When I first came to Simon’s Rock I enrolled in Intro to Film and Media Production (FILM 110), a course taught by Dien Vo, with hopes of learning how to make a half-decent film. I knew I wanted to take visual studies courses but was still on the fence about whether or not I would stay past the year. Three and a half courses and an advisor change later, I’d like to think I have a decent knowledge of Dien’s film classes and have compiled a list of everything you need to know to succeed if you pursue a similar path
Playwrighting is a mod which combines both the “Art of” and “Workshop” types of SR literature courses. Every week you read a play, exercise, and follow a prompt to write a scene outside of class. In class, you analyze the readings, read the scenes aloud, and give critiques.
Art of Fiction: The Novel is a foil to Art of Fiction: Short Story. As is standard with any “Art of” course, readings are conducted outside of class then discussed in class. The novel is a long work of fiction, or so we think. Brendan’s main goal with this class is to challenge the classifications of the novel genre and then explore how said classification can be molded. This course's reading list includes serially published works, classics, one graphic novel, and an experimental work or two. In addition to exploration of the genre, Brendan also teaches the history of it.
Science Fiction as taught by John Morrell is one of the geekier, albeit most enjoyable, ways of fulfilling a writing intensive credit requirement. The course covers a variety of novels, short stories, and more, including old classics like H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, to more contemporary works such as Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, all the way to newer pieces like Ted Chiang’s Exhalation. All these pieces are gripping and enjoyable to read, and during class time each work is thoroughly picked apart, as any literature course is wont to do. The course is run like a standard literature course, making heavy but efficient usage of discussion, response journals, and essays.
This prerequisite course covers the different acting viewpoints as laid out in Anne Bogart’s book The Viewpoints Book. You begin by working on physicality then slowly move into voice before putting them together towards the end of the semester.
Math & Its Apps is a glorified course in excel. Information on introductory statistics and other functions are taught in class but in general, they only relatively related to the homework. While the textbook is outdated, the material does relate to the world and current events. One of our first projects was calculating the melting rate of ice in the north.
If you’ve read my previous review of Guest Writers, you know it is my favorite class at Simon’s Rock. In essence, you read four books/collections then meet the authors who wrote them—creative writing major’s dream.When I took Guest Writers last year, it was conducted by Peter Filkins. However, Peter and Brendan switch off every year, so this year it was run by Brendan Mathews.
Introduction to Environmental Studies is an overview of, well, the environment. This class combines lectures, discussion, and interactive labs to explore the world in which we live. Instead of reading from textbooks, Donald assigns readings from journals, studies, news sources, and investigations. Labs generally consist of observation and interaction rather than experimentation, and debate is welcomed in the classroom.
Whereas Art of Fiction is a course that teaches the study of fiction, the Fiction Workshop course teaches its production. Brendan Mathews works with his students in order to heighten their craft through weekly exercises and large projects. Additionally, all students edit the work of their peers so that by the end of the class each student has received not only professor critiques, but those of their talented classmates as well
Art of Fiction: Short Story travels through a series of works (generally around ten pages long) written from the early 19th century to the modern day. As is common at Simon’s Rock, each story is read outside of class then discussed in depth during the period. This discussion can be about an array of aspects, such as a technique the author used, a theme that interests you, or even just an element of the story that you couldn’t quite understand