Fall 2011 Courses
Fall 2011 Courses
Youth Activism and Social Change
Prof. Jennifer Tilton
This course will explore the rise of youth activism in the US and globally in the last few decades. We will read about teenage girl activists in Latin America and California, learn about immigrant youth struggles for social justice in American cities and schools, explore activism against the criminalization of youth in the US and South Africa and learn efforts to link youth activism transnationally. By studying youth activism, we will explore how globalization is transforming young people's experiences and how young people play a vital role in social change.
T/TH 2:30-3:50 p.m.
What makes us human?
Prof. Lisa Olson
What makes humans different from other species? Is it language, religion, social structures, art, ethics...? Does the brain of a human possess something different than other animals such as a soul, a mind, or a self? We will examine the neuroscience, genetics, and evolution behind aspects of human life that seem to separate us as a species. Students will have opportunities to delve deeper into specific topics in which they are interested, such as neurolinguistics, neuroeconomics, and the brain and religion. We will challenge each other to find our own answers to the question: are we different?
T/TH 11-12:20 p.m.
Prof. Pat Geary
This course is an introduction to Hatha Yoga. We will stretch, breathe, and chant. Hatha Yoga prepares the body, physically and mentally, meditation and relaxation. In addition to our classes in the Meditation Room, students are expected to maintain journals, read yoga books, and create an independent project of substance. Field trips to other yoga studios are encouraged but not required.
T/TH 1-2:20 p.m.
STRAIGHT: The Construction of Heterosexuality
Prof. Kelly Hankin
While discussions of gay, lesbian, bisexuality, trans, and queer identity are now commonplace in many academic and popular settings, the subject of heterosexuality is often left unexamined. This lack of examination allows the privilege and dominance of heterosexuality to remain invisible and therefore seemingly "normal" and "natural". This class will put heterosexuality under the microscope, and reveal that there is nothing "normal" or "natural" about heterosexual identity and culture. Rather, the idea of heterosexuality has a history, one that is cultivated and maintained through a variety of practices. We will encounter this history and these practices by exploring a range of interdisciplinary texts—primary and secondary history, sociological/anthropological studies, visual artifacts (film, art, tv), literature, sexology, psychology, and biology. We will also think our way through non-normative models of heterosexuality. This course will have a heavy reading and writing component.
WF 9:30-10:50 a.m.
Prof. Judith Tschann
An intensive beginning Latin class, requiring daily homework, memorizing, possible quizzes, a collaboratively designed midterm demonstration of learning, and an ambitious final project. By the end of the semester, you will have a firm grasp of basic grammar (of Latin and of English), a developing sense of the joys and challenges of translating, a bigger vocabulary, and at least a budding interest in Roman literature and history.
T/TH 9:30-10:50 a.m.
Odd Characters: Neurotics, Hysterics, Prostitutes and Degenerates, 1850-1950
Prof. Julie Townsend
This survey of literature and film focuses on the question of the 'outsider' or 'odd' character as s/he develops in Realism, Decadence, Avant-Garde movements, and early Modernism. In some works, the outsider serves as a cautionary tale and in others s/he elaborates a critical perspective on normative social roles. We'll consider the aesthetics of deviance, degeneracy and instanity.
Here are some proposed readings and films. Although we can't cover all of this material, how we narrow it down is up for discussion. Let's also discuss creative evaluative work- perhaps some performance or readings of the drama as well as some comparative "case studies" of characters.
Flaubert, Mme Bovary (1856)
Zola, Nana (1880)
Huysmans, A Rebours (1884)
Rachilde, M. Venus (1884)
August Strindberg, Miss Julie (1888)
Oscar Wilde, Salome (1891)
Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1899)
Andre Gide, L'Immoraliste (1902)
Sigmund Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905)
Natalie Clifford Barney, The One Who is Legion (1930)
George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)
Colette, The Pure and the Impure (1941)
Antonin Artaud, "For an end to the judgment of God" (1946)
Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942)
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (1952)
Visual Art and Films:
Selections from Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Surrealist images, and images from Jean-Martin Charcot's lectures on hysteria
Freak (1932, Tod Browning)
King of Hearts (1966, Philippe de Broca)
The Tin Drum (1979, Volker Schlondorff)
The Elephant Man (1980, David Lynch)
Orlando (1992, Sally Potter)
Wednesdays 6-9 p.m.
