The fundamentals of drawing are the basic tools for this investigation into seeing and translation. Using simple methods and means, the practice of drawing is approached from both traditional and experimental directions. The focus of this inquiry is on drawing from observation, broadly defined. In class drawing sessions are complemented by independent, outside of class work and occasional assigned readings. The goals of the course include the development of individual confidence in observational drawing skills, a working knowledge of the rich histories and contemporary concerns of drawing, and a practical basis for further inquiry into all the visual arts. Previous drawing experience may be helpful, but is not required of students enrolling in this course.
Note: A portion of this class will be spent drawing the nude human figure.
Individual training is available in jazz, modern and classical guitar technique and repertoire, song accompaniment (finger style), improvisation, and arranging and composing for the guitar. Course material is tailored to the interests and level of the individual student.
Corequisites: Attendance at Music Workshop (Tuesday, 6:30 – 8:00 pm).
In this advanced level printmaking course, we will explore the use of the laser cutter as a tool for developing our artistic content and technique in the print studio. Through a series of required assignments using the laser cutter, we will refine general print techniques such as registration, color, consistency, and paper handling. We will also learn about advanced methods of intaglio and relief and possibly lithography. The first part of the term will focus on materials research and refinement of methods, as well as the content, and then students will create a final project of their own design. As is always the case, the pursuit of excellent work and participation in the community environment will also be a focus.
At the end of term, students should have a series of experiments using the laser cutter for their portfolio, a deeper understanding of advanced technical problems, and new perspectives on how this relates to communicating ideas and their own work.
This course requires a desire to experiment and work in a group, experience using Adobe Illustrator, and minimum of two printmaking courses taken and passed in good standing at Bennington College.
This class is structured for students who have knowledge, experience and skills in Architecture, Sculpture, and 3D design technology and wish to explore production of ceramics functional ware by developing mold making skills and applying slip casting methods to their projects. Students who are enrolled in the advanced level of slip casting class, Tablescape: Slip Casting Project for Communal Kitchen, can expand their scope of research and development and commit to rigorous mass production. Ceramics students can also explore collaborative, cross-disciplinary approaches with students or professionals who do not have technical proficiency in plaster mold making, ceramic casting material preparation, glaze application and firing. We will imagine a specific social and cultural context of communal eating to conceive design, produce and put them in use. First class project will start with a design and production of ceramic ware for a new common’s café. Some adequate molds that are produced in this class will become a property of Ceramics area for collective use to support Social Kitchen and other Bennington College community engagement projects in the future. Work in dialogue with students from the Advance Architecture project: Place: Setting – the Dining Room will be facilitated.
Tablescape project considers ceramic tableware through the lens of architecture (space)and table design (place). For the occasion of the implementation of a communal kitchen, in the new Students Center, that aims to foster community building, students will design and produce a series of functional ware by utilizing slip casting method. We will focus on creating a work that can be perceived not only as a practical tool in which food or liquid is contained for delivery to the mouth but also as a “vessel” that influences our communal experience. How might the design of a dinnerware shift our perception of food and facilitate our dialog about commensality at the table? The basis of this course is “Twelve Cups and Saucers Designed by Twelve Architects,” the project carried out by a group of contemporary Japanese architects to explore the traditional design principles of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (16 c. AD) of Japan. These principles include unrestrained freedom, challenge, innovation, creative destruction and multifariousness in the making of forms. This course also aims to teach how craftspeople and designers/architects can collaborate for the creation of innovative product. Ceramics students will be encouraged to work with Architecture students.Work in dialogue with students from the Advance Architecture project: Place: Setting – the Dining Room will be facilitated.
The poet Czesław Miłosz said once that “when a writer is born into a family, the family is finished.” This idea of the writer’s position amid the family has always mirrored the writer’s position in society, existing both within it and outside of it at the same time. In this class, we will interrogate the family narrative as a particular idea and obsession of the American short story. From this, we will write our own versions of the family story. Writers will include Edward P. Jones, Saul Bellow, Jhumpa Lahiri, Deborah Eisenberg, Rebecca Lee, Cynthia Ozick, Jenny Zhang, A.M. Homes, Nam Le and many, many more.
