The Residential College Arts & Ideas in the Humanities major, open to all LSA and RC students, is a flexible interdisciplinary program of study in the arts and humanities. Coursework combines theoretical and historical study of the arts with immersion in artistic practice. In other words: you don't just think and write about the arts, you DO the arts. 

Arts and Ideas course offerings draw from considerable diverse expertise among RC faculty that encompasses literature, studio arts, music, dance, comparative literature, theater, art history, ethnomusicology, and more. 

The New Courses

Different art forms and fields of study generate different ways of thinking. Training in these different ways of thinking will help students practice the interdisciplinarity at the heart of Arts & Ideas more fully. In fall 2019, the faculty of the program unveil two new How to Think courses that will introduce students to the habits of thought and patterns of inquiry that are characteristic of a single art discipline. This experience will engender the skills and habits of thought to support the advanced interdisciplinary work in the major.

Taught by RC Studio Arts faculty member, Ray Wetzel, How to Think: Mixed Media Images explores the ways in which the mind develops ideas in response to the physical manipulation of materials. Working from immediate image making techniques such as cyanotype, the course will develop a vocabulary for making mixed-media images that incorporate digital negatives, printing, laser cutting and painting. Students will ultimately combine these techniques to build 3-dimensional imagery as a way to experience how artists think. Students will have a hands on experience of the manipulation and application of art processes and decision making, and will be both challenged and corroborated by lectures, readings, and visits to available campus wide media and art resources. Readings will includes essays about art imagery, writings by and interviews with artists that bring us closer to understanding how they as individuals think about visual art they create. The goal is to give us a better understanding of how to look at art and ideas in the world we navigate and participate in. This course fulfills the LSA area distribution requirement for Creative Expression.

The other "How to Think" course for fall 2019 is taught by Music program head, Dr. Katri Ervamaa. How to Think: Foundations of Music is a musicianship class combining music theory and musicianship exercises. It is based on the notion of music as a language: students explore the grammar rules (music theory) and put it to use by producing organized sound on the student’s own instruments, keyboard and voice. The goals are to explain foundations of tonal music, and to offer tools for further exploration in musical performance, improvisation, composition, etc. Special emphasis is placed on creative practices and experiencing music through multiple senses. This course also fulfills the LSA area distribution requirement for Creative Expression.

Faculty members who teach courses that students can integrate into an Arts and Ideas plan of study include:

  • Naomi André (classical music and opera, and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race)
  • Catherine Brown (medieval European literature & philosophy, media studies, Spanish language and literatures, mindfulness)
  • Mark Burde (medieval literature and culture, with a focus on parody and satire)
  • Hubert Cohen (film, biography)
  • Sascha Crasnow (arts and visual culture from the Islamic world)
  • Herbert Eagle (Russian and East European cinema, film theory, poetry, and controversial prose written under communism)
  • Beth Genné (historian of dance and art, and how dance reflects and interacts with its historical and cultural context)
  • Karein Goertz (Holocaust Literature, Cities and Modernism, Representations of Berlin, Literature of Walking, Literary Translation)
  • Elizabeth Goodenough (Children's literature and visual culture)
  • Cynthia Sowers (literature and the visual arts of Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, and aesthetics of totalitarianism)
  • Susan Pratt Walton (ethnomusicologist with research interests in Javanese gamelan music, gender studies, life history studies, and performance studies)
  • Jon Wells (slavery and antebellum American history)
  • Thomas Willette (Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting and early modern art-historiography)

Guest faculty join the RC faculty from time to time also, bringing their unique expertise to enrich our students.