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This course introduces students to the wealth, power, and diversity of expressive forms that have characterized the arts of Africa and its Diaspora from prehistory to the present. Pulling extensively from the collections at the Williams College Museum of Art and other campus resources, students will not only experience firsthand the wide array of objects that have been produced within this vast geography, but will also come to recognize how multiple senses including sight, sound, smell, and touch play a key role in understanding how these objects work within their respective contexts. As tools of political control, social protest, divine manifestation, and spiritual intervention, these objects and their associated performances also challenge what we might typically consider art in the Western tradition and as such students will be pushed to think beyond such terms in their examinations of these rich creative traditions.
Michelle M. Apotsos
Distributions: Division II; Difference, Power, and Equity
Extra information: none
Black literature remains central to struggles for freedom and equality across the African diaspora. In this course, we will examine why black literature matters: What are its aesthetic and political imperatives? How have black writers used certain literary forms in their constructions of identity, freedom, and citizenship? Through our exploration of these questions, we will discover the significant matters of African American literature from the Harlem Renaissance moment to the Black Lives Matter movement. By reading a broad range of texts---essays, novels, drama, music, and poetry---by such authors as Alain Locke, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Audre Lorde, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Jesmyn Ward, and Kendrick Lamar, we will develop a critical vocabulary for evaluating and engaging with this body of literature. This course contributes to the DIfference, Power, and Equity requirement by centering on the relationship between black literature and black political movements from the 1920s to the present.
Kimberly S. Love
This course will examine African Americans' transition from slavery to freedom. In the years that encompassed the Civil War and immediately after, most African Americans changed from being legal property, able to be bought, sold, mortgaged, rented out, and leveraged into U.S. citizens, with the Constitutional right to male suffrage. This course examines this transition. How did it come about? To what extent were African Americans able to exercise their rights that the constitution guaranteed? How did Emancipation shape African American family relations, culture and demography? This is a research seminar. We will examine work of historians and discuss the contradictions and nuances of emancipation. Readings will include monographs, scholarly articles and heavy dose of primary sources, as many as possible written by African Americans themselves. Assignments include an original research paper on an aspect of Emancipation. We will devote considerable time throughout the semester to finding primary and secondary sources and on the writing process.
Pre-Requisites: First-Years and Sophomores
Distributions: Division II
This course introduces students to the content and contours of Africana Studies as a vibrant field of knowledge. Through exploration of the genealogy, disciplinary diversity, and evolution of the field, we will examine the depth and range of experiences of African-descended peoples throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. We will also give some attention to how members of the Diaspora remember and encounter Africa, as well as their diverse responses to the history of enslavement, colonialism, apartheid, racism, and globalization. Through materials that embrace both historical and contemporary perspectives, we seek to help students develop critical frameworks for understanding African diasporic experience while simultaneously illumining disjunctures and challenges for the field. This course features two pedagogical strategies: 1) a rotational, interdisciplinary approach that includes the expertise, methods, and specializations of Africana faculty; and 2) the incorporation of aesthetic materials--film, photography, music, dance, performance, and artwork--to enhance student ability to draw ongoing connections between visual and textual sources covered in the course. Close textual analysis, vibrant debate, and engaging discourse are expected.
Rashida K. Braggs
Before the 20th century, the African continent was the source of dance and music that influenced new forms rooted on and off the continent. These forms are shaped by the impact of religion, colonialism, national political movements, travel, immigration, and the continuing emergence of technology. In South Africa, the labor conditions of miners instigated the creation of Isicathulo, Gum boots, and in Brazil the history of colonialism is a factor that anchors Samba as a sustaining cultural and socioeconomic force. The birth of Hip Hop in the 20th century finds populations across the globe using its music, dance, lyrics, and swagger as a vehicle for individual and group voice. Hip Hop thrives as a cultural presence in most countries of the African continent and in the Americas. We will examine the factors that moved this form from the Bronx, New York, to Johannesburg, South Africa, and Rio, Brazil. We will examine at least two of these forms learning dance and music technique and composition material that will inform their practice. Each of these genres generated new physical practices, new and enduring communities while continuing to embody specific histories that have moved beyond their place of origin. What is their status in this century?
Sandra L. Burton
This tutorial provides a focused study of the politics / poetics of visualization and identification associated with film and cinema about Africa from past to present. From colonial-era propaganda newsreels about Africa's 'fighting men' to contemporary white-savior narratives that exploit current socio-political ruptures on the continent for epic effect, films about Africa produced by a primarily Western cinematic regime have proven themselves to be highly effective apparatuses for framing "Africa" as a concept to be summoned time and time again to tell different stories for different audiences, and in doing so privilege particular viewpoints and imaginaries. This tutorial will provide a space for robust discussion and debate about the various representative tropes, conceptualizations, and visualizations that have been used to shape the contours of "Africa" as understood by a primarily Western audience from past to present, and how these same tropes in many ways have come to define the nature of the relationship between film / cinema and the continent over the history of their engagement. In doing so, it will also address how strategic displays and narratives deployed by cinematic productions often support specific power dynamics that locate an idea of "Africa" within paradigms of specific cultural and political understanding. In zeroing in on how such films promote targeted realities for people and places within the continent, this tutorial will address how "Africa" in Western film and cinematic traditions is positioned within a particular framework of understanding that is more often than not irrevocably tethered to a Western imaginary.
Distributions: Division II; Difference, Power, and Equity; Writing-Intensive
Using select examples from throughout Africa, this course highlights genres, artists, and works that engage with social and ideological change. Students practice critical listening and performance analysis, while also considering the social contexts that render these performances meaningful and provocative. Topics include: challenges to mass mediated stereotypes of African populations, the social and economic impact of cultural tourism, music as a form of social critique, changing attitudes toward women and the LGBTQIA community, music and global aid organizations, issues of migration and displacement, and the changing roles of traditional musical occupations. Popular genres-among them Afrobeat, kwaito, soukous, raï, mbalax, Chimurenga music, and a variety of rap and hip-hop styles-are discussed alongside numerous traditional and ceremonial genres, national/political anthems, and concert pieces. Active participation in class discussion is an important component of this course.
Corinna S. Campbell
Pre-Requisites: some familiarity with music terminology encouraged
Despite its low contributions to global carbon emissions, the continent of Africa is predicted to experience some of the worst effects of climate change. This interdisciplinary course investigates the causes and consequences of this troubling contradiction. It positions the African continent as an important site for understanding how legacies of empire, racial and gendered inequality, resource extraction, and capital accumulation impact contemporary global environmental politics. Students will engage theoretical texts, reports from international organizations, films, poetry, novels, and web-based content. Topics include: humanism/post-humanism; migration and displacement; representations of conflict; and sustainable development.
This course offers the serious music student an opportunity to study the unique body of work produced by saxophonist and composer John Coltrane (1926-1967). The course traces the evolution of Coltrane's compositional and performance styles in the context of the musical and cultural environment in which they developed. Emphasis placed on Coltrane's musical style, representing a unique synthesis of influences, including jazz, world, and European Classical music and spirituality. Substantial listening and reading assignments, including a biography and related criticism, as well as detailed score analysis and study, are required.
Pre-Requisites: MUS 103 and/or 203 strongly recommended; musical literacy sufficient to deal with the material and /or permission of instructor
In this course we will foreground questions around visibility and memory. We will explore representations of Black queer bodies in experimental, documentary and narrative film. This course will engage foundational texts from Black Queer Studies. We will pair texts with film in order to examine the various relationships between art and scholarship. You will also be asked to think about yourself as a filmmaker. We will screen films such as Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien, 1989), The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996), U People (Olive Demetrius and Hanifah Walidah, 2009), Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs, 1989) and Litany for Survival (Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle Parkerson, 1995). Throughout the course we will evaluate the different ways filmmakers represent Black queerness on screen. The goal is to think about the possibilities and limitations of representation and visibility. Each of you will be asked to facilitate a class discussion. You also will be required to do weekly critical response papers. In lieu of a final paper you will create a detailed proposal for a short film that "represents" some segment of Black queer living.
Kai M. Green
The emergence of Rastafari in the twentieth century marked a distinct phase in the theory and practice of political agency. From its heretical roots in Jamaica, Garveyism, Ethiopianism, and Pan-Africanism, Rastafari has evolved from a Caribbean theological movement to an international political actor. This course investigates the political theory of Rastafari in order to develop intellectual resources for theorizing the concept of agency in contemporary Africana thought and political theory. We will analyze texts and audio-visual works on the political economy of late colonial Jamaica, core Rastafari thinking, political theology, the role of reggae music, the notion of agency, and the influence of Rastafari on global politics.
Pre-Requisites: none; open to all
Contemporary African American poets in various cities and towns across the nation--from New York City to Los Angeles, from Berkeley to Durham, N.C.--are currently producing a vibrant and thriving body of formally experimental work, yet this poetry is largely unknown to readers both within and outside the academy. This formally innovative poetry defamiliarizes what we normally expect of "black writing" and pushes us to question our assumptions and presumptions about black identity, "identity politics," the avant-garde (for example, is it implicitly raced?), formalism, socially "relevant" writing, the (false) dichotomy of form versus content, the black "community," digital poetics, and other issues of race and aesthetics. We will examine the writings of living poets, who range widely in age, and those of their avant-garde predecessors in the twentieth century. We will also be making links between this poetry and African American music and visual art.
Dorothy J. Wang
Pre-Requisites: none, though at least one previous literature course preferred
Martinican psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary Frantz Fanon was among the leading critical theorists and Africana thinkers of the twentieth century. Fanon ushered in the decolonial turn in critical theory, a move calling on those both within and outside of Europe to challenge the coloniality of the age and to forge a new vision of politics in the postcolonial period. This course is an advanced seminar devoted to a comprehensive examination of Fanon's political thought. We will begin with an analysis of primary texts by Fanon and end by considering how Fanon has been interpreted by his contemporaries as well as activists and critical theorists writing today.
Distributions: Division II; Writing-Intensive
During the course of the semester, we shall investigate two broad, interrelated topics: slavery in the antebellum South, and the impact of slavery on Southern civilization. Our approach will be primarily topical. In the first half of the course, we shall look at subjects like the foreign and domestic slave trade, patterns of work and treatment, the nature of the master-slave relationship, resistance and rebellion, and slave cultural, social, and family life. The second half of the course will concentrate on the influence of the institution of slavery on the mind, social structure, and economy of the Old South, and slavery's impact on Southern politics and the decision for secession in 1860-61.
Charles B. Dew
Pre-Requisites: none; open to first-year students with instructor's permission
The ending of the Second World War in 1945 coincided with the dawn of a new nationalism in the modern Caribbean. The British territories were beginning their shift away from colonialism and charting a path toward independence that would arrive in the early 1960s. Their independent neighbors contended with US imperialism which greatly shaped questions of race, nationalism, and sovereignty. By the 1960s much of the region faced crises that grew out of the tensions of the postwar period. This course examines closely these transformations in the Caribbean. It is divided into three parts. The course begins with an examination of the ideas about race, state development and empire that dominated Caribbean intellectual discourse of the 1940s. Key texts for this period include the works of Caribbean intellectuals such as Roger Mais, Una Marson, CLR James, and Jacques Roumain who considered the possibilities of racial equality and democracy in the postcolonial Caribbean. The course then looks more closely at 1950s attempts to forge greater Caribbean unity during the early Cold War years. West Indian Federation and the circuits of travel within the Caribbean are given special focus. Finally, the course will discuss challenges of the postcolonial Caribbean by looking at the circumstances and wider responses to regional radicalism in the 1960s. The key events that will be examined in this section include the Duvalier dictatorship, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and black power in Jamaica in 1968.
