The future of electives for Arts & Humanities major
story Marusa Godina
Module options remain limited for the Arts and Humanities Major, which will go into full swing this August. This is especially the case for dance and theater courses, where only one module will be offered in each area. Moreover, professors for some courses have not yet been confirmed. While this a concern for many current and prospective Arts and Humanities majors, students remain optimistic.
The limited module options in Arts and Humanities is an important factor for students still deciding their majors. Chng Yi Kai ’18 is concerned about the lack of theater courses offered in the past two years. He also expressed that the current sole theater module, Contemporary Reality Theater, was trying to cover too much. “The course wants to do both verbatim theater and devised theater. It is also both theoretical and practical. So I do not understand what the module really wants to do.”
Yap Zhi Wen ’17 said that her main concern is the lack of advanced courses: “Our school is really small, so a lot of the courses are basic level introductory courses … You do not get an in-depth look in specific areas.”
These problems are likely to be addressed in the near future. Mark Joyce, Director of Art and Professor of Art Practice, said in an email interview, “There are many intermediate and advanced courses in planning and these will be complemented by in-house workshops and periods spent in specialist institutions abroad.” He confirmed that there will be several new instructors joining the college, in addition to the ones that have already been announced. According to Mr. Joyce, the performance field is not forgotten. “Theater and Performance has been at the heart of the College’s vision from the blueprints stage, just wait till you see the Black Box,” he said.
Students are optimistic about future prospects of the major and modules offered. Yap said that things will improve when the student body grows in size. Shanice Nicole Stanislaus ’17, who wants to specialize in dance and theater, said that “it would certainly be nice if more classes were offered … [but] you do not need an academic class to do something.”
Students can also choose to enroll in National University of Singapore (NUS) courses. Janel Ang ’17 enrolled in a film module at NUS last semester as there are no Yale-NUS College classes offered in that field at present. While this is not ideal since “NUS classes are really big … [and] far”, Ang sees the current situation as “pretty sufficient”. She hopes that there will eventually be more film modules offered at Yale-NUS.
Jevon Chandra ’17, who wants to focus on music, is not bothered by the fact that many Arts professors will be visiting professors. “One semester is long enough,” he said. “You can always keep in touch with your professors.” Chandra still corresponds with Professor Jason Rosenberg, who previously taught Integrative Music Theory at Yale-NUS.
Students largely view these problems to be reflections of the small size and young age of the College rather than poor planning by the faculty. While doubt and uncertainty remains, the general consensus has been that the Arts and Humanities major most certainly has a future. Chandra said, “Some people might be put off by the vagueness of the major, but I certainly am not.”