Aesthetics & Culture

Aesthetics and Culture courses engage diverse artistic genres and cultural traditions, helping you situate yourself and others as products of and participants in art and culture.

 

The following courses fulfill the Gen Ed Aesthetics & Culture requirement

Act Natural (Gen Ed 1050)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

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David Levine

“To thine own self be true,” runs the famous line in Hamlet. But which self? And why? And who’s judging? Does this injunction to be authentic even make sense today, when profiles proliferate online and surveillance is ubiquitous? Acting—the art of creating and reproducing selves—can help us navigate these questions. Just as every century’s approach to acting tells us something about their idea of personhood, so too can our own era’s quandaries around empathy, personae, identity, work, art-making and politics be explored through our approach to acting.... Read more about Act Natural (Gen Ed 1050)

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: 

2019

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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: 

2019

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Tomiko Yoda

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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: The Power of Myth in Antiquity and Today (Gen Ed 1110)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

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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 artists, writers, and thinkers throughout western civilization, 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: The Power of Myth in Antiquity and Today (Gen Ed 1110)

Creativity (Gen Ed 1067)

Semester: 

N/A

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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)

East Asian Cinema (Gen Ed 1049)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

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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: 

N/A

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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.

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)

Happiness (Gen Ed 1025)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

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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.

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)

Literatures of Decolonization (Gen Ed 1155)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

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Annette Damayanti Lienau

The first Asia-Africa conference of newly independent states (held in Indonesia in 1955) was hailed by contemporary observers as an event as significant as the European renaissance in global importance.  It inspired a sequence of political and cultural initiatives (including several African-Asian writers’ conferences) in pursuit of new forms of cultural exchange and political brokering unmediated by former colonial centers.... Read more about Literatures of Decolonization (Gen Ed 1155)

Living in an Urban Planet (Gen Ed 1103)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

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Bruno Carvalho and Neil Brenner

It has become a cliché to say that more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. The speed and scale of urbanization over the past century has been stunning, and we tend to underestimate the extent to which built environments and natural landscapes have become entangled. If we consider, for example, the flow of resources (and refuse), energy systems, and the circulation of culture, where do our cities actually end? In contrast to established urban/suburban/rural distinctions, we explore the possibility that the urban today represents a worldwide condition in which nearly all political-economic and socio-environmental relations are enmeshed.... Read more about Living in an Urban Planet (Gen Ed 1103)

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Gen Ed Categories

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Aesthetics & Culture

Aesthetics and Culture courses engage diverse artistic genres and cultural traditions, helping you situate yourself and others as products of and participants in art and culture.

 

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Ethics & Civics

Ethics and Civics courses engage with large questions about right and wrong, helping you grapple with the nature of civic virtue and the ethical dimensions of what you say and do.

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Histories, Societies, Individuals

Histories, Societies, Individuals courses engage questions of identity and social change, helping you understand the histories and traditions that you will encounter in a global context. 

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Science & Technology in Society

Science and Technology in Society courses engage you in the study of scientific innovations and their social contexts, helping you assess the promise and pitfalls of current and future innovations using methods of scientific inquiry.

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Come to our weekly office hours (1-3pm during the term) on the fourth floor of the Smith Campus Center or contact a Gen Ed advisor.

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