Aesthetics & Culture

Aesthetics & Culture courses foster critical engagement with diverse artistic and creative endeavors and traditions across history and geographical locations, helping students situate themselves and others as participants in and products of art and culture. 

In A&C courses, students do one or more of the following:

  • Explore how aesthetic objects and practices affect our senses, emotions, and thoughts, and invite our interpretations.
  • Engage directly with aesthetic objects, practices, and texts, broadly conceived, to develop students’ skills of close reading, listening, and observation and to support analysis of the production and reception of these objects in their cultural contexts.
  • Engage in critical analysis of artistic and cultural production from a variety of approaches, including art-making, hands-on, or participatory/experiential assignments.
  • Examine the roles that artistic and creative endeavors play in shaping and reshaping societies.

The following courses fulfill the Aesthetics & Culture requirement

Adam & Eve (Gen Ed 1075)

Semester: 

N/A

Aesthetics & Culture icon with textEthics & Civics icon with text

Joseph Koerner and Stephen Greenblatt

For most of history, humans expressed ethical ideas in the form of stories, and of all these the story of Adam and Eve has been perhaps the most powerful and enduring.  For almost three thousand years, in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds, people practiced ethical reasoning through the seedpod of this—even to early audiences—unreasonable tale: the first man, formed by God at the culmination of the world’s creation and followed soon by the first woman, disobeys his creator by eating a forbidden fruit, is punished by sickness, hardship, and death, and passes his curse to the entire future human species.... Read more about Adam & Eve (Gen Ed 1075)

American Dreams Made in Hollywood (Gen Ed 1043)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

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Eric Rentschler

Is the so-called American dream dead? The notion once essentialized the grand promise of a better, fuller, and richer life. At the present moment, however, it seems to have lost its evocative power as a collective myth. In a time of national crisis and political emergency, this General Education course has a pressing mission. It aims to further a dynamic understanding of American dreams (for there are many and not just one), to apprehend their complexities and contradictions, to appreciate their diverse manifestations and historical shapes, and above all to take measure of their meanings for the world we inhabit.... Read more about American Dreams Made in Hollywood (Gen Ed 1043)

Anime as Global Popular Culture (Gen Ed 1042)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

What can anime’s development in Japan and its global dissemination teach us about the messy world of contemporary media culture where art and commerce, aesthetic and technology, and producers and consumers are inextricably entangled with each other?

 

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Tomiko Yoda

Banner of anime images

In this course, students will learn to engage Japanese or Japanese-style animation (sometimes known as anime) through two-pronged approaches. First, the students will learn to evaluate the aesthetic and socio-cultural relevance of anime in relation to the criteria and perspectives developed through the study of more established artistic forms such literature, cinema and visual arts. We will cover topics including, anime’s generic conventions, formal aesthetic, and narrative motifs.... Read more about Anime as Global Popular Culture (Gen Ed 1042)

Black Radicalism (Gen Ed 1016)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

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Robert Reid-Pharr

“Black Radicalism” is a course designed to introduce students to the main currents of black radical thought in the period stretching from the close of World War II until roughly 1980 and the advent of the Reagan Era.  The course will be divided into three sections: Anti-Colonialism; Black Nationalism; and Black Feminism and will focus on key works of fiction, theory, and criticism by especially prominent black intellectuals including Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth); Richard Wright (White Man Listen!); George Jackson (Soledad Brother); Huey Newton (Revolutionary Suicide); Angela Davis (If They Come for Me in the Morning); and the members of the Combahee River Collective (The Combahee River Statement).... Read more about Black Radicalism (Gen Ed 1016)

Classical Mythology: Myth in Antiquity and Today (Gen Ed 1110)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

Why do some stories get told over and over for thousands of years, and how do those ancient tales still shape (and get shaped by) us today?

 

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Brigitte Libby

The myths of ancient Greece and Rome embody both our worst nightmares and our most fabulous fantasies. Heroism, happy endings, and everlasting love blend with disturbing themes of parricide, cannibalism, incest, misogyny, and unthinkable violence.  The resulting stories have fascinated generations of artists, writers, and thinkers, and this course will serve as an introduction to this distant but strangely familiar world. We will move from the very first works of Greek literature through the classic Greek tragedies and the Roman tales in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.... Read more about Classical Mythology: Myth in Antiquity and Today (Gen Ed 1110)

Creativity (Gen Ed 1067)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Where does creativity come from, how does it work, and how can we deepen its role in our own lives?

 

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David Atherton

Geniuses are said to possess it. Self-help books offer to teach it. Both the arts and the sciences celebrate it. It sits at the heart of some of our oldest myths and is the subject of up-to-the-minute neuroscientific research. Some say it comes in momentary flashes; others call it a way of life. Some identify it as the key to deep fulfillment; others claim that it entails intense suffering. Many agree that it sets us apart as a species—but does it? What is creativity?... Read more about Creativity (Gen Ed 1067)

Disease, Illness, and Health through Literature (Gen Ed 1078)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

As healthcare costs soar and considerable suffering from disease and illness continues despite regular advances in medical technology, what should we advocate for in our communities, our societies, our nations, and beyond to ease the burden of disease and illness on health professionals, family caregivers, and care recipients alike?

 

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Karen Thornber

Inevitably, at some point in our lives, most of us will develop a health condition that requires medical treatment and care. We also, regardless of our career, are likely to be called on to provide care for individuals (loved ones and/or patients) whose health conditions make it impossible for them to care for themselves.... Read more about Disease, Illness, and Health through Literature (Gen Ed 1078)

East Asian Cinema (Gen Ed 1049)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

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Jie Li

This course introduces major works, genres, and waves of East Asian cinema from the silent era to the present, including films from Mainland China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We will discuss issues ranging from formal aesthetics to historical representation, from local film industries to transnational audience reception.... Read more about East Asian Cinema (Gen Ed 1049)

Elements of Rhetoric (Gen Ed 1082)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

How can I use rhetoric to change the world for the better?

