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.

Art History 2022-2023 Courses

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

FYS—Year | 10 credits

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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First-Year Studies: Histories of Art and Climate Crisis

FYS—Year | 10 credits

What can art tell us about humans’ relationships to land and environment? How does art shape our understanding of climate crisis and the Anthropocene or how humans have indelibly altered the Earth? This course offers a history of modern and contemporary art, from the 19th century to the present, through the lenses of the environment, ecology, and climate crisis. In the fall, we will explore the category of landscape painting, asking how Euro-American artists portrayed ideologies of imperialism, settler colonialism, and Western expansionism through the genre of landscape. We will also explore how Indigenous artists defined place, land, and embodiment as counter-histories to the dominant white, Western norm and look at representations of pollution, atmosphere, and climate across media. In the spring, we will consider how 20th- and 21st-century artists became environmentalists, ecofeminists, and environmental-justice activists across media. How have artists across the globe visualized the effects of climate change, making tangible geological shifts that might seem invisible or happening elsewhere? How can art help us understand the past and shape discourses for the future? As an FYS course in art history, this course will introduce you to the skills of close reading, visual analytical writing, and library research. Assignments will include visual analysis essays, reading responses, peer reviews, a Wikipedia editing project, and a curatorial project. In the spring, this FYS course will participate in the Mellon-funded Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE) course cluster in climate justice, which will entail attending lectures and a student symposium on climate justice, as well as collaborative dialogues between students in different disciplines. Individual conference meetings will alternate biweekly with group activities that may include field trips to area museums, writing workshops, and research sessions. Conference projects will entail writing a long-form research paper or presenting your research in an alternate format, such as a podcast or an online exhibition.

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Histories of Modern and Contemporary Art

Open, Lecture—Year | 10 credits

This yearlong course is an introduction to modern and contemporary art from 1860 to the present, focusing on its histories and counter-histories, canonical narratives, and underrepresented artists. In the fall, we will explore modernism in Europe, North America, and Latin America, investigating how artists responded to a world ravaged by fascism, colonialism, 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 these upheavals? How is the history of Eurocentric avant-garde art also one of colonization and cultural appropriation? The course serves as an introduction to the historical avant-gardes, including Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Constructivism, Vorticism, Dada, Surrealism, Muralism, the Harlem Renaissance, Abstract Expressionism, and Neoconcretism—as well as to alternative modernisms that fall outside the canon, including so-called “outsider” art, queer modernisms, and modernisms in India and Japan. In the spring, we will explore a sea-change that began in the 1950s as artists tested modernist categories of painting and sculpture; incorporated new technologies such as television and video into their art; and questioned patriarchal hierarchies through protest, activism, and audience participation. Our main focus will be art from 1960 to 2000, including Gutai, Happenings, Pop Art, Fluxus, Minimalism, Global Conceptual Art, Site-Specificity, Earthworks, the Chicano Arts Movement, the Black Arts Movement, Feminism, Video Art, Institutional Critique, Installation, Activist Art, Participatory Art, Relational Aesthetics, Craft, and New Media, with less attention paid to art since 2000. Throughout, we will focus on specific artworks and gain a vocabulary for close looking, while also attending to primary sources (manifestos, letters, statements, poems) and secondary, art historical and theoretical accounts. Assignments will include papers and reviews (based on works in New York City collections), weekly worksheets, peer reviews, presentations, reading responses, a contextual research essay, and a Wikipedia editing assignment. This course is a lecture-seminar hybrid. One lecture a week will be presented to introduce you to the broader movements. Weekly group conferences will look at case studies of artists responding to a dominant modernism, as well as methodological debates about decentering the canon.

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Art and Society in the Lands of Islam

Open, Lecture—Fall | 5 credits

This course will explore the architecture and visual arts of societies in which Islam is a strong political, cultural, or social presence. We will follow the history of some of these societies through the development of their arts and architecture, using case studies to explore their diverse artistic languages from the advent of Islam through the contemporary world. We will begin with an introduction to the history surrounding the advent of Islam and the birth of arts and architecture that respond to the needs of the new Islamic community. We will proceed to follow the developments of diverse artistic and architectural languages of expression as Islam spreads to the Mediterranean and to Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America—exploring the ways in which arts can help define and express identities for people living in multiconfessional societies. We will then draw this exploration into the present day, in which global economics, immigration, and politics draw the architecture and artistic attitudes of Islam into the global contemporary discourse. Our work will include introductions to some of the theoretical discourses that have emerged concerning cultural representation and exchange and appropriation in art and architecture. One of our allied goals will be to learn to read works of art and to understand how an artistic expression that resists representation can connect with its audience. And throughout this course, we will ask: Can there be an Islamic art?

