SPRING QUARTER, 2009 (**Syllabus and readings located on faculty link)
"There must be chaos in one's heart to be able to give birth to a dancing star."
Great developments in science and the arts—in fact all creative work—often occur at a tense juncture between the poles of order and chaos. This program will investigate how artists and scientists have creatively tried to make sense of their world and the major innovations that have occurred in the process.
In the Arts: Fall and winter quarters we examined the development of tragedy and comedy from the Greeks and Romans to Shakespeare and Moliere, opera, non-western performance, and other great traditions in music, dance, and visual art culminating in the work of Anton Chekhov. We learned how highly ordered classical forms (and conventions) emerged and how they have changed through adaptation, subversion, and technology into new forms. In Science: Fall and winter quarters we examined the development of classical Greek astronomy (the Venerable model) and pantometry through the innovations of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Darwin. We learned how the scientific method includes initially disordered data, highly ordered theories based on that data, new observations that supercede the original data, a collapse of order, and repeat of the process. In the spring quarter we cover the 20th century to the present, including modern physics, probability, Brecht, Beckett, the advent of moving image, and other developments in science and the arts. Credits may be awarded in History of Science, Classical Astronomy, Theatre History, Performance Studies.
Required books (available at the campus bookstore):
Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot
Frayn, Michael. Copenhagen
Harmon, Katharine. You Are Here
Kushner, Tony. Angels in America
Rosenthal, Jeffrey. Struck by Lightening
Sondheim, Stephen and James Lapine. Sunday in the Park with George
Stoppard, Tom. Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Zukav, Gary. The Dancing Wu Li Masters
Questions that have formed the basis of our learning goals include:
What are the venerable models in science and the arts and how have they changed from the Greeks through the 19th century? In what ways do they reflect a unified world view or belief system?
What similarities and distinctions epitomize the creative process in science and the arts? How does the creative process reveal itself when the artist/scientist is constrained by the rules and convention of his time?
Who are the great innovators and what do they have in common?
How would you distinguish transformation and evolution as mechanisms for change in the arts and sciences? In what ways are transformation and evolution central to the creative process?
How have traditional approaches and belief systems been subverted by discoveries and developments from one period to the next?