Prof. Julie Townsend
The Salon has historically been a place for performers, artists, and intellectuals to discuss art, politics, and philosophy. This class suggests that we might revist the "salon" as a community space to practice and discuss art and ideas.
Activities for the class include: choosing the salon themes, soliciting proposals or inviting participants, arranging for the salon space, designing and distributing flyers and other PR materials, attending to media requirements, arranging for the "atmosphere", and running the program.
Students in this class will design and produce 3 salon events over the semester. Programs, based on a theme, might include spoken word, visual arts, performance, music, debates, etc. Ideally, students will present their work as well as produce the programs.
Wednesday 1-3:50 p.m.
Prof. Leslie Brody
In this film and arts journalism class, we'll watch and review recent documentaries.
This is a seminar in documentary film studies. Over the semester we'll investigate the perspectives and sensibilities of various artists and writers; view the work of all sorts of intense, opinionated (often to the poing of obsession) fascinating filmmakers. We'll view some classic documentaries important to the history of the genre and new ones just off the film festival circuit; discuss the wavering line between truth and fiction and "read" film and film criticism in its various forms as (among other things) art, social commentary, propaganda and romance. We'll discuss the place of the writer in documentaries, do some research and write some arts journalism. First and foremost, we'll watch a lot of great movies.
Wednesday 6-8:50 p.m.
Not wanting to say anything (but saying it anyway): An exploration of John Cage, Anton Chekhov, Emily Dickinson, and allies.
We will take as a starting point three prolific artists for whom the essence of creation was practice. We will study their work as a model for our own approach to creativity. Students are asked to contract their own projects as a major phase of the class, and identify, explore, and share other artists who could in some way be described as allies. Specifically, these would be artists who not only engage thoroughly with their own work, but with spiritual practice, an active social life, intense relationships, and/or other art forms.
To be very clear: this class will focus on creative practice, but there is also an expectation that all students will contract for extensive reading and engagement with others in the group. We will make things. We will go places. We will check in.
John Cage: Best known for his experimental musical composition, including 4'33" (a piano sonata performed in complete silence), John Cage also made poems, pictures, essays, and food. He often used the I Ching or other means to create random patterns for his work. He was also usually in a good mood.
During his short lifetime, Anton Chekhov wrote and published more than 800 short stories, a nonfiction book about prison colonies in Siberia, several short humorous plays, and four longer major ones. He maintained intense and diverse friendships, in person and in writing.
A major American poet, Emily Dickinson has become encrusted with mythology, and obscured by bad editing. She wrote hundreds of poems, which she curated herself, sewing them into small booklets in a particular order, or distributing them to family and friends in single sheets. To her, poetry was a struggle, a poem was a thing as much as an idea, and the world was a formidable force to wrestle with, not something to dismiss or ignore.
T/TH 11-12:20 p.m.
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
- John Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale"
That feeling of rising into blissful suffusion as the mind merges with the world! Wheter it occurs in religious rapture, erotic delight, or drug-induced elation, it's marvelous. Dancing to trance music in sex-chemical rapture as the sun rises over the desert: the self disappears and sheer wonder takes over. Let's investigate how that feeling is represented in forms so splendid that they carry us into ecstasy.
Romanticism as a movement in poetry and philosophy, music and painting, emerged at the turn of the nineteenth century and has held sway ever since. Romanticism maintains that human imagination can exceed its own boundaries and interfuse with nature, with forces beyond itself. It believes that euphoric brilliance can be achieved in art and thought of all kinds.
Our texts may include Kant and Hegel on the sublime, Wordsworth and Keaths performing the Romantic sublime in poetry, Constable and Turner in painting, and Beethoven and Brahms in music. We might read William Blake's epic prophecies or accounts of drug idylls like Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. We may take up works of literature by Emily Dickinson, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Jorice Graham, and operatic works by Richard Strauss. We might study contemporary examples of ecstatic music, literature, and art.
What aesthetic forms have the power to carry us into communion with what lies beyond? How do they do that?
Your own writing may range from the critical to the creative, in ecstatic overreaching. Above all, let's explore how the human imagination lifts us out of ourselves to worlds elsewhere.