Classes

    Happiness (Gen Ed 1025)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

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

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    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)

    East Asian Cinema (Gen Ed 1049)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    What can we learn about East Asia from cinema, and how can we critically analyze and creatively respond to films? 

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    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)

    Creativity (Gen Ed 1067)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

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

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    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)

    Permanent Impermanence: Why Buddhists Build Monuments (Gen Ed 1083)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Why do Buddhists build monuments despite the core teaching of ephemerality, and what can we learn from this paradox about our own conception of time and space?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Jinah Kim and Eugene Wang

    Banner of Buddhism images

    Everything changes. This is, in its simplest and most fundamental formulation, one of the essential teachings of Buddhism. Buddhist communities throughout history have preached, practiced, and written about the ephemerality and illusoriness of our everyday lives and experiences.... Read more about Permanent Impermanence: Why Buddhists Build Monuments (Gen Ed 1083)

    What is a Book? From the Clay Tablet to the Kindle (Gen Ed 1090)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    What is the nature of the object that has been the focus of your education since you began to read--and at the core of Western culture since its inception-- and why is it important to understand and appreciate its presence before your eyes even if it's all but transparent?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    David Stern

    You have spent much of your life since kindergarten (and perhaps earlier) reading books; and you will spend much of your time at Harvard continuing to read them. But do you even know what a “book” is?... Read more about What is a Book? From the Clay Tablet to the Kindle (Gen Ed 1090)

    Novel Thought: Being (In)Human (Gen Ed 1182)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    How can the novel enable us to think in ways that other forms of knowledge production cannot and what does that allow us to understand about the world?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Annabel Kim

    French novelist Émile Zola famously conceived of the novel as a laboratory: a space to experiment with characters, treated as human subjects, and discover truths about humanity and society. This course takes seriously the idea that the novel constitutes a kind of laboratory that enables us to apprehend things about humankind that cannot be understood save through the experience of reading fiction. The novel allows us to know what we cannot know, to experience what we haven’t experienced, and in so doing, sheds light on parts of ourselves that we might otherwise want to leave hidden and unexamined: the inhumanity that is just as much a part of our humanity as the humane. Where the social sciences and hard sciences produce empirical data, the novel produces experience and holds open a space of possibility between the world as it is and the world as it might be. By reading a broad range of novels from the past century, you will hone your critical analytical and interpretative skills as a reader and come away with a better understanding of the (in)humanity behind the mass production, mass consumption, mass war, and mass death that led to the twentieth century shattering what humanity had been and making us what we are today.... Read more about Novel Thought: Being (In)Human (Gen Ed 1182)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    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?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Rachel Love

    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)

    Language in Culture and Society (Gen Ed 1177)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    How are language, culture, and society related?

     

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Steve Caton

    Clearly, ideas about what language is and what it does shape scientific inquiry well beyond the discipline of linguistics. Language serves not only as a primary medium for formulating and communicating scientific ideas, but also, and very often, as a paradigm for generating these scientific ideas. Where do these ideas about language—whether they be intuitions, assumptions, popular beliefs, rumors, trends, or theoretical models—come from?... Read more about Language in Culture and Society (Gen Ed 1177)