According to Larry Diamond in his lecture on “What is Democracy?” Democracy consists of four basic elements:
1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
2. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
3. Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
4. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
In this moment of history, where the U.S. democracy feels threatened and democracies around the world are under stress, this seven week class will invite a conversation about how we as citizens can and have the obligation to participate in a democracy to make it work. A democracy is only as strong as its citizen participation. We will have guests visiting with us each week for our conversations to address these tenets of a democracy and to understand what we can do to keep this system of governance working. We will serve coffee, tea and cookies for these breakfast conversations.
Neoliberal culture asks us to see ourselves exclusively through our capacity to buy, sell, accumulate “likes” and “followers” and to do it as individuals. And the neoliberal cultural project tends to render invisible or illegitimate any alternatives to it as an orientation to social life. However there exists examples of cultural projects that remained on the outside of neoliberalism’s program, that weren’t conducive to assimilation. House music culture is one such example. This class will study house music culture in contrast to neoliberal forms popular culture. It will posit that the house scene spanning forty years contains glimpses of what Stephen Duncombe, calls “micro utopia” – temporary manifestations of an ideal civic culture.
We will surface the tacit, deep logics and practices of house music culture from its nascent days from David Mancuso’s Loft and Nicky Siano’s Gallery, Frankie Knuckles Warehouse and Ron Hardy’s Music Box to its present manifestations globally. We will compare these logics to those within neoliberal popular cultural projects that we are currently enmeshed within. This course will borrow from cultural studies, affect theory, performance studies, dance and dance studies. Students will be asked to develop prototypes of socially engaged art that intervene into neoliberal culture based on house music’s cultural logics.
This is a trans-disciplinary course that investigates local food sovereignty. Incorporating activities such as collective soup making to intersect with academic research and theoretical reading, this course aims to enhance our overall understandings about the modern day food chain (i.e. industrial food production and systems of distribution). The Soup-er Club will create participatory soup dinners, focusing on thematic discussions, to explore possibilities for making an inclusive space where direct dialog and face-to-face interaction with local residents, practitioners, and activists can be facilitated. Topics include: recapturing place-based food ways, repairing relations between individuals in communities, labor, and the regional stability of food systems.
This class will put focus on investigating various approaches to food studies while examining academic institutions’ curriculums and non-institutional models developed by civic and creative practitioners. This intensive Methodology Workshop provides opportunities to explore food as a pedagogical tool to “do food justice” and to practice trans-disciplinary research methods, including socially engaged art. We will examine the complexity of food issues in colonial and postcolonial constructions and in the context of globalism. Bearing in mind that cooking is both knowledge and practice, this class will engage in critical food studies beyond the confines of academic textbooks and encourage students to practice in-situ learning outside of the classroom. This course incorporates research oriented syllabus-building activities which shall contribute to establishing an inclusive food studies curriculum.
Daily practices connect makers over a duration of time to concepts, issues, and forms we care about. These practices are constrained by a set of guiding principles or frameworks, and are iterative by design. Because of the consistency of work (every day), a daily practice can change us and open us up to new ideas, techniques, and feelings. Daily practice as a concept is used in art-making, and also in theories of behavior change. This class brings both together, to create sustained experimental interventions (in public.)
In Daily Climate Change, students design daily practices related to climate change communication, behavior change, and participatory design. For example, a practice can focus on inter/personal or multi-species relations, a social justice campaign, or persuasive design for behavior change around a particular “wicked problem.” We proceed to create a complete, contained iteration of work every day in under 45 minutes. Work is shared and self-evaluated each week.
As we iterate in this 40-day daily practice, ideas and techniques evolve, and we learn to endure boredom and “failure;” we produce less preciously, and “think with our hands.” We also develop documentation techniques that leave a vivid trace of our efforts.
In this class we will also look at the work of people for whom daily practice has been integral to their work, including scientists, artists, spiritual practitioners, journalists, and hobbyists. Workshop time each week will be devoted to participation in short iterative design exercises in small groups.
No prior art-making experience is necessary for this course. All students are required to keep a daily record on a digital platform (i.e. Tumblr), linked to the class blog. Come prepared to make a daily commitment to this practice, regardless of weather, travel or other exigencies! There is no final for this class but the work will conclude with a required written self-reflection on process and outcomes.
All students will keep a blog or doc, linked to the class google drive.
