Course Search 2022-2023

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Upper School Advanced Seminars Curriculum

In an effort to provide a rigorous alternative to the standardized curriculum and testing of AP courses, we have created a menu of Advanced Seminars for Seniors and selected Juniors that equal or exceed AP courses in terms of conceptual challenge, complexity of material, development of critical skills and overall preparation for college academics. They are therefore among the most academically rigorous courses we offer. These courses, which are either one semester or full year, are proposed by faculty with a particular interest and expertise in a given field and are subject to a thorough peer-review process, overseen by a committee of experienced teachers with college teaching backgrounds, before being authorized by the School. The seminar format promotes critical thought and discussion, requires students to work independently and is flexible enough to encompass a broad range of course themes. In all Advanced Seminars, the level of reading, writing and critical discussion equals that found in a first-year college course. Seminars are small, and enrollment is by permission of the instructor.


Advanced Seminars Fall 2022

Students wishing to take an Advanced Seminar must submit a completed questionnaire and a graded writing sample to the relevant instructor. Interviews might be required, also.

Aesthetic and Cultural Understanding: Early Arts of East Asia

Instructor: Zachary Mazouat and Zoe Jameson-Shea

Prerequisites: Honor roll status and permission of instructors

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

This course examines art from East Asia, as well as the historical, social, religious, and philosophical contexts in which they were produced. The course will be divided into three distinct sections that focus on China, Japan, and Korea. Although these three regions engaged in extensive cultural exchanges during the period of time covered by this course, each developed its own artistic styles and forms. Discussions of these cross-cultural interactions will be a consistent subtheme, especially as our shared understanding grows over the course. A rigorous study of art history will drive the course, but there will be experiential, hands-on art projects to further enhance the study. Students will work from the beginning of the semester toward a final project consisting of curating their own exhibition of East Asian art.

Explorations in Russian Language and Culture

Instructor: Dr Gabriel Guadalupe

Prerequisites: Three consecutive years of language and interview with instructor

Open to students in the following grades:

Fall Semester

Добро пожаловать! Welcome to Explorations in Russian Language and Culture! In this course, you will learn the foundational structures of Russian. You’ll learn to read, write, and type in Cyrillic (Кириллица). By the end, you’ll be able to converse and write in basic Russian about yourself, your family, and daily life. Additionally, the course explores Russian culture. You’ll learn about daily life in Russia. You’ll also have a better understanding of its vast geography and diverse peoples. Lastly, the class will dedicate time to the exploration of important historical and political events that shaped Soviet and modern Russia.

The Phonograph Effect: How Technology Has Transformed Music

Instructor: David Gold

Prerequisites: Honor roll status and permission of instructor

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

We live in a world where all of the music that has ever been recorded is available to us whenever, and wherever, we like. But it hasn't always been like that. In this course, we will look at the transformations in technology that have made our current experience of music possible. We will examine how developments in technology have changed not only how and where we can listen to music, but also how music is performed and composed. We will ask questions about the ethical implications of widespread music streaming, about the notion of artistic "ownership." And we will consider what has been lost, as well as gained, from the days when to listen to a piece of music required being within earshot of the performer for a real-time, never-to-be-repeated event. This course is for any student with an interest in music, technology, history, innovation, or creativity.

Advanced Seminars Spring 2023

Students wishing to take an Advanced Seminar must submit a completed questionnaire and a graded writing sample to the relevant instructor. Interviews might be required, also.

Fashion: Global Imperatives, Materiality, Embodiment

Instructor: Dr. Jack Bartholomew

Prerequisites: Honor roll status and permission of the instructor

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

What does fashion say about societal values, mores, culture, politics, and power structures? How do these concepts vary globally and over time? How does fashion speak to materiality and embodiment? How do we articulate our bodies and our selves—and how do we represent the body? When is fashion self-expressive, empowering, or just “fun”, and when is it restrictive or imposed? In this seminar, we consider fashion internationally, dress as an experience of the senses, cultural exchanges, fashion as free expression and as constraint (including some of the darker sides of fashion), and where fashion is trending globally.

Network Analysis: Connecting the Dots

Instructor: Ryan Tamburrino

Prerequisites: Honor roll status and teacher permission

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

Look closely enough at the world, and you will discover the notion of a network: a collection of interconnected things. Connecting dots with lines is an almost primitive instinct within all humans, evidenced by our ancient interest in constellations and the doodles of children. As our world has become increasingly connected, however, the theory of dots and lines has become substantially more complex and the application of this theory has become infinitely more powerful. From the tangled webs of friendship on social media to the orderly structure of molecules, from orchestrating traffic at major highway intersections to the many one-way lanes of our very own campus at MBS, network analysis can be used to solve problems, optimize existing systems, and pose novel questions that lead to progress. In this project-based course, we will study the theory of networks (known in mathematics as graph theory), model real-world systems, and analyze their various properties.