This course is a thematic seminar of Chinese ink painting, focusing on the development of the pictorial tradition of landscape from the tenth century to the nineteenth century. Along with the discussion of the history of landscape painting, we will explore various types of landscapes including the topographical landscape, the idealized or imaginary “mind landscape,” the sacred landscape, the landscape of famous places, the landscape in the styles of ancient masters, and printed landscape painting manuals in the consideration of their socio-political, intellectual, and religious implications.
This course is an introductory survey of major artistic and cultural traditions of Asia. Selected works of art of India, China, and Japan from the prehistoric period to the twenty-first century in various medias including architecture, sculptures, bronzes, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, and woodblock prints will be discussed. The course invites students to understand and interpret these artworks, not only in historical and visual contexts, but also according to philosophical and religious ideas, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. We will study major developments and issues in the art of each culture, discussing mutual influences and cross-cultural artistic interchanges, as well as the many cultural and artistic differences between cultures in the region.
This is an analog film-based black-and-white photography course designed for those with little or no experience in photography. Emphasis will be placed on the application of technique in terms of personal expression through the selection and composition of subject matter. The course comprises technical lectures, darkroom demonstrations; lectures on historical and contemporary photographs as well as class critiques. The course will begin with a 2-D design assignment using photograms and continue with others that will teach camera controls, exposure, film processing, printing and structuring narrative using single and multiple images. Manual analog 35mm single lens reflex cameras will be available to borrow from the photo cage for the length of the term.
Students in this interdisciplinary course will focus on combining photographic media with other materials and artistic disciplines. They will explore the techniques that directly manipulate the image before, during and after recording photograph. Experimentation and creative risk taking throughout the various assignments will be stressed. Through this process of experimentation students will produce projects in two dimensional and three dimensional formats using these various techniques.
This course is for experienced student artists with a firm commitment to serious work in the studio. Students will work primarily on self-directed projects in an effort to refine individual concerns and subject matter. Students will present work regularly for critique in class as well as for individual studio meetings with the instructor. Development of a strong work ethic will be crucial. There will be an emphasis on the growth of each student’s critical abilities, the skills to think clearly and speak articulately about one’s own work and the work of others. There will be supplemental readings, student research and presentations about the work of 20th and 21st century artists. Please note that this course may require additional materials to be purchased by the student.
Relying heavily on evolutionary developmental biology, we will investigate transdisciplinary questions about origins of language. On the surface, we will look at the evolution of language, including the physical and cognitive aspects of language, and the individual developmental trajectories each of us takes in our learning of a language (or two or three). More deeply, we necessarily draw on computational modelling, archaeology, physical anthropology, psychology, comparative cognition, and cultural anthropology to try to understand the parameters of this topic, and the evidence within. As students in the class, you will be asked to think deeply, critically, and broadly in areas where we have little evidence or, more frequently, contradictory evidence. This is not a class where there is a “right” answer. Rather we come at these questions with little bits of evidence and most importantly, our big brains.
Students are introduced to the major theories, methods, and research findings of cognitive development, particularly as they apply to infancy and childhood. In order to best understand the findings of the field, students will read journal articles in cognitive development. These will include research on topics as varied as the development of problem solving and reasoning behaviours in young children, naive theories of biology, number, and physics and their role in cognition, and the effect of social cognition on children’s behaviour. Our work will investigate the research methods we use to study beings without speech (infants) and those with brains very different from our own (preschoolers), and how we use this evidence to develop theories. We will conclude by learning about some of the common cognitive disabilities and how each predicts a different constellation of behaviour deficits.
Students reflect upon psychological, and anthropological issues in human populations, asking, “What does it mean to be human?” We consider a range of topics investigated in the social sciences, beginning with definitions of self, culture, and society along with issues of power, rights, and responsibilities. We also look beyond traditional definitions of “human” to intersections where individuals have been labelled human or not human. Please note that this class is based in Social Emotional Learning methods and Adaptive Leadership Theory. This means that we’re going to be engaging in workshops that are personal, will make you feel vulnerable, and will make the class a very uncomfortable place. The intention is experiential learning in the classroom to transform your thinking about yourself and others.
Whose class is this anyway? Improvisation is for everyone. Life is made up as it happens and improv is no different. This course will explore the basic elements of improvisation. Through short and long form theater games, pattern and rhythm exercises, we aim to heighten observation, listening skills, and ensemble building. Character, object, and environment work will be explored as well. Our goal is remaining truthful and honest in an improvised scene or monologue. This course will draw from improv gurus such as Del Close and Mick Napier, and the practices of National Comedy Theatre and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Of course, the course will culminate in a public performance of improvised madness.
Acting, when done well, is the pure expression of human emotion and spirit through text. To do so effectively, one must have adequate training. The actor’s voice, body, mind, and spirit are the tools of the trade and in this course, we will work to hone each one.
This course provides a safe environment for the actor to explore and play in the pursuit of bringing texts to life. We will work rigorously to train the the actor’s voice and body, working towards creating three dimensional human beings worthy of the stage.
My goal as a teacher is to give the building blocks to develop your voice and body and to tap into your already rich inner life. Using scene work, improvisation, outside readings, and various exercises, we will explore how our rich life experiences can aid in the pursuit of mastery and craft.
Co-requisites: Dance or Drama Lab required.
Economic decisions are usually taken under constraints. These constraints may include limited budget, limited time, or limited information available to people. Choice Theory in economics provides us with a way to make sense of these decision patterns for individuals and for groups, and to describe how the patterns might change when the constraints change. This is an advanced level course in microeconomics. We will use graphs and mathematical formulations to express the key concepts in formal terms. For this, a grasp of high-school algebra, calculus and geometry is required. Prerequisites for the course include at least one 2000-level course in economics and a course in mathematics. Additionally, prior approval of the course instructor is required. Students should email the instructor with an expression of interest by November 30th.
The aim of this course is to explore the development of Christianity as a set of interlocking complex systems with an equally complex history. Christianity has been around for 2,000 years, and there is no denying that we live under its enormously powerful influence. Millions have fought and died over it. But even those who identify themselves as Christians often seem to be unclear on the elements of this system, or where it came from. In this course, we will explore the development of the Christian phenomenon, from its Mesopotamian beginnings, through Judaism, Jesus, Catholicism, cults and Crusades, to the Protestant Reformations of Martin Luther and Henry VIII.
The Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College has received its second commission from the U.S. State Department’s Office of Art in Embassies for the art collection at the new U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Students in this course will examine the definition, unique challenges, history, and implementation of public art. Over the course of the term, the class will conduct case studies of prior public art projects and will explore the various dimensions of researching, designing and implementing a site-specific project within a diplomatic context, including looking at the success of CAPA’s recent project at the US Embassy in Oslo, Norway. We are planning on collaborating with graduate students from Thailand who are at the University of Bangkok as well as other Thai cultural and community organizations in Chiang Mai. This course is open to a wide range of students from different disciplines.
This course is the first half of a year-long experience. The course aims to attract a wide range of students from different disciplines. Enrollment in the Spring 2020 term is required in order to continue working on the project in Fall 2020.
The question is what do you want to say? As we develop our interests in sculpture it becomes more and more imperative to find our own voice. The role of the artist is to interpret personal conditions and experiences and find the most effective expression for them. This course provides the opportunity for a self directed study in sculpture. Students are expected to produce a significant amount of work outside of regular class meetings. The goal is for students to become fully versed in issues that define traditional and contemporary sculpture. Regular individual and bi- monthly critiques with visitors will be complimented by student presentations of issues pertaining to their work. Students will be expected to attend field trips to museums and galleries. Complete one project in the installation space and project on the sign out wall.
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.
Corequisites: Drama Lab
Poly=many, chrome or chroma=colors. Can refer to artwork made with bright, multi-colored paint. Having many colors; multicolored. This term is usually used to describe sculptural or decorative objects finished or decorated with paint or glazes.
How do we merge color and 3 D form? How do we make objects in dimensional space that expand or compress our visual perceptions through the addition of a multitude of colors? How do we or can we establish rule sets in this regard?? Are there color theories we need to study to help with our exploration?? This course invites students to investigate the fundamental principals of painted form and found object sculpture while encouraging exploration of classical and contemporary approaches. Sessions are intensive explorations into a variety of techniques and materials including plaster, wood, cardboard, Styrofoam, plexiglass and metal. There will be a strong emphasis on experimentation and how this plays a key role in the making of sculpture. Students will need to complete 8 hours per week out of class time to complete projects. Regular slide presentations compliment individual and group critiques.
Students will work towards completing one significant/thesis work or body of work of their own devising during the course of the semester. Emphasis will be on depth of content, refining aesthetic, conceptual, and technical approach, and in-depth peer critiques of works in progress. This is the “second half” of Advanced Projects. The first half (fall 2019) emphasized research, storyline development, and other aspects of pre-production. In this second half (spring 2020), students should have a solid idea of concept, and production/shooting should already be underway and/or complete. Together, we will look at different aspects of post-production, from different models of editing, correcting color and sound, and methods of final presentation, from cinematic screening to multimedia installation and online platforms. We will also address production issues (shooting, lighting, sound, etc) on a per-student basis, based on the needs of their own specific projects – and address practicalities such as the Senior Show and building a moving image portfolio.
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, 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, with a particular interest in experimental approaches and media theories of the latter half of the 20th century into the 21st century. 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 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, with a particular interest in the evolution of film and 19th century moving image into video and modern media. 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.
Clay responds directly to touch, retains memory and is forced through the dynamic process of firing to fix a point in time. This class will introduce students to a variety of hand-building techniques to construct sculptural and/or utilitarian forms. Students will develop their skills by practicing techniques demonstrated in class and presentations on traditional and non-traditional ceramic history. Through making students skills will increase, granting more confidence, and allowing more control over the objects they wish to realize.
Sculpture and vessels are realized through an exchange between the medium and the self. The class will begin with the question: What is Sculpture? What is a Vessel? Projects will push forward conceptual topics specific to sculpture and vessels including form and presence, the body, light and illusion upon form, the transformation of materials through techniques and the generation of ideas through drawing, writing and making. This is an advanced level course for students who have developed technical sufficiency and have a desire to explore further in ceramic processes. This class will provide a framework for explorations into making and thinking that will eventually become the foundation for a self-directed practice. The philosophy and vocabulary of 3D work and the techniques for self-generating projects will be the primary focus of this class.
Students will develop solitary retreats for a writer/reader/dreamer. We will explore the links between poetics and architecture through the close study of texts and images. The structures will be inspired by poetry and conducive to reverie.
There are aspects of poetry that share qualities with architecture: structure, rhythm, repetition, shape, etc. Particular to architecture is the tectonics of building, encompassing materials, textures and systems of assembly. Each of these elements hold poetic potential. The studio’s physical engagement with a place, with time, with weather and the seasons offer further opportunities for expression. Examples can be found in John Hejduk’s Masques, Raimund Abraham’s Dream Buildings and projects by the French Enlightenment visionaries, Boullee, Ledoux and Lequeu. Through digital and analog drawing and modelling we will test strategies for visual composition, tectonic legibility, and translation from text to object.
