For more information as well as a list of previous courses cross-listed with EH, please visit the Bard Course Catalog.

Core Courses

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.

Current Courses

ARTH 316 Multi-Media Gothic

Katherine Boivin
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.

Laura Kunreuther
Modern ideologies of voice - deployed in politics, social movements and humanitarian organizations, as well as many musical and cultural productions – tend to naturalize the relationship between voice and individuality, agency, and empowerment. The voice, it is assumed, provides unmediated and immediate access to the self and a direct way of making one’s desires and ideas known in public. But the immediacy of the voice often depends upon specific media and/or technologies that make specific voices audible, such as sound recording, amplification, broadcasting, as well as institutional divisions of labor through which voices are represented, cited, and invoked. In this course, we will explore a range of conduits of voice that re-present an original voice through technological means – radio, telephone captioning, voice recorders – and/or human means ¬– interpreters/translators, voice-over artists, spirit possession, and stenographers. Through these explorations we will trouble some of the assumptions about the directness of voice, even as we discover how the feelings and sense of immediacy is produced. Drawing inspiration from philosopher Gilbert Ryle’s notion of ‘the ghost in the machine’ to critique mind-body distinctions, the course will broadly ask students to think critically about the relationship of human self and voice to technologies and practices that animate and circulate voices. Students will be required to research a specific ‘conduit of voice’ and create both a research paper and an EH-inspired project that demonstrates their knowledge about this voice and its medium. They will be asked to contribute readings to the class related to their specific project.

Michele Dominy
This seminar examines indigenous, colonial, and postcolonial ecologies in the Pacific from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century as we trace the transformation of projects of empire to contemporary projects of species and biodiversity preservation and restoration. We focus initially on the voyages of naturalists Joseph Banks on HMS Endeavour (1768-1771), Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle (1831-1836), and Joseph Hooker on HMS Erebus (1839-1843) by considering archival sources -- naval logs, field notes, scientific correspondence, and visual representations. Their “botanical imperium” provides understanding into the relationship of ecological imperialism to the botanical garden, herbarium, and seed bank as we map the arc from the field to the metropole. Next we consider Australia and New Zealand as productive sites for exploring radical processes of ecological colonization and decolonization, including indigenous discourses of sustainability, and evolving state strategies for resource management and ecological restoration. Drawing initially from the history of science, natural history, and historical ethnography, we turn to cultural geography and political ecology to analyze the interdisciplinary connections between island biogeography, conservation biology and spatial interpretation and analysis. To investigate these intersections, students will meet with archivists and plant conservationists at the New York Botanical Gardens and create a digital map, georeferencing plant provenance and tracking botanical circulation as part of a semester-long research project.

Kerri-Ann Norton 1 & Robert McGrail 2
This course introduces students to the methodologies of object-oriented design and programming, which are used throughout the Computer Science curriculum. Students will learn how to move from informal problem statement, through increasingly precise problem specifications, to design and implementation of a solution for problems drawn from areas such as graphics, animation, and simulation. Good programming and documentation habits are emphasized.

Jon Bowermaster
This course will explore what it means to be a modern-day rivertown by focusing on Kingston, NY. Kingston is facing issues including population growth, energy concerns and pollution, crime, poverty, and aging infrastructure. The Hudson River is also slated to rise over six feet in the next 50 years. Jon Bowermaster, an award winning environmental film-maker, journalist, and long-time Hudson Valley resident, will use a team approach in this class to tackle storytelling — focused on environmental stories — in a variety of media, including film, podcasting, radio, written word, photography and art. Students will use Kingston's rich community resources to accomplish this work, and will share work during the class through social media, Radio Kingston, the Hudson River Maritime Museum and other avenues. The class will culminate with a community showing in Kingston, bringing together students, faculty, and Kingston community.

Drew Thompson
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, visual literacy, and historical studies) to critically engage with texts of all kinds. Students consider how material and historical conditions shape discourse and assess their own positions as consumers and producers of media.