As slaves and free women, activists, domestics, artists and writers, African Americans have played exciting and often unexpected roles in U.S. political, social, and cultural history. In this course we will examine black women's lives from the earliest importation of slaves from Africa and the Caribbean through to the expansion of slavery, the Civil War, freedom, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movements, and up to the present day. Consistent themes we will explore are the significance of gender in African American history and the changing roles and public perceptions of black women both inside and outside the black community. We will read and discuss a combination of primary and secondary sources; we will also consider music, art, and literature, as well as more standard "historical" texts.
An examination of one of the most turbulent periods in American history, with special emphasis on the changing status of Afro-Americans during the era. During the war years, we shall study both the war itself and homefront conditions: military, naval, political, economic, and especially social aspects will be examined in some detail. Our study of Reconstruction will concentrate on the evolution of federal policy toward the Southern states and the workings out of that policy in the South, particularly as it relates to the freedmen.
In modern parlance and scholarship, blackness is understood not as a biological but rather a socially constructed phenomenon. This course extends common perceptions by working from the foundational concept that blackness is not only social construction but also performance and lived experience. Using the lens of performance on racial identity foregrounds the active and shifting nature of race in contrast to the potentially passive, static connotation of construction. But what is this term performance that is now so widely used as to be an anathema? In this course, we explore performance broadly as entertainment, representation, social function, and lived experience. By the end of the course, students will analyze multiple performance types from theatrical and dance performance to performance of race in everyday life. They will also study and practice at least four core black performance studies methodologies: oral interpretation of literature, ethnography, written performance analysis, and embodied performance (i.e. movement, music and/or theatre). In this way, students will begin to understand performance as both subject matter and method. The course will be structured around discussions, written responses, and performance exercises that help students analyze and practice each methodology. At the end of the semester, students will create final creative research projects that articulate key theories of black performance studies and draw on at least one of the featured performance methodologies. While preference is given to Africana Studies concentrators, students are not required to have prior performance experience.
Africana Studies independent study
America has always named something more than a geographical place; being "American" has always been about something more than political citizenship. This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and the nation of the United States. We will focus on the workings of that culture and nation as they both shape and have been shaped by factors such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, place, and religion. Over the semester, we will ask critical questions of a wide variety of materials: essays, novels, autobiographies, poems, photographs, films, music, visual art, architecture, urban plans, historical documents and legal texts. We critique notions of American exceptionalism, empire, power, citizenship, labor, borders, inequality, assimilation, aesthetic form, and the role of the U.S. and its products in the world.
The image of the girl has captivated North American writers, commentators, artists, and creators of popular culture for at least the last two centuries. What metaphors, styles of writing, ideas of "manners and morals" does literature about girls explore? What larger cultural and aesthetic concerns are girls made to represent? And how is girlhood articulated alongside and/or intertwined with other identities and identifications, such as race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality? These are some of the issues we will explore in this course.
Kathryn R. Kent
Feminist poetry and feminist politics were so integrated in the 1960s and 1970s in America that critical essays on poets, such as Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde, appeared in the same handbook that listed such resources for women as rape crisis centers and health clinics. This course will map the crucial alliance between feminist politics (and its major cultural and political gains) and the feminist poetry movement that became a major "tool" for building, organizing, and theorizing second-wave feminism. In order to track this political and poetic revolution, we will take an interdisciplinary approach that brings together historical, critical, and literary documents (including archival ones) and visual products (through the Object Lab of the Williams College Art Museum) that recreate the rich context of the period and help us consider the important social nature of aesthetic production. At the center of the course will be writings of major poets of the period, as well as anthologies and feminist periodicals that published their work and created a significant forum and shared space for women to articulate the politics and poetics of change. These periodicals and anthologies will also help us track the diversity of the feminist poetry movement and its intersection with issues of race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. Ultimately, we will want to consider how poetry serves as an important tool for thinking through questions of power and injustice and what role it plays in creating necessary imaginative space in the world for expression, critique, and change.
This course will offer students an introduction to the field of Asian American Studies. First, we will examine how history is shaped not only by laws and institutions but more significantly by people and social movements responding to the challenges of war, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, immigration, globalization, and white supremacy. Secondly, we will pay an immediate attention to the dynamic, narrative intersections of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and nationality/citizenship. We will question how the social, political, and economic differences produced by these categories help to make and remake the multiple dimensions of Asian America from within and without. Finally, our discussions will illuminate the contradictions of power and spaces for possibility that emerge in key moments -- namely, how human actors strive to imagine, if not build visions and practices of the world in difference to the master narratives of American history and American exceptionalism. Our study will be supplemented with documentary screenings, oral histories, and personal memoirs.
Anthony Y. Kim
Indigenous people occupy a paradoxical position in time. On one hand, as survivors of genocide and occupation, they are already post-apocalyptic, occupying what many Indigenous thinkers argue is "our ancestor's dystopia." On the other hand, Indigenous people are relegated to the past in settler and colonial discourses, which, in relying heavily on notions of contact, authenticity, and vanishing, preclude Indigenous peoples from not only futurity, but from modernity and associated visions of science and technology too. This tutorial explores how Native science fiction imagines and enacts futurity from this paradoxical Indigenous temporality. Looking across numerous national and transnational Indigenous contexts, in addition to different kinds of media, including short stories, novels, visual art, video games, films, and online platforms like second life, this tutorial foregrounds the ways in which science fiction functions as a mode of Indigenous theory, knowledge production, and claiming of not only the future but of the past and present, as well. Pairing media readings with works in science fiction and Indigenous studies, we will explore the role of indigeneity in the founding and tropes of European and settler science fiction, Native "slipstream" and eco SF, post-post-apocalyptic thinking, space travel and frontiers, Native pessimism, and Indigenous technologies and epistemologies cast into the future. We will pay careful attention to the political stakes of these narratives and expression for Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.
Pre-Requisites: permission of instructor
Have you ever tried to relate your experiences, rooted in your own complex identities, history, and social networks, to those of others you perceive as different and perhaps allied, but found you lacked some fundamental vocabulary? This is a common problem, even for critical theorists who take as their object of study political, affective, and epistemological structures of difference and power. Critical race, postcolonial, Indigenous, and queer theories have often centered the relationship between the normative and non-nominative, between straight and queer, colonizer and colonized, and white and black. Connections between the differently non-normative can sometimes be pushed to the periphery. But what if we were to center that periphery? What views of complex power structures and new avenues of thought and solidarity would arise if we took as our starting point the social and theoretical interconnectedness and overlap of black, brown, and queer folks? This course will serve as an introduction to critical race, postcolonial, Indigenous, and queer theories as conceptually and phenomenologically interlocking and allied fields. By reading with theorists in all these traditions and at their intersections, we will explore how blackness, indigeneity, and brownness are constructed and function in the context of colonialism and settler colonialism, how differently racialized bodies are sexed and sexualized, and how queerness as method can speak across these issues. No background in critical theory is required for this course. We will focus on how to read and discuss theory, and how to think holistically about the structures that work to keep us divided.
The course aims to explore the theory, practice, and ethics of ethnographic research with a focus on dance, movement, and performance. Traditionally considered to be a method of research in anthropology, ethnography is the descriptive and analytical study of a particular community through fieldwork, where the researcher immerses herself in the culture of the people that she researches. In this course students will be introduced to (i) critical theory that grounds ethnography as a research methodology, (ii) readings in ethnographic studies of dance and performance practices from different parts of the world, and (iii) field research in the local community for their own ethnographic projects. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course and may include fieldwork, attendance at live performances, film screenings, workshop with guest artists etc. No previous dance or performance experience is assumed or required.
"War is probably the single most powerful instrument of dietary change in human experience." --Sidney Mintz. Cans of spam, bars of chocolate, and bubbling pots of military stew. A motley mix of sucrose, sodium, monosodium glutamate, and spices; often overprocessed, constantly repackaged, sometimes illicitly exchanged, and daily consumed. In this course, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the historical processes, social practices, and cultural politics of food in the age of U.S. empire, mapping out reverse pathways from our palates, plates, counters, and kitchens towards the lands and seas that connect the Americas, the Pacific Islands, and Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will examine food through a range of contexts and case studies, including but not limited to scholarship, (auto)ethnography, literature, film, television, advertising, social media, and blogs. We will ask: how is food entangled within histories and patterns of war, imperialism, settler colonialism, capitalism, diaspora, and migration? What does food tell us about our attachments, investments, and (dis)taste for narratives around democracy and multiculturalism, authenticity and appropriation, gentrification and privilege, "tradition" and change? Finally, how can food help us reimagine the social and political dimensions of the places we live in and nourish pathways to decolonial futures and possibilities? This will be primarily a discussion-based seminar although a minimal amount of cooking may also be required.
Pre-Requisites: AMST 101
In 1844, the Transcendentalist magazine, The Dial, published an excerpt from the Lotus Sutra, translated into English by Elizabeth Palmer Peabody. It was the first English-language version of any Buddhist text to be published in the United States. At the time, very few Americans knew the first thing about what Buddhism was, but now, a little over a century and a half later, Buddhist ideas and practices seem ubiquitous (available even in the form of apps like Headspace and Calm). In this class, we'll explore how Buddhism came to be the profoundly important cultural force in American life that it is today, looking particularly at the influence of Zen on American literature. We'll read an array of Buddhist-influenced literary texts, from the Beat poetry of the 1950s to novels like Middle Passage, A Tale for the Time Being, and Lincoln in the Bardo. But we'll also range far beyond the world of literature into a variety of other cultural domains in which Buddhism has had a deep impact, like environmentalism and deep ecology, Western psychotherapy, and Western attitudes towards death and dying. We'll also explore the role that Buddhism is playing in the fight against racism and racial injustice (from bell hooks to Black Lives Matter). And we'll engage in an experiential investigation of the benefits of incorporating contemplative practices like meditation into the classroom: students in the course will learn a variety of meditation techniques, and we'll spend some time each class practicing and reflecting upon those practices. Students will be expected to meditate outside of class as well (2-3 times per week) and keep a meditation journal. No prior experience with meditation is necessary. Just an open mind.
Bernard J. Rhie
Pre-Requisites: any literature course at Williams or permission of the instructor
In this course we will focus on issues of language and identity in the contemporary cultural production and lived experience of various Latina/o/x communities. As such, how are cultural values and material conditions expressed through Latina/o/x language and literature? How does Latina/o/x identity challenge traditional notions of the relationship between language, culture, and nation? In what ways might Latina/o/x literary and linguistic practices serve as tools for social change? Departing from an overview of common linguistic ideologies, we will examine code-switching, bilingual education, recent linguistic legislation, and the English Only movement. Throughout the course we will survey texts culled from a variety of literary genres as well, including autobiography, novels, and poetry. Both directly and/or indirectly, these texts address Latina/o/x language politics, as well as the broader themes of power, community, ethno-racial identity, gender, sexuality, class, and hybridity.
Maria Elena Cepeda
Have you ever wondered why Spam is so popular in Hawaii and why ramen noodles are a cheap, ubiquitous food? Are you curious why black-eyed peas and collards are considered "soul food"? In this course, we will answer these questions by digging in to the histories of global environmental transformation through colonialism, slavery, and international migration. We will consider the production and consumption of food as a locus of power over the last 300 years. Beginning with the rise of the Atlantic slave trade and continuing through the 20th century, we trace the global movement of plants, foods, flavors, workers, businesses, and agricultural knowledge. Major units include rice production by enslaved people in the Americas; Asian American food histories during the Cold War; and fat studies critiques of critical food studies. We will discuss food justice, food sovereignty, and contemporary movements for food sustainability in the context of these histories and our contemporary world. Readings are interdisciplinary, but our emphasis will be on historical analyses of race, labor, environment, and gender.
