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Bard College Catalogue, 2019–20
Maria Sachiko Cecire (coordinator), Sven Anderson, Thomas Bartscherer, Alex Benson, Katherine M. Boivin, Krista Caballero, Ben Coonley, Miriam Felton-Dansky, Thomas Keenan, Laura Kunreuther, Marisa Libbon, Patricia López-Gay, Susan Merriam, Gregory B. Moynahan, Keith O’Hara, Nathan Shockey, Whitney Slaten, Drew Thompson, Olga Touloumi, Robert Weston
How does technology mediate what it means to be human? The Experimental Humanities (EH) concentration is Bard’s liberal arts–driven answer to the digital humanities. Digital humanities is an evolving field that typically employs digital tools and research methods to investigate humanities subjects. In addition, EH engages with media and technology forms from across historical periods, combining experimental research methods with critical thinking about how such forms function as a part of cultural, social, and political inquiry. EH emphasizes critical thinking about media and technology and their intersections; the relationship between digital methodologies and humanities scholarship; collaboration between traditionally disparate disciplines such as computer science, literature, and the arts; and the role of experimentation, often associated with the sciences and arts, in humanities research. The concentration embraces the ethos of practice and making that characterizes the digital arts and humanities, even as it insists on the importance of writing and theory as humanistic practices in their own right. Students moderating into EH do so simultaneously with their primary program, with the option of adding a practice-rich component to their Senior Project in conjunction with that program.
Experimental Humanities draws upon the courses offered by its core faculty and includes two dedicated and required introductory courses: Introduction to Media (Literature 235) and History of the Experiment (Art History 252). To moderate into EH, students must have successfully completed (or be enrolled in) one of these courses and one other EH cross-listed course, and fulfilled the Moderation requirements of the primary program. All candidates for Moderation must demonstrate a clear idea of how the EH concentration will work with their major program of study in their short papers (or, if not moderating simultaneously into a primary program, submit a separate two- to three-page paper addressing this question). At least one member of the Moderation board should be a faculty member affiliated with EH.
To graduate, students must have completed both core courses, two additional EH or EH cross-listed courses (including one above the 200 level), and at least one practicing arts course beyond the College arts requirement or a computer science course. An EH Senior Project can take many forms, depending on the requirements of the student’s primary program(s). For EH, it need only engage with one or more of the questions and concerns of the concentration, including: How does technology mediate what it means to be human? How does media shape culture and/or the pursuit of knowledge? How do traditional and experimental methods of inquiry affect what knowledge looks like? Exceptions to these guidelines may be subject to the discretion of the EH Steering Committee, in consultation with the student’s primary program and academic adviser.
Introduction to Media provides a foundation in media history and theory. It also explores how students can use aspects of traditional humanistic approaches (e.g., close reading and visual literacy) to critically engage with texts of all kinds. Students consider how material conditions shape discourse and assess their own positions as consumers and producers of media. History of the Experiment considers major figures and experimental approaches, such as poetics, the philosophical thought experiment, and the scientific method; and challenges students to reconsider existing categories of and approaches to knowledge formation.
Other recent courses include: Art and the Internet; Experiments in Art and Technology; Games at Work: Procedure, Participation, and Play; Going Viral: Performance, Media, Memes; Ethnography in Image, Sound, and Text; Machine-Made Music, Past and Present; Radio Africa; Rights and the Image; Technologies of Reading; The Book before Print; and Woman as Cyborg.