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UC Berkeley students in front of Sather Gate

2020 Creative Discovery Grant Recipients

Discovery Experiences represent the most transformative forms of scholarly and experiential learning and powerfully express what it means to receive an education at a major public research university in the 21st century. As our campus develops the Discovery platform, the Office of Berkeley Arts + Design has received funds that allow us to support undergraduate courses within the “creative” dimension of engaged, cross-disciplinary learning.

For Spring 2020, 11 grants of up to $5,000 were awarded to faculty to develop new or enhance existing undergraduate courses with innovative creative pedagogy and opportunities for reflective making and producing.


Spring 2020 Creative Discovery Grant Recipients

Rhetoric 145: Science, Narrative, and Image

Winnie Wong
Department: Rhetoric

What is the role of narrative in science and conversely?  How do images supplement or displace these narratives? How have scientific conceptions impacted narrative forms and theories of narrative? How important are images to the rhetoric of scientific persuasion? Finally, how can science itself be narrated or visually represented?  This course will examine critical discussions of these questions. 

This undergraduate seminar invites students to read the oeuvres of two American luminaries: the speculative fiction writer, critic, and theorist, Samuel R. Delany, and the poet, translator, and editor, Marilyn Hacker. Reading across the many genres of their writing, we will explore their separate and shared concerns with love, sex, gender, violence, sexuality, power, and American politics and geopolitics. Reading their work alongside the other, we will explore the relationship between authorship and biography, lived experience and imagination, speculative worlds and aesthetic form. Reading their work against each other, we will experiment with how to read across genres, disciplines, histories, and worlds.


Art 118: Advanced Drawing: Remixing the Figure

Indira Martina Moore
Department: Art Practice

This studio course investigates representations of the human body across different periods and locations to further what it means to depict the body in the 21st Century. How do dominant signifiers and various intersections of race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, and disability influence the rendering and image reception of human bodies? The studio component of the course will work from live models as well as creating full body self-portraits that challenge the parameters of the canon and conventional expectations. We will explore drawing across all mediums through art history lectures, student led discussions, in-class prompts, field trips, and visiting artists.


Art 160 001: The Lights that See Us

Carrie Hott
Department: Art Practice

This course will explore the role of the historic, material, political, and artistic perspectives of technology systems beginning with some of the earliest forms of artificial lighting up to emerging Internet of Things devices. Through collective exercises and individual iterative projects, this class will provide a framework in which to look critically at the evolution of technology and the implications of new, networked devices. The course will introduce a range of material and ephemeral approaches to projects including hands-on deconstruction, as well as speculative design experiments. Students will have a chance to expand their thinking of what digital media can be, while developing a broader critical perspective on how we interact with technology.


Art 160 002: Food Fight: Art and Food Security

Jill Miller
Department: Art Practice

How can we use contemporary art strategies to address food security issues on our campus? In this course, we take an out-of-the-box approach to campus-wide food deficits by using creative practices to form community connections and explore different avenues for addressing the availability of nutritious, affordable foods. We will start with a simple premise: all students have the right to access healthy foods when they are hungry. From there, we will work collaboratively with existing campus groups while also imagining and deploying new experiences and methods for bringing food into the hands of students. We will focus on taking the stigma out of food insecurity by creating spaces for meaningful conversation where community connections are nurtured. Projects in this hands-on studio course include: the creation of unconventional, pop-up dining experiences, experimenting with video and social media projects, and fostering community engagement within the context of contemporary art and critical ideas.


Music 128: (Topics in the History of European and American Music) Now's the Time: How, When and Why We Improvise

Myra Melford
Department: Music

For majors and non-majors. In this course, we will study the complex and often mysterious phenomenon of improvisation as it applies to jazz, blues and creative improvised music, as well as to diverse fields of study across campus, and our daily lives.


Design Innovation 23: Creative Programming and Electronics

Kuan-Ju Wu
Department: Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

This course teaches techniques to conceptualize, design and prototype interactive objects. Students will learn core interaction design principles and learn how to program devices with and without screens, basic circuit design and construction for sensing and actuation, and debugging. Students work individually on fundamental concepts and skills, then form teams to work on an open-ended design project that requires a synthesis of the different techniques covered.


