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Theater Courses

Undergraduate Theater Courses

TH111 and TH112, Acting 1 and 2. 

This course helps students to free and expand their instruments to remove tension and inhibitions, in order to become flexible, creative and expressive actors. Students discover the fundamentals of acting, including concentration, pursuing an objective with both physical and psychological actions, and discovering the truth, using both improvised and ‘scripted’ scenes. First year Musical Theater majors only.

3 hours weekly; 2 credits

TH113 and TH114, Movement for the Actor 1 and 2.

Warm-ups, alignment work, exercises which physicalize images and explore character body movement. First year Musical Theater majors only.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH121 and TH122, Stagecraft Practicum.

Introduction to the basics of technical production, including stage management, safety, set, costume, lighting and sound design and construction. Requires a production crew assignment.

3 two hour seminars throughout the year; .5 credit per semester

TH131 and TH132, Musical Theater 1 and 2.

The course concentrates on choral unity, musical skill, blend, intonation, cooperation, vocal range and dexterity, and stylistic flexibility within the Musical Theater Chorus. Students sing in small ensemble groups, large ensemble groups; solo parts within ensembles and solo singing backed up by ensemble are also explored. Staged performance (first year revue) concludes the second semester. First year Musical Theater majors only.

3 hours weekly; 2 credits

TH133 and TH134, Musical Theater Ear Training 1 and 2.

Builds the fundamental music skills that singers must possess with focus on written theory and solfège. Students enter the course with a knowledge of the basic rhythmic and pitch notations and the names of the keys on the piano keyboard (from prior experience and/or a study packet sent out during the summer.) The first semester looks at rhythm in simple meters, accidentals, the building of tetrachords and major scales, key signatures, major and perfect intervals, and the circle of fifths. Solfège involves rhythmic reading drills and the moveable “do” system to sing melodies in various keys using stepwise motion. The second semesters continues with minor, diminished, and augmented intervals, minor scales and their corresponding key signatures, the four types of triads and their inversions, and the composition of chord progressions given a bass line using the standard rules of counterpoint. Solfège continues with rhythm in compound meters, melodies using skips and arpeggios, and minor melodies (aeolian, harmonic, and melodic forms). May be waived based on a Music Theory placement exam administered at matriculation.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH141 and TH142, Voice and Speech for the Actor 1 and 2.

An introduction to speech for the stage: basic principles of relaxation and alignment, physical  technique and diction, principles of relaxation, breath control and resonance for vocal quality. Phonetics and the physiology of the vocal mechanism are examined. Individual training in the correction of regional speech and in the improvement of voice quality. Oral interpretation. First year Musical Theater majors only.

2.5 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH151, Introduction to Theater.

A pragmatic exploration into how the world’s most collaborative art is actually “made.”  In today’s professional theater no actor is an island: playwrights, directors, designers, technicians, choreographers, music directors – and, by extension, producers, agents, casting directors and critics – all play indispensable roles in what our audiences ultimately experience. This study of the symbiotic relationships between these roles combined with an emphasis on developing the critical thinking skills, mutual trust, aesthetic sensibilities toward theater as both a repository of culture and an agent of change, and respect for process, lays the essential foundation for four years of intensive professional training. Requirements include readings, journals, projects, exams, and attendance at Conservatory and select Boston professional productions.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH153, History of the Musical Theater.

An in-depth historical and thematic study of American musical theater from the Black Crook in the late 1800s to contemporary musical theater, as well as the European musical theater and opera genres and styles that informed the evolution of musical theater in America. 

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH171 and TH172, Piano Class 1 and 2.

Students acquire the basic piano skills they need in order to learn music independently. The main focus of the first semester is learning to read and play melodies and simple accompaniments. In the second semester, students learn to read, write and transpose lead sheets; this necessitates the study of basic music theory, including the construction of scales, the circle of fifths, and the analysis of chord symbols. Midterm and final examinations require the performance of both prepared and sigh-read scores. Students with piano skills may test out of Piano classes.

1 hour weekly; 1 credit

TH211 and TH212, Acting 3 and 4.

Techniques for scene rehearsal and performance emphasizing essential principles of acting learned in the first year. Students work toward a fuller and freer use of themselves in the continued emphasis of process over results. In addition, the techniques of Michael Chekov are introduced to help actors incorporate bolder imaginative choices, more dynamic physicality, and greater emotional commitment in their characterizations. The techniques of Sanford Meisner are introduced to help students to develop spontaneity, ‘in-the-moment’ honest, responsive actions to their scene partners’ choices, and to develop truthful, active listening within a scene. Prerequisites: TH112 and TH114.

4 hours weekly; 2.5 credits

TH213 and TH214, Viewpoints - Movement for the Actor 3 and 4.

Viewpoints is an improvisation methodology that focuses on the actor and the body. It works to develop a sense of awareness of an individual’s shape, time, space, composition, and spatial arrangement while working with an ensemble. Created by Mary Overlie in the 1970s as a vocabulary for dancers, stage directors Anne Bogart and Tina Landau expanded the six original Viewpoints to address the challenges facing acting for the theater.  The second semester deals with integration and isolation of the original and expanded Viewpoints, as applied to text and original projects, as well as an introduction to Vocal Viewpoints.

1.5 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH231 and TH232, Musical Theater 3 and 4.

The development of students as individual performers concentrating on song interpretation using acting techniques. Vocal and movement styles of American musical theater and popular culture are taught. Prerequisites: TH131 or permission.

5  hours weekly; 2.5 credits

TH233 and TH234, Sophomore Music Lab 1 and 2.

Hands-on exploration of music skills and concepts beyond the written page and application of these skills and concepts to the music we hear, perform, and create.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH241 and TH242, Voice and Speech for the Actor 3 and 4.

Intermediate and advanced techniques of voice and diction, concentrating on the methodologies developed by Catherine Fitzmaurice. Prerequisites: TH142 or permission.

2.5 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH251, Shakespeare.

A theatrical approach to selected plays through close readings of the script and discussions of meaning and staging. The premise of the course is that Shakespeare is a contemporary playwright, not a writer of historical literature. Open to students from all divisions and available as a liberal arts elective for students majoring in Dance or Music. Eliminate-Each semester independent of the other. Mid-term exam and final exam.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

TH311 and TH312, Acting 5 and 6.

Continued development of acting techniques: concentration upon working in period plays from Ancient Greece to the 19th Century. Emphasis on characterization, interplaying, internal and external projection. Prerequisite: TH212 or permission.

4 hours weekly; 2.5 credits

TH315 and TH316, Acting for Singers 1 and 2.