The grounds of the Robert Frost Stone House and Museum will provide the site for the studios. Each student will select a location for their project after a careful study of the land and its prospects.
Action research is a methodology for learning while doing and food sovereignty is the practice of self-determination in food systems. Food sovereignty projects solve food insecurity by empowering communities and individuals to produce their own culturally appropriate food and medicine. The class will split into 4 groups, each working on a different food sovereignty related project in Bennington County. The class as a whole will meet to discuss literature on action research methodologies and food sovereignty. Community engagement projects include: 1) building a permaculture garden at a domestic violence safe house; 2) organizing and hosting a local food conference for individuals and organizations in Bennington County; 3) working with a local school on food and garden education; and 4) working with the Purple Carrot Farm on campus.
What is a resilient community food system? How is community health impacted by food access and quality? This class will explore these questions through community engagement and research with a focus on sustainable food system interventions in Bennington, Vermont. Resilience is the ability for a system to adapt to changing circumstances, including poverty, climate change, and health crises. This class will look particularly at the food access supplied by neighborhood corner stores and community gardens. The class will research case studies of food relocalization and public health initiatives to learn best practices in community food security. Working with the local community in Bennington (including the town, local public health district, local organizations, and small business owners), this class will explore the accessibility of food to residents in town and engage in projects that increase access to local, nutritious food in downtown neighborhoods.
In Italy, regional cuisine is an essential component of local identities and a crucial element to understand diversity in the national context. This course focuses on the food practices and typical dishes of Italian regional cultures as the students advance in the study of the language. This course is offered at the elementary level and conducted in Italian. The class will engage in discourse that moves beyond the sentence level and steps into the linguistic production of abstract thought, with an emphasis on oral communication and paragraph-level writing.
This course is designed for seniors or second term juniors who are doing advanced work. Advanced work in CAPA is expected to build on proven strengths in other discipline areas with previous coursework relevant to their area of interest. This spring seminar provides a unique venue for students to better define and pursue the public implications of their education. Students are expected to creatively and critically engage a problem with an eye towards solving it. It is advisable to connect the Field Work Term to the research and project that students will focus on in this course. Senior work is reviewed by CAPA faculty and culminates in a public presentation.
A central element of the “economic problem” is scarcity. In a market economy, prices play a crucial role in addressing this problem. This course examines how the system of prices work. This is an introductory course in microeconomic theory and applications. We will explore the basic ideas in the course verbally and through written expositions, and we will use graphs and mathematical formulations to express the key concepts in formal terms. For this, a grasp of high-school algebra and geometry is required, and some knowledge of calculus may be advantageous. No prior knowledge of economics is necessary to take this course.
This is the second half of the SCT senior seminar, designed as a venue for students to complete their advanced work. For most students, this seminar will focus on analyzing data collected for their senior work during the first term or during Field Work Term and using that analysis to complete their senior projects. Aside from a few shared readings, the bulk of what individuals read is directly the result of the research they do. Writing will take place throughout term, and students will receive feedback both from the instructor and from their peers in the course. Individual works and directions will be discussed and work-shopped in class.
Each of us has multiple social identities. We belong to different social groups and are categorized along various social dimensions. What is involved in being a member of a race, gender, class, nation, sexual affinity, ethnic, or religious group? Are these groups somehow “natural” or objectively real? Are these groups “social constructs”? What, ultimately, is the social world made of? Furthermore, do we have specific obligations based on our social identities? In this course, we will undertake a philosophical investigation of these and other questions regarding social identities. The course will have two main parts: (1) ontological – an inquiry into social reality and social kinds (2) ethical/political – an inquiry into the obligations that attach to social identities. We will use the methods of philosophical analysis, argument, and close reading. Likely course readings include works by: Linda Alcoff, Anthony Appiah, Gloria Anzaldúa, W.E.B du Bois, Jorge Gracia, Cressida Heyes, Ian Hacking, Sally Haslanger, Charles Mills, Ron Mallon, and Naomi Zack.
Various stories of women philosophers in antiquity have come down to us. In Plato’s Symposium, for example, Socrates quotes a long speech on love by Diotima of Mantinea, who Socrates describes as a “wise woman” and his teacher. We also have accounts of Aesara, Arete, Aspasia, Hipparchia, Hypatia, and Theano. However, these accounts are all filtered through male-authored texts. We lack reliable primary sources from women philosophers in antiquity. There are current efforts to recover the voices of women and non-gender-conforming thinkers and thus to broaden the philosophical canon. For this course, we will (1) examine such recovery projects in ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophy, and (2) investigate the intersection of gender and philosophical concerns in antiquity. Likely course readings will include: Sophocles’ Antigone, Euripides’ Medea, Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen and Lysistrata, Plato’s Symposium and Menexenus, selections from Plato’s Republic, selections from Aristotle’s Politics and biology, and Pythagorean, Cynic, Epicurean, and Stoic works.
Plastic pollution has emerged as a major environmental, health and economic issue with direct links to climate change. 9 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. In the next decade, there will be 1 lb of plastic in the ocean for every 3 lbs of fish. Plastics are made from chemicals and a by-product of fracking. And we can’t recycle our way out of this problem. This is a cutting edge public policy class that will delve into the details of this issue, while teaching students how to take political action to stem the tide of plastic pollution. Taught by Judith Enck, a seasoned environmental leader who served in the Obama Administration, the work is also linked to Beyond Plastics, a nationwide grassroots organizing campaign committed to reducing plastic pollution, based at Bennington College. At the end of the class, you will be very well informed about plastic pollution and emerge with new organizing skills that will help you be a leader on a range of issues that you care about.
Interpersonal relations constitute the cement of society. What does it mean to be a sibling, a friend, a spouse or a lover? We will examine relatedness as a fundamental aspect of society and social organization by looking at some of the classic and most recent anthropological findings on the topic of family, kinship, friendship, networking, and community. We will analyze how our actions and loyalties are influenced by cultural rules and pressures pertaining to intimate relations through examining lived realities in various places, and then examine how intimacy and kinship obligations have changed in the global era through new technologies in medicine and in communication. How do domestic groups meet the challenges of the global neoliberal economy? How have contemporary dynamics reshaped kinship and intimate relations and brought about new forms of gendered relations, intimacy and family structures? Key questions center on the relationship between family and household structure and economic, political, and cultural change both historically and in the more recent past. Theoretical perspectives on the family will be supplemented with case studies of variation and change in families and households.
Intermediate Video will build on technical skills introduced in Intro to Video. Students will be expected to produce in-class technical exercises, short projects assigned by the instructor, and one final project of their own design. Assigned projects and assignments will have both technical and conceptual constraints. This semester of Intermediate Video will give a broad overview of contemporary approaches to pre-production, production, and editing, with an emphasis on hybrid practices, mixed methods, and inconsistent narrative modes.
The course will be for sustained work on an animation or design project. Students will be expected to create a complete animation, or project. The expectation is that students will be fully engaged in all aspects of the class from critiques, to experimenting with ideas, undertaking research and being present. Locations may be explored for showing of work including investigating digital projections on different surfaces and forms. Animation students will work with sound effects and sound scores to complete their final animation.
Public showings will be required.
In the last thirty years, non-governmental organizations have played an outsized role in global affairs, perhaps most notably in development and peacebuilding processes. How did the NGO form develop, and why? How do NGOs interact with states, global institutions, and grassroots populations in the Global South? What effects – positive, negative, and complicated – have NGOs had on global affairs, and how are their roles changing in the 21st century? This course will critically examine the work of NGOs in peace and development around the world, with a concentration on Latin America. Students will use the lenses of political economy, social movement studies, and gender studies to examine various NGOs in order to better understand their complex dynamics, and apply their understanding to a critical analysis of a particular NGO. Students who have worked with NGOs in Field Work Term can expect to incorporate their experiences into the classroom.
This course will introduce students to the broad array of theoretical and empirical perspectives on conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Drawing on contributions from various disciplines, it will give students tools to measure historical and contemporary conflicts and to analyze peace efforts and processes around the world. Key questions include: What are the foundations of armed conflict and violence? What roles do race, religion, gender, sexuality, and colonialism play in warmaking and peacebuilding? What does peace mean to different parties? How is peace achieved, and what role does the international community play? Students will become familiar with key concepts and theories in the field and prepare for future coursework in peacebuilding and related fields.
E. O. Wilson has said that “the organism is simply DNA’s way of making more DNA”. Are the elaborate, bizarre, (at times flamboyant), energy requiring social systems of animals simply adaptations which permit those animals to reproduce? Why is there so much diversity among animal social systems? Why are most mammals polygynous and most birds monogamous? Can we make predictions about successful social strategies and test them in the field? Can we gain insight into human evolution by studying the social systems of non-human primates?
In this course we will consider the evolution and adaptedness of different social systems with particular attention to current models of the evolution of altruistic behavior. We will read and discuss current research from a variety of journals (topics include: cooperative breeding, parent-offspring conflict, siblicide, mate choice and sexual selection, sex ratios, hymenoptera social organization, evolution of primate mating systems, the significance of infanticide and maternal rank). Students will undertake their own research projects.
A rigorous course in which physiological processes of vertebrates and invertebrates are studied at the cellular, organ, organ system, and whole animal levels of organization. The unifying themes of the course are the phenomenon of homeostasis (whereby an animal maintains its organization in the face of environmental perturbations) and the relationship between structure and function. The student will examine these phenomena in the laboratory by dissection and physiological experimentation. Topics include digestion and nutrition, metabolism, gas exchange, circulation, excretion, and neurophysiology.
Chromophilia, a term coined by contemporary artist David Batchelor, refers to intense passion and love for color. What is it about color that has the power to induce reverie, and conversely to manipulate, or disgust? How do we understand and respond to color from phenomenological, poetic, philosophical, and societal vantage points? How as artists can we become the master of our passionately-loved and yet ever-shifting chroma?
In this class, we look carefully at and discuss the work of many artists and the implications of color in their images. Wide-ranging readings from literature, philosophy, and cultural criticism, serve as a base for discussion and artistic response.
Visual work for the first weeks of class consists of color problems using cut paper; in subsequent weeks, students solve problems presented in class with painting, or any other color-abled media. Reading and written responses are assigned weekly. Class time is primarily used for discussion of texts, critique of visual work, and student presentations of research. Assignments are given throughout, however, it is the objective of this class to provide the skills necessary for the student to confidently pursue self-designed projects. A high degree of motivation is expected.
This class will serve as a comprehensive introduction both to the craft of creative writing and also to the workshop method. Throughout the term, we will explore poetry, literary fiction, and creative non-fiction in order to build a working knowledge of the craft and to help students begin to find their way into their own narratives and poems. Every week class will feature exercises and assignments designed to introduce and sharpen certain techniques. Over the course of the semester, students will be expected to write and workshop one short story, one lyric or narrative essay, and a small group of poems. We will also read widely across the three genres. This course is intended for students who have not yet taken a Reading and Writing course at Bennington.
