Course code:



A - Advanced

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • AD - Arts & Design

Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Every other year

Writer and ecologist Edith Cobb suggested, “The ability to look upon the world with wonder is a technique and essential instrument in the work of the poet, the artist, or the creative thinker.” This advanced course will explore wonder as the poetic source of curiosity and knowledge. We will consider wonder as a visual phenomenon and engage it through transdisciplinary readings within the fields of the arts, science, natural history, education and philosophy in order to develop a structural means to frame and personalize the slippery and subjective experience of wonder as an antecedent to knowledge. Our discussions will be purposefully broad in order to develop techniques, provocations, and general criteria to explore a wide variety of concepts useful towards engaging the inexplicable. We will discuss wonder in relation to its associated conditions of the marvelous, the fantastic, the uncanny, the horrible, the terrible, and the abject. These highly subjective and elusive concepts will be examined as “conditions” of wonder. We will not seek to concretely “explain” these rich concepts but use them actively, as immersive and interrogative tools that students can exert to articulate or provoke a sense wonder in service of developing better questions. The reading load for this course is heavy. A high level of class participation, a consistent demonstration of the close reading of assigned texts, and a commitment to thoughtful listening during group discussions are the course standards for excellence. Additional criteria include response papers and a sustained final independent project to be presented to the group. There will also be a required field trip to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA to tour the art exhibition “Explode Everyday: An Inquiry into the Phenomenon of Wonder”.


Permission of the instructor and a minimum of one history, anthropology, or literature course. Priority will be given to students who completed AD5023 Romanticism. 

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.