Basic principles of truthful acting. The course moves from foundation exercises to experience with monologues and scene work. Required of undergraduate Vocal Performance majors and graduate Opera majors; available as an elective to graduate majors in Vocal Performance.

4 hours weekly; 2 credits

TH331 and TH332, Musical Theater 5 and 6.

Further development of musicianship and refinement in performance, the combination of vocal and acting skills with the development of character in musical play scene work, including both song and dialogue within the fictional environment of the play, continuing experience in American musical theater styles and the European styles that influenced them. Prerequisites: TH231 or permission.

4 hours weekly; 2.5 credits

TH333 and TH334, Junior Music Lab 1 and 2.

Advanced exploration and practice of music skills and concepts, geared to the specific needs of the students of the class.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH341 and TH342, Voice and Speech for the Actor 5 and 6.

Emphasis is on speech for the classic, non-contemporary  stage. Theater speech becomes a part of the actor's persona. Prerequisites: TH242 or permission.

2.5 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH353 and TH354, History of Theater 1 and 2.

Traces theater from its origins to the present; music, dance, cultural and historical influences in a global context; discussion and study of dramatic literature from all periods; emphasis on performance and performers throughout history. Open to students from Music and Dance who may use one or both of these courses as Liberal Arts electives.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

TH361 and TH362, Directing 1 and 2.

Directing fundamentals. An examination of the role of the director in the modern theater through analysis of aesthetics and directing techniques. Development of the student's ability to find a concept for a production, to work with actors and to realize a complete stage picture. Major emphasis is on a theoretical foundation for practical work in directing.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH411 and TH412, Acting 7 and 8.

Development of an individual way of working that makes the actor self-sufficient. First semester is a detailed review of basic techniques in behavioral reality, and the second semester is advanced script analysis of different styles, especially of the Modern Theater of Chekhov, Ibsen, and Strindberg, as well as Pinter, when the subtext of character intention governs the overt actions of the characters. Exercises, improvisations, scene presentations, and monologues are required. Prerequisites: TH 312 or permission.

4 hours weekly; 2.5 credits

TH413 and TH414, Acting for Dancers 1 and 2.

Fundamentals of acting: foundational work in freeing the instrument, developing situational concentration, playing actions, and finding the physical and vocal truth of the character. Skills are applied to monologues and scene work in the second semester.

4 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH415 and TH416. Movement Emphasis 1 and 2.

Developed according to the creativity and special advancement of students who select this emphasis. Prerequisite: TH415 or permission

3 hours weekly; 2.5 credits

TH417 and TH418, Acting Emphasis 1 and 2.

Students doing the Acting Emphasis do the work of Acting 7 and 8 within this course and develop collaboratively a performance project directed by the faculty member leading the course. Open to seniors with the approval of the Director of the Theater Division. Students doing the Acting Emphasis complete TH413 and TH414 in lieu of the required fourth year acting courses, TH411 and TH412.

Arr (6 hours weekly, plus project rehearsals and performance); 3 credits

TH431 and TH432, Musical Theater 7 and 8.

More advanced studies in all areas, including pop/rock, ‘radio’ pop, comic solos, preparation of a diverse repertoire book of songs, audition techniques, and working in the ‘business’ of theater. Prerequisites: TH331 or permission.

4 hours weekly; 2.5 credits

TH465 and TH466, Musical Theater Collaborative. 

Supervised exploration of musical theater and popular repertoire, and preparation of organic, new material and existing ‘hybrid or collage’ revue material. Both theoretically musical and conceptual theatrical approaches are explored. This course is the foundation for developing material that may be used in the senior showcase in Boston and New York City in early May. Open only to those seniors participating in the showcase and waived for students who choose not to or who are not eligible to participate in the showcase because of degree deficiencies.

Arr; 1.5 credits

TH437, Musical Theater Repertoire.

Vocal coaching in the musical theater repertoire.

0.5 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH438, Musical Theater Repertoire 1 Hour.

Vocal coaching in the musical theater repertoire.

1 hour weekly; 2 credits

TH441 and TH442, Voice and Speech for the Actor 7 and 8.

This culmination course in Voice and Speech synthesizes Voice and Speech technique with Acting technique into a single artistic endeavor. It is taught in four 7 week modules by several senior faculty members. The modules may include, depending on the specific needs of the senior class,  monologue preparation, extensive dialect work, characterization of the dramatic and animated voice (live and voice-over), a Shakespeare intensive, cold readings and audition flexibility and improvisation, and presentational skills in professional interviews. Prerequisites: TH342 or permission.

2.5 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH451 and TH452, Modern Drama 1 and 2.

A study of the major plays, trends and developments in modern drama and theater from Ibsen to the present day. Plays will be examined in their historical, socio-political, cultural and performance contexts. The class is structured around lectures, discussions and student reports. Course requirements include readings, papers, reports and exams. Open to students from other divisions, as a liberal arts elective.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

TH461 and TH462, Directing Emphasis 1 and 2.

Continuation of Directing 1 & 2. Emphasis on the practical aspects of directing including play selection, auditions, casting, rehearsals, scheduling, etc. Concentration upon a director's concept, dealing with actors and staging of scenes. Workshop productions with production books are required. Open to seniors by permission only.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

TH491, Performing Arts Internship.

An internship involves work in the field that is germane to the student’s program of study and supervised by a Conservatory faculty member and an on-site supervisor. Approval for internship credit is granted by petition through a form available in the spelling correction- Registrar, the Theater Division, and the Academic Affairs offices. The amount of credit approved is based on the average amount of work to be accomplished off-site on a weekly basis.

0.5 – 3 credits

TH498, Independent Study.

Students may petition to do independent work mentored by a theater division faculty member. Approval is granted when the project specified is substantive, meaningful, and is something that the individual student can accomplish through primarily independent work. Petition forms are available in the Registrar’s, the Theater Division and the Academic Affairs offices.

0.5 – 3 credits

Graduate Theater Courses

TH511 and TH512, Acting 1 and 2. 

This course helps students free and expand their individual instrument and remove tension and inhibition, in order to become flexible, creative and expressive actors. Students are given a way of working with the fundamentals of acting, including concentration, pursuing an objective with both physical and psychological actions, and discovering the truth using both improvised and scripted scenes. Includes two hours per  week devoted to Voice and Speech for the Actor. Required of first year graduate students in Musical Theater.

3 hours weekly; 3 credit

TH513 and TH514, Movement for the Actor 1 and 2.