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Arts of Spain and Latin America, 1492–1820: Imperial, Resistant, Colonial, and Transcultural Arts

Open, Lecture—Spring | 5 credits

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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The Ancient Mediterranean

Open, Seminar—Year | 10 credits

Although the Romans come to mind most immediately as the people who absorbed and passed on the achievements of Greek civilization to the Western world, the transmission of Greek culture to Western posterity was a far more complex process involving various other peoples. Already during the late second millennium BC, Greek culture began to interact with that of its neighbors in the Near East and Egypt to produce a common, “international,” Eastern Mediterranean cultural zone. Later, after a period of collapse and regression in the early first millennium BC, renewed contact with the East would revitalize and revolutionize Greek culture which, in due course, came to dominate the entire Mediterranean region—even among Near Eastern peoples like the Phoenicians, who had formerly been the teachers of the Greeks. But it was especially among the peoples of Italy—above all, the Etruscans and early Romans—that Greek artistic and literary culture took root. No other region was ever able to absorb Greek ideas so thoroughly and consistently while also managing to preserve a unique cultural identity. In the end, it would be the Romans rather than the Greeks themselves who would spread and administer an advanced stage of Hellenism from western Asia to Britain. The course will explore these issues for the entire year. The fall portion, The Early Greeks and Their Neighbors, will first examine the beginnings of Greek civilization in the Late Bronze Age—its relation to Minoan Crete and Egypt, as well as connections with the Hittites, Phoenicians, and Assyrians to the east. Then, we will consider the so-called “Orientalizing” process in which the Greeks adapted Phoenician and Egyptian culture to produce a distinctive new civilization in the seventh and sixth centuries BC. The spring half of the course, Ancient Italy and the Hellenization of the West, will focus on how the Greeks affected Italic peoples like the Etruscans and, above all, the Romans—who emerged as the dominant political force in Italy and then across the Mediterranean and southern Europe. The course will apply a varied approach, concentrating largely on material culture, art, and architecture but also on literary and historical data in order to achieve a larger cultural perspective.

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Masterworks of Art and Architecture of Western Traditions

Open, Seminar—Year | 10 credits

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 groups from the Fertile Crescent, the Mediterranean, and extending to Europe and the Americas. The course will include works from Ancient Mesopotamia through the present.

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

Advanced, Seminar—Fall

“The future belongs to the ghosts,” remarked the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1996. 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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History and Aesthetics of Film

Open, Lecture—Year

This class will provide both a detailed survey of the history of moving-image art and an introduction to key aesthetic and theoretical concepts in the study of film. We will study the major elements of film form—editing, cinematography, sound, mise-en-scène—as phenomena emerging from specific historical contexts and chart their development both over time and also as they travel around the world. While the emphasis of the earlier part of the course will be on film’s European and American origins, we will approach film 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 American and 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 will include the development of “classical” Hollywood cinema (and challenges to it), the emergence of new national art cinemas in the post-World War II era, the radical cinema 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 different critical approaches to the analysis of the ideological implications of film and its relationship to the spectator.

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The Movie Musical

Open, Lecture—Fall

Long dismissed as shallow mass entertainment, the movie musical remains an understudied genre despite its century-long popularity, global scope, and recurring role in film history. This lecture course offers a layered cultural history of the movie musical from the 1920s to the present, approaching it as a uniquely intermedial, transnational perspective from which to study film. Students will learn to read movie musicals through a mixture of formal analysis and material history. We will read canonical scholars, as well as more recent multidisciplinary work on the movie musical as a site for ideological contestation; performance politics; and aesthetic, narrative, and technological experimentation. In particular, we will highlight the genre’s power for hiding labor behind spectacles of seemingly spontaneous mass performance and rehearsing modern social conflicts through heterosexual couple-driven, dual-focus plots (Jets vs. Sharks, town vs. city, etc.). Other topics include: the roots of the movie musical in vaudeville, minstrelsy, opera, and ballet; the musical’s relationship to new cinematic technologies, labor forms, and industrial practices; the musical’s relationship to questions of gender, sexuality, and race; and the musical as a globally circulating and mutating “mass” cultural form. While much of our focus will be on classical Hollywood (1920s-1960s), we will also watch films from France, the Soviet Union, England, East Germany, Mexico, India, and Australia.

