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).
“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.
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 Shane McCrae, Rosa Alcalá, Elizabeth Powell, Dora Malech, Tan Lin, Jena Osman, 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 also give and receive critique in a workshop environment, expand approaches to drafting, and revise 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.
Beginning, intermediate, or advanced group lessons on the 5-string banjo in the claw-hammer/frailing style. Student will learn to play using simple song sheets with chords, tablature, and standard notation. Using chord theory and scale work, personal music-making skills will be enhanced. Awareness of traditional styles of playing the instrument will be furthered through a listening component and ensemble playing with other instrumentalists.
This production course introduces students to the fundamentals of working in video and the language of film form. Drawing on the energy, intensity and criticality of avant-garde film and contemporary video art practices, students will complete a series of projects exploring dimensions of cinematography, mise-en-scène, editing and sound design before producing a final self-determined project. Concepts crucial to time-based media such as apparatus, montage and identification will be introduced through screenings, discussions and texts by a diverse range of artists, filmmakers, and theorists. Emphasis on technical instruction, formal experimentation, and critical vocabulary is balanced in order to give students a footing from which to find their own stakes in the medium.
This course serves as an introduction to rhythms, chants, and musical practices from Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the African Diaspora. Using indigenous percussion instruments from these territories, students will use their hands, mallets, and sticks to play traditional folkloric rhythms and melodies. Additional topics will cover history, culture, language, and dance. This class serves the greater Bennington community in the 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 . A weekly practice lab is expected.
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 for a full day of shooting on four Wednesdays, 10am – 4PM.
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.
With the development of the podcast and online radio, audio documentary has made a major resurgence in popular culture. This course will explore the basic skills and techniques required to tell stories through sound. Along with the technical tools required, the focus will be on learning how audio production can enhance communication with an audience. Topics covered will include: journalistic story construction, vocal delivery, microphone technique both in the studio and in the field, and Pro Tools-based digital audio mixing. Students will produce weekly recorded segments to be presented to the class, and written discussions of readings. The course will culminate with final projects that will be played on B-Rad Bennington Radio.
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.