The study of mental and emotional connection to movement in acting. Required for students in the first year of undergraduate training. Elective possibility for graduate musical theater students. First semester students use visualization and movement improvisation to expand understanding and control of the emotional/physical connection. Second semester is designed to develop conscious control of mind/body connections. Exercises focus on rhythm, tension, and body language.

2 hours weekly; 0.5 credits

TH515 and TH516, Acting for Singers 1 and 2. 

Basic principles of truthful acting. The course moves from foundation exercises to experience with monologues and scene work. Required of graduate Opera majors and an elective for vocal performance and graduate musical theater majors.

4 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH531 and TH532, Musical Theater 1 and 2.

Focus is on the preparation of the singer-actor as interpreter of song using a variety of popular American and Musical Theater vocal styles. The goal is the development of a flexible, expressive vocal instrument with a personalized interpretive approach: music, lyric and interpreter as one. Required of first year graduate students and elective possibility for graduate students in Musical Theater.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH533 and TH534, Script and Score Analysis 1 and 2.

Development of musicianship and refinement in performance, combining vocal and acting skills with the development of character in musical play scene work, including both song and dialogue. Students explore American musical theater styles and the European styles that influenced them. All works are analyzed with an understanding of the social and historical contexts in which they were written. The works are approached as if they are new works and the composer, lyricist, and librettist are in residence to make sure that their intentions are realized. The first semester focuses on Musical Play and Musical Comedy. The second  semester focuses on Operetta (comic, Viennese, romantic) and the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Required of first year graduate students in Musical Theater.

3 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH537, Musical Theater Repertoire 1/2 Hour.

Vocal coaching with the musical theater repertoire. Required of first year graduate students in Musical Theater.

0.5 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH538, Musical Theater Repertoire 1 Hour.

Vocal coaching with the musical theater repertoire. Required of first year graduate students in Musical Theater. Students who choose to do a full hour coaching must pay an applied lesson fee as defined each year by the Business Office.

1 hour weekly; 2 credits

TH541 and TH542, Graduate Voice and Speech.

The purpose of this course is to introduce Graduate students to the complex interaction of the body, breath, sound and speech.  The work is designed to increase students’ awareness of the me4ans by which they produce and manipulate sound with the goal of increasing their ability to be truthful and expressive in their interpretation of text; freedom and management of breath, fuller resonance, greater clarity and increased flexibility are the means by which this goal will be reached.  A wide range of texts will be used to explore the use of the speaking voice. 

2 hours weekly; .5 credits

TH551 and TH552, Cultural Perspectives and the Theater 1 and 2.

A focused exploration of cultural history and the art of theater that examines the influence of art, particularly, in the first semester, theater on society from Ancient Egypt to fin de siècle Europe and America. Readings include plays, criticism, and essays. In the second semester, continued study of culture and society focused on 20th and 21st-century plays, films, recordings, television, radio. A central theme is American culture and the globalization of American culture. Required of first year graduate students in Musical Theater.

TH561 and TH562, Directing 1 and 2.

Directing fundamentals. An examination of the role of the director in the modern theater through analysis of aesthetics and directing techniques. Development of the student's ability to find a concept for a production, to work with actors and to realize a complete stage picture. Major emphasis is on a theoretical foundation for practical work in directing. Elective possibility for graduate musical theater students.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH598, Independent Study.

Students may petition to do independent work mentored by a theater division faculty member. Approval is granted when the project specified is substantive, meaningful, and is something that the individual student can accomplish through primarily independent work. Petition forms are available in the Registrar’s, the Theater Division and the Academic Affairs offices.

0.5 – 3 credits

TH611 and TH612, Acting 3 and 4.

Technique for scene rehearsal emphasizing basic principles of acting, including concentration, finding objectives, playing actions, personalization and creating a role. Eliminate- Includes one hour per week devoted to Voice and Speech for the Actor. Prerequisites: TH512 or permission.

3 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH631 and TH632, Musical Theater 3 and 4.

More advanced studies in all areas, building upon the ideas and acting techniques developed through the graduate program, so that the actor may actively experience being fully connected to a song with mind, body and emotion. Emphasis is placed on the “business of theater”—how to work and keep working.

4 hours weekly; 1.5 credits

TH633 and TH634, Script and Score Analysis 3.

Further development of musicianship and refinement in performance. The course moves beyond content to analyze experimental theatrical and musical structure and form. The works of Brecht/Weill, Sondheim and pop rock/contemporary composers are explored. Required of second year graduate students in Musical Theater. Prerequisite: TH532.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH637, Musical Theater Repertoire.

Vocal coaching with the musical theater repertoire. Required of second year graduate students in Musical Theater.

0.5 hours weekly; 1 credit

TH638, Musical Theater Repertoire 1 Hour.

Vocal coaching with the musical theater repertoire.Required of first year graduate students in Musical Theater. Students who choose to do a full hour coaching must pay an applied lesson fee as defined each year by the Business Office.

1 hour weekly; 2 credits

TH691, Performing Arts Internship.

An internship involves work in the field that is germane to the student’s program of study and supervised by a Conservatory faculty member and an on-site supervisor. Approval for internship credit is granted by petition through a form available in the Registrar, the Theater Division, and the Academic Affairs offices. The amount of credit approved is based on the average amount of work to be accomplished off-site on a weekly basis.

0.5 – 3 credits

TH699, Thesis Performance. 

The Graduate Musical Theater Program culminates in the creation and presentation of a performance that manifests the knowledge and skills gained during study at the Conservatory. Advisors are assigned in the spring of the first year to aid students in the preparation of a thesis proposal. Once a proposal is accepted by the Graduate Thesis Committee, the student, guided by an advisor, prepares an outline for approval. A script is then prepared and a reading is presented to fellow students and key faculty. The advisor aids the student in assimilating and integrating all comments received and a final version of the performance thesis is then presented in the Studio Theater.

Arr; 1 credit

Musical Theater Dance Courses

DA161 and DA162, MTH Beginning Ballet 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA163 and DA164, MTH Beginning Jazz 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA165 and DA166, MTH Modern 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA167 and DA168, MTH Beginning Tap 1 and 2.

1.5 hours weekly; 0.5 credits

DA261 and DA262, MTH Intermediate Ballet 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA263 and DA264, MTH Intermediate Jazz 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA265 and DA266, MTH Intermediate Modern 1 and 2. 

3 hours weekly; 1 credit 

DA267 and DA268, MTH Intermediate Tap 1 and 2.

1.5 hours weekly; 0.5 credits

DA361 and DA362, MTH Advanced Ballet 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA363 and DA364, MTH Advanced Jazz 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA365 and DA366, MTH Advanced Modern 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit 

DA367 and DA368, MTH Advanced Tap 1 and 2.

