The following courses are available for Spring 2017 registration.
Find a complete list of courses offered in other years here.
This course will study the Renaissance by focusing on the emergence and development of the movement known as Renaissance humanism. We will address the following questions: What were the social, political, and economic changes that brought about the rise of the Renaissance in general and humanism in particular? What were the conditions that emerged in Italy in the late fourteenth century and that gave rise to the beginnings of the Renaissance humanism? Beginning with Petrarch, and moving through such Italian Renaissance authors as Lorenzo Valla, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Castiglione, the course will trace how Renaissance humanistic culture developed in Italy and then became a powerful cultural force extending into Northern Europe, notably Germany, England, and France. Readings from major northern Renaissance humanist and Reformation authors include Erasmus, More, Luther, Rabelais, Calvin and Montaigne. Through social, linguistic, historical, political, religious, and artistic works, we will explore the innovations of Renaissance and humanistic thought from 1350 to 1590.
taught by Jacob Vance
This seminar examines psychological, anthropological, and artistic explorations of the Doppelganger, or Double. A figure common to all cultures in some form or another, the Doppelganger is a ghostly image of a person's deepest fears or desires. When a period of crisis challenges or shatters the very psychological or social structures designed to keep those fears and desires hidden, the doppelganger arises and haunts the person, demanding acknowledgment if not complete acceptance. Although the person's familiar identity no longer provides a safe retreat, his/her first reaction is often to try to hide behind it (or behind disguised versions of it); as a result he/she becomes trapped in a kind of delusory underworld, a hall of mirrors. On the other hand, since the doppelganger is the embodiment of one's deepest secrets, it is also one's “familiar,” one’s best, most intimate friend. Some find as a result that their doppelgangers have arisen not to destroy them, but rather to save them, to release them from self-imprisonment so that they might reconcile conflicting aspects of themselves and become ‘whole.’ Texts include analyses by Rank, Freud, and Jung; poems and stories by Ovid, Hoffmann, Stevenson, Conrad, Gilman and Cortazar; and films by Kieslowski, Kurosawa, Aronski, Villenueve, Ayoade, and Fincher.
taught by Patrick Keppel
This course explores the life and teachings of the Buddha through the study, primarily, of significant parts of two major and very early Buddhist writings (composed in the 1st century A.D.), Ashvagosha’s Buddhacarita and the Sanskrit Dharmapada, as presented in English translation by Edward Conze in his Buddhist Scriptures. Students will work directly with these primary texts as well as consider the writings of other significant (20th century) explicators of Buddhist thought, particularly D. T. Suzuki and Walpola Rahula.
taught by Peter Row
Women and Literature
What has womanhood meant, and how has the status of the woman writer changed, at different historical moments, in different cultural contexts and social settings? This course traces surprising historical changes and continuities in women’s literary works and societal roles from the Middle Ages to the present, examining the writing of British, American, and Indian women writers. We’ll consider how these writers circulate and challenge stereotypes as they publish their work and portray women in roles of political subject, self-determined being, ruler, captive, refugee, subaltern, slave, slaveholder, religious subject, sexual object, sexual agent, wife, helpmeet, lover, sister, mother, daughter, patient, activist, social critic, worker, professional, consumer, artist, writer, and more. Students will have the opportunity to choose some of the readings for the class from the course anthology, Women’s Worlds: Women's Writing in English across the Globe, and to pursue a creative project (or traditional paper) at the end of the semester.
taught by Jill Gatlin
The Protest gain Totalitarianism
(1 credit, first half)
1984 - George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future - offers us a cruelly satiric interpretation of the modern world: there we see the rise of totalitarian regimes, as in Germany and Russia; the robotic automation of modern industry, as in America; the horrors of the Second World War – all filtered through the lens of science fiction, as explored by such diverse artists as H.G. Wells and Yevgeny Zamyatin. Students will read and discuss Orwell’s 1984, considering it in the context of the larger ideological debate, drawing not only on Orwell, but also on other theorists of freedom and totalitarianism, including Arthur Koestler [in Darkness at Noon] and Friedrich Hayek [The Road to Serfdom]. Together, we will explore Orwell’s ideas on literature and contemporary politics, on the power of media, and on the use – and abuse – of public language. Our discussion will focus not only on the politics of Orwell’s only successful novel, but on its expression of concerns so vital to the 21st century: fears about the loss of individuality, the homogenization of culture, and the distortion of language itself.
taught by James Klein
Crime and Punsihment: Dostoevsky and the 19th Century Political Philosophy
(1 credit, second half)
Crime and Punishment offers students the opportunity to read, discuss, and analyze one of the greatest works of literature, doing so in the context of Dostoyevsky’s own development as a writer and thinker. We will read this major work as a compelling narrative, as the expression of modernist moral concerns, as a vital contribution to the on-going debate within 19th century European politics and culture. We will also approach Crime and Punishment as Dostoyevsky’s own contemporaries did: in installments that allow us to read, reflect, and evaluate the powerful clash of ideas presented in this remarkable narrative.
taught by James Klein
The Theatre of the Absurd
This course examines the innovative style of the Theatre of the Absurd, the culmination of the 20th century modernist eruption in European theatre and an influence on the non-tonal languages of composers such as Feldman, Berio, and Glass. We will explore the Theatre of the Absurd's origins in mime and the silent films of Charlie Chaplin; verbal nonsense and the films of the Marx Brothers; the literature of surrealism, dream, and nightmare and the works of Franz Kafka; the Existentialist philosophy of Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartres; and the theatrical theories of Antonin Artaud and Eugene Ionesco. Students will study the context, content, and structure of plays by Ionesco, Pinter, Genet, and Beckett and will have the opportunity to compose and perform original musical/theatrical responses to these plays.
