Courses

 

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.

Electives

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.
ART 250: Extended Media II: More Than A Thousand Words: Experimental Picture-Making

John von Bergen
More Than 1000 Words” is a course that explores the possibilities of picture- making through unconventional materials and techniques. Any experimental process that students wish to develop will be encouraged, be it sculptural, digital, performative, or with mixed-media. The end results should involve “the picture”, and a personal journey to achieve these results that steps outside the boundaries of conventional 2D image-making. The semester will begin with more conventional techniques to explore the basics of graphic solutions as part of the “sketch” phase, but will escalate soon into exploring techniques and discussing concepts that relate directly to one’s interest. Some group assignments or exercises may involve “drone drawing” as well as VR (virtual reality). We will also look at many contemporary artists who continue to approach picture-making through some unique process. Please note: This is an intermediate class, so having already completed basic college-level art courses would be beneficial.
ARTH 315: Interior Worlds: Turn-of-the-Century American Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Julia Rosenbaum
How does the world of interior spaces, their furnishings and decorative objects, tell us stories, assert values, project identities? Through an engaged-learning experience with three early twentieth-century National Park sites in the Hudson Valley—the Vanderbilt Mansion, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Home at Val-Kill—this seminar explores both the relationship between objects and identities and issues of consumption and appearance. The course will focus on American decorative arts from the late nineteenth into the twentieth century addressing theories about the purpose, meaning, and value of design and decoration as well as key movements, designers, and artists. Visiting the sites and collections regularly, we will combine the scholarly study of aesthetic ideals and social practices with hands-on examination of specific objects in the Vanderbilt and Roosevelt museum collections. Final research projects may involve individual or group curated digital exhibitions.
AS 310: Art, Animals,& Anthropocene

Krista Caballero
From species extinction to radioactive soil and climate change, we are now in the age of the Anthropocene. This recently proposed geologic period refers to the ways in which human activities have dramatically impacted and altered every ecosystem on Earth. Now in an age of mass extinction, what does it mean to visually interpret our more-than-human world and explore the often messy and complicated encounters between human and nonhuman animals? Indigenous and traditional ecological knowledges will ground our exploration as we consider the cultural, artistic, and technological implications of species decline. Our focus will include examining animal representations from caves to cages and from the living to the virtual, as well as themes of the wild and the tame, zoos, animal rights, laboratory research, and companion species. Each of these topics will be paired with an exploration of the ever-increasing presence of animals in contemporary art with particular emphasis on multimedia and inter-species installations, bio art, as well as experimental video, film, performance, and robotics. Students will work intensively to develop experimental humanities approaches that blur boundaries between physical and digital media, integrate field-based research, and experiment with interdisciplinary practices of art making in order to grapple with ways in which our understanding of other species directly relates to human self-understanding. This course is part of the Thinking Animals Initiative, an interdivisional collaboration among students and faculty to further the understanding of animals and human-animal relationships.
CMSC 141: Object Oriented Programming

Kerri-Ann Norton
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.
EUS 317: Practicum: Re-imagined Farms in Re-imagined Spaces

Katrina Light
This course examines the role farms and gardens play within institutions and the interplay of race, gender, class and power within these spaces. Working closely with farmer, Rebecca Yoshino, students will answer the questions: What purpose do these spaces serve? Who are the primary stakeholders and who benefits? Students will study issues surrounding land-use, equity, and social capital. Through a series of lectures and site visits to our own as well as other non-profit growing spaces, students will gather this information. Through this process they will hone interview techniques, create visual representations and ultimately, examine, synthesize and distribute findings to community stakeholders. Finally, students will develop a mission statement and re-imagined direction for Bard’s agricultural initiatives. Moderation required or professor approval.
FILM 203: Performance & Video