This seminar will explore contemporary Asian American plays, stand-up comedy, performance art, and spoken word with an eye to how artists ¿do¿ politics through their cultural labor. We will begin with a brief survey of images from popular media to identify legacies of Orientalism. From here we will move towards examining the ways in which Asian American artists from various eras subvert stereotypes and pursue projects of social justice. In watching performances and reading scripts, essays, and interviews, we will attend to narratives, acting methods, theatrical design, spectatorship, and the political economy of cultural production that shapes how Asian American artists make and show work. In addition, we will explore how artists stake political claims in the public sphere through teaching and community organizing.
This course surveys Native American/Indigenous North American histories from creation through the U.S. Civil War, tracing the complex ways that tribal nations and communities have shaped North America. It also introduces foundational methodologies in Native American and Indigenous Studies and strategies for pursuing decolonizing scholarship and action. Beginning with the diverse Indigenous societies that inhabited the Americas millennia before Columbus's arrival, it discusses the cultural complexity of Native peoples, nations, and worldviews rooted in particular ecosystems and homelands, as well as accounts of beginnings and migrations. It addresses how Native peoples confronted grievous epidemics resulting from the "Columbian Exchange," and contended with Euro-colonial projects of "discovery" and colonization. Indigenous nations' multifaceted efforts to maintain sovereignty and lands through eras of pervasive violence and removal are discussed, as well as the important yet under-recognized ways that Native communities negotiated the tumultuous era and conflicting allegiances of the Civil War. The course centers on Indigenous actors-intellectuals, diplomats, legal strategists, knowledge keepers, spiritual leaders, artists, and others-and consistently connects historical events with present-day debates over land, historical memory, education, and activism. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to engage with original materials pertaining to Native histories in the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum. While the scope of the course is continental and transoceanic, it devotes significant attention to the Native Northeast and the particular Indigenous homelands in which Williams College is located.
American art is often looked at as a provincial version of the real thing--i.e., European art--and found wanting. This course examines American architecture, painting, and sculpture on its own terms, in the light of the social, ideological and economic forces that shaped it. Special attention will be paid to such themes as the Puritan legacy and attitudes toward art; the making of art in a commercial society; and the tension between the ideal and the real in American works of art.
Michael J. Lewis
The Buddha is said to have identified three things that cannot stay hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. What's the secret? Who is lying? Who is breaking the rules? American drama abounds with hidden knowledge and false representations. (This is not surprising: theatre is always on some level a deceptive practice, a place where one person pretends to be another, and where what is spoken is always open to skeptical scrutiny. We might say theatre is always lying as much as lying is always theatre.) This tutorial course will examine what lies hidden in American plays from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first. Beginning with excerpted critical and historical writings on secrecy and lying (The Adventures of Pinocchio, Machiavelli's The Prince, Thomas Carlson's Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice, among others), we will proceed to a set of American plays from across a wide spectrum of playwrights, including Eugene O'Neill, Edward Albee, Sarah Ruhl, Arthur Miller, Amy Herzog, Susan Glaspell, Sophie Treadwell, Annie Baker, and others. Student papers will explore how hidden knowledge structures dramatic action, how different characters create and respond to untruths, and what can we learn in particular from American drama about a national relationship to honesty and its opposites.
Robert E. Baker-White
This course aims to provide a "how to" of American Studies from an integrative, multiracial, and socio-cultural perspective. Taking American culture as a site for testing classic and contemporary theories about how cultures work, the Junior Seminar in American Studies serves as an introduction to resources and techniques for interdisciplinary research. Students will be exposed to and experiment with a wide range of current theoretical and methodological approaches employed in American Studies and contributing disciplinary fields, and in the process gain a working competence in all four tracks of the major (Space and Place; Comparative Studies in Race, Ethnicity and Diaspora; Arts in Context; and Critical and Cultural Theory). The goal of the course is not only for students to develop knowledge of main currents in the field of American Studies but also to become practitioners through a series of assignments that will permit students to exercise their newfound skills. Students will thus, for instance, develop rhetorical analyses, gather ethnographic data, and "read" assorted spaces and buildings, as the class explores such problems or topics as national narratives, ethnoracial formations, the American prison system, and the circulation of commodities.
Cassandra J. Cleghorn
Pre-Requisites: AMST 101/201 Intro to American Studies, junior or senior standing, or permission of instructor
This interdisciplinary, experiential workshop introduces students to the field of planning through community-based projects. Environmental Planning encompasses many disciplines pertaining to the natural and built landscape such as city planning, ecological design, climate resiliency, natural resource planning, landscape architecture, agricultural and food systems, walkable neighborhood design, energy planning, and community development, to name a few. In this workshop, students regularly get out of the classroom and gain direct experience working in the greater Berkshire region. The class is organized into two parts. Part 1 involves reading and discussion of the planning literature: history, theory, policy, ethics, and legal framework, site visits, and concludes with a design project. Part 2 focuses on hands-on field work tackling an actual planning project under the guidance of a community partner. Small teams of students, working in conjunction with a client in the region and under supervision of the instructor, conduct a planning project using all the tools of a planner, including interviews, survey research, site visits, primary research, mapping, and site design and other activities as demanded by the particular project. The project work draws on students' academic training and extracurricular activities, and applies creative, design thinking techniques to solve thorny problems. The midterm assignment is a creative landscape/site design project. The lab sections include field trips, GIS mapping labs, project-related skill sessions, public meetings, and team project work. The course includes several class presentations and students will gain skills in public speaking, preparing presentations, interviewing, survey research, report-writing, design, and teamwork. The class culminates in an on-site public presentation of each team's planning study.
Pre-Requisites: ENVI 101 or permission of instructor; open to juniors and seniors only
This course looks at the indigenous, colonial, maritime, and missionary histories that connect New England to island nations in the Pacific in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Rather than thinking of Hawai'i and Massachusetts merely as opposite ends of United States colonial expansion, we will focus on the heterogenous cast of historical actors-from queens to whalers-who interacted in these places and generated new forms in architecture, painting, printmaking, the decorative arts, textiles, and publishing. Particular attention will be paid to the politics of Hawaiian visual culture and the histories of Williams alumni in Hawai'i, but the readings, discussions, and student papers will not be limited exclusively to those subjects. Our time together will be split between lecture and class discussion, with some meetings devoted to archival research and object-based case studies in collections on campus. As a group, we will establish a corpus of objects and conceptual frameworks for analyzing what "Pacific-New England" means and how that might challenge our existing assumptions about regional art histories. Finally, we will experiment as a class with the best ways to convey what we've learned through our collective inquiry-whether in different forms of writing or by workshopping more creative approaches.
Early Americans inhabited an interconnected world through which people, beliefs, and objects circulated. This course explores the "Atlantic World" as both a place and a concept: an ocean surrounded by diverse communities and empires, and an imagined space of shared or competing affiliations. Moving from the tenth century to the nineteenth, it examines ecological, cultural, political, economic, intellectual, and religious exchanges among Native Americans, Europeans and colonizers, and Africans and African Americans. It introduces both conceptual dimensions of this Atlantic paradigm and case studies that investigate its human subtleties, with the goal of examining early American history through a transnational lens. The course will take up the stories of Wabanaki mariners and Norse/Viking expansionists; Pocahontas, a trio of Inuit people, and myriad other Indigenous travelers to Europe; West African survivors of the Middle Passage and their enslaved descendants who pushed for survival and recognition of their humanity overseas; New England religious dissidents, intellectuals, and profiteers from Caribbean slavery; Touissant L'Ouverture and the reverberations of the Haitian Revolution; and whaling ship crews who pursued cetaceans ever farther out at sea, among other topics. The course also delves into new methodologies for telling histories that have been unevenly presented or seemingly silenced in traditional documentary archives, probing ways that oral traditions, songs, archaeology, material culture, and other forms of expression and representation can help recast the nature and meanings of these connected spaces and histories. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to engage with original materials pertaining to Atlantic World histories in the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum.
Oral history offers a powerful means to document history "from the bottom up," filling gaps in the historical record and creating ways to make new community connections. This class introduces methods for conducting oral history interviews and provides an opportunity to record interviews and use them in a public project. This semester we will use oral history interviews and other sources to explore the lived experience of LGBTQ individuals in the United States. The class combined history, theory, and practice, giving you the chance to conduct and interpret oral history interviews.
This course examines representations of American landscapes in selected texts from the British colonial era to the present. Critical approaches will include narrative theory, formalism, eco-criticism, and science and technology studies. The central questions are: (1) How do authors adapt narrative and poetic forms to the representation of particular landscapes? (2) How do literary landscape representations change when new technologies arise for traversing and transforming them? (3) What effects can literary landscapes have on the landscapes we live in? Landscapes include settlements, cities, wildernesses, "frontiers," suburbia, and infrastructural scenes. Relevant technologies include the postal service, the railroad, the telegraph and telephone, the automobile, commercial aviation, and Skype. Texts may include: letters of Columbus, American Indian creation stories, early American religious texts, captivity narratives, slave narratives, and poems, short stories, and novels from the 17th to the 21st centuries, as different from one another as Dickinson's "Nature-sometimes sears a Sapling-" and Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain.
Ezra D. Feldman
Assuming some previous knowledge of Asian American history, this course will examine a number of specific topics in Asian American Studies. Using historical sources, monographs, graphic memoirs, novels, and films, potential topics include Asians of mixed race, Orientalism, adoption, food culture, the "model minority," legal studies, Asian Americans and the environment, and the impact of war on Asian American history.
American Studies independent study
In the age of satellite television, e-mail, and mobile applications such as WhatsApp and Skype, transnational living has rapidly emerged as the norm as opposed to the exception. However, what does it really mean to "be transnational"? How are the lived experiences of transnational individuals and communities shaped by categories of difference such as gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class? What impacts do the growing number of transnational citizens and residents in the U.S. have on our understanding of "American" identity in the local, national, and global contexts? In this interdisciplinary, comparative course we will analyze recent theories regarding the origins and impacts of transnationalism. Particular attention will be paid throughout the semester to the interplay of gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class in connection with everyday transnational dynamics. The broad range of case studies examined includes China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Middle East.
Pre-Requisites: LATS 105, WGSS 101 or AMST 201; junior or senior standing
This course examines the birth of the "American Century" by studying the extension of Manifest Destiny to the Pacific, especially the American occupation of Hawaii and the Philippines.
American Studies honors project.
An introduction to social theory in anthropology and sociology, with strong emphasis on enduring themes that cut across disciplinary divides. What is modern about modern social theory? How do social thinkers construe "society" and "culture," and have these constructions withstood challenges over time? What role does human agency play in the unfolding of social life, and where does that sense of agency come from in the first place? What are the forces that animate social interaction on the level of individuals, social groups and complex units like nation-states? What are the possibilities and limits of systematic approaches to the study of human social experience? The course emphasizes major differences between interpretive frameworks as well as the common elements that contribute to a deeper understanding of the social world.