Note: Students may not take this class if they have already taken Fundamentals of Creative Writing or Animal Tales: Fundamentals of Creative Writing
Corequisites: Students are required to be in attendance at all Literature evenings and Poetry at Bennington events (most Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm).
In the inscription for Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, the committee announced it had chosen to give him the award because his novels had “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” In this class, we will read nearly all of these novels, beginning with Ishiguro’s first, A Pale View of These Hills, and including An Artist of the Floating World, The Remains of the Day, When We Were Orphans, Never Let Me Go, and The Buried Giant, as well as his collection of stories, Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. We will investigate Ishiguro’s constant reinvention of the novel, his approach to the confines of genre, and the ways in which Ishiguro has appropriated and subverted the notion of identity as subject. Throughout the term will also interrogate the ways in which Ishiguro has transformed the modern idea of the British novel, by analyzing his approach to race, gender identity, bio-ethics, and the long shadow of cultural memory. We will screen the film adaptations of his major work, and also consult his work as a screenwriter in The White Countess and The Saddest Music in the World. This is an advanced course intended for students with prior college-level coursework in literature.
Corequisites: Students are required to be in attendance at all Literature evenings and Poetry at Bennington events (most Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm).
From Simón Bolívar’s recruitment of the exiled Francisco de Miranda in early nineteenth-century London, to the counter-revolutionary Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s Tres tristes tigres, written in a Hampstead flat, much of Latin America’s postcolonial identity has been forged outside its borders. Beyond defining home, exiles have defined their alternate environments. De Miranda’s statue still stands in Fitzroy Square, and Cabrera Infante lived in London for the rest of his life. Exile, whether a political necessity or voluntary, is more than a discursive conceit in this context, and language an act of memory.
The proposal is to study Latin America’s exilic thought, one of its most formative traditions, from Independence to the present. Students will debate their own perspectives, both in conversation and in writing, thus developing analytical and linguistic skills, and will undertake a short research project. The usual array of media will be included. Conducted in Spanish. High-intermediate level.
Corequisites: Language Series
In this course we will explore the social dimensions of medicine, the body, illness, health, healing, medical care and biotechnologies across societies and times from comparative, cross-cultural, ethnographic perspectives. We will examine the role of cultural differences in defining and dealing with health and illness and investigate health related factors that link humanity cross-culturally through common needs. If human experiences and understandings of illness, suffering, and healing are not objectively rooted in universal facts of biology or nature, how are they to be analyzed and understood? If the interaction between biology and culture depends on the context, what is the status of biomedicine? Can/should the biomedical model simply be regarded as one system of belief and practice among others? And how is the biomedical model embedded in a socioeconomic hierarchy that unevenly distributes health and healthcare between haves and have nots? We will pursue these questions in a global framework, drawing on ethnographies and critical essays that open up the field of medical anthropology.
1. Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.
2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.
3. Irrational judgements lead to new experience.
4. Formal art is essentially rational.
5. Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.
-Sol LeWitt, “Sentences on Conceptual Art” 1969
Shying away from the static, resolved, or finished image, this course will explore drawing as a process of ongoing inquiry. It is intended to foster an experimental and experiential approach to making art, generally eschewing personal expression in favor of developing an open-minded approach. Students will engage with various techniques and processes to make drawings that document experience as well as create an image. Topics to be considered include: artistic intent, ambition, happenings, failure, and chance. Class time is used for drawing, technical demonstrations, discussion and critique. Relevant artists include: Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Jean Tinguely, Allan Kaprow, Yvonne Rainer, Yoko Ono,and Yayoi Kusama.
“Let There Be Fashion, Down With Art” –Max Ernst
The rise of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution led to radical shifts in politics and art in the late 19th century. Fashion acts as a powerful analogue to and forecaster of Modernism. Artists such as Henri Matisse, Leon Bakst, Sonia Delaunay and Salvador Dali took note of fashion’s nascent agency and created clothing as a means of engaging the new political, social and cultural landscapes of the 20th Century. Influenced by Charles Baudelaire’s radical questioning of beauty and fashion, artists attempted to define fashion’s role in culture, manipulating it to reflect their own proclivities. This course will introduce and reconsider various movements such as Cubism, Fauvism, Futurism, Constructivism, Dada, and Surrealism through the lens of fashion, investigating the various agendas and ideologies deployed. Students will create artworks that engage the political spectrum as it intersects with Modernism’s aesthetic partisanship, including the creation of original garments. While this is a studio course, there will be weekly reading assignments and discussion as well as critiques. Students may work in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, video, or costume design. A high degree of motivation is expected.
“Facture refers to the manner in which a painting, drawing, or object is made. It is the combination of brushstrokes, marks, material, and the texture of the surface. Facture is critical to the success of any object. Much of the fascination that accrues to all manual media comes from what can be observed at close range. That distance reveals the foundation, the touch, the sensuality, and the understanding of the material that gives art objects their essential character.” -Kit White, 101 Things to Learn in Art School
Behind the impulse to put paint on canvas is a search for meaning. As an artwork comes into being, its meaning(s) evolve concurrently. Concentrating on the establishment of a rigorous artistic practice, this course will focus on the relationship between facture and meaning in painting. Sharpening practical and critical skills, assignments will investigate the processes and methods of painting from practical and theoretical perspectives. Questions to be considered might include: How does the painter’s knowledge of craft inform the way they paint? Is technique knowledge or behavior? What is the role of labor? Readings, critiques and studio projects will serve to create a constructive and lively dialogue in the classroom.
Composers throughout the ages have cut their teeth on the study of counterpoint – the intricate practice of writing melodies for several voices sounding at once. In this course, we’ll look mainly at 16th-century composers of counterpoint, and sing through pieces from Palestrina to Weelkes, while learning to compose in a variety of practices such as canons, the motet, and familiar style. We’ll gradually work our way from two-voice to four-voice counterpoint, and set texts in a variety of harmonic styles. Emphasis will be placed on creative work, and student pieces will be performed in class throughout the term. Students must be able to read music though no previous knowledge of theory is required. Separately scheduled labs will help sight-singing and ear training in counterpoint.
In this course we focus our attention on a few of the most exciting and influential composers of the late twentieth-century, and discuss how their music has influenced the music of the current period. Works by such composers as Elliott Carter, Toru Takemitsu, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Alfred Schnittke, Luciano Berio, Charles Wuorinen, Frederick Rzewski, John Adams, John Harbison, Galina Ustvolskaya, Gyorgi Kurtag, Gyorgi Ligeti, Sofia Gubaidulina, Louis Andriessen, and Kaija Saariaho are listened to and discussed in class. The course is more student run than a standard lecture course. It is open to students from all disciplines and without prerequisites, but a high level of work is required. There are assigned readings and listening assignments. Music students are expected to write a substantial paper on one composer and to make a presentation on that composer in class. They are responsible for helping to explain the musical approaches and techniques we discuss to the non-music students. Students without a music background are also expected to write a substantial paper on a composer and to give a presentation in class, but are encouraged to draw analogies between the music we study and work in the other arts, and to place the music studied in a historical, philosophical, or scientific context.
All art is a form of communication. The ceramic cup is unusual in that it communicates, perhaps best, through touch. The Cup Lending Library is designed to facilitate this kind of communication on our campus. In this course, students will curate and make cups for a Cup Lending Library to be permanently installed in Crossett Library. The Cup Lending Library will act as an introduction to ceramic artists, handmade cups, and will provide cups for use on campus for community events or personal use. The cups in this library collection will include cups curated from national artists and the best examples of Bennington student work. Over the course of the term, students will refine and remake their cups while researching historical and contemporary examples. Early in the class, we will investigate non-traditional collections and lending in libraries. Students will work together to formulate a plan for curating cups including selection criteria, quantity, and budget. Students will conduct research into the artists represented in the collection and this will be compiled into a written document that will accompany each piece. At the end of the term, students will determine the best way to introduce the campus community to this collection. The course will consist of 2, 2-hour sessions with the first being a lecture/ seminar class in the library followed by a hands-on class in the ceramics studio.
How has the cultural “Other” been represented in Western music? How can composers and performers create with a clear conscience and use source material ethically? We will examine a large repertory of works from the early Baroque period through the Twenty-first century, investigating the uses and abuses of non-Western musical sources. Beyond the classics, we’ll talk about mid-century exotica music, gaming, World’s Fairs, the Eurovision song contest, Hollywood soundtracks, Broadway musicals, pop music, and jazz. We will discuss the World Music industry, crate diggers and sampling, reissues of “lost” world music on vinyl, and contemporary ways of consuming and listening to music. We’ll dig into concepts like Orientalism, exoticism, a la Turca, Chinoiserie, appropriation, and many more. Exploring each composition within its own cultural, political, and musical context, we will attempt to answer certain key questions: why was it written and for whom? Does the composition foster understanding between different cultures or reinforce racial and ethnic stereotypes? What sorts of power relations are inherent in the composition, production, and reception of these musical works? This course is open to students from all areas of study.
We live in an era when millions of people across the globe—victims of forced migration, asylum seekers, refugees, and mobile workers—are on the move. Music often can tell more about the migration experience than statistical analysis and surveys. How might songs transcribe and preserve the identities, memories, traumas, joys, and hopes of individuals and whole communities? We will examine a wide variety of global case studies in ethnomusicology and related fields, connecting musical practices to prominent issues in migration. Our course will also be oriented toward activism and work beyond the classroom, particularly among refugee populations in Vermont and New York. We will look at examples of arts intervention, learning techniques of peacebuilding through music and the performing arts. This course is open to all students.
Balkan music is fierce brass, complex harmonies, and mind-bending asymmetrical dances. It is spirited Serbian wedding music, dissonant village songs, devastating Bosnian love ballads, saucy songs of the Greek underworld, and heart-pounding Turkish rhythms. In the Bennington Balkan Ensemble, we will learn to perform a variety of traditional, urban, village, and popular music from Southeast Europe. Singing and playing indigenous, orchestral, and electronic instruments, we’ll explore repertoire from Albania, Greece, Bosnia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosova, Turkey, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia. Student, faculty and staff singers and instrumentalists of all types (strings, percussion, woodwinds, brass, etc.) are welcome in this ensemble. Be prepared to sing, play, improvise, and dance. Audition and instructor approval required.
Corequisites: Participation and performance at Music Workshop T 6:30-8:00
The Devil has taken many shapes and sizes throughout history and around the world. His story of origin has inspired canonical works that delve into Judeo-Christian theological examinations of daily life, political life, and the metaphysical. Who we are as people on earth seems to depend heavily on how we view our relationship with “good” and “evil.” This class will focus on Western interpretations of the Devil as trickster figure, diabolical ender of worlds, and scapegoat for humanity’s incapability of building and maintaining harmony in the midst of evil, which, like virtue, also demands contextualization. Readings may include The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Book of Job, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, excerpts from Paradise Lost by Milton, African American folktales, and more. What seems to be the Devil’s purpose in literature and how can we trace all of his possibilities across space and time in order to realize our own complexity as people? Let’s find out together.
