curriculum grants

2013 grants

Choreography and the Curriculum, spring 2013

Carrie Rohman and Nandini Sikand

This project will bring Liz Lerman, Creative Campus Fellow of Wesleyan University, Founding Artistic Director of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship to Lafayette on April 17 in conjunction with the new team-taught course THTR 274, Dancing Cultures: Embodying Performance (Profs. Rohman & Sikand). Novice and experienced performers alike struggle both to provide meaningful yet affirming feedback and to receive that feedback in a way that is productive, not defensive. Liz Lerman’s 2003 book on the Critical Response Process provides a specific framework for doing just this. While working with students in the Dancing Cultures course, Lerman will engage her technique to provide feedback to student performers and to model the ability to translate personal responses to performance into useful critical statements.

Lerman will give a public lecture, “Making Rules, Breaking Rules: Trans-disciplinary Practices for Tackling Questions Big and Small,” April 17, Kirby 104, 7 p.m.


The Arabian Nights and Reimagining the Other

Mary Jo Lodge and Rachel Goshgarian.

Lafayette College Theater is producing Mary Zimmerman’s play Arabian Nights, March 6-9, 2013. The Arabian Nights is a collection of stories and folk tales compiled in the Middle Ages. It features stories and characters drawn primarily from Persia, India, Iraq, Egypt and Syria. Faculty from Theater, English, History and International Affairs were inspired by the diverse mixture of histories and cultures in The Arabian Nights to seek a similar fusion of academic and artistic resources at Lafayette in order to create a campus wide, interdisciplinary exploration of the Middle East. To that end, Lafayette will launch a lecture and symposium series onThe Arabian Nights and Reimagining the Other,” to coincide with the production. The visiting scholars will  offer a multifaceted examination of the politics, history, gender relations and religion of the region. The symposium aims to spur conversations that flow from the lecture hall, to the stage, to the classroom and back again.

Najla Said will perform her one-woman show Palestine on Monday, March 18th at 7 p.m. on the Main Stage at the Williams Center for the Arts. Palestine is, in many ways, a contemplation on what it is to have several identities and deals intimately with the complexity of the Arab-American experience in the aftermath of 9/11.

 Heather Raffo will perform her one woman show The Nine Parts of Desire on Thursday, March 21 at 8:00p.m. on the Main Stage at the Williams Center for the Arts.  Raffo’s award winning show explores Iraqi/American identity and nine women living in, or effected by, the recent war in Iraq.

Madeleine Dobie, Associate Professor of French Literature at Columbia University, will present a talk that deals with the translations of the “Arabian Nights” at noon on Friday, April 19.  Location TBA.

Suzanne Gauch, Professor of English at Temple University, will present a paper on the Arabian Nights in a Postcolonial context at noon on Friday, April 26.  Location TBA.


Folding Origami into the Curriculum, Fall 2013

Ethan Berkove

Origami, literally “folding paper,” is a traditional Japanese art known for its beautiful models. People have recently started to mathematically analyze the folding process, which has resulted in an explosion of new and intricate designs. This study has also led to wide-ranging applications in fields as varied as medicine (collapsible stents) and engineering (foldable structures like airbags). This week-long program will look at origami from the mathematical, artistic and applied points of view. It will include a key-note talk by Robert Lang, one of the world’s foremost experts in origami design.


Perceptual and Motor Processes in Art Creation and Appreciation, spring & fall 2013

Nestor Gil and Luis Schettino

Can talent be taught? Is the ability to draw well a “gift” or a type of knowledge that can be acquired? Our project brings together art and neuroscience through the study of the sensorimotor processes learned and deployed during drawing from observation. We are applying behavioral research techniques to understand the skill learning process in early practitioners in Prof. Gil’s drawing courses. The results of these studies will then be used to streamline and enrich the learning process of drawing through new exercises and technology.


Introduction to American Studies (AMS 150), spring 2013

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky

This introduction to the field of American Studies examines American personal and national identity through an interdisciplinary study of American culture. There will be three modules that will infuse the Arts into this social science curriculum.

These modules will include the role of radio, photography and film in shaping American Culture. From Wax Recordings to Radio Rookie examines how radio has been used to shape political, racial and individual notions of Americaness. Students will conduct audio interviews with strangers about their perceptions on how they define and understand America. Defining the America Landscape will challenge students’ notions about the iconic American landscape by examining the local environment through nature walks, lectures and by creating photographic records of their observations. Science Fiction Film from the 1950s will examine the metaphors used in this genre to address larger issues of culture including: conformity, sex and censorship.



Rachel Goshgarian


This course covers a century of political and cultural interactions between one country (the United States) and a large, culturally, linguistically and politically diverse region (the Middle East).  The class studies, in particular, the variety of ways in which individuals, institutions and administrations in the United States and the Middle East have perceived of and imagined one another through the lens of academic articles, mainstream press, speeches, literature, personal histories and the visual arts.  The course will entail an analysis of perceptions and misperceptions as historically construed cultural categories.

Thanks to the START initiative, this course comprises the following events:

  1. A Skype conversation between course participants and Brooklyn-based art critic and blogger Hrag Vartanian ( about the strangely misplaced Hollywood 1919 production “Ravished Armenia.”  Students will watch the remnants of the film that are currently available on line and will have a discussion about the film as an art project and its political cache with a serious art critic on Friday, February 15.
  2. On Wednesday, February 20, Peter Balakian, Colgate University, will discuss his book The Burning Tigris via Skype with students in the course.
  3. On Wednesday, March 6 the class will take a  trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where a curator of the New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia will lecture students on the collection and its history.
  4. On Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m. Najla Said (daughter of Edward Said) will present her one-woman show, Palestine, at the Williams Center for the Arts, main stage.Palestineis, in many ways, a contemplation on what it is to have several identities and deals intimately with the complexity of the Arab-American experience in the aftermath of 9/11. The production is open to the public, and is supported by funds from the START Project.
  5. On Tuesday, April 22, Armenian-American composer and musician Ara Dinkjian will present a talk about producing Middle Eastern music in the US and composing Middle Eastern music outside of the US as an American. He will also perform two songs. The event will take place over lunch in the Williams Art Center and is open to the public.
  6. Ayla Johns, an American journalist, will share her experiences as an American reporting on the Middle East (and its art scene) in class on Wednesday, May 8.



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