Corequisite: Students are required to be in attendance at all Literature evenings and Poetry at Bennington events (most Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm).
The repercussions of the refugee crisis in Syria and at our southern border have once again thrust the politics of migration and refuge into the public discussion. In this course we will investigate the literature of forced exile and resettlement in order to understand how our collective narratives about emigration are formed, and to ask what it means for a writer to superimpose the personal onto the political. We will read Viet Than Nguyen, Edward Said, Uwem Akpan, Mohsin Hamid, Sara Novic, Jenny Erpenbeck. Students in this class will write weekly responses to the readings, a midterm paper, and a final essay.
This is a class for students interested in Costume Design. We will work with inspiration from the natural world to design clothing, one example being Christian Dior’s ‘Tulip line’ of 1953.
Students should be confident about their ability to express ideas in a graphic platform and medium, and interested in expanding their understanding of clothing design. The classic tools for costume design are pencil and watercolor on paper, but we may work in and explore various methods of expressing your ideas in class.
Uniting text and music has been a continuous and vital expression of musical creativity for millennia. In this course we will investigate how composers and songwriters have set poetry to music for nearly one thousand years. What can we as contemporary songwriters, poets, and music listeners learn from these histories? How does a musical setting function as a composer’s reading of a text? How do compositional choices express cultural bias as well as philosophical and political concerns? What about the poet’s perspective? We will listen to, watch, and sometimes sing famous and lesser known Western vocal works from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, reading the texts that inspired them. We will also explore many examples from around the world, such as epic storytelling, ballads, rap, folk, pop, spirituals and ring shouts of the American South, along with other material of interest to class members. Students will have the option to develop a final creative project or write a research paper based on the work of the class.
Drawing Lab provides an opportunity for student artists of all experience levels to further develop their skills with observational-based drawing. Working primarily with the human figure, students build increased understanding of the poetic, dynamic, and inherently abstract nature of drawing, while paying close attention to the potential of formal elements such as shape, line, form, and the creation of pictorial space. Although each class period provides structures and activities within which students work, the ultimate aim of this class to allow students the time and space necessary to further develop their drawing skills so as to best support individual projects and concerns. Class time is divided between drawing from life, discussing student work, and examining the use of the figure in visual art, using both contemporary and historical examples. Please note that this course may require additional materials to be purchased by the student.
Note: Much of this class will be spent drawing the nude human form.
This is an advanced plastic pollution course, housed in the Center for the Advancement of Public Action and built on the foundation of public action. Plastic pollution is a growing problem which affects oceans, fish and wildlife, human health and contributes to climate change. The students should have a comprehensive understanding of the issue and an interest in working with the Beyond Plastics project, a national project based at Bennington College. This is an environmental policy and community organizing class. Students will learn how to do outreach and organizing, utilize social media, build coalitions and gain a deeper understanding of government and corporate decision making. Potential projects including: developing speeches and power points on plastics issues and presenting that information at least 5 times to student and community audiences; producing the Beyond Plastics pod cast; developing and launching on-line petition campaigns; helping to adopt local laws to reduce plastic pollution and sharing the latest research on plastic pollution with other student leaders.
The place of the shared meal is a locus of multiple design problems, from the place setting to the chair, and from the table to the room itself. It is a site of routine and ritual where, along with sustenance, we enjoy sensory and aesthetic pleasures, and social interaction.
The routines and rituals of eating have changed significantly over the past several generations. This studio will begin with an overview of historical precedents of spaces designed for communal meals, and then proceed to create new solutions.
Students will work in measured drawings and scaled models in the development of their projects. Final projects may include full-scale construction of individual components, including elements for use in the new Student Center.
Work in dialogue with students from the Slip-Casting project: Tablescapes will be facilitated.
How do we physically understand the spaces we are in? How is each of us affected by them? How do we develop a deeper sense of place? The Body Acoustic aims to heighten awareness of the reciprocal relationship between the built environment and our senses. Light and sound, distances, height, volume, surfaces, angles/curves and a/symmetries all affect one’s movement through interior and exterior spaces; one’s movement, in turn, affects the perception of these spaces.