Christina E. Simko
Pre-Requisites: ANTH 101 or SOC 101 or ANSO 205 or permission of the instructor
Is there such a thing as "human nature"? Why have human societies developed such a bewildering range of customs to deal with problems common to people everywhere? This course addresses these questions by introducing students to the comparative study of human social life and culture. Topics surveyed in the course include economics, language and thought, kinship and marriage, law and politics, and the wide variations in human belief systems, including religions. The course also considers the ways that anthropology, a discipline that was until recently practiced almost exclusively by Westerners, approaches other societies in search of insights on our own customs and values. Ethnographic descriptions of both "simple" tribal societies and complex modern ones are a prominent part of the readings. This course explores differences and similarities between cultures and societies and ways in which they have interacted and responded to one another in the past.
Pre-Requisites: first-year students and sophomores
This course examines the foundational period of Chinese civilization, from the earliest evidence of human activity in the geographical region we now call China, through the end of the Han dynasty in the early third-century CE. This is the period that saw the creation and spread of the Chinese script (a writing system that would be the dominant one in East Asia for thousands of years), the teachings of Confucius (whose ideas continue to play a role in the lives of billions of people today), the construction of the Great Wall (which is not, as it turns out, visible from space), and the creation of the imperial bureaucratic system (that was, in essence, the progenitor of the modern bureaucratic state). We will proceed chronologically but focus on a set of thematic topics, including language and writing, religion and philosophy, art and architecture, politics and economics, and science and technology. While this course is entitled "Foundations of China," we will take a critical perspective on narratives, both Chinese and Western, that see Chinese history as an unbroken history of a single "civilization."
Christopher M. B. Nugent
Most studies of the global jihad movement focus on ideology, operations, and strategy. Numerous studies have also focused on the individual psychology of those who join jihad groups. Often ignored are the cultural dimensions of Islamic jihad. This course examines both the "global" culture of jihad--those cultural elements of the movement that are common across national and linguistic borders--and the particular ways in which jihadi groups reflect and respond to the local cultures in which they operate. Among the topics to be considered are the ways in which jihad adherents use ritual, poetry, graphic imagery, dress and grooming codes, music, film, social media, dream interpretation, and mythology to fix their place in the world and advance their political and social agendas. The course will also examine the role of violence in creating a distinctive and exclusionary social milieu within jihad groups and in defining the relationship between these groups and the societies that surround and, in some cases, support them. Of particular interest for the course will be the ways in which cultural elements of jihadi groups and the jihadi "lifestyle" are mobilized to attract new recruits to the jihadi movement.
David B. Edwards
Team-taught by an anthropologist and a journalist, this course investigates the relationship between Williams College and the surrounding communities of Northern Berkshire County via ethnographic/journalistic research conducted by students. The course will look at several case studies centered on "town-gown" relations in different eras and locations in order to contextualize and provide comparative material for understanding the relationship of Williams to its neighboring communities. Among the topics to be considered and possibly investigated will be the social and economic effects of colleges on local communities, the role of alcohol and athletics in town/gown relations, and how the increasing corporatization of academic institutions has changed the nature of town-gown interactions and the place and role of institutions of higher education in their communities. The focus of the course will be on student research, and a large percentage of class time will be devoted to learning the basic techniques of ethnographic and journalistic research, including interviewing, oral historical research, survey research, and participant-observation. Each student will conduct a major research project of their own devising, which will culminate in an investigative report and a public presentation.
David B. Edwards
This course considers India's contradictory legacy as a booming Asian democracy and fragile society built upon deep and enduring divisions. Why is India's growing population so often described in terms of multiple identities or fragmenting oppositions -- Hindu/Muslim, rich/poor, high caste/outcaste, male/female? What are the historic roots and ongoing causes that produce structural violence around these axes of difference? We pay particular attention to key moments (Partition, communal riots in Gujarat in 2003, Hyderabad in 1990, Delhi in 1984), and places (Punjab, Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir) for our analysis of how religion, gender, and caste intersect to produce a landscape of communal violence, social hierarchy, and fragmented subjectivity in India today. We are as interested in discourses and practices that shore up these binaries as well as the third terms that attempt to transcend or diffuse them. For instance, we look at how Buddhism is and is not a middle path between Hindu/Muslim conflict in Indian Kashmir. Our course readings include ethnographic, sociological, and historical analyses, as well as oral histories and popular media.
Everyone everywhere experiences emotions, and everyone everywhere is faced with the task of conceptualizing a self-hood and its place in the social world. This course analyzes a variety of recent attempts in the social sciences to come to grips with topics that have long been avoided: the nature of the interior experience and an epistemological framework for its cross-cultural comparison. Exploring the borderlands between anthropology, sociology, and psychology, we will bring the tools of ethnographic analysis to bear on central pan-human concepts: emotions and the self. By examining these phenomena as they occur in other cultures, we will be better placed to apprehend and challenge the implicit (and often unconsciously held) assumptions about emotions and the self in our own culture, both in daily life and in academic psychological theory. What are emotions? Are they things--neuro-physiological states--or ideas--sociocultural constructions? How are they to be described; compared? What is the self? How are selves constructed and constituted? How do various cultures respond to categories of emotion and self, and how can we develop a sense of the relationship between self and emotion?
Pre-Requisites: none; open to first-year students with instructor's consent
The goals of ethnography and documentary work overlap. Both strive to communicate a compelling sense of people's lives, and to connect them to broader struggles and issues faced by others. Further, ethnography as a method emphasizes a close and sustained interaction, or "engagement" between the practitioner and her subjects. In this class, students will have the opportunity to practice both engagement and compelling presentation, by working throughout the semester on planning and executing a documentary project. The course will emphasize the use of visual narratives accompanied by text and audio drawn from interviews. Students will practice different types of documentation, and consider techniques for approaching, imaging and interviewing subjects. The practical aspects of developing a project, gaining access, working in unfamiliar environments and editing both visual and audio material will be reviewed. Conceptual topics will include myths about "truth" and "objectivity" in visual media, tensions between the goals of the documentarian and her responsibilities to her subjects, and differences between the documentary and ethnographic point of view. Acceptance into the class requires technical competence in photography or videography (as evidenced by prior coursework or portfolio), and a demonstrated ability to work independently and to commit to a long-term project. Participants should expect to spend significant time working off campus.
Pre-Requisites: SOC 236 or permission of instructor
How do medical anthropologists examine and interpret health, disease, and illness today, in order to elucidate the biosocial determinants of health and health-seeking behaviors? We are particularly interested in how medical anthropologists employ ethnographic techniques including interviewing, surveys, and observant participation/participant observation--also known as as 'deep hanging out.' Through experiential inquiries, we investigate the systemic health inequalities that are produced by socio-economic hierarchies, while paying particular attention to the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. Through the semester, students pursue their own individual, fieldwork-based projects on campus with students & staff. Our goal is a better understanding of the limits and strengths of ethnographic inquiry as we explore the challenges of collaborative research into health and inequality in a local world structured by diverse forces, actors, and motives. We consider how medical anthropologists: tell stories that describe and influence the ways that patients and providers respond to a dialogic quest for health and well-being within a world structured by social inequality and suffering; interpret the biological, socio-cultural, and behavioural determinants of health at individual and population levels and seeks to mitigate the ways that health inequities are produced by social inequality and unequal access to health resources; understand biomedicine and other medical systems as scientific and cultural discourses that project their own rationalities and biases even as they try to improve health outcomes.
Anthropology independent study.
James L. Nolan
Anthropology senior thesis.
Extra information: this is part of a full-year thesis (493-494)
This is the first course in the year-long Beginning Arabic sequence. It will help you establish a foundation of communicative competence and understanding of the Arabic language and culture. The course adopts an integrated-skills approach with a focus on "formal Arabic" (or so-called Modern Standard Arabic), the language of formal writing and speech in Arab countries, while simultaneously familiarizing you with one variety of spoken Arabic. The course focuses on day-to-day situations and familiar topics.
Radwa M. El Barouni
Distributions: Division I
Extra information: students registered for ARAB 101 and 102 are required to attend and pass the sustaining program during the winter study period; credit is granted only if both semesters (ARAB 101 and 102) are taken
In this course we will continue to study the Modern Standard Arabic and one variety of spoken Arabic. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to hold conversations in Arabic with some fluency on a variety of topics while developing an increased vocabulary and cultural appreciation of Arabic-speaking countries.
Pre-Requisites: ARAB 101-102 or permission of instructor
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive
This survey course addresses the main economic, religious, political and cultural trends in the modern Middle East. Topics to be covered include the cultural diversity of the Middle East, relations with Great Powers, the impact of imperialism, the challenge of modernity, the creation of nation states and nationalist ideologies, the discovery of oil, radical religious groups, and war and peace. Throughout the course these significant changes will be evaluated in light of their impact on the lives of a variety of individuals in the region and especially how they have grappled differently with increasing Western political and economic domination.
Magnús T. Bernhardsson
Arabic literature produced in the Maghreb and the Middle East has always engaged with the socio-political concerns of different Arab societies. Whether caused by the colonial state(s) or by post-independence leadership, trauma has been a central theme in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern literature for a long time. Using a combination of memoirs, films, and fictional works, this course aims to raise students' critical awareness and aesthetic appreciation of literary representations of the multiple traumas inflicted on people and societies in the Maghreb and the Middle East. The different novels and films assigned in this course will be read against seminal literature on memory and trauma studies to answer the following questions: how does Arabic literature remember? In what ways does Arabic literature engage with the past sequelae of colonialism, dictatorship, war, and displacement? How do Arabic novelists and memoirists dialogue with memory and trauma theory even though Arabic scholarship has given short shrift to trauma and memory ethics and aesthetics? What events or experiences are pivotal to collective and individual traumas represented in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern literature(s)?
Brahim El Guabli
Distributions: Division I; Difference, Power, and Equity; Writing-Intensive
A continuation of Intermediate Arabic, ARAB 301 aims to expand students' listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills in Arabic. The course will also stimulate students' intellectual curiosity about the Arabic-speaking regions and enhance their cultural competence. Using al-Kitaad as well as a variety of authentic written and audiovisual materials to immerse students in Arabic language and culture, the course will allow students to achieve an advanced grammatical, cultural and oral proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic. The course will also encourage students to engage critically with a wide variety of topics in Arabic language as they enrich their knowledge of the different aspects of Arabic language and culture. Students at this stage will also be assisted to generate more complex written and oral assignments entirely in Arabic.
Pre-Requisites: ARAB 202
Is religion the most powerful force in the Middle East? Is religion becoming more prominent in the political sphere and what impact will that have on religious minorities and the status of women in the Middle East? Using a case study and historical approach, this course will consider the development of religiously inspired political ideologies in the Middle East in the 19th and 20th century. We will explore the experience of Iran, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan and evaluate role of religious actors, institutions, and ideologies in constructing national identities, policymaking, state-building, regime change, conflict, and war.
Pre-Requisites: none; preference will be given to History, Jewish Studies and Arabic Studies Majors and to those who have taken History 207
Senior Thesis: Arabic Studies
A team-taught introduction to the art and architecture of Europe from the ancient Mediterranean through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance in Italy. This course celebrates the glory of works of art as physical objects, to be viewed and contemplated, to be sure, but also often to be worshiped, worn, touched (even licked), held, exhibited, bought and sold, passed through or around, and lived in. To help students begin to appreciate how these works of art might have been understood by those who originally made and used them, the course sets its objects of study within a number of revealing historical contexts, from the social and the political to the philosophical and the art historical. To give students time with original works of art, our discussion-centered conferences use the wealth of art resources in Williamstown: the Clark Art Institute, the buildings and sculpture of the Williams College Campus, and the Williams College Museum of Art.
