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General Education: Studies in Arts & Humanities

Additional Resources

An essential part of the General Education Program, the 200-level AIID 201 Studies in Arts & Humanities course addresses the objectives of the General Education Program by providing an opportunity for students to engage with enduring questions and issues in an interdisciplinary fashion by studying texts and other sources drawn from a range of different times and cultures.

Course Description

The Studies in Arts & Humanities is an interdisciplinary liberal arts course.  It provides students with an introduction to key texts, concepts, and artifacts from different fields in the humanities including, for instance, history, literature, philosophy, music, and art history. Each section of the course covers a variety of different cultures and at least four different periods in human history, which can range from the ancient world to contemporary works. The course is designated Writing Intensive and will require students to complete at least two different types of writing assignments. This is a core General Education course, required of all students

Class Schedule

AIID 201 - STUDIES IN THE ARTS & HUMANITIES
Ramapo

SIAH Section Descriptions, Spring 2024

Note:  We will do our best to maintain this list of instructors, times, and topics.  However, unexpected schedule changes may happen due to enrollment and other issues.

Ramapo

Section 01: Professor Marianne Shaneen

Tuesday / Friday, 9:55 – 11:35
“With and Beyond the Human: The Secret Lives of Animals, Plants, and Vibrant Matter”

As humans, every aspect of our lives is in intimate, dynamic interspecies partnership with the nonhuman world. We don’t just profoundly impact nonhumans, but animals, plants, and geological forces—from octopuses and viruses, and mushrooms and insects, to uranium and plastic—have agency that radically shapes humans, often in unpredictable ways. Through ancient and modern literature, mythology, film, visual art, and theory, we will consider animal-human relationships, plant intelligence, Indigenous animism and the sacred; haunted objects, Afrofuturism, the Anthropocene and global warming, and our fantasies and fears around cyborgs, ghosts, aliens, and monsters. We will consider thinkers and artists who are Indigenous, feminist, nonbinary, and of color. This class will challenge the Western Humanist view of humans as the center of the universe, separate from and dominating nature. Above all, my hope is that students will be inspired by the mysteries and wonders of the nonhuman world, and our inextricable connection to every strand of its web.

Ramapo

Section 02: Professor Riki Traum Avidan

Tuesday/ Friday, 1:45 – 3:25
“The Love of Power and the Power of Love: Gender, Politics, and Race”

“If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”

–James Baldwin

This course invites its participants to explore power, domination, race, and love as categories that structure our social worlds and personal experience. We pay special attention to the concept of family: family that often provides security and  stability, is also the primary seat of power. We examine family through its relation to ambivalent feelings and categories like power, domination, and violence. We also think about the ways political systems are grounded in everyday life, affect, shape, and form intimacy and love, and in this context also gender and race.

Assuming that race, gender, and intimacy are not ‘natural’ categories, we will look at the work that goes into making them appear so and consider the ways in which their meanings and efficacy change over time. The course will examine closely works by Anton Chekhov, Toni Morrison, Emma Goldman, Sigmund Freud, Tillie Olsen, Judith Butler, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and more. We will discuss Antigone by Sophocles and examine questions of race, kinship, and identity in Recitatif by Toni Morrison. Through these works we will explore the relationships that constitute categories such as family, violence, gender, and slavery. In this course, we consider politics as a medium of domination and change. Thus, this course calls as much attention to those individual and collective forms of resistance as it does to their absence.

A main concept in this class – as you might surmise from the description above – is ambivalence.  We examine ambivalence in this course through literary as well as interdisciplinary frameworks.

Ramapo

Section 03: Professor Meredith Davis

Monday/ Thursday, 9:55-11:05 (hybrid course)

“Monumental: Public Art and Architecture and the Making of Meaning”

From the Ancient Greeks to the present day, civilizations have devoted time, energy, and wealth to the creation of great works of art and architecture with the goal of representing – and celebrating –their culture and its values. In this class we’ll look at several iconic moments in the history of architecture including the Parthenon in Athens, Greece from 450 BCE;  the Gothic cathedrals of the 1200s CE;  the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond Virginia from 1890 and Maya Lin’s Vietnam War Veterans’ Memorial from 1982. We’ll study each example in context, by reading texts from the time period and comparing the work to others from the era. But we’ll also consider what these iconic public monuments mean today, and confront the controversies that surround them in our context. Finally, we’ll look at contemporary examples, such as the Community Remembrance Project – meant to memorialize victims of lynching  –  and other innovative projects from around the world
Ramapo

Section 04: Professor Ira Spar

Tuesday / Friday, 3:40-5:20

“Questioning Authority”

From the Garden of Eden story in the Bible to the thoughts of early Greek and Hindu philosophers and from a story of love and murder set in 16th century Istanbul to the writings of a 19th century Hasidic master.

