World Aesthetic Ideas. The seminar explores the musical-aesthetic thought outside the Western world, from ancient sources to contemporary debates. The readings include mythological, religious, literary, and philosophical texts, both traditional and modern. The areas of musical creativity that will be discussed comprise classical traditions and popular genres, including the uses of music in mass entertainment, ideological propaganda, and devotional practices. Literary, visual, and video materials will help illustrate the attitudes towards music in these cultures. In addition, the seminar will pursue a methodological theme of considerable urgency: Do the existing historical and contemporary approaches do justice to the uniqueness and complexity of music-philosophical theorizing in the cultures of, for example, India, China, or Bali? What kind of an approach would allow us to avoid the pitfalls of comparativism, Orientalism, and distorting biases in general? What kind of a philosophical perspective can assure at once a meaningful multilateral dialogue among world musical cultures, and their resistance to the leveling effects of globalization? A variety of texts, both by authors from a relevant cultural tradition and by Euro-American commentators, will serve as a platform for addressing these questions.
Southeast Asian Puppet Theater: This course focuses on puppetry of Southeast Asia, including Indonesian wayang golek (three dimensional rod puppets) and wayang kulit (shadow puppets), Burmese marionettes, Thai shadow puppets and Vietnamese water puppets. Students will learn about puppetry in a broad context of literature, music, religion, performance conditions, and audience behavior. Throughout the course, students will learn to manipulate the puppets, and will complete the class with a puppetry performance.
Focuses on the skills and techniques essential to scholarship.
Focuses on pedagogy in the arts, specifically preparation for teaching courses in InterArts.
Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music. The first half of this course examines the development of music beginning in ancient Greece until about the mid-fourteenth century in Italy and France. An investigation of topics include accretions to the liturgy, mass and office, secular monophony, early instrumental music, sources of polyphony and the emergence of named composers and their works as well as the Ars Nova. The second half of the course takes into account “the Contenance Angloise” and an interdisciplinary pas de deux with Dufay and Brunelleschi in music and architecture to name a few examples that provide a framework for music that continues to 1600 and the beginning of the seconda prattica.
Studies in Baroque and Classical Music. Revolutions characterize much of the 17th and 18th centuries in terms of musical developments of the time and their interdisciplinary connections. Topics that will be explored include tracing the evolution of the sonata and symphony, the serious side of opera as well as the comic, patronage in music, Mozart and Beethoven’ s early work and performance practice in the later period.
Studies in 19th-Century Music. The focus of this course is on the major composers of the 19th century in various European locales within a cultural/historical context. It is composer-centered as well as genre-centered. Important works of these composers and the arenas in which they worked constitute the primary materials that we will examine using various methods of analysis.
Studies in 20th Century Music. Composers in the 20th century have been fascinated by techniques and devices in music from the Middle Ages and other periods as well. This course will explore the work of selected composers and the issues surrounding their work within the historical context of the period as one facet. In this course, we will also examine several major movements in 20th century music proceeding from the breakdown of traditional tonality to post modernism, particularly in the context of history, style considerations, and the development of compositional techniques. In addition, works that may have an interdisciplinary component will be discussed from that perspective. Developments beyond the 20th century will be explored particularly from the standpoint of influences from the previous century and before.
Late Antiquity/Early Christianity. This seminar focuses on Late Antiquity (roughly the late second to the fifth centuries A.C.E.), when Greco-Roman visual representation was transformed from the mimetic and material to the abstract and spiritual. Interdisciplinary issues addressed include religious syncretism, the “other” (particularly the plebeian and provincial), and political and economic collapse. Early Christian visual culture and the beginnings of manuscript illumination will also be examined. Students will become grounded in the Greco-Roman visual and architectural languages.
Medieval Manuscript Illumination: This seminar focuses on the illuminated manuscript during the Latin Early Middle Ages (ca. 600-1100) in relation to other visual media, religion, politics, literature, music, and philosophy. Issues to be concentrated upon are decoration, function, codicology, and paleography. Numerous manuscript facsimiles in Special Collections of Alden Library will be viewed.
Special topics in western Renaissance and Baroque visual culture. The Renaissance seminar explores the origin and nature of fifteenth-century Italian visual culture. Architecture, sculpture, and the pictorial arts (not only fresco and panel painting but also deschi da parto and cassoni) are contextualized within their socio-political, theoretical, and intra-artistic frameworks. Issues examined are the reception of ancient and medieval form and content; the shift of architecture, painting, and sculpture from mechanical arts to liberal arts; the invention of linear perspective; and workshop practices.
The Baroque seminar focuses on the theatrical and rhetorical nature of seventeenth-century Baroque visual culture, by examining it within its religious, political, and theoretical frameworks. Issues to be addressed include the Counter-Reformation, Protestantism, monarchism, artistic genius, and the academy. A visit to the Columbus Museum of Art is included.
