Selected Topics Course Descriptions
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Section NumberSection TitleSection Description
AHST*398*01Contemporary Art and WritingIn this course, students will explore contemporary art in Philadelphia through regular field trips to area institutions, such as The Fabric Workshop Museum, the Barnes Foundation, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, among other institutions. Through first-hand experiences with art and class lecture, students will examine issues related to art exhibitions, the voice of the critic, and the voice of the artist. Students will practice crafting written responses about art, generating language to discuss art that may be oblique or challenging. Professional skills, such as how to pitch a review, will aim to teach students how to find a platform for their writing and to consider the responsibility of highlighting art they find impactful.
AHST*398*02African American ArtSince the time of this nation's birth, artists of African descent have helped define what it is to be an American. This course outlines the major movements and enduring themes in the history of African American art from the late 18th century to the present day. We will pay special attention to the socio-political context within which black artists have worked and will highlight connections both to African traditions and to the mainstream of American art. Special topics will include craft and the training of Black artists both inside and outside of the academy, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, "Post-Black" art and Afro-diasporic art in the 21st century.
CIM*301*01Motion Capture ProductionThis course provides hands-on experience for creative applications with motion capture, ranging from camera tracking to hand-held 3D controllers to high end optical tracking systems. The class will introduce methods of gesture-based and full-body tracking as input for performance, immersive experiences, generation of graphics and audio, and alternative forms of human-computer interaction. This course is open to all disciplines with course content that is responsive to the interests of students enrolled in the course. Students should have some familiarity with 3D graphics applications and an aptitude for learning new software.
CIM*301*02SoundscapesA soundscape, simply put, is an acoustic environment. Whether on a hike in the woods, waiting at the airport or listening to a piece of music, the soundscapes which surround us have an incredible impact on our lived experience of the world. Building on the work of R. Murray Schafer, this course will investigate the constantly evolving nature of soundscapes.
The study of soundscapes occupies “a middle ground between science, society and the arts” and is a relevant topic to multiple artistic practices including filmmaking, performance, theatrical design, game development, music, and installation. Through creative projects, discussions, and lectures, this course will approach soundscapes from multiple perspectives: as a creative practice, as a design platform, and as a field of research. Covering topics which range from neuroscience and auditory scene analysis to field recording and urban planning, this course covers a diverse array of artists and practitioners including Brian Eno, Maryanne Amacher, Alvin Lucier, Luc Ferrari, and Richard Devine.
CIM*301*03Immersive FilmmakingThis course translates filmmaking techniques into an immersive viewing space. Breaking the mold of traditional filmmaking and expanding into Virtual Reality we will learn production techniques for 360 video experiences. The class will cover video production, editing and exporting for viewing films on various platforms including VR heads sets and YouTube. Students will work individually and collaboratively across disciplines producing films with the intention to be viewed in VR. Films will range from documentary, narrative and experimental focusing on how to process an immersive experience within the context of filmmaking. Open to all disciplines with no prerequisites, although familiarity with digital video editing and photography is helpful.
CIM*301*04VR Collaboration & ClassroomThis course is for students who want to work in a creative research team to develop concepts and applications that leverage unique features of virtual reality for use in remote learning and collaboration. Within your student team, you will collaborate with UArts faculty to propose, develop and present prototypes of classroom and studio sessions that make novel and meaningful use of embodiment, sensory immersion, and spatial perception unique to virtual reality technology. The course will meet regularly using multi-participant remote VR applications. On-site and in-person meetings will occur on occasion when use of facilities and access is determined beneficial to the research project. Some experience with computer graphics applications may present an opportunity for development of custom applications, but is not a requirement.
CRIT*300*01GamaficationGamification applies game design methods traditionally used for entertainment purposes to non-game contexts. Gamification uses play and gaming elements to influence our behaviors and shape how we navigate various areas of contemporary life, including work, education, shopping, and online spaces. This interdisciplinary class explores topics central to understanding the incredible cultural impact of gamification – including the psychology and mechanics of “gamifying” everyday life – in ways that are relevant to all creative fields. In addition to writing assignments, student will design basic games to demonstrate gamification concepts.
CRIT*300*02Digital Media LiteracyThis class explores the Internet’s incredible impact on how we produce and consume knowledge in the 21st century. We will examine this impact by exploring how the Internet works and analyzing why information — especially news — appears on our screens the way it does. A major topic we will explore together: how the complex web of incentives that guide digital media outlets, social media companies, and individuals shape how we think of our world and ourselves. Our main goal in this course is to develop a digital media literacy toolkit for reading and navigating communications online.