Studies in Arts and Humanities is a course in which we examine ancient and modern cultures through the lens of different disciplines.  We will examine the differing ways societies manage and question issues of proper government, morality, and personal relationships.  We will explore the process by which individuals and groups challenge authority and change perceptions of divinity, belief, social conventions, and norms of behavior.

Ramapo

Section 05: Professor Louis Nicolosi

Monday, 6:05-9:35

“The Role of the Supernatural in Human Experience”

Horror, macabre, the gothic—these are all words we use now to describe the way fear works within the space of the known and the unknown, the natural and the supernatural. For our section of the course, we will look at the supernatural, the uncanny, the fantastical, and the role of fear or the unknown, in constructing our sense of the world. These terms will be juxtaposed with notions of the natural, the normal or normative, the mundane and the known, in terms of the world we occupy. In other words, how does the interplay of the familiar and the strange work together to shape the whole of our lives? How does the fantastical offset our experience of the normative? How does the known work to create safety and structure, whereas the unknown fires our imagination and creates a sense of adventure into the unknown? How does fear or fantasy play a role in navigating these two sides of our lives? How does otherness, the inexplicable, and the unnatural or preternatural work to become the terms we use for the inexplicable? 

Ramapo

Section 06: Professor Riki Traum Avidan

Tuesday, 3:40-5:20; hybrid (other work online asynchronous)

“The Love of Power and the Power of Love: Gender, Politics, and Race”

“If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”

–James Baldwin

This course invites its participants to explore power, domination, race, and love as categories that structure our social worlds and personal experience. We pay special attention to the concept of family: family that often provides security and  stability, is also the primary seat of power. We examine family through its relation to ambivalent feelings and categories like power, domination, and violence. We also think about the ways political systems are grounded in everyday life, affect, shape, and form intimacy and love, and in this context also gender and race.

Assuming that race, gender, and intimacy are not ‘natural’ categories, we will look at the work that goes into making them appear so and consider the ways in which their meanings and efficacy change over time. The course will examine closely works by Anton Chekhov, Toni Morrison, Emma Goldman, Sigmund Freud, Tillie Olsen, Judith Butler, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and more. We will discuss Antigone by Sophocles and examine questions of race, kinship, and identity in Recitatif by Toni Morrison. Through these works we will explore the relationships that constitute categories such as family, violence, gender, and slavery. In this course, we consider politics as a medium of domination and change. Thus, this course calls as much attention to those individual and collective forms of resistance as it does to their absence.

A main concept in this class – as you might surmise from the description above – is ambivalence.  We examine ambivalence in this course through literary as well as interdisciplinary frameworks.

Ramapo

Section 07: Professor Diane Tomko

Monday/ Thursday, 2:15- 3:55

“Love and Imagination”

How are love and imagination part of what makes us human?”   In this course, we will read some of the great works from the Ancient Greek World to the Twentieth century – some plays, tales, poetry, videos, novels and short stories, including Oedipus Rex, Tristan and Iseult, Pride and Prejudice, Hard Times and Dubliners. Students will also flex their writing muscles in a variety of modes, looking to explore their own imaginations as well as improve their individual style at the level of the sentence as well as the level of the essay.

Ramapo

Section 08: Professor Ziva Piltch

Wednesday, 1:00 – 4:30

“The Hero’s Journey”

Our theme for this section will be the hero and hero’s journey and the ways in which the hero reflects the values of her/his culture in literature and in art. The term “hero” is both male and female and includes antiheroes as well.  Readings that emphasize this include The Epic of Gilgamesh, Oedipus or Medea, Othello, Candide, The Doll’s House, and The Metamorphosis. Through writing and discussion we will examine our own values as well.

From the Garden of Eden story in the Bible to the thoughts of early Greek and Hindu philosophers and from a story of love and murder set in 16th century Istanbul to the writings of a 19th century Hasidic master.

Studies in Arts and Humanities is a course in which we examine ancient and modern cultures through the lens of different disciplines.  We will examine the differing ways societies manage and question issues of proper government, morality, and personal relationships.  We will explore the process by which individuals and groups challenge authority and change perceptions of divinity, belief, social conventions, and norms of behavior.

Ramapo

Section 09: Professor Brendan Flanagan

Thursday, 6:05-9:35

“Over the Edge: Liminal Spaces”

As long as human societies have existed, there have always been places “beyond” the edges of those societies. These liminal spaces have evolved with mankind: from the ancients’ concern with the boundary between wilderness and civilization, and between life and death, to modern “in between” spaces of outer space, the inner workings of the human mind, and, most recently, our ever-growing digital realm. This course will explore literature, film, and other art forms that depict these liminal spaces and how those depictions reflect changes in cultures and societies over time. Some readings include The Epic of Gilgamesh, Dracula, Ender’s Game, and Ready Player One.

