Current Courses

Fall 2018

For more information, visit the Bard Course Catalog.


This course will explore various connections between art and technology from the 1960s up to the present day. Students will examine a wide range of writings, artworks, performances, and videos by figures including Marshall McLuhan, John McHale, Robert Rauschenberg, and Carolee Schneemann. The idea of the course is to show that both artists and theorists are involved in a common project of responding to new technologies. Questions of distribution, audience, and globalization will be of key concern. In the last weeks, we will consider how these ideas have evolved in the age of the Internet. Open to all students. Students will work on various writing assignments and class presentations


How do loudspeakers construct musical culture? How does listening to loudspeakers reorganize social behavior? Critical organology, intersections of local and global influences, manufacturing and nationalism, cultural imperialism, strategies of resistance, generational change, race and bass, gender and power, digital technology, fidelity and loss as technological and cultural ideas, and ethnographic inquiry will be themes that organize the course. Students will understand the importance of loudspeakers from the perspectives of ethnomusicology, sound studies, and audio science. Class sessions will include experiments with audio transducers, as well as critical listening for the contributions of audio transducers in recorded and amplified music. Through weekly reading and writing assignments, short papers, and an ethnographic research paper, students will complete the course with a nuanced understanding of the relationship between music, technology, and culture.


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.


Music from the Baroque era is full of wild things — Furious gods; enraged lovers; clashing armies; hideous villains; and chaotic storms, just to name a few. This course explores a rich variety of French, German and Italian compositions that embrace these more volatile and violent aspects of Baroque culture. Particular emphasis is placed on the mythological origins and literary inspirations for these musical works. Each week, students will synthesize diverse materials and contribute to class discussions by offering analyses and opinions on reading and listening assignments. A final project consists of a well-researched paper and class presentation, which gives each student an opportunity to explore other “wild” Baroque compositions or composers not addressed in weekly lectures or discussions.


 “Set fire to the library shelves!” wrote the Italian Futurists in their first manifesto of 1909. With their revolutionary politics, audience provocations, and enthusiastic embrace of the new, the Futurists inaugurated a century of avant-garde performance. This course will investigate that century, tracing the European and American theatrical avant-gardes from 1909 to 1995, including movements and artists such as Expressionism, Surrealism and Dada; John Cage, Allan Kaprow, and Happenings; utopian collectives of the 1960s; Peter Handke, Heiner Müller, the Wooster Group and Reza Abdoh. We will explore questions including: the implications of assuming the mantle of the “avant-garde”; the contested status of the dramatic text in avant-garde performance; the relationship between performance and emerging media forms; and avant-garde artists’ efforts to create radical fusions of art and life. This course will require a research paper, reading responses, and a presentation.


Modern Japan has undergone one of the most dramatic urbanizations in history. In just over a hundred years, it has been transformed from a largely rural, agricultural nation to a global symbol of high-tech hyper futurism. In this course, we will explore the myriad ways in which this process and the urban space it has created has been written and represented. We will ask how artists attempt to express and make sense of the shifting field of sensation and information that constitutes city life in modern Japan. We will also examine questions of what is lost in the rural to urban transition and problems of nostalgia and alienation in the countryside and new suburbs. The course explores how the experiences and emotions germane to metropolitan life can be expressed, communicated, and understood through literature, film, photography, music, manga, maps, and more. Includes work by Tanizaki, Kafû, Yokomitsu, Akutagawa, Tatsumi, and Kuroi, and many more. The class also serves to introduce major works of urban theory by Mumford, Lefebvre, Simmel, Harvey, and others.


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 read key media theorists (Walter Benjamin, Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Henry Jenkins, Friedrich Kittler, 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. This is a core course for the Experimental Humanities concentration.


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, simulation. Good programming and documentation habits are emphasized.

AS 101: INTRO TO AMERICAN STUDIES (Christian Crouch)

The cries of “No Taxation without Representation!” and the celebration of the American Revolution make the transformation of English North American into “these United States of America” seem like a seamless process. In reality, this process was fraught, violent, contested, and uncertain. This course offers an introduction into the intedisciplinary methods of American Studies by considering this history via cultural production from the colonial period through today. We trace the winding process of becoming and defining “American” from English beginnings in piracy in the Caribbean (the first attempts to claim an empire in the Western Hemisphere) up through the the early Republic. Each week will also consider the implications of colonial history on current American flashpoints of migration, culture, gender equity, and Indigenous rights.


The radio is a type of technological innovation that was party to Africa’s colonization and decolonization. While colonial authorities used the radio to broadcast news reports and to internally transmit governing strategies, local African communities sometimes appropriated the radio for both political and entertainment purposes. This course uses the technological history of the radio in Africa to explore histories of political activism, leisure, cultural production and entertainment across Sub-Saharan Africa from colonial to present times. From a topical perspective, the course will cover the development of radio stations and distribution markets, the politics of programming and censorship, international development agencies’ push for community radio, and radio dramas. Using theoretical texts on sound, affect and oral tradition, students will identify different cultures of listening with the aim of unpacking what it means to use words and music in order to “broadcast” history. As a final project and in conjunction with the Human Rights Program’s Radio Initiative, students will design a podcast on a topic of historical relevance to the course.


The Olympic opening ceremony, military parades, the US presidential inaugural, the Imperial Durbar, Bastille Day, pageants reenacting the Bolshevik Revolution, and all modes of political protest. In all these forms and many others, political ritual has been central to nation-building, colonialism, and political movements over the last three centuries. This course uses a global, comparative perspective and readings from a range of academic disciplines to analyze the modern history of political ritual. We will explore the emergence of new forms of political ritual with the rise of the nation-state in the nineteenth century and track global transformations in the performance of politics as colonialism spread the symbols and pageantry of the nation-state. Central topics will include state ritual and the performance of power, the relationship between ritual and citizenship in the modern nation-state, the ritualization of politics in social and political movements, and the power of mediated mass spectacle in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Seminar meetings will focus on discussion of secondary and primary materials that allow us to analyze the intersection of ritual and politics in a variety of contexts. These will range from early-modern Europe, pre-colonial Bali, and late-imperial China to revolutionary France, 19th-century America, colonial India, post-colonial Africa, several fascist and socialist states, Europe in 1968, the modern Middle East, and the contemporary global marketplace. In addition to common readings and seminar participation, students will do a final project exploring one aspect or instance of political ritual. Moderated history students can use this course for a major conference; Experimental Humanities students are encouraged to do a multi-media project.