Using methodologies from visual and movement-based art forms, The Body Acoustic provides an opportunity for students of any discipline to engage in trans-disciplinary research and practice. Throughout the course, students will graphically articulate their experiences inhabiting multiple spaces (i.e. drawing, photo collage), design and make simple situations/spaces to move through and will determine short scenes/movement studies to influence our sense of place. Students will form teams to complete short on-site exercises and will share results of other assigned exercises through discussion and presentation. Criteria for evaluation include participation in all class sessions and discussions, satisfactory completion of all assignments and active participation in all reviews of student work.
The goals of this course are to gain ease and dexterity at the keyboard, developing a confident piano technique and the skill of reading musical notation. Students will expand upon the skills learned in Piano lab I, adding to a basic repertoire of scales and chords, use them in improvisation and harmonization of melodies. In addition they will explore a repertoire that utilizes the musical components covered and learn to perform selected compositions.
This course will look at the versatile program of Max/MSP/Jitter, a high-level programming platform for sound and visuals. Our focus will be on the sonic capabilities of the program, though we will dip occasional into visuals, video, and sensing technologies. Students will develop independent research, and projects based on their interests and abilities, and must have an independent streak for troubleshooting and communal problem solving. Smaller exercises will show how to reproduce analogue problems in the digital realm, and bring us towards a sonic understanding of both. Visiting specialists will show how to bring Max into diverse interactions with other disciplines and new sensing technologies, from motion sensors, image tracking, and integration with Arduino.
We will gather once a week to sing rounds, chant, chorales, work songs, protest songs, sea chanteys, Sacred Harp, and folk songs from around the world. The words are less important than the joy of singing as a community. No performances- evaluation is by attendance only. We will use our ears and simple notation to learn the music- no previous singing experience is necessary.
This course, intended for students who will continue to the Advanced Projects in Film/Video II course in spring 2020, will support advanced students in planning, pre-production, and early production for more complex, larger-scale, longer-duration, self-directed video projects. In general, this course is intended and used by seventh-term students with a Plan concentration in Film/Video, but exceptions may be made with the permission of the instructor. Students will learn how to use treatments, shooting scripts, storyboards, shot lists, budgets and diagrams to plan narrative, documentary, experimental and installation projects. They will present and workshop ideas for projects, critique planning documents and test footage or rushes, and have individual meetings with the instructor. Guests will come in to walk us through their planning processes for projects in various disciplines. We will also look at well-known films and videos alongside their scripts and storyboards and discuss the notion of the film maudit, while screening some films about famously difficult, embattled and unfinished productions. Pre-requisite: Intermediate Video or permission of the instructor. Can also be taken with Intermediate Video as a co-requisite by permission.
Corequisites: Intermediate Video if not already taken
New England is one of the most heavily forested regions in the United States. 14,000 years ago it was covered by ice. When humans arrived about 11,000 years ago, they found extensive, well-established forests — and began reshaping the landscape through hunting and fire and, beginning about 2000 years ago, farming. European colonists caused further ecological change by expanding agriculture and bringing livestock, and by 1850 most of the region was cleared for agriculture. Most of that farmland has now become forested again. How do we understand and predict the workings of such a dynamic landscape? This course in ecology and evolution addresses the function and history of ecological systems, the adaptations and life-histories of organisms in habitat, and the evolutionary processes by which those adaptations emerged. We will use the mostly-forested ecosystems that dominate the local landscape to explore general concepts of ecology and evolution, and to develop research tools that will be applicable in the study of any ecosystem. This course is for anyone interested in how ecosystems work and why they are as they are; it will also prepare students for more advanced work in ecology and evolution. Ecology is a foundational science for Environmental Studies. There will be extensive field-work. There will be some quantitative analyses; students should be comfortable with basic mathematical problem-solving.