Students will read various poetry collections that deal with different forms of trauma: homophobia, lynching, war, sexual abuse, colonization, and the overall idea of how to define “violence.” There will be time to discuss prosodic interests of our poets as well as discuss how content and form work together to create a seamless work. We will then turn to our own work and analyze the how and why of our choices. As trauma is our backdrop, students are expected to come to class prepared to speak with maturity and open-mindedness about many uncomfortable topics. Though student work does not have to explore the theme of the class, I do encourage students to take risks in their own poetry and critical analyses.
Students will read an average of one collection of poetry a week, write a weekly poem, write several critical response papers using Maggie Nelson’s text The Art of Cruelty to interpret how violence operates in the poetry collections read, and prepare a final portfolio of poems and self-reflections of one’s own work as it relates to the critical essays found in The Art of Cruelty.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events (typically held on Wednesdays at 7:00pm).
This project-based class is for playwrights engaged in the process and techniques of rewriting and staging their plays. The majority of rewrites may happen prior to the semester, but substantial rewrites could emerge as essential during the production period. Collaborating with the director, actors, and designers will be the heart of this class.
Playwrights are expected to also serve as collective support for the other playwrights whose plays are being produced. In addition to the 4 plays receiving production, up to 6 other plays will receive staged readings as part of the festival.
We will meet as a group at least once a week, on Monday night, with the other nights designated for individual rehearsals. Playwrights will attend Production Meetings and outside Design meetings. Rehearsals culminate in public performances of multiple works staged in workshop productions supported by minimal design. Playwrights will also write a post-performance reflective essay.
In this intermediate-low level course, we will study the representation of the city of Paris on film in order to examine modernityʹs challenges to tradition. In particular, we will focus on the question of how urban communities and city dwellers react to increasing disconnectedness, anonymity, and solitude. Films may include Tanguy, La Haine, Chacun cherche son chat, Paris, Playtime, Monsieur Ibrahim, and Paris, je tʹaime. Class discussions, activities, written assignments, and oral presentations will allow students to improve their linguistic proficiency and analytical skills. Conducted in French. Intermediate‐low level.
Corequisites: Language Series
Viewed from the outside, the French‐speaking world offers enticing images of beauty, pleasure, and freedom. From the inside, however, it is a complicated, often contradictory world where implicit codes and values shape the most basic aspects of daily life. This course will give you an insiderʹs perspective on a cultural and communicative system whose ideas, customs, and belief systems are surprisingly different from your own. Together, we will examine how daily life and activities (friendship and family relationships, housing, leisure, work, and food culture) reflect culturally specific ideologies and values. Emphasis will be placed on developing ease, fluency, and sophistication in oral and written expression. Class will be conducted in French and revolve around authentic materials from the Francophone world (video, music, advertisements, literary texts). Conducted in French.
Corequisites: Language Series
Art is always somehow a reflection of the culture and society in which it is produced. In this class we will explore the ways in which contemporary (post-Mao) Chinese art reflects on modern Chinese culture and society. Each class or every other class, students will be given a packet with visual and written information on a particular work of art with a vocabulary list and grammar points for that material. Documentaries will also be used as a source of authentic input. Students will be expected to prepare to discuss the material in Chinese with the teacher and classmates during the next class meeting.
Corequisites: Language Series
The Twenty-four Stories of Filial Piety are well known Chinese stories that exemplify the devotion of children to their parents that is the chief virtue in Confucianism. The Daoist Tales of Zhuangzi, on the other hand, offer a much different set of values. These tales “translated” from classical Chinese into modern Mandarin at the student’s language level will serve as a starting point for an exploration into two complementary and competing schools of thought that have shaped the character and culture of the Chinese. Students will learn basic vocabulary and grammar through a four-skills approach while comparing and contrasting the basic concepts of these two important Chinese philosophies.
All students will meet in small groups once a week with the teacher outside of the regular classes.
Corequisites: Language Series
While the language of classical Chinese poetry is practically inaccessible to even today’s native speakers of Chinese, the poetry of the five contemporary poets studied in this course is written in the vernacular and serves as a rich source of authentic texts for this course, which integrates language learning with poetry study. The five poets, all born after 1980, each offers a unique perspective into the changing society and culture of modern China. Each lesson or two, students will receive a packet with poems and information on the poet along with a vocabulary list, and grammar worksheets. Through reading and discussing these poets as well as writing their own poems in Chinese, students will gain insights into the changing culture of modern China, while building on their competencies in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Mandarin Chinese.
Corequisites: Language Series
The amount of data in the world is vast and is increasing exponentially. It is easy to become overwhelmed and lose sight of the goal of data: to answer questions we have about the world in a specific, concise manner. The goal of this course is to help craft answerable questions—and then answer them. In order to do this, we will be using a programming language (“R”) to help us organize data, make clean, clear graphs, and help with appropriate analysis of the data.
This course will serve two main goals. The first is an introductory statistics course: gain knowledge of the basic statistical tests, how to interpret their results in a reasonable manner, and understand what those tests are doing at a conceptual level. The second is to learn the computational language of R: how to sort, shape, and handle data, create simulations and interpret the results, and build clean, clear graphical representations of the data presented.
This course is taught at the introductory level and has no prerequisites, but does require a significant amount of time and energy outside of the classroom as we are working towards the two aforementioned goals at once. This course is appropriate for students who plan to seriously create and analyze their own statistics for their work. It may be taken alone, or as a sequel to Presentation of Statistics. There is some overlap between the two courses, but their focus and goals are different. Students who take Presentation of Statistics first will get a broader skill set and a more gentle introduction.
What are comics? Why study them? What do they have to do with Spanish culture? Students in this course will consider the theoretical and artistic concerns for graphic narratives, especially in the interaction between text and image. We will examine the gradual evolution of the so-called historieta from its historical relegation to the realm of the juvenile and lowbrow, to the more recent boom in the academic and critical legitimacy of graphic novels. Our exploration will encompass comic strips, cartoons, and graphic novels from Spain, critical analyses, articles about the art form, as well as films and works of literature inspired by comics. Throughout, we will investigate what these media expose about, and how they simultaneously influence, the cultures from which they emerge. The focus of the course will be on student-generated discussion and critical thinking about these media, but continual practice in all four major areas of language (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) will be essential. Students will learn to defend their own ideas in spoken and written language. We will explore grammatical and linguistic questions as they arise naturally in the classroom. Conducted in Spanish. Co-requisite: attendance at 2 language events. Intermediate-low level.
Corequisites: Language Series
Students in this course will continue to learn the Spanish language through an examination of films. While there will be some necessary discussion about cinematographic components, the focus of discussion will be on historical and political moments present in the films. A consideration, for instance, of national and regional identity, political violence, border crossing, intolerance, and gender identity, will drive the student-generated conversation. The course will also provide specific and explicit support for the linguistic development necessary to communicate in increasingly complex ways, in both written and oral Spanish. Co-requisite: attendance at 2 language events. Conducted in Spanish. Introductory level.
Corequisites: Language Series
In this course we will examine the work and worlds of these two canonical American poets. We will read the poems and letters of Dickinson and the poems and prose of Whitman, paying special attention to his lifelong masterwork, Leaves of Grass. We will also dip into the biographies of these authors and attempt to place them within the context of 19th century literature and culture. Students will also read, discuss and write critical prose, present research in class and complete creative assignments.
The course is designed for students to deepen their understanding of Japanese language and culture through analysis of Japanese online newspapers and examination of Japanese news articles from various contexts. Students will practice various reading strategies, which will help them become independent learners. Mass media is the reflection of a society and the mirror of a culture. Therefore, reading Japanese newspapers helps students to become more aware of the Japanese culture, which is reflected in newspaper articles. Students are required not only to conduct research in their fields of interest, such as politics, economics, and films, but also to create newspaper articles for local Japanese people. High-Intermediate Level. Conducted in Japanese.
Corequisites: Language Series
In the nineteenth and twentieth (and twenty-first!) centuries, mathematicians have been stretching the idea of “geometry” far beyond the geometry of Euclid most people are familiar with: into the fourth (or higher) dimension, curved spaces, and more. This new geometry (the part I am referring to is called “differential geometry and topology”) is philosophically and aesthetically interesting, plays a definite role in the construction of our universe, and has wide-ranging applications; but it is not well-known outside of mathematics departments. Usually, the prerequisites for this study are at least linear algebra, multivariable calculus, and analysis, so math majors get to it in their final undergraduate year, if at all. In this class, we will study these ideas in spaces made out of flat pieces (for a simple example, the surface of a cube). This will allow us to study sophisticated ideas, without assuming any background knowledge. In particular, I will not be assuming that students know any calculus; as for Euclidean geometry, we will be revisiting it from this larger perspective, so you do not need to know or remember that subject either. The class is open to everyone, but culminates in serious, high-level mathematics.
Scholarly estimates consistently place the percentage of the world’s population able to communicate proficiently in more than one language over 50%. Yet multilingual competence is regularly treated as a secondary or even aberrant state requiring explanation and interpretation, while monolingualism is assumed as default despite its numerically inferior status. In this course, we will reverse this paradigm, and work to view monolingualism as a contingent output of an essentially multilingual human milieu. Perspectives will range from the sociolinguistic to the psycholinguistic to the realm of language ideology/policy, and our examination of individual and societal-level practices will address topics relating to language acquisition, language contact/isolation, code-switching, mono-/polylectalism and mono-/diglossia. Participation of multilingual and monolingual students in the seminar is welcomed.
Hip hop music producers have long practiced “diggin’ in the crates”—a phrase that denotes searching through record collections to find material to sample. In this course, we will examine the material and technological history of hip hop culture, with particular attention to hip hop’s tendency to sample, remix, mash-up, and repurpose existing media artifacts to create new works of art. We will use a media archaeological approach to examine the precise material conditions that first gave rise to graffiti art, deejaying, rapping, and breakdancing, and to analyze hip hop songs, videos, and films. Hip hop archaeology is a critical and artistic practice that seeks to interpret the layers of significance embedded in the artifacts of hip hop culture. How does hip hop archaeology remix the past, the present, and the future? How do the historical, political, and cultural coding of hip hop artifacts change as they increasingly become part of institutional collections, from newly established hip hop archives at Cornell and Harvard to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture?
This advanced course focuses on work in the performance of improvisation. For dancers, special attention is given to the development of individual movement vocabularies, physical contact and interaction, and the exploration of forms and structures.
For musicians, special attention is given to creating rhythms and sonorities which can then be manipulated and developed while interacting with dancers in the moment.
Dancers are expected to have experience with improvisation in performance and are asked to develop a structure for the group. Musicians should have basic skills on their instrument and be able create and convey a sense of form to other musicians in an efficient way.