 

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James Engell

Rhetorical theory, originating with Aristotle, in contemporary applications. The nature of rhetoric in modern culture; practical examples drawn from American history and literature 1765 to the present; written exercises and attention to public speaking; the history and educational importance of rhetoric in the West; stresses theory and practice as inseparable.

... Read more about Elements of Rhetoric (Gen Ed 1082)

Faith and Authenticity: Religion, Existentialism and the Human Condition (Gen Ed 1069)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

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Courtney Bickel Lamberth, David Lamberth, and Cornel West

This course engages some of the most fundamental questions of human existence through the philosophical, theological and literary works of 19th and 20th century authors many of whom are associated with the movement called “existentialism.” What is an authentic individual life?... Read more about Faith and Authenticity: Religion, Existentialism and the Human Condition (Gen Ed 1069)

Global Japanese Cinema (Gen Ed 1145)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

What can film from Japan tell us about the strange pair of intensifying global interconnections and rising nationalism in the world today?

 

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Alexander Zahlten

Global Japanese Cinema introduces some of the masterworks from the rich history of Japanese cinema as a way of exploring the global language of film. Participants will learn how to analyze moving images and the ways they influence us – a basic media literacy that we all need for life in a media- saturated society.... Read more about Global Japanese Cinema (Gen Ed 1145)

Happiness (Gen Ed 1025)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

Should we pursue happiness, and if so, how should we do it?

 

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Susanna Rinard

Should we pursue happiness, and if so, what is the best way to do it?  This course will critically assess the answers to these questions given by thinkers from a wide variety of different places, cultures, and times, including Stoicism, Epicureanism, Buddhism, Daoism, and contemporary philosophy, psychology, and economics.... Read more about Happiness (Gen Ed 1025)

Harvard Gets Medieval (Gen Ed 1160)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

How did our world come to be suffused with medieval images and motifs, and what do we learn about the past and ourselves as we begin to explore the fascinating time on the other side of the stereotypes?

 

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Daniel Lord Smail

Starting in the late nineteenth century, Harvard got medieval. Through direct purchase and through the collecting activity of numerous alumnae/i, we began collecting all sorts of texts and artifacts generated by the medieval world of Arabic, Greek, and Latin civilizations. The things that arrived in Harvard’s collections came in many forms, ranging from great architectural monuments and motifs to little stuff such as belt buckles, pilgrims’ flasks, and fragments of pottery.... Read more about Harvard Gets Medieval (Gen Ed 1160)

Interracial Encounters in American Literature and Culture (Gen Ed 1135)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

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Ju Yon Kim

From depictions of exchanges in the early colonial Americas to efforts to envision alternate and imminent futures, this class will examine representations of interracial encounters in U.S. American culture. We will explore how various texts and performances have conceived, embodied, and reimagined the relationships not only among differently racialized groups, but also between race and nation, individual and community, and art and politics.... Read more about Interracial Encounters in American Literature and Culture (Gen Ed 1135)

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Gen Ed Categories

Aesthetics & Culture icon
 

Aesthetics & Culture

Aesthetics & Culture courses foster critical engagement with diverse artistic and creative endeavors and traditions across history and geographical locations, helping students situate themselves and others as participants in and products of art and culture. 

In A&C courses, students do one or more of the following:

  • Explore how aesthetic objects and practices affect our senses, emotions, and thoughts, and invite our interpretations.
  • Engage directly with aesthetic objects, practices, and texts, broadly conceived, to develop students’ skills of close reading, listening, and observation and to support analysis of the production and reception of these objects in their cultural contexts.
  • Engage in critical analysis of artistic and cultural production from a variety of approaches, including art-making, hands-on, or participatory/experiential assignments.
  • Examine the roles that artistic and creative endeavors play in shaping and reshaping societies.

 

Ethics & Civics icon
 

Ethics & Civics

Ethics & Civics courses examine the dilemmas that individuals, communities, and societies face as they explore questions of virtue, justice, equity, inclusion, and the greater good. 

In E&C courses, students do one or more of the following:

  • Analyze the foundations and ramifications of diverse modes of ethical inquiry and practice.
  • Situate ideas about ethics and civic engagement in their historical, cultural, and social contexts.
  • Explore real-world ethical questions, ranging from problems in individual lives to the challenges of meeting civic responsibility at local, national, and global levels.

 

Histories, Societies, Individuals icon
 

Histories, Societies, Individuals

Histories, Societies, Individuals courses explore the dynamic relationships between individuals and larger social, economic and political structures, both historically and in the present moment. 

In HSI courses, students do one or more of the following:

  • Examine change over time to understand the historical origins of the contemporary world.
  • Analyze the interplay between individuals, groups, and larger social, economic, and political structures in the making of the modern world.
  • Compare societies across time and space to broaden students’ understandings of the complexities of global experiences.
Science & Technology in Society icon
 

Science & Technology in Society

Science & Technology in Society courses explore scientific and technological ideas and practices in their social and historical contexts, providing a foundation to assess their promise and perils. STS courses engage students in the practice of science, not just the study of scientific findings.

In STS courses, students  do one or more of the following: 

  • Engage in scientific methods of inquiry, such as theoretical framing, structured observation or experimentation, and quantitative analysis.
  • Examine the influence of social, economic, cultural, and political factors on science and engineering.
  • Analyze the ethical, social, and political implications of scientific and technological ideas and practices, including their potential and risks.

 

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