Thursday, January 17, 2013

Spring 2013: What Is Being?

LHUM-P410 What Is Being?

Dr. Lori Landay

Ever wonder, "what IS being?"  Then this course might be for you!

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. The development of the course was funded by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, and in Spring 2013 we'll experiment with some new ways of working on projects together in class. The class size is small (12) and the level of discussion is intense and interesting. We read into things. We look deeply. We keep asking questions and probably never really answer them fully, but instead come up with even more questions

We'll read whole books and also parts of books, including a few choice sections from thinkers like Machiavelli, Jean-Paul Sartre, Erving Goffman, Heidegger, and Jean Baudrillard. We'll delve into Hamlet so you'll know what that famous "To be or not to be?" line can mean, in Shakespeare's play and film versions of it.  You'll understand some basic concepts in the history of philosophy, and you can choose to work with them more fully.  We'll read some literature together, but you'll also be able to make your own choices.  You can shape your multimedia projects about topics that interest you, and we'll work together in class on the projects.  If you think you are interested in taking this course this semester, keep reading.  You can also scroll through this blog from the Spring 2012 semester to see some (not all) of the topics, which will give you an idea of what we'll do this year.

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 &

participate fully in class discussion and activities.


Mondays 10-10:50 & Thursdays 2-3:50 

Email with any questions