**Both dancers and musicians will meet together on Mondays 3:40-5:30. Musicians will meet Wednesday 4:10-6:00. Dancers will meet Thursday 3:40-5:30.**
How does influence travel from one thing to another? In Newton’s mechanics of particles and forces, influences travel instantaneously across arbitrarily far distances. Newton himself felt this to be incorrect, but he did not suggest a solution to this problem of “action at a distance.” To solve this problem, we need a richer ontology: The world is made not only of particles, but also of fields. As examples of the field concept, we study the theory and applications of the electric field and the magnetic field. Students will learn how fields are generated, how fields interact with matter and with each other, and how these interactions inform our understanding the world.
Written in eleventh century, The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu is considered the world’s first full novel and a masterwork of classical literature. Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book is a memoir recounting life in the Japanese court of the same time, also regarded as a masterpiece of observation and wit in evoking natural and human worlds. Both authors were ladies in waiting at the royal court during the Heian period (794–1185), an era in which aristocrats competed for supremacy in political and artistic endeavors including poetry, music, and romance. In fiction and nonfiction, Lady Murasaki and Lady Shonagon chronicle the pursuits and rivalries of this courtly world in mesmerizing detail, rendering a society that may seem strikingly contemporary. We will read The Tale of Genji, which relates the adventures and many loves of Genji, the Shining Prince, The Pillow Book, and time allowing, Lady Murasaki’s diaries and contemporary responses to Genji and The Pillow Book. You will write two critical essays, present a group oral report on an aspect of Heian history or art, and write a fictionalized diary of daily life in the 21st century.
In the first half of term, we will examine various definitions of discrimination, and methods of measuring discrimination, identifying advantages and pitfalls of each. We will read studies examining discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual orientation, and criminal record. Students will research the ways in which Supreme Court cases have contributed to legal and sociological conceptualizations of discrimination. In the second half of the course, students will work in pairs or small groups to design and implement an email-based experimental audit study measuring a form of discrimination of their choice. Each pair or group will produce a final research paper, modeled after an academic journal article, in which they will detail the findings of their audit study and contextualize these within the relevant literature. Students will deliver their papers in the form of professional conference-style presentations at the end of term. Prior coursework in research methods and/or social statistics is highly recommended for this class.
This course explores documentary possibilities through screenings and video projects. The class will look at and consider non-fiction techniques from early cinema verite films to recent attempts to address point of view and outsider status in documentary and experimental video work. In collaborative and individual projects, the class will take a hands-on approach to documentary production: addressing interview techniques, cinematography, story structures, metaphor, archival film use and a range of editing and presentation techniques – including installations. We will also work on our ability to develop relationships and to gain access to subjects outside our usual circles.
This class is an introduction to using the potter’s wheel as a tool for generating clay forms with an emphasis on pottery making. While focusing on the development of throwing skills, students will explore various possibilities for assembling wheel-thrown elements and will experiment with both functional and non-functional formats. Students will be introduced to the whole ceramic process from wet working to glazing and finally firing. Slide lectures and discussions will contribute to the projects. This is a physical class; students will be expected to regularly lift 25 lbs. of clay. Please note that this course will require additional materials to be purchased by the student.
The course is intended to provide students an introduction to foundational concepts of migration studies. The course will navigate this complex topic through four thematic anchors: (1) Time and Space, which will explore the history of migration from a global perspective, emphasizing the uneven development, colonial encounters, and environmental pressures that give rise to particular forms of migration; (2) Home and Belonging, which will consider the loss of home, the treacherous journey to “safety,” and the ensuing and often impossible struggle to “be at home” in a foreign land; (3) Discourse and Representation, which will analyze who speaks of and for the forced migrant, and how the displaced speak back; and (4) Law and Policy, which will examine the legal and political underpinnings of the contemporary global refugee regime and its development in specific areas. By the end of the term, students will have a working understanding of the causal forces producing displacement, the institutional structures that attempt to govern forced migration and displacement, and the myriad challenges faced by migrant and refugee populations seeking to navigate a new terrain and build a new home.
There is a great difference between a prop and an object on stage that is built or filled with the dramatic forces of a play. Such objects become metaphors, they become fresh comprehensions of the world. In the theater, we believe in magic. Our gaze is focused on ordinary objects…a glass figurine, a pair of shoes, a wedding dress…and then our attention is shaped, and charged, and we watch the everyday grow in meaning and power. Most of our greatest plays, written by our most poetic playwrights, contain a visual metaphor, an object with metaphorical weight that we can see on stage, not just in our mind’s eye.
How do we make the ordinary into the extraordinary? How do we create something that can carry meaning across the stage, into the audience and then out of the theater, all the way home, and into the lives of these strangers who come to sit together in the dark? How do we generate a magical object on stage?
Students will read five plays, watch films, complete several small writing exercises, write a play of 30-90 pages long that contains a magical object, and, as their final project, build/create that magical object.
This course invites students to consider the pleasure and significance of ephemera—cards, posters, invitations, and other written or printed materials—in the context of art exhibitions and events. Readings, lectures and field trips cover topics including traditional and experimental forms of ephemera; the collection of ephemera; and the function of ephemera as historical document and work of art. With an eye on conceptual and formal relationships between the ephemeral product and the event it represents, students during the term will design three pieces of ephemera responding to an exhibition from history; an exhibition in Usdan Gallery; and a proposed exhibition of works from their own practice.
Although frequently ignored or ridiculed by critics and academics, contemporary genre fiction can trace its roots back to some of the most well-known and studied writers from the 19th century. This course will focus its attention on these heady genre roots, working through the rom-coms of Jane Austen, the post-apocalyptic thrillers of Mary Shelley, tackling the rise of the vampyre novel and gothic novels, with specific attention paid to Stoker and the Brontës, exploring the earliest detective stories and novels of Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins, the thrilling science-fiction novels of Verne and Wells, with a quick detour into the sea-faring adventure tales of Robert Louis Stevenson. We’ll discuss the notion of genre as an art form, the narrative and structural innovations employed by these 19th-century authors as they began to toy with and undo the modern novel (barely in its own infancy), as well as their influence on the modernists who followed them in the early 20th century. Then we will argue about contemporary genre fiction, the separation between literary fiction and the genres, and see if we can bridge this divide, or maybe make the divide even wider. Students will be responsible for class presentations and critical essays.
This scriptorium, a “place for writing,” functions as a class for writers interested in improving their academic essay-writing skills. We will read to write and write to read. Much of our time will be occupied with writing and revising—essai means “trial” or “attempt”—as we work to create new habits and strategies for our analytical writing. As we practice various essay structures with the aim of developing a persuasive, well-supported thesis, we will also revise collaboratively, improve our research skills, and study grammar and style. Our aim is to learn to write with complexity, imagination, and clarity, as we read model examples of form and content on the theme of borders and boundaries. As we interrogate real and figurative perimeters, we will ask many questions: what occurs in those liminal spaces? How do power structures maintain borders? Who and what gets put into the margins? What occurs if those boundaries are transgressed? What happens to the body and to identity when one is “in between”? How do you conceive of yourself if you experience your identity as “here nor there” or “nowhere and everywhere”? Readings may include texts by Anzaldúa, Berger, Larsen, Luiselli, Rushdie, Rankine, Hurston, Said, Turner, Douglas, Hall, Chang, Lorde, Ovid, Haraway, Sinclair, Butler, Halberstam.
What is plot? What are stakes and how are they raised and can a story or a novel still compel a reader with small or smaller stakes? What is dramatic tension and what are the other ways a writer can build tension into a short story or a chapter? What, in other words, keeps a reader turning pages through a story or a novel and what happens when these same tools are applied to literary fiction? We’ll explore these questions and other questions of plot and plotting while reading fiction from ZZ Packer, Sally Rooney, Maggie Shipstead, Patricia Highsmith, Donna Tart, Andrea Lawlor, George Saunders, Patrick DeWitt, Jim Shepard, among others. The course will consist of close readings of published work alongside workshop of student submitted work.
Corequisites: Enrolled students are required to attend Wednesday night Bennington literary events.
We will read and discuss an array of hybrid-genre works or writing that combines and coalesces two or more genres: poetry, fiction, criticism, and/or memoir. Some books will also cross media incorporating painting, photography, and film. Reading works by Rosa Alcalá, Dao Strom, Douglas Kearney, Mary-Kim Arnold, Evie Shockley, Elizabeth Powell, Tan Lin, Bhanu Kapil, and others, we will consider how drawing upon different prose, verse, and multi-media modes can complement and augment the way we shape our personal and political stories. Students will complete writing assignments each week designed to build toward a hybrid-genre work. Students will give and receive critique in a workshop environment, expand approaches to drafting, and revise your writing for the final assignment.
Co-requisite: Students are required to attend the Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington readings, typically held on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.
With the practice of journalism undergoing its most profound changes since the invention of the television, this course will steep students in the traditions of criticism, literary non-fiction, reporting and cultural journalism that thrived during the golden age of print and have persisted in the Internet era. We’ll work our way through literary criticism from Robert Boswell to Virginia Woolf and from Lionel Trilling to Zadie Smith; we’ll trace how notions of authority in cultural journalism changed from the objective to the subjective and how the New Journalism of the 1960s and 1970s combined facts and research with creative sensibility and author’s voice. Students will discover for themselves through frequent writing assignments and workshops just how porous the boundaries are between traditional reporting, reviewing, profile writing, and more experimental forms like lyric essay. We’ll also listen closely to some of the most influential and innovative podcasts to create an anatomy of their appeal. Expect to read a whole host of literary journalists past and present including George Orwell, Rebecca West, Pauline Kael, Tete-Michel Kpomassie, Janet Malcolm, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Katherine Boo, Alex Tizou, Jia Tolentino, Alexis Madrigal.
Corequisites: Students in this class are required to attend Literature evenings on Wednesday nights, including Poetry at Bennington events. All students may apply for multiple 4000-level Reading and Writing Courses in the same term, but, once accepted, may only enroll in one 4000-level Reading and Writing course per term.
“The cloud” is not in the sky, but is comprised of thousands of securitized data centers and fiber optic networks that span continents. Undersea cables still carry nearly all internet traffic that travels across oceans. How can we critically analyze these massive systems that are often either invisible or too large to see all at once? This course will explore the materiality of digital media and their infrastructures. We will read key works in media history, media archaeology, and related fields to trace the life cycle of digital devices, from mineral extraction and industrial production to the carbon footprint of consumer usage and digital technology’s afterlife as e-waste. As we delve into the prehistories and possible futures of digital technology, we will also consider the work of designers, engineers, and artists who help us think creatively about digital media, whether from the perspective of deep-time, or in speculations on post-digital media and data.
****** New course code as of 1/14/20 ******
This is a course for students who want to work in a concentrated way on their (usually notated) compositions, and to take their work to a more developed and ambitious level. They are expected to produce a substantial amount of work, often in longer forms and with more varied instrumentation than previously attempted. Students are put into small groups to pursue their individual composition projects. Scheduling is done at the beginning of the term.
