Classes

    Black Radicalism (Gen Ed 1016)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    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)

    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)

    The Art and Politics of Propaganda (Gen Ed 1012)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020


    Why did Nazi sights, sounds, and propaganda prove to be so captivating and compelling for German audiences of a modern nation and how do we explain the continuing impact of Nazi images and fantasies to this very day, which is to ask, what do “they” have to do with “us”?  

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    Eric Rentschler

    As thinking beings we consider the limits of human potential and wonder what is the worst. The Nazis obsess us because they were masters of extremity who brought to the world unprecedented violence, destruction, and murder. They were also masters of propaganda who engineered sophisticated techniques of mass manipulation; in this endeavor cinema and modern media assumed a seminal role.... Read more about The Art and Politics of Propaganda (Gen Ed 1012)

    The Stories We Tell (Gen Ed 1021)

    Semester: 

    N/A

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    Martin Puchner and David Damrosch

    The Stories We Tell is based on the premise that we are story-telling animals. There have been human societies without the wheel, but none without stories. We use stories to make sense of experience, to understand where we are coming from, and to orient ourselves in the world. Today, we are asked to produce stories to get into college, to run for president, to pitch start-up companies, and to turn scientific insight into new policies. Where do these stories come from?... Read more about The Stories We Tell (Gen Ed 1021)

    One Book, Two Religions, Many Truths (Gen Ed 1149)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    How are Judaism and Christianity the same and how are they different?

     

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    Shaye J.D. Cohen

    The Hebrew Scriptures, what Christians call the “Old Testament” and Jews call the “Bible,” are the basis of both Judaism and Christianity, and stand behind many debates in our contemporary culture wars. In this course we shall survey how this work of literature, through interpretation and re-interpretation, spawned and spawns a wide variety of truths.... Read more about One Book, Two Religions, Many Truths (Gen Ed 1149)

    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)

    Modern Art and Modernity (Gen Ed 1156)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    What role do artistic practices play in the formation of modern culture and society, and how does art foster critical reflection and debate?

     

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    Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Benjamin Buchloh, and Maria Gough

    What makes art modern? What role has modern art played in the constitution of the modern subject? This course traces art’s transformation from tool of aristocratic and ecclesiastical elites into instrument of broad public instruction and civic debate on controversial topics.... Read more about Modern Art and Modernity (Gen Ed 1156)

    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)

    Music from Earth (Gen Ed 1006)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    How can music help us in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence?

     

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    Alexander Rehding

    In 1977 humanity sent a mixtape into outer space. The two spacecraft of NASA’s Voyager mission include a Golden Record, featuring greetings in 55 earth languages, 116 images of the planet and its inhabitants, plus examples of music from a range of cultures across the world: from Azerbaijani bagpipes to Zaire pygmy songs, from English Renaissance dances to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and from Louis Armstrong to Chuck Berry.... Read more about Music from Earth (Gen Ed 1006)

    Texts in Transition (Gen Ed 1034)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    What makes some texts long-lived while others are ephemeral, today and in the past?

     

    Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Ann Blair and Leah Whittington

    We live in a moment of “crisis” around regimes of preservation and loss. As our communication becomes ever more digital— and, therefore, simultaneously more ephemeral and more durable—the attitudes and tools we have for preserving our culture have come to seem less apt than they may have seemed as recently as a generation ago. This course examines how texts have been transmitted from the past to the present, and how we can plan for their survival into the future.... Read more about Texts in Transition (Gen Ed 1034)

    LGBT Literature, Politics, and Identity (Gen Ed 1176)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What is the relationship between LGBT literary representation and politics, activism, and culture?

     

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    Linda Schlossberg

    In this course, we’ll learn how sexual identity and desire are understood and represented in different social and historical circumstances, We’ll move beyond the binary of identifying images as “positive” or “negative,” paying attention to how depictions, definitions, and understandings of sexuality are shaped by specific historical moments, as well as the aesthetic traditions and personal experiences shaping these individual works.... Read more about LGBT Literature, Politics, and Identity (Gen Ed 1176)

    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)

    Popular Culture and Modern China (Gen Ed 1111)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    What is the “people," and how “popular” can popular culture be in contemporary People’s Republic of China and beyond?

     

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    David Wang

    This course examines "popular culture" as a modern, transnational phenomenon and explores its manifestation in Chinese communities (in People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and North America) and beyond. From pulp fiction to film, from "Yellow Music" to "Model Theater", from animations to internet games, the course looks into how China became modern by participating in the global circulation of media forms, and how China helps in her own way enrich the theory and practice of "popular culture".... Read more about Popular Culture and Modern China (Gen Ed 1111)

    American Dreams Made in Hollywood and Beyond (Gen Ed 1043)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    If we talk about American dreams and the many different ways they take shape in the mass-produced film fantasies made in Hollywood and beyond, what language are we to use and how are we to speak as we confront the diversity of experience portrayed in these designs for living; for whom is the American dream, one wonders, is it for everyone?

     

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    Eric Rentschler

    The American dream once essentialized the grand promise of a better, fuller, and richer life. At the present moment, however, it seems in many minds to have lost its evocative power as a collective myth. Does this notion still represent a principle of hope or has it become a form of cruel optimism? In a time of prolonged political crisis, 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 presence and meaning in the world we now inhabit.

    ... Read more about American Dreams Made in Hollywood and Beyond (Gen Ed 1043)

    Tragedy Today (Gen Ed 1168)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can ancient Greek tragedy help us to address some of today’s most pressing sociopolitical problems?

     

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    Naomi Weiss

    “It’s a sad tale, it’s a tragedy / It’s a sad song…. We’re gonna sing it anyway.” So sings Hermes at the start of Hadestown, the hit broadway show that deals with capitalism, demagoguery, borders, and climate change. Based on the ancient artform of tragedy, this musical provokes its audiences to reflect on very modern concerns; it also, as the show’s creator Anaïs Mitchell says, “lets us cry.”

    ... Read more about Tragedy Today (Gen Ed 1168)

    Multisensory Religion: Rethinking Islam (Gen Ed 1087)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

     

    What role do our senses play in shaping our understandings of “religion” and “religious experience”?

     

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    Ali S. Asani

    One need only walk into a church, a mosque, a temple, a synagogue or any place of worship to experience the beauty and aesthetic power of religion. For millions of people around the world, understanding of religion is forged through personal experiences, often embedded in the sound, visual, and literary arts. What does it mean to call some art “religious”? How can interpreting an individual believer’s engagement with the arts help us see “religion” in a new light?... Read more about Multisensory Religion: Rethinking Islam (Gen Ed 1087)

    Poetry Without Borders (Gen Ed 1057)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    Why do poems and poets today boldly cross the borders of language, geography, form, and how are those border-crossings charged politically, ethically, and aesthetically?

     

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    Stephanie Sandler

    A stem with berries attached and a curved hand casting a shadow, both resting on a piece of wood.

    Without borders, can there be poetry? The border of white paper surrounds printed poems; national boundaries keep cultural and linguistic traditions distinct; and aesthetic practice and its conventions create genres and demarcate poetry from music or dance or film. How poetry requires but also perversely challenges these limits will be the subject of this course.... Read more about Poetry Without Borders (Gen Ed 1057)

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