History

The history curriculum covers the globe. Most courses focus on particular regions or nations, but offerings also include courses that transcend geographical boundaries to examine subjects such as African diasporas, Islamic radicalism, or European influences on US intellectual history. Some courses are surveys—of colonial Latin America, for example, or Europe since World War II. Others zero in on more specific topics, such as medieval Christianity, the Cuban revolution, urban poverty and public policy in the United States, or feminist movements and theories. While history seminars center on reading and discussion, many also train students in aspects of the historian’s craft, including archival research, historiographic analysis, and oral history.

2018-2019 Courses

History

First-Year Studies: The Sixties

Open , FYS—Year

According to our national mythology, social insurgencies of the 1960s originated in the United States and pitted radical youth against the American mainstream. The real story is much more complicated. Politically speaking, the “sixties” began in the mid-1940s and extended into the late 1970s, the ferment was by no means confined to youth, and developments within the United States reflected global patterns. Revolutionary movements and ideas reverberated from Asia and Africa to Europe and the Americas, and they mobilized people from virtually all walks of life. This course situates US movements within their global contexts and explores movements that unfolded overseas. On both fronts, we focus especially on revolutionary nationalism and its various permutations among activists grappling with issues of colonialism, class, race, gender, and sexuality. Readings include historical documents, as well as scholarship, and the syllabus makes ample use of music and film.

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First-Year Studies: Reform and Revolution: China’s 20th Century

Open , FYS—Year

In 1900, China was a faltering empire ruled by an autocratic foreign dynastic house and an entrenched bureaucracy of Confucian officials. Its sovereignty heavily battered and its territory compromised by foreign powers, China was commonly called “The Sick Man of Asia.” In 2000, China was a modern nation-state ruled by an authoritarian party and an entrenched bureaucracy of technocrats and administrators. With a surging economy, swollen foreign reserves, dazzling modern cities, and a large and technologically advanced military, China is regularly predicted to be the next global superpower. Yet, the path between these two startlingly different points was anything but smooth. China’s 20th century was a tortuous one. Policymakers, elites, and the common people oscillated between the poles of reform and revolution—bouts of wild radicalism alternated with more sober policies—as they pursued changes that they hoped would bring a better society and nation. This class examines some of the major events and personalities of this arduous century and its momentous political, social, and cultural changes. We will learn and apply skills of historical analysis to primary documents (in translation), some fiction, and film. Along the way, we will encounter a rich cast of characters, including Sun Yat-sen, China’s “national father”; colorful warlords; corrupt bureaucrats; fervent intellectuals; protesting youths; heroic communist martyrs; the towering and enigmatic chairman Mao Zedong; long-suffering peasants; and fanatical Red Guards. These men and women made and remade modern China. This class is history and, thus, is not primarily concerned with contemporary China; but by the end of the year, students will be well-equipped with an understanding of China’s recent past—knowledge that will help immeasurably in making sense of today’s China as it becomes increasingly important in our globalized economy and society.

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The Price of Citizenship: A History of Poverty and Public Policy in the United States

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture is a super-lecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

The history of poverty and public policy in the United States did not begin with President Roosevelt’s New Deal or with President Johnson’s War on Poverty. Before the Great Depression and the Other America, the public policy toward urban poverty began with the humiliating and punitive institution of the poorhouse. And subsequently, public policy and social welfare in America developed in the shadow of the poorhouse. If one school of experts suggests that American social welfare has been obsessed with the social control over poor people, then a second school of experts has been engrossed in dividing the poor into two moral categories: the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. Unfortunately, many experts were preoccupied with “improving” the morality of poor people rather than with ending economic poverty amid American bounty. By contrast, there is another tradition—one of social-justice movements that demand an end to American economic poverty and savage inequality. How did those dynamics shape the contours of American citizenship during the New Deal and the Great Society? Those issues will be explored in the lectures, discussions, and films in this course.

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International Law

Open , Lecture—Fall

In a global landscape pocked by genocide, wars of choice, piracy, and international terrorism, what good is international law? Can it mean anything without a global police force and a universal judiciary? Is “might makes right” the only law that works? Or is it true that “most states comply with most of their obligations most of the time”? These essential questions frame the contemporary practice of law across borders. This lecture provides an overview of international law—its doctrine, theory, and practice. It addresses a wide range of issues, including the bases and norms of international law, the law of war, human-rights claims, domestic implementation of international norms, treaty interpretation, and state formation/succession.

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Human Rights

Open , Lecture—Spring

History is replete with rabid pogroms, merciless religious wars, tragic show trials, and even genocide. For as long as people have congregated, they have defined themselves, in part, as against an other—and have persecuted that other. But history has also yielded systems of constraints. So how can we hope to achieve a meaningful understanding of the human experience without examining both the wrongs and the rights? Should the human story be left to so-called realists, who claim that power wins out over ideals every time? Or is there a logic of mutual respect that offers better solutions? This lecture examines the history of international human rights. It focuses on the claims that individuals and groups make against states in which they live.

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The Enlightenment

Open , Seminar—Year

The 18th-century Enlightenment was arguably the most important single episode in the last thousand years of European intellectual history—the true watershed between the “premodern” world and the “modern” world. Yet historians have found the Enlightenment to be a singularly elusive phenomenon. Enlightenment thought was woven of several very different strands; the champions of “enlightenment” shared a surprisingly large number of assumptions with their supposed opponents; and some of the beliefs that we regard as most characteristic of the Enlightenment were already being attacked by Rousseau and other adventurous pre-Romantic thinkers before the century was half over. This course will examine the development of the Enlightenment from its origins in the age of the Baroque to its demise in the era of the French Revolution and Romanticism. While the course’s central focus will be ideas, values, and sensibilities, we will also consider the economic, social, and political context of the Enlightenment and examine the revolutionary upheavals in European politics and culture that brought it to an end. We will conclude by discussing several key texts of the 1790s that typify the revolt against the Enlightenment outlook with which the 18th century ended.