Peter D. Low
Distributions: Division I; Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is an introduction to the historical context of dance forms prevalent in the US and analysis of movement-based performances. While readings and viewings will focus on the socio-historical background of dance genres practiced at Williams and beyond, an important element of the course will be the practice of documenting, interpreting, and writing about performances as historical and cultural mediums. The course will enable students interested in dance, theatrical and visual arts (including advertising and marketing) to hone their skills in the practice of analyzing still and moving images, while also offering students of history and art history the opportunity to develop competency in historical research. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course, and may include attendance at live performances in the area, film screenings, field trips, and workshops with guest artists. Material will be introduced at introductory level. No previous dance experience is assumed or required. Learning objectives: to understand the social and political contexts for various performance genres; to explore interdisciplinary and embodied modes of engaging with movement; to develop the ability to document, analyze, and write about dance as a historical and cultural text.
This course introduces students to the breadth and richness of the visual arts in Latin American and U.S. Latina/o art. The course begins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when artists and writers first began formulating the notion of an art "native" to Latin America, and continues through the ever-expanding cultural expressions developed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Through a contextual approach, we will pay particular attention to Latin American artists' shifting relationships to race, class, and gender issues, their affiliations with political and revolutionary ideals, and their critical stance vis-à-vis the European avant-gardes. Similarly, we will analyze the emergence and development of Latina/o artistic practices in the postwar U.S., tracing these artists' own exploration of race, class, and gender dynamics. This class introduces Latin American and Latina/o artistic practices and scholarship to enable students to develop a critical understanding of the historical specificity of diverse movements, their relation to canonical definitions of modern and contemporary art, and their relevance to issues of colonialism, nationalism, revolutionary politics, and globalization. We will consider a vast array of genres--from painting and sculpture to printmaking, photography, conceptual, installation, and performance art--and will draw from artist statements, manifestos, and secondary interpretive texts to consider both the impetus behind these dynamic artworks and their lasting legacies.
Mari Rodriguez Binnie
The period between Alexander the Great (323 B.C.) and Cleopatra (30 B.C.), like our own, was characterized by internationalism, migration, wide-ranging cultural values and religious practices, and ethnically diverse urban populations. Large numbers of non-Greeks came under the control of newly established Hellenistic kingdoms, while in the west Rome's emergence as a superpower offered both new opportunity and danger. The Hellenistic world was a place of vibrant change in the spheres of art, architecture, urban planning, and public spectacle. In this course, we will consider the art and archaeology of this period in their political, social, and religious contexts, focusing on the visual language of power and royalty; developments in painting, sculpture, mosaics, and monumental architecture; interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks; and the impact of Greek culture in Rome.
Nicole G. Brown
This tutorial surveys the public lives of printed pictures in Europe between 1789 and 1914. Though the history of print extends well beyond these chronological limits, the so-called "long nineteenth century" witnessed the invention of new printmaking technologies. Larger audiences could now stay abreast of the period's revolutions, wars, and breakthroughs both in science and in fashion. Designed for students who have no prior experience studying art history, the course will begin with an overview of printmaking techniques before moving on to focused case studies including pornographic political engravings made during the French Revolution, etchings created by the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya, and the manipulation of self and space made possible by early photography. We will analyze how these works were produced in multiples, circulated by publishers and dealers, and consumed by viewers across Europe. Readings in cultural theory, intellectual history, the history of technology, and art history will help students develop their own interdisciplinary approach to the print. For example, what makes this medium social? How is cultural critique made visible? What can print cultures teach us about today's practices of engaging with images digitally?
Buddhism has spread throughout Asia and beyond since its emergence in India in the 5th century BCE, providing a shared philosophical and cosmological framework for diverse cultures. Artistic expression, regional politics and cultural landscapes have been shaped by its remarkable influence. With patrons ranging from powerful monarchs and monks to merchants and tradespeople, Buddhist art has historically reflected the religion's social inclusivity. This course will survey the architecture, painting and material culture of Buddhism in Asia, tracing its influence in diverse media, from rock-cut architecture to Zen painting. A close reading of primary texts, such as architectural inscriptions in India, manuscripts from Tibet, and travelogues of Chinese pilgrims, will provide greater context for the artworks.
Murad K. Mumtaz
The phrase "Japanese popular culture" often calls to mind comics and animation, but Japan's earliest visual pop culture dates back to the 17th century and the development of arts like kabuki theater and woodblock prints that could be produced for a mass audience. This course traces Japanese popular culture through a range of visual media: kabuki and puppet theater, premodern and postmodern visual art (ukiyoe, Superflat), classic film (Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa), manga/comics (Tezuka, Otomo, Okazaki), and animation (Oshii, Miyazaki, Kon). We will focus on developing visual reading skills to come up with original interpretations of these works, and on comparing different media to make them shed light on one another.
Christopher A. Bolton
This course on the methods and historiography of art history offers art-history majors an overview of the discipline since the late 18th century. The course surveys influential definitions of the discipline, the evolving tasks it has set itself, and the methods it has developed for implementing and executing them. Works of art will inevitably enter into our discussions, but the main objects of study will be texts about art as well as texts about methods for an historical study of art. Topics include: style and periodization; iconography, narratology, and phenomenology; the social functions of images and the social history of art; art and the material world; art, gender, and sexuality; and art as a global phenomenon.
Guy M. Hedreen
Pre-Requisites: any 100-level ARTH course or permission of instructor
Focusing on a number of recent museum exhibitions dedicated to queer art and artists in the U.S. and abroad, this course critically examines the emergence of queer art histories. How are queer art histories being written and presented? And how is queer art being collected and preserved? We will explore these questions (and others) through the lens of the archive and the research and collecting practices associated with archives. As a class, we will critically examine the role, limits, and possibilities of archives in art historical research, curatorial practice, and museum exhibitions. Course readings will consider various historical, theoretical, and methodological approaches to the archive and curatorial practice. We will also consider artists' archives and what has been described as an "archival impulse" in contemporary art. This course is being developed in conjunction with Williams College Museum of Art's presentation of the traveling exhibition Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A., the first historical exhibition on queer Latinx art. Select assignments and student presentations will encourage first-hand experience with artworks in the exhibition.
C. Ondine Chavoya
Pre-Requisites: ARTH 102 or permission of instructor; GRADART exempt from ARTH 102 prerequisite
The Mughal dynasty ruled over most of northern India from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The Mughal Empire was the grandest and longest to rule the Indian subcontinent--much larger than any European empire in the early modern world--and it continued to have a lasting impact on South Asia. Mughals established a centralized administration with a vast complex of personnel, money and information networks. Styling themselves as 'Emperors of Heaven and Earth', the Mughal kings were also globally viewed as political innovators and unprecedented patrons of art. Their visual practices were as much a part of their imperial ideologies as their administrative and military measures. This co-taught course combines the disciplines of Art History and History to explore the intricate workings of Mughal politics and ideologies. The first of its kind to bring an interdisciplinary approach to teaching South Asia at Williams, the course asks: How did the Mughals sustain their empire for three centuries? How did they use art and politics to rule over diverse and largely non-Muslim populations? How did these Muslim imperial patrons merge Persian and Central Asian cultural values with preexisting Indian forms of administrative and artistic expression? How does Mughal culture continue to shape the South Asian imagination today? Readings will include a variety of visual and literary texts. We will delve deep into the world of biographies, travel accounts, poetry, architecture and a plethora of artworks. Students will take a hands-on approach to Mughal painting through several visits to the WCMA and a dedicated Object Lab. The primary aim of this co-taught course is to introduce students to a multifaceted picture of one of the greatest empires in pre-colonial world history. Another goal is to familiarize them with a wide range of visual and written primary sources and develop a vocabulary for 'reading' these.
Murad K. Mumtaz
Pre-Requisites: students who have previously taken HIST312 will not be permitted to take this course; no other prerequisites
Abstraction, be it gestural or geometrical, was a protagonist in the story of global modernisms and continues to be a powerful visual language in contemporary art. The term "abstraction" may first appear straightforward, but its associations are quite complex: in varying historical contexts, abstraction has signaled formalist rupture, cultural co-optation, revolutionary politics, as well as racial, feminist, and queer critique. This object-oriented course will delve deeply into non-representation in global modern and contemporary art; we will supplement our careful study of artworks with primary documents, as well as with canonical theoretical frameworks and the reassessments that have sought to complicate these. This seminar is organized into two weekly sessions--a lecture and a discussion-to introduce key concepts and issues and to allow for ample group dialogue on these. Ultimately, the course seeks to revise and expand the cartographies and ontologies of abstraction in the 20th and 21st centuries. As such, it welcomes students with an interest in modern and contemporary art, yet does not require previous coursework in either.
Pre-Requisites: must have previously taken one Art History course in any area
The first movies excited viewers not by telling stories, but by reproducing the world: a dancer's billowing skirts, the sight of Niagara Falls, the arrival of a train at the station--such vignettes felt viscerally real. Our fascination with documentaries derives, in large part, from the way seemingly transparent images are woven into narratives full of hidden assumptions. Every viewer of the Zapruder film sees the same thing: President Kennedy, struck by a bullet, lurches forward. But what that might mean--whether it points toward a lone gunman or a conspiracy, toward the Soviet Union or the CIA--still remains uncertain. We'll explore the tensions between image and story, evidence and context, in films ranging from Fred Ott's "Sneeze" (1894) to Josh Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing (2012), concluding with a look at the effects of contemporary image technologies on our sense of personal and national identity. Readings for the course will be drawn from narrative theory, epistemology, and cultural theory, as framed by writers including Trinh Minh-ha, Christian Metz, and Bill Nichols.
Shawn J. Rosenheim
Pre-Requisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam, or permission of the instructor
How does one judge a building? According to its structural efficiency or its aesthetic qualities? Its social responsibility--or just its pizzazz? Depending on the building, and the critic, any of these questions might be pertinent, or impertinent. This seminar explores architectural criticism, that curious genre between literature and architecture, and looks at its history, nature and function. We will read and discuss classic reviews by historical and contemporary critics as John Ruskin, Mariana van Rensselaer, Lewis Mumford, Ada Louise Huxtable and Herbert Muschamp. Insights gained from these discussions will be applied by students to writing their own reviews, which will likewise be discussed in class. Early assignments will concentrate on mechanics: how to describe a building vividly and accurately, how to balance description and interpretation judiciously, how to compare. Subsequent ones will be more synthetic, encouraging students to write bold, lively and critical essays. The ultimate goal is to develop a distinctive and effective voice, and to gain a better understanding of the nature of criticism in general.
Pre-Requisites: any 100 level ARTH course or permission of instructor
This seminar examines connections between Latinx and Latin American art through a series of recent exhibitions organized as part of a Getty initiative entitled Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA that opened in 2017. While the chronological span for the overall project reaches from Pre-Colombian art to present, we will focus on modern and contemporary art after the 1960s and consider key themes of art and activism, borders and diaspora, globalism and modernism, and popular culture and science fiction in the visual arts. Diverse in scope, these shows explored important developments in the arts of the Americas from the late-20th and 21st centuries, including, abstraction, Chicano muralism, Conceptual art, craft, feminist art, Kinetic art, Modernist design and architecture, social practice, and queer activism. Students will pursue individual research projects directly related to the art exhibitions we study, and examine photography, performance, painting, sculpture (including installation and participatory art), and video by artists both canonical and lesser known. Student projects will analyze the critical responses to the exhibitions while also exploring the roles of archives, art criticism, and curatorial practice in contemporary art history.