Building on our understanding of the relationship between molecular structural and reactivity developed in Chemistry 1, this course delves into modern theories of bonding, especially as they relate to the reaction patterns of functional groups. These theories will be used to rationalize the patterns of electron flow in chemical reactions with a focus on the understanding of why mechanistic patterns emerge and we will and develop an understanding for how chemists determine mechanisms experimentally. Addition, substitution, elimination and acid base reactions that underpin the reactivity of organic molecules will receive considerable attention. We will also interact with the primary (and secondary) chemical literature in this course to deepen our understanding of the fundamentals and significance of the chemistry we study.
Biochemistry is an intermediate chemistry course in which students apply principles from general and organic chemistry, as well as general biology, to understand the molecular processes that characterize life. Biochemistry is a broad discipline that is growing rapidly in its scope – new developments and discoveries are being made daily. The goal of this class will be to give students a solid background with which they can appreciate the latest developments and research reports. We will begin with fundamental principles, but quickly move into a detailed look at metabolism – the specific means by which organisms use chemical energy to drive cell functions and how they convert simple molecules to complex biological molecules. This approach will provide a context to illustrate many of the core ideas we will cover. Students will also have the opportunity for independent work which will allow them to apply these ideas to topics of their own specific interests. Students will have weekly review assignments and at least two independent projects, including an oral presentation of a final project.
We have consistently seen that artists are lacking certain skill sets, tools and resources that would empower and strengthen their ability to create work, develop personal stability and envision longevity in a realistic way. How can we approach these issues in a holistic way that addresses the person and well as the artist? This course covers a range of topics that addresses the ability to create a quality of life, share access to resources, and redefine concepts of success. This class is open to artists in all artistic disciplines.
Covered topics include:
Housing | Homeownership
Artist Statements | Mission
Fundraising | Grant writing | Residencies
Principles for building a sustainable life
Developing and sharing strategies and models
Co-requisite: Dance or Drama lab assignment if students sign up for 4 or more credits in dance.
This course introduces a variety of materials, techniques and approaches to painting with oils. Emphasis is placed on developing and understanding of color, form and space as well as individual research and conceptual concerns. The daily experience of seeing, along with the history of art, provides a base from which investigations are made. Formal, poetic, and social implications within paintings both from class and from art history are examined and discussed. Students complete work weekly. There are regular group critiques, and individual reviews, reading assignments and lectures by visiting artists. A high degree of motivation is expected.
This course is an introduction to unique prints, or prints that are not necessarily printed as an edition. We will emphasize the making of mixed media prints using a broad range of methods from monotypes to digital prints. The class is structured around a series of projects where rigorous experimentation is encouraged.
Students will learn various non-typical printmaking methods through a straightforward format of demonstrations of techniques, hands-on experience, and critiques. Techniques will include monotype, polyester laser plates, and various transfer techniques. Additionally, we will explore the possibilities of 3-dimentional applications for prints. This can include anything from books, paper cups, matchbooks, modular installations, appropriated prints and wallpapers. We may also be collaborating on projects with other classes or universities.
This course is an introduction to copper plate Intaglio. We will explore various techniques to prepare our plates including hand working and acid etching with materials such as rosin resists and sugar lifts. By the end of term, we will be printing in color. Ultimately, the overall goal of our endeavors will be to begin a dialog about artistic production in a contemporary context while also exploring the unique history of the intaglio process.
This course will be organized around two main themes. One will be the analysis of symmetries, in particular the symmetries of tiling patterns and crystals. The other will be classical polynomial algebra, in particular the analysis of the extent to which polynomial equations may be solved explicitly (and what that means). The relevant mathematical topics are what are known as group theory and Galois theory. Our treatment of group theory will be fairly abstract, while the treatment of polynomial algebra and Galois theory will be very concrete, classical, and historically motivated.
This is a basic course, covering most of high school mathematics, and will be accessible to all interested and willing students. It is appropriate for students who do not feel confident in their high school mathematics background. Students may proceed from this course to other 2000 level mathematics courses. Mathematics is inherent across all disciplines and undertakings. It is necessary for building structures, assessing risk in everyday life, mixing paint for specific shades, creating business models of growth and decay, setting traffic lights, and can even help assess the correct time to propose. This course will show how math has evolved from counting to the combination of abstract symbols and numbers it appears as today. Covering algebra, geometry, ratios, patterns, series, graphing, probability, and more, we will focus on the foundations of mathematics and the basic skills and reasoning needed for mathematical success. Our goal will be to become conversant in the language of mathematics and understand how it affects our specific disciplines and work as well as strengthen our mathematical skills.
Together with calculus, linear algebra is one of the foundations of higher level mathematics and its applications. This course is necessary for students concentrating in mathematics, is strongly recommended for students intending to study computer science, physics, or geology, and may be useful for students in economics or biology. This course is a prerequisite for Multivariable Calculus and Electromagnetism. There are several perspectives one can take on linear algebra: it is a method for handling large systems of equations, it is a theory of higher dimensional geometry, and it is a theoretical construct that appears throughout mathematics and physics, among other things. Applications of linear algebra, (some of which will be covered in the class), include correlation coefficients and linear regression in statistics, finite element methods in physics and engineering, interaction networks and clade analysis in biology, and google page rank, error-correcting, and data compression in computing. The course will also set students up for more advanced applications in quantum mechanics, fourier analysis, and number theory.
Research questions in cell biology and biochemistry often require the ability to study the proteins at the heart of the inquiry. This course will give students hands-on experience with techniques for quantifying proteins, detecting protein expression, assessing protein-protein interactions, purifying proteins, and visualizing fluorescently-labeled proteins in vivo. Additionally, students will read and present primary literature articles that utilize protein-based methodologies to address biological questions.
The cells in our bodies need to grow and divide in order to make new tissue, and to repair or replace damaged tissue. The processes that govern cell growth and division are tightly regulated. When the cells that comprise the tissues of our bodies lose the ability to properly regulate their growth and proliferation, cancer is the result. This introductory level course will provide an overview of the basic mechanisms and genetics underlying human cancers, as well as explore current diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
This class will explore English drama of the Restoration and 18th century, with a focus on the structure and conventions of the comedy of manners. During the Restoration, the cavaliers of Charles II’s court promoted an ethos of sophisticated debauchery, fueled by the Hobbesian social currency of wit and power. Within this world of masks, mirrors, and modes, playwrights—including “female wits” such as Aphra Behn—both celebrated and skewered the artifices of their society, while creating daring roles for the women newly permitted to appear on the English stage. We will explore how playwrights, in works ranging from The Country Wife to She Stoops to Conquer, utilized an array of narrative and linguistic devices to reflect themes of deception and disguise. This bawdy arsenal of wit included repartee, epigrams and double entendres; direct address and audience asides; stock characters such as the rake and the fop; and the plot ‘stratagems’ of beaux and belles alike. Encompassing plays by Wycherley, Etherege, Vanbrugh, Congreve, Behn, Pix, Farquhar, Centlivre, Goldsmith, Cowley, and Sheridan, the class will also place the comedy of manners in comparative context with other Restoration and 18th century forms, including the comedy of intrigues, heroic drama, and cross currents in opera seria and ballad opera.
Graduate Teaching Fellows in Dance are integrated into the dance program as teaching assistants. In consultation with their academic advisors and the dance faculty, MFA candidates develop an assistantship schedule of approximately ten hours weekly.
This project-based class is for directors and actors engaged in the process and techniques of analyzing, exploring, and staging (original) works of theater. “Teams” of Director & Cast work in collaboration with corresponding courses for student playwrights and designers whose work has been chosen for participation in the Bennington Plays Festival. Directors will be chosen through a proposal / vetting process. Actors will be cast through audition. Projects will have a preferred running time somewhere between 20 -50 minutes.
In a laboratory atmosphere we will investigate the process of realizing a text’s dramatic potential and nurturing that potential through the use of various analysis and rehearsal techniques, designed to help bring a new play to life. Particular attention will be placed on developing strong skills of communication which allow for a vibrant collaboration between the actors and director, with the playwright as they continue to refine and develop their emergent scripts, and with the design team as they realize for the first time the world of this new play.
Everyone meets Wednesday afternoon with additional meetings on weeknights, to be determined.
This course will explore Brecht’s development of epic theater dramaturgy, at the intersection of his synthetic genius and collective inspirations. Students will learn about Brecht’s development of such techniques as Verfremdungseffekt (distancing effect), historification, gestus, and separation of the elements, while exploring his radical adaptations of classical texts. As Brecht once commented: “Anyone can be creative. It’s rewriting other people that’s a challenge.” The course will also explore Brecht’s practices of collective writing and dramaturgy: in his epic music theater with Kurt Weill, and in his collaborations with multiple women artists, including Elisabeth Hauptmann, Margarete Steffin, and Ruth Berlau, whose sizable contributions to Brecht’s plays were eclipsed by Brecht’s macho-Marxist mythos. Additionally, the course will encompass Brecht’s early Weimar Republic-era works (e.g. Baal); his WWII-era plays and parables (e.g. Mother Courage and Her Children); and his plays set in a mythic “Chicago” of robber barons, racketeers, and fascists (e.g. Saint Joan of the Stockyards; The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui).
Graduate students in Dance are integrated into the dance program as teaching assistants, production assistants or dance archival assistants. In consultation with their academic advisor and the dance faculty, MFA candidates develop an assistantship schedule of approximately ten hours weekly.
It may well be that the closest, most interpretative, and creative reading of a text involves translating it from one language to another. Questions of place, culture, epoch, voice, gender, and rhythm take on new urgency, helping us to deepen our writerly skills and sensibilities. As Joseph Brodsky put it: “You must memorize poems, do translation, study foreign languages. And the best way to study a foreign language…is by translating a poem…The music of the poem carries you, you float upon waves of sound, but, at the same time, you peer below the surface of the ocean, and there, in the depths, you notice the teeming life of sea creatures…”
Writers in all genres are welcome to explore this “teeming life” that is the fruit of literary translation. Our workshop has a triple focus: comparing and contrasting existing translations of the same work; reading translators on the art and theory of translation; and critiquing students’ translations-in-progress. We will also consider translation as an act of bearing witness to cultural and political crisis, and as a means of encoding messages that would otherwise be censored.
For a final project, you will have two options: an extended critical study or an original translation (poetry, prose, drama) accompanied by an introduction. There will also be weekly reading assignments and research presentations.
Oscar Wilde liked to say that Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) invented the 19th century. The Human Comedy (La Comédie Humaine) comprises approximately 3,000 characters in a total of 92 novels, sketches, stories, and philosophical tales. For the first time in the history of the novel, characters recur—a star of one book may reappear as a minor figure in the intricate social background of another. “Real life is the life of causes,” wrote this giant of world literature. What does Balzac mean by a cause? It is an idea, a dream, an obsession, a project demanding strategies and conspiracies, lingos and lies, histories and myths. Balzac has been called “a nocturnal Homer,” haunting the theatres, bars, streets, shops, and businesses in the Paris and provinces of his day. “I have learnt more from Balzac than from all the professional historians, economists and statisticians put together,” wrote Marxist theoriest Friedrich Engels. A master at rendering the visible world, Balzac was also obsessed with portraying the hidden desires, ambitions, and yearnings of a society in the throes of tectonic change. The Comedy, though full of fact, is not chronological, causing contemporary critics to liken it to a “mobile,” pre-figuring the narrative experiments of the 20th century.
