M.A. in Engaged Humanities & the Creative Life

images/subhead_images/Misc_Banners/MiscOutdoor-12.jpg

Course Descriptions

"A rich harvest [for depth psychology] is to be reaped in the field of the humanities. Here a tremendous prospect opens out, and at present we are standing only on its extreme periphery. Most of it is still virgin territory."-C. G. Jung

Download the Course List (pdf)

First Year
Creativity and Aesthetic Sensibility--HMC 100, 3 units
Joseph Campbell and the Mythmaker's Path--HMC 110, 3 units
The Complex Nature of Inspiration--HMC 120, 3 units
Creative Influence Across the Humanities--HMC130, 3 units
The Expressive Power of Archetypes--HMC 140, 3 units
C. G. Jung, Individuation, and the Symbolic Life--HMC 150, 3 units
The Purpose and Power of Image--HMC 160, 3 units
Project Workshop 1: Creative Dialogue and Design--HMC 170, 3 units

Second Year
Active Imagination, Dreams, and Psychic Creativity--HMC2 00, 3 units
Mythic Narratives: Eternal Sources and Comptemporary Inflections--HMC 210, 3 units
Time, Place, Space, and the Ecology of Creative Expression--HMC 220, 3 units
The Healing Power of Creativity--HMC 230, 3 units
The Artist as Activist and Agent of Social Change--HMC 240, 3 units
The Purpose and Power of the Moving Image--HMC 180
Technology and the Psyche--HMC 250, 3 units
From Starving Artist to Working Artist: Sustaining the Creative Life--HMC 260, 3 units
Project Workshop 2: Creative Expression and Reflection--HMC 270, 3 units
Selected Topics in Engaged Humanities--HMC 280, 3 Units

Creativity and Aesthetic Sensibility
HMC 100, 3 units

While on the surface, creativity seems a simple phenomenon, it is actually quite complex. Though often studied, it is still not completely understood. Nor do we know the source of creativity: is it the right-brain, is it our unconscious psyche, is it the muse, or is it God? In the first half of the course, students read a wide variety of interdisciplinary texts on the nature of creativity, ranging from science to psychology to spirituality to philosophy, identifying some of the key debates in the field. In the second half of the course, students will read about aesthetics and ponder questions such as is the sense of beauty in our biology, or is it socially constructed? Throughout the course, students critically reflect upon their own beliefs about creativity and the cultivation of their aesthetic sensibility.

Joseph Campbell and the Mythmaker's Path
HMC 110, 3 units

Joseph Campbell understood mythology to be humankind's most creative act. Throughout his career Campbell focused on the creative mythopoetic act as manifested in the art and literature of the world's culture in order to explore mythology itself. Through an exploration of Campbell's work, students will learn the methods of comparative mythology which gives them eyes to see the universal themes of humanity expressed through image and story. A study of Campbell shows how he saw the mythmaker's path as extending into the present moment—the mythmakers of the ancient times become the modern day teachers, writers, painters, and poets, and it is through their works that the cosmos continues to come forth.

The Complex Nature of Inspiration
HMC 120, 3 units

Creative people have all experienced those moments when our work seems like it's coming from somewhere wholly "Other." Characters become autonomous, surprising their writers. The hands chip away at the stone until a figure emerges. The fingers hover over the keyboard, then move seemingly with their own will. Later, we wonder to ourselves, "Who created that?" What is it that inspires, even possesses the creative artist? Do we draw from mythology and consider it the arrival of a Muse? Do we envision it as ourdaimon, an ancient idea revived by James Hillman? Or dare we wonder whether it's the presence of a psychological complex, which Jung called thevia regia,or royal road, to the personal and collective unconscious. This course explores multiple theories of the source of inspiration. Students will read case studies of well-known creatives, their sources of inspiration and the complexes which are reflected in their work, and consider their own personal complexes and their connection to their creative life.

Creative Influence Across the Humanities
HMC 130, 3 units

This course explores the rich terrain of creative influence by examining several notable case studies of artists who have influenced one another, other forms of art, and history and culture at large. We define "artist" broadly as anyone working creatively in their field; in this sense, environmentalist John Muir is an artist who was influenced by poets such as William Wordsworth, John Milton, and Ralph Waldo Emerson; civil rights activist and preacher Martin Luther King, Jr. is an artist who was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau; psychoanalyst and dancer Marion Woodman is an artist who was influenced by Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, and many other poets. Students will present their own personal case study of the artists, pieces of art, art forms, and movements which have most influenced them.