Drew Thompson
As technology and practice of image making, photography in Africa evolved alongside territorial imperialism and globalization. In turn, the photograph and its archiving were critical facets of the continent’s histories of liberation and post-independence as well as of the visual and performative cultures that characterized this landscape. This seminar in historical and visual methods introduces students to the historical development of photography in Africa and the historical use of photographs in the late-nineteenth century to recent times. The course begins with different theoretical views on the relationship between photography, history, and visual culture. After a consideration of the photography of the royal courts in North Africa and Christian missionaries in West Africa, the class will shift to the role of photography in the making of independent African nations and their liberation struggles during and after World War II. The course concludes by considering the commodization of African photography at international biennales and through the publication of photo books. Key themes include photography’s role in shaping historical knowledge and the representation of Africa and its peoples, the appropriation of image making into African creative practices and daily life, the politics of exhibition and archiving, and the ethics of seeing war and social justice. Students will design and curate a digital exhibition informed by extensive archival and oral history research. With that aim, over the course of the semester, they will also have the opportunity to interact with leading photography curators, photojournalists and art photographers who have spent time in Africa.

Maria Cecire
From the robot Maria in the 1927 film Metropolis to the female-voiced Siri application for iPhone, mechanized creations that perform physical, emotional, and computational labor have been routinely identified as women in both fiction and reality. In this course, we will discuss how gynoids, fembots, and other feminine-gendered machinery reflect the roles of women’s work and women’s bodies in technologized society. Why might it matter that “typewriter” and “computer” used to be titles for jobs held by women? How do the histories of enslaved women’s stolen labor, reproductive capacities, and autonomy shape modern ideas of women’s work? What can cyborgism contribute to feminist theory? Beginning with discussions about what we mean when we say “woman” and “cyborg,” this course will draw upon scholarship by Judith Butler, Silvia Federici, Donna Haraway, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Andreas Huyssen, Jennifer L. Morgan, and others as we explore the relationships between race, gender, modernity, labor, and mechanization in a range of cultural texts. These will include written works from ancient Greece, Karel Capek’s 1923 play R.U.R. (in which the word “robot” first appeared), Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives, and examples from film, TV, popular music, as well as real-world androids and computer programs.

Whitney Slaten
How does improvisation operate as social research? What does it mean to improvise? How do not only musicians, but also people in everyday life, and broader social structures, improvise with one another? How can critical improvisation studies shift our recognition of the phrase “jazz studies” from a noun to a declarative statement? This course provides an introduction to improvisation studies both within and beyond music. Students will read, present, and discuss scholarship about improvisation while considering examples that reveal the collective choices of individuals and groups who pursue various opportunities over time. Lectures and demonstrations will focus on how such examples outline “new” methodologies for qualitative social research. This course will culminate in a paper that explores how improvisational techniques in music can inform poststructural ethnographic research.

Bruce Chilton
This introductory course looks at the biblical texts in the order in which they were actually produced. Particular attention is paid to the material culture and art of the periods involved. We see how the Bible grew and evolved over centuries. This enables us to understand in literary terms what the Bible is, how it was built and why, and show how its different authors were influenced by one another.

Bruce Chilton
The Bible features in American society not only as a group of texts, but also as the focus for art and art history, literature, music, politics, and religion. This seminar is designed to understand how the texts are taken up into exchanges in these and other media. Critical, public writing is the method best suited to this inquiry, because the purpose is to appreciate both how the Bible framed its meaning and how that meaning is appropriated. Culturally, such writing is today presented in many platforms, which will also be introduced during the semester. By the end of the course, each student should have the tools and contacts available to contribute productively to an issue of increasing concern: the place of the Bible in American aesthetic, intellectual, and social relations. Calderwood Seminars are intended primarily for junior and senior majors in the field (or in some cases affiliated fields--check with the faculty member if you are unsure). They are designed to help students think about how to translate their discipline (e.g. art history, biology, literature) to non-specialists through different forms of public writing. Depending on the major, public writing might include policy papers, book reviews, blog posts, exhibition catalog entries, grant reports, or editorials. Students will be expected to write or edit one short piece of writing per week. Interested students should consult with Prof. Chilton prior to registration.