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A guide to fall classes that meet the creative arts requirement

By Katie Decker-Jacoby

Section: Arts

August 25, 2017

Are you looking to fulfill the creative arts general university requirement, but you aren’t sure what to take? Are you new to Brandeis and don’t really know what the School of Creative Arts has to offer? Are you a senior who still hasn’t taken a creative arts class yet? Well, there’s no need to stress because there are plenty of options with spaces to enroll.

One of Brandeis’ general university requirements is a class from the School of Creative Arts. The creative arts requirement enables students to try something new, improve their skills, step out of their comfort zones and express themselves through various media. Even students who are not particularly interested in the arts can find a class that stimulates their inner creativity. And since Brandeis has a “shopping” period in the first few weeks of each semester, it’s not too late to be browsing the course catalog. Here is a glimpse of several artsy finds for the fall of 2017.

1. FA 40A The Gift of the Nile: Egyptian Art and Archaeology

“Who doesn’t love mummies and ancient curses?” said Professor Andrew Koh. FA 40A The Gift of the Nile: Egyptian Art and Archaeology, taught by Professor Koh, unravels the art, archaeology and architecture of ancient Egypt.

“Ancient Egypt is certainly at the core of this class, but it is also the ideal material to have conversations about how we perceive the cultural past in the modern day,” explained Koh. One unique element of this class is its trip to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston. Students will then use their acquired knowledge from the museum visit to help them write essays. “The ancient world matters today and it’s often stranger than fiction, which is what makes it so fun,” Koh added. The mystical aspect of the study of ancient Egypt certainly makes this area of study unique and captivating. Plus, The Gift of the Nile satisfies the non-Western requirement as well, allowing students who take this course to kill two birds with one stone.

2. FA 164A The Re-Invention of Art

If history is your forte, then perhaps take a look at an art history course such as Professor Peter Kalb’s FA 164A The Re-Invention of Art. This class spotlights works produced in the 1960s and 1970s from America, Germany, England, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Senegal, Japan and other smaller art hubs. “The course presents art as the intersection between politics, aesthetics, history and issues of personal and group identity,” Professor Kalb explained. “As an art history course…The Reinvention of Art focuses on ideas expressed in things we can see, not words we can read. There are lessons in the art of the 60s and 70s for how we might make art and engage the world in our own time,” Professor Kalb added.

3. FA 57 Paris/New York: Revolutions of Modernism

FA 57 Paris/New York: Revolutions of Modernism is another art history class that is definitely worth a good look. “The assignments and scope of the course are ideal for people new to art history,” said Professor Nancy Scott. FA 57 will explore an array of notable artists including Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe and more. Pieces studied in this class range from 19th century French art to Warhol. Throughout the semester, FA 57 students will work on several assignments based on a piece they choose from the Rose Art Museum.

One class will even be held in the Rose. “This is also a good course to connect new students to what’s happening at the Rose, and why the works on view have a specific context,” said Professor Scott. FA 57 will discuss the American and French revolutions and their ties to Neoclassicism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. This class wraps up the semester with the Rose’s own pieces that fall under Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

4. AMST/MUS 38A American Music: From Psalms to Hip Hop

If you are a big fan of music, check out AMST/MUS 38A American Music: From Psalms to Hip Hop, taught by Professor Paula Musegades. You can join this class whether you’re a music or non-music major—it’s open to everyone! AMST/MUS 38A touches on folk, popular and art music in America starting in the 18th century and ending in contemporary hits. “This class offers a look at American history through a musical lens. It provides a new perspective on our understanding of American society, politics, beliefs, business, and technology. By gaining this broader viewpoint, we have a better grasp of American culture from both today and in the past,” said Musegades. At the end of the semester, students will get to choose specific styles of music or particular musicians to explore and analyze in more detail. They will then create podcast and video essays to share with their classmates. This final project will allow students to learn a bit about numerous genres and figures in the sphere of music and how they impact American culture, history and identity. “I hope my students develop the skills to listen critically and the vocabulary to talk comfortably about music from a wide variety of genres,” Musegades added.

5. FA 192A Studies in Modern and Contemporary Art

Last but not least, FA 192A Studies in Modern and Contemporary Art turns the Rose fully into its classroom. This fall’s topic will be “Making Meaning: Close looking at the Rose Art Museum Collection,” with “Flesh and Blood” as the class’ subtitle. This semester, Professor Gannit Ankori selected a diversity of pieces that are all connected to “visual articulations of the human body, as a site and sight of identity, or rather intersectional identities.” Students will launch dialogue on the politics of the human body, specifically gender, race and sexuality, while also reflecting on how art can act as an agent for “making meaning.” Students have the opportunity to examine pieces from the Rose’s own collection within the very confines of the museum. This factor will expose students to curatorial practices as well as allow students to come face to face with rarely exhibited art, rather than learning from mere reproductions, according to Ankori. “This kind of experiential, unmediated study of art is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” said Ankori. Students will also get the chance to chat with Kevork Mourad, an artist whose work will be displayed in the Rose this fall. And later in the semester, students will experience music by Kinan Azmeh, whose work goes hand and hand with drawings and videos by Mourad.

This fall semester undoubtedly offers a multitude of fascinating, thought-provoking, hands-on art classes that also satisfy the creative arts requirement. If you are on the hunt for a top-notch arts class or to complete the creative arts requirement, take a look at these courses. All of them have vacant spots and would love to have you.

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