This cluster is based on the theoretical and interdisciplinary work that suggests that humans think in the form of stories. If experiences are understood and communicated through storytelling, understanding their structures and how they work is integral to the human experience. Should narratives be limited only to words? As story readers, we become better equipped to understand the lives and experiences of others; as story tellers, we become better equipped to share our perspectives and experiences with others. This course cluster focuses on a broad variety of storytelling mediums, including memoirs, short stories, films, documentaries, essays, comics, songs, novels, murals, and performances that are all examples of how we tell stories in the digital age. It is often assumed that advanced communication technologies have made our possibilities endless, but we are equally interested in how constraints, whether bodily, geographic, linguistic, or stylistic, help to produce these stories. Participants will not only analyze these media, and think about how the constraints of form affect how a story is told, but they will participate in creating narratives using some of these forms to engage directly with the idea of constraint as an essential ingredient of creativity.
This cluster provides a multidisciplinary approach to the technical analysis and historical interpretation of early Byzantine textiles from Egypt. Students will undertake hands-on technical analysis of materials and engage with historical production techniques. Students will learn how to relate technical evidence to questions of early Byzantine textiles' function, social meaning, and public display in both the late antique and contemporary periods. This cluster introduces students to the shifting uses of these objects in early Byzantine life and death as well as the changing ways in which scholars have interpreted and displayed these objects over time. Equipped with this background, students will produce original research on previously unpublished early Byzantine textiles in the Jefferson University (Philadelphia) Textile and Costume Collection and will have the opportunity to contribute to that institution’s publicly accessible online collection catalog. Students will also present their knowledge and interpretations through public presentations to the Bryn Mawr College community.