This course will address two large areas in the psychology of creativity: (1) special creativity, that is, the study of creative persons and the specific characteristics of high-level creative thinkers. We will look at how creativity is measured, what personal characteristics or life circumstances seem to foster creative achievement, and the contributions of history in making decisions about who is creative and who is not. (2) general creativity, or the ordinary experience of creativity in everyday life. We will look at metaphoric and figurative language, how it is used and understood, and other experiences of normal creative leaps made by all human thinkers.
In this course we will engage anti-racist feminist theory, crip theory, and human geography to think critically about dis/ability. We will draw on critical geographies of disability to think about the built environment and institutional design; geographic scales of the body and the body-mind; spaces of the home and institutions; and im/mobility and spatial access. We will also consider how dis/ability is shaped by (and also shapes) practices of care, experiences of embodiment, and emotion. Furthermore, we will grapple with the legacies of trauma produced by slavery, colonization, surveillance, and incarceration, as well as by movements like eugenics and white liberal feminism, while considering trauma’s complicated relationships to medicalized notions of wellness, disease, and recovery. Throughout the course, we will consider disability as intersecting with race, queerness, fatness, class, and trans* and gender-nonconforming/non-binary experiences; and difference, pathology, and deviance. Most centrally, we will ask: What is the spatiality of dis/ability, and how can space be occupied and reappropriated for radically inclusive uses? How can we understand both normality and deviance as socially constructed concepts that nonetheless have real, and uneven, implications for people’s lives?
Why do systems fail? How do we determine what went wrong? How do we learn from failure to build better systems and prevent similar problems from occurring in the future? In this course we will examine a variety of ways that software and hardware systems can fail, their causes, impacts and (where applicable) remediation. We will learn about tools and techniques that can be used to debug, analyze and simulate failures, and will conduct a series of experiments where we will observe various forms of failure. The course, its content and direction will be, to some extent, determined by participants’ skills and interests.
This course is centered on conducting research and mapping the field of socially and civically engaged pedagogy within a global context. What capacities and skills do students who create artworks in collaboration with the public need to acquire and what is the history of teaching these practices?
Future Studio is a creative incubator for the development and articulation of new non-profit or for-profit enterprises which can be launched with powerful economic potential and socially responsible missions. The studio emphasizes creativity, innovation, place-centered economies, worker-centered ownership, environmental sustainability, social justice and financial viability.
During the course, we explore the history of artists and innovative entrepreneurs who have developed organizations and enterprises that break from traditional business models and, instead, integrate creativity, arts & culture, sustainable economic development, and creative placemaking with business competencies. We investigate topics such as self-organization, self-management, and evolutionary non-extractive organizational structures that emphasize collaboration from Frederic Laloux’s seminal book Reinventing Organizations (2014) and Ensprial’s book Better work together: How the power of community can transform your business (2019).
Future Studio engages organization building as a generative and artistic space that marries inquiry-based idea development, artistic social and civic practice, iterative design, and new business models to create constructive social outcomes. We examine organizations not as machines to be optimized, with static parts and cogs aligned for a binary purpose, but rather as a living organism or ecosystem of support.
Students who are interested in rethinking what it means to create a business or organization today, possess an interest in the promise of creative enterprise and have skills and knowledge from diverse discipline areas are strongly encouraged to enroll. You do not need to be a visual arts student to meaningfully participate in this course.
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This course takes an ethnographic approach to making new theater works within community collaborations. This course is about engaging your most adventurous artist self in the context of delicate, politically loaded, dialogic processes. We will read, watch and discuss the work of subculture theorists, architects, theater-makers and other artists, all of whom use staged conversations as an element of their work, either in finished form or in process. We will talk about step-by- step processes for building trust among colleagues and community members, balancing an artistically unified voice with real co-authorship, and leading a process through partnership. Another focus of the course will be on how to successfully reach desired publics with works. Ultimately, students will take what we do in class and create original in-progress works of live performance using ethnographic methods, and socially-engaged aesthetic and ethical considerations.
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This class will cover the methods used to gather, clean, normalize, visualize, and analyze quantitative data to inform decision making in multiple fields of study. We will use spreadsheets, SQL and Python to work on real-world datasets using a combination of procedural and basic machine-learning algorithms. Students will also learn to ask good, exploratory questions and develop metrics to come up with a well thought-out analysis through work on collaborative, practical projects. This course is offered as part of a collaborative project with Google to expand access to computer science curriculum at small colleges and universities.
This course will investigate the physical conditions and processes necessary for creating a habitable planet. We will study the formation of stars and planets, and the evolution of planets after formation into safe harbors for life. This will include investigation of how both stellar and geological processes affect the habitability of planets, and consideration of the possible conditions that make a planet a suitable life-host. We will use the Earth and our solar system as a case study for the successful formation of a life-host, and will use this knowledge to look outward for other Earths among the thousands of planets being discovered elsewhere in our Galaxy.
This is designed for those who are interested in making movement phrase material and “taking it for a ride.” We will be creating new phrases constantly and paying full attention to detail, nuance and finesse when performing them. We will be thoroughly investigating, modifying, rearranging, exploding, and ultimately reconsidering our understanding of the phrases made. By focusing on the use of time, we will find out more about its intricate relationship to space and motion. While paying keen attention to phrasing, we will notice the impact of shifting attention itself.
Students are expected to create and develop new phrase material of their own, teach this work to others, learn material from others, and rehearse outside of class. Phrases may be combined into larger dance scores that will then be performed in dance workshops or studio showings.
Participation in Dance Workshop (Th 6:30 pm-8:00 pm) is highly recommended.
Co-requisites: Dance or Drama lab assignment if students sign up for more 4 or more credits in dance.
Looking at forms found in nature, architecture, music, drama, literature, etc., we search for examples to help formulate ideas and structures for movement-based creation. When making new artwork, we are constantly balancing and integrating the need for exploratory freedom and the desire for structural integrity. How do we use spontaneous impulse to help find form, and how do we use form to help find yet more unexpected solutions? How might we find an essential core that supports an investigation? How might we challenge and rigorously expand our ideas regarding form, and find ways to re-form?
Students are expected to make new movement material, develop work outside of class, teach some of the work to others, and, in return, learn material from others. They will show their compositional studies regularly, write about many aspects involved in their working processes, and draw (while observing others and while working in their own studio practices). Projects will be performed/presented in studio showings or dance workshops. Students of intermediate/advanced level in the performing and/or visual arts are welcome.
Participation in Dance Workshop (Th 6:30-7:50 pm) is highly recommended.
Co-requisite: Dance or Drama lab assignment if students sign up for 4 or more credits in dance.
In this class, students will learn common patterns used to solve problems found in software, and gain a deeper knowledge about common ways that data is stored and accessed. Students will learn about the design and implementation of data structures, including inked lists, stacks, queues, and trees. Students will also study common algorithms used to populate and query these data structures. Students will learn how to compare both the computational and memory efficiency of different algorithms and data structures, and will leave the class with a clear understanding of how and when to use each one.
In this class, students will be exposed to the main problems and questions related to computer science, while beginning their journey towards becoming skilled coders. Students will learn how to write their own small computer programs. A large part of this process will include learning basic programming skills, computational thinking and algorithm design. In addition, students will also formulate and explore questions of their own related to computer science.
“The beauty here is a beauty you feel in your flesh. You feel it physically….Other beauty takes only the heart, or the mind.” (Barry Lopez, “Arctic Dreams.”)
Devising is a form of collaborative creation in which the performers themselves author every moment of a performance from movement to text (if any), to spatial relationships, clothing, entrances and exits, etc. The “stage” may be viewed as a natural landscape through which performers journey. Unlike story-driven theater or dance, elements such as space, time, movement, and sound all share an equal footing.
In this course, we will immerse ourselves in various approaches to making physical theater and Devising. We will read and watch the work of such innovators as Mary Overlie, the Tectonic Theater Project, Ping Chong, and Frantic Assembly. Students will bring in stories, costume pieces, found objects, sound and music and begin to create their collectively devised piece. This course is recommended to anyone interested in collaborative creation, dance/theater, experimental theater, devising, and making one’s own work. The course culminates in a public presentation of the work.
How did the director emerge as a driving, creative force in the theater? We will work semi-chronologically from the late 19th to the early 21st century, examining how culture and theater interact and change each other. We will consider traditional theater, the rise of the modern director, theatricality, epic theater, auteur directors, ensemble theater, theater for social change, and devising. We will read historic manifestos, critical responses, and examine visual research. At the same time we may read contemporary case studies to explore how current directors work collaboratively to overturn theatrical conventions. We will consider the relationship of the director to the “text,” (written, physical, visual, aural), to actor training, to the ensemble and collaboration, and to design and technology. How do directors address the community they seek to engage? Students will deliver oral presentations and lead discussions examining a theater/performance artist’s theory and practice. In addition, we will conduct in-class experiential exercises invoked in various directorial approaches.
What is action? What is character? What are gesture, timing, rhythm and stakes? How do actors, playwrights, and directors collaborate to create an experience in space and time? This seminar offers young theater artists the chance to examine the craft from the inside out.
Throughout the course everyone participates in all exercises and assignments. Non-writers make up stories, non-actors act, and those who have never directed direct. We begin by exploring the energy in the body, focusing on stillness and release, and the body in relationship to space. We continue with physical exercises from both the eastern and western traditions leading into improvisation as a method for tapping the source of impulses. We touch on the Viewpoints as a tool for creating kinetic compositions spontaneously in space. In the text analysis section, we study the expression of action through structure, imagery, dialogue, and the importance of “events.” By mid-term, everyone directs a short scene from one Chekhov play, or another play of our choosing. In the second half of the term, students choose one contemporary play from which they will direct individual scenes. Directors and actors will work together to rehearse, design, and present a public performance of the play.
This course is a hands-on exploration of the many photographic materials spanning the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Over the term, students will study ten specific processes and be asked to create ten 8×10 inch experiments utilizing each one. Processes include camera lucida drawings, pinhole images, cyanotypes, analog color negatives, Polaroid images, scanograms, digital infrared capture, among others. Historical and contemporary practitioners will be introduced as well as relevant readings.
Interested students must have completed the Photo Foundations and preferably one additional studio photography class.
This class explores the many ways photographers have shifted our understanding of the global environment, from documentary projects to collaborative interventions completed over the past 50 years. In addition to studying the works of Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, Mary Mattingly, Trevor Paglen, there will be assigned readings by Elizabeth Kolbert and John McPhee. Students will also learn how to use the school’s digital and analog cameras to observe the man-altered landscape of this region of North America. Field trips scheduled throughout the term.