1.5 hours weekly; 0.5 credits

DA461 and DA462, MTH Dance Emphasis 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA561 and DA562, MTH Beginning Ballet 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA563 and DA564, MTH Beginning Jazz 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA565 and DA566, MTH Modern 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA567 and DA568, MTH Beginning Tap 1 and 2.

1.5 hours weekly; 0.5 credits

DA571 and DA572, MTH Intermediate Ballet 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA573 and DA574, MTH Intermediate Jazz 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA577 and DA578, MTH Intermediate Tap 1 and 2.

1.5 hours weekly; 0.5 credits

DA673 and DA674, Movement for Singers 1 and 2.

2 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA661 and DA662, MTH Advanced Ballet 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA663 and DA664, MTH Advanced Jazz 1 and 2.

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA665 and DA666, MTH Advanced Modern 1 and 2. 

3 hours weekly; 1 credit

DA667 and DA668, MTH Advanced Tap 1 and 2.

1.5 hours weekly; 0.5 credits

Liberal Arts Core Curriculum

Any Conservatory student  taking in a snap shot of  the contemporary world of performance, its variety and wide range of historical, cultural, artistic and often scientific sources, will discover revivals and reinterpretations of ancient Greek and European classics?Euripides’ Bacchae, Shakespeare’s Macbeth; classics of modernism?Stravinsky & Balanchine’s Agon, Becket’s Endgame; works from the American tradition?Bernstein’s Candide, Copland & Graham’s Appalachian Spring, or Kushner’s Angels in America, side by side works drawn from global culture theater, music, and dance from far-flung traditions and alternative world-views). Fused with this varied repertoire, the student will discover works, like Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, that explore the moral role of science in culture, as well as postmodern works of theater, dance and music that experiment with juxtapositions of widely divergent traditions to cast a questioning eye not only on art, but on contemporary culture itself.

The Conservatory’s Liberal Arts program offers performing arts students the academic skills they need to grasp the underlying historical, philosophical and scientific contexts and motivations that inspire and shape these works. Our Liberal Arts program systematically structures compass points and conceptual maps to orient students to the four general areas mentioned above. Our freshman year combines work in reading, writing and critical thinking with an American Studies curriculum that explores the underlying elements that create the uniqueness of an American voice or American idiom. The sophomore year examines the conflicting forces that produced the complex tensions and ambiguities of the western classic texts. The first half of the junior program analyzes the crucial movements and forces of modernism and post-modernism, while the second introduces students to the most up to date developments of neuroscience and its insights for rethinking relations of the body and mind, the emotions, and the sources of our artistic impulses. A central Liberal Arts elective offering adds further examination of colonialism and post-colonialism, historical and cultural movements which shape so much of the work considered most innovative and cutting-edge in the performing arts today.

The goal of the Liberal Arts program at The Conservatory is the education of the literate artist: one who has verbal and compositional skills to communicate experience not only through performance, but also through oral and written discourse. The Liberal Arts and Performing Arts have natural points of convergence that our program strongly exploits. Performers are storytellers who play a crucial role in reenacting and revivifying the primal narratives of a culture.

To effectively fulfill such a role, performers need a thoroughgoing knowledge of the central ‘stories’ of their own culture, as well as the ever more interconnected global culture. Performers need to be fluent not only in the classics of American and western literature, but also in the central cruxes and tensions of our historical, religious and philosophical traditions. Our courses focus on a multidisciplinary ‘cultural history’ that draws from history, literature and philosophy.

Story tellers also often play the role of cultural criticism. Obviously, not all cultural ‘stories’ or ‘myths’ are useful or socially productive, and artists have been in the forefront of confronting many false myths of race, class and gender. Thus, an added dimension of the performer’s role as storyteller must include the role of critical thinking and interpreter of culture.

Our Liberal Arts program is built to teach performers to balance intellect with imagination, creativity and critical thinking. The nuts and bolts of this work include methods of research, sophisticated analytic reading skills and methods of debate and argumentation. In each phase of the curriculum, writing is taught as a mode of organizing and testing thought, as well as credibly advocating each student’s own unique ideas and beliefs.

The Liberal Arts tradition in the west has strong links to the evolution of the performing arts through the concept of dialogue. The interplay between the ideas in Socratic dialogue and in Greek theater are two manifestations of the same intellectual and political impulse. Likewise, Stephen Greenblatt’s imaginative biography of Shakespeare, Will in the World, shows how the educational tradition of dialogue inspired Elizabethan drama. Our Liberal Arts classes depend on dialogue and debate to tap students’ performance skills and draw them into an engaged and embodied experience of some of the most relevant intellectual struggles in western culture. Through debates on the works of brilliant and controversial artists who worked at the cusp of cultural paradigm shifts, students experience history, literature, visual art and philosophy as contentious and open areas for making meaning and redefining values.   

A Liberal Arts education immerses students in other historical moments and other cultural worlds, and it stimulates them to reflect upon their own lives and cultures. This intellectual experience gives an awareness of the complexity and multiplicity of human possibilities of choice, belief and action. Such study highlights human invention in the face of conflicts and crises of individual and historic struggles. It empowers students to see their lives as a unified whole and to make informed and reasoned choices concerning goals and responsibilities. 

Undergraduate Liberal Arts Courses

LA101, Liberal Arts Core 1.

Liberal Arts Core 1 and 2 focus on the analytical study of American Culture, exploring the intersection of literature, history, art, religion, politics, economics and other factors in the development of various strands in the American national identity. In the first semester, students examine central cultural ideas through the study of key American texts from the 17th through the early 20th centuries. They study histories, jeremiads, poems, autobiographies, visual art, essays, short stories and novels representing the diversity of creators from John Winthrop to Phillis Wheatley to Henry James to E.L Doctrow. In addition, students develop foundational skills in critical analysis, writing and formal presentation. Liberal Arts Core 1 and 2 focus on critical, cultural and academic materials and proficiencies; they also provide students opportunities to link these capabilities with their development as artists and performers. Students are encouraged to enter the public arena of ideological debate, to recognize the value of the status quo, as well as measure the benefits of dissenting voices.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA102, Liberal Arts Core 2.

