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2013 Spring Course Preview

By Rachel Hughes
On January 15, 2013

At Brandeis, students are a bit spoiled with the two-week-long shopping period at the begginning of each semester. Although it is a necessary and practical time to thoughtfully consider class choices and a stellar opportunity for students to find out what they are committing to before classes pick up, it doesn't always work out that way for me. I usually look at all the amazing classes I know I won't have time to take, drool a bit, shop a couple and eventually accept that life is moving on and I need to make a solid decision.

So in honor of all my fellow idealists and procrastinators, four professors granted sneak-peeks into their upcoming arts classes. Whether you are pursuing a degree in their departments, or just want to try something new this semester, these courses are excellent examples of artsy academic opportunities.

FA 79a-Talinn Grigor
Modernism Elsewhere: Modern and Contemporary Architecture outside the West

Prof. Talinn Grigor (FA) says that her course "Modernism Elsewhere" serves to introduce students to "major architectural movements, discourse and edifices from the late 19th to the 21st century outside the traditional centers of the West." Students who are interested should shop this course now, because it is only offered every third year! "Modernism" will take a look at the effects of the movement on a great geographical span of architecture. "It will focus on the territories between the India Subcontinent and North Africa; it also explores several cases of modernism in Latin America and the Communist Block," says Grigor. Besides the purely architectural viewpoint, "the question of modernity, modernism and modernization are examined through the lens of (post)colonial politics of domination and resistance." The course will integrate hands-on learning into a traditional classroom experience, with lectures examining how "modernism in architecture has been (re)interpreted in different localities and has served a wide range of ideological, symbolic, and artistic functions." The more independent aspects of learning will involve "a case study projects led by students, a model-building project, and a self-guided field trip will complement the interactive nature of this critical and analytic course."

AMST 129a-James Mandrell
From American Movie Musicals to Music Videos

For students interested in American artistic and musical culture, an exciting course offered this spring is Prof. James Mandrell's (HISP) "From American Movie Musicals to Music Videos." Mandrell says that before there were television shows and music videos on the Internet, and even before MTV had become an industry standard, there were movie musicals that highlighted song and dance. This course will focus on "the ways in which movie musicals and music videos use the spectacle of song and dance to carry on complex conversations about socially and culturally significant topics, primarily race, ethnicity, and gender but also social class and sexuality." Although the bulk of the course material will come from critical and historical readings, Mandrell says, the "primary inspiration will come from the terrific movies and music videos we're going to view and discuss in-depth." Students will screen films like Moulin Rouge (2001), and music videos such as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (1983) and Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" (1979). Mandrell says that students will: "have the opportunity to develop their analytical abilities with respect to screen images, to consider how music and dance function in narrative, to think about the cultural roles played by movie musicals and music videos," and much more.

MUS 54b-Eric Chafe
Music and Poetry in the German Art Song During the Nineteenth Century

Exploring a unique niche in the study of music, Prof. Eric Chafe's (MUS) course "Music and Poetry in the German Art Song During the Nineteenth Century" is guaranteed to fascinate students who enjoy their music studies. It will be "a survey of the German art song (Lied) during the romantic period," and begin with "Beethoven and Schubert in the early nineteenth century and extend to Strauss and Mahler at the end of the century, covering all the major composers in between," Chafe says. This particular course is a fantastic option for Brandeisians who are curious about the Music Department, as it is "designed for students at all levels of musical knowledge, including none at all."
Students will be inspired by "the use of sound recordings from different times," as it "covers the history of singing over a period of nearly 100 years." Beyond classroom learning, students will have the opportunity to learn a song and have it count towards class credit, Chafe says. "The main focus," he says, "is twofold, poetry and music in combination. Above all, I hope the students will develop a love for this very inspiring repertoire and go on from there to develop their interest in other musical repertoires."

FA 174a-Gannit Ankori
Art and Trauma: Israeli, Palestinian, Latin American and United States Art

A course taught by Prof. Gannit Ankori, (FA) "Art and Trauma: Israeli, Palestinian, Latin American and United States Art," seeks to provide a more interdisciplinary understanding of art and sociopolitical history. Ankori says that the course "offers a comparative and critical examination of the various ways in which traumatic experiences find expression in the work of modern and contemporary artists from diverse regions." Besides taking a look at the visual arts, students will also discuss films, poetry, theater, literature and music, she says. Ankori encourages students to broaden their viewpoints when examining art, saying that "wars, genocide, atrocities and violence have plagued humanity across the globe throughout the last century. In addition to such collective tragedies, personal experiences of physical and emotional pain and trauma, such as illness, death and loss continuously afflict individuals worldwide." Ankori wants students to realize how "traces of personal and collective traumas often find potent expression in the visual arts. Artistic practices play diverse and significant roles vis-à-vis trauma, such as witnessing, bearing memories, coping with loss and absence, bestowing meaning and healing." She says, "we will discuss trauma and its complex and diverse manifestations in the visual arts." 

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