This hands-on course co-taught by dance faculty Elena Demyanenko and guest video-artist Ray Sun will utilize moving camera exercises, selected film screenings and improvisational games to give students an opportunity to expand and refine their own visual sensibilities, with the goal of creating collaborative multi-media projects. We will explore and analyze the creative choices available and practical tools needed when we instigate an interactive relationship between camera and movement, filmmaker and performer. Together we will attempt to develop a common language that encompasses new systems of communicating, problem solving, and making.
Coursework will incorporate Isadora, a software for real time manipulation of the audio/video feeds, to deliver more complex, integrated multi-media scenarios.
Throughout the term, student work will be designed collaboratively, screened and critiqued. All students will be involved in working with video equipment and moving as performers. Video students should have taken Introduction to Video or should be taking it concurrently. Each dance student will be working closely in collaboration with a video partner. Previous experience with Isadora is not required.
This production course introduces students to the fundamentals of working in video and the language of film form. Drawing on the energy, intensity and criticality of avant-garde film and contemporary video art practices, students will complete a series of projects exploring dimensions of cinematography, mise-en-scène, editing and sound design before producing a final self-determined project. Concepts crucial to time-based media such as apparatus, montage and identification will be introduced through screenings, discussions and texts by a diverse range of artists, filmmakers, and theorists. Emphasis on technical instruction, formal experimentation, and critical vocabulary is balanced in order to give students a footing from which to find their own stakes in the medium.
This advanced research seminar offers students the opportunity to conduct culminating work in Society, Culture and Thought (SCT) in the form of an independent research project. For most students, this will be a one-semester project. For other students, this will be the first half of a year-long project that involves fieldwork, archival research, and/or the collection of data. For all students, however, the process in these fourteen weeks is very similar, if not exactly the same: all students must conduct a detailed review of the scholarly literature that informs their inquiry, and must begin to situate themselves within that scholarly conversation as an independent voice. We will begin the course by reflecting on the nature of SCT-related disciplines (Anthropology, Environmental Studies, History, Philosophy, Political Economy, Politics, Psychology, Social Psychology), and what it means to conduct individual research in these various disciplines. Aside from shared readings, students will be largely focused on research and readings directly related to their individual projects. Writing will take place throughout the term, and students will receive feedback from the instructor, from classmates, and from a second-reader on the SCT faculty. Individual work in progress will be discussed and workshopped in class.
Lyric poems express the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of a single, first-person speaker, often aligned with the poet themselves. Persona poems or dramatic monologues invoke the mask of another figure—fictional character, animal, plant, object, or person—to convey idea, emotion, and voice. Reading a diverse array of poems by poets from different eras, nations, and biographies, we will investigate the advantages and limitations of each mode of poetry, asking questions including: How can assuming a persona liberate the poet to speak about difficult personal subjects? How can lyric voice be expanded to encompass political concerns? When does invoking the persona of another become ethically dubious? Students will draft poems each week and engage in reading and discussion meant to stimulate thinking about how poets conceptualize, make, and shape their poems. You will give and receive critique in a workshop environment, expand approaches to drafting, and revise poems for a substantial final portfolio.
Co-requisite: Students are required to attend the Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington readings, typically held on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.
Reading contemporary screenplays and story treatments, we will discuss the structure and scene work that goes into writing a successful screenplay. Almost without fail, all screenplays utilize a familiar and easy to learn three-act structure, but the very best screenwriters manipulate this structure nimbly via character development, excellent dialogue, and strong storytelling techniques. Students will learn how to write coverage and script analysis, how to spot the three-act structure and how it can be subtly tweaked and broken to best serve the story’s interests. Students will write treatments and scenes for their own original feature film ideas, and in the process will learn the formal constraints of a screenplay, formatting, scene development, and how to write effective and compelling dialogue. Most of the semester will focus on reading and discussing screenplays but the class will screen a select number of films over the course of the semester in order to see how moments on the page translate to the screen.
How do social scientists gather primary data for the study of social life? This workshop course provides an opportunity for students to learn and practice the fundamental non-positivist research techniques necessary to study of social phenomena, namely interviewing, participant observation, and focus group discussions. Workshops and field projects will provide the opportunity for students to use these techniques on topics of their own interest. Methodological and theoretical perspectives will be examined, as will methods for recording, analyzing, interpreting and writing up qualitative data.
