Wesleyan University, 2001-2005. I was a film major. These were the most formative years of my life. What went on outside the classroom could fill countless lists too. But this is a list about getting learnt. Because, in theory, one goes to college to study. And because when I look back at it, many of these classes left a permanent mark on my mind.
  1. Alfred Hitchcock
    Jeanine Basinger is the most influential professor I had. She taught me essentially everything I now know about film that I didn't know before I got to school. Which was way more than I thought it would be, arrogant punk that I was. In this case, it was a masterclass in directorial control and subjective point of view. We watched almost every Hitch film. The best.
  2. Nabokov and Cultural Synthesis
    Priscilla Meyer taught me how to read. By which I mean: deeply, between the lines, and in order to "find what the sailor has hidden." She provided brilliant insight into some of my favorite pieces of literature, and she graciously showed up at a comedy show I did, playing the role of Lolita in an improvised staging of the book. I played Quilty. My senior year I would play Humbert Humbert in a stage adaptation. The previous semester I played Hitler in a musical about Leni Riefenstahl. Heavy year.
  3. Film Noir
    Jeanine Basinger once again. Major class for me. A cavalcade of fantastic movies. We watched prints of otherwise unavailable gems from her collection. She assigned a mid-term that gave me the opportunity to watch Out of the Past about a dozen times.
  4. Senior Thesis Tutorial
    I made a 16mm film and I edited it on a flatbed and I didn't sleep and i ended up winning all the awards. #humblelistbrag And this was all happening simultaneous to playing Hitler and Humbert.
  5. Berlin-New York-Hollywood: A Cultural History of German Exile
    Noah Isenberg taught me about the work and journeys of Brecht, Adorno, Arendt, Lang, Ulmer, Wilder, Preminger, Mann, Benjamin... Essential shit. Very small seminar. Lots of knowingly awkward hip-hop references thrown about by hip Brooklynite Eisenberg.
  6. Weimar Cinema, 1918-1933
    Eisenberg again, truly one of the greats. Titles of some of my papers in this class. "An analysis of Emil Jannings' mustache" "Bubikopfs and Bloodbaths: The New Woman in Pandora's Box and The Blue Angel," and "Thug Life: The Resistible Rise of Dr. Mabuse." Yes, I was in my zone.
  7. Horror and Science Fiction Cinema
    I learned that It is possible to fall asleep during a screening of Psycho if your class begins at 9am and you're hungover. I also got to write extensively on Giallo films. What a delight.
  8. Contemporary International Art Cinema
    An eye-opening class taught by Lisa Dombrowski. My first exposure to the work of Claire Denis, Agnes Varda, Aki Kaurismaki, Krzysztof Keislowski, Abbas Kiarostami, Terence Davies, Keislowaki. So many gems/so many jams. I got to do a presentation on Lynne Ramsey.
  9. Balinese Dance Theater
    More than any other outside influence, this class has most impacted my dancing style. It was taught by Nyoman Catra, one of Bali's most renowned artists of traditional dance theater. We spent the entire semester learning a single Topeng routine, and by the end only a couple people could do it properly. Ridiculously difficult shit. But left a permanent impression on how I move. Cultural appropriation? Possibly.
  10. Nationality and Power at the Movies: The Combat Film
    Richard Slotkin taught me about how to use genre to discuss what's going on in America. Real genius guy. I found him pretty intimidating, until we had a great email exchange about the recently released Team America: World Police.
  11. History of World Cinema to the Second World War
    This class taught me that more people wanted to study film at Wesleyan than the major could accommodate, so you'd better work damn hard to be the cream of the crop. It was my rude awakening as a freshman. But it worked out.
  12. Color In The Cinema
    Scott Higgins taught me how to analyze film aesthetics. This class wasn't about the depiction of race in film. It was about the transition from black & white to color, and how different directors use color as a formal element. I got to write about Pierrot le Fou and Diva.
