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Bard College Catalogue 2023-24
Languages and Literature Overview
The Division of Languages and Literature offers majors in the areas of literature; written arts; and foreign languages, cultures, and literatures. All students in the division are encouraged to study languages other than English; foreign language instruction currently offered includes Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and ancient Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. Interdisciplinary majors are also offered in Asian studies, classical studies, French studies, German studies, Italian studies, Middle Eastern studies, Russian and Eurasian studies, and Spanish studies (see “Interdivisional Programs and Concentrations” in this catalogue).
The Literature Program at Bard challenges the national, cultural, and disciplinary boundaries that have too often dictated the terms by which we understand the meaning and value of the written word. Thinking critically, both individually and collectively; speaking up with compassion and conviction; and writing with clarity and purpose are the cornerstones of what program faculty teach and practice. These skills are essential to the study of literature, to active citizenship, and ultimately, to having a voice in the world. The curriculum emphasizes cultural, linguistic, and geographic diversity and is vitally engaged with interdisciplinary fields such as Africana studies, Asian studies, environmental studies, experimental humanities, gender and sexuality studies, human rights, Latin American and Iberian studies, and Middle Eastern studies. The Written Arts Program recommends students experiment with their own writing in a context sensitive to intellectual, historical, and social realities. Students are encouraged to consider how their writing is and can be an act of critical and creative engagement, a way of interrogating and translating the world around us. It is expected that Written Arts students are also passionate readers. Students in the Written Arts Program take writing-intensive seminars in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that emphasize innovative, experimental work, and work that foregrounds the conventions of writing.
Seniors must summon up imagination, knowledge, discipline, and independence for the Senior Project. Senior Projects are normally 40 to 60 pages in length and represent a year’s worth of research, writing, and revision. Students usually decide on a topic in the spring of their junior year and are matched with a faculty member to serve as their Senior Project adviser at that time. During their senior year, students generally meet with their advisers for an hour each week. Over the years, students have translated works of poetry and fiction; written critical studies of texts from across the world and from the ancient past to the present day; and produced original works, including novellas, book-length poems, and short story collections.
Several special interdisciplinary initiatives offer series of courses that are clustered thematically. Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) courses critically analyze systems of racial hierarchy and power from multiple disciplinary perspectives; Center for Ethics and Writing courses foreground the creation of verbal art as an ethical practice; Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences (ELAS) courses link academic work with civic engagement; Courage to Be seminars address the practice of courageous action in the 21st century; Hate Studies Initiative (HSI) courses examine the human capacity to define and dehumanize an “other”; Calderwood Seminars help Upper College students think about translating discipline-specific writing to a general audience; Rethinking Place: Bard-on-Mahicantuck Initiative courses provide a Native American and Indigenous studies approach to American studies; and OSUN online and collaborative courses are taught by faculty at Bard and at partner institutions throughout the world and enroll students from across the Bard Network. Other course clusters include the Thinking Animals Initiative (TAI), Migration Initiative, Asian Diasporic Initiative (ADI), and Disability and Accessibility Studies Initiative (DASI).
The course descriptions listed in this chapter represent a sampling of courses taught in the last three years.
Division chair: Matthew Mutter