Pre-Requisites: ARTH 102 (graduate students are exempt from the prerequisite)
Art is really time-consuming¿to make, to view, to use, to understand. We enshrine it, excavate it, curate it, deploy it and sometimes we deliberately destroy it. We are always telling stories about the stuff. We seem to think that we control these many fabled things,though they meddle endlessly in the spaces between self and other, human and divine. Great art can be inspiring, enabling people to transcend time, or it can be traumatizing, making time stop altogether. Or both! To explore such powers, we will begin in the 19th century, when commonplace notions of past and present wobbled seriously with the invention of photography and the avid pursuit of archaeology. Thereafter, we will operate across time and space, with particular reference to the Middle East, where art has figured in many religions and also many conflicts. There will be no single story-line, but rather a series of case studies and hands-on projects; we will consider materials ranging from iconic paintings and sacred spaces to calendar art and photojournalism. Along the way, creativity and iconoclasm will be recurring themes. Choose this class if you are curious about the agency and power that art wields in our lives.
Pre-Requisites: one studio or art history class
Art History independent study.
Elizabeth P. McGowan
The Graduate Program Proseminar on Research and Method explores key topics in contemporary interpretation and practice through readings and classroom discussion with visiting scholars. Each week we will read work authored and/or selected by our class visitor, particularly with an eye to the larger methodological and historiographical issues as they arise from the readings, and more generally in the visitors' field. Visitors will include Clark Fellows, Graduate Program faculty, and others. Students enrolled in the Proseminar will also participate in workshops directed to professional art-historical practice, including research strategies and methods, critical reading, and expository writing.
This seminar, named for a 1977 essay by the art critic John Berger, considers a recent tendency in contemporary art to see nonhuman animals less as objects for human delectation-to be owned, eaten, or symbolized with-than as subjects, endowed with specific forms of intelligence, agency, and/or cross-species kinship. We will take as case studies the work of artists such as Francis Alÿs, Xu Bing, Sue Coe, Coco Fusco, Pierre Huyghe, Jochen Lempert, Chris Marker, and Lin May Saeed, among others. Readings will come in part from the rapidly growing, multidisciplinary field of animal studies. In the process, we will consider concepts such as animacy; animal ethics; animalization; the anthropocene; biopolitics; and posthumanism. This seminar anticipates two exhibitions concerning animals at the Clark in Summer 2020.
Among all the portraits produced during the modern period, some have been painted or, more recently, photographed in prison. Portraits in prison exist at a crossroad of politics, law, and identity; they offer a great opportunity to think about art and society. Artists themselves have made self-portraits during their own imprisonments, or sometimes a portrait of one of their fellow prisoners. More often it was the prisoners or their relatives who commissioned an artistic record of their detention. The idea of commemorating such a moment, or to evoke it as a claim to fame, seems surprising at best, outrageous and provocative at worst. But there has been, since the 16th century, an enduring tradition of portraiture in prison with its masterpieces and its pantheon, a tradition that fits into the wider pictorial attention to the prison itself. With the French Revolution, the nature of prison changed. It became a tragic symbol of political "debates." Within a few years, a terrifying series of portraits appeared that would nurture Western political thought and visual culture until now. Since the 18th century, these portraits have become more concerned with ideas that stretch beyond the individual and into the realm of social justice, mass incarceration, and the prison-industrialization complex.
Why should color in prints be controversial? For most of the nineteenth century-even as technical advances encouraged a flowering of color in woodcut, intaglio, and especially lithographic production-entrenched voices in the art establishment continued to insist on printmaking as an art of black and white. Drawing upon a wide variety of examples from the Clark's collection, this course will explore the range of associations that attached to color prints, along a broad spectrum from highbrow preciousness and subtlety to lowbrow commercialism and bad taste. Color lithography was a particular lightning rod for controversy: although chromatic experiments in this medium enabled striking aesthetic innovations, the extreme complexity of the process also meant that the designer of a print became farther and farther removed from its actual production. This was just as true for the delicate and exquisite suites produced in limited editions by Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and Maurice Denis as it was for the large-scale, brightly-colored lithographic posters of Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, used to advertise popular urban entertainments. Alongside the close examination of original works of art, a set of critical and theoretical readings will help us navigate the paradoxes of printed color. Apart from the standard requirements, including a research paper and class presentation, students will have an option to participate in a summer 2020 exhibition based on the course findings. This course will take place in the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper at the Clark.
It is a commonplace in the literature on textiles that the words for both text and textile derive from the Latin texere: to weave. As this etymological root indicates, the action of making cloth provides the metaphoric structure by which we conceive of language from the threading of thought to the weaving of prose and poetry. In the recent theoretical writings of Tim Ingold, among others, the processes of weaving-textility-offer a model against which to conceive of the dominant hylomorphic conception of matter and form as a process of imprint. Instead, textiles illustrate a world that is created through forces in motion, never imprinting, but moving against and within one another. This seminar will use these questions as the starting point to examine the interaction between printed matter (embodying a hylomorphic process) and textile (a material challenge to hylomorphism). The Clark Art Library contains a preeminent collection of textile material, and this seminar will dive into the Mary Ann Beinecke collection to examine histories of gender and labor, figuration and ornament, mobility and place, and finally, form and matter. The case studies will range from sixteenth-century needlepoint model books to twentieth-century kimono design.
This interdisciplinary seminar is offered in conjunction with the upcoming RAP Colloquium scheduled for March 2020, "Beauty, Sexuality, Selection: Darwinian Revolutions in Aesthetics." (Seminar participants will be expected to attend.) Our theme will be Charles Darwin's controversial theory of "sexual selection" as both a historical idea of aesthetic response and beauty, and as a theoretical concept that is back in play in current evolutionary thinking. Readings will be drawn from ancient philosophy, current science, art history, the history of science, and other fields, to engage the following questions: how did the existence of difference in the organic world--gender difference broadly but also more specifically racial difference in the human species--motivate Darwin's theory of an "aesthetic evolution" driven by animal and human perception of visual beauty? How did philosophical aesthetics contribute to Darwin's biological theory of beauty, and how did Darwin's biological theory of beauty unsettle the discipline of philosophical aesthetics? In which ways did the arts and visual cultures of Europe and elsewhere shape Darwin's aesthetic assumptions? How did, and how does, the concept of sexual selection destabilize the concept of "art" as a human cultural activity? How might "sexual selection" complicate historical and current delineations drawn between nature
and culture, between the innate and the arbitrary?
Bi-weekly workshop for graduate students working on contemporary art and curatorial projects. Under the direction of the chair, students will present on-going curatorial projects, undertake studio and site visits, host local and visiting curators for presentations, and explore key topics in modern and contemporary art and curatorial practice.
Pre-Requisites: graduate art students
Students may petition to take a private tutorial by arrangement with the instructor and with permission of the Graduate Program Director.
Undergraduate Lecture Course Taken for Graduate Credit
This course is designed to introduce students to perceptual, experiential and analytical moments associated with the language of drawing, and to do so in ways that offer the opportunity to see the world with greater clarity, and with a broader understanding of art and the visual language. This course provides technical skills associated with observational drawing, experiential moments with a variety of materials, and the opportunity for self expression and the communication of ideas. Each studio class blends drawing practices and exercises designed to further one's understanding of the language of drawing, and more broadly, offers a foundation for further study in the visual arts.
An immersive introduction to all forms of paper based mark-making. Cycling through traditional and then experimental approaches of rendering a form/figure/idea, participants will develop a sensitivity to light, texture, composition, material, and most importantly, LINE! The emphasis will be on acquiring strong technical skills through intensive work in class and outside of it.
In childhood everyone draws. Like language drawing is a basic human tool to observe and interpret the world as well as to make comment and find agency within it. As an introduction to art making, this course will provide basic design and conceptual skills to engage feeling, develop content and communicate with others. Divided into sections on line, composition, proportion, value and space, the course is designed for those with no previous experience in drawing, but it is flexible enough to challenge experienced students. New concepts are introduced each week in slide talks and developed in workshops and through homework assignments.
William B. Binnie
This introductory level course offers an in-depth exploration of the camera and image by utilizing photographic digital technology. Emphasis is placed on the camera's relationship to the body and constructions of identity. Students will develop a fundamental control of photographic processes through technical exercises, experimentation, and field and studio experience. Students will learn how to use DSLR cameras, editing and digital printing techniques to create a personal body of work that examines the medium's role in representing (or not representing) identities. Additionally, lecture presentations and thorough critique will foster theoretical and visual literacy for the analysis of works. How is photography implicated in the construction and performance of identity? How does it complicate national, cultural, gender, race and sexual identity.
The figure has an intrinsic relationship to us and our lives and has provided artists with creative challenges throughout time. This course uses the human form as the subject to introduce students to the three-dimensional world of sculpture. It combines the traditional study of figure modeling in clay, with a more contemporary approach to how the figure is used in art today. The first part of the semester has you working from observation while learning how to realistically construct the human figure in the third dimension. You will work in clay, gaining skills in modeling, anatomy, the study of proportion, gesture, texture, negative and positive space and balance and gravity. We begin aiming for realism and move towards abstraction.
The second part of the term will provide the opportunity to explore a more open and contemporary approach to how sculpture utilizes the figure to express meaning, explore materials and employ form. You will be introduced to a variety of skills, materials and concepts as you learn to work in the round making a form interesting from all views. Ultimately you will begin to explore and develop the ability to communicate your ideas in a visual manner as well as comment on the human condition.
Amy D. Podmore
This course is an intensive study of costume design. Costume designers are always aware of the world around them. They look, listen, reflect, and record. They use inspiration, research, imagination, and innovation for their creations. They simultaneously observe the smallest detail while also picturing the larger world surrounding the pieces they develop. The course focuses on the designer's process, which entails in part: script analysis, collaboration, research, color theory, basic design principles, rendering techniques, fabric research, organizational skills, and presentation of designs.
Deborah A. Brothers
Pre-Requisites: successful completion of any 200-level course in any of the fine or performing arts or permission of instructor
Extra information: students are required to attend two to three theatre department or approved performances during the semester; students will also be expected to partake in intelligent critiques of fellow classmates' design work
In this studio course students will acquire the ability to think conceptually across artistic mediums by working in an interdisciplinary manner. Projects will investigate ideas of the artists body in contemporary art, memory, socio-political specificities, time, and abstraction. Students will be introduced to and create work with the 35mm film camera, the black & white darkroom, digital video, performance methods, and interactive installation. Students will gain additional hands on experience by engaging with invited artists, visiting museum exhibitions, and meeting with curators. Artists covered will include: David Hammons, Bruce Nauman, William Cordova, Taryn Simmon, Singa Ningudi, and Jennie C. Jones. No prior experience necessary.
Allana M. Clarke
Through the photographic medium and the latest Do-It-Yourself trends, this intermediate photography class will explore object-oriented ontology and the notion of "Hyperobjects," or objects that transcend the local by massively spanning time and space. This class will use DIY techniques and mundane objects and materials as a tool to build models, sculptures and installations that will later on be photographed in the studio and outdoors. The creation of these 3D spaces, virtual or public, propose replications and low-budget prototypes resembling miniature versions of Hyperobjects in transient spaces. Using science-fiction references and mythology we will attempt to document and/or create a space that is invisible or has not yet been experienced by the world. What does ecological philosophy currently look like, and (how) will it translate after the end of the world through the remaining photographic image and media? This class will search for, invent, and document Hyperobjects - entities of vast temporal/spatial dimensions that defeat traditional ideas of what a thing, object or photograph is.