The Expressive Power of Archetypes
HMC 140, 3 units

Archetypes can be defined as universal patterns which reside in the collective psyche. We all know the characters when we see them: the Lover, the Innocent, the Sage, the Villain, etc. We all recognize the themes when we see them: the Fall from Innocence, the Battle Between Good and Evil, the Hero's Journey, etc. These archetypes are found in classic pieces of art as well as the artifacts of pop culture; the stronger the archetypal presence, the more powerful, evocative, and resonant the product is likely to be. This course begins with an overview of archetypal theory, and then turns toward an examination of art and cultural artifacts which express archetypal themes. Particular emphasis is placed on the archetypes of the Artist and the Creator as they are manifested in film, literature, and other mediums. Throughout the course, students will become more aware of the archetypes which manifest in their creative projects, and discuss ways to amplify their presence to make them more emotionally satisfying to the audience.

C. G. Jung, Individuation, and the Symbolic Life
HMC 150, 3 units

Classical Jungian concepts such as ego, Self, persona, shadow, anima/animus, collective unconscious, transcendent function, and individuation are studied in light of the creative process. Jung's own relationship with his creativity will be explored, especially his struggle between what he called Personality Number One and Personality Number Two, between the Scientist and the Artist within. This course also takes a tour through some of Jung's seminal essays in Volume 18 of the Collected Works,The Symbolic Life, including the title essay which states that people "are far more civilized and creative on account of the symbolic life." Jung's example and theoretical works provide a process for whereby students can utilize creativity in the individuation process, including finding their voice, following their calling, and discovering the myth they are living in order to create a more authentic life.

The Purpose and Power of Image
HMC 160, 3 units

Depth psychology has always maintained a close relationship with Image—the literal images which visit in our sleep, the fantasy images we flirt with while awake, the autonomous images that appear "out of nowhere," the metaphorical images we have of ourselves and others—the psyche is always creating images. In turn, those images give shape to our psyche, an idea which archetypal psychologist James Hillman explores in his work. Hillman proposes that "at the soul's core we are images," and that life can be defined as "the actualization over time" of the images in our hearts and souls. Hillman goes even further by suggesting that our unique images are the essence of our life, and "calls [us] to a destiny." Students will study the writings of James Hillman and others on the purpose and power of Image in psychological and creative life, and meditate upon the core images meaningful to their lives and work.

The Purpose and Power of the Moving Image
HMC 180, 3 units
Film is one of the most dominant mediums of contemporary life and culture. As such, it can inspire numerous archetypal connections and transformational themes via the cinematic framing of reality, the complex process of creating a story in the moving visual idiom, and through the use of mythic themes, which have certainly been an essential throughout cinema’s history. This course takes a relevant and useful approach to understanding films’ vocabulary of form and mythic connections by carefully examining some specific mythological patterns contained within notable films and specific genres. The course will also explore selected films and television shows through an archetypal and depth psychological lens that will allow us to recognize and analyze archetypal patterns contained within them.

Active Imagination, Dreams, and Psychic Creativity
HMC 200, 3 units
Active imagination is the name given to the technique C. G. Jung pioneered for accessing unconscious material in the psyche, often by working with an image or by dialoging with an inner figure;The Red Bookcontains 16 years of Jung's active imagination within its covers. Students will studyThe Red Bookin addition to Katherine Sanford'sThe Serpent and the Cross: Healing the Split through Active Imaginationwhich contains 62 archetypal paintings along with dreams and active imaginations representing 30 years of Sanford's personal inner journey. In addition to active imagination, the role of dreams in the creative life will be explored. Across the humanities, people have received inspiration and guidance from their dreams while asleep and their visions while awake, and from the rituals they have undertaken to explore the creative unconscious. As one of the final products in this course, students will create and share an artistic product inspired by one of their own dreams or active imaginations.

Mythic Narratives: Eternal Sources and Comptemporary Inflections
HMC 210, 3 units

In the book seriesThe Myths,contemporary world renowned authors re-tell ancient myths, writing them in their unique style with their own particular spin. Though a relatively new series, there is nothing new about the concept: artists across mediums have always drawn on myths for inspiration and source material. Sometimes, they recreate them using modern technology, such as the animated version ofHercules, or the 3-D version ofClash of the Titans.Other times, they borrow ancient mythic themes to create an entirely new story; for example, C. S. Lewis' novelTill We Have Facesretells the Cupid and Psyche myth;the South African novel
Cry the Beloved Countryby Alan Paton retells the myth of the prodigal son. In truth, the most impactful films, novels, plays, and other artistic expressions not only reflect eternal mythic narratives, but do so in a way that feels fresh and timely. Students will compare several original myths with both historical and contemporary retellings of them, and will produce their own creative retelling of a myth.