Ben Coonley
This course explores intersections of video and performance art. Course participants develop strategies for exploiting video's most fundamental property: its ability to reproduce a stream of real-time synchronized images and sounds. How does video technology mediate between on-screen performer and audience? How can artists interested in creating critical and self-reflexive media respond to video’s immediacy and “liveness”? How can performance artists use video playback devices, displays, projectors, interactive elements, and live video mixing software to shape and enhance live art? The first half of the course concentrates on the creation of performance “tapes” (or tape-less video recordings) and the history of experimental video focused on performance for the camera. The second half of the course concentrates on the use of video as a central component within live performance art. We will read about and carry on a sustained conversation about the cultural and psychological impact of video technology on subjectivity and conceptions of the artist as "medium." Readings on and viewings of work by Marina Abramović, Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, TrishaBaga, John Baldessari, Paul Chan, Patty Chang, Chris Burden, Coco Fusco, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Wynne Greenwood, Nancy Holt, Joan Jonas, Miranda July, Mike Kelley, George Kuchar, Kalup Linzy, TataMateik, Shana Moulton, Jayson Musson, Bruce Nauman, Nam Jun Paik, Sondra Perry, Walid Raad, Martha Rosler, Jacolby Satterwhite, Michael Smith, Ryan Trecartin, Andy Warhol, William Wegman, among others.
HIST 123: The Window at Montgomery Place

Myra Amstead
In 1802, when widow Janet Montgomery (1743-1824) acquired a 380-acre property on the Hudson River, she began the process of converting the landscape from a "wilderness" into a "pleasure ground." This transformation was a physical one, reflecting prevailing ideas about the ideal, aesthetic relationship between humans and "nature" as well as emerging notions regarding scientific agriculture. After her death, her successors continued this task. Additionally, the creation and development of Montgomery Place mirrored contemporary social relations and cultural conventions, along with shifts in these realities at the national level. As it was populated by indentured servants, tenants, slaves, free workers, and elites, Montgomery Place will be approached as a historical laboratory for understanding social hierarchies, social roles, cultural practices, and the evolving visions of the nation and "place" that both sustained and challenged these things during the nineteenth century in the United States.
HIST 144: The History of the Experiment

Gregory Moynahan
The scientific method and the modern form of the scientific experiment are arguably the most powerful inventions of the modern period. Although dating back in its modern form to only the sixteenth century, the concept of the experiment as an attempt to find underlying continuities in experience has numerous origins stretching back to earliest recorded history. In this course, we will look at several different epochs' definition of experiment, focusing on the classical, medieval, and finally renaissance eras to the present. Throughout, we will understand the concept of experiment as closely connected with an era's broader cosmology and definition of experience, and as such will see the epistemological problem of the experiment in a framework that includes aesthetics, theology, ethics and politics. We will also assume that "experiment" has taken different forms in the different sciences, and even in fields such as art and law.
HIST 322: Captive Children and Empire

Christian Crouch
Children in the era of increased global interaction since 1400 have experienced a unique role as cultural intermediaries, translators, sources of forced labor, and as the human glue of diplomatic alliances. This class takes a close look at the contemporary reality and the afterlives of prominent captive children including Native American captive Powhatan Pocahontas, English settler-colonist Esther Wheelwright, and Ethiopia’s Prince Alamayu. Through archival detective work and a consideration of changing media representations, students will learn how to recover the lived experiences of children and teens who were ‘spirited away.’ The course will also consider how these histories shape current dialogues and representations of imperial encounter, colonial legacies, child rights, and family separation today. This seminar can be used to fulfill the American Studies Junior Seminar requirement and the Historical Studies Major Conference requirement.
HIST 334: Finnegans Wake

Gregory Moynahan
In 1725, Giambattista Vico presented to the world a "New Science" of poetic imagination that was intended as a point-by-point re-contextualization of the already established foundations of the natural sciences of Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon. In 1939, with much of the world enveloped in fascism and on the verge of a new technological war, James Joyce presented an immersive demonstration of Vico's science in Finnegans Wake. By turns confusing, hilarious, and profound, Joyce's "vicociclometer" sought to provide a reorientation in myth and history of the relation of ancient and modern life, religion, and politics. In this course, we will use the "exception" provided by both texts to look at the norms of modern intellectual history, using selections in their context to reconsider the background assumptions of modern societies and their political implications. Central issues will include the destruction of oral and traditional cultures (and peoples) by print based-civilizations, the function of science and myth in the organization of modern life (particularly as mediated by law), the definition of individuals and collectives by narrative and institutional form, the relation of written history to power, the function of technological media in politics, and the place of complexity in aesthetics and life. A central theme will be the history of the book as it develops among other media technologies, which we will thematize through the use of Bard's collection of the facsimiles of Joyce's voluminous notecards on Finnegans Wake (the so-called "Buffalo Manuscripts").
HR 323: Race and the Pastoral

