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Current Courses

Here be the current term's graduate-level MEMS courses with descriptions. Additional 400-level courses may be found via the undergrad/current courses links.

MEMS Graduate Courses, Winter 2021

HISTART/ASIAN 577: Bodies and Buildings: Studies in the Temple Architecture and Sculpture of India / Nachiket Chanchani
Indian temples are among the great architectural traditions of the world. Erected by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains since the early centuries CE, they display an extraordinary array of sophisticated forms, layouts, and functions. This seminar initially traces the formal, social, and symbolic origins of important traditions of temple architecture and sculpture. It then maps their regional expressions and their dispersion across South and Southeast Asia. In doing so, it emphasizes some of the remarkable ways in which humans and temples have shaped and reflected one another. Encounters between temples and human communities have ranged from a patron's limb serving as a unit of measure for a shrine, to the design of the temple as the dwelling and body of a gendered, juridical, and permeable being. Finally, the seminar graphs pivotal lives in the moments of individual temples -- their design, construction, the infusion of prana (vital energy) into them, their mutilation, restoration, total destruction and eventual recreation.

HISTART 655: Studies in the History of Art History: Thinking about the Visual / Elizabeth Sears
This seminar is intended to acquaint students with strategies employed in the historical analysis of visual art and artifacts. The “image” became an object of degree-granting academic study – historical and philosophical – only in the later nineteenth century. In the earlier 20th century, especially between the wars, some of the discipline’s most sophisticated work was conducted. Drawing on critical work of our own day concerning still-relevant thinkers, we will conduct close readings of a wide range of texts. This will mean considering figures important in the development of “looking” as an investigative act (Wölfflin to Schapiro), “structure-analytical” practices developed by members of the first and second Vienna schools (Riegl to Pächt), and the dissemination from Hamburg of the “iconological” line (Warburg, Panofsky, Wind, etc.). Issues include networks of scholarly exchange; the place of gender and identity in the development of the field; the impacts of institutionalization; art and politics; alternatives to “European” methodologies. The final reading list will be determined by the interests of the members of the class. Students, as they choose their research topics, will be encouraged to focus on thinker(s) or methods that inform their own research. Interdisciplinarity will be a focus and members of other disciplines who wish to add depth to their study of the visual ¬are welcome.

HISTART 689.005: Arts and Cultures of the Steppe Nomads / Bryan Miller

LATIN 507: Late Latin/ Donka Markus
The purpose of the course is to read a representative selection of post-classical texts (400-1400) and to teach you to appreciate the language, style and the unique linguistic choices of Late Latin authors. While solidifying your control over the essentials of Classical Latin grammar, the course will highlight the differences between Classical and Late Latin. We will read selections from the New Testament in Latin, from Augustine's Confessions, from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae and from Jacobus DeVoragine’s Life of Barlaam and Iosaphat. While this is an undergraduate fourth-semester Latin course, it can be taken for graduate credit under this number.

LATIN 870: Women Latin Poets / Ian Fielding
Only a tiny fraction of the Latin poetry that has survived from antiquity was written by women; there is, as one literary historian has put it, no Latin Sappho. We will begin this seminar by combing the evidence of women writing poetry in ancient Rome and investigating why the writing of more Roman women poets has not been preserved. Then, we will survey major works of women's Latin poetry from late antiquity and the middle ages up to the end of the seventeenth century, exploring questions of gender, education, and power through the study of classical receptions. We will travel from Rome to medieval France and Saxony, then to Venice, Paris, Lisbon, London, and the Low Countries, reading texts by Sulpicia, Proba, Dhuoda, Hrotsvitha, Angela and Isotta Nogarola, Luisa Sigea, Camille de Morel, Elizabeth Weston, and Anna Maria van Schurman (among others). All texts will be available in the original Latin or in translation, so the seminar has no language requirement.

MUSICOLOGY 506 / 643: Virtuosity and Collaboration in Early Modern Contexts / Louise Stein
This research seminar investigates compositional and performative virtuosity and collaboration in the music and musical cultures of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Traditional music historical narratives have tended to emphasize the importance of the virtuoso solo performer or composer in this epoch, with little-to-no attention to improvisational collaboration. Improvisation and collaboration, rather than individual virtuosity, were the stronger forces shaping creation and performance in an evolving marketplace. Some of the topics for consideration in W2021 are: “Improvisational Virtuosity in Hispanic Music,” “Corelli and the Flexible String Orchestra in Rome,” “The Donnesca Voce (womanly voice)” “Alessandro Scarlatti, Naples, and the Castrati,” “Handel and His Singers (cantata, opera, oratorio),” “Fabulous Farinelli Among Colleagues and Patrons,” “Domenico Scarlatti, Sonatas and Sources,” “Pasticcio,” and “Collaborative Patronage.” The work of the seminar will focus on music; we will study through primary sources whenever possible (photos of libretti, printed music from the period, unpublished manuscript music, and archival documents). Readings from secondary sources will be drawn from a class bibliography of scholarship in musicology and related fields.
This seminar is open to students in music and humanities fields: scholars, performers, singers, accompanists, composers, music theorists, and early music enthusiasts. Students from outside the SMTD, especially those with an interest in early modern culture, are encouraged to enroll.

MUSICOLOGY 577. Medieval Music / James Borders
This lecture-discussion course surveys Western European sacred and secular musical repertories from late Antiquity and the advent of Gregorian Chant through polyphonic music of the late fourteenth century. Students will learn about the cultural contexts of medieval music, including ancient music theory and philosophies of music; gain knowledge of the medieval musical styles based on representative examples; and develop a basic understanding of medieval music notation, music theory, and compositional techniques. In the 2021 winter semester students should expect regular journal, reading and listening assignments, timed quizzes, online discussion topics, and midterm and final essay exams (no term paper). The ability to read and understand modern Western musical notation is required.

MUSIC THEORY 805: Rousseau’s Essay on the Origin of Languages: Music, Language, and Inequality / Nathan Martin
The thesis of Rousseau’s Second Discourse—as radical in twenty-first century America as it was in ancien régime France—is that social inequality is illegitimate. In this course, though we will cast a glance at Rousseau positive proposals in the Social Contract and Émile, we will concentrate on his diagnosis of the problem: that is, in elucidating his argument against inequality in the Second Discourse. To do so, we will come at the problem from what at first might seem an unexpected angle. Fully a fifth of Rousseau’s writings, to judge from the standard Pléiade edition of his works, are devoted to questions of music. The preoccupations of the musical writings, from the Dissertation sur la musique modern (1743), through the Lettre sur la musique française (1753), to the Dictionnaire de musique (1768) all come together in the Essay on the Origin of Languages (c. 1763), and the Essay in turn intersects with and develops the themes of the Second Discourse (1755). We will accordingly use the Essay to illuminate the Second Discourse, and the musical writings to illuminate the Essay. The result, I claim, will be a deeper appreciation of the rhetoric and argument of that foundational text—a text to which the French Revolution looked in sweeping away the ancien régime and establishing (eventually) modern Europe’s first large-scale republican democracy.