  13. Postwar American Independent Cinema
    Very cool class. I did a huge amount of research on the production history, marketing, and release of Beyond The Valley of the Dolls. I did a presentation on Dead Man. My last paper of college, turned in a few days before graduation, was a deep stylistic analysis (forget that interpretive shit) of Mulholland Drive.
  14. Western Movies: Myth, Ideology and Genre
    Great stuff from Slotkin again, but a huge seminar. Too many people. And some of the films were chosen for historical relevance over their quality as films. Which makes sense, but sometimes was lame. But sometimes the movies were fantastic. How about watching The Wild Bunch and going in deep on the war in Vietnam? The basis of the class, his book "Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of The Frontier in Twentieth-Century America" is brilliant.
  15. History of World Cinema, World War II to Present
    Still a giant survey class with a ton of people, but this time... post WWII. Saw some cool shit though.
  16. Sight and Sound Workshop
    Junior year. First time getting to shoot and cut stuff at school. Kind of haphazard.
  17. Modern Dance 1
    Got to put together a dance piece in this long subterranean corridor. That was cool. I was definitely one of the few dudes, and more strange movers in the class. I had a lot of crushes in there.
  18. Art In Europe and America Since 1945
    John Paoletti taught me to read non-verbal texts (that weren't film). Fascinating stuff, but also pretty early in the morning. My first real exposure to land art. And I finally "got" abstract expressionism.
  19. Playwriting
    Adam Rapp taught me that a play is a series of "hard actions." What's a hard action, you ask? "If I ask to hold your baby, then I throw it out the window... that's a hard action. Or if I kick Naomi in the face, that would also be a hard action." So of course the one-act I wrote as my final assignment featured stage directions such as "She vomits," "He sings 'I Just Wasn't Made For These Times,'" "A blue liquid pours from his mouth," and "She sits on his face. Of course Rapp loved it.
  20. Music of Sun Ra & Karlheinz Stockhausen
    Anthony Braxton taught me about post-bop, the house of the rectangle, trans-idiomatic creativity, tri-centrism, vibrational affinities, and that his ex-wife took some of the best records from his collection in the divorce. I listened to some heavy, out-there music, and learned little to nothing of practical value. But make no mistake: Anthony Braxton is a national treasure, and taking this class first semester freshman year was a transformative delight. Classic Wesleyan wildness.
  21. The New Germany 1870-1990: Introduction to German Studies
    Professor was a socialist who described his experience as a little boy running from planes dropping bombs on the German countryside during WWII. We read The Tin Drum and he let me write about German silent films. We ate some very rich cheese on the last day of class.
  22. Introduction to Dance
    Fun. I showed up the day of our final performance still drunk from the night before. I fell off the stage during the dress rehearsal. It was like six inches off the ground, so not too big a deal. Sobered up in time for the performance.
  23. Script Analysis
    A somewhat frustrating theater class. I did get to do some research on John Cassavetes' stage work. But not my fave. Clearly. My 23rd fave.
  24. French in Action 2
    Why did I take French in college? Because I was a freshman.
  25. French in Action 1
    Why did I take French twice in college? This one is ranked lower because the professor was a bore.
  26. Kafka and Jesus
    The good news was that we read a shitload of Kafka. The bad news was that the class sucked. Spoiler alert: Jesus came up in like one lecture.
  27. British Historiographic Fiction
    Good books (Midnight's Children, Atonement, David Mitchell, Julian Barnes) but inane small group discussions that made me want to hide behind my desk.
  28. Iconoclastic Fictions: Imagination and Idolatry in Recent Jewish American Writing
    We read Ozick, Roth, Art Spiegelan... but the professor didn't really know what he was doing.
  29. Science and Modernism
    Absolutely the worst. A "rocks for jocks" type class thought up by a chemist who also liked Proust and Picasso. This dude didn't cancel class on 9/11, and we sat there for 80 minutes of bullshit. This class was the major reason I petitioned for General Education Non-Compliance, which basically meant: I only want to study the shit I want to study. In the end, that decision worked out pretty well.