Ann Seaton
“Race and the Pastoral”: Ekphrasis, Education, Anecdote(s) begins in the third century BCE, not in Greece, but in Hellenistic Egypt. Theocritus, an Alexandrian court poet, wrote pastoral "idylls" memorializing earlier Greek literature. The pastoral begins with this paradox: it writes about being Greek, but not in Greece itself. Theocritus's "idylls," or "little pictures" feature frolicking shepherds and bubbling Greek springs. Their Egyptian context is almost always ignored, except in a few poems that refer to "Egyptian ruffians" or to the Ptolemies as conquerors. Later critics have enacted their own boundaries, insisting that Theocritean poems explicitly set in Egypt are "urban," and not "pastoral." We will follow this conflict inside alongside the texts we read, noticing how pastoral ekphrasis is often used to elaborate or disguise racial, ethnic, or aesthetic boundaries. After Theocritus, Virigl, and Longus, the pastoral spreads virally--not only in poetry, but also through philosophy and theory, landscape art and architecture, biology, and even in the framing design and practices of the liberal arts college itself, informing the very structure of how knowledge is both created and transmitted. This class will use experimental practices (personal narrative, ethnographic writing, creative/multimedia responses) in addition to close reading and critical analysis. Since the class is (also) a work-in-progress, some course sessions will also be recent lectures, or book chapters. Students are also encouraged to connect their work in the class with their own projects. We will begin with ancient poets, and keep circling back to them even as we look forward to Bacon, Locke, Emerson, the Hudson River School/the "Manor Estate Pastoral" and Heidegger/the "Nazi Pastoral." Throughout, our readings will be informed by queer practices, eccentric readings, critical race theory, ethnographic critique, and archival research.
LIT 341: The Book Before Print

Marisa Libbon
What were books like before the invention of print? What was the experience of reading them? How did they shape and how were they shaped by the world in which they were produced? And how do we know? In 1476 William Caxton set up England’s first printing press. Prior to the arrival of this new technology—which the sixteenth-century writer John Foxe deemed miraculous—English books were made of vellum (animal skin) and were written and decorated by hand. In this course, we’ll study early English books both as cultural objects and literary archives, dividing our time between investigating how pre-print English manuscript-books were made and read, and studying their contents, including the popular literature of medieval England and the painted illuminations that accompanied it: epics, lyrics, histories, romances, all of which will be made available in modern printed editions. Our work will raise questions about the relationship between material form and literary content; the intersection of image and text; the development and preservation of literary and visual artifacts; the ethical and practical problems of producing modern printed editions of handwritten texts; and the proximity of anonymous pre-print culture to the so-called Internet Age.
LIT 380: Poetry and Attentiveness

Phil Pardi
The premise of this course is that poetry invites us to attend to the world—and to our experience of the world—in profound and possibly revelatory ways. We will accept this invitation and immerse ourselves in the possibilities created by such attentiveness. The heart of our work together will involve reading and responding to an eclectic list of poets. Readings will include poetry, criticism, and one (lengthy) biography of a poet; writing assignments will include creative pieces, short and long critical responses, and a semester-long notebook of observations and reflections.Poets whose work we will read with care include Basho, Langston Hughes, John Keats, Marianne Moore, Eileen Myles, Marilyn Nelson, Frank O'Hara, and several poets of the Chinese T'ang Dynasty. In addition, we will take up the question of attentiveness itself: what does it mean to truly “pay” attention? What is it like to spend a full hour with a 4-line poem? What is it like to go for a walk, alone, without technology, for an hour, committed merely to walking and noticing? In this part of the course, we will practice, read, and write about our own ability to truly immerse ourselves in what we read and what we experience. We will also consider our tendency to get distracted, bored, or angsty. Note on Course Format: this course meets once a week for seven hours. At the beginning of each session, we will all turn in our phones, laptops, smart watches, etc. That is, we will agree to be completely offline for the duration of the seven hours. Thus, not only will we read and write about poetry and ponder the nature of attention and distraction, we will also live, and perhaps wrestle, in their midst.
LIT 3028: Soundscapes of American Literature