Ramapo

Section 10: Professor Roark Atkinson

Monday/ Thursday 4:10-5:50

Title TBA

Description TBA

 

Ramapo

Section 11: Professor James Hoch

Monday/ Thursday 8:30 – 9:40 (hybrid, partially online asynch)
“Get a Life”

Or, as the poet Mary Oliver put it . . .
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life”?
In this section of Studies in Arts and Humanities, we will consider poems and films, stories and essays, which ask us to consider what it means and what it takes to make a life meaningful. In the gray dust of the universe, why does the need to make our lives matter still persist?  Is it luck, tragedy, absurdity, awe? Is it a cosmic joke, a god prank? And why?
Our exploration will seek to localize the question in notions of self and identify and how those notions are formed and evolve from particular historical and cultural contexts while recognizing the practice of meaning making converses across the boundaries of these contexts. We will seek to encourage wonder and joy amid a rather cranky existential dread.
Ramapo

Section 12: Professor James Hoch

Monday/ Thursday, 9:55 – 11:05 (hybrid; partially online asynch)

“Get A Life”

Or, as the poet Mary Oliver put it . . .
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life”?
In this section of Studies in Arts and Humanities, we will consider poems and films, stories and essays, which ask us to consider what it means and what it takes to make a life meaningful. In the gray dust of the universe, why does the need to make our lives matter still persist?  Is it luck, tragedy, absurdity, awe? Is it a cosmic joke, a god prank? And why?
Our exploration will seek to localize the question in notions of self and identify and how those notions are formed and evolve from particular historical and cultural contexts while recognizing the practice of meaning making converses across the boundaries of these contexts. We will seek to encourage wonder and joy amid a rather cranky existential dread.

Section 13: Professor Ira Spar

Tuesday/Friday, 11:50-1:30

“Questioning Authority”

From the Garden of Eden story in the Bible to the thoughts of early Greek and Hindu philosophers and from a story of love and murder set in 16th century Istanbul to the writings of a 19th century Hasidic master.

Studies in Arts and Humanities is a course in which we examine ancient and modern cultures through the lens of different disciplines.  We will examine the differing ways societies manage and question issues of proper government, morality, and personal relationships.  We will explore the process by which individuals and groups challenge authority and change perceptions of divinity, belief, social conventions, and norms of behavior.

Ramapo

Section 14: Professor William Cagle

Tuesday, 6:05-9:35

Title TBA

 

Ramapo

Section 15: Professor Hugh Sheehy

Tuesday, 6:05 – 9:35

Title TBA

Description TBA

Ramapo

Section 16: Professor Dean Chen

Wednesday, 9:00 – 12:30

Title TBA

Description TBA

Ramapo

 

Section 17: Professor Maria Molinari

Wednesday, 6:05 – 9:35
“The Fractured Self”

Literature, art, music, dance, and all artistic expression addresses the every-present
human question of how we as people think, feel, and experience life from multiple
perspectives.
Sometimes these experiences feel strange or confusing. Literature helps us understand
and appreciate our awareness of the vast space that we inhabit as human beings. As
an instructor, I am energized by these conversations, and I want to hear your thoughts!
We read, discuss, and write about fiction and nonfiction (from the ancient world, Middle
Ages, and 20th and 21st centuries, etc.). We seek to acknowledge the many parts of
ourselves, all the while considering the anthropology, mythology, psychology, and art
that informs our reading.

Ramapo

Section 18: Professor Paula Carabell

Tuesday/ Friday, 11:50-1:30
“Mimesis, Memory, and Identity”

This section will focus on the ideas of imitation, reality, illusion and the relationship of memory to identity. If we lose our memories, are we still the same person as before? Why do certain eras embrace a concept while others reject it? In order to explore these ideas, we will be reading texts from antiquity to the present that address such ideas as the distinction between reality and illusion, truth and falsehood, memory, identity and seeing how these ideas are expressed in contemporary film. Some of the authors that we will be considering on the notion of self-hood and memory are Locke, Descartes, Freud, Winnicott and Lacan. We will also be examining writers from antiquity to the Renaissance who were interested in exploring the role of art within the context of the social and theological ideas of their times. Some of the films that address these ideas in contemporary life  include MementoThe Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindThree Women and Being John Malkovich.

Ramapo

Section 53: Professor Fabien Rivière

Online, asynchronous course
Title TBA

Literature, art, music, dance, and every form of artistic expression often addresses the very real human question of how we, as human beings, think, feel, and experience life from multiple perspectives.
Sometimes these experiences may feel strange or confusing. Literature can help us understand and come to terms with our awareness of the vast space that we inhabit as human beings. As an instructor, I am energized by these conversations, and I want to hear your thoughts!
We read, discuss, and write about fiction and nonfiction (from the ancient world, middle ages, and 20th and 21st centuries, etc.). We seek to acknowledge the many parts of ourselves, all the while considering the anthropology, mythology, psychology, and art that informs our reading.
Ramapo