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Romantic Europe

Open , Seminar—Year

Between the 1790s and the middle of the 19th century, European culture was largely shaped by the broad current of thought and feeling that we know as “Romanticism.” This course will examine the rise of the romantic sensibility in the decades between the 1760s and 1800 and survey diverse manifestations of Romanticism in thought, literature, and art during the subsequent half-century. We will pay particular attention to the complex relations between Romanticism and the three most portentous historical developments of its era: the French Revolution; the birth of industrial society in Britain; and the rise of national consciousness among Germans, Italians, and other European peoples. Readings will include prose fiction by Goethe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Walter Scott; poetry by Wordsworth, Shelley, Hölderlin, and Mickiewicz; works on religion, ethics, and the philosophy of history; and political treatises by the pioneers of modern conservativism, liberalism, and socialism.

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Making Latin America

Open , Seminar—Year

The making of Latin America—deeply embedded in global histories of capitalist expansion, imperial domination, and circulation of Western ideas—must nonetheless begin by looking inward. The course examines the ways in which landowners and campesinos, intellectuals and workers, the military, blacks, whites, and mestizos understood and shaped the history of this region in the world. From the early settlements in the Americas and the pre-Hispanic civilizations to the contemporary battles between neoliberals and neosocials, this yearlong course offers a survey of the more than five centuries of history of the region that we know as Latin America. After an overview of the intellectual and political debates about what the term Latin America means and encompasses, the first half of the course will survey the fall of the Aztec and Inca empires, the colonial order that emerged in its stead, independence from Iberian rule, and the division of the empire into a myriad of independent republics or states searching for a “nation.” By focusing on specific national trajectories, we will then ask how the American and Iberian civilizations shaped the new national experiences and how those who made claims on the “nation” defined and transformed the colonial legacies. In the second semester, the course will delve into the long 20th century and the multiple experiences of, and interplay between, anti-Americanism, revolution, populism, and authoritarianism. We will ask how different national pacts and projects attempted to solve the problem of political inclusion and social integration that emerged after the consolidation of the 19th-century liberal state. Using primary and secondary sources, fiction, and film, the course will provide students with an understanding of historical phenomena such as mestizaje, caudillismo, populism, and reformism, among other concepts key to the debates in contemporary Latin America.

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Protest as Women’s Work? Gender, Work, and Politics in African History

Open , Seminar—Fall

This class investigates the history of women, work, and protest in sub-Saharan Africa from the 13th century to the present. We will be particularly attentive to the political stakes of fundamental questions that historians ask, including which actors have the ability to create change, how constituencies have been mobilized to change or overthrow authorities, and how those historical questions help us understand contemporary Africa. The study of politics in Africa, like the field of history in general, has shifted enormously in the wake of challenges by historians of gender. Historians of nationalism began to look at women and, concurrently, at grassroots movements and everyday people. This class will foreground the questions raised by those historical debates about gender, labor, and protest and place them into a longer arc of African political history, beginning with precolonial African empires and continuing through Islamic jihads of the 19th century, anticolonial movements, and critiques of independent African states. The ways people defined and understood gender changed in the context of enormous changes to the economy, so we will consider the connection between changing ideas about gender, labor, and politics. The class is designed to proceed more thematically than chronologically, with primary sources that allow students to gain an introduction to aspects of African culture, as well as history, with a focus on themes including West African Islam, the history of slavery, colonialism and anticolonialism, and the stakes of independence.

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Early Modern Science in Global Perspective, 1492–1800

Open , Seminar—Fall

The modern sciences trace their origins to the 16th and 17th centuries, during which time the knowledge of nature took on dramatically new forms at the hands and minds of people such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton. Those figures and their contemporaries proposed radically different ways to study, understand, and explain the world. However, what we call “European” science did not emerge in isolation. Those new ways of knowing were intimately intertwined with global exploration and the establishment of vast empires. Francis Bacon wrote that knowledge is power. How, then, did empires make knowledge—and how did knowledge make empires? In this course, we will explore how science merged over and across the division of the world into “the West and the rest” even as it helped to create that division. We will examine how scientific knowledge was influenced by the possibilities and exigencies of empire. Throughout, we will engage in an extended critique of the very concept of objective scientific knowledge.

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“The Losers”: Dissent and the Legacy of Defeat in American Politics From the American Revolution to the Civil War

Open , Seminar—Fall

Some background in history is helpful but not required.

Though our nation was born in conflict and is sustained by conflict, the present always seems inevitable; surely the United States of 2018 is but the flowering of the seeds planted so many centuries ago. To imagine that the Revolutionary War ended in failure and that the Founding Fathers were hanged—and the names of loyalists such as Hutchinson and Arnold were as much on our lips as Washington, Adams, and Jefferson—seems blasphemous. Or to imagine celebrating the loyalist William Franklin as a hero rather than his father, Benjamin, seems utterly absurd. The world just wouldn’t be what it is if, instead of calling ourselves American, we identified ourselves as Canadian. The melodic themes of liberty, dissent, and equality would seem less lyrical if Americans could no longer claim them as their own; but would our understanding of American identity be the richer if we viewed these themes as forged in conflict? To this end, the course will focus on those groups who were on the losing side of major political conflicts from the American Revolution to the Civil War; namely, the loyalists, the Anti-Federalists, the Federalists, the Whigs, and the Confederacy. The course will also consider the ultimate losers in those conflicts—those who were denied political rights altogether and thus even the possibility of victory. What did the treatment of those different political groups reveal about the extent of—and limits to—American acceptance of dissent? How did a culture that placed a premium on success and achievement regard loss and defeat? How was the South able to turn the defeat of the Confederacy into a badge of honor and a source of pride through the idealization of The Lost Cause? What was the long-term legacy that those losing groups left behind? When viewed from this perspective, were those groups really losers at all? After all, without the Anti-Federalists, there would have been no Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Ultimately, the course aims to cultivate a “tragic” perspective that goes beyond viewing history in terms of winners and losers, heroes and villains, and instead recognizes that, in the final analysis, we are all in bondage to the knowledge that we possess.

