Of Information Technology

Interim Projects

2014: You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine: The Music of Bob Dylan

The description of this project is on the linked page.

2012: The Sixties – If You Remember Them, You Weren't There

Taught with Clayton Whisnant

The Sixties are remembered, fondly or otherwise, as an extremely influential period in this country: politically, culturally and socially. Beginning with the election of John F. Kennedy, the founding of Motown Records, and our first forays in Vietnam, and ending with the inauguration of Richard Nixon, the Stonewall riots, and the first man on the moon, the Sixties were years of turmoil and societal change.

In this project we will study some of the changes that took place in this decade in the United States and Europe.  We will examine international events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Algerian Revolution, the Vietnam War, Prague Spring, and the transformation of the Cold War; furthermore, we will look at important domestic political events such as the rise of the New Left, the organization of student protests, and advances in the Civil Rights, feminist, environmental, and gay and lesbian movements.  Simultaneously, students will explore broader socio-cultural changes involving sexual norms, the lives of women, religious attitudes, consumerism, and notions of social class.  Finally, the class will consider how these various changes are intertwined with important moments in popular culture such as developments in Rock music, New Wave cinema, and Pop Art.

2010: Rhythm & Noise – The Avant-Garde and Popular Music

Taught with Clayton Whisnant

Although classical music was revolutionized in the fifties by experimental and avant-garde composers such as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, this had little effect on popular music until fifteen years later when “Rock n’ Roll” made the transition to “Rock.” One of the most important characteristics of pioneering Rock musicians, such as the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, and the San Francisco groups, was openness to experimentation, musical and otherwise; their example has guided adventurous musicians ever since. This project will explore the truly alternative music that inhabits the fringes of Rock, its interactions with contemporary classical music, and its transition every now and then from experimental to multi-platinum.

2008: The Taste of Chocolate – An Investigation of the Nature of Taste

Taught with Joe Sloan

After eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream, Calvin Trillin’s 4-year old daughter once said 'My tongue is smiling.' Our project will focus on why some foods, and chocolate in particular, make our tongues smile. What does science have to say about tastes and smells? How do our tastes depend on our culture and upbringing? How does the the food industry evaluate tastes? How can we sharpen our palettes so that we improve our ability to discriminate among tastes and discuss them more effectively? Along with our investigation of taste, we also will look at the history of chocolate as food and beverage, the process by which chocolate is made, and the way chocolate can be used as an intrinsic food and as a component in other foods.

2007: The Digital Darkroom

Taught with Joe Sloan

Digital cameras and modern image-processing software have revolutionized photography. It now is cheap and easy to take pictures with digital cameras and almost as easy to creatively modify the images later using a computer. This project will concentrate on both the “picture-taking” and “picture-making” aspects of digital photography. We will discuss how digital cameras work and how they can be used effectively, paying particular attention to techniques that photographers use to take good pictures in the studio or in the field. Students also will learn how to enhance and manipulate digital images using Adobe Photoshop Elements 3. We will begin with basic modifications, such as the correction of problems with lighting, contrast, color, sharpness, and unwanted items in the image, and then move on to more advanced techniques – changing specific parts of photos, creating and managing layers, combining images, shooting panoramas, using images to create graphics, and restoring old photographs. Students will work on lessons designed to help them learn to use the software and on assigned projects that will require them to use the techniques they have learned.

2001: Workers in Song – A History of Rock & Roll (1955 – 1980)

Most, if not all, of today's music has its roots in the rock recorded between 1955 and 1980. These roots may be due to influence, inspiration, or a breakthrough made by an earlier artist/group. With this in mind we will trace the rise of Rock & Roll from Elvis Presley to Johnny Rotten, focusing on a few fairly well-defined periods in the development of the music:

  1. Roots of Rock & Roll
  2. Elvis Presley and Rockabilly
  3. New Orleans
  4. Rhythm and Blues
  5. Vocal Groups
  6. The Music in Transition
  7. Soul and Motown
  8. The Beatles
  9. Bob Dylan and Folk Rock
  10. The British Blues Bands
  11. Psychedelic Rock and San Francisco
  12. Guitar Giants 13.
  13. Garage Bands and The Velvet Underground
  14. Heavy Metal and Proto-Punk
  15. Glam and Progressive/Art Rock
  16. Dance Music and Regional Sounds
  17. Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young
  18. Punk Rock