In Liberal Arts Core 2, students build on Core 1 competencies and focus thematically on overlapping and intertwined issues of class, money, education, gender, race and codes of social stratification. They study how these factors affect the development of contemporary American individuality and community, often with particular emphasis on the interaction of the artistic imagination within this process. Core 2 proceeds into an era defined in many ways by conflict and violence, and it explores how a number of surprisingly creative results come out of a crucible of contending forces and ideas. Students explore elements of modernism, metafiction, oral history and the contemporary stage in the works of artists such as T.S. Eliot, Tim O’Brien, Tony Kushner and Anna Deveare Smith. They observe and analyze ideas in the authors’ works and translate them into critical writing, performance and oral history interviews and presentations. Students further develop analytical skills by learning to interweave complex cultural commentary and scholarly opinion with their own developed critical voices. They also learn documentation standards and correct usage of bibliographic materials.

The first year classes encourage the development of clear and appropriately sophisticated writing skills, foster the practice of critical and analytical thinking, and build knowledge of the broad sweep of American artistic expression. Students are taught to understand and recognize the multiple and multicultural components of the rich and unique American voice and idiom. This introduction to college liberal arts study familiarizes students with the practice and application of methods of public discourse that are key components to informed citizenship.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits.

LA201, Liberal Arts Core 3: “Aggression and Altruism in Ancient Greek Culture.”

This course explores ancient Greek culture from Homer to Plato using texts, film and the collections of art and artifacts at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It develops a method of comparison and contrast between ancient and contemporary cultures and analyzes a set of themes directly relevant to contemporary culture and the role of the artist in society. The class emphasizes the ways in which myths, stories and symbols encode cultural values, and it draws from multiple explanatory models to investigate central themes.

One central opposition acts as the focus and frame for the semester: the nature and origin of human aggression, contrasted with the origin of peace-making, cooperation and altruistic behavior. Several other major themes of the course include: the function of media, myth and the concept of the hero in ancient Greek and contemporary US and world cultures.

The class operates by exploration and argument. Crucial issues and texts are presented in dialectical form with opposing sides. Students get credit for preparing and leading class debates and write three short essays, one of which is a ‘Museum Essay’ involving the discussions of an object of the student’s choice from the Museum of Fine Arts collections. Students also develop projects drawing upon their skills as performers. Regular reading and dialectical quizzes are given on course texts.

The course begins in the contemporary world with recent discussions from evolutionary biology, sociobiology and primitology in writings of Richard Wrangham, Frans B.M. de Waal, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and others, and then moves on to consider these themes in ancient Greek literature and philosophy.
     
Texts include: Richard Wrangham, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Aggression; The Iliad of Homer; Aeschylus, The Oresteia; The Poems of Sappho; Euripides, Bacchae; Plato, The Symposium; Aristophanes, (either) The Clouds, Lysistrata, or The Frogs. The class also includes a course pack of  supplemental readings and critical articles.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA202, Liberal Arts Core 4: “Utopia and Terror: A Cultural History of the West.”

This course investigates the “utopian impulse” in Western Cultural History through a set of interdisciplinary approaches. It follows the evolution of this complex idea through changing definitions of freedom, equality, community and abundance in western culture, while simultaneously tracing the influence of this theme on the contemporary arts and media. It begins where Liberal Arts Core 3 leaves off and explores philosophical theories and definitions of happiness, fulfillment and the good life both as they evolved in Hellenistic Philosophy and as they are debated in contemporary culture. As in Core 3, the course begins with contemporary concerns through readings, discussions and small group exercises and then moves through a study of these issues in literature, philosophy, political science and art history from Hellenistic period through the Enlightenment and French Revolution.

Core 4 contemplates the Judeo-Christian inheritance with a focus on the model of Eden in Genesis, the history and meaning of Apocalyptic literature and utopian dimensions within sectarian Judaism and early Christianity. The course moves on to present wide ranging manifestations of the utopian impulse from medieval monasticism to the literature and models of ideal cities in the early modern period, with a special attention to Thomas More's Utopia; from the manifestation of life force and creativity in the forms of Carnival in renaissance writers like Shakespeare and Rabelais and Enlightenment writers like Voltaire, to contemporary manifestations of the carnivalesque such as Woodstock or the Burning Man. The course traces out the multifaceted, multi-disciplinary nature of the topic in units that focus on three main directions: inner utopia, or the study of the philosophical, meditative or contemplative achievement of inner balance, peace or fulfillment; outer utopia, or the study of political theories, ideal commonwealths or imaginative worlds that inspire change, on one hand, and real world revolutions, constitutions and intentional communities, on the other; and, finally, forms of carnival, or temporary communities of creative and artistic play that shape human imagination. Much emphasis is given to the ways utopian experiments have fostered the arts, as in the case of the Shakers, Ascona, The Black Mountain School, Samuel Mockbee and The Rural Studio and many other ancient and modern examples.

The course also examines the theme of theodicy (the basic question within monotheistic culture of how evil can exist in a world created by a perfect creator) and the shadow theme of dystopia?images of evil, apocalyptic destruction and coercive impulses, and it examines visions of hell from Dante, to Hieronymus Bosch and Goya and from the Inquisition to the Reign of Terror of The French Revolution.    

Ultimately, the course uses this complex concept of utopia and its double, dystopia, as a way to map historical change in western culture. But, besides the study of specific historical/cultural examples, it draws tools for analysis and critique from various theories of utopia from Johan Huizinga, Hanna Arendt, Mikhail Bahktin, Isaiah Berlin, Russell Jacoby, Fredric Jameson and others. The course explores major critics of “utopia” from St. Augustine at one extreme to Voltaire at the other and ends with the debate between the fictionalized historical figures of the Marquis de Sade and the French revolutionary Marat in Peter Weiss’ play Marat/Sade. Besides developing their reading, writing and debating skills, students will be encouraged to draw upon their performance lives to create projects that explore utopian dimensions of the performing arts.

Texts include: Nicholas White, A Brief History of Happiness;  Elaine Pagels,  Adam, Eve, and the Serpent;  St. Augustine, The Confessions; Dante, The Inferno; Thomas More, Utopia; Voltaire, Candide; Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade. The course also includes a course pack of readings and critical articles.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA301, Liberal Arts Core 5: Modernism/Postmodernism.

“Modernism” refers to a period of cultural transition and change in the late 19th and early 20th century in which remarkable breaks were made from the past in areas of technology, science, urban migration, capitalist expansion, and artistic expression. These developments corresponded with a collective sense that a shift had occurred in the way that we know ourselves and our world, and an accompanying challenge of how to understand and express these changes. The period of modernism marked a broad range of thought and a wide variety of experimental movements in every field of cultural expression. In this course, we will examine a modernist sensibility in several different areas: literature, film, art, architecture and psychology. At the end of this survey, we will briefly consider how “postmodernism,” engages modernist issues of representation, reality and knowledge, while questioning the limits and stability of all truths.