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The “Founders” in Film and Fiction

Open , Seminar—Fall

We were told that George Washington never told a lie and confessed to his much chagrined father that he chopped down the fabled cherry tree. Was this the myth to inspire trust in the “Founding Fathers” and the infant democracy? But the myths continue. For more than two centuries, the “Founding Fathers" have been a touchstone for American identity. Americans have expressed their fascination with the “Founders” not only in the political arena but also in the realm of fiction—in works ranging from James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Spy to the HBO series John Adams and the Broadway musical Hamilton. What is the source of this fascination? But most importantly, who were the “Founders” that have such a hold on the American historical imagination—and what did they actually stand for? The course will explore those questions by looking at the different ways that the “Founders” have been represented in film and fiction from their own time to the present. We will consider a variety of media, including novels, art, plays, films, and television. We will look at how those fictional portrayals reflected larger cultural changes and at the different political and social purposes they served. Would the musical glorification of Hamilton have been a hit during the Great Depression? We will also examine the extent to which those portrayals conformed to historical reality, using them to look more broadly at the relationship between history and fiction. What can fiction contribute to historical understanding, and what are its limits as a medium of historical representation?

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The Atomic Bombs as History, Experience, and Culture: Washington, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki

Open , Seminar—Fall

In January 2018, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the hands of the Doomsday Clock (yes, it’s a thing) at two minutes to midnight, the nearest it has been to catastrophe since 1953. In February, Putin announced that Russia has developed “invincible” nukes capable of hitting virtually anywhere on the globe, while Donald Trump goaded Kim Jong-un with tweets about the size of his nuclear “button.” With world leaders flirting with the prospect of nuclear holocaust, an understanding of the only instance of nuclear warfare is again relevant—even crucial. Through a rich variety of sources (textual, visual, and cinematic), this seminar will examine the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 from three major perspectives. First, reading scholarship and primary documents, we will look at the decision to drop the bombs, as well as the postwar claims justifying them. We will challenge the American narrative that the bombings were militarily necessary while also putting them into the historical context of World War II—specifically, strategic bombing of nonmilitary targets, prospects of Japanese surrender in the final months of the conflict, and the looming Cold War with Russia. Second, we will confront the effects of the bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and their populations. Technical descriptions and firsthand accounts will help us grasp the unique destructiveness of the atomic bombs on both bodies and buildings, as well as how people coped with that destructiveness. The diary of Michihiko Hachiya, for example, will reveal a medical doctor’s observations on the breakdown of society and how ordinary Japanese dealt with the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. And finally, the course examines the impact of the bombs on Japan’s postwar culture, including the profound sense of victimization the bombings imparted, which has complicated Japanese narratives about World War II and inspired an abiding pacifism in Japanese society. In a different vein, serious literature—such as Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse—will open up the relevance of atomic narratives by exploring the social alienation endured by the hibakusha (bomb survivors) in postwar Japan. Shōmei Tōmatsu’s photography of Nagasaki and its hibakusha will provide a visual window on the bombs’ legacy, as well. We will also examine some popular culture—the original (1954) Godzilla (Gojirō) movie and some anime or manga—for the ways in which the bombs were appropriated and invoked in apocalyptic imagery, imagery that expressed a distinctive understanding of the dark side of science and technology and made a lasting contribution to wider global culture.

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Palestine/Israel and the Politics of History

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to major topics and debates in the historiography of Palestine/Israel from the mid-19th century to the present. The course has two broad goals: first, to delineate significant trends and transformations that defined the political, economic, cultural, intellectual, and social history of that contested land in the modern period; and second, to explore the evolution of—and fraught political debates surrounding—varying interpretations of this history. Themes to be covered include: Ottoman Palestine in the 19th and early 20th centuries; Jewish modernity and the origins and trajectory of Zionism as an ideology and political movement; the emergence and development of Palestinian national identity and nationalism; British colonial rule and the Mandate system; the historiography of partition and its consequences; the construction of Israeli national culture and identity after 1948; the politics of memory among Israelis and Palestinians; regional war and diplomacy; the role of the United States and the global ramifications of struggle in Palestine/Israel; and various aspects of state and society within Israel, with a special focus on the diversity of its ethnic and religious composition. It bears saying that this is not a course about the “Arab-Israeli conflict” or even primarily about “conflict,” as such; rather, this course provides an integrative approach to Palestinian and Israeli history, emphasizing the construction and articulation of multiple visions for forging collective identity within Palestine/Israel, as well as strategies for establishing and asserting control over it. To this end, we will pay particular attention in this course to cultural sources—especially literature and film—as a way to capture the complexity of voices and identities that claim this land as their own.

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Effort, Merit, Privilege

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course is a history of ideas and practices connected to the notion of advancement by merit rather than by inherited status or wealth. This comparatively modern idea is more complex than it may appear. We will focus on four epochs in which personal merit came increasingly to the fore. The first is the age of the French Revolution and Napoleon. With the cry, “The career open to talent,” and the abolition of feudal privilege, the revolutionaries helped to further the development of individualism, self-assertion, and personal ambition while, at the same time, implicating the citizen more and more deeply in the apparatus of the state. The second era will be 1859 to 1870 in Britain, from the publication of The Origin of Species and the anxieties that it provoked about the struggle for existence to the education act of 1870. That act, which followed a major liberalization of the suffrage, set popular education on its feet as a national project. We will study the right to vote and to get an education as the means by which the culture created marks of merit. We will also look at the struggles of those excluded, such as women and the very poor. The next period is the aftermath of the American Civil War, from Reconstruction to Jim Crow. The slaves—now free—what was to become of them? Should they compete in society at large, or was it their lot to be kept permanently in a kind of quasi-slavery without the right to vote or to go to school? The last period brings us up to the present with its many instances of meritocracy. The postwar foundation of the welfare state will be examined in the light of the many challenges to it, especially from the forces promoting inequality that coexist with unprecedented opportunities for talented individuals. We will look at the problems that this poses for education, wealth, and social well-being. This course is best for students with some previous exposure to history or the social sciences.