Nineteenth-Century French Modernist Painting. This seminar unlocks the multiple meanings of modernism, by examining French painting from the French Revolution through the end of the nineteenth century in relation to other cultural phenomena. Issues to be addressed include the avant-garde, artistic genius, shift toward the autonomous work of art, line/color debate, and modernity. A visit to the Columbus Museum of Art is included.
History of Aesthetics. This seminar is devoted to ancient and medieval theories of art and its relation to religion, politics, and philosophical thought. The focus is on the uneasy balance between art’s unique function in culture and its integration into the overall life of society. The readings, drawn from the writings of European and Asian philosophers, theologians, and artists, are combined with the analysis of artworks from various genres.
Modern Aesthetic Thought. This seminar on philosophy of art from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century. The theme is the rise of the aesthetic view of art as an independent human pursuit with its own intrinsic value. A special place in this evolution belongs to the proliferation of competing theories and outlooks in the nineteenth century. The examination of rival points of view provides a dynamic perspective on artistic trends in this period. Emphasis is given to tracing connections between theories and artworks.
Contemporary Aesthetics and Theory. This seminar examines influential texts by twentieth- and twenty-first-century thinkers. The aim of the course is to study in depth a variety of schools of thought, including but not limited to Marxism, hermeneutics, and poststructuralism (but also those that do not fall under these categorizations), in order to comprehend the key issues in current aesthetic debates. The main emphases are on the discussion of historical teleology, artistic agency, and art’s relation to ideology and politics.
Critical Theory and the Arts. Includes foundational texts that define and inform contemporary critical and theoretical discourse. Organized into three major threads that run through the 20th century: Marxism, psychoanalysis, and post structuralism. The aim is to provide analytical tools for analysis of primary themes of critical theory, including, but not limited to, the social, the subject, the object, and power. Students will become versant in contemporary discourse for the study of the art.
Transnational and Global Theories. Familiarizes students with key contemporary theories concerning transnationalism and globalization. Topics are organized through an historical trajectory. No matter where ones focus of interdisciplinary arts is situated, the issues covered prepare the student to be conversant in more than one geographic area of the world. Stress will be on multidirectional flows and influences of ideas, spaces, art, traditions, memories, and economics that reflect realities in our globalized era.
Performance Studies-Ethnographic Research. An introduction to the basic components of ethnographic research methods, focusing on performance. Research methods of fieldwork, participant observation, interviewing and surveying analyzing data; and writing are covered. Performance is conceived of broadly, as both formal events and the performance of everyday life.
Performance Studies-The Body. The body is a central concern of performance studies. As a foundation for discussions of the body in performance studies and related disciplines, the focus is on seminal theories of the body, including but not limited to, those of Butler, Foucault, Haraway, Mauss, and Merleau-Ponly.
Topics in Performance Studies. Explores various subjects that are central to an analysis of performance. Seminar topics include Space and Time; Cities; Publics; and Citizenship. Classes incorporate theoretical texts and performance material.
Seminar in Performance Studies: Avant-Garde Theater in the 20th Century. This seminar covers the major movements in theatre in the twentieth century, such as naturalism, symbolism, surrealism, constructivism, epic, feminist, gay, popular, cruelty, performance art and global theatre. The course will focus on the major innovators that have advanced theater in the twentieth century, including Stanislavsky, Appia, Craig, Meyerhold, Artaud, Brecht, Bread & Puppet Theater, Ridiculous Theatre Company, Fo, Malina, Grotowski, Wilson, Foreman, Brook, Valdez, Soyinka, Boal, Cixous, and Gomez-Pena. Students will read works by and about these artists, view videos of their work, and have the opportunity to create a short experimental theater piece.
Nineteenth Century Theater & Drama: Race, Gender & Reality. This seminar focuses primarily on the plays of Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov, but also includes Faust, Woyzeck, Fashion, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Escape, and other forms of popular theater. In addition, students study the theatrical and performance conditions of the period. Final projects are either a scholarly-oriented research paper or a performance ori-ented dramaturgical project.
Seminar in Twentieth Century Theater and Drama: Brecht and Political Theater. The goal of this class is to better understand the relationship of theater and politics through the plays, theories and practices of Bertolt Brecht. In addition, the seminar studies more recent playwrights who may be working in the “Brechtian” mode, in order to better understand his applicability for today’s theatre.