Learning outcomes: iterative and constraint-based design, a deeper understanding of self-defined climate change challenges, exposure to persuasive design and climate change psychology, durational work, documentation.
In this project-based course, we will collectively engage creative documentation, written, discursive and embodied practices in the production of an online zine and podcast in order to explore the challenges of documenting dance processes, live performance, and the creative communities that gather around these practices.
Attuning ourselves to the ephemera that surround and imbue live, embodied forms, we will consider the multi-sensory, affective, and collective modes through which dance is activated and activates in order to re-configure our understanding of the archive not as a static record of the past, but a protean, contestable, multivalent, and embodied process.
Throughout the course we will reflect on historical and contemporary materials and texts as we critically engage questions around what and who comes to have significance and value through the archive and how an artist’s participation in the archive can be employed as a method for reflecting on and deepening engagement with one’s own work and the work of others. How might these processes be used as critical tools for deepening and expanding one’s own creative process while contributing to discourse in the field and reflection on contemporary issues? Students will be expected to write regularly. Time in class will be spent workshopping each other’s work, responding to readings, and working collaboratively to interview visiting artists and guests and share content.
Co-requisite: Dance or Drama lab assignment if students sign up for 4 or more credits in dance.
Please contact Dana Reitz (firstname.lastname@example.org) for registration.
This course examines the movement of early‐modern freethinkers who championed individual autonomy and questioned the authority of religious, moral, social, and political thought. We will focus particular attention on questions of pleasure and morality, sexuality and power, authority and subversion. Writers studied will include Prévost (Manon Lescaut), Laclos (Liaisons Dangereuses), and Sade. Readings, critical written assignments, and oral presentations. Conducted in English.
As water—through floods and droughts alike—continues to reshape the geography of the world around us, this course will look at waterscapes as written by women: Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea, Annie Dillard’s A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge. Science, poetry, and ideas of conservation converge here. As a marine biologist, Carson wrote with exactitude and lyricism of the liminal environment, while Dillard’s evocative personal essays offer a glimpse into how the natural world can inform the human spirit. Williams offers a more elegiac account of landscape and family. The sensibilities and convictions of these women offer views to environmental literature that bring a different dimension to a genre of expression often associated with male adventure and audacity.
Vandercook Proofing Presses were once a vital aspect of the printing industry and have been adopted widely by artists for letterpress printing and book arts. Bennington College is fortunate to possess three Vandercooks, housed in the Word and Image Lab.
Using type-high plywood blocks, oil-based and non-toxic, water-soluble inks, we will examine different approaches to mark-making: from graphic and angular to painterly and gestural. We will cover color mixing, printing in multiple-colors and producing multiples/editions.
Students will learn image preparation and transfer methods, sharpening and care of tools, wood carving methods, ink and paper preparation, hand-inking and rolling techniques, printing on the Vandercook proofing press and by hand. Additional areas of experimentation may include using stencils, layering color and a variety of monotype techniques and embossment.
Experienced and beginning woodcutters/relief printmakers are welcome to join us.
What is a more valuable piece of matter? Could it be something that will degrade in this art world and be okay? String, cotton-balls and rubber bands may be what should be affixed to your unique prosthetic to complete a task given.
This course will cover information and techniques related to body casting, wire rope rigging, fabricating, building processes and encourage personal material resourcing. This is a project based performance course in which you will have problems set to define and complete. Your found solution will be evaluated on how thoroughly you analyzed the task, by way of experimentation of intent represented in prototyping and drawings, as well as showing a final function.
This class will introduce Isadora, a software designed for artists, designers and performers to add interactive media and video to their projects. Through a drag and drop node based interface you can control your media in real time, editing your video and audio on the fly or incorporating live video and audio feeds. Together we will learn the logic of the software and best practices for media management and equipment set up in pursuit of our creative ideas.
This introductory seminar will consider and juxtapose the 19th century British Romantic poet John Keats and the 20th century American modernist poet Wallace Stevens, both of whom were rigorous craftsmen, provocative thinkers, and aesthetic theorists who argued fervently for the supremacy of the imagination, the interconnectedness of truth and beauty, and the importance of mystery and uncertainty in poetry. Alternating between Keats and Stevens, we will consider the poetry and critical prose of both writers and look for common threads, both in their writing and artistic sensibility. We will write two short critical essays and together engage in intensive close readings of each poet’s work.