Pre-Requisites: Introduction to Photography
The variables of oil painting are so numerous that the permutations are endless. As an introduction to basic variables like color, brushwork, surface, form and light, this course is the beginning of what may be a life long, creative adventure through the medium of paint. Most assignments are done from direct observation of the human figure, the landscape and objects. Museum visits and slide presentations are an important part of the class.
Pre-Requisites: ARTS 100
The course explores sound art through research and hands-on creative projects. Students will create original sound works, working collaboratively with partners from complementary disciplines. Precedents for sound installation, sonic pavilions, sound performance and artist-made instruments will be reviewed. Example works include texts on an ancient Greek Chythonic cult, instruments created by contemporary Brazilian transdisciplinary artists, the collaborative group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) as well as works by artists showing at Mass MoCa and Documenta 14.
The Junior Seminar is an intensive studio based class designed to provide art majors the opportunity to strengthen their ability to communicate clearly through the visual language by offering an overview of current themes and issues within the art world and beyond. The class is structured around regular studio projects that are designed to help further each student's skill set and broaden their knowledge of contemporary art and it's role in society, and, to offer critical and analytic experiences that deepen the students understanding of the role of art in the world.
Pre-Requisites: three studio courses required for the major, or permission of instructor
This tutorial places colour as a central consideration in our object making. Experiments and discussions will include development of dyes and inks, foraging for colours, understanding palettes and their relationship to `the tasteful¿ and `the garish¿, `beautiful¿ and `the unpleasant¿, colour blocking, monochromes, culture and colour, and the relationship between a variety of pigments, their medium of suspension, and the material they stain or sit directly on top of, unstable. In this way, we will work with a large selection of media and the assignments will be both foundational and highly experimental; you are creating a hundred new colours within a strict grid¿you are mixing two new colours through light and projection alone, with no guides. The course is open to anyone who has taken advanced classes in printmaking + drawing, sculpture, and photography.
Pre-Requisites: any 200-level art studio class or submit a portfolio for consideration
A continuation and expansion of ideas and skills learned in Architectural Design I. There will be four to six design projects requiring drawings and models, each of which will emphasize particular aspects of architectural theory and design. One project will be built full-scale by the students in the class.
Pre-Requisites: ARTS 220 or ARTS 215
With current staffing limitations, it is difficult for studio faculty to supervise more than a very few independent studies projects. We feel our curriculum includes rich and varied offerings and believe that the need for most independent work can be met through those regular offerings.
Pre-Requisites: no student will be accepted into an independent study project unless they have completed two 200-level ARTS courses and one 300-level ARTS tutorial; permission of instructor is required
By the middle of the thirteenth century, Mongol armies led by Genghis Khan had conquered an enormous swath of territory, extending from China westward to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Further expanded by Genghis's descendants, the Mongol Empire incorporated a vast range of different peoples and cultures, enhancing communications, trade, and exchange among them. In this course we will examine the "world order" of the Mongol Empire from its origins on the Asian steppe through its expansion, consolidation,and disintegration, as well as its legacies. From a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including literature, chronicles, and traveler's accounts, we will investigate the diverse experiences of the Mongol world in places such as China, Russia, Persia, and Central Asia.
Pre-Requisites: first-year or sophomore standing; juniors or seniors with permission of instructor
Introduction to the alphabet and language structure with emphasis on communicative skills. Students will receive a foundation in the language being able to hold simple conversations, use a range of vocabulary related to daily activities and transactions, and gain familiarity with basic, frequently used grammatical structures of the language.
Jane E. Canova
Pre-Requisites: sophomore or higher standing with a GPA of 3.0 or higher; application to the Critical Language Program in early April
Over a century of constant warfare came to an end in the late 1500s, ushering in more than two hundred years of relative peace in a Japan that was ruled by a military government. This course will take up the extraordinary changes and enduring continuities of the period between the establishment of the Tokugawa government in the early 1600s and its eventual collapse in 1868, an era characterized by societal order and tensions, economic growth and stagnation, the development of cities and towns, the flourishing of urban culture, the spread of new and different ideas, and the decline of the samurai. We will focus on the political, social, and cultural history of early modern Japan, including topics such as the establishment of the Tokugawa order, the nature of the political system, foreign relations, urbanization, popular culture, material culture, the quality of life, the legal order, gender and sexuality, and the fall of the Tokugawa government. Assigned materials will include government documents, intellectual treatises, autobiographies, literature, and films.
Eiko Maruko Siniawer
This course focuses on the history of South Asia with the aim of providing an overview of the political and social landscape of the region from the end of the Mughal Empire through British colonial rule and the Partition of India and Pakistan.
We will explore a range of themes including the rise of colonialism, nationalism, religion, caste, gender relations, and the emergence of modern social and political institutions on the subcontinent. In addition to reading key texts and historical primary sources on the specific themes, we will also work with a variety of multimedia sources including films, short stories and website content.
One objective of this course is to introduce students to the different political and social processes that led to the creation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; another is to teach students to think critically about the significance of history and history writing in the making of the subcontinent.
Nationalism is a major political issue in contemporary East Asia. From anti-Japanese demonstrations in China, to tensions on the Korea peninsula, to competitive elections in Taiwan, to debates in Japan about the possibility of a woman ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne, national identity is hotly debated and politically mobilized all across the region. This course begins with an examination of the general phenomena of nationalism and national identity. It then considers how nationalism is manifest in the contemporary politics and foreign relations of China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Taiwan.
George T. Crane
This advanced undergraduate seminar focuses on concepts, queries, and methodologies at the intersections of Asian Americanist critique, queer theory, and affect theory. How might we come to understand Asian gender, sexuality, and racialization less through a language of being or meaning, as through feeling? How do Asian/American discourses rely upon languages of gender and sexuality, and how might queerness depend upon Asianness? How might these theories identify, complicate, and call forth more expansive or alternative practices of belonging? The class will read theories including national abjection, racial melancholia, disaffection, queer diaspora, and homonationalism, as well as engage Asian American literatures.
Vivian L. Huang
Asian Studies senior thesis.
Asian Studies independent study.
For the new era of "multimessenger astronomy": What makes a star shine? For how long will the Sun keep shining and what will happen to it then? What are black holes and how can they form? How and what have we found out about the recently discovered "chirps" from gravitational radiation resulting from two giant black holes merging and, with additional signals in the spectrum, from the merger of two neutron stars? What do we learn about the Sun from total solar eclipses? Astronomy 101, a non-major, general introduction to the part of contemporary astronomy that includes how stars form and how they end their existence, will provide answers to these questions and more. The course gives special attention to the exciting discoveries of the past few years. Topics include modern astronomical instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Kepler, K2 and TESS missions to discover planets around other stars, the latest huge telescopes and some results from them; how astronomers interpret the light received from distant celestial objects; the Sun as a typical star (and how its future will affect ours); and our modern understanding of how stars work and how they change with time. We will also discuss how pulsars and black holes result from the evolution of normal, massive stars and how supermassive black holes lurk at the center of galaxies and quasars. We will discuss the discovery of thousands of "exoplanets" around stars other than the Sun. We regularly discuss the latest news briefs and developments in astronomy and relate them to the topics covered in the course. This course is independent of and on the same level as Astronomy 102 (solar system) and 104 (galaxies and cosmology), and students who have taken those courses are welcome.
Observing sessions will include use of the 24-inch telescope and other telescopes for nighttime observations of stars, star clusters, planets and their moons, nebulae, and galaxies, as well as use of other telescopes for daytime observations of the Sun.
Jay M. Pasachoff
Distributions: Division III
The science of astronomy spans vast scales of space and time, from individual atoms to entire galaxies and from the universe's beginning to the future fate of our Sun. In this course, we will survey some of the main ideas in modern astrophysics, with an emphasis on the physics of stars and galaxies. ASTR 111 is the first course in the Astrophysics and Astronomy major sequences. It is also appropriate for students planning to major in one of the other sciences or mathematics and for others who would like a quantitative introduction that emphasizes the relationship of contemporary physics to astronomy. Topics include gravity and orbits, radiation laws and stellar spectra, physical characteristics of the Sun and other stars, star formation and evolution, black holes, galaxies, the expanding universe, and the Big Bang. Students will also use telescopes to observe stars, nebulae, planets, and galaxies and to make daytime observations of the Sun.
Pre-Requisites: a year of high school Physics, concurrent college Physics, or permission of instructor, and MATH 140 or equivalent
Distributions: Division III; Quantitative/Formal Reasoning (QFR)
We study all aspects of the Sun, our nearest star. This semester follows the total solar eclipses of August 21, 2017, whose totality crossed the U.S. from coast to coast, and the July 2, 2019, total solar eclipse that crossed Chile and Argentina. In addition to discussing our observations of these eclipses and what has been learned about the solar atmosphere from eclipse research, we discuss the solar interior (including the Nobel-prize-winning solar neutrino experiment and helioseismology), the photosphere, the chromosphere, the corona, and the solar wind. We discuss the Sun as an example of stars in general. We discuss both theoretical aspects and observational techniques, including work at recent total solar eclipses. We discuss results from current spacecraft, including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Sun Watcher (SWAP), and Hinode (Sunrise), and the new GOES/UVSI (Solar Ultraviolet Imager) run by an alumnus as well as additional Total Solar Irradiance measurements from ACRIMSAT and SORCE. We will discuss the role of solar observations in confirming Einstein's General Theory of Relativity with the bending of light at the 1919, 1922, and 2017 total solar eclipses as well as gravitational redshift measurements in solar spectral lines, extending our discussion to the recent "chirp" of gravitational radiation reported from several colliding black holes and neutron stars observed with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). We hope to observe the transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun on November 11, 2019, during the semester; we also discuss our data analysis of recent transits of Mercury we observed from the ground and from space (most recently in May 2016). We will highlight the 2004 and 2012 transits of Venus across the face of the Sun as observed from Earth, the first such transits of Venus since 1882, as well as our work in observing transits of Venus from Jupiter with the Hubble.
Pre-Requisites: ASTR 111 or a 200-level Physics course; or permission of the instructor
An original experimental or theoretical investigation is carried out under the direction of a faculty member in Astronomy, as discussed under the heading of the degree with honors in Astronomy above.
Pre-Requisites: permission of department
An original experimental or theoretical investigation is carried out under the direction of a faculty member in Astronomy or Physics, as discussed under the heading of the degree with honors in Astrophysics above.
Astronomy independent study.
Physicists and Astronomers from around the country come to explain their research. Students of Physics and Astronomy at any level are welcome. Registration is not necessary to attend. A non-credit course.
Frederick W. Strauch
Extra information: registration not necessary to attend
This course introduces the basic concepts of biochemistry with an emphasis on the structure and function of biological macromolecules. Specifically, the structure of proteins and nucleic acids are examined in detail in order to determine how their chemical properties and their biological behavior result from those structures. Other topics covered include catalysis, enzyme kinetics, mechanism and regulation; the molecular organization of biomembranes; and the flow of information from nucleic acids to proteins. In addition, the principles and applications of the methods used to characterize macromolecules in solution and the interactions between macromolecules are discussed. The laboratory provides a hands-on opportunity to study macromolecules and to learn the fundamental experimental techniques of biochemistry including electrophoresis, chromatography, and principles of enzymatic assays.
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 101 and CHEM 251/255 and CHEM 155/256
This course investigates cell structure and function as a consequence of evolutionary processes, and it stresses the dynamic properties of living systems. Topics include an introduction to biological molecules and enzyme action, membrane structure and function, energy exchange and design of metabolic systems, expression of genetic information, cell signaling, cell trafficking, the cell cycle, and cancer. Student-designed laboratory experiments and discussions based on primary biology literature will highlight how biological knowledge is created and understood.
