Sunday, November 20, 2011

Info about "What Is Being?" Spring 2012

What Is Being?
Dr. Lori Landay

Ever wonder, "what IS being?"

This course, "What Is Being?" is a special opportunity for Berklee students to explore an age-old question in multiple ways: through reading touchstone texts of philosophy, literature, psychology, and other disciplines; through exploring of how the subtleties of being and seeming play out in performance; and by considering what is being in contemporary culture. It is funded by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, which pays for the students' books and tickets to plays, among other things. The class size is small (12) and the level of discussion is intense and interesting. We read into things. W look deeply. We keep asking questions and probably never really answer them fully. We'll read whole books and also parts of books, including a few choice sections from thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Erving Goffman, Heidegger, and Jean Baudrillard. You can shape your multimedia projects about topics that interest you. If you think you are interested in taking this course this semester, keep reading.

Course Description

The motto of Berklee College of Music is Esse quam videri, a phrase from Cicero’s essay “On Friendship,” which translates as “to be, rather than to seem.” The course “What is Being?” gives you the opportunity to focus and reflect upon the differences between seeming and being, and think deeply about existence, self, and image. Organized around three interrelated themes: seeming vs. being; performance on stage and in everyday life; and the power of images and illusion in contemporary culture, the seminar requires students to consider realworld issues by exploring in depth the great works of philosophy, literature and psychology. The course includes the reading and discussion of Plato’s Republic, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Enduring Questions grant, “What Is Being?” is a unique opportunity for serious seminar-style exploration of a foundational issue in human thought.

This course requires a commitment from the participants to:

attend class,

read the assigned material,

engage with the questions and ideas in multimedia and written assignments that will be turned in on time

attend at least one play (tickets provided by the NEH grant)

and participate fully in class discussion and activities.

Required Books

(to be provided free to students thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities Enduring Questions Grant)

Plato. The Republic.

Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Prince

Wu, Ch’eng-en. Monkey: Folk Novel of China

de Cervantes, Miquel. Don Quixote. Campfire Graphic Novel adapted by Lloyd S. Wagner

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet.

Alcott, Louisa Man. Behind a Mask; or, A Woman’s Power

Larsen, Nella. Passing

The Performance Studies Reader (PSR)

NOTE: Readings may change slightly for Spring 2012, and we will read parts of other books than those listed here.

If you would like to sign up for LHUM P433, send a paragraph explaining your interest in the course to llanday at


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