The overall goal of this course is to examine the complex cultural changes that mark a move away from some of the certainties and traditions of the Victorian period, giving rise to new modes of perception, thought and representation that continue to this day. We will approach this goal by working to do the following:

  • To consider the ways that historical events such as WWI caused a distanced and disillusioned reaction to traditional leadership and authority;
  • To comprehend the way that scientific discoveries such as Einstein’s theory of relativity and Freud’s psychoanalysis contributed to a destabilized view of identity, reality, and perception;
  • To distinguish between features of realistic representation and non-figurative representation in literary and artistic texts and to understand the aesthetic and ideological goals of each kind of representation.

Required Texts: Henry James, The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction, Bantam Classic; Ridley Scott, Bladerunner (DVD); Anthony Storr, Freud: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford Univ. Press; Gertrude Stein (Handout);Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, Harcourt, Inc.; Tom Wolfe, From Bauhaus to Our House, Farrar Straus Giroux

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA333, Science: The Arts and the New Neuroscience.

This course will focus on developing an understanding of neuropsychology and neuroscience as it relates to the arts, specifically music and dance. The class will include presentations on human function (i.e. language, memory, movement) aligned with clinical case studies (i.e. aphasia, dementia, apraxia). Functions of the brain engaged in the arts will be explored as it impacts health and wellness. The anthropological origins of the arts will be considered for its impact on the evolution of humankind across cultures and time. The class will be presented as a bridge between science and art. We will consider what is currently known and ponder in what directions scientific investigations would benefit the arts.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

Graduate Level English As a Second Language (Esl) Courses

LA093 and LA094, Intermediate ESL. 

Students learn and practice various forms of rhetorical essay patterns needed to successfully compete in regular academic courses. Listening and public speaking skills are also addressed. The course culminates with a formal research paper and oral presentation.
8 hours weekly plus tutorials; 1 credit

LA095 and LA096, Advanced ESL.

In the first semester students practice summarizing, critique writing and persuasive writing. In the second semester, undergraduate students are introduced to reading and writing personal narratives as well as reading and responding to literature. ESL instructors coordinate with Liberal Arts faculty and divisional faculty in history and criticism courses to mentor students in specific writing problems. Graduate students focus on writing a personal biography and preparing a press packet for use upon graduation, while also working on papers for graduate seminars courses taken concurrently.

4 hours weekly plus tutorials; 1 credit

Liberal Arts Electives

LA141, Kinesiology and Anatomy.

This elective is a study of the major joints of the body and muscle location and action in relation to movement; the structure of organs and individual systems and their functions in the whole organism. Particular emphasis is given in this basic biological science course to issues crucial to the dancer. Required of all Dance majors.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA142, Culture and Film: Viewing Other Cultures; Seeing Ourselves.

This course examines the way that other cultures are represented in visual genres such as movies, ethnographic films and documentaries. We will study the way that non-Western or “primitive” cultures are constructed to fulfill preconceptions of these cultures as romantic or natural, threatening or familiar, exotic or universal. We will also question the status of film as a medium of unfiltered reality and consider the strategies that different visual genres use to convey the truths of their representations. Finally, we will investigate some experimental pieces that seek to break down the boundaries between “scientific” vs. “fictional” representation, and we will debate the effectiveness of these “ethnofictions” in evading the ethnocentric pitfalls of earlier works. Ultimately, in questioning how we view other cultures such as the Inuik, the San, the Amish or Native Americans, we will be asking questions about how we see ourselves.

Required Texts: The Gods Must Be Crazy (DVD);Witness (DVD);Dead Man (DVD); Selected readings (classroom handout)

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA231, Envisioning the World: History of Science and Mathematics.

This liberal arts elective approaches the history of math and science through a set of questions: are human beings merely machines with glands, as Descartes put it, or something more? How is our idea of the universe different from the ancient idea of the cosmos? What can math tell us about leading a good life? These and similar questions will guide our discussions as we trace the development of the modern scientific worldview. Taking as a model the notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci, we will develop creative portfolios of drawings and journal entries in response to key works in the history of mathematics and science. Special care is given to three interrelated claims: that throughout history artists and performers have found inspiration in mathematical and scientific developments; that our ideas about beauty change over time to accommodate advances in mathematics and science; and that cumulative advances in scientific knowledge periodically require us to reevaluate what it means to be a human being and, more specifically, what it means to lead a moral life. Students are encouraged to incorporate into their portfolios elements from other studies. No background in science or mathematics is required.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA233, Autobiography and Perspective: Whose Life is it Anyway?

The recent popularity of different types of autobiography and memoir has given rise to increased attention to the genre. The media notice given to James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces has drawn particular interest to the questions of the limits and veracity of the genre. This course explores how writers, as well as other artists such as film makers, negotiate the tensions between present and past lives, between fact and memory and between design and truth in autobiography. We look at the historical and theoretical underpinnings of autobiography (and related genres) and consider our own places in the pageantry of self-portrayal. Family and friends, home and country, public and private, secrets and lives all find a place in an examination of the complexities of who we are and how we perceive and portray ourselves. This course explores written as well as visual communication, with a particular emphasis on self expression through different perspectives. Students study a variety of models and modes of narration that focus on the revelation of the individual. The autobiographical/memoir form will be investigated as one which conceals the maker as well as reveals both subject matter and creator. 

The course focuses on two distinct areas of autobiographical exploration: study and analysis of the historical development and continuity of autobiographical texts; and the analysis of 20th century and contemporary autobiographical statements made through a number of different expressive forms–prose, poetry, film, self-portraiture etc. In addition, students will have the opportunity to develop their own individual application and understanding of autobiographical forms. 

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA242,  Fiction Workshop.

Introduction to Fiction Writing introduces Conservatory students to the craft of fiction writing through an amalgamation of reading, writing, and literary discussion in the workshop setting.  Each of the first several classes is devoted to the major components of fiction writing–voice, character, dialogue, plot, setting and language–by using a combination of an how-to text, a published story that exemplifies the chosen skill and the students’ own work. All student work is shared in class and discussed alongside the published texts. By the semester’s end, students will have used their practiced skills to craft their own original short stories, which will also be workshopped in class; the assigned reading will have moved on to more complex themes and discussion. In short, this course offers an opportunity for Conservatory students to harness their creativity while working on the ever-important skills of close reading and focused writing.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA242, Gender Studies.

