Classes

    Satire (Gen Ed 1010)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    Is satire a dying art, and do we need it?

    Aesthetics & Culture icon with text

    Ambrogio Camozzi Pistoja

    A course on satire, its power and limitations, from Classical Rome, through medieval Italy, to Elizabethan theatre and 19th-20th century American cartoonists. Serving as both a critique of social norms and the oppression of minorities (anti-women, anti-Jews, etc.), satire has been one of the most practiced and effective languages in Western culture.... Read more about Satire (Gen Ed 1010)

    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)

    Superheroes and Power (Gen Ed 1165)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020

    What makes superheroes popular, and how can their stories answer enduring questions about identity, power, disability, symbolism, law, and the state?

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    Stephanie Burt

    What’s a hero? What’s a superhero? Who gets to be one, and who decides? Why are superheroes so popular now? What do their stories tell us—casual viewers and devoted readers, fans and non-fans and aspiring writers-- about how power works, about its social, emotional, material and economic dimensions, and about how we represent power in art?... Read more about Superheroes and Power (Gen Ed 1165)

    Happiness (Gen Ed 1025)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    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)

    Anime as Global Popular Culture (Gen Ed 1042)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    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)

    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? 

     

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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)

    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?

     

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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)

    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?

     

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    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?

     

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    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)

    Painting's Doubt: A Studio Course (Gen Ed 1114)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How does a hands-on practice of image making (painting) lead us  to perceive, represent and inhabit our world differently?

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    Matt Saunders

    Paul Cezanne, unfinished painting of trees

    Painting is an engagement between the self and the world.  It is a practice of embodied making, and, as a language outside of words, can think around conditioned understanding.  This introductory studio art course proposes learning to paint as a new experience of relating to the world, and through painting we will investigate not only what we have to say, but what we have to see.... Read more about Painting's Doubt: A Studio Course (Gen Ed 1114)

    Power to the People: Black Power, Radical Feminism, and Gay Liberation (Gen Ed 1130)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How does understanding political activists and movements in the past help us radically change the world today?

     

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    Michael Bronski

    This course is an introduction to the radical American social change movements of the 1960s and 70s. We will examine the specific historical conditions that allowed each of these movements to develop, the interconnections and contradictions among them, and why their political power faded, only to reemerge in new manifestations today.... Read more about Power to the People: Black Power, Radical Feminism, and Gay Liberation (Gen Ed 1130)

    Loss (Gen Ed 1131)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How are we to cope with the inevitability that some of what we most love in life we will lose?

     

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    Kathleen Coleman

    Loss is an inevitable fact of human existence. Small losses most of us learn to bear with equanimity. But enormous, wrenching, life-changing losses open voids in our lives for which we can never feel adequately prepared, even if we can see them coming.... Read more about Loss (Gen Ed 1131)

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

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How do the possibilities of faith and the demands of living authentically square with the developments of the modern west and its threats of nihilism?

     

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    Courtney Bickel Lamberth and David Lamberth

    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)

    Act Natural (Gen Ed 1050)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How do we draw the line between acting and authenticity?

     

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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?... Read more about Act Natural (Gen Ed 1050)

    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?

     

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    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)

    Vision and Justice: The Art of Race and American Citizenship (Gen Ed 1022)

    Semester: 

    N/A

    How does culture—from images of racial violence to Confederate monuments—determine who counts and who belongs in the United States?

     

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

    Sarah Lewis

    How has visual representation—from videos and photographs to sculptures and memorials—both limited and liberated our definition of American citizenship and belonging? Art is often considered a respite from life or a reflection of the times, but this class examines how art actually has created the times in which we live.... Read more about Vision and Justice: The Art of Race and American Citizenship (Gen Ed 1022)

    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?

     

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    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?

     

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    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)

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