Twentieth Century Theater and Drama: Beckett and the Absurd. This class focuses on the theory, philosophy and practice of the “theater of the absurd.” We examine precursors to absurdist drama (Jarry’s Ubu Roi and silent film comedy), the philosophical basis of the “absurd” (Artaud and Camus) and the viability of this term as a tool for understanding drama. The course focuses primarily on the major works of Samuel Beckett, then proceeds to plays by other “absurdist” dramatists of the 1950s & ‘60s, and ends with the final short plays of Beckett. Finally, the course looks at more recent drama, including plays by Gao Xingjian and Suzan-Lori Parks, to interrogate whether “absurdism” is a historically bracketed form or a contemporary mode. In addition, students have the opportunity to develop their research and writing skills, use the plays as models for script analysis, and develop a creative project. All graduate students are welcome to enroll.
Contemporary African Art. Contemporary African art in the second half of the twentieth century and the twenty-first century is studied through theories of postcolonialism, decolonization, pan-Africanism, nationalism, and globalization to consider issues of space, identity, museum studies, and politics. The class considers historical, social, cultural, political, and artistic contexts surrounding the arts.
The centerpiece of the curriculum, this team-taught seminar focuses on a selected interdisciplinary topic in the arts.
West African Art. African visual arts are studied through thematic, cultural, and critical frames with a focus on West Africa. Trans-Saharan connections with North Africa, trans-Atlantic links to the African diaspora, and contemporary arts are included. The arts are explored through a variety of contexts, including aesthetics, culture, society, politics, performance, religion, and gender. African arts are multidisciplinary and we therefore study a variety of arts including oral history, poetry, popular music, and film. Students write a research paper during the second half of the semester.
Central African Art. The course considers traditional and contemporary arts of Central Africa through thematic, historical, political, and cultural frames. The arts are explored through a variety of indigenous contexts, including aesthetics, culture, society, politics, performance, religion, gender, and film. Because much of the Central African art we study is based on museum holdings in the United States that were collected during the colonial era, issues of colonialism must also be considered. A research paper is written during the second half of the semester.
Film Blackness. This graduate course is devoted to the interdisciplinary study of the idea of black film. While most studies of black film focus on how this body of work corroborates the social category of race, this class will address how the idea of black film is more precisely how film enacts the idea of race or race as discourse. Black film is art, not social reflection. By locating the idea of black film within the larger conceptual frame of black visual and expressive culture in the terms of ‘film blackness,’ students will study films that demonstrate the critical and creative negotiation between American cinema and the constitutive and cultural fiction of race.
Film History 2. This class examines some of the significant film movements in world cinema after World War II. With new ideas emerging about the role of art and artists, filmmakers began to pose significant questions about the political and aesthetic possibilities of film. In this way, the class will address this period with particular attention to the following questions: How is film employed as a tool for revolutionary change? What role do filmmakers as artists and theorists play in the political and cultural landscape of a nation? Is film art? How do these films demonstrate the contentious and shifting attitudes of their time?
Film History 3. This class focuses on the critical consequences posed by contemporary cinema, with primary attention given to films of the twenty-first century. The films will be addressed through an interdisciplinary lens with attention to questions such as globalization, historiography, digital media, contemporary film theory, historiography, national cinema, gender, race, sexuality, narrativity, and genre.
Film Adaptations. This class focuses on many of the major theories and strategies of film adaptation. Rather than measuring these films in terms of their successful fidelity to the source work, the emphasis of the course will address a variety of films that represent a number of distinct ways that film distinguishes itself from the other arts. Moreover, this class will examine the critical dialogism between film and literature as instantiating poignant questions of, among other things, film narrative, genre, historiography, desire, race as discourse, gendered subjectivity, and intertextuality. Through an interdisciplinary-minded frame of film studies, the course serves as an opportunity to focus on the aesthetic, cultural, and political properties that inform the art of film adaptation.
Black Visual Culture. What distinguishes the ‘black’ of black visual culture from ‘black’ as a social category or existential qualifier of a lifeworld? What is the aesthetic and cultural value of ‘black’? This course will provoke critical conversations surrounding these significant questions. We will examine the shifting hermeneutics of ‘black’ through the visual rhetoric of blackness in the American arts from the 1960s to our contemporary moment. The class pursues an interdisciplinary consideration of blackness and the history and art of black cultural production with attention to framing art as an enactment of black visual and expressive culture. Moreover, we will focus on the aesthetic, political, historiographic, and cultural instantiations of the idea of race as discourse in American visual culture. The narrative of the class is structured around various epistemological themes and tendencies that inform black visuality in the arts (e.g. film, television, literature, music, new media, photography, installation art). These topics will include The Black Atlantic, the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights America, cultural nationalism and the Black Aesthetic, black feminist/womanist art, whiteness, black queer discourse, hip hop modernism, the racial grotesque, Afrofuturism, visual historiography, racial performativity, and Obama.