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Semester in a Day: Genius and Creativity: (Fairfield, CT)

April 08, 2017 9:30 AM – 4:15 PM

schedule

9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
The Genius of Mozart

Craig Wright / Yale University

When asked to provide a list of “geniuses” in Western cultural history, virtually all respondents would include the name Mozart. What is it in Mozart's music that makes it among the most sublime ever written? What personal traits did Mozart possess that enabled him to create music of this extraordinary quality?

Using live music and video clips from operas, as well as from the film Amadeus, we will explore the enormous diversity of Mozart's music. At the same time, by examining color photographs of his autograph manuscripts and draft sketches, we will witness Mozart's attention to the smallest detail. Having explored his music in both breadth and depth, our attention turns finally to the enablers of Mozart's genius: genetic gifts, mentoring, motivation, concentration, self-confidence, and just plain luck. By the end of this session, we will come to see that not only is Mozart's music great, but Mozart himself was unique, and arguably the most extraordinary creator ever to set foot on this planet.

Craig Wright / Yale University
Professor Craig Wright is the Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Music at Yale. Professor Wright's courses include his perennially popular introductory course "Listening to Music," his selective seminar "Exploring the Nature of Genius" and other specialized courses ranging from ancient Greek music theory to the music of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Bach and Mozart. He was awarded the International Musicological Society's Edward J. Dent Medal and the American Musicological Society's Alfred Einstein Prize and Otto Kinkeldey Award - making him one of the few individuals to hold all three honors.

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Leonardo da Vinci: The Man Who Invented the Future

Kenneth Bartlett / University of Toronto

What creates and drives genius? Why are some geniuses universal in their ability and others focused on a single discipline or interest? This class will investigate perhaps the most remarkable universal genius produced by the Italian Renaissance – or any other historical period. Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, military and civil engineer, experimental scientist and courtier. His work remains among the most celebrated in the history of art, as his Mona Lisa is the single most famous painting in the world; and his speculation on human flight, military machines and huge public works, such as diverting rivers, operate on a scale previously unimaginable.

We will follow this remarkable man from his birth, the illegitimate son of a minor notary in a provincial town, to his death in France where he had been given a castle by his last great patron, King Francis I. At the end of this presentation, you will have learned how one man succeeded in bringing together all of the perspectives and ambitions of the Renaissance as well as establishing the platform that would create the modern world: experimentation and the precise observation of the natural world and the human condition.

Kenneth Bartlett / University of Toronto
Kenneth Bartlett is Professor of History and Renaissance Studies at the University of Toronto. A distinguished teacher, Professor Bartlett has received numerous teaching awards and honors, such as the 3M Teaching Fellowship, and the inaugural President's Teaching Award from the University of Toronto. He also received the Victoria University Excellence in Teaching Award, the Students' Administration Council Teaching Award, and the Faculty of Arts and Science Outstanding Teacher Award. Professor Bartlett was also a finalist in TVOntario's "Best Lecturer Competition."

12:15 PM - 1:30 PM
Lunch Break

1 hour and 15 minute / Lunch Break

Students will have a 1 hour and 15 minute lunch break.

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM
The Remarkable Genius of Albert Einstein: His Life and Universe

Matthew Stanley / New York University

Einstein’s name is synonymous with genius. His wild-haired, thoughtful-eyed face has become an icon of modern science. His ideas changed the way we see the universe, the meaning of truth, and the very limits of human knowledge. This course will examine how Einstein’s youthful philosophical questioning led to a revolution in science. We will discuss his creation of special and general relativity, and particularly how these epochal theories emerged from his seemingly simple questions about how we experience the world. His preference for easily-visualizable thought experiments means we will be able to engage deeply with the science with very little mathematics. Einstein also pioneered quantum mechanics, only to reject its strange consequences and eventually devote his life to overturning it through a unified field theory.

Einstein’s elevation to worldwide fame was closely tied to political and social developments such as World War I, Zionism, and the rise of the Nazis. As he became an incarnation of genius, people sought out his views on everything from world peace to the nature of God – and his opinions often had surprising links to his scientific work. The picture of Einstein we end up with is a figure somehow both revolutionary and deeply traditional, emblematic of the modern age and also profoundly uncomfortable with it.

Matthew Stanley / New York University
Matthew Stanley teaches the history and philosophy of science at NYU. He holds degrees in astronomy, religion, physics, and the history of science and is interested in the connections between science and the wider culture. He is the author of "Practical Mystic: Religion, Science, and A. S. Eddington" which examines how scientists reconcile their religious beliefs and professional lives. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, the British Academy, and the Max Planck Institute. Professor Stanley was awarded a 2014-2015 Gallatin Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
Creativity and Genius: How it Works

Julie Burstein / Wesleyan/Middlebury/NYU

Creativity and Genius are elusive subjects. We enjoy their fruits -- inventions, movies, novels, paintings, songs -- but rarely are we privy to what happens during the process. This presentation will trace the roots of some of the twenty-first century's most influential thinkers and examine the sources of inspiration and the processes that bring their work into being. The key seems to be the ability to lift materials from otherwise familiar contexts, combining, reshaping, transforming them into new works and concepts that change the way we see the world.

Julie Burstein / Wesleyan/Middlebury/NYU
Julie Burstein lectures at several universities such as Wesleyan, Middlebury, and NYU, and is a Peabody Award-winning radio producer, TED speaker, and best-selling author who has spent her working life in conversation with highly creative people. In her book "Spark: How Creativity Works," she maps out some of the coordinates and dimensions of creativity. Professor Burstein is the host of Spark Talks at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the podcast pursuitofspark.com, conversations about creative approaches to the challenges, possibilities, and pleasures of everyday life and work.

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