Welcome to Taking Things Apart!

This is a full-time coordinated studies program with ambitious goals.  We plan to integrate the study of both science and art as much as possible in an effort to discover how the two are connected.  Through lectures, workshops, readings, studio art work and science lab work, the program will endeavor to:

  • create a sense of wonderment
  • teach critical observation skills
  • help students develop a “sense of narrative”
  • help students become attentive at all levels of their lives
  • help students deal with ambiguity

One strand of the program will focus on the nature of scientific inquiry and investigation in biology.  In fall quarter, we will be “taking apart” the neurobiology of visual perception.  We will begin with the anatomy of the brain and eye, explore the organization of neurons and logic of synaptic transmission, and conclude by studying the structure of photoreceptor molecules.  A major theme will be to understand the relationship between biological structure and function.

Our studio art portion of the program for fall quarter will focus on drawing, both from still-life set-ups and live models.  Basically, our aim here is to become more careful observers of the world around us; in essence, we will learn the difference between ‘looking’ and ‘seeing.’  No drawing experience is necessary.  What is necessary, however, is a willingness to take risks and to suspend your disbelief in yourself as an artist.

A third strand of the program will involve reading, discussing, and writing about works of literature—novels, poetry, drama, and essays.  The book list for fall quarter is as follows:

1. Objectivity, Lorraine Daston & Peter Galison–ISBN 1-890951-79-X

2. An Anthropologist On Mars, Oliver Sacks–ISBN 0-679-75697-3

3. The Charterhouse Of Parma, Stendhal (translation by Richard Howard)–ISBN 0-679- 78318-0

4. Another Country, James Baldwin–ISBN 0-679-74471-1

5. Ararat, Louise Glück–ISBN 0-88001-248-X

6. King Lear (Ed: Foakes), Shakespeare–ISBN 1-903436-59-1

7. Something I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You, Alice Munro–ISBN 0-375-70748-4

8. The Undressed Art: Why We Draw, Peter Steinhart–ISBN 1-4000-7605-6

9. Biological Science 4th edition, Scott Freeman–ISBN 0-321-59820-2

NOTE: We will be using selected chapters from this standard introductory biology textbook.   This is an expensive new edition; you may use the Third Edition (2008), which can be readily purchased as a used copy.