Liberal Arts Courses
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.
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.
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.
This course takes students into the political, personal, raucous, powerful, and genre-defining process of creating original performance poetry. Slam poetry (the competitive part of spoken word) is the revolutionary heart of the modern performance poetry movement. The course will help students discover and sculpt their own poetic voice and unique stage performance; write and speak with more clarity and power; better manage fears around public speaking; and create deeper, more honest connections with an audience. We will explore historical contexts of spoken word and investigate hip-hop and rap, stand-up comedy, traditional poetic form, lyric writing, dramatic monologue, and more. Classes include weekly writing prompts, in-class open mics, visiting artists, vocal exercises, and an end-of-semester performance poetry showcase. All writers and performers, regardless of experience, are welcome.
This advanced workshop expands and evolves the students' experience in the world of slam, spoken word, and performance poetry. Students have the opportunity to examine and create group pieces, conceptual art, unusual poetic forms, and effective slam competitions strategy. Students will work within a wide variety of poetic styles, from hip-hop to confessional, and examine a broader spectrum of performers. Students have some automy in designing their own projects and reading lists. Students will also engage in experiencing, analyzing, and further developing their own unique artistic compositions. Guest performers and teachers will be featured and the semester will culminate with an end-of-semester poetry showcase.
In this course, students explore various styles of poetry, spoken word and improvisation, utilizing a variety of cultural and literary art forms. Students learn about the primary influences of African American writers and the shaping of particular literary and musical genres around language usage. Students explore the spoken word tradition from the Harlem Renaissance to early street poetry to hip-hop, spoken word, and freestyle. Students examine the way spoken word artists have connected their words with music, and especially with the blues. Students study the works of great American artists and scholars, including Langston Hughes, Jill Scott, Tupac Shakur, Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, Michael Eric Dyson, Angela Davis, Cornell West, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, James Brown, Alvin Poussant, and others. Students also write and perform their own original creations, developing their own style as writers and performers of spoken word art.
This course explores the most popular genres of children's literature—fantasy fiction, poetry, and picture books—to lead students on their own creative paths towards the unique discipline of writing for children, which involves an awareness of multiple audiences, rigorous aesthetics, and pedagogy, along with the more common artistic considerations of authors. Students are exposed to a range of works, including classics like Lewis Carroll's nonsense literature and Beatrix Potter's works, to more modern literature, such as Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy, Dr. Seuss and Edward Gorey's nonsense literature, and Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Music designed to accompany these literary works will also be studied, including Dan Zanes, Mika Pohjola, and Natalie Merchant. Academic reading includes theoretical work by J.R.R. Tolkien and Maurice Sendak, among others. Students will produce one chapter and an outline for a novel, plus poems and/or picture book drafts, depending on students' preferences, and music may be included as an element in the overall projects. Proficiency as an illustrator is not required.
This course is designed to provide critical and creative approaches to one of the most neglected, yet rich, areas of African American studies: children's literature and culture. Students will explore the artistic, cultural, political, and social significance of past and present African American children's literature, beginning with folktales from Africa and African Americans, moving through the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights Era, and ending with present day material. This class will also focus on some of the contemporary issues, including the importance of physical appearance—and particularly hair—in the black community, the portrayal of slavery, and of course, the expression and exploration of black musical heritage. As a capstone, the final project will be a research paper so that students can make their own discoveries about this emerging field of study.
FUSION Magazine Seminar and Practicum provides students with advanced literary and editorial skills, as well as the hands-on experience of editing and producing a contemporary magazine for creative arts and ideas. Students develop their creative abilities in writing, film reviewing, editing, interviewing, and web and video production fundamentals related to FUSION. Students explore the creative genres of fiction, creative nonfiction, interviews, contemporary issues, drama, poetry, film, photography, artwork, and design. The course provides a variety of creative collaboration opportunities for students, including those among writers, editors, visual artists, musicians, and producers. Students work on FUSION Magazine: soliciting pieces, editing, working with authors, and more. Students also work on FUSION's ongoing and newest projects, including City FUSION, pieces focused on urban living; and the Translation Initiative, a collaboration where students write native language to English translations of creative works. Students learn to use software, for basic production of online publications. Students learn to write and edit for print and for the web, and to make decisions about the design and production of both a print-based and web-based magazine.
All first-year seminars share an emphasis on navigating the Berklee experience, building a foundation for success as a student and an artist, and creating a sense of community among students and faculty. This seminar challenges students to examine and redefine the way we view artistic space. Students will explore various definitions of art, investigate the presence and role of art in the community, and discover where art is created and performed. In the 21st century, artistic spaces have been redefined and expanded beyond the studio or concert hall. Public art, collaborative projects and spaces, and accessibility to art will be explored. Students will look at ways that art can be used beyond traditional boundaries. This course helps students discover and advocate for issues facing artists and creates a safe, reflective space for discourse and debate. It gives students tools to understand the role of art in society, to put their own and their classmates’ beliefs and values in context, and expose their own biases. Students will draw upon their skills and concerns as artists to reach for a more informed, nuanced, and open-minded grasp of the role of art in society.
All first-year seminars share an emphasis on navigating the Berklee experience, building a foundation for success as a student and an artist, and creating a sense of community among students and faculty. This seminar’s unique focus is on the city and institutions that we call home. Students will explore Boston including their immediate surroundings, and will learn how historical and contemporary issues inform the city and its citizens. In addition, students will learn about the history of Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, so that they can better appreciate the institutions and how they weave into the city’s fabric. This course helps students discover the city in which they are living and advocate for issues facing students, residents, and artists. It creates a safe, reflective space for discourse and debate. It gives students tools to put their own and their classmates’ beliefs and values in context, and expose their own biases. Students will draw upon their skills and concerns as artists to reach for a more informed, nuanced, and open-minded grasp of connections between a city, its people, history, and culture.
All first-year seminars share an emphasis on navigating the Berklee experience, building a foundation for success as a student and an artist, and creating a sense of community among students and faculty. This seminar’s unique focus is on the artist’s engagement with and response to the social and political world. Students will develop habits of mind that help them evaluate media as sources of information, analyze issues, and persuasively support their views. The course helps students discover and advocate for the issues they care most about and creates a safe, reflective space for discourse and debate. It gives them tools to put their own and their classmates’ beliefs and values in context, expose their own biases, and examine emergent events, ideas, and trends through multiple lenses. Students will engage collaboratively in weekly responses to events and draw upon their skills and concerns as artists to reach for a more informed, nuanced, and open-minded grasp of the world.