Monday, September 5, 2011

This Fall is My Favorite

Classes began at Bennington last week, proving both exciting and nauseating. Often within the same five minutes. It hasn’t even been a full week of courses yet and I’ve already read about 400 pages of assigned readings, bitched about how un-Bennington it is for visiting faculty to have less-than-acceptable amounts of respect for their students (because this is our WORK, not just that drunk space between high school and real life), and been asked to describe the primary positions in the debate on cultural/art objects and their function/meaning in museums/archaeology. PIECE OF CAKE.
This term, I tailor-made my course load to support my senior work and prepare for graduate school. My courses are so utterly and perfectly in line with my focus on cultural heritage issues that I almost want to laugh/cry/eat in happiness. If you don’t go to Bennington for theater, music, or literature, it can sometimes be difficult to find courses that support exactly what you want to do or the ideas you want to explore. We’re known for concentrating in really obscure or abstract areas, but even the illicit antiquities trade is kind of a reach for Bennington. So this term is a particularly miraculous blending of disciplines and questions that all relate to what I want to do and how I want to do it. For those of us who don’t go to schools with cultural heritage opportunities or programs for undergrad students, these are the kinds of disciplines and courses I would recommend to students who plan on pursuing cultural heritage professionally. A few I’m taking this term:
Anthropology of Art: Taught by anthropologist Miroslava Prazak, this class explores how peoples of diverse world cultures creature, use, manipulate, conceptualize, exchange, and evaluate objects of material culture. This course will tackle the anthropological concept of culture, the commercialization of the arts, the role of museums as receptacle for arts and cultural history, and questions of aesthetics. No offense to all my other courses, but this is already my favorite. Not only is this everything I want to study stuffed into one class, but Mirka is one of my  favorite professors and the people in it are all pretty quality individuals.
Solving the Impossible: Intractable Conflict: This course, taught by dancer and mediator Susan Sgorbati, explores the anatomy of so called “intractable” conflicts and how to approach them non-violently. I am so jazzed to look at the illicit antiquities through the lens of this course. It is a distinct and heady emotion. I am not kidding.
International Relations: Theory and Practice: This is just a survey IR course, but it’s going to supplement my senior work pretty critically.
Art history tutorial: I’m in a 2-credit tutorial with two other students as we research and plan our senior work in art history. I am so excited about this that I already requested like 20 books on museum studies and cultural property from the interlibrary loan.

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