Each term, Bennington offers a program of five-six lectures by visiting arts professionals: artists, curators, historians and critics, selected to showcase the diversity of contemporary art practices. Designed to enhance a broader and deeper knowledge of various disciplines in the Visual Arts and to stimulate campus dialogue around topical issues of contemporary art and culture, these thematically connected presentations offer students the opportunity to explore ideas from multiple perspectives over the course of the term. Students registered for this series must attend all lectures on Tuesday evenings at 7:00pm as well as gallery exhibitions, and are responsible for taking notes and completing a one-page essay-questionnaire for each event to be submitted via Populi. Optional readings and additional opportunities for engagement with visiting speakers may be announced throughout the term.
We will gather once a week to sing rounds, chant, chorales, work songs, protest songs, sea chanteys, Sacred Harp, and folk songs from around the world. The words are less important than the joy of singing as a community. No performances- evaluation is by attendance only. We will use our ears and simple notation to learn the music- no previous singing experience is necessary.
A large part of modern mathematics has to do with how we conceptualize and manage the idea of infinity. This occurs in different places: the infinity of the horizon line that appeared with the development of perspective drawing, the infinitely small and infinitely many quantities of calculus, the infinite depth of fractals. This class will survey some of these concepts and briefly talk about how they are formalized in mathematics. There will be a particular emphasis on Cantor’s set theory, which was developed in the late nineteenth century, and which provided new logical tools and a new language to talk about infinite quantities. No mathematical background or knowledge will be assumed.
(April 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28)
Much of higher mathematics has more in common with solving puzzles than it does with performing algebra drills. In this class, I will be proposing puzzles, and providing coaching and strategies for getting better at doing puzzles. Many of the reasoning skills will be valuable broadly in life, not only in mathematics. No special math knowledge will be needed.
Advanced mathematics is largely about logical argument, as much as it is computation or calculation. Over time, as each generation extended their ideas into new realms, they looked at the logical arguments of their predecessors and found that there were gaps, elisions, things that were not fully understood. One could imagine that this process might continue forever, but it does not: in the early twentieth century, a number of mathematicians (most notably Hilbert) completed the project of “hitting bedrock”, finding a clear demarcation line between certainty and uncertainty. This required a clarification about what mathematics and reasoning are about (“formalism”). These profound ideas deserve to be better known outside of professional mathematics. (Later, some mathematicians (notably Gödel) used this framework to show the limitations of the framework, in a different and more precise sense than before.) In this class we will go through the development of these ideas. No mathematical knowledge will be assumed.
(May 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26)
The Bennington County Choral Society, a community chorus conducted by Cailin Marcel Manson, promotes choral singing by presenting several concerts per year, and eagerly invites student participation. Auditions are not required, and singers of all levels and abilities are welcomed. To receive credit, students must attend all rehearsals and performances. Performances may be held at various locations in Bennington, and transportation may need to be arranged. Contact Kerry Ryer-Parke for more information.
Sage City Symphony is a community orchestra which invites student participation. The Symphony is noted for the policy of commissioning new works by major composers, in some instances student composers, as well as playing the classics. There are openings in the string sections, and occasionally by audition for solo winds and percussion. There will be two concerts each term.
Logarithms are one of the parts of mathematics that often remain a bit mysterious to people, even if they had no difficulty solving problems with them in school. In fact, logarithms are of far broader importance and interest than the narrow applications one usually sees; and seeing this broader picture helps in dispelling some of the mystery and in understanding what they are. In this class we will see new ways of counting, new ways of understanding number and estimating mentally, and new ways of comprehending data, all based in logarithms. I will not be assuming that you know or remember anything about logarithms; part of the point will be to explain them, from the beginning, in a variety of ways.
(March 17, 20, 24, 27, 31, April 3)
This course will examine social psychological approaches to promoting inclusivity. Content will focus on contextual factors that contribute to, and maintain bias in contemporary society, and on methods that can promote collaboration across difference. Topics will include: power, intersectionality, micro-aggression, intergroup dynamics, social justice, intergroup dialogue, and related concepts. Students will be expected to participate actively; examine, understand, and articulate different perspectives; and engage fully with the assigned readings and materials. Weekly reflection papers are required; students will also submit and present a final project.
In this course, based on the book Speaking of Earth, edited by Alon Tal, we will read twenty inspiring speeches by leading environmentalists around the world that examine a broad range of environmental issues. Included in the course is Rachel Carson’s defense of her ground breaking book Silent Spring, Prince Charles’s passionate call for sustainable agriculture, and the Dalai Lama’s explanation of a path to ecological harmony. The module will include participants in the class writing their own speech.