Introduction to Media provides a foundation in media history and theory. It also explores how students can use aspects of traditional humanistic approaches (e.g., close reading and visual literacy) to critically engage with texts of all kinds. Students consider how material conditions shape discourse and assess their own positions as consumers and producers of media.
History of Experiment considers major figures and experimental approaches, such as poetics, the philosophical thought experiment, and the scientific method, and challenges students to reconsider existing categories of and approaches to knowledge formation.
Other EH courses cover topics including the idea of the viral in theater, how to (de-)code drones, the role of images in Human Rights discourse, the science of creativity, media “framing” of US elections, the history of the book, and machine-made music. Many EH courses work with alternative modes of scholarship (such as digital archiving and exhibition-making with Omeka), or are “production” courses that teach skills from computing for digital humanities to cybergraphics to 3D filmmaking.
Courses for the Spring 2017 Semester include the EH core course “The History of Experiment.”
ART 100: Performing the Technoself (Maggie Hazen)
In the age of You-Tube personalities, selfies, Instagram and applications such as face-swap and bitmoji, it has become easier to augment and craft our social identities shifting the way we relate to our social environments—portraying different versions of our “live” self and our “screen” self. Students who take this course will focus their time and energy developing one performative project centered around the exploration of technology and identity. Each individual will develop and investigate a performance project which will culminate in a final performance viewing for the class. As a group we will provide feedback on each other’s ideas. We will create a social space where students will be able to explore our relationship to gender, history (personal and cultural), alter-ego, celebrity, social politics, and dream. Readings on and viewings of work could include Hito Steyerl, Laurie Anderson, Andy Warhol, Juliana Huxtable, Wu Tsang, Martha Rosler, Miranda July, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler, Hennessy Youngman, Cindy Sherman, K8 Hardy, Petra Cortright, Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch
ART 225: Art Through Nature: LANDSCAPE, ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN IN AMERICA (Julia Rosenbaum)
This course explores the relationship between the natural world and American culture: How have 19th and 20th century Americans understood “nature” and imagined its role? How have visions of landscape shaped perceptions about social order, health, identity and sustainability? The course is structured around historical case studies and focuses on three conceptions of the land: visual representations in the form of landscape painting; physical shaping through landscape design; and preservation in terms of the development of cultural heritage sites. Visits to local sites and to New York City will also be part of the class.
ARTH 271: Visual Intelligence (Susan Merriam)
What does it mean to have visual intelligence? While we regularly interact with our smartphones and computers, we tend to overlook how much we rely on visual aptitude to interpret what we encounter there. Rarely, if ever, do we think about how we navigate the visual world based on a shared vocabulary, gained over time, dependent in some cases on formal conventions with long histories. In this course, focused primarily on the early modern period, we’ll study how images (paintings, drawings, and prints) and objects (primarily sculpture), practices central to the creation of images and objects, and visual technologies have shaped modes of seeing in the west from the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries. We’ll also examine how neuroscientists study visual cognition with the help of two guest lecturers.
ARTH 316: Multi-Media Gothic (Katherin Bolvin)
Although scholarship on medieval art has often been separated by medium, Gothic church programs were actually multi-media spaces with meaning transcending the individual work of art. This class, therefore, explores a wide range of artistic media, including stained glass, painting, sculpture, architecture, textiles, and metalwork, as they contributed to the dynamic space of the Gothic church. In addition, it considers modern technologies for representing these complex programs, drawing parallels between the explosion of images in the Gothic era and the role of media today. Structured around the investigation of case-study churches throughout western Europe—with a particular focus on France and Germany from the 13th through 15th centuries—this class will cover topics including architectural structuring of space, image placement, dramatic performances of the liturgy, the “economy of salvation,” and cultural notions of decorum. Coursework includes weekly writing assignments, active in-class discussion, and a final 15-page research paper.
