Weird and Wondrous Update
First Year Advising Fair - Spring 2002

Hi. The catalog copy is still accurate, except that this is now a first year program; we'll only be admitting upper division students if there's room in the fall. The catalog reads:

Some things are weird. Some fill us with wonder. In our world, it sometimes seems that it's much rarer to be filled with wonder than to call things weird. In this program we will be both creating and thinking together about some special situations in which experiences are simultaneously weird and wonderful. The program's activities will include studying, discussing, and writing about literature, art, and theory from psychology, philosophy and other social sciences. We'll also spend a considerable amount of our time creating collaborative projects about the program's themes, sharing them with each other, and reflecting on them. For example, in studying the theme of travel, we might work on a contemporary anthropologist's book about encountering a new culture; Greenblatt's Marvelous Possessions, a history of the ambiguous functioning of wonder in Europeans' conquest of the New World; and a biography of Joseph Cornell, who made mysterious art in tiny boxes while voyaging nowhere but up and down a few streets in New York. At the same time, studio assignments in metal or mixed media might ask students to make their own passports, their own maps, then their own amulets as another way of exploring ideas and feelings about travel. Throughout, we'll be using the issue of the weird and wondrous as a way to explore some enduring questions about convention and creativity in the arts, the interactions between language and experience, cross-cultural illuminations and misunderstandings, normal and extraordinary experience, pity, disgust, the uncanny, and the sublime.

We plan to work slowly and thoughtfully. We hope to increase our own capacities for wonder as well as developing, together, some categories for understanding this special kind of experience and its relations to other aspects of our lives and our historical situation.

Fall, Winter - 16 credits each quarter. Credit awarded in literary and social theory, studio art, art history, film and literature. Program is preparatory for future studies in the arts and humanities, and for any careers involving encounters with a wide range of people and experiences, like medicine or social work or teaching.

Special Expenses: Up to $150 per quarter for studio supplies, depending on your project.

Faculty: Jean Mandeberg, Thad Curtz

If you think of other questions you didn't ask today, you can contact us by writing to us at the college or through e-mail at or

We've started to order the books. The fall readings will include Weschler's Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Greenblatt's Marvelous Possessions, and Douglas's Purity and Danger. You don't have to read any of them over the summer, but if you want to get started, read Weschler for the first week. (The other two are rather hard; feel free to tackle them too, but don't get scared off by them - we'll work through them together in the fall. If you have e-mail and give your address to us today we'll send you updates about other books and information over the summer. You can also get news by consulting our website at (once it's set up, which should be soon.)