FA 79A: “Modernism Elsewhere,” taught by Prof. Talinn Grigor (FA)

“Modernism Elsewhere” centers around modern and contemporary architecture outside the West. In her syllabus, Grigor wrote that the survey course “introduces to students major architectural movements, discourse, and edifices from the late-19th to the 21st century outside the traditional centers of the West. Ultimately, what is the relationship between modern architecture and the making and image of a colonial/postcolonial world? How does modernist architecture today continue to reinforce or resist a benign image of imperial intention?” Using case studies from Morocco, Egypt, Iraq and Israel, the course highlights “the question of modernity, modernism, and modernization [as] examined through the lens of (post)colonial politics of domination and resistance,” Grigor mentioned in the syllabus. The lectures will look at modernism through a political lens and seek to identify the movement’s role artistically, ideologically and symbolically in its different localities. It will also question how identity and power affect architecture in major cities outside the West. 

The course concludes with a self-led field trip through architecturally relevant buildings on Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s campuses.

MUS 160B: “Electro-Acoustic Music Composition (Laptopping),” taught by Prof. Michele Zaccagnini (MUS)

“Electro-Acoustic Music Composition” examines how students can use their computers to manipulate and synthesize sounds. “This is a very exciting moment to be a musician interested in electronic music since the possibilities to express one’s creativity with a laptop are virtually limitless,”  Zaccagnini wrote in an email to the Justice. 

By Jodi Austin

IN SICKNESS AND HEALTH: Prof. Austin’s course focuses on the plague.


IN MOTION: Prof. Dibble’s course combines dance and history.

By Michele Zaccagnini

TECH WORLD: Prof. Zaccagnini (MUS) aims to push students to be both technical and creative in his course.

In his syllabus, he explains that the world of music and speficially digital sound has changed rapidly over the past two decades. This gives students the unique opportunity to benefit from the growing number of tools and methods involved in making electronic music.

The course works with the Max/MSP program that allows students to create computer algorithms and generate sounds without having to write computer code.

Zaccagnini mentioned that “I like to think that the class lives at crossroads between arts, music and computer science. Students signing in for the class are coming from different fields such as computer science and music. Naturally, they will approach the course differently.” 

He wrote that his goal in the course is to push more technical students to embrace their creativity and to encourage more inventive students to take an interest in the fundamental side of audio programming. 

As he wrote in the syllabus, “ultimately, the material learned in class is supposed to serve as a means to achieve the student’s creative goals.”

ENG 53B: “Poetics of Plague Writing,” taught by Prof. Jodi Austin (ENG)

Austin’s course, “Poetics of Plague Writing,” aims to shed light on how the 17th century plague infected the English literature of that era. In an email to the Justice, Austin wrote, “as a disease that was responsible for killing off a significant portion of the European population starting in the 14th century, and then periodically returned with its dreaded ‘visitations,’ it’s safe to say that the plague was very much on the minds of European writers and artists during these years.” 

The course will center on how the plague narrative emerged in literature and how writers in and after the 17th century related to this narrative. Austin mentions that “not many people think of the plague when they read Shakespeare, for example, but [she is] hoping that this course will shed some light on the disease’s influence on and presence in his work.” 

The end of the course will focus on works like Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and the video game The Last of Us, which depict plague-like diseases that reveal how the plague narrative has evolved.

THA 110A: “Moving Women/Women Moving,” taught by Prof. Susan Dibble (THA)

Dibble’s class on influential women leaders in America highlights Modern dance choreographers in the mid-20th century. The course’s title expresses how choreographers—“moving women”—influenced, or moved, women to explore different facets of life and art. In an email to the Justice, Dibble wrote that  “students will learn about the dance and movement vocabulary and techniques developed by these women, and investigate these extraordinary artists while reflecting on women who have influenced and inspired us in our own lives.” Students will examine how modern dance choreographers and other artists incorporated time, space, weight, design, storytelling and drama into their works. Dibble notes that, “the course is an opportunity for students to create original dance pieces that tell the stories of inspirational women in their own lives today.” For inspiration, Dibble included the following quotation in her email:

“Modern Dance began and remains a place where people on the edges of society congregate and express themselves.” -Doris Humphrey