African American Studies 156AC: Poetry for the People: Introduction to the Art of Poetry

Aya de Leon
Department: African American Studies

A large lecture/discussion class which introduces students to poetry as culture, history, criticism, politics, and practice. Focusing comparatively on poetry from three American racial/ethnic groups, this course requires students to learn both the technical structure of various forms of poetry as well as the world views which inform specific poetic traditions. The groups and traditions vary from semester to semester. This course satisfies the Arts and Literature breadth requirement.


Design Innovation 190E; Mechanical Engineering 179, 270: Augmenting Human Dexterity

Hannah Stuart
Department: Mechanical Engineering

This course provides hands-on experience in designing prostheses and assistive technologies using user-centered design. Students will develop a fundamental understanding of the state-of-the-art, design processes and product realization. Teams will prototype a novel solution to a disabilities-related challenge, focusing on upper-limb mobility or dexterity. Lessons will cover biomechanics of human manipulation, tactile sensing and haptics, actuation and mechanism robustness, and control interfaces. Readings will be selected from texts and academic journals available through the UCB online library system and course notes. Guest speakers will be invited to address cutting edge breakthroughs relevant to assistive technology and design.


Comparative Literature 60AC: (Re)Making American History

Karina Palau
Department: Comparative Literature

What makes American history, and why would we want to—need to—remake it? This course explores literary and visual materials produced in the post-Civil Rights U.S. by artists and writers who ponder this question and approach history like a raw material that demands to be refashioned and constantly problematized. What versions of American history have they remade, and what new versions and visions of history do they produce in the process? How has re-making history been used to gain a critical understanding of silences and omissions in the United States’ story? What are the limits to historical revision and reconstruction, and how do these coexist alongside the need to experiment with imaginative modes of repurposing the stories and materials that form what we call ‘American history’? How can we question the redemptive power of re-making history while battling to recuperate ‘minor’ or silenced histories that might otherwise never be told? Approaching history as an ever-changing construction, our course will raise questions about ways to revise and multiply America’s histories, but also explore alternative strategies for making history as well.


Design Innovation 190: Technology Design Foundations

Adam Hutz
Department: Design Innovation

This course is a fast-paced introduction to a suite of foundational design, prototyping, communication, and technical skills that are essential to a successful career within the design of emerging technologies. It introduces students to design thinking and the basic practices of interaction design. It follows a human-centered design process that includes research, concept generation, prototyping, and refinement. Students will become familiar with design methodologies such as sketching, storyboarding, wireframing, prototyping, etc. It also develops fluency across a range of core technologies and how to operationalize them within a design context. Students must work effectively as individuals and in small teams to design a range of interactive experiences using various technologies.


History of Art 192: Psychologies of Art: Medieval & Early Modern Europe

Henrike Lange
Department: History of Art

“Psychologies of Art: Medieval & Early Modern Europe” maps psychological, emotive, and pathological patterns in art, in the history of art, and in art theory from the late Middle Ages to the present day. In this new version of the original “Psychologies of Art” seminar, students will focus mostly on research topics in medieval and early modern European art history through the lens of global modernity. In the first half of the course we will trace themes such as art and empathy, the psychological aspects of Christian art and iconography, the emotional implications of the maniera greca / maniera latina conflict, the dynamics of trauma and transcendence, and the representation of emotions and psychological states between the middle ages and the early modern age. The second half of the semester will be focused on specific figures of depression and madness (such as Dante’s Count Ugolino in literature and in the visual arts, the emotional charge of figures in Giotto, the gender psychology of Botticelli’s paintings, Dürer’s Melancholia, Michelangelo and the distancing self-analysis in some of his writings, and the rewriting of those themes in European intellectual history (Lessing, Burke, Reynolds, Lavater, Warburg, Klibansky, Panofsky, Saxl, Baxandall). Additional discussions of modern themes in the mirror of the medieval / early modern materials prepare the issues of modernity and the “Ornament of the Masses” (Kracauer) through the question of fetishism, the new nineteenth-century concepts of childhood (Walter Benjamin), the history of art therapy and Gestalt psychology, Freud’s readings of Michelangelo’s works, and Gombrich’s psychological perspectives. We will furthermore relate medieval and early modern artworks to critical work of theorists and philosophers such as Susan Sontag, Georges Didi-Huberman, and Judith Butler.