Alexandre Benson
We often use sonic terms—voice, tone, echo, resonance—to describe literary texts, even as we set writing in opposition to the noisy, melodious stuff of speech and song. This paradox raises some knotty questions of aesthetics, sensation, and media, questions that become still more complicated in the context of American literature from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. Over this period, shifts in migration, labor, transport, and the built environment radically alter what cities sound like, while audio recording and reproduction technologies reconfigure the forms and functions of popular music. American poets, novelists, and essayists, meanwhile, experiment with new ways of writing sound: new rhythms, new structures of narrative voice, new ideas about sonic experience as a function of cultural difference and of ability. To get a sense of these experiments, we’ll concentrate on moments in which technology, identity, environment, and hearing tightly interweave (as when the train whistles past Thoreau at Walden Pond). We’ll track the adaptation of literary texts across media, from print to performance to phonograph (as when Abbey Lincoln sings a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem). And we’ll engage with the theoretical questions that emerge around terms like “soundscape” itself--a concept first coined as a way of describing the noise of urban infrastructure, even as it nods to traditions of pastoral aesthetics. As a Junior Seminar, the course will emphasize methods of research and argumentation that will be of use not only in literary sound studies, but also in Senior Projects in the humanities more generally. Likely figures: James Baldwin, John Cage, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Charlie Chaplin, Emily Dickinson, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, and Helen Keller.
MUS 247: Ethnography: Music & Sound

Whitney Slaten
How have recent ethnomusicologists and anthropologists written about traditional and popular musics around the world? How does this writing respond to representing culture, locally and globally? How does this writing about musics’ social contexts respond to changing academic attitudes within the humanities and social sciences, as well as the interdisciplinary development of sound studies? Students will read, present, and discuss chapters from recent book length examples of musical ethnography. Lectures and discussions will focus on the writing strategies of ethnographers, continually assessing how writing represents and analyzes local and global practices of production, circulation, and consumption, as well as how such works participate in emergent scholarly traditions. The course will culminate in a written comparative ethnography analysis paper in which students will compare two ethnographic monographs.
MUS 269: Sound Studies/Critical Listening

Whitney Slaten
From the perspective of both ethnomusicology and the audio sciences of sound reproduction, this course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary work on sound studies. Throughout, it engages how specific critical listening techniques and features of sound studies discourses can be mutually informative for both musicians, sound artists, listeners, writers and cultural theorists who are interested in identifying the significance of musical or extramusical sounds within specific social contexts. Students will read, present, and discuss chapters and articles that each focus on singular keywords that are prominent within sound studies discourse. Lectures and demonstrations will juxtapose this terminology to a set of audio based ear training exercises that will develop students’ abilities to both hear and listen to the centers and peripheries of musical sounds and the evidence of related social life. Final projects for the course will take the form of an analysis that is informed by a blended critical listening and writing practice.
SOC 347: Theorizing Facebook: Morality, Technology, and Social Networks

Laura Ford
In this course we will seek to understand social media, as social and moral phenomena. Each week we will “theorize” social media from a different perspective, seeking new sociological insights into social media-related “spaces,” and into the ways that morality, ethics, and politics are enacted within such spaces. After initially situating one technological platform for social media (Facebook) in its historical and legal context, we will expand our inquiry and seek answers to the following types of questions. What are social networks, and how do they work? How do the technical controls (e.g. friend suggestions) and institutional frameworks (e.g. corporate business models and intellectual property laws) of social media impact qualities and characteristics of social interaction? How might this matter for social movements relying on social media? Do social relationships and communities work differently, when they are formed through social media? How might we affect normative orders of truth-telling and justice in the ways that we use (or don’t use) social media? Note: This course is part of the Courage to Be College Seminar, affiliated with the Hannah Arendt Center. Students will be required to attend three evening lectures. There will also be dinner discussions with guest speakers and other sections of the College Seminar.
SPAN 301: Intro to Spanish Literature