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Arcades, Trains, and Hysterics: 19th-Century Foundations of Film

Open, Seminar—Fall

This seminar will examine film history and analysis through a proto-cinematic lens inspired by the Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin’s montage-style compendium of Parisian modernization. With this canonical academic experiment as catalyst, we will excavate the 19th-century techno-cultural foundations of film, placing a particular emphasis on the train, department store, factory, metropolis, and mental life. How did these modern developments shape the materiality and content of early films? And what do they have to tell us about film today? Alongside weekly screenings, we will read classic texts of critical theory (Marx, Freud, Simmel, Benjamin, Kracauer, Adorno); modern/modernist fiction (Poe, Baudelaire, Zola, Pirandello, Keun, Du Bois); and new cultural history on hysterical performance, shell shock cinema, human motors, spectacular realities, and slapstick modernism. We will also watch films directed by Charlie Chaplin, René Clair, Jacques Tati, Chantal Akerman, Boots Riley, and Bong Joon-ho. In this class, students will get an overview of European modernity studies and learn to read films media-archaeologically, tying them to the major industrial shifts, perceptual transformations, and hybrid forms from which cinema emerged as a dominant mass medium.

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Contemporary Moving-Image Art

Open, Lecture—Fall

This course highlights the work of a single contemporary artist each week, providing masterclasses and conversations with them both in person and in virtual space. The highlighted artists’ work will cover a range of visual forms, including feature films, video art, internet art, installation art, virtual reality, and video games. The themes explored in the works presented will provide a broad view of political representation, formal experimentation, and personal expression. Through weekly visiting-artist lectures, we will explore the history of the moving image; discuss its impact on broader cultural issues; and analyze the power of this art form as a tool for self expression, a platform for worldbuilding, and an agent of social change. Conferences will be dedicated to discussing the work in small groups, considering it within the field of contemporary moving-image art. Students are expected to make connections between the work presented in class and current issues through weekly written responses.

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Experimental Animation: Materials and Methods

Open, Seminar—Fall

Animation is the magic of giving life to objects and materials through motion. Whether through linear storytelling or conceptual drive, a sense of wonder is achieved with materials, movement, and transformation. Combining digital processes with handmade techniques, this class helps students hone their design skills to create short works that communicate through simplicity. The emphasis of the class is on process and concept, starting with a series of workshops intended to enhance student's skills in idea generation, concept development, and material animation techniques. The class includes instruction in a variety of undercamera, stop-motion processes, including: cut-out paper animation, sequential drawing, sand, after-effects motion graphics, simple object animation, and green-screen performance for stop motion. All aspects of progressive movement are covered, especially the laying out of ideas through time and the establishment of convincing motion. The course includes instruction in basic design techniques, material manipulation, movement and timing, color, and concept development. A brief foundational study of the history of experimental animation is introduced through viewing animated film work of artists from around the globe. During the semester, each student completes five short animated films, ranging in length from 30 seconds to two minutes. Students are required to provide their own external media hard drive and to purchase some additional art materials. Software instruction includes AfterEffects, Adobe Premier, and Dragonframe. The aim of this course is to explore freely with materials in order to trailblaze fresh narrative and aesthetic possibilities in animation. Final projects may be executed as animated or hybrid films or as animated video projections for installation or performance. Collaborations with music, dance, or theatre students can be established at the incentive of individual class participants.

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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 and previsualization 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 this 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, for pitching projects, to professional agencies, and—most importantly—for you, the maker. Storyboard Pro software will be used throughout this course.

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Readings in Intermediate Greek

Intermediate, Seminar—Fall

Qualified students will read selected passages of Homer and Herodotus in Greek. The class will meet twice each week.

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Beginning Italian: Viaggio in Italia

Open, Seminar—Year

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

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Intermediate Italian: Modern Italian Culture and Literature

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

This course aims at improving and perfecting the students’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, as well as their knowledge of Italy’s contemporary culture and literature. In order to acquire the necessary knowledge of Italian grammar, idiomatic expressions, and vocabulary, a review of all grammar will be carried out throughout the year. As an introduction to modern Italian culture and literature, students will be introduced to a selection of short stories, poems, and passages from novels, as well as specific newspaper articles, music, and films in the original language. Some of the literary works will include selections from Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino, Natalia Ginzburg, Gianni Rodari, Marcello D’Orta, Clara Sereni, Dino Buzzati, Stefano Benni, Antonio Tabucchi, Alberto Moravia, Achille Campanile, and Elena Ferrante. In order to address the students’ writing skills, written compositions will be required as an integral part of the course. All material is accessible on MySLC. Conferences are held on a biweekly basis; topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, film, or any other aspect of Italian society and culture that might be of interest to the student. Conversation classes (in small groups) will be held twice a week with the language assistant, during which students will have the opportunity to reinforce what they have learned in class and hone their ability to communicate in Italian. When appropriate, students will be directed to specific internship opportunities in the New York City area, centered on Italian language and culture.

