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Hidden gems among arts classes

By Clayre Benzadon

Section: Arts

August 21, 2015

Ringing in the stress of the semester is the time when everyone is trying to figure out which classes to enroll into. One of the most rewarding classes to ever take is a writing workshop, regardless of whether you are planning to major in creative writing or not. This semester, Prof. Michelle Hoover (ENG) is teaching Creative Nonfiction, an interesting genre to work with in workshop. Because this class is only offered every other year, it’s definitely something to consider as soon as possible. Writing workshops usually require students to send in a manuscript, but the earlier they go in and talk to the professor, the easier it will be to enter the class.

The best things about writing workshops is the fact students get a small classroom size (up to 12 people) so that everyone gets a chance to have their pieces workshopped. The Creative Nonfiction class sounds particularly interesting in that it is different from the usual poetry and fiction classes that are offered every year. This genre is a great way to express yourself through self-discovery by being able to base pieces on your own experiences. Because the class is an experiential learning experience, students will learn many new writing techniques and styles through practice with memoirs, essays and other ways of psychologically depicting you and the way you perceive the world around you and comparing your experiences with others.

The Black Transnational Romance”is another important class taught by Gina Pugliese (GRAD), especially because of the inception of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent years. This class delves into black diaspora fiction from the 20th and 21st centuries, including works by Claude McKay, Jamaica Kincaid and Tsitsi Dangarembga. So much of the fiction that is read in academic settings is by white, male authors; this class provides students with a way to break out of that habit and introduce themselves to some skilled and historic black authors.

An interesting music class that will be offered this fall is American Music: From Psalms to Hip-Hop, taught by Prof. Paula Jo Musegades (AMST/MUS). The styles of music that will be discussed in the class are diverse, ranging from New England Psalm singing to African-American traditions and continuing on through folk, jazz, art, pop, rock and hip hop music. The class is open to music majors as well as non-majors, so if you are interested in music but are only a beginner, you can still take this class and learn about the origins of American music, especially hip-hop, one of the most popular contemporary music genres.

Another unique class offered this semester is Digital Media and Culture, taught by Prof. Conley Wouters (ENG). This course goes into exploring literature and entertainment through digital media. Students will learn about culture through the future of technology. Other concepts in the class will include creative narratives, politics, aesthetics, identity, knowledge and humanism. The digital age creates an easier way for people to express ideas with the touch of a button, and through this class, students will have the opportunity to understand the innovative ways in which our society has entered into a technological era.

There are many classes this semester that seem very interesting and engaging. One of the best parts about attending a liberal arts university is the opportunity to take classes outside of one’s comfort zone. Visit the Brandeis course catalog online for more information on these unique classes.

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