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Spring 2019

Thinking Through the Arts + Design: Creativity, Migration, Transformation

This course is a no-experience-assumed immersion with a range of outside speakers and with field trips to a range of campus arts venues--close readings, close viewings of buildings, prototypes, exhibitions, and objects, and close listening and engagement with music, dance, theater and experimental performance. Students will explore the specific and metaphoric connections amongst Creative action, the experience of Migration and movement, and the possibility of personal, scientific, and social Transformation. How do we understand movement, migration, and change both metaphorically and literally? What are the social, political, spiritual, geologic, and physical forces that prompt migration and propel transformation? How do artists working in literature, visual art, film, performance, and design explore and enact the experience of migration? How do artists working in literature, visual art, film, performance, and design seek to propel transformation?

Course Instructors: Peter Glazer and Stan Lai

7 Fingers Circus, Reversible | Philharmonia Orchestra, London | Jimmy López and Nilo Cruz, Dreamers | Quote Unquote Collective, Mouthpiece | Théâtre National de Bretagne, Julius Caesar

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Spring 2018

Moving Through Loss: The Space and Stage of Mourning

The ability to narrate, articulate, or otherwise capture experiences of loss has often been said to grant a kind of freedom from traumatic events both personal and collective. Working between literary and cultural studies and the performance arts, this seminar explores how the non-verbal narrative arts (contemporary dance, theatre, and opera) theorize grief and dispossession through motion and gesture. If loss has become almost synonymous with a particular kind of disarticulation, what is the role of music, movement, and corporeal presence in the cycle of mourning? How does the intensity of absence register itself in the contours of a single performance, performed repeatedly, staged and re-staged? Why does loss compel us to turn to the narrativization, dramatization, and performance of an experience of suffering we would rather not endure again?

Course Instructor: Wendy Xin

Circa, Il Ritorno | Kronos Quartet, My Lai | Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater | Robert Lepage with Ex Machina, 887

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Fall 2017

Multiple Americas: Writing, Rewriting and Performing

At once setting and subject, geopolitical region and aesthetic construct, the Americas have long captivated cultural imaginations across the globe. But what are we talking about when we talk about the Americas in the plural? What role might textuality, intertextuality, and translation play in acts of border crossing? From listening to Argentine tango to becoming part of Camille Brown’s linguistic play to performing our own Americas, in this course, we’ll write, rewrite, and perform across generic and geographic borders.

Course Instructors: Alex Brostoff and Marlena Gittleman
Course Website: Multiple Americas

Théâtre de la Ville, State of Siege | Tango Buenos Aires: Spirit of Argentina | Camille Brown, BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play

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Spring 2017

Dance, Sexuality, and Gender

Performance theory plays an integral role in shaping our contemporary understandings of gender and sexuality. This course challenges students to think and write critically about dance in order to conceptualize performance as a living archive that shapes contemporary identities. Together, we will chart histories of gender and sexuality as they intersect with race, class, and nation. Framing questions include: How does the minimalizing impulse of postmodern dance obscure readings of bodies as gendered or sexual? How do Brazilian cultural understandings of gender and sexuality create a unique lens for viewing dance and martial arts forms as national identity on stage? And how do issues of race intersect with gender and sexuality in African-American modern dance?

Course Instructor: Michelle Summers

Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Available Light | Balé Folclórico da Bahia | Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Revelations

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Spring 2017


Who does voice belong to? What is singing for? Does your voice belong to you? Do you only have only one voice? Could your voice(s) not also belong to other people, since they’re happening as much in their heads as they do in your mouth? In this seminar, we'll be exploring our voices and the art of singing. We will experience as many different singing voices as possible, and make comparative studies of selected political and affective modes of cultivating voice. Students will draw on theoretical studies in emerging scholarly discipline of Voice Studies, historicizing and politicizing several senses of voice.

Course Instructor: James Davies

Black Arm Band | Miah Persson & Florian Boesch | Tallis Scholars | Ann Hampton Calloway

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Spring 2015

Human Synchrony

This course seeks to explore the connection between synchronized human body movements, human emotion, and collective behavior in work settings. Across various streams of research, a common theme emerges: that moving similarly with other people leads to psychological and social consequences that form the basis of collective strength. For example, rowers who row in synchrony have elevated pain thresholds, work teams who are more coordinated demonstrate greater creativity, and strangers who achieve synchrony during an initial conversation report greater social connection. Synchrony is also linked to prosocial outcomes, like compassion and cooperation.

Course Instructor: Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk

Peking Acrobats | Kodo | St. Paul Chamber Orchestra | Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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Spring 2014

Music and Literary Modernism

Students explore the connection between major modernist writers and the music of their time, as they grappled with the political, social and technological upheavals of the early twentieth century. Beginning with the influential Victorian critic Walter Pater, texts range from poetry by Yeats and Auden to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Hughes’ Montage of a Dream Deferred. The course will culminate with the creation by each student of a synthetic project—integrating both a written and aural element—with an associated colloquium during which these final projects will be presented.

Course Instructors: Serena Le and Eric Falci
Course Website: Music and Literary Modernism

Anne-Sofie von Otter and Emanuel Ax | Martha Graham Dance Company, Appalachian Spring | Gerald Finley and Julius Drake | Venice Baroque Orchestra with Philipe Jaroussky | Jonathan Biss | Calder Quartet | Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra | Jerusalem Quartet | Iestyn Davies and Thomas Dunford; Kronos Quartet; Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra