This seminar will explore the history of the arts as a universal language across time and divergent cultures. We will focus on the development of the arts as a parallel vehicle in understanding human communication. In addition to exploring traditional aesthetic concepts we will examine contemporary art and its relationship to contemporary modes of communication. Our aesthetic investigation will include fine arts, music, and drama. Reading by Rudolf Arnheim, John Berger, Howard Gardner, Michael Kimmelman, Marshall McLuhan, Ben Shahn, and Dai Sijie will provide topics of discussion. The class will also include visits to local museums and museums in New York City. Time and scheduling permitted, we will attend plays and music concerts. We will use the Manhattanville College art community as a learning lab for our aesthetic exploration.
This first-year seminar examines pivotal moments from antiquity to modern times when Africa and Africans encountered non-Africans, both within the continent and outside it. In these cases, Africa and Africans were the essential others to be assessed then conquered by the West. The course addresses fundamental questions about African and non-African cultural contact and its aftermath through investigations of primary source materials and film.
CAMEMBERT, COUSCOUS, AND CHANEL
In the 18th century, French king Louis XIV played a key role in making France, specifically Paris, the leader of gastronomy and style in Europe. In this course we will examine the place of food and fashion in French culture. We will analyze the role of haute cuisine, or the preparation of high quality food,and the use of regional and local foods, or produits du terroir, in French cuisine. We will examine how ethnic foods, like the North African couscous and the Vietnamese banh mi, foods from France’s ex-colonies, are now part of the French cuisine. More recently, with the banning of pork-free options for lunches in French public schools, we will investigate how food has become part of French debates on laïcité, or secularism. From the nineteenth-century shopping arcades to the opening of the first department store, Paris was and continues to be the center of haute couture or high fashion. Through close readings of literary and historical texts, newspaper and magazine articles, and films, we will study how food, wine, and fashion have played, and continue to play, a central role in French culture.
CARIBBEAN LITERATURE AND HISTORY
While the Caribbean region is often considered a leading vacation destination, there is much more to it than beaches and daiquiris. The region once served as a proscenium to the “New” World, where countries and cultures converged in often greedy and violent conquests. Writers of Caribbean heritage have done much to capture this complicated history and the resilient, diverse cultures that came to survive and flourish. This seminar will focus on the work of several such writers, including Dominican-American writers Julia Alvarez and Junot Diaz, Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, and Jamaican-American writer Claude McKay.
CITIZENSHIP AND DISSENT IN AMERICAN POLITICS
This course will examine the concept of citizenship, our roles and responsibility as citizens, and methods of participation in our communities. We will also examine various ways that citizens can express dissent. These will include music, comedy/satire, film, television, print media, protest, activism, and social media.
COMPASSION AND COMMUNITY: PRACTICING THE NEW SOCIAL SKILLS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
The class will examine personal insight and development through the lens of our social environment. This course will introduce the concepts of self-discovery, community building, the construction of social contracts, and the development of social empathy. Readings, films, and discussions will correlate these themes with historical and current social conditions and trends. This course studies the connections between people, investigating roles and relationships and the responsibilities and responses of individuals, communities, governments and groups.
CONCERT & POPULAR MUSICAL STYLES: CLASSIC & ROMANTIC
This seminar will engage the students in listening to musical works from various style periods and, where applicable, pair them with texts and/or discussion of religious, social and political events and their implications. The principal concern of the course is European classical music and its representations in the United States. The main work of the course will be learning how to listen to the works in a meaningful context, including cultural background, insightful musical considerations, and for aesthetic appreciation.
DESIGNING YOUR SELF: PRINCIPLES VERSUS PREJUDICES
Who am I? Who do I want to become? How can I take more control to design and realize the Self I wish to become? Human nature and human cultures are embedded in us in ways we know and in ways we don't fully recognize. We are complicated! We are full of inclinations that both hinder us and serve us. Among these are our prejudices. This Seminar will explore the possible origins and natures of our prejudices. Why and how do we differentiate ourselves from "the other?" How can we develop and practice principled lives in our college community and beyond? We will explore these things in traditional ways, through reading and writing; but, we will also explore these in experiential ways. As a part of the experiential component, students will be introduced to Design Thinking, a collaborative process of problem-solving. Likewise, students will be encouraged to learn and use techniques to start on a path to realize their personal goals for growth and change; and we'll learn what it means to be part of the community that is Manhattanville. It will be an adventure.
EFFECTIVE REASONING AND ARGUMENTATION
This course deals with the kind of arguments typically found in the social sciences, business, as well as public discourse. Such argument offer justifications, rather than watertight proofs, to support claims. Thus the course is different from the courses on formal logic taught in philosophy departments. Students here will study various forms of claims, inference, and evidence. They will learn to evaluate the validity and soundness of an argument by breaking it into its component parts and examining the relationships between them. Various forms of logical fallacies and rejoinders will be covered. Students will also be introduced to the study of rhetoric (which was one of the original seven liberal arts).
GENDER, RACE, CLASS AND BARBIE
“My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.” ~ Ruth Handler, Barbie Creator.
Barbie, the fashion doll by Mattel, Inc., was released on March 9, 1959. Since her release Barbie has had over 180 careers, has run for president six times, and remains a top toy for children in the US (and in nations across the world). This course provides a broad look at gender, race, and class in the United States as seen through evolutions in the Barbie enterprise.
LITERATURE OF WAR
From its beginnings, the written word has given witness to humanity's evolving hardships, including its violent trials with itself. This course will consider various texts that deal with the theme of war in the 20th century. We will hear from a vast chorus of voices—witness, victim, soldier, rhetorician, protester, and others—and our emphasis will be on the individual's literary response to societal unrest. We will explore how different genres (fiction, non-fiction, and poetry) are equipped to witness, effect, or protest circumstances of violence and upheaval. Students will strengthen their critical reading and thinking skills through an engagement with this material. Authors include Paul Fussell, Ernest Hemingway, Tim O’Brien, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Pablo Neruda.
MODERN AND POSTMODERN LITERATURE AND ART
This seminar will examine novels, poetry and artwork that illustrate, embrace and expand our understanding of the seminal twentieth century movements of modernism and postmodernism. Complementing our analysis of the literature and art will be a consideration of architecture, film and artistic manifestos. A fundamental objective of the course will be to define and understand modernism and postmodernism. Students will explore the history and social forces that gave shape to these movements, and they will investigate how the concepts have influenced the perception of ideas, language and culture. This seminar can count toward the College’s Critical Analysis and Reasoning Competency.
This seminar will explore America’s cultural past and future directions. This course will examine America’s impact on minority groups and how those groups in turn influenced U.S. social, political, and cultural life. Changing views of race and “people of color” will be explored as well as the impact of economic development on the ideas and phenomena of “assimilation and ethnicity.” Global discussions and controversies about multiculturalism, migration and immigration will also be examined.
OUR WORLD IS BLUE: OCEANS IN CRISIS
Our world is blue. Greater than 71% of the Earth’s surface is water, and 99% of the living space on the planet is found within our oceans. Yet, our oceans are in crisis. Water – the blue – is key to life. With it, we thrive. Without it, life would cease to exist. Every living being, everywhere, is inextricably connected to and dependent upon the existence of healthy oceans. This class will be an assessment of the declining health of the oceans, and how we as humans are not only responsible for the declining trend, but also the solution to our ocean crisis. It is up to us to heal our blue planet, and ensure healthful life for future generations. We will explore the state of the world’s oceans and coasts, whether or not they are indeed in crisis, and what, if any management responses can be reasonably expected to halt and restore our oceans. We will discuss a variety of topics, including climate change and the oceans, what the future holds for coral reefs, fisheries and global food security, contamination of the oceans, and global oceans governance. Through various assigned readings and discussions, this course will help students develop significant knowledge of ocean science and environmental issues, along with an ability to communicate this knowledge in a persuasive form that will make people commit to action! Only WE can keep this blue world spinning.
POETRY OF DESIRE
From the earliest known lyric poems to today’s slam poetry, poets address the nature of desire. In the sixth century B.C.E., Sappho writes, “Sweet mother, I cannot work the loom—/slender Aphrodite has overwhelmed me/ with longing for a boy.” In Sappho’s poems, what is best loved is usually another person, and no poet describes longing more achingly. However, human desire defines beauty or what is good in many ways. The absence of what we love pains us, yet desire for what is good or beautiful keeps us going. Contemporary poet Stanley Kunitz writes, “What makes the engine go? / Desire, desire, desire.” This seminar will focus on poetry as the creative impulse to define what we desire, linking the expression of desire across centuries and cultures. Texts will include Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho, Eros the Bittersweet; Helen Vendler’s Poem’s Poets, Poetry; Czeslaw Milosz's A Book of Luminous Things; Susan Wolfman’s John Keats; and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.