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Beginning Latin

Open, Seminar—Year

This course provides an intensive introduction to Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, with a view toward reading the language as soon as possible. Close reading of Vergil’s Aeneid in English will accompany intensive language study in the fall. By midsemester, students will be translating authentic excerpts of Latin poetry and prose. During the spring semester, while continuing to develop and refine their knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary, students will read selections from Vergil’s Aeneid in Latin.

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First-Year Studies: Reality Check: Homer, Herodotus, and the Invention of History

FYS—Year

Reality is currently under siege. Millions of people today believe, to their core, things that are demonstrably not true. Are we “each entitled to our own reality,” as some would argue? The ancient Greeks thought otherwise. Some 2,500 years ago, the Greeks began to distinguish muthos (origin of the English word “myth”)—an unverified, unverifiable story—from historiē (origin of the English word “history”), an inquiry into the facts for the purpose of making a rational assessment. Simultaneously, the Ancient Greeks began to reject tyranny and introduce democratic political ideals and institutions. Tyrants, however, require obedient subjects unwilling or unable to fact-check even their most preposterous lies. Today’s autocrats and would-be autocrats bombard us with fictions, even contradictory fictions, so as to eradicate the very concept of objective fact. As individuals, we are losing the ability to assess facts on their merits. We’re losing the ability to learn not only from history but even from our own experience. Succumbing to authoritative speakers, many of us prefer virtue-signaling to real-world problem solving. We’re abandoning verbal persuasion in favor of violence and intimidation. Can democratic ideals and institutions survive if we can no longer distinguish myth from history, fiction from fact? What is the value of evidence-based, logical reasoning? How can we learn from fiction without being deceived by it? Reading and discussing Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (c. 8th cent. BCE) and Herodotus’s Histories (c. 440s, 430s BCE), we will examine these and other questions that are as vital to human survival and success today as they were centuries ago. This course is designed for students who welcome open-minded critical inquiry and are eager to read texts that are challenging both intellectually and emotionally. During the fall semester, students will meet with the instructor weekly for individual conferences. In the spring, we will meet weekly or every other week, depending on students’ needs and the progress of their conference projects.

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Reading High Romanticism: Blake to Keats

Open, Small Lecture—Fall

This lecture focuses on the interpretation and appreciation of the most influential lyric poems written in English in the tumultuous decades between the French Revolution and the Reform Act of 1832. Over the course of two generations, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats invented a new kind of autobiographical poem that largely internalized the myths that they had inherited from literary and religious traditions. The poet’s inward, subjective experience became the inescapable subject of the poem—a legacy that continues to this day. We will be exploring ways in which the English Romantic poets responded to the political impasse of their historical moment and created poems out of their arguments with themselves, as well as their arguments with one another. Our preeminent goal will be to understand each poem’s unique contribution to the language.

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The Poetry of Earth: Imagination and Environment in English Renaissance Drama

Open, Small Lecture—Spring

One of John Keats’s sonnets begins, “The poetry of earth is never dead.” This interactive small lecture will step back from Keats—to the writing of several of his great predecessors in the English Renaissance—to reflect on how imagination shaped environment and how environment shaped imagination in the early modern period. Late 16th- and 17th-century was a time of transition between traditional, feudal society—with its hierarchical ideas of order, of humanity, and of nature—and emerging modernity—with its secularizing humanism, its centralization of political and economic power, its development of increasingly dense and complex urban centers, and its commitments to the study and potential mastery of nature through empirical science. With early modernity came all of the challenges to natural environment and its resources with which we are so familiar with and by which we are challenged: urban sprawl and environmental degradation, privatization of land, air and water pollution, deforestation and exhaustion of other resources, and diminishment of local species populations. We will study how several major writers register and responded to these tensions and these changes in what we might call their environmental vision, their imagination of nature: as wilderness, the "other” to civilization and its values; as chaos and threat; as liminal space of transformation; as pastoral retreat; and as cultivatable human habitation and home. Class reading will include two early plays of Shakespeare—A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You LIke It; Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene; John Milton's environmental epic, Paradise Lost, and poems leading up to it; Andrew Marvell's lyric poetry; and Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World. Conference work will entail more extended work in any of these writers and literary modes and will provide opportunities to explore other writers of the early modern period who are engaged in theorizing and imagining nature—including studies in history, philosophy, geography, politics, or theory.