FILM 203: Digital Animation (Jacqueline Gross)
In this course we will make video and web-based projects using digital animation and compositing programs (primarily Adobe Animate and After Effects). The course is designed to help students develop a facility with these tools and to find personal animating styles that surpass the tools at hand. We will work to reveal techniques and aesthetics associated with digital animation that challenge conventions of storytelling, editing, figure/ground relationship, and portrayal of the human form. To this end, we will refer to diverse examples of animating and collage from film, music, writing, photography, and painting. Prerequisite: familiarity with a nonlinear video-editing program. This production class fulfills a moderation requirement
FILM 221: Found Footage, Appropriation, and Pranks (Margaret Ahwesh)
This course surveys the history of appropriation in experimental media from the found footage, cut-up and collage films of the 1950’s through the Lettrists and Situationists and up to current artistic and activist production efforts such as culture jamming, game hacking, sampling, hoaxing, resistance, interference and tactical media intervention. The spectrum of traditions which involve the strategic recontextualizing of educational, industrial and broadcast sources, projects that detourn official ‘given’ meaning, re-editing of outtakes, recycling of detritus, and a variety of works of piracy and parody which skew/subvert media codes will be examined for their contribution to the field. Issues regarding gender, identity, media and net politics, technology, copyright and aesthetics will be addressed as raised by the work. Students are required to produce their own work in video, gaming, installation, collage and/or audio through a series of assignments and a final project.
FILM 223: Art and the Internet (Ben Coonley)
This production course considers the Internet as a source of creative material, an exhibition context, and begetter of new art forms. With reference to electronic media history and theory, we survey the contemporary landscape of online media production. Topics covered include: the origins of “net.art,” hypertext narratives, social networks, surf clubs and group blogging, web video, machinima, hacktivism, online games, online performance, digital readymade and assemblage art, among others. Students complete independent and collaborative creative projects designed to respond to and engage with Internet technologies and online networks. No special expertise with computers is required, but all work for the seminar will be produced using the digital media we study.
HIST 2315: War in Colonial America (Cristian Crouch)
Thousands of men march in a line towards cannons and muskets at point blank range. Abenakis watch the snow accumulate around the walls of an English fort, then scale over the defenses silently in the night to attack. En route to find the “Lost City of Gold,” Spanish soldiers sack Acoma Pueblo and then flee. “Coromantees” and Irish servants challenge English slaveholders’ dominion in Barbados and nearly succeed. Colonial America existed in a constant state of war. This course is a close study of formal and informal military conflicts from the 16th to the early 19th centuries, looking at well-known engagements such as the so-called “French and Indian War” and lesser known episodes, like the French and Abenaki raid on Deerfield in 1704. Students will learn how European and indigenous American rules of violence developed, shifted, and adapted in response to the Columbian Exchange, and how war came to shape contemporary American identity. In addition to primary sources, we will consider literary, cinematic, and live reenactment interpretations of colonial conflicts and consider what these tell us about the relationships of history and memory.
HIST 3139: The Power of Print (Robert Culp)
This seminar explores the development of print media over the last half-millennium and their transformative impact on society, culture, and politics. Through a mix of theoretical and historical texts, we will consider how print media have fostered the development of new political communities like the nation state, generated publics and counter-publics, both created and undermined cultural authority, enabled new dynamics of knowledge production, and facilitated development of new modes of reading and interiority. Our inquiry will be global in scope, encompassing not only the Gutenberg revolution in Europe but also the diverse forms of print culture and print capitalism that developed contemporaneously in the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. Analysis of the recent rise of digital media will provide critical perspective for understanding how the materiality of the printed text and its circulation through space has affected its social, cultural, and political significance. Ten weeks of the course will be dedicated to shared readings and discussion. The remainder of the semester will focus on completion of individual research projects related to the core themes of the course. History concentrators can use this course as a major conference; upper-college students from all concentration areas are welcome.