SHAKESPEARE’S WORLD (Castle Scholars Honors Seminar) It is London, 1592. Shakespeare’s acting company, the Lord Strange’s Men, is competing with Christopher Marlowe’s rival acting company, the Admiral’s Men, for the right to perform a play in the public theaters. Each company argues its case in front of Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council, her highest advisors, and the outcome has yet to be determined. Who will win the right to take the stage? This is not your ordinary English literature class. In this course, the classroom literally transforms into Shakespeare’s sixteenth-century London, and students become Renaissance people in an elaborate game set in the past. Students will learn not only how to read and analyze Renaissance plays, including those by Shakespeare and Marlowe, but also how the Renaissance thought about poetry and theatre, public life and morality, politics and philosophy. Students will literally embody the questions and ideas of Shakespeare’s World.
STREET ART: ACTIVISTS, ARTISTS, AND ANARCHISTS
Street art is a distinctly urban art form that developed in large cities during the 1970s and 1980s. Initially this global art style evolved from simple graffiti tags to large-scale mural compositions. This course will investigate the emergence of street art from its early beginnings to its present state as a contemporary cultural movement. Students will learn to distinguish between the various forms of street art, such as tagging, stenciling, and mural painting. Throughout the semester we will consider the shifting definitions and functions of street art throughout the world from acts of protest to vehicles of communication.
TERROR AND GOD
This seminar explores religious texts and other readings as a way to understand how prejudice influences intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, and intergroup dynamics. In particular, the course will provide opportunities for students to analyze prejudices for and against religions in this regard.
THE ART OF LIVING: RELIGION, REASON, and ETHICAL LIFE
This seminar will focus on ethical theories and their application to current issues. Both semesters will entertain the idea of ethics and the moral life as an “art of living” to full human potential and flourishing as community. This course is a general introduction to ethics or moral philosophy. The course examines both ethical norms for conduct (i.e., theories of right and wrong action, theories of justice, and theories of human rights) and ethical norms for judging the goodness or badness of persons and their lives. We will also examine alternative theories, values and moralities.
THE CAMERA DOESN’T LIE? ISSUES AND IMPACTS OF DOCUMENTARY FILM
On a superficial level, documentary film purports to expose the truth of our world. It has had a profound impact in doing so in a number of historical occasions and continues to incite public interest in topics that may otherwise have gone overlooked, sometimes resulting in direct action. However, what we often forget is that the documentary is not objective truth but, rather, an exploration of the topic framed by the literal lens of the camera and the ideological lenses of filmmakers and their subjects. With this in mind, this seminar will study the history and impact of the documentary to uncover the ways in which these films serve as constructed narratives. We will investigate these films’ participation in larger societal discussions in order to understand their significance as cultural objects. Finally, we will examine and evaluate the impact of selected documentary films to better understand how such media influence the world around us.
THE POWER OF PREJUDICE (Castle Scholars Honors Seminar)
Using Gordon Allport’s classic book, The Nature of Prejudice, as a focal point, this seminar explores a variety of readings as a way to understand how prejudice influences intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, and intergroup dynamics. In particular, the course will provide opportunities for students to analyze racism and sexism in this regard. Throughout the course, consideration will be given to Manhattanville College’s mission “to educate students to become ethically and socially responsible leaders for global community.” This seminar will involve students in a critical, reflective analysis of how “race” and “gender” impact the functioning of groups and societies. The intent is to provide intellectually rigorous, theoretical frameworks for understanding some of the issues that tend to balkanize groups in the United States today. From nativism to affirmative action, students will be provided with tools to think logically and argue persuasively about these “hot button” issues.
WELCOME TO NEW YORK: A MUSICAL JOURNEY
“Welcome to New York- a musical journey” will have you navigate through Manhattan’s iconic music venues. From classical music to jazz/blues and musical theatre, the course surveys the different genres that create this melting pot. The musical establishment tradition in Manhattan dates back to the 1750s and can be traced through the birth of the New York Philharmonic in 1842, the openings of Carnegie Hall in 1891 and the Victoria Theatre (Hammerstein Theatre) in 1899 to the Cotton Club in 1923. The history of music in New York City allows us to outline the changes in society, political movements and racial tensions, through the eyes of musicians and the language of musical expression.