This course will present an interdisciplinary approach to the theory of conflict resolution. Theories of conflict resolution, not mediation skills, will be introduced and then explored through a number of different prisms. These will include the macro issues of the nature of peace, the environment, the media, NGOs, as well as the role of religion and the Bible. There will also be a focus for part of the course on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The relationship of Rock n Roll and the arts to conflict resolution will also be examined. The course will culminate with students sharing and discussing their own personal conflict resolution philosophy and statements. Reflections, presentations, and final paper are also part of the syllabus.
This course serves as an introduction to rhythms, chants, and musical practices from Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the African Diaspora. Using indigenous percussion instruments from these territories, students will use their hands, mallets, and sticks to play traditional folkloric rhythms and melodies. Additional topics will cover history, culture, language, and dance. This class serves the greater Bennington community in the fall by partnering with the South Western Vermont Medical Center. Near the end of term students will share their work with residents in SVMC. A weekly practice lab is expected.
This course will offer an introduction to studio recording techniques through recording sessions, hands-on exercises, lectures, and critical listening sessions. We will cover basic sound acoustics, spot and stereo microphone techniques, signal flow, audio processing, and creative and unconventional music recording techniques. We will record various genres of music in a collaborative setting. This course will also introduce the fundamentals of mixing techniques.
Students who have previously taken “Introduction to Recording” will not be permitted to take this class.
This is an essential course for students involved in making work for performance this term. Attention is given to all of the elements involved in composition and production, including collaborative aspects. Students are expected to show their work throughout stages of development, complete their projects, and perform them to the public by the end of the term.
Corequisites: Dance Workshop (Th 6:30-7:50); Dance or Drama Lab Assignment
The Gothic is a worldview equally at home in nostalgia and strangeness. It thirsts for arcane, even perverse, knowledge and is frequently motivated by a fearful fascination with the foreign. In Gothic novels (the first of which appeared in London in 1764) psychic ‘interiority’ is revealed in dark spaces tainted by unthinkable crimes or haunted by spirits. But if seeing is believing in Gothic literature, how can art history begin to reclaim the Gothic image on its own terms? How, for example, do Gothic fiction’s ‘special effects’ rely on paintings and prints to evoke the exotic and unimaginable? To answer these questions, this visual culture course will range widely from the original Gothic style in medieval Christian art and architecture to proto-Romantic and modern revivals of the Neo/Gothic in text, film, television, and music video. (NB: this is not Vampires 101, but there will be blood.) We will draw on traditional art history and cultural theory, as well as feminist, gender, critical race, and queer studies. Working collaboratively, our transdisciplinary approach will produce a useful chronology of Gothic visual culture in all its—at times, ridiculous—sublimity.
In terms of public action, GANAS remains a community-driven, cross-cultural association that provides students with volunteer opportunities to engage with the predominantly undocumented Latino migrant worker population. These opportunities are facilitated by the group itself, in addition to partnerships with organizations such as Head Start, and the Bennington Free Clinic.
Current members are implementing an ESL program, women’s workshops, high-school counseling, and conferences, hosting a biweekly radio show, gathering oral histories, researching workshops on financial literacy and driver’s privilege cards, maintaining a web presence, advertising, and continuing with social events.
Fall: 4-credit course for new participants, 2- or 4-credit group tutorial for those continuing, whose presence will be required during the first hour of class time each week.
How do actors bridge the gap between themselves and the role they are playing? How do actors rehearse with other actors in order to explore the world of the play? This non-performance based class is designed to help individual actors discover their own organic, thorough rehearsal process. Step by step we will clarify the actor’s process: character research, character exploration, text analysis, identifying actions, working with scene partners, emotional preparation, and scene presentation. Each student will be required to research and present the biography of one renowned actor during the term, and these presentations will serve as a springboard for an on-going group conversation about the craft of acting. Students will work to create a warm-up specifically designed to meet their individual needs, and work on one scene throughout the term, allowing them to explore deeply, revise, and edit their choices. Various rehearsal techniques will be explored, so that students can begin creating their own rehearsal technique for future performance work.