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Tradition and Transformation: 17th-Century British Literature

Open, Seminar—Year

In the 17th century in England, the great ordering coherences of medieval and earlier Renaissance thinking seemed to disintegrate under the warring impulses of individualism and authority, empiricism and faith, revolutionary transformation and reinforcement of tradition. Yet, even as monarchy and the 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. We 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 courts and the robust and bawdy urban century of London through a reading of masques and plays by Jonson and Shakespeare and their contemporaries; dramatic experiments in “metaphysical” and moral verse by Donne, Jonson, Herbert, and other poets; various developments in scientific, philosophical, and meditative prose by Bacon, Burton, and Browne; and the early poetry of Milton. The second semester will be devoted to major writers during the periods of the English Revolution and the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy. Our primary attention will be on the radical politics and the visionary poetics of Milton, particularly Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes; but we will also study the work of the cavalier and libertine court poets, as well as Andrew Marvell, Katherine Phillips, Aphra Behn, and John Dryden. John Bunyan’s spiritual allegory Pilgrim’s Progress and Behn’s colonial romance novel, Oroonoko, will provide a retrospect of the imagined and the social worlds that we have traversed and a prospect of the worlds to come.

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

Open, Seminar—Fall

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 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, the terrorism of the “Anni di Piombo”—until the recent contribution of migration literature to the Italian literary canon. Among the authors and intellectuals, we will explore 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 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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Metaphysical Poetry

Open, Seminar—Fall

The best lyric poets of 17th-century England have been loosely characterized as “metaphysical poets” because of their “wit”; their intellectual range, rigor, and inventiveness; the versatility and trickery of their poetic strategies; and their remarkable fusion of thought and passion. Masters of paradox, these poets stage and analyze their expressive intensities with technical precision. They eroticize religious devotion and sanctify bodily desire with fearless and searching bravado. They stretch their linguistic tightropes across a historical arena of tremendous political and religious turmoil, in response to which they forge what some critics consider to be early evidences of the ironic self-consciousness of modernity, poetic dramatizations of the Cartesian ego. We will test these claims, as well as the sufficiency of the category “metaphysical,” against the evidence of the poems themselves. We will closely read significant poems of Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Phillips, Herrick, Vaughan, Crashaw, Milton, Marvell, and Behn. We will attend primarily to how they work as poems, looking at argument, structure, diction, syntax, tone, image, and figure. We will also consider their religious, cultural, and psychological implications. Students will prepare three papers based on class readings. Conference work is recommended in correlative topics: the English Bible, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Shakespearean and Jacobean drama, or influences on and comparisons to Romantic or Modern English poetry.

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Gothic Decay: The Literature and Science of Soils, Swamps, and Forests

Open, Joint seminar—Spring

Western literature and culture deeply influence how our country negatively perceives transitional spaces, such as the spaces between cultivated land and forest or between water and land. The need for control pushes us to reshape or eliminate marshes, swamps, thickets, and other forms of overgrowth. Similarly, we feel uncomfortable considering the soils in which we bury our dead—or we ignore them completely. Yet, a closer examination of the biology of decay reveals cycles of life that follow death, with growth, reproduction, and nutrient exchange accompanying decay at every turn. We will read excerpts of literary works that have shaped our cultural perception of decay and of these transitional states and spaces, including works by Sophocles, Mary Shelley, Alice Walker, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and others. We will also explore the ecosystems themselves through lab experiments and trips to local parks and field stations (Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Untermeyer Gardens). This joint course will evaluate the divide between culture and science and explore how cultural representations may evolve with an adequate framing of scientific research and findings. This course fully participates in the collaborative interludes in the Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE) Mellon course cluster.

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Symmetry of Ornament

Open, Small Lecture—Spring

This lecture will present a formal analysis of ornament, using the mathematical principles of symmetry. Symmetric designs appear in material cultures from around the world and throughout history, from Bronze Age ceramics, 15th-century Islamic tiling, Latin American textiles, and Fijian bark cloth to the Arts and Crafts movement. Symmetry is a correspondence among the parts of a figure or object. Such a correspondence is often described in terms of an operation (“isometry,” in mathematical terms); for example, we will show that the symmetries of designs that repeat in one or two directions are comprised of just four types of operations: translation, rotation, reflection, and glide reflection. The collection of all possible symmetries of a figure comprises its “symmetry group,” and we will use this to classify finite and infinite ornamental designs. Many of the cultural artifacts that we study predate the mathematical theory of groups; in this sense, the lecture introduces the prehistory of modern mathematics. Museum visits and group conferences will offer students direct experience analyzing examples of visual structures in decorative art and design.