CRIT*305*01Writing FunnyThis course investigates what makes funny…funny. Students will create original pieces exploring dark humor, parody, absurdism, satire, British snark, American irony, and unstable, subversive comedy in order to examine humor as both a means and an end. We’ll consider humor’s relationship to substance and truth, and we’ll ask what we can learn from writing that tries for humor but falls flat. Students will advance their understanding of how humor works on the page and develop their own version of funny in fiction, nonfiction, and other forms. We’ll take inspiration from authors and artists such as Tina Fey, Mark Twain, George Saunders, Samantha Irby, Paul Beatty, Jenny Zhang, and David Sedaris.
DANC*398*01Collective as QuestionIn this course, taught by a team of artist-researchers in collaboration, students will develop research and performance practices that consider and respond to contemporary conditions produced by colonial and neoliberal structures. How does performance in and as research navigate conditions of life and mobilize the social? Students will be introduced to various models of creative inquiry with an emphasis on archive, ethnography, documentation and analysis of live performance. The course will culminate in the presentation of student-led research actions that make evident creative processes developed over the semester.
DANC*398*02Before UtteranceThis special topics course researches commonalities between pre-semiotic compositional methods of contemporary dance and poetry. Students will begin by looking towards multiple artists in each field and exploring their particular methods of making. As the class considers what initiates designing a conceptual work, students will attempt to find parallels between how and why a work is made. Through this encounter of disciplines, the course poses the following questions: What are the intuitive senses that startle each artist into a channel of expressive form? What do these disciplines share in relationship to time, space, and matter? By experimenting with speed/acceleration, imagery, metaphor, the body, sensation, or the flip-flopping of tenses - recognizable tools that cross between dance and poetry become visible. These experiments will make it possible to view poetry and dance as matching models, despite (or rather because of) the distinction each form makes between how written language and embodiment function as modes of utterance. Ultimately, each student will create a comprehensive practice that will lead to the development of a final project.
DVPP*680*01Music Comp for Performance
DVPP*680*02The Ensemblist DirectorSome directors are auteurs; some directors are puzzle-solvers. Some are acting coaches, and some are provocateurs.
Dan Rothenberg has directed 30 original works, co-created with the ensemble, for Pig Iron; served as an outside eye for Almanac and Berserker Residents; as well as directed Shakespeare and new plays for other producers. This class will take students through his methodology for leading an ensemble process.
DVPP*680*03Progressive PedagogiesThis class will experiment with teaching methodologies grounded in progressive and non-hierarchical models, looking specifically at how to foster learning that is individually tailored and/or dialogic in form. Exploring how one can teach with students as active-co-investigators that are conscious, curious and self-guided in developing their artistic vision and skills, the course will use models of praxis (investigation followed by self-reflection) and intrinsic motivation as key concepts. Key texts might include Teaching to Transgress and Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
DVPP*680*04Digital PerformanceThis course is a research-based course, investigating many different performance realms in the digital world. During this time of COVID, the digital world is the main platform for both live and recorded media and this course. Through readings, digital videos and online experiences, students will document ways performing artists have used the digital realm as a space for staging their works. Students will also develop their own digital content springing out of their research. Key ideas are mixed reality, alternate reality and transmedial performance. Artists featured will include Blast Theory, Coney, Janet Cardiff, PopUp Theatrics, Imploding Fictions, Ant Hampton and New Paradise. Swim Pony’s current project – TRAILOFF – will also serve as a digital performance model.
DVPP*680*05Sound & New Media PerformanceMulti-Disciplinary artist Tei Blow will guide students through this course that examines the theory and practice of sound design and new media performance platforms, awakening new possibilities for artistic expression within a digital sphere. Using found sounds and materials, students will learn not only how to compose and score visual works with sound but also how to mix sound and visual imagery live, enabling improvisation and spontaneity to be a part of the final product, much as it would be in a live theatrical space. The course will teach students technologies such as QLab and the Adobe suite in order for those tools to be deployed toward novel and arresting performances. Individual projects at the end of the course could take the form of radio plays, podcasts, audiovisual improvisations, digital self-portraits, among other possible projects.