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Africa, Decolonization, and Revolution in the Global 20th Century

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course examines the dynamic history of decolonization, with a focus on people, movements, and ideas coming from the African continent that played a dynamic role in a global history of revolution. The class is organized chronologically and thematically, beginning with the early 20th century and ending by considering decolonization’s legacies on some of the most important questions facing contemporary Africa. We will work as a class to define what decolonization is, looking beyond the moment when African states gained legal independence and thinking about the legacies of colonial rule in economic, political, and cultural life. We will begin with movements led by artists and political leaders from Africa and the African diaspora to create cultural and political unity to challenge the dehumanization of colonial rule in the early 20th century. By mid-century, the devastation of World War II left in its wake a new strategic opportunity for African political life. As Africans united in opposing the violence, exploitation, and racism of colonial rule, they debated what independence should look like. In doing so, they contributed to and drew from dynamic global debates about decolonization as a revolutionary moment. From political leaders advocating for the decolonizing world to band together for economic development and political nonalignment as the Third World to African Americans fighting against white supremacy in the United States, African leaders participated in a global conversation about what politics and revolution should look like. Ideas and movements from the continent were part of global struggles against racism, empire, and capitalism. But many African leaders argued that colonization did not end with the rise of new nation-states; and by situating protests against independent African states and European, American, and global institutions in terms of the legacy of colonization or its incomplete demise, we will consider the long legacies of decolonization in global protest. From the protests of the global 1960s and against post-independence states and global institutions to the ways in which debates over migration continually refer back to colonial relationships, decolonization continues to shape contemporary Africa and the world. The class will examine Africa and Africans’ dynamic place in global history while remaining centered around the dynamic people, ideas, and movements coming from the African continent. Beginning with analyzing primary sources as a class, students will be prepared for archival visits to utilize the unique resources of the New York area at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library) and the Tamiment Library (housed at New York University, but open to the public).

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Science, Medicine, and Technology in Modern Empires

Open , Seminar—Spring

We often think about science as the disinterested search for objective truth about the natural world. The scientific method, this story goes, emerged from the European Renaissance and Enlightenment and spread throughout the world, inaugurating modernity and putting all peoples on the path of progress. Yet, the moral consensus surrounding the ideas of science, medicine, and technology that helped define the modern era obscures a contested and often disturbing history. Rather than uncritically accepting a triumphalist story of the progressive march of scientific modernity, this course will explore how scientific ideas and practices changed over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries—paying special attention to how they were used in imperial contexts, what kind of rhetorical and practical work they accomplished, and whose interests they served. We will ask questions such as: How did science and technology contribute to the rhetorical power of colonial “civilizing missions”? What role did scientific expertise play in the administration and control of colonial populations? How did the geographic, political, and racial dynamics of colonialism influence European epistemology? Ultimately, we will seek a more nuanced understanding of how science, medicine, and technology function in our own globalized world.

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Personal Narratives: Identity and History in Modern China

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar explores the realm of private life and individual identity and its relationship to the historical events and changes taking place in modern China from the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911) into the Reform era (2000s). Our investigations will cover an eclectic mix of “personal” writings: diaries, letters, memoirs, oral testimony, autobiographies, third-party anthropological reconstructions of individuals, and (auto)biographical fiction. Among others, we will encounter late imperial Confucian radicals and mystics, petty literati, young urban women and their mothers with bound feet, peasants, radical revolutionaries, intellectuals, Maoist Red Guards, and factory workers. These personal narratives not only open up windows on the lives and times of their writers but also allow us to investigate the intersection between the practice of writing and identity construction in modern China. The primary readings will be contextualized with historical scholarship and supplemented by selections from some important theorists (Benedict Anderson, Anthony Giddens, and René Girard) that provide interdisciplinary analytical tools to explore the construction of personal identity and the self. We will ask ourselves how the writers of the personal writings present themselves: What are their self-conceptions and self-deceptions? Where does their sense of “self” come from, and how do they construct private selves through writing? We should even dare to ask whether these categories of “private” and “self” are relevant. The rapid, often traumatic, changes of modern China will cause us to consider how these people understood and situated themselves in wider society and the events of their time and, thus, will raise questions about the imaginative constructions of national (or social) communities that are smuggled inside these “personal” stories.

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The Blues Ethos and Jazz Aesthetics: A History of African Americans in the City

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

By the 20th century, African Americans in the city produced the genius of blues and jazz, including distinctive aesthetics of pleasure in music and dance. Artists like Bessie Smith, Ma‘ Rainey, Billy Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young, and Duke Ellington were paradigmatic in that cultural production. Those aesthetics influenced the black imagination in social, political, and cultural development, including not only the Harlem Renaissance and Chicago Black Renaissance but also the Black Arts Movement. With that cultural and historical background, students in this seminar will explore a variety of research projects.