Physics is the study of what Newton called “the System of the World.” To know the System of the World is to know what forces are out there and how those forces operate on things. These forces explain the dynamics of the world around us: from the path of a falling apple to the motion of a car down the highway to the flight of a rocket from the Earth. Careful analysis of the forces that govern these motions reveal countless insights about the world around you and enable you to look at that world with new eyes. While there are no explicit prerequisites for this course, a proficiency with algebra is assumed.
The aim of this course is to think about books. Not just books as objects, but books as the signifiers of a wealth of relationships – between reading and writing, between people and ideas, between people and people, between technologies and desires. For centuries, our ideas have been shaped by the rhythms and hierarchies inherent in the nature of print. But the nature of the book itself has changed enormously over time – from the painstaking creation of ancient papyri and codices to Gutenberg and the fifteenth-century printing revolution. Moreover, as these technologies have changed, so have their associated phenomena of authorship, authority, and reading itself. And now, as blogs, wikis, and Google shift the discourse from page to screen, old definitions and relations are undergoing yet another series of unimagined changes. The roles of author and reader are morphing and blurring. But is this revolution truly new? We look at books and book culture from ancient Mesopotamia to the present day, investigating the nature and significance of these objects, their content, and the relationships they embody.
Ludwig Wittgenstein is one of the most influential and important of twentieth century philosophers and one of its most enigmatic characters. In this course you will read two of Wittgenstein’s central works, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations. We will arrive at a detailed understanding of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, its themes, arguments and development. Alongside this philosophical journey you will read various biographies, memoirs, and fictionalized biographies of Wittgenstein’s life as well as viewing Derek Jarman’s film on the life of Wittgenstein. We will examine the connection between Wittgenstein’s life and his philosophy.
This course is the first of a four-course chemistry sequence covering general, organic and biochemistry. Students do not need to take the entire sequence. We will focus on introductory chemical principles, including atomic theory, classical and quantum bonding concepts, molecular structure, organic functional groups, and the relationship between structure and properties. The class will have lecture/discussion meetings at which we will critically examine the major concepts of reading assignments, discuss articles, and review some of the current developments of the field. The aim of the laboratory will be to develop your experimental skills, especially your ability to design meaningful experiments, analyze data, and interpret observations. Some background in math (pre-calculus) would be helpful.
The theater is the place where we learn how to be. At its best, it is a rehearsal for the great moments of our life, including our happinesses. Love, death, we see it on stage and it prepares us for our life.” —John Guare
A play is a metaphoric and empathic art form that seduces us into imaginatively making choices and suffering consequences along with the characters on stage. Every day in the real world, we watch as people make choices whose consequences are truly ours to share—some global, some local, some only in our dreams. What if we could rewrite those choices and change what happens to our lives, our world? We will read 5-7 works of literature and watch several films to explore how the narrative art form navigates and exploits the gravitational pull of history and how the cascade of choice and consequence organizes dramatic event.
Students will choose a public figure born after 1935 (politician, author, rock star, astronaut, etc.), research their life, and identify a series of their choices and resulting consequences. Students will then write a 30 to 90 minute play where their central character makes a different choice, and the world, as defined by the world of the play, changes.
The dramaturg serves as a powerful medium in the theatre. She bridges the past and the present, the creative team and the audience, while providing critical generosity and historical and literary insight. In this course, we will learn about the history and practice of dramaturgy, while learning how the critical and research skills of the dramaturg can apply to a wide array of theatrical and artistic disciplines. Through weekly readings and assignments, students will engage with various tools and methods of dramaturgy, including text analysis, research skills, exploring the archive, theatrical translation, and Shakespearean dramaturgy. “Introduction to Dramaturgy” is recommended for theater practitioners—actors, directors, designers, and playwrights—as well as for students with an interest in literature, history, and criticism.
This class explores the various ways photography was intertwined with the artistic, political, and scientific developments of the 20th century on a global level. Students will do weekly research connecting to online sites hosted by major institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Getty and others. Class discussions, identification tests, and reflection essays are included in addition to slide presentations of material.