FIBR*299*01UpholsteryThe focus of this course is upholstery techniques and topics related to the upholstery process. In the beginning of the course, students will practice traditional upholstery techniques from found furniture objects. As the course continues, students will investigate upholstery as a contemporary craft form. Students will be asked to think critically and apply a personal approach to the techniques they learn throughout the course.
GLAS*299*01Glass with Pate De VerreThis class will offer meditative paste of glass processes with an emphasis on developing rich surfaces and textures that emit light and color in glass.
Mixing powdered glass with various liquid vehicles, packing the paste into molds and finally firing these molds in kilns, students will be able to explore thin wall and vessel forms. While students are working at a small scale during the class, this technique translates to larger scale investigations.
Guidance is offered in the form of demonstrations, slide presentations, field trips, informal discussion, and intensive group critiques. Students from all disciplines are welcome, and no experience is required.
MSEM*650*01Lighting in MuseumsDuring this workshop, students will investigate and experiment with lighting in developing psychological, physiological and experiential effects in museum environments. Research into the significant role lighting plays in exhibit design will include a brief introduction to the history of lighting, focused on the museum setting. Practical demonstrations paired with field trip(s) allow students to experience the possibilities and limitations of this critical design asset. The workshop culminates with students applying practical tools and current lighting specifications to illuminate museum exhibit space
THEA*475*01The Actor as AuthorityDiscussions and analysis (supported by readings), and practical explorations of the actor's method, with the objective of prompting the student-actor to embrace the responsibility for harvesting their own unique intellectual, physical and emotional capacities as primary sources in crafting powerful, personal performances. Central to the course will be the positioning of the actor as both author and authority – architect and expert. Projects will include preparation of scenes and monologues leading to a final performance supported by an essay examining personal analogies used to illuminate the actor’s task and method.
THEA*475*02Devised PerformanceThis course, taught by the UArts/Pig Iron Devised Performance Senior MFA candidates,
invites students to consider themselves creators of their own artistic material. It
teaches participants how to be precise in their physicality, breath, and gaze as they
create new characters and make vibrant, original performance. Movement and
improvisation are at the heart of the course, as participants learn to write on their
feet and discover their own artistic impulses that yield arresting moments of live
Ensemble work is an essential component and is emphasized throughout the course
with a focus on space and rigorous play. Observation of the world and its movements
serve as primary inspiration for creation. Devising practices will also be taught which
reveal the poetic possibilities of theatre while offering practical building blocks of
devising. The goal is that students, having been immersed in these practices, can
then apply these practices in their own future creative endeavors.
The course is rooted in different theatrical traditions and trainings, yet it aims to
cultivate a theatre of tomorrow led by curious minds that speaks to this contemporary
THEA*475*03Rendering for Costume DesignA figure drawing course created with the intention to render dynamic characters with personality and life as an essential tool of the costume designer. Students will learn techniques for drawing a well-proportioned human body, illustrating fabrics, and properly conveying costume silhouettes for major historical periods. This course is specifically aimed to inspire the student to explore diverse approaches, mediums and techniques to develop their own unique style of costume rendering.
THEA*475*04MT Vocal EnsembleIn this course students will:

easily and accurately sight-read pitches and rhythms to facilitate the learning of music in a show rehearsal situation
use their knowledge of musical terms and concepts to facilitate the transmission of ideas from composer to performer and from performer to performer
apply concepts learned in their music skills courses (THST 114, 115, 214, 215) to four-part singing
THEA*475*05Music Direction / TheaterThis course explores the art and craft of the music director for musical theater. The course will delve into works of musical theater and analyze the process of music direction from the inception of a project through its production. Special attention will be spent in exploring how to interpret a score and then successfully share that interpretation with collaborators. Through working hands on with music, we will also learn how to engage in each component of a music director's process (teaching music, blending sound, reducing arrangements, maintaining consistency in production). Students must be able to read music before taking this class.
THEA*475*06Senior ShowcaseThis professional prep course will focus on students preparing an acting showcase for film, television, and theatrical markets. Instruction will be focused on productions and roles appropriate for each actors’ brand/type/skillset, and building the foundation of industry knowledge. The focus of class work will be preparing material to be performed for the showcase (e.g. scenes, songs, monologues, etc.), along with preparing proper headshots and resumes to be given to attendees of the showcase. The class will culminate in a live performance for industry executives, casting directors, talent representatives, and other industry professionals.