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Drugs, History, and Politics in Latin America and Beyond

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

The “War on Drugs,” shootings in favelas, colgados in US-Mexican border states, and (in)famous drug lords (or ”narcos”) dominate contemporary images of, and conversations about, drugs in Latin America. From the narconovelas and narcocorridos to even narco-tourism, narcoviolence has created a myriad of cultural and social artifacts that cultivate both fascination and repulsion over a phenomenon that has profound economic, social, and political ramifications for the region and for the world. This course seeks to understand the multiplicity of historical causes and effects of narcoviolence in the most conspicuous cases in Latin America during the 20th century: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Central America. To do so, the course will situate the current narcoviolence within a longer history of psychoactive drugs as goods, linking producers and consumers through global capitalism since the early modern period. From coffee to cocaine, we will discuss the origins of both fascination with and prohibition of psychoactive drugs. We will examine the social, political, and economic functions of drugs in different historical contexts, their transformation from luxury to mass commodities, and even their fetishization. In addition, the course explores the economics, politics, and culture of drugs in the long era of narcoviolence and globalization. Using primary and secondary sources, history and social science perspectives, the course seeks to foster deep and serious engagement with the history of Latin America and its complex relation to psychoactive drugs.

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Gender, History, and Memory: Diasporic Voices in Oral History

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

This course introduces students to the best practices of oral history by analyzing the works of women who have been historically marginalized. We will focus on the stories of African, African American, and Caribbean women, while studying ongoing debates in the field of oral history. By using ethnographies, life histories, oral histories, biographies, and autobiographies, we will answer the following questions: How can oral history be used to provide a more inclusive rendering of the past? How have women used various forms of voice to represent themselves and tell their own stories? What are the limitations of any historical research method (including oral history), and what are the ethical implications of both the digital revolution and the digital divide for oral historians? For the purposes of this class, “memory” will be defined broadly to include not only the mental recall that people utilize when responding to interview questions but also hidden, political, and public memories.

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Right and Left in Latin America

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

The categories of right and left go beyond party affiliation or ideological orientation, transcending labels loosely attached to politicians, intellectuals, and institutions. The battles between states and markets, individual rights and collective action, or order and freedom reveal society’s fundamental but constant problem: how to organize itself. Most recently, the Pink Tide—or the rise of popular, socially oriented, and outspoken politicians to the presidencies of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina, among others—aimed at putting an end to the Washington Consensus era. Reacting against the preeminence of technocrats, open markets, and international capital of the previous decade, these battles unleashed a new chapter in the long-term battle between the right and the left. Drawing on policy battles in the political, economic, social, and cultural fields in the history of Latin America, the course will examine the shifting and sometimes conflicting meaning of right and left. Rather than siding with the frontrunners or underdogs of history, we will attempt to understand the options available to historical actors, the underlying premises of those choices, and the costs and benefits of the policy options of both the right and the left. From the colonial debates on the nature of Indians and their consequent role in the New World society to the Cold War struggles between violent revolution and progressive reform, the seminar covers a broad historical arc but delves deeply into each historical moment. We will use documents produced by those involved in the debates, along with secondary sources, to question the extent to which we can speak about the past using the modern categories of right and left. Thus, the seminar provides an overview of Latin American history through its key figures and classical dilemmas, as well as the analytical tools to understand how political stances about the organization of society—such as right and left—emerge and transform.

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After Colonialism: Development, Modernization, and National Culture in the Middle East During the ‘Long 1950s’

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Students are expected to have completed previous coursework in either Middle East Studies or modern history, though exceptions can be made with permission of the instructor.

The 1950s were a transformative decade in Middle Eastern history. On the one hand, it was a heady period of national liberation. Egypt, under Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser and the Free Officers, shook off the last vestiges of British imperial influence and led the rapidly decolonizing Arab world in calling for the region’s complete political and economic independence from the West. Israel, for its part, flexed new muscles as a fledgling independent state and strove doggedly to fortify both the bounds and bonds of the nation. On the other hand, the 1950s witnessed the emergence of a new mode of state-society relations across the Middle East, predicated on a firm ideological commitment to government-led modernization. This course will provide a close examination of the dynamics of postcolonial nation-building and modernization in the Middle East during that pivotal decade by focusing on the interplay of politics and culture—particularly in Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, each of which pursued strikingly parallel paths of modernization and national development in the 1950s with profound consequences for the future of the region. Special attention will be given to cultural production (cinema, music, literature, radio, popular newspapers, and magazines) as a critical lens for understanding how the contours of modern citizenship and national belonging were similarly negotiated and contested throughout the decade.

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Visions/Revisions: Issues in the History of Women and Gender

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Open to senior undergraduate students. Core class required of all first-year Women’s History graduate students.

This seminar surveys pathbreaking studies in the history of women, gender, and related subjects. Course readings, which include both theory and historiography, exemplify major trends in feminist scholarship since the 1960s—from early challenges to androcentric worldviews to the current stress on differences among women and multiple systems of dominance and subordination. Class discussions range from fundamental questions (e.g., What is feminism? Is “women” a meaningful category?) to theoretical, interpretive, and methodological debates among women’s historians. The course is designed to help advanced students of women’s history clarify research interests by assessing the work of their predecessors. MA candidates will also use the course to define thesis projects.

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Gender, Race, and Media: Historicizing Visual Culture

Advanced , Seminar—Year

In this course, we will engage with the field of visual culture in order to develop a critical framework through which we may understand visual perception as a set of practices that inform, and are informed by, structures of power. Throughout the semester and the year, we will consider the following questions: What does it mean, from a historical perspective, to live in a society that seemingly privileges visual perception? How does power figure into past and contemporary viewing practices? How have visual technologies been leveraged to situate alternative practices of looking more squarely within the Western public’s fields of vision? We will accomplish this by focusing on the rich scholarship of visual culture theory, media and communication scholarship that foregrounds gender and racial analysis, and the excellent work that bridges media/visual studies and women’s history. We will work with a variety of texts, such as art, advertising, print magazines, television programming, film, and social media. Readings roughly span the 19th century through the contemporary era. Through our readings, we will observe the ways in which the 19th-century production and circulation of images of the “other” and a gendered gaze began to take on a particular potency in the United States and Europe with the growth of industrialization, commercial advertising, and immigration. Twentieth-century scholarship will focus on, among other things, the rise of a global media landscape in which the lines between producers and consumers of media became increasingly blurred. An examination of contemporary viewing practices will enable us to consider some of the implications of a radically fractured “mediascape” and its attendant struggles over ownership of meaning, as media technologies enable visual processes of signification to spin out wildly in unpredictable and surprising directions.