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The Philosophy of Music

Open, Large Lecture—Fall

Music is central to most of our lives. How can we understand the experience of music? What does music express? If it expresses emotions, how do those emotions relate to the emotions that we experience in everyday life? Can music without words express emotions with as much clarity as music with words? As a background to these questions, we will look at issues concerning the nature and experience of art in general. We will examine the views of writers such as Plato, Kant, Schopenhauer, Dewey, and Adorno and compare how they understand the role of art in society, along with our own experiences. The musical repertory will include medieval and Renaissance music, music by Bach, songs by Schubert, and examples from the symphonic repertory of composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky. We will study those works using the techniques of formal analysis that are generally used in music-history classes but also attempt to draw out the many contextual threads: How are they embedded in a culture, and how do they reflect the temperament and orientation of the composers? While most of our musical examples will be from the classical repertory, other styles will occasionally be relevant. The goals of the class are to understand how musical and philosophical thought can illuminate each other and to deepen our awareness of the range and power of music. No prior knowledge of music theory or history is required; we will introduce and define the terms that we need as the class proceeds.

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Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art

Open, Seminar—Fall

Art seems to be an inextricable part of human life. The question that guides this class is seemingly simple: What is art? As will soon become clear, answering this question proves to be exceedingly difficult; for example: Are trees works of art? Is an iPhone a work of art? Is a movie a work of art? Are all movies works of art? Is a doodle in your notebook a work of art? It may turn out that no definitive answer to our guiding question is possible; however, without demarcating between what counts as art and what doesn’t, art refers to everything and, consequently, to nothing special. This class investigates how works of art become meaningful. The narrative of the class traces the different frameworks used by philosophers over the last 2,500 years to pursue this question. We will follow a historical narrative, learning how these frameworks have responded both to each other and to the artworks of their time. We will read texts by Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Danto, Benjamin, and others, as well as analyze artworks from Sophocles, William Shakespeare, Édouard Manet, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, John Cage, Kara Walker, Jordan Peele, and many others. At the end of the semester, our aim will be to articulate what is so special about art and why we care about it.

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Psychocinematics: Film, Psychology, and Neuroscience

Open, Small Lecture—Fall

Why are movies so compelling to us? When you think about it, it is odd to spend so much time sitting still in a chair, in the dark, staring at a flat screen and watching flickering light without the possibility of interacting with the depicted characters or affecting their actions in any way. Philosophers argue that movies tap into our dream mechanisms. Psychologist Ed Tan calls films “emotion machines.” Neuroscientist Jeffrey Zacks claims that movies hijack evolutionary mechanisms of mind that evolved for other purposes. In this perceptual psychology course, our focus will be on how study of fundamental faculties of mind and body—perception, attention, emotion, and memory—can inform our experience of viewing and, perhaps, making movies. Switching our point of view, we will also investigate how the study of film can advance our understanding of the workings of perception, attention, emotion, and memory. We will watch some films together and discuss clips from many others that you select and present to the seminar group. This is a good course for people who are interested in interdisciplinary work that integrates artistic and scientific approaches to the material at hand. The course format is a small lecture (30 people), with one lecture and one small seminar (10 people) every week.

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Art and Visual Perception

Open, Small 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 students of the brain who want to study an application of visual neuroscience. The course format is a small lecture (30 people), with one lecture and one small seminar (10 people) every week.

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Contextualizing Communications: The Poetics of Seeing

Open, Seminar—Fall

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 to make meaning from such a vantage point. While the course takes a broadly construed sociology of culture as its point of departure, it also understands sociology as what a British sociologist called a “parasitical” discipline that frequently disrupts and violates disciplinary borders and boundaries. This 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 these 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 critiques, the production of nationalism(s) and identities, censorship, postcoloniality 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 relationship of objectivity and subjectivity, fiction, biography and fact, and 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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Travel and Tourism: Economies of Pleasure, Profit, and Power

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Fall

This course takes a long view of travel, seeing it as a “contact zone”—a contradictory site of learning and exchange, as well as exploitation. Among the questions the course will address are the following: What are the reasons for travel historically and in the modern world? What factors draw individuals to travel singly and as members of collectivities? What sites draw the traveler and/or the tourist? What is the relationship between the visited site and the sight of the visitor? How is meaning produced in/through/of particular sites? How do these meanings differ, depending on the positionality of the traveler? What makes particular sites inviting? What is the relationship between the visitor and the local inhabitant? Can one be a traveler in one’s own home (site)? What is the relationship between travel and tourism, pleasure and power in/through travel? How are race, gender, and class articulated in/through travel? We will examine these questions through a multiplicity of sources—including but not limited to diaries, journals, and memoirs by travelers, as well as films and scholarly writings on travel and tourism. Throughout, the relation between material and physical bodies will remain a central focus of the course. Conference possibilities include analyses of your own travel experiences, examination of travel writings pertaining to specific places, theoretical perspectives on travel and/or tourism, or the political economy of travel. Fieldwork locally is yet another possibility for conference work.