Time, Place, Space, and the Ecology of Creative Expression
HMC 220, 3 units
Artists and creators have long been influenced and inspired by place. Ansel Adams had Yosemite, Woody Allen had Manhattan, and Georgia O'Keefe had the American Southwest. The Lost Generation had Paris in the 20's, while in America at that time, what was known then as the New Negro Movement had Harlem, bringing about the Harlem Renaissance. In fact, it is difficult to imagine what these artists or groups of artists would have been without being in that place during that time in their lives, so intricately is the sense of time and place woven into the fabric of their creative being: would anyone know the name "Julia Child" had she not found herself with time on her hands in post-war France? Could reggae have emerged anywhere else but Jamaica in the late 60's? Students will explore the importance of time and place to the creative artist, including the literal space in which one creates, and consider ways to enhance their own creative ecology.

The Healing Power of Creativity
HMC 230, 3 units

Sand-tray therapy, dance therapy, psychotherapy, art therapy, music therapy, and narrative therapy are recently established therapeutic modalities in psychology today. An Internet search adds other therapeutic forms such as bibliotherapy, landscape therapy, film therapy, horticultural therapy, and architectural therapy, to name a few. Though these forms of therapy are relatively new to Western psychology, they have ancient roots and cross-cultural shoots. This course will study those roots and shoots, along with their contemporary manifestations. It will discuss the ethical implications of working with the creative psyches of others with the intent to heal or transform, meditating on relationship of the artist and therapist. Throughout the course, students will reflect upon the pieces of art, art forms, and creative practices that have been a source of personal healing and transformation.

The Artist as Activist and Agent of Social Change
HMC 240, 3 units

Artistic expression has always had the power to raise consciousness and contribute to social change.The photographs of Dorothea Lange which chronicled the tragic poverty of the Great Depression, Upton Sinclair's novelThe Junglewhich highlighted the corruption of the meatpacking industry at the turn of the 20thcentury, the documentary films of Michael Moore. In fact, art and artists have played a powerful role in many revolutionary movements: for example, Mexican muralism which arose in the 1930's in post-revolutionary Mexico, and the Black Arts Movement in the United States during the 1960's. Great works of art often open up taboo conversations: one recalls movies likeGuess Who's Coming to Dinnerwhich used humor to explore interracial relationships, andBrokeback Mountainwhich used tragedy to challenge heteronormality. Through examples like these and more, this course explores the artist as activist and agent of social change. Working in groups, students will select a social issue of importance to them, and use various forms of creative expression to raise critical consciousness.

Technology and the Psyche
HMC 250, 3 units

From the alphabet to motion capture, technologies have been integral to human expression. Technologies shape the landscape of the physical worlds we inhabit as well as the stories and images of the human experience. The interchange between technology and the psyche stimulates the flow of creative thinking, influences our dreams, and is the gift from the gods that fires human enterprise. This gift brings with it light (literally, as in the case of Edison's invention of the light bulb) and shadow (literally, as in the case of the atomic bombs which covered Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a shroud of darkness). Students will consider how technology affects not only the way we live, but more specifically, the ways we create and what we create, and what's more, the ways we share what we create: a particular focus will be placed on the Internet and digital technologies as a democratizing force in human expression.

From Starving Artist to Working Artist: Sustaining the Creative Life
HMC 260, 3 units

We're all familiar with the reality of thestarving artist, and we are equally familiar with the reality ofstar artists, those who make millions for their art and are bloated with fame and fortune. In contrast, most of us just hope to be somewhere in between, theworking artist. The first half of this course examines through literature and film the psychological effects of being on either end of the spectrum, either a starving artist or a star artist. In the second half, students will explore together strategies for being a working artist, including applying for grants or fellowships, writing query letters and book proposals, getting an agent or representative, finding performance venues or galleries likely to be interested in one's work, creating a portfolio of sample works, writing an artist's statement, networking at events, using new media for self-promotion, developing a freelance business, marketing oneself and/or selling one's work on the Internet, and more, focusing on the specific career goals of the students in the class.

Project Workshop 1: Creative Dialogue and Design
HMC 170, 3 units

This course takes place at the end of their first year, and asks students to work together in dyads or small groups to envision, design, and then create a shared artistic product that arises from a creative, collaborative dialogue between them. For example, an animator may pair with a dancer, a chef may pair with a painter, a poet may pair with a photographer, a writer may pair with a filmmaker and a musician, etc. Students share their process through online journals, and share their final outcomes during the residential session. Readings for the course focus on the collaborative process and on examples of artists who have worked together. Pass/No Pass

Project Workshop 2: Creative Expression and Reflection
HMC 270, 3 units

This course takes place at the end of the second year. Students will reflect upon what they have learned in the program, and will create a project or portfolio that expresses and reflects their learning. This may take the form of a performance piece, a series of photographs, a collection of essays or poetry, a digital media expression, collage work, sculpture, a film, etc. Students will share their work at the final residential session, and will turn into their instructor a written essay which summarizes their learning and growth while in the program. Pass/No Pass

Selected Topics in Engaged Humanities
HmC 280, 3 Units

Course content may vary. May be repeated for credit.

*This curriculum may vary depending upon changing academic needs