Jenna L. MacIntire
Steven J. Swoap
Daniel V. Lynch
Janis E. Bravo
Intended for the non-scientist, this course explores the biological dimensions of social issues in tropical societies, and focuses specifically on the peoples of tropical regions in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, and the Caribbean. Tropical issues have become prominent on a global scale, and many social issues in the tropics are inextricably bound to human ecology, evolution, and physiology. The course highlights differences between the tropics and areas at higher latitudes. It begins with a survey of the tropical environment of humans, including major climatic and habitat features. The next section focuses on human population biology, and emphasizes demography and the role of disease particularly malaria and AIDS. The final part of the course covers the place of human societies in local and global ecosystems including the challenges of tropical food production, the importance of organic diversity, and the interaction of humans with their supporting ecological environment. This course fulfills the DPE requirement. Through lectures, debates and readings, students confront social issues and policies from the perspective of biologists. This builds a framework for lifelong exploration of human diversity in terms of difference, power and equity.
Distributions: Division III; Difference, Power, and Equity
This course examines evolution as a science and its current and historical importance. Lectures focus on the evidence for evolution, the main evolutionary forces (natural selection and others) and the diversification processes that generate biodiversity. We will also explore recent evolutionary trends and discussions such as human evolution, heritability, personalized genomics, antibiotic and pesticide resistance, climate change, and the conflict between creationists and evolutionists. Includes a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC.
Luana S. Maroja
Genetics, classically defined as the study of heredity, has evolved into a discipline whose limits are continually expanded by innovative molecular technologies. This course covers the experimental basis for our current understanding of the inheritance, structures, and functions of genes. It introduces approaches used by contemporary geneticists and molecular biologists to explore questions in areas of biology ranging from evolution to medicine. The laboratory part of the course provides an experimental introduction to modern genetic analysis. Laboratory experiments include linkage analysis, bacterial transformation with plasmids and DNA restriction mapping.
David W. Loehlin
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 101 and 102
This course combines lectures with field and indoor laboratory exercises to explore factors that determine the distribution and abundance of plants and animals in natural systems. The course begins with an overall view of global patterns and then builds from the population to the ecosystem level. An emphasis is given to basic ecological principles and relates them to current environmental issues. Selected topics include population dynamics (competition, predation, mutualism); community interactions (succession, food chains and diversity) and ecosystem function (biogeochemical cycles, energy flow).
Ron D. Bassar
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 101 and 102, or ENVI 101 or 102, or permission of instructor
A study of the relationship between brain, mind, and behavior. Topics include a survey of the structure and function of the nervous system, basic neurophysiology, development, learning and memory, sensory and motor systems, consciousness and clinical disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, Parkinson's disease, and addiction. The laboratory focuses on current topics in neuroscience.
Tim J. Lebestky
Shivon A. Robinson
Pre-Requisites: PSYC 101 or BIOL 101; open to first-year students only with permission of instructor
Martha J. Marvin
What properties of the physical world do organisms sense, and which ones do they ignore? How do they convert physical or chemical energy to a signal within a cell? We will look for answers to these questions by investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms of sensory transduction--and how these mechanisms define the types of information that the nervous system extracts and encodes. We will also ask how natural selection shapes the type of sensory information that animals extract from the world. Some of the examples we will consider are: bat echolocation (hair cells in the ear), detecting visual motion (amacrine cells in the retina), the constant reshaping of the mammalian olfactory system (chemical mapping of odors), what makes a touch stimulus noxious (in worms and mice), enhanced color vision (in birds, bees, and shrimp), and differences in the way males and females sense odors (pheromones and the vomeronasal organ). Laboratory exercises will cover a range of techniques, including electrophysiological recording, the role of mutations in single genes, and behavioral assays.
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 101
Using the principles of evolutionary biology and experimental ecology, this course examines the processes that control the diversity, abundance and distribution of marine organisms. Major marine communities, including estuaries, the rocky shore, sandy beaches, salt marshes, coral reefs, and the deep sea are discussed in detail.
Tim J. Pusack
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 101 or GEOS/MAST 104, or permission of instructor
Extra information: offered only at Mystic Seaport
Biology 200-level independent study. Each student carries out independent field or laboratory research under the supervision of a member of the department.
Lois M. Banta
An advanced ecology course that examines how species interact with each other and their environment with a focus on conservation implications. This course emphasizes phenomena that emerge in complex ecological systems, building on the fundamental concepts of population biology, community ecology, and ecosystem science. This foundation will be used to understand specific topics relevant to conservation including the functional significance of diversity for ecosystem stability and processes. Lectures and labs will explore how to characterize the emergent properties of communities and ecosystems, and how theoretical, comparative, and experimental approaches are used to understand their structure and function. The lab component of this course will emphasize hypothesis-oriented field experiments but will also include some laboratory microcosm experiments. The laboratory component of the course will culminate with a self-designed independent or group project.
Manuel A. Morales
Pre-Requisites: BIOL/ENVI 203 or 220
Plants are one of the most successful groups of organisms on Earth and have a profound impact on all life. Successful use of plants in addressing global problems and understanding their role in natural ecosystems depends on fundamental knowledge of the molecular mechanisms by which they grow, develop, and respond to their environment. This course will examine the molecular physiology of plants using an integrative approach that considers plants as dynamic, functional units in their environment. Major emphasis will be on understanding fundamental plant processes, such as photosynthesis, growth and development, water transport, hormone physiology, and flowering, from the molecular to the organismal level. Environmental effects on these processes will be addressed in topics including photomorphogenesis, stress physiology, mineral nutrition, and plant-microbe interactions. Discussions of original research papers will examine the mechanisms plants use to perform these processes and explore advances in the genetic engineering of plants for agricultural, environmental, and medical purposes. Laboratory activities stress modern approaches and techniques used in investigating plant physiological processes.
Claire S. Ting
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 202 or permission of instructor
This course will examine the functional organization of the vertebrate brain, emphasizing both neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. How do specific populations of neurons and their connections analyze sensory information, form perceptions of the external and internal environment, make cognitive decisions, and execute movements? How does the brain produce feelings of reward/motivation and aversion/pain? How does the brain regulate homeostatic functions such as sleep, food intake, and thirst? We will explore these questions using a holistic, integrative approach, considering molecular/cellular mechanisms, physiological characterizations of neurons, and connectivity among brain systems. Laboratory sessions will provide experience in examining macroscopic and microscopic neural structures, as well as performing experiments to elucidate the structure and function of neural systems using classical and cutting-edge techniques.
Matt E. Carter
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 212 (same as PSYC 212 or NSCI 201) or BIOL 205
Plants and animals are increasingly faced with rapid environmental change driven by human activities across the globe. How do they cope with challenges imposed by climate change, altered nutrient cycling, biological invasions, and increased urbanization? What are the impacts of organismal responses at the population and community level? This course uses an integrative approach to understand the impacts of global change at multiple levels of biological organization in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. We examine how global-scale environmental changes affect the distribution and abundance of species and alter community organization. We also consider the physiological and behavioural mechanisms underlying species responses and the role of acclimation versus adaptation in coping with rapid environmental change. Finally, we learn the analytical tools used to predict future responses to global change. Class discussions will focus on readings drawn from the primary literature.
Sonya K. Auer
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 203 or BIOL 305, or permission of instructor
Division of normal cells is a highly regulated process based on input from both intrinsic and extrinsic signals. The cell's response to its environment affects all aspects of cell behavior: proliferation, death, differentiation and migration. The goal of the course is to understand the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction that guide normal cell behavior and how disruptions in this process can lead to cancer. We will focus on the Hedgehog-Gli signaling pathway that is activated in 30% of all known cancers. Genetic studies will serve as an introduction to the components of the pathway, followed by an examination of the molecular mechanisms of signal reception, transduction of intracellular information, scaffolding and transcriptional targets. The final section of the course will investigate how high throughput screens, medicinal chemistry studies and mouse models are used to identify small molecular inhibitors of pathway components. We will consider the effectiveness of these inhibitors in pharmacological studies, clinical trials and potential cancer treatments.
Robert M. Savage
Thermal physiology involves the study of molecular events, organ systems, and organism-environmental interactions that are involved with heat production and temperature maintenance. The area of thermal physiology has been around for over 100 years. However, only in the last 5-7 years has the science progressed to understanding basic fundamental mechanisms for generating and regulating heat production. This tutorial will focus on four questions: 1) how do organisms generate heat? 2) how do organisms sense the temperature in the environment? 3) how do organisms integrate information about the environment (temperature, humidity, time of day, etc.) with internal information (deep body temperature, energy stores, etc.) to regulate their metabolic production of heat? 4) how do animals make "the decision" to enter a state of torpor?
Pre-Requisites: BIOL 205 or permission of instructor
Each student prepares a thesis under the supervision of a member of the department. Thesis work can begin either in the spring of the junior or the fall of the senior year, and includes the Winter Study period of the senior year. The number of Biology Department faculty available to mentor research students and the number of students each can accommodate in her/his lab vary from year to year. Although the department will make every effort to provide an opportunity for students to conduct Honors research, you should be aware that it may not be possible to assign all applicants to a laboratory.
This course provides an introduction to chemistry for those students with little or no high school chemistry. Students will be introduced to concepts fundamental to studying matter at the molecular level. Principal topics include introductions to the nature of atoms and molecules, stoichiometry, solubility rules and equilibria, gas laws, chemical equilibrium, acid-base reactions, periodic relationships, chemical bonding, molecular structure, intermolecular forces, oxidation-reduction reactions, and related applications. Laboratory work comprises a system of qualitative analysis and quantitative techniques. The course provides preparation for further study of organic chemistry, biochemistry, physical and inorganic chemistry and is intended for students who are anticipating professional study in chemistry, in related sciences, or in one of the health professions, as well as for those students who are interested in exploring the fundamental ideas of chemistry as part of their general education.
Pre-Requisites: all students planning to enroll are required to take the online Chemistry Placement Test prior to registering for the course (and incoming first year students are required to meet with a faculty member during First Days)
Extra information: information about the Chemistry Placement Test can be found at http://chemistry.williams.edu/placement/;students who have studied chemistry for one or more years are directed to CHEM 153 or 155
This course broadens and deepens the foundation in chemistry of students who have had typically one year of chemistry at the high school level. Most students begin study of chemistry at Williams with this course. Familiarity with stoichiometry, basic concepts of equilibria, and the model of an atom is expected. Principal topics for this course include kinetic theory of gases, modern atomic theory, molecular structure and bonding, states of matter, chemical equilibrium (acid-base and solubility), and an introduction to atomic and molecular spectroscopies. Laboratory work includes synthesis, qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis, and molecular modeling. The course is of interest to students who anticipate professional study in chemistry, related sciences, or one of the health professions, as well as to those who want to explore the fundamental ideas of chemistry as part of their general education.
Pre-Requisites: all students are required to take the online Chemistry Placement Test prior to registering for the course (and incoming first year students are required to meet with a faculty member during First Days)
Extra information: information about the Chemistry Placement Test can be found at http://chemistry.williams.edu/placement/
This course broadens and deepens the foundation in chemistry of students who have had typically one year of chemistry at the high school level. Most students begin study of chemistry at Williams with this course. Familiarity with stoichiometry, basic concepts of equilibria, and the model of an atom is expected. Principal topics for this course include kinetic theory of gases, modern atomic the