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Diversity and Equity in Education: Issues of Gender, Race, and Class

Advanced , Seminar—Year

The education system is a central institution in the socialization of young people and the maintenance of the modern nation-state. Schools support meritocratic models of society by providing opportunities for social mobility. Paradoxically, schools also reproduce gender, racial, and class inequality. In this course, we will examine the roles that schools play in the transmission of culture, formation of identity, and reproduction of social structures. Paying special attention to gender and its intersection with other social categories, we will look at practices and policies that shape students’ performance as they strive for competence, achievement, and acceptance. We will also analyze the larger political and economic contexts that shape both schools and the communities in which they are situated.

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Body Politics: A Cultural History of the United States

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Open only to juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

Historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg argues, “In the 20th century, the body has become the central personal project of American girls.” Increasingly in US culture, the body is seen as the ultimate expression of the self; and that personal project has become a project of more than girls. This course will analyze the emergence of this consuming anxiety against the backdrop of other conversations about what are understood as women’s and men’s bodies: as workers, as mothers and fathers, as public figures, as sexual beings. Using cultural criticism, novels, and films, as well as history, we will discuss questions of body politics generally and how a study of the body reveals crucial cultural and political values. The way the body is displayed, hidden, used, misused, celebrated, transformed, and vilified provides a lens through which to make sense of ideals of gender, beauty, sexual politics, racial politics, labor politics, and family politics—all areas of interest in this class. Although most of the course will focus on the 20th century United States, the first third of the fall semester will be devoted to general questions about defining body politics and a quick look at the 19th century. We will end at the close of World War II in the fall and pick up at the same moment in the spring, finishing by May at or near the end of the 20th century. Conferences will involve research into primary materials. This will be a writing-intensive course, including (mostly) expository writing but also creative nonfiction.

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Revolutionary Women

Advanced , Seminar—Year

This is an advanced seminar, designed for seniors and graduate students but open to juniors with permission.

Moving from 19th-century struggles against slavery to more recent uprisings against apartheid and global capitalism, this seminar explores women’s relationships to revolutions that have shaped the modern world. Although the course focuses largely on US history, we will also consider developments in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Topics include the revolutionary work of well-known individuals such as Harriet Tubman, Luisa Capetillo, Aleksandra Kollontai, Yuri Kochiyama, Mamphela Ramphele, and Rigoberta Menchú; unsung women’s essential contributions to revolutionary movements around the globe; the ways in which revolutions have addressed—or failed to address—women’s demands for equality and self-determination; and the emergence of independent women’s movements within national revolutions. Reading includes memoir, fiction, and political treatises, as well as historical scholarship.

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Paris, City of Light and Violence

Open , Seminar—Fall

So they had begun to walk about in a fabulous Paris, letting themselves be guided by the nighttime signs, following routes born of a clochard phrase…. —Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch

For centuries now, the city of Paris, France, has held an actual and imaginary intensity in the lives of many. In this seminar in cultural anthropology, we will explore a number of themes and forces that have shaped the cultural and political contexts of life in Paris through the 19th and 20th centuries and on into the 21st—from great works of art to transformations in urban design to the politics of colonialism, migration, racism, marginalization, and police surveillance, as well as critical events of state and collective violence. In walking (conceptually) about a Paris at once fabulous and haunted, we will come to know various signs of being and power in this renowned city. In attending to key events in the recent history of Paris—in 1942, 1961, 1968, 1995, and 2015, for instance—we will work toward developing a comprehensive sense of the many social, cultural, and political dimensions of urban experience in la ville lumière, the “city of light,” in both its central arrondissements and its peripheral banlieues. Along the way, we will consider a number of important literary writings (Hugo, Balzac, Baudelaire, Breton, Modiano, Cortázar, Perec, Sebbar, and Bouraoui), films (Godard, Truffaut, Marker, Varda, Tati, Kassovitz, Haneke, and Sciamma), and scholarship (Benjamin, Dubord, Harvey, Kofman, Fanon, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and Latour). Students will be encouraged to undertake conference work on artists, writers, and thinkers associated with Paris or to develop their own anthropological reflections on Paris or another intensive city known to them.

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Making the World Go Round: Children as Cogs in the Wheels of Empire

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

At the close of the 1920s, a Miss Wilson presented a paper at a London conference, addressing “The Education of European Children in Contact With Primitive Races.” In her talk, she described the life of rural white Kenyan settler children growing up with African playmates and expressed her concerns about the morally deleterious effects of such play on these future imperial leaders. This particular case illustrates discourse about the role of privileged white children in imperial regimes; but children of diverse social classes, races, and nationalities across the globe were all implicated in processes of imperial expansion and European settler colonization over (at least) the past three centuries. What was believed about children, done to children, and required of children was central to the political and economic success of empire. In this seminar, we will examine a series of cases in order to understand the diverse roles, both intentional and unintentional, of children in colonial processes. In addition to the white sons and daughters of European settler colonists in Africa and Southeast Asia, we will look at the contrary things that were said and done about mixed-race children (and their mothers) at different historical and political moments of empire. We will learn, too, about the deployment of “orphans” in the service of empire. In the metropole, particularly British cities, orphan boys were funneled into the military and merchant navy, while children of both sexes were shipped across the globe to boost white settler populations, provide free labor, and relieve English poorhouses of the responsibility of taking care of them. The ancestors of many contemporary citizens of Canada, Australia, and South Africa were exported as children from metropolitan orphanages. In our intellectual explorations, we will deploy approaches from sex-gender studies, postcolonial studies, and critical race theory. Questions that we will explore include: Why did settler authorities in Australia kidnap mixed-race indigenous children and put them in boarding schools, when such children in other colonies were expected to stay with their local mothers out of sight of the settlers? How did European ideas about climate and race frame the ways in which settler children were nursed in the Dutch East Indies? How did concepts of childhood and parental rights over children vary historically, socioeconomically, and geographically? How did metropolitan discourses about race, class, and evolution frame the treatment of indigent children at home and abroad? The materials for this class include literature, scholarly articles, ethnographic accounts, historical documents, and film. There will be much discussion.