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Advanced Intermediate Spanish: Political Creativity

Open, Seminar—Year

This course looks at ways that individuals and communities across the Spanish-speaking world have gotten creative about politics and political about creativity. Students will develop analytic skills and explore social-justice issues through literature, film, music, and visual art by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Sara Gómez, Samanta Schweblin, Yásnaya E. Aguilar Gil, Lia García La Novia Sirena, and many more. We will also study the politically creative actions of communities and organizations working outside the structures of the nation-state. An important aspect of this course will involve following activist movements in real time and working with social-justice initiatives in Yonkers and its surroundings. Students will produce both critical and creative written work. This discussion-based course will be conducted in Spanish and is intended for students who wish to further hone their communication and comprehension skills through advanced grammar review.

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First-Year Studies: Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents—A Laboratory for Theatre Artists

FYS—Year

This course is a hands-on testing ground for students who might have a wide range of interests in the theatre. Centered on collaborative methods for creation and performance, Rigorous Action/Happy Moments is geared toward enabling students to find their own artistic voice, creating their own solo and collaborative theatre works, while exploring various artists, influences, and approaches ranging from the New York avant-garde of the 1970s to artists working now. We will cover a wide array of multidisciplinary artists who create performance, investigating both their philosophies and their methodology. Class work will be a combination of readings/discussions and creative exercises where students try their ideas together in space. Additionally, an emphasis on the choreographic perspective will explore various methods, including: assembly, repetition, observation, deconstruction, and care of the moment-to-moment experience. Curiosity, bravery, and a willingness to make mistakes are all encouraged, as these are crucial attributes to any creative process. The course will culminate in a short solo theatre work conceived, created, and performed by each student. Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents meets once a week for two hours and will alternate individual conferences with small-group meetings/conferences to include screenings, field trips, and performances. Students will also enroll in two other theatre components of their choice to complete their Theatre Third. Students are required to attend scheduled Theatre Meetings and Think Tanks and complete a set amount of technical support hours with student productions in the theatre program.

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1,001 Drawings

Open, Seminar—Fall

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 between 50 and 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. The course will challenge you to ambitiously redefine drawing and, in doing so, will dramatically transform your artmaking practice.

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The Face Is a Clock: Drawing Portraits

Open, Seminar—Spring

Portraiture has a rich and complex history. Drawing a face is an ideally challenging way for students to learn how to render realistically 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 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 portraits to 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 not visible—those psychological, political, symbolic, and personal aspects of portraits that make them individual and unique. Students will work on daily drawing exercises both inside and outside the studio in order to build a disciplined drawing practice. For context, we will look at a range of historical and contemporary examples of portraiture and will visit New York City exhibitions to see artworks. A visiting artist working in portraiture will visit class, as well.

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Senior Studio

Advanced, Seminar—Year

This course is intended for seniors interested in pursuing their own artmaking practice, both more deeply and for a prolonged period of time. 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. The course will incorporate prompts that encourage students to make art across disciplines; it will culminate in a solo gallery exhibition during the spring semester, accompanied by a printed book that documents the exhibition. We will have regular critiques with visiting artists and our faculty, discuss readings and myriad artists, take trips to galleries and artist’s studios, and will participate in the Visual Arts Lecture Series. Your artmaking practice will be supplemented with other aspects of presenting your work—writing an artist statement, interviewing artists, and documenting your art, along with a range of professional-practices workshops. This is an immersive studio course meant for disciplined art students interested in making work in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Visual and Studio Arts Fundamentals: Materials and Play

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring

This course serves as an introduction to the fundamental elements, processes, and techniques of the visual arts. It will center on prompts based in foundational areas across the visual arts: drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, sound art, collage, and related mixed-media processes. We’ll discuss these mediums through image presentations, videos, and gallery/museum visits. Students will then make art in those areas, experimenting with new materials, processes, and ideas. Materials will be provided, and you’ll be encouraged to discover through play. Emphasis will focus on developing your creative imagination and building visual literacy. This class culminates in an end-of-semester exhibition.