taught by Patrick Keppel
This course will examine various styles, methods of writing, and groups of poets that have made contemporary poetry “contemporary”, including the ways in which contemporary poetry records the workings of the mind and the ways it breaks down the hierarchies of language. As poet Robert Duncan says, “A poem is an event; it is not a record of the event.” Reading and listening to the work of some of the most innovative poets of our time, we will think about their choices in syntax, placement of words, speaker, imagery and figurative language, levels of diction, point of view, and word choice, and listen for tone, sounds, line breaks, and rhythmic effects. We will consider such types of poetry as Language poetry, ecopoetry, innovative women’s poetry, poetry of disability, and conceptual poetry each year.
taught by Ruth Lepson
Europe in the 19th Century
Europe in the 19th Century discusses the political, cultural and philosophical forces shaping the great age of European power – and of modernity – from the fall of Napoleon to the origins of the Great War. Students will investigate the central ideas and accomplishments of that age: the triumph of urban consumer capitalism; the ascendance of secularism; the growth of political democracy; the rise of nationalism; and the emergence of women into the public realm. We will also examine the era’s critical cultural movements, ranging from Romanticism to Impressionism, exploring major works by such artists and thinkers as Lord Byron, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Darwin, Edouard Manet, Soren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Henrik Ibsen.
taught by James Klein
Students will explore the crucial social and political issues that have shaped – and are now shaping - our 21st Century world. We will trace out the collapse of European Empires, the rise of America’s ‘New World Order’, and the challenges facing the 21st century. Among the issues we will explore are the collapse of the Soviet Union and rise of Vladimir Putin’s oligarchic Russia; the economic and political successes of Japan and China; and the emergence of new nation-states in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. We will look not only at nations, but also at new ‘players’ in the international arena: emerging international organizations ranging from the European Union and United Nations to Exxon and Amnesty International to Al Qaeda and ISIS. As part of that discussion, we will consider contemporary global challenges: nuclear proliferation; the rise of global terrorism; the threat of ecological change; the crises of war in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; the politics of globalization; and the tragedy of ‘failed states’ within this ‘New World Order’.
taught by James Klein
Science and Mathematics
Topics in Environmental Science
Environmental studies deals with relationships between humans and environments. How do these relationships mediate or exacerbate human/environment problems? What are the problems with, and solutions to: water supply and pollution, air pollution, the environmental impacts of agriculture, materials use, recycling, overpopulation, and resource use? Answers to these questions are life-long queries, and in this course students will learn what they need to know to continue the search. We will not concern ourselves with how people feel about environmental issues, but rather will focus on what it is possible to know and how to use scientific facts to understand problems and to act in ways that improve the human condition. Students will be exposed to both “environmentalist” as well as “economic development” perspectives on environmental issues and by the end of the course should be able to hold and articulate distinct views on specific environmental topics.
In the Creative Writing workshop, students explore the various ways to create a successful short memoir, story, or ten-minute play by understanding how to use point of view, concrete details, figurative language, plot, character, motivations, conflict, and dialogue. The workshop will discuss two or three original student works per class in a supportive, challenging environment where every member of the workshop’s personal exposures and risks are treated with respect and appreciation.
taught by Patrick Keppel
This course is the second part of the year-long course for beginners in the Italian language, designed for vocal performance music majors but open to all students. The linguistic and phonetic structure of the language will be explored through its application to the field of music, with particular attention to opera. Students will learn vocabulary, grammar, and idiomatic expressions that will enable them to understand and express themselves in a variety of situations in written and spoken Italian. We will address different aspects of Italian culture, and students will have the opportunity to speak Italian in every class. Students will learn the basic skills necessary to understand, speak, and write Italian at the advanced beginner level and will develop the competence, interest, and enthusiasm for a language that will inspire their careers in music.
taught by Francesca Santovetti
This course is the second part of the year-long introductory course that enables students to acquire oral and written communication skills in French. One of the priorities of the assigned textbook, VIS-à-VIS, is to focus on communication and the accomplishment of tasks that are taught within the framework of authentic situations. This year a grammar book provides additional support to topics presented in VIS-à-VIS. The course includes cultural information, French poetry, and traditional French songs.
taught by Anne Squire
This course is the second part of the year-long course that teaches students the basics of German. Students will learn fundamental grammar and will practice speaking as well as listening, reading, and writing with the aid of controlled exercises. By the end of the year, students will be able to express themselves in the present, past, and future tenses and will possess a basic vocabulary. Correct pronunciation will be stressed. Students will be able to read uncomplicated texts in German with relative ease and will learn to write clearly structured German sentences.
taught by Sia Liss Stovall
German III is an intermediate level German language course emphasizing reading, conversation, comprehension and grammar. Within an interactive classroom format students will discuss German essays relating to music and musicians. They will be engaged in focused exercises aimed at building an active vocabulary and developing fluency with more complex grammatical structures. The class will be conducted in German as much as possible. Each student will prepare an oral presentation to be given in front of the class at the end of the semester.
taught by Sia Liss Stovall