HR122 : Human Rights and Media (Anya Luscombe)
This introductory course examines the way human rights and media – particularly journalism – are linked, both by tracing historical developments and discussing contemporary issues. According to the United Nations, “a free, uncensored, unhindered press or other media is essential in any society to ensure freedom of expression.” Taking Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (freedom of speech and religion, freedom from want and fear) as our starting point, we will consider the role that journalists should and do play in relation to human rights. We will also examine the way human rights activists and marginalized groups use media in a time of changing media technologies, and explore the connection between human rights and media literacy education. What are the threats and opportunities for journalists, NGOs, and civic groups that seek media attention? Which types of human rights related stories are covered in mainstream and alternative media? What is the impact of ‘fake news’ and ‘social media loops’ on the profession of journalism, on people’s understanding of their rights, and on democratic societies? As well as discussing academic readings (e.g. Galtung & Ruge, McQuail, Pollock), journalistic outputs (e.g. Gellhorn, Pilger, Fisk) and case studies from around the world, students will devise and carry out a small practical media project.
LIT 2081: Mass Culture: Post War Japan (Nathan Shockey)
This course explores the literature, history, and media art of Japan since World War 2. Beginning with the lean years of the American occupation of 1945 to 1952, we will trace through the high growth period of the 1960s and 1970s, the “bubble era” of the 1980s, and up through to the present moment. Along the way, we will examine radio drama, television, popular magazines, manga/comics, film, fiction, theater, folk and pop music, animation, advertising, and contemporary multimedia art. Throughout, the focus will be on works of “low brow” and “middle brow” culture that structure the experience of everyday life. Among other topics, we will consider mass entertainment, the emperor system, the student movement and its failure, the birth of environmental awareness, changing dynamics of sex, gender, and family, “Americanization,” the mythos of the middle class, and the historical roots of contemporary Japanese society. In addition, we will think about changing images of Japan in American popular media and the ways in which the mass culture of postwar Japan has shaped global cultural currents in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Taught in English.
LIT 235: Introduction to Media (Thomas Keenan)
This course offers an introduction to media history and theory, tracking a series of events and concepts with the aim of understanding media not simply as a scholarly object but as a force in our lives. We will look at old and new media alike, from writing to photography to the contemporary digital landscape, and explore how media have regularly re-shaped our perceptions of time, space, knowledge, and identity. The premise of the course is that the new-ness of new media can only be approached against the background of humanistic experimentation and imagination, even as it transforms our lives and experiences. We will examine a range of meanings of the word “media,” from journalism and news to entertainment to the Internet and social media. We will read key media theorists (Walter Benjamin, Donna Haraway, Friedrich Kittler, Ariella Azoulay, and Marshall McLuhan), and examine a range of critical, literary, and artistic reflections on our mediated universe. We will also spend some hands-on time working with — and not just on — media, in order to assess our own positions not just as as users and consumers but also as producers of media.
MUS 235: Topics in Music Software (Paul Hembre)
In this course, students will learn how to integrate sound and music into interactive experiences, primarily using the Unity game engine and editor. Unity is a widely used tool in interactive media design, allowing users to publish stand-alone applications on multiple platforms, including desktop, mobile, web and virtual reality. Specific topics will include contrasting sample-based vs. procedural sound design, musical cues that adapt to user input, algorithmic or generative music, and techniques for designing convincing spatial audio. Students will also learn basic programming concepts, using easy-to-integrate scriptable behaviors in the C# language. This course is open to majors and non-majors. Students should have some previous classroom experience in electronic music (such as Introduction to Electronic Music), electronic arts, or computer science.
PHIL 221: History and Philosophy of Evolutionary Biology (Michelle Hoffman)
In this course, we will study the history of evolutionary theory from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Topics will include the earth sciences, the classification of life, pre-Darwinian concepts of biological evolution, Darwin and Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection, the problem of inheritance, and the Modern Synthesis. We will also consider philosophical debates surrounding evolution about questions such as adaptationism, genetic determinism, evolutionary ethics, and evolutionary progress. A recurring theme in the course will be the reception of Darwinian evolution, both among scientists and the broader public, up to and including twentieth-century debates over the teaching of evolution. This is a core course in the STS concentration.