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.
Individual training is available in jazz, modern and classical guitar technique and repertoire, song accompaniment (finger style), improvisation, and arranging and composing for the guitar. Course material is tailored to the interests and level of the individual student.
Corequisites: Attendance at Music Workshop (Tuesday, 6:30 – 8:00 pm).
This course will examine social psychological approaches to promoting inclusivity. Content will include review of basic psychological processes that contribute to, and maintain bias in contemporary society; and on methods that can promote collaboration across difference. Topics will include: confirmation bias, tokenism, intergroup dynamics, social justice, 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 assignments include 1-2 readings and short reflection papers. Students will also submit a final project that addresses a current area of exclusion at Bennington College.
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.
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.
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.
For each class, students will bring in short movement studies for performance that day. These can be made for solo or group exploration, and as soon as they are done, we will let them go and move on to the next work in the series. Throughout this practice, we will notice timing, spacing, and detail. By attending to the movement qualities, inherent technical challenges, and tasks at hand quickly, we will find multiple approaches and solutions. By continually making, adapting, and then living in the performance on a particular day, we will find out what happens.
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 4 or more credits in dance.
In this course, we will explore the possibilities of radio and sonic narration through experimental sound practices. How can we portray political and social events through sonic practices without relying on verbal communication? What are the ways of creating speculative worlds through radio broadcasting? Along with readings and discussions, we will examine previous experimental work in radio and radio drama. There will be an emphasis on production and experiential learning through exercises and workshops. During the semester, students will create various radio shows for online streaming.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
“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.
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.
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
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.
Drawing Lab provides an opportunity for student artists of all experience levels to further develop their skills with observational-based drawing. Working primarily with the human figure, students build increased understanding of the poetic, dynamic, and inherently abstract nature of drawing, while paying close attention to the potential of formal elements such as shape, line, form, and the creation of pictorial space. Although each class period provides structures and activities within which students work, the ultimate aim of this class to allow students the time and space necessary to further develop their drawing skills so as to best support individual projects and concerns. Class time is divided between drawing from life, discussing student work, and examining the use of the figure in visual art, using both contemporary and historical examples. Please note that this course may require additional materials to be purchased by the student.
Note: Much of this class will be spent drawing the nude human form.
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.
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.**
Vandercook Proofing Presses were once a vital aspect of the printing industry and have been adopted widely by artists for letterpress printing and book arts. Bennington College is fortunate to possess three Vandercooks, housed in the Word and Image Lab.
Using type-high plywood blocks, oil-based and non-toxic, water-soluble inks, we will examine different approaches to mark-making: from graphic and angular to painterly and gestural. We will cover color mixing, printing in multiple-colors and producing multiples/editions.
Students will learn image preparation and transfer methods, sharpening and care of tools, wood carving methods, ink and paper preparation, hand-inking and rolling techniques, printing on the Vandercook proofing press and by hand. Additional areas of experimentation may include using stencils, layering color and a variety of monotype techniques and embossment.
Experienced and beginning woodcutters/relief printmakers are welcome to join us.
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.
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.
A comprehensive course on learning skills on the ukulele. We will learn the history of the uke and both traditional and contemporary styles. Music theory and playing techniques will be covered and students will be expected to perform as a group or individually at Music Workshop. Students must have their own soprano or tenor ukulele.
The purpose of this course is twofold: first, to immerse students in the (perhaps surprisingly) rich linguistic setting of Vermont and its immediate neighbors, and, second, to introduce them to the basic methodologies of field research in sociolinguistics and related disciplines. Thematically, the course will consider language diversity at three different scales. We will begin by examining the numerous languages used both presently and historically in Vermont, New York, Quebec and the New England states, and will progress to study aspects of linguistic variation between members the region’s wide community of English users. Third, we will also become familiar with patterns of variability within the speech of individual Vermonters as they adapt to new situations, topics, and interlocutors. Throughout this process, we will especially highlight questions of language access and language equity, and students will continually work to better understand their own positionality and agentivity regarding such issues at individual and societal levels.
In addition to the above, students will also be introduced to essential principles of experimental design in language research, the specific practice of the sociolinguistic interview, and modes of qualitative and quantitative analysis in the study of naturalistic language data. These skills will be applied in the form of a collaborative class field project addressing questions of sociolinguistic behavior in the Bennington community.
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).
This course serves as an introduction to rhythms, chants, and musical practices from Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the African Diaspora. Using indigenous percussion instruments from these territories’ students will use their hands, mallets, and sticks to play traditional folkloric rhythms and melodies. Additional topics cover history, culture, language, and dance. This class serves the greater Bennington community in the spring by partnering with the South Western Vermont Medical Center, Bennington Project Independence, and the Village School of North Bennington. Near the end of term students will share their work in celebration with these organizations. Weekly practice is expected.
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.
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.
This course explores the evolution of contemporary photography from the late 20th century to the present day. We will be looking at a wide range of influences from identity politics, TV and film, social media, and the move from analog to digital technologies. The class format will be weekly faculty lectures accompanied by student research and presentations. Students will keep a journal and complete a midterm and final assignment.
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.
This class will introduce students to the fundamentals of scenic art, including terminology, commonly used tools and techniques. Students will learn to create processes that will guide them from a rendering or scenic finish to a completed project. Skills we will develop include color mixing, surface preparation for soft goods and hard scenery, translating small renderings to fully realized pieces, analyzing and reproducing organic textures and architectural details.
Marx’s ideas remain an important source of political and social science thought. This class requires students to engage in a close and critical reading of a number of Marx’s essays and to assess his work in the light of critical philosophical responses.
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.