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Photographic Books

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

In this studio course, students will explore a variety of ways to conceptualize the book form. Each week, we will look at work from artists and photographers who use books as primary, significant vehicles for their work. We will consider the book as a fluid container for our ideas, as we engage in weekly projects. Some of the questions we will ask include: What can a book look like? How can sequence, form, and design strengthen the argument of the work? When and why must a project exist as a book? Some of the themes we will address include the book as portrait, the book as studio, the book as clock, the book as field guide, the book as a psychological space, the book as archive, and the relationship between text and image. Independent studio time will be complemented by group critiques, class lectures, screenings, technical demonstrations, and guest lectures. In addition to weekly book assignments, each student will complete a semester-long book project of their choice.

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Black-and-White Darkroom: An Immersion

Open, Seminar—Fall

This class will focus on the technical and conceptual underpinnings of black-and-white photography. Students will learn how to use the 35mm film camera and how to print in the darkroom. We will cover a wide range of technical topics, including exposure, film development, printing on RC and fiber paper, and split-filter printing. In-class lectures will introduce students to historical and contemporary practitioners, with a focus on voices and perspectives that have too often been sidelined in photo history curricula. Weekly shooting assignments will challenge students to engage with the complexities of the medium and think beyond traditional modes of presentation. Reading and writing assignments will supplement studio work; in addition to art criticism, we will read fiction and poetry by writers such as Elena Ferrante, Rebecca Solnit, and Jorie Graham. Some of the guiding questions for our class will include: How can we use photography, the indexical medium, to investigate what we don’t understand? How can making images teach us about the people and places closest to us? And how can printing and installation choices support our artistic arguments? At the end of the semester, each student will present a body of work on a topic of their choice.

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On Chaos

Open, Concept—Spring

A feeling of profound instability is not unique to our time—yet, in the past two years, each of us has faced new and challenging circumstances. Can we, as artists, still make work in moments of chaos? How has chaos changed the way we make art? Can the limitations inherent in precarious situations push us to clarify our ideas and get to the core of what we are trying to say? What new opportunities arise when the structures around us shift? Through lectures and readings, we will consider how artists are responding to these questions currently and how they have responded to them in the past. Studio assignments, group exercises, written reflections, and class discussions will provide students with technical and conceptual strategies to engage with these issues. Some of the artists we will consider include Janet Cardiff, Eleonora Fabião, Danh Vo, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Hélio Oiticica, Do Ho Suh, Tacita Dean, Katrien de Blauwer, Daisuke Yokota, D’Angelo Lovell Williams, Martin Kollar, Mimi Plumb, Sofia Borges, Mike Ashkin, Diana Markosian, Joe Frank, and Sarah Charlesworth, among others.

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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 pushes the boundaries of contemporary art. Artists use the medium for institutional critique, social activism, and to address the personal politics of gender, sexuality, and race. This course approaches 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 learn about the legacy of performance art from the 1970s to the present and explore some of the concepts and aesthetic strategies used to create works of performance. Through texts, artists’ writings, video screenings, and slide lectures, students are introduced to a range of performance-based artists and art movements.

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Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Fall

Experiment and explore contemporary performance art. Surveying a range of important artworks and movements, we will review the histories, concepts, and practices of performance art. Born from anti-art, performance art challenges the boundaries of artistic expression through implementing as material the concepts of space, time, and the body. Examples of artists that we will review are John Cage, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Martha Rosler, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Pope.L, Laurie Anderson, Anne Imhof, Joseph Beuys, Janine Antoni, Suzanne Lacy, Narcissister, Pauline Oliveros, Aki Sasamoto, and Anna Halprin, to name a few. Dialogues introducing performance art are utilized in sculpture, installation art, protest art, social media, video art, happenings, dada, comedy, sound art, graphic notation, scores, collaboration, and movement. Students will be able to relate the form and function of performance art though workshopping ideas, experimentation, improvisation, and movement—thereby developing the ability to confidently perform in any manner of the performance-art genre.

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Words and Pictures

Open, Seminar—Fall

This is a course with writing at its center and other arts—mainly, but not exclusively, visual—around it. We will read all kinds of narratives, children’s books, folk tales, fairy tales, graphic novels...and try our hand at many of them. Class reading will include everything from ancient Egyptian love poems to contemporary Latin American literature. For conference work, students have created graphic novels, animations, quilts, a scientifically accurate fantasy involving bugs, rock operas, items of clothing with text attached, nonfiction narratives, and dystopian fictions with pictures. There will be weekly assignments that involve making something. This course is especially suited to students with an interest in another art or a body of knowledge that they’d like to make accessible to nonspecialists.

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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, Adorno (via Thomas Mann) on Opus 111, V. S. Naipaul on Flaubert, 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 larger (7-12 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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