Classes

    Tasting Place: Food and Culture in America

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022
    We often associate specific tastes and foods with particular places, memories, and experiences. What would it mean, then, to center taste in our study of place and culture? How can places be tasted, and tastes be placed? In this class, we explore the relationship between taste and place within American culture, discussing how elements of nation, region, and identity are created, absorbed, and imagined through foods and their represented forms. The word “taste” has multiple meanings...
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    Con Artist Nation: Scams, Schemes, and American Dreams

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    With the popularity of shows like Inventing Anna and The Dropout, 2022 might be called the year of the scammer. Yet contemporary con artists come from a long lineage of carnival barkers, snake oil salesmen, and self-proclaimed miracle workers. This class examines the conditions of American capitalism and political populism that gave way to a society of schemers and dupes. We will consider how exploitation and self-invention were ultimately bound up in issues of class, race, gender, and religion. How did swindlers create or subvert stereotypes in search of profits? Who were imagined as...

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    Analyzing Pop Music

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can music analysis inform the way we understand, listen to, and write about popular music? This course introduces tools and methods for studying the features, technologies, and compositional styles of post-2000 popular music. Weekly readings will address issues of form, rhythm & meter, instrumental and vocal timbre, computer-assisted analysis, vocal performance, and music videos. An ever-present concern of the class will be the ways in which these analytical tools and methods interact with issues of race, gender, and sexuality. The repertoire under study in the readings will...

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    Vocal Production for the Stage

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022
    Whether one is performing in a play, pitching an idea, presenting research, or leading a group, the ability to use one's voice effectively is vital to the success of the performance. A resonant and varied voice enriches communication whether in person, in a recorded video, or a zoom interview. Using several major techniques of voice training from the field of acting, students will learn the possibilities, nuances and power of the human voice. We will explore ideas around voice and...
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    Gender, Race, and Poverty in the United States

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This course investigates the realities of poverty through an intersectional lens, meaning that we will consider the simultaneous impact of race, gender, sexuality (and other identities) on economic insecurity. In what ways are conversations about poverty and its causes infused with assumptions and stereotypes related to gender, race, and sexuality? We hear so much in the media about what causes poverty – what is reality and what is myth? How do these myths operate to reinforce and...
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    Quilts and Quiltmaking

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Are quilts the great American (folk) art? From intricately stitched whole-cloth quilts, to the improvisational patchworks of Gee's Bend; from the graphic simplicity of Amish quilts to the cozy pastels of depression-era quilts; from the Aids Quilt to art quilts; quilts have taken on extraordinary significance in American culture. This class surveys the evolution of quilt-making as a social practice, considering the role of quilts in articulations of gender, ethnic, class and religious identities, and...

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    Artificial Intelligences: Body, Art, and Media in Modern Germany

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    Our world is deluged in “tech”—big tech, biotech, tech innovation and disruption—but how much do we really know about what “technology" means? What does it tell us about the difference between the real and the artificial, the mechanical and the organic, the body and the prosthetic? And how is technology imbedded in things like art, media, race, and the performance of gender? This course considers how these questions, far from being new, have in fact been broached continuously over...
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    The Politics of Personal Writing

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    A long tradition of feminist writing asserts that the personal is political. In this creative writing class, we will critically examine the work of feminist and queer authors such as Dorothy Allison, Roxane Gay, Cathy Park Hong, Audre Lorde, Imani Perry, and Margaret Talusen who use personal experience as a starting point for arguments about class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. Examining how these authors draw on traditions crafted by earlier authors such as James Baldwin...
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    Race, Gender, and Performance

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    Performance surrounds us. We see performances online, in movies and on TV, on the sports field, in the theatre, in activism, and in everyday life. How do these performances produce or disrupt race and gender? This class provides analytical tools by which to answer this question. Texts include works by Anna Deavere Smith, David Henry Hwang, Bertolt Brecht, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and Judith Butler; topics include AIDS activism, politics of public bathrooms, and weddings....
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    Legacies of a Powerful Woman: The Life and Afterlife of Empress Theodora

