Liberal Arts Courses
Modern Drama and Film
Students will explore the creative forces that go into making films and film adaptations of plays. Works by directors such as Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers, Hitchcock, Ang Lee, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Federico Fellini, David Lynch, Neil Jordan, and Sam Mendes will be explored. Film adaptations of plays by such dramatists as Anton Chekov, Sam Shepard, Harold Pinter, Beth Henley, and David Mamet will also be investigated. Discussions of the elements of drama and film will focus on topics such as dramatic structure, film scoring, screenwriting, directing, acting, and the use of myth and archetype in contemporary films. This is a writing-intensive course.
In a workshop setting, students will participate in acting exercises and theater games as well as perform character monologues and improvisational scenes. Then, from the point of view of the actor, they will study several play scripts. The final demonstration of their understanding of the play scripts and characters will be the performance of a scene from the play.
Creative Writing: Poetry 1
This is an intensive workshop (seminar format) in which the student concentrates on the writing of poetry, on the use of metrics and form (plus free verse), and on the use of symbolism and metaphor.
Fiction Writing Workshop
This course focuses on the craft of composing fiction, including narrative design from the traditional to the experimental, point of view, voice, tension and resolution, character construction, and dialogue. We will also discover how student and professional writers catch and sustain their reader's attention. As models for creative writing, we will choose a small number of works by such authors as Jhumpa Lahiri, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, Tim O'Brien, Ha Jin, Amy Tan, and Milan Kundera. Thinking as writers, not critics, we will read these stories as we read our own: with an eye and an ear tuned to the construction of imaginative stories people enjoy reading. However, the primary emphasis of this writer's workshop will be on shaping student's original short stories. The sessions will be highly interactive, including peer editing and regular small-group work. We will also explore the possibility of students publishing their stories in literary journals and eZines.
Scriptwriting for Theater, TV, and Film
This workshop is a scriptwriters' roundtable. Members collaborate on scripts for films (including shorts), one-act plays, or TV. They create stories, characters and dialogue that grab the audience's attention and refuse to let go. Some classes are conducted as writers' meetings for a film or cable series, including role-playing and improvisation. Creative options include drama, comedy, one-man/woman shows, multimedia projects, and composing music for collaborative scripts. As models for writing, we discuss briefly plays and films by dramatists such as the Coen brothers, David Lynch, Charlie Kaufman, Wendy Wasserstein, Wes Anderson, Alan Ball, Edward Albee, and David Mamet. However, the focus of the workshop is on students' original scripts. Completed dramas will be submitted for publication in FUSION: A Magazine of Literature, Music, Art and Ideas.
Telling True Stories
In this course, students write creative nonfiction, including personal narratives, memoirs, journalism, travel writing, personal essays, and more. Through their writing, students explore their place in the world, develop and improvise personal narratives, and explore voice and identity. Students read and discuss texts written by others while writing personal responses to topics concerning music and other forms of art. The class also explores ways that creative nonfiction may reveal the truth better than objective reporting can, and the ways that memory works on our experiences. Classes revolve around writing, exploring outside texts, careful reading of peers' work, and constructive feedback.
Music Criticism, Reviewing, and Blogging
This course will teach students the fundamentals of journalism and how to apply these fundamentals specifically to reviews and critical analyses of music. Students will write reviews of recordings and live concerts aimed at both professional musicians and the general public; interviews and news pieces related to the music industry, trends, gear, and instrument innovation; and publicity pieces and press releases. Students will also learn blogging techniques, as well as the differences between writing for the web and writing for print.
Music and Literature for Children
Utilizing interdisciplinary approaches to interpretation, composition, and music education, this course offers critical and creative approaches to understanding and articulating characteristics of exemplary musical and literary works for children and adolescents. This course explores the connections between children's music and children's literature through literary and musical analysis, as well as composition in both music and English. In the vast children's music market, some compositions exhibit very high quality, while others seem to be market-driven drivel. What distinguishes the good from the bad, the meaningful from the fluff? How do we account for the progression from Prokofiev to Barney the Dinosaur? This course tries to answer these questions and more by positing that quality music for children can and should be both aesthetically interesting and intellectually engaging. We will look at music for children and explore the connections between children's music and children's literature. The course will focus on different genres of music and literature, from classical and folk to film scores and pop covers. We will also be reading and discussing the source material that inspired the music, including folk tales, nursery rhymes, and works by Lewis Carroll, Edward Gorey, Christina Rossetti, Shel Silverstein, and Lemony Snicket, among others. Particular attention will be paid to the nature of the diverse child audience that educators and performers will encounter in front of a classroom and an audience. As a capstone, there will be a music project component (involving sequencing software), so that students can apply their musical and critical acumen to music composition for children.
Children's Literature: Multicultural Perspectives
This course explores the diversity of children's literature both inside and outside our country, illustrating common social themes as well as multicultural perspectives. Content covers Western and non-Western folktales and fairy tales, along with vibrant representations of multicultural and non-Western children's literature, including texts from African American (Carolivia Herron and Christopher Paul Curtis), Indian (Ruskin Bond and Anushka Ravishankar), Jewish (I.B. Singer and David Wisniewski), and Finnish writers (Tove Jansson). The class, through discussion and reading of primary texts and secondary critical sources, will learn to approach children's literature with particular attention to historical, multicultural, and social contexts. Other topics examined include the definition of children's literature, some of the many possible theoretical approaches to it, and the significant role it plays in our lives and our cultures.
Advanced Theater Scriptwriting Workshop
In the Advanced Theater Scriptwriting Workshop, students will research, draft and write a theater script with music. During the fall semester, students will have the opportunity to hear the script read by student actors and then put the script through the necessary revisions. The revised script could be produced in the Advanced Theater Production Workshop. Students will have the experience of writing a finished script, presenting it, then readying it for further development. The course will emphasize teamwork within the class as well as educate students to become collaborators within the interdisciplinary team of theater production.
Advanced Theater Production Workshop
In this course, students develop a theatrical show, featuring an original script, and works in conjunction with a dedicated musical ensemble. Students learn various aspects of staging a production, from reworking a script, casting, acting, staging, scenography, choreography, costuming, directing and production. Students explore the collaborative and creative function of theatrical production, as well as basic techniques of scene study, acting methods, and aesthetics. Students also learn practical applications of theater organization, management, and composition through the production and performance of a particular play.
Creative Writing: Poetry 2
In this course, students continue to develop and explore their poetry skills at a high level. This course is of special value to students interested in songwriting, composition, poetry, spoken word, and creative writing. Students delve deeply into both poetic form and content. They develop their language skills as they explore fixed forms and free verse. The course also provides students an opportunity to develop further their love of and appreciation for poetry as an art form.