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Specters of the Subject: Hauntologies of Ghosts, Phantasms, and Imaginings in Contemporary Life

Advanced , Seminar—Year

“The future belongs to the ghosts,” remarked the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1996. As his interlocutor Bernard Stiegler phrases the main idea behind this statement, “Modern technology, contrary to appearances, increases tenfold the power of ghosts.” With the advent of the Internet, various forms of social media, and the ubiquity of filmic images in our lives, Derrida's observations have proven to be quite prophetic, such that they call for a new field of study—one that requires less an ontology of being and the real and more a “hauntology” (to invoke Derrida's punish term) of the spectral, the virtual, the phantasmic, the imaginary, and the recurrent revenant. In this seminar, we consider ways in which the past and present are haunted by ghosts. Topics to be covered include: specters and hauntings, figures and apparitions, history and memory, trauma and political crisis, fantasy and imagination, digital interfaces, and visual and acoustical images. We will be considering a range of films and video, photography, literary texts, acoustic reverberations, Internet and social media, and everyday discourses and imaginings. Through these inquiries, we will be able to further our understanding of the nature of specters and apparitions in the contemporary world in their many forms and dimensions. Students will be invited to undertake their own hauntologies and thus craft studies of the phenomenal force of specters, hauntings, and the apparitional in particular social or cultural contexts.

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First-Year Studies: Gods, Heroes, and Kings: Art and Myth in the Ancient World

Open , FYS—Year

In modern terms, myth has come to be commonly understood as the antithesis of history. Whereas history is taken as a reasoned, factual account of the past and how things came to be, myth appears to operate in the realm of fiction or fantasy. Myths may have the claim of venerable tradition, but they are no longer accepted as an accurate record of events. The ancient world, however, made no such black-and-white distinctions. In antiquity, myth was accepted as early history. Its heroes were real, and their actions were thought to exemplify essential paradigms of political order and morality. Consequently, this course will apply a different approach in which myth is distinguished from history not by a truth test but, rather, by virtue of its function as a means of cultural self-representation. We shall examine the myths of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome—both in their literary form and in various media of visual art. Throughout, our goal will be to understand the potency of these narratives as vehicles of social or cultural values and as tools of power legitimizing and justifying closely entwined notions of religious and political authority. The course will close by considering how, in Late Antiquity, Christian narratives and ideologies in the literary and visual arts developed from the mythic traditions that preceded them.

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Genealogies of Modern and Contemporary Art, 1890 to the Present

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture is a superlecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

What was modernism, and how do we describe the shift to what is called contemporary art? Beginning with Henri Matisse, the first half of the course will examine how modernists found a new visual language to navigate a world ravaged by fascism and war; altered by industry, technology, and rationalized forms of labor; and tested by shifting national, ethnic, and gendered identities. What representational strategies did artists use to respond to this upheaval? The fall semester serves as an introduction to the historical avant-gardes in the United States, Mexico, and Europe—including Fauvism, expressionism, cubism, Dada, surrealism, muralism, and abstract expressionism—but it will be organized around thematic questions: What is abstraction as a turn away from the modernized world? What is the relationship between high art and mass culture? What were the political ambitions of modern art, and how were they vocalized materially? How were artists working at the margins speaking back to what they saw to be dominant forms of representation? The second half of the course examines a sea-change that began in the 1960s, as artists tested modernist categories of painting and sculpture; challenged relationships between high art and mass media; incorporated new technologies such as television and video into their art; and questioned the hierarchies of art’s production, reception, and display through protest, activism, and participation. By the end of the ’60s, art faced a crisis that affected its production, medium, spectatorship, and institutions, leading German philosopher Theodor Adorno to note the loss of art’s self-evidence. Looking closely at the art of Europe and the United States and at exchanges with Japan and Brazil, the second half of the course explores a moment of radical artistic critique in which artists transformed traditional categories of artistic production and challenged social, political, and cultural norms. In the last 20 years, all of this shifted with the return to traditional categories of painting and sculpture and the rise of the global art market. We will conclude with a look at contemporary practices as a shift away from avant-garde radicality. Although the course introduces students to some of the issues surrounding art since the 2000s, the main focus in the spring will be to provide a historical context for art from roughly 1960 to 2000—and students will be introduced to major movements, including happenings, pop art, Fluxus, minimalism, conceptual art, site-specificity, Earthworks, feminism, video art, institutional critique, installation, and activist art. Readings will vary from theoretical and scholarly appraisals to artists’ writings and manifestos. Visits to area museums will be part of the curriculum.

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East vs. West: Europe, the Mediterranean, and Western Asia From Antiquity to the Modern Age

Open , Lecture—Year

Historically, competition or conflict between the European or Mediterranean West and the regions of the Middle East has been seen as a struggle between Christian and Muslim worlds with roots in the era of the Crusades, whose precedent and implications reach into the present time. While this course will focus extensively on the medieval period, it seeks to do so by situating the relations between Christian Europe and the Muslim world within a larger context as the result of geopolitical patterns that long antedated the emergence of Christianity or Islam. In the fall, the course will begin with the Greek invasion of the Near East under Alexander as a war of retribution for the Persian invasion of Greece more than a century earlier. We will consider how the political structure and culture of the multiethnic Hellenistic Greek kingdoms emerged from the wreckage of the Persian Empire and how Rome subsequently built on Hellenistic Greek experience and conflict with the Near East in establishing its empire. We will examine the emergence of Christianity as an example of a Roman or Western response to an originally Eastern religion and, conversely, the emergence of the Islamic faith and its new empire as an Eastern challenge to the Christianized Roman Empire of Late Antiquity. In the spring, we will see how this approach affords a very different view of the Crusades and the battle for the Holy Land as the outgrowth of longstanding cultural and political interactions or competitions that transcend religious faith and doctrine. The course will look at Christian and Muslim cultural relations in Spain and then close by examining the rise of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which originated as a Muslim regime in Eastern Europe and became a major power in Asia only after it had conquered the remaining symbol of the old Christian Roman Empire, Constantinople, in 1453. We will consider primary historical and literary sources, as well as major artistic monuments.