In this course we will review and critically evaluate a selection of current issues and theories related to gender. Topics will include historical conceptions of masculinity and femininity, theories of gendered bodily identity, controversies related to gay marriage and the role of gender in the performing arts. The emphasis will be on understanding assumptions and conceptual frameworks underlying ideas of gender and on developing informed reasoned positions on gender issues.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA281, Cultural History of the Body and Movement.

In ancient Greece, Rome and the Italian Renaissance, the expression of body posture in painting, literature and sculpture created classic formulations of physical expression to represent vital elements of social interaction. This course examines the origins of such representation and follows their evolution to modern expression in theatre, film and popular culture, using a multimedia approach. Particular emphasis given to the works of  Dario Fo and Sid Caesar and their updated interpretations of the Commedia dell’Arte style.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA281, Classics of European Film: From Italian Neo-Realism to the Present.

This course provides students with an overview of Italian film making, beginning with the neo-realist mastery of Roberto Rosselini and Vittorio De Sica and spanning Pietro Germi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Lina Wertmuller and Roberto Benigni within the context of history, society and aesthetics of contemporary Italy.

Italian cinema, from the neo-realist films of post World War II to the poetic energy of Federico Fellini, has distinguished itself for its raw sentiment and original cinematic landscapes, pushing the creative boundaries of this art form to new heights. Italian films have been embraced worldwide for their powerful and often ironic treatment of universal themes of the struggle, survival and search for meaning of our existence. While Italian cinema reflects the cultural reality of contemporary Italy, it has played a major role in forging a new European cinematic identity.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA281, Arts Criticism.

This course will introduce students to the art and craft of criticism, from both the critic’s and the performer’s perspective. The goal is to help students develop their own critical-thinking skills as well as understand the viewpoint and agenda of the arts critic. The course will address a broad range of arts criticism from theater to music to dance and requires students to expand beyond their own particular courses of study. Students will first explore the task of criticism itself, from analyzing the work itself to critiquing the particular performance, as well as which tactic is appropriate and when. Students will then turn their attention to reviewing actual professional performances available on DVD, as well as local productions and performances, when available and appropriate. Class discussions will include constructive peer feedback in an effort to broaden students’ perspectives beyond their own developing critical aesthetic.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA334, Into the Wild: A Multidisciplinary Environmental Investigation.

This course will consider the importance of our ideas of wilderness—where they come from and how they change. We will examine the connection between the ongoing growth of human populations and urban centers and the growing appreciation of the natural world.  How has the wilderness inspired poets, musicians, dancers and actors and provided so many with journeys toward individual transformation? Do we need to save the wilderness or will it save us?

We will read authors like Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Rachael Carson, Raymond Williams, Basho, Walt Whitman, Mary Oliver and Robert Frost. We will look at paintings by Thomas Cole and Alfred Bierstadt and photographs by Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter; watch films such as Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides and Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog; go on field trips to the Arnold Arboretum and Walden Pond. Students will write and revise three in-class essays and develop a final presentation on a subject of their own choosing.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA335, Colonialism/Postcolonialism.

This course explores the geo-political forces that have helped shape the latter half of the 20th-century. The historical trajectory begins with the philosophy and history of colonialism and pursues its global effects in terms of a post-colonial world. In the 19th century age of industrial expansion, European nations began to divide and rule the pre-industrial parts of the world that were not militarily or economically equipped to resist conquest. The subsequent partition of the globe into ruling empires and ruled colonies created dramatically unequal spheres that continue to have an important impact upon the present time.  Imperialist domination by developed Western nations over pre-industrial ones grew out of a complex combination of economic interests, political competition, patriotism, racism and religious mission that some critics argue have not been resolved even after decolonization and independence. This course examines some of the literature, historical documents and films that address the complex legacy of colonialism and its aftermath.

Required Texts: Chinua Achebe,  Things Fall Apart.  Anchor Books; George Orwell,  Burmese Days.  Harcourt Brace; Merle Hodge,  Crick Crack Monkey.  Heinemann Publishers; Marjane Satrapi,  Persepolis.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA336, Postmodernisms.

This course focuses on the play between modernism and postmodernism and the various "strands" of postmodernism that have come into being since its conception. We will consider postmodernism's investment in difference, rupture, and multiplicity, its resistance to closure in its celebration of fragmentation, excess, pastiche and the "open" narrative, and the refusal of a singular, stable identity in favor of a more fluid sense of identities (plural). One of the central concerns of the course will be to consider how the category of "the human" gets destabilized and/or deconstructed in the postmodern moment. While a working knowledge of modernism coming into the course will be useful for students, it will certainly not be necessary. The course will examine a broad range of texts from literature to theory to film. Beckett will be introduced as a transitional figure between modern and postmodern moments and  students will read some postmodern theory to set the foundation for ideas that we'll explore throughout the semester. Some authors under consideration for the course are Kazuo Isiguro, Jeannette Winterson, Salmon Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Toni Morrison and Jonathan Safron Foer; films will include works such as David Lynch's Lost Highway, Amenabar's Abre Los Ojos, and/or Christopher Nolan's Memento.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA361, Microcosm/Macrocosm: Topics in Poetry.

This creative writing workshop in poetry offers students experience in a wide range of poetic styles and forms, from the most precisely focused and microscopic—haiku—to the most broad and inclusive—the prose poem. Students will explore the ways poetry tunnels inward to unknown regions of the self, as well as spirals outward to span the cosmic worlds opened up by the sciences and contemporary media and technology. Emphasis is placed equally on contemporary American lyric poetry and prose poetry, as well as Japanese-based forms, such as haiku, senyru, tanka, haibun, haiga and renku.

Students who have never written poetry are welcome to join this class, which will give them the basic tools and methods to master a variety of poetic forms. Students who identify themselves as poets or who have some experience writing poetry will find themselves challenged by the variety of experiments, exercises and examples. The class has proven useful in the past to student choreographers and composers interested in working with texts, since much emphasis is placed on analysis of compositional processes and techniques.

The course focuses on in-class writing exercises and the reading and work-shopping of student poems. This is not an analytic course in interpreting poems, but a hands-on class in discovering practical methods and directions in examples of other poets. Students will develop a sophisticated critical vocabulary to discuss poetry and will learn  to read their own and others' poems aloud with confidence and clarity. In lieu of a final exam, students organize and present a ‘final collection’ of the poems they have written during the semester. Students will also write three short response essays on contemporary prose poems.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA362, Poetry Workshop: Experiments in Form.

