Aesthetics & Culture

Making Memories (Gen Ed 1060)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

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Stephanie Sandler

How we make, keep, and lose memories throughout our life is one of our great skills as human beings, and also something of a mystery. Is what we think of as memory ours individually, or is it based on shared experiences – national, communal, familial, and with peers? Also far from decided is how much memories are made and put at risk by biological processes in the brain, and how much by the verbal, visual, and experiential inputs that we call daily life. These questions have broad cultural impact as well as their personal presence in each individual’s life.... Read more about Making Memories (Gen Ed 1060)

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

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

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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)

Harvard Gets Medieval (Gen Ed 1160)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

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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)

Global Japanese Cinema (Gen Ed 1145)

Semester: 

Spring

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

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)

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)

The Philosopher and the Tyrant (Gen Ed 1030)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

In a time of rising authoritarianism and polarized debate, what role can the love of wisdom have in tempering the pursuit of power?

 

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David Damrosch

Philosophers and politicians alike struggle to set the terms for living a good life in a world of conflict. Rulers seek guidance from their counselors, and philosophers have often dreamed of wielding real-world influence. Reading a series of masterpieces of philosophical thought and literary expression, we will examine some striking cases of relations between the pursuit of wisdom and the pursuit of power, from the extremes of conflict (the executions of Socrates, Han Fei, Jesus, Sir Thomas More) to the opposite dream of the philosopher king.... Read more about The Philosopher and the Tyrant (Gen Ed 1030)

Loss (Gen Ed 1131)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

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)

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)

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