Patricia Lopez-Gay
This course explores some of the major literary works produced on the Iberian Peninsula from the Middle Ages to the present day. Students will become familiar with the general contours of Spanish history as they study in depth a selected number of masterpieces, including works by Miguel de Cervantes, Calderón de la Barca, Teresa de Jesús, Cadalso, Larra, Galdós, Emilia PardoBazán, Unamuno, Lorca, and Carmen Laforet. The course will be organized around three thematic modules: Spanish culture’s engagement with notions of purity and pollution; the emergence and evolution of the first person singular in Spanish literature; and the representations of the country and the city, the center and the periphery. In each module we will undertake a survey of relevant literature occasionally put in conversation with the visual arts. Conducted in Spanish.
SPAN 354: True Fictions: Life Narration

Patricia Lopez-Gay
This interdisciplinary course will propose a possible archeology of auto, biographical visual and written accounts produced in contemporary Spain, put in dialogue with Latin American, including Brazilian, and French cultural manifestations. We will focus on some of the numerous literary, film and photography productions of our cultural present that seek to undermine the foundations of the split between fiction and reality. In this context, fiction will be understood as the space wherein the self –the author or the artist, the reader or the viewer– experiences, and experiments with, the world. Some questions that will arise throughout the semester are: What are the limits of art and literature? How does life interfere with fiction? How does fiction operate within life? We will consider works by writers, artists, and filmmakers such as Enrique Vila-Matas, Clarice Lispector, Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Luis Borges, Sergio Oksman, Sophie Calle, Joan Fontcuberta, Mercedes Álvarez, and Víctor Erice. Students’ final projects for this class may take different forms, ranging from written research essays to podcasts, visual essays, and other artistic interventions.
THTR/HIST 236: Power/Perform: Colonial

Christian Crouch & Miriam Felton-Dansky
Societies in different historical periods have habitually used performance to stage, reinforce, and re-imagine the scope of political and colonial power. The history of the theater, therefore, is inextricably connected with the history of how societies have performed conquest, colonialism, and cultural patrimony in different parts of the world. This interdisciplinary course, covering performance and power of the early modern period, will disrupt habitual assumptions about both the disciplines of theater and history. Students will read baroque plays, study their historical contexts, and experiment with staging scenes, to uncover the links between imagined and actual Atlantic expansion and the impact of colonialism, 1492-1825. Artistic forms to be examined include the English court masque, the Spanish auto sacramental, and spectacles of power and conversion staged in the colonial Americas; plays will range from Shakespeare's The Tempest to Marivaux's The Island of Slaves to allegorical works by Calderon, Lope de Vega, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and more.
WRIT 345: Imagining Nonhuman Consciousness

Benjamin Hale
Philosopher Thomas Nagel asked, “What is it like to be a bat?” Ultimately, he determined the question unanswerable: A bat’s experience of the world is so alien to our own that it is beyond the human understanding of subjective experience. That’s arguable. But it is true at least that a bat’s experience—or that of any other nonhuman consciousness—is not inaccessible to human imagination. In this course we will read and discuss a wide variety of texts, approaching the subject of nonhuman consciousness through literature, philosophy, and science. We will read works that attempt to understand the experiences of apes, panthers, rats, ticks, elephants, octopuses, lobsters, cows, bats, monsters, puppets, computers, and eventually, zombies. Course reading may include Descartes, Kafka, Rilke, Jakob von Uexküll, Patricia Highsmith, John Gardner’s Grendel, J.A. Baker’s The Peregrine, Eduardo Kohn’s How Forests Think, David Foster Wallace, Temple Grandin, Frans de Waal, Jane Goodall, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, Susan Datich, E. O. Wilson, Giorgio Agamben, and Bennett Sims’s A Questionable Shape, among others, in addition to a viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, and possibly other films. This is also a craft class, as each student will produce a substantial project over the semester. The assignments will be open-ended, open to both creative and analytical works; a major component of the class will be incorporating these ideas into our own writing. This course is part of the Thinking Animals Initiative, an interdivisional collaboration among students and faculty to further the understanding of animals and human-animal relationships.