Long before the existence of a discipline we would recognize as “science,” there were women working with men in the pursuit of “scientia”. Scientia embraced a mixture of philosophy, medicine, religion, literature, and knowledge of the natural world – a mixture that would eventually devolve into the separate disciplines we know today. But who were these ancient Greek female philosophers, these medieval “doctoresses,” and these Enlightenment lady astronomers? How was it that they were so celebrated in their lifetimes, and yet they are so completely obscure today? What does that say about our understanding of the discourse and practice of “gender,” or — perhaps more importantly – our understanding of what we now deem to be the nature of scientific knowledge?
This class will investigate architectural projects that posit simultaneous programs contained within a single envelope. We will look at various conditions under which varying, and even divergent interests are pursued by the building and its occupants, including the haunted house, the safe house, the “front”, and similar conditions where one use conceals or overlies another.
Studio projects will focus on the exploration and development of other conditions where this topology may be employed to create new opportunities for simultaneous occupancy. Spaces will be created to contain these programs in a way that explores how their parallel existences are imprinted on one another.
In this class, we will, as a group, build a working distributed system from scratch, such as a web search engine, distributed file system, blockchain/distributed ledger, or peer-to-peer network. By building such a system, students will learn about key theoretical and practical fundamentals related to distributed systems and software engineering, such as concurrency, replication, commit models, fault-expectancy, self-organization and management, load-balancing, capacity planning, network programming, containerization and microservices, and physical and environmental considerations. These key principles are what lie at the core of the designs of well-known systems such as those built by Google, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and others. The class will evolve from reading and discussing research and working on foundational programming projects, to working through the design of the system, developing it, planning its deployment, and releasing it into the wild. Includes lab.
A developmental, periodizing, and heteronormatively inflected approach to idiosyncratic male artist-geniuses such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Titian has dominated Renaissance art history. Yet given its cross-cultural, colonial origins, and paradoxical investment in both ‘pagan’ antiquity and Christian humanism, ‘pre-modern’ Renaissance visuality is anything but straightforward. In this circumscribed survey of sixteenth-century art, we will read scholarship invigorated by queer theory, feminist, post-colonial, and gender studies as well as primary sources by pioneering art historians and queer art writers, e.g. Vernon Lee and Walter Pater.
Class discussions and independent research will culminate in a research project and short presentation.
Differential equations are a powerful and pervasive mathematical tool in the sciences and are fundamental in pure mathematics as well. Almost every system whose components interact continuously over time can be modeled by a differential equation, and differential equation models and analyses of these systems are common in the literature in many fields including physics, ecology, biology, astronomy, and economics. For example, the following can all be modeled as a system of differential equations: planets, stars, electric circuits, predator and prey populations, epidemics, and economics. We will start by studying the classical theory of ordinary differential equations then will develop dynamical systems approaches to understanding more complex non-linear systems. The goal throughout the course will be to better understand the behavior of the system being studied.
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was a major political theorist whose work has become increasingly influential in recent years. A student of Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, her extensive writings cover such topics as the nature of power, the meaning of the political, and the problem of totalitariansim. This course is a critical exploration of some of her major works, including The Origins of Totalitariansim, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, as well as a assessment of the critical response to her work.
The observed world is covered with words, both visible and invisible. This advanced drawing course aims to underline the tensions and comforts of the relationship between words and images in visual art. Through assigned drawing problems that call upon students to complete and present visual work regularly, topics will include, sign and structure, letter formation and typography, concrete poetry, found language, illustration, and sequential imagery. An historical context of visible language will be presented, with special attention to the use of words in contemporary art. Students are expected to be able to think abstractly, and to consider reading and drawing important parts of their daily life. Class structure includes in class work, out of class assignments, independent work, readings, discussions and critiques. A high level of self-motivation is expected.
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.
“If you are really doing it, you don’t have time to watch yourself doing it.” Sanford Meisner was an actor and founding member of the Group Theater. He went on to become a master teacher of acting who sought to give students an organized approach to the creation of truthful behavior on stage within the imaginary circumstances of a play. This class focuses on developing an actor’s ability to listen, follow their impulses, trust their instincts, and work from moment to moment off of an acting partner. We will explore repetition, independent activities, emotional preparation and text work. The class will require extensive out-of-class preparation, with a minimum of six hours a week for rehearsals and the crafting of exercises. In addition we will be reading Eleonora Duse’s biography, A Mystic in the Theater.
Corequisites: Dance and Drama Lab assignment
The key role of the stage manager as both collaborative artist and manager in the production process is explored by students in this class. Readings, discussions, and projects on topics including scheduling, play breakdowns, prompt book preparation, blocking notation, ground plan and theatre layout, and the running of rehearsals and performances are included. The relationship of the stage manager to others involved in the process is also addressed. Many assignments are designed to develop broader event, production, and arts management artistry and skills. A significant and required part of the coursework is work as stage manager or assistant stage manager on a College production to gain first-hand knowledge and experience. This production component lasts from two to ten weeks, and includes attendance at all rehearsals held for the particular production. Most rehearsals are held on evenings and weekends; availability for rehearsals most weeknights is normally essential for successful project completion.
In the spring 2020 iteration of this course, students should expect to work as a stage manager or assistant stage manager on one of the student-written Bennington Plays and attend weekly drama production meetings on Mondays from 5:45-6:45 pm.
This course is recommended for those interested in directing, performing, and/or arts management, as well as anyone interested in knowing and experiencing what is involved in putting on a production.
Since the very beginnings of cinema, French literature and film have reciprocally inspired one another. From the Surrealists to the New French Extremity movement, many directors have brought French literary works onto the screen. This course will offer students the opportunity to analyze literature and their film adaptations in terms of intermediality and intertextuality. Adaptations will include: La Princesse de Clèves (La Fayette/Delannoy, Oliveira, Sauder), The Nun (Diderot/Rivette), Madame Bovary (Flaubert/Chabrol), Les Misérables (Hugo/Lumière, Bernard,), La Noire de… (Sembène, Sembène), La Prisonnière (Proust/Akerman). Students will examine a variety of adaptations, focusing on the strategies used to turn a book into a film. Issues of adaptation theory will also be explored, as well as the underlying ideology behind the rediscovery of literary authors through cinema. Students will discuss notions such as “faithfulness” to a source text, the translation of thought, literary and film metaphors, and the different “language” of print text and film. Advanced. Conducted in French.
Corequisites: Language Series
This course is designed for students to research/ complete a project in their field of study/interest. In order to take this course, students are required to write a proposal of their project and be accepted by the instructor.
Corequisites: Language Series
In this course, students will examine how Buddhism influenced Japanese thought on the after-life and analyze how Japanese views on the relationship between life and death are depicted in recent Japanese films. In the first seven weeks of the course, students will examine and discuss the history, beliefs, and deities of Buddhism and their influences on society. In the second half of the term, students will analyze how death and a common theme, reincarnation, are depicted in different genres of Japanese films such as love stories and fantasy. Throughout the course, students will develop both their linguistic skills and cognitive skills by discussing their understanding of Buddhist beliefs and analyzing Japanese perspectives on death and reincarnation. Individual projects are required. Conducted in Japanese. Intermediate Level.
Corequisites: Language Series
This course is designed for students to learn Japanese through Japanese children’s books and animation. In this course, students will read Japanese children’s books and watch Japanese animation that is based on children’s books to examine how Japanese children are expected to behave and communicate with others. Students will also analyze cultural values in Japan, how those cultural values are taught, and how gender differences are depicted in children’s books and animation. Students will continue to develop their skills by interacting in Japanese through stating and supporting their opinions during discussions that focus on narrative texts. Approximately 60 new Kanji will be introduced. As a part of the course, students are required to read/perform Japanese children’s books to children at the Albany Japanese Language School, Schenectady, New York. As the final project of the course, students will write their own children’s book in Japanese. Conducted in Japanese.
Corequisites: Language Series
In this course, we will examine contemporary literature and cinema in the “other” Europe, exposing the intricacies of daily life in a region where the past is always present. The cinematic and literary texts will be drawn from the former Yugoslavia and the successor states of East Bloc nations in post-Communist Europe. We will consider the work of iconoclastic writers and film directors such as Dubravka Ugrešić, Semezdin Mehmedinović, Paweł Pawlikowski, Dorota Masłowska, Aleksandr Sokurov, Vladimir Sorokin, Herta Müller, and the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Olga Tokarczuk. We will also discuss the more detached yet no less poignant perspective on political events by expatriate artists such as the Bosnian Aleksandar Hemon and the Czech Milan Kundera. We will conclude the course with an examination of ascendant feminist and independent socialist movements in the arts, devoting particular attention to literary and cinematic push-backs against the recent rise of ethno-nationalism in Eastern Europe.
The sonnet, from the Italian sonnetto, or little song, has a long and rich history as a poetic form, described by contemporary poet Laynie Browne as ʺa controlled measure of sound and space within which one can do anything. An invitation.ʺ This course, a literature seminar with a significant creative component, will invite you to study the sonnet in‐depth, both as a traditional form obsessively employed by William Shakespeare and the 14th‐century Italian poet Petrarch, and as an innovative, elastic lyric enjoying a surge in popularity among contemporary writers, some of whom have exploded the form in radical ways. The class will consider the work of such poets as Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Wyatt, Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Claude McKay, John Berryman, Ted Berrigan, Natasha Trethewey, Olena Kalytiak Davis, D.A. Powell, Hannah Sanghee Park, Terrance Hayes, Nikki Wallschlaeger, and Sandra Simonds. Students will write two critical papers, take a midterm exam on form and prosody, recite and memorize two sonnets, and, most weeks, submit for class critique a sonnet of their own.
Corequisite: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events, held most Wednesdays at 7pm.
This advanced Spanish course is a study of the paradox of trauma literature. Stories that compel their telling, yet are unassimilated and unspeakable, trauma narratives grow out of disaster and crisis on an individual and/or collective scale. To better understand Anne Whitehead’s assertion that “Novelists have frequently found that the impact of trauma can only adequately be represented by mimicking its forms and symptoms, so that temporality and chronology collapse, and narratives are characterized by repetition and indirection,” we first consider representative fictional narratives by contemporary Spanish authors including Juan Goytisolo, Juan Marsé, and Isaac Rosa Camacho. In order to develop an appropriate theoretical background, students also tackle major contributions by theorists such as Freud, Herman, Caruth, LaCapra, and Whitehead, whose ideas resonate deeply with our primary literary texts. Thereafter, students’ individual research questions will drive content choices, such that, depending on student interests, there will be ample opportunity to consider examples from any time and place in the Hispanophone world. Co-requisite: attendance at 2 language events. In Spanish. Advanced level.
Corequisites: Language Series
In this course, students will examine specific visual representations within the context of French culture. Through the reading of a wide variety of French images, including among other works Chartres cathedral’s stained glass, La Tour’s chiaroscuro paintings, Haitian art, as well as virtual reality experiments, students will hone their linguistic skills and enrich their understanding of French, economical, sociological, historical and artistic realities and values. Written assignments and oral presentations will develop students’ level of comprehension, mastery of grammar, in French, as well as their critical skills. Intermediate-high level. Conducted in French.