alone and without a descriptive caption is like a simple utterance: “ooh!” or “aah!” or “huh?” When pictures are presented in groups with accompanying text and perhaps in conjunction with political or poetic conceptual strategies, however, any statement becomes possible. Collectively, photographs can begin to function as a sentence, a paragraph, or a larger discourse. Whether working in fiction or nonfiction, artists such as Alan Sekula, Robert Frank, Susan Meiselas, Taryn Simon, Jim Goldberg, Roni Horn, and others have transformed the reach of the photograph. Collectively, they have created a medium: The New Narrative Photography. In this course, students will study the work of artists and others and will create their own bodies of work. If you have a story to tell or a statement to make, 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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Problems in Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

This class will deal with the ways in which contemporary artists working in photography discover and develop the problems central to their work. We will use these encounters to help focus and understand our own picture making. Looking at the work of a single artist, or even a single work by an artist, will provide an opportunity to unearth and understand the influences and histories on which these works depend. For example, we could begin with a Cindy Sherman untitled film still and then use Sherman’s work to discuss the conditions of postmodernism, look back at the development of self-portraiture in photography, consider the feminist tradition, and unpack the cultural and political moment in which the work was made. Students will then be asked to respond to the material raised in this discussion with their own work made from their own position and perspective. Students should expect reading and looking assignments, as well as shooting assignments. An interest in art history and a basic knowledge of DSLR cameras, inkjet printing, and Adobe Photoshop is encouraged. Conference work for the course will be an independent photographic project to be shared in critique a number of times each semester.

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The Ideas of Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

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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Wood, Dust, Nail

Open , Seminar—Year

This yearlong class gets its name from the materials list for a sculpture by the artist David Hammons. What can these three things tell us about contemporary sculpture? How can a wall, dust, and a nail work together to produce sculptural meaning? Hammons was an elusive figure and made artworks that reflected his belief that sculpture could function within the space where the poetic overlapped with the absurd, where absence was just as important as visibility, and where the mundane could reveal profound truths. In this class, we will use this artwork as inspiration as we take a broad look at what it means to make sculpture against the backdrop of contemporary art. We will focus on sculpture’s ability to act as commentary, critique, or even perversion of the existing physical world. Assignments will deal with all aspects of making, including, but not limited to, technique, materials, textures, scavenging, sleep, Metamucil™, omelettes, Amy Winehouse, the state of Georgia, thirst traps, a semicolon, dirt. We will spend time really LOOKING at things and trying to unpack all the ways in which objects in the world can produce complex ideas. The act of looking informs how we think and how we feel, and this class will dwell at length on this. Experimentation will be highly encouraged, as students learn to work within sculptural language and realize the way it can produce meaning on a material, emotional, and even psychological level. The fall semester will focus on assignments aimed at getting students familiar with basic concepts. The spring semester will work toward more individualized projects geared toward students’ interests. In addition, studio demonstrations, in-class presentations, related readings, and field trips to galleries and museums will supplement class time, as we absorb contemporary sculpture in all its possible forms. While this is an open-level seminar, students should expect a demanding class. Be prepared to bring a strong work ethic, along with a desire to challenge yourself. This class is ideal for students with some familiarity working sculpturally and who have ideas they already want to explore.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio

Open , Seminar—Fall

This interdisciplinary studio course is intended for advanced visual-arts students to transition their art making from an assignment-based approach to individual studio practice. The course will support students working in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, performance. and new-genres art forms. 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. In addition to weekly critiques, we will discuss how formal aspects and expressive strategies of art making in the 20th and 21st centuries are considered and evaluated in their social and political contexts. Relationships of past art to the development of contemporary art will be addressed. We will also examine how traditional mediiums of painting and drawing relates to more contemporary mediums such as film, photography, video, and performance. During the fall semester, students will be given open-ended prompts from which they will be asked to experiment with how they make work and will be encouraged to work across mediums.The class will feature image presentations, readings, group discussions, studio critiques and trips to artist’s studios, and participation with the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for disciplined art students interested in making art in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Poetry: What Holds The Unsayable

Open , Seminar—Spring

Poems are not merely feelings, the poet Ranier Maria Rilke has written, but experiences. What is the difference between a feeling and an experience? How can a poem become an experience? How can a poem, originating from the personal, transcend the personal? How can writing the poem transform the writer? Every poem holds the unsayable. How does a poem do that? How can we attempt to do that—using words? If you are interested in these questions, take this course. The course is open to experienced writers, as well as to absolute beginners. If you are interested in these questions, you are welcome. This is a reading/writing course. We will spend time every week reading poems that have already been published (by dead poets and living poets) to see how they were made: music, syntax, line, sound, and image. We might spend time generating new work in class through exercises and experiments. And we will spend time looking closely at one another’s work, encouraging each other to take risks and to move even closer to the mystery of the poem. Each writer in the class will meet with another class member once a week on a “poetry date.” Each writer will be responsible for reading the assigned work and for bringing to class one written offering each week. We will work hard, learn a great deal about poetry and about our own poems, and have a wonderful time.

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A Kind of Haunting: A Poetry Workshop

Open , Seminar—Spring

In James E. Young’s essay, “Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin: The Uncanny Arts of Memorial Architecture,” Young describes Libeskind’s designing of the Jewish Museum in Berlin and how essential to its design was the folding in of fragment, void, interruption, and other iterations of rupture. Of Libeskind’s project, Young writes “His drawings for the museum thus look more like the sketches of the museum’s ruins, a house whose wings have been scrambled and reshaped by the jolt of genocide. It is a devastated site that would now enshrine its broken forms.” In this poetry workshop, we will examine the different ways in which poetry can allow for what cannot be articulated—either because there are simply no words to convey what must be said or because the speaker cannot utter what must be said—and how allowing space for the unspeakable can result in a kind of haunting in a poem. Each class will begin with the discussion of an outside text and then move on to the workshopping of students’ poems. Texts we will be reading and examining include James E. Young’s essay, as well as writings by Jacques Derrida, Mark Fisher, Darian Leader, excerpts from Laura Oldfield Ford’s ‘zines Savage Messiah, excerpts from films, contemporary artwork, and, of course, poetry. Readings from poetry may include work by Cathy Song, Fred Moten, Dionne Brand, Denise Riley, Helene Dunmore, Sean Bonney, Novalis, and the fragments of Hölderlin.

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