This workshop in poetry  puts special emphasis on the place of form in composition. We will examine form from many perspectives: from fixed forms, such as sonnet, villanelle, pantoum or sestina, to the open and disjunctive forms of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E school poetry and postmodern poetic styles. We will consider the role of form in the structure and rhythm of free verse and investigate functions of listing and repetition, anaphora and refrain. There will be emphasis on rethinking and experimenting with traditional poetic genres and types, such as elegy, aubade, epistle, occasional and didactic poems, etc. Each week we will study a group of poets working on a particular genre or form, do in-class exercises to generate drafts in that form and consequently read our drafts and discuss agendas for revision and editing.

The class will balance the reading and study of poetic models with in-class writing and the work-shopping of students’ poems. Rather than a final exam, students will be expected to organize, edit and present a final collection of their semester’s poems at the end of the year. Students will write three short response essays on a contemporary poet of poet of their choice. We will also have guest poets visit the classroom and attend at least one reading/poetry performance.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA381, The Magical in Global Literature, Art and Film.

How is magic different from religion or science? Is it an illegitimate source of power and knowledge? Why is magic often associated with marginalized people or groups? Is magic a form of escapism? What is the relation between magic and desire, magic and ritual, magic and protest? Why do we need magic? This course will address these questions by examining specific case samples taken from English, Latin American and Japanese sources. We will examine the anime films of Hayao Miyazaki and the wizardly world invented by J.K. Rowling to consider the connection between magic, nature and innocence. We will also study the magical realist works of Latin American writers and artists like Juan Rulfo, Isabel Allende and Frida Kahlo and explore the role that the surreal, unexplained and paranormal play as commentary or critique of social, political or psychological states. Finally, looking at magical representation in the works of other nationalities such as Japanese writer Haruki Murakami will enable us to compare similarities and differences in various cultural approaches to the magical.

Required Texts: Celia Correas de Zapata, ed., Short Stories by Latin American Women; Haruki Murakami, The Elephant Vanishes; J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; Juan Rulfo, Pedro Paramo

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA381, Culture and Film: American Myths of the City and the Frontier Through Film Noir and the Western.

In the 1940s and 1950s as the film industry developed and consolidated its hold on mass entertainment, two Hollywood film genres came into prominence: film noir and the Western. This course uses film as a medium to analyze cultural, social and political issues within particular historical periods. Thus, we will compare cinematic myths of the City and the Frontier—the enclosed, dark, urban space of corruption and social disintegration typical of film noir vs. the open, untamed space which defines the classic Western—and discuss the different ways in which both film genres are responding to the same issues and concerns of pre- and post-war America through myths of decay and redemption. Specifically, we will make connections between the content and form of these film genres to the history and effect of McCarthyism in the film industry and in American society. More generally, we will consider film noir and the Western as commentaries on the anxieties and ambivalence associated with urban expansion, modern identity and Western post-war global domination. To that end, we will regard the way these genres continue to inform our current cultural and political concerns via neo-noir and the revisionist Western. While post-noir films like Blue Velvet, Blade Runner and Memento use aspects of classic noir to explore the dislocation of identity and reality in the darker urban jungles of today, revisionist Westerns like Dances With Wolves, Dead Man and Avatar offer a more disturbing view of what Western expansion and development have meant in terms of violence done to indigenous people and the environment.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA498, Independent Study.

Students may petition to do independent work mentored by a liberal arts division faculty member. Approval is granted when the project specified is substantive, meaningful and is something that the individual student can accomplish through primarily independent work. Independent study projects may not substitute for Liberal Arts Core Curriculum requirements. Petition forms are available in the Registrar’s, the Theater Division and the Academic Affairs offices.

2–12 hours weekly; 0.5–3 credits

Foreign Language Courses

LA111 and LA112, Italian 1 and 2.

An introduction to Italian pronunciation, grammar, conversation and composition. Includes readings in modern Italian, as well as simple selections from opera libretti.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits

LA113 and LA114, French 1 and 2.

The emphasis is on speaking elementary French correctly. Grammar, reading and writing also receive intensive practice. Required of all Voice Performance majors.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits per semester

LA115 and LA116, German 1 and 2.

A thorough study of the rudiments of German grammar and pronunciation, the reading of German texts and oral and written translation and parsing.

Required of all Voice Performance majors.

3 hours weekly; 3 credits per semester

Certain courses offered by each of the three Conservatory divisions are also appropriate as Liberal Arts electives for students majoring in other divisions:

  • DA351 and DA352, Dance History 1 and 2.
    3 credits each
  • ED405, Child and Human Development.
    3 credits
  • MU251 and MU252, Music History 1 and 2.
    2 credits each
  • MU351 and MU352, Music History 3 and 4.
    2 credits each
  • TH151 and TH152, Introduction to Professional Theater 1.
    1 credit
  • TH251 and TH252, Shakespeare 1.
    3 credits
  • TH353 and TH354, Theater History 1 and 2.
    3 credits each
  • TH451 and TH452, Modern Drama 1 and 2.
    3 credits each

English as a Second Language (ESL)

The Boston Conservatory offers a comprehensive program of English as a Second Language (ESL) courses and enrolls students at all levels of English ability. It is the goal of the ESL Program to provide

students with the English language skills necessary to be academically and professionally successful. Skill areas addressed in ESL classes include conversation, grammar and writing structures. Partner work, oral presentations and completion of written assignments and exams is expected. 

Undergraduate students are not permitted to enroll in required Liberal Arts course work or specific divisional courses in history or criticism until they have demonstrated sufficient English skill by an examination administered at matriculation or by successful completion of ESL course work. ESL faculty work with divisional faculty to mentor an international student’s transition into that required academic course work. Placement in an appropriate ESL class is by faculty evaluation only. TOEFL and other test scores are used as a means of evaluating candidates for admission to the Conservatory, but not as a means of placement. All ESL coursework is considered remediation, and credits earned may not be used to fulfill undergraduate Liberal Arts electives or graduate electives.

LA013 and LA014, ESL Intermediate. 

Most students come to The Boston Conservatory already having had some years of formal English language instruction. The main objective of this course is to allow students to actively use in speaking and writing the English acquired during previous study. From this foundation, students expand their knowledge and use of the English language in all the major skill areas: listening, speaking, reading, writing and cultural understanding.

8 hours weekly; 1-3 credits

LA015 and LA016, ESL Advanced.

4 hours weekly; 1-3 credits

Pro-Arts Consortium

Students are urged to consider these options, as well as cross registration at other Pro-Arts Consortium colleges, when selecting electives appropriate to their individual goals. Emerson College, Berklee College of Music and the Massachusetts College of Art offer a range of liberal arts courses (including offerings in the social sciences, mathematics and the sciences) that can enrich a student’s curriculum.

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