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    One of the most controversial women of ancient and medieval history is Theodora, wife of Justinian I and empress of the Roman Empire in the 6th century CE. She has been variously portrayed as a hypersexual prostitute and power-hungry, vindictive manipulator, or as a saint, protectress of the needy, champion of women’s rights and revolutionary. Who was this woman really and why did she provoke such conflicting responses? In this seminar, we will explore the historical sources on...
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    China's Banned Book: Reading Jin Ping Mei

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This course will introduce students to the controversial masterpiece of Chinese fiction, The Plum in the Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei). Censored for its erotic content, this sensational book had a profound impact on the development of Chinese fiction. A landmark in the history of the novel, The Plum in the Golden Vase shifts attention away from worthy heroes to examine the everyday exploits and desires of ordinary people. The work of an anonymous author, The Plum in the Golden Vase...
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    Artisanal Modernism and the Labor of Women

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This workshop-style seminar, which will be taught in the Study Center of the Harvard Art Museums, foregrounds the pioneering role of textiles and other artisanal media produced by women in the development of modernist art, especially abstraction, Dada, constructivism, productivism, and the Bauhaus and its diaspora. The course opens with an examination of modernism’s so-called tapestry aesthetic in the later 19thC. We then turn to the 20thC, considering the work of Sonia Delaunay,...
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    Introduction to the Study of East Asia: Issues and Methods

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    This interdisciplinary and team-taught course provides an introduction to several of the approaches and methods through which the societies and cultures of East Asia can be studied at Harvard, including history, philosophy, literary studies, political science, film studies, anthropology and gender studies. We consider both commonalities and differences across the region, and explore how larger processes of imperialism, modernization, and globalization have shaped contemporary East Asian societies and their future trajectories. 

     

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    God Save the Queen! Ruling Women from Rome to the Renaissance

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    This seminar will explore female rulership in Europe from the late Roman empire to the age of Elizabeth I. Discussion of varied texts and images (most of them primary sources in translation) will reveal the role of queens within their societies, their relationship to broader social and cultural institutions such as the Christian Church, and the ways in which queens were celebrated, criticized, and imagined by writers and artists of their time. 

     

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    Cold War Germany: Art and Politics on Both Sides of the Wall

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This course provides a survey of the history and culture of divided Germany during the Cold War. It examines the conditions leading to the foundation of two separate states, the role of the Allied Powers in East and West Germany, the ideological conflicts between them, and their different responses to dealing with a shared fascist past. Drawing on sources from literature, film, radio, theater and art, we will engage with key political debates and societal changes, such as the “...
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    Aesthetics of Resistance: Experimentation and Creative Protest in Avantgarde Theater and Performance Art

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This course seeks to address the most crucial shifts and transformations that theater and performance practices have undergone since the advent of the literary and artistic avantgarde movements at the end of the 19th century. Through the study of examples from across Europe and the United States, we will examine phenomena such as the declining importance of “word theater” and the pre-scripted theatrical text; the éclatement of a clearly demarcated performance space and the...
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    Literature, Diaspora, Migration, and Trauma

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    This course examines a diverse range of creative and critical discourses on trauma and the global African; East, South, Southeast, and West Asian (Chinese, Indian, Iranian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese); and Middle Eastern (Jewish, Palestinian, Lebanese); as well as Latin American diasporas. We focus on the connections among diasporas, displacement, migration, and trauma, and on the relationships of these phenomena and constructions and understandings of artistic and cultural identities, ethnicity/race...

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    The Art of the Personal Essay: Workshop

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    What makes for a successful work of personal narrative? What transforms mere experience into shapely art? In this workshop, we will study—partly by reading the published work of iconic and experimental essayists, mainly through the submission and discussion of students’ own writing—the craft and technique of the personal essay. Readings include work by James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, David Foster Wallace.
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    The Dark Side of Big Data

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    Does it sometimes feel like Instagram ads are listening a little too closely to your conversations? Have you ever wondered if certain corporations might own images of your face? Today, fears abound that algorithms are not only populating our lives with annoying targeted advertisements but might also be creating the most unequal societies that have ever existed. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will explore key methodological overlaps and differences between humanistic and...
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