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“A Talent for Every Noble Thing”: Art, Architecture in Italy, 1300-1600

Open , Seminar—Year

This course involves an in-depth survey of the major monuments of Italian art and architecture from 1300 to 1600. Equal emphasis will be given to the histories and societies of major city-states such as Pisa, Siena, Florence, Venice, and Rome; the canon of art works by artists such as Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo; readings of major critics and historians of Italian art; and the broader intellectual trends, social realities, and movements that provide a context for our understanding of the artists’ and, to a lesser extent, the critics’ creations. Thus, unified Italian church designs will be juxtaposed with gender-segregated social practice, theories of genius with concepts of handicraft, pagan ideals with Christian rituals, creative expression with religious orthodoxy, and popes with monks, dukes, financiers, and “humanist” intellectuals. The first semester will focus on a close reading of texts surrounding the first polemical “humanist” pamphlets about art in early modern history—Alberti’s On Painting and On Architecture—and will include works by Erwin Panofsky, Ernst Gombrich, and Michael Baxandall. The second semester will engage the development of the “High” Renaissance and the intellectual and aesthetic debates surrounding Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael as philosophers, naturalists, geniuses, models, and marginalized outcasts. Class papers will deal with developing a vocabulary for compositional analysis, critical issues in Italian intellectual and social history (particularly, gender studies), and varied interpretive strategies applied to works of visual art and culture. Conference projects may involve selected topics in religion, history, and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance and art and architecture in Europe and the “New World” from 1300 to the present.

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Architectures of the Future, 1780 to the Present

Open , Seminar—Year

Through PowerPoint presentations, readings, and discussion, the course gives a challenging, inclusive, and nuanced understanding of buildings and monuments; visionaries and builders; users and functions; and thoughts, practices, and theories of architecture from the Enlightenment to today—all claiming in one way or another to rethink the past, realize the present, and, most importantly, create the future. We will learn to read architecture and read with architects; to contextualize form and its urban, sociopolitical, and epistemological implications; and to see how architecture gives form to context, sense to experience, image to philosophy. Over 200 years, notions of ideal beauty, type, and function mutated to progress in form and function and contemporary iterations in theories of the unformed, the sustainable, the mysterious objective, the abject, and the playful. We will analyze major movements (neoclassical, arts and crafts, technological sublime, art nouveau, Bauhaus, postmodernism, deconstruction, new pragmatism, figural, digital, sustainable) and figures (William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Sam Mockbee, Zaha Hadid, Jean Gang). Readings will be drawn from history, philosophy, literature (realist, sci-fi, and visionary), Diderot, Edmund Burke, William Blake, William Morris, Buckminster Fuller, Heidegger, Foucault Benjamin, and others. Projects, papers, an architectural notebook dedicated to class notes, readings, drawings, musings, etc., and a conference project will be required in the history, theory, philosophy, and sociopolitical context, including women as users, patrons, and makers of art and architecture. Well-formulated design projects are a possibility. This course shares connections with visual arts, film, and a broad range of subjects in the humanities and social sciences.

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Christians, Jews, and Muslims and the Arts of Medieval Spain: Art, Religion, and Identity

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

How can we read peoples’ sense of identity in the arts? How do religious identities interact with national, regional, and cultural identities? Is European identity necessarily Christian? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this seminar. From 711 to 1492, the Iberian Peninsula was home to a number of kingdoms with constantly transforming demographics, cities marked by religious pluralism, and kaleidoscopic political alliances between political and religious groups. Opposing forces rarely aligned simply with religious affiliation in medieval Spain. If documents give us a biased and incomplete picture of the relationship between and among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, the arts can provide a different kind of testimony to these rich and complex histories that continue to have an impact on our lives today. This is an intermediate course. Some of the things that would qualify you to enroll for this course would be: having previously taken a course in medieval art or Islamic art; having taken a course in medieval or Islamic history or civilization; or the ability to conduct research in Spanish. You are also welcome during interviews to make a case for other skills or background that you feel might qualify you.

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First-Year Studies: Reform and Revolution: China’s 20th Century

Open , FYS—Year

In 1900, China was a faltering empire ruled by an autocratic foreign dynastic house and an entrenched bureaucracy of Confucian officials. Its sovereignty heavily battered and its territory compromised by foreign powers, China was commonly called “The Sick Man of Asia.” In 2000, China was a modern nation-state ruled by an authoritarian party and an entrenched bureaucracy of technocrats and administrators. With a surging economy, swollen foreign reserves, dazzling modern cities, and a large and technologically advanced military, it is regularly predicted to be the next global superpower. Yet, the path between these two startlingly different points was anything but smooth. China’s 20th century was a tortuous one. Policymakers, elites, and the common people oscillated between the poles of reform and revolution—bouts of wild radicalism alternated with more sober policies—as they pursued changes that they hoped would bring a better society and nation. This class examines some of the major events and personalities of this arduous century and its momentous political, social, and cultural changes. We will learn and apply skills of historical analysis to primary documents (in translation), some fiction, and film. Along the way, we will encounter a rich cast of characters, including China’s “national father” Sun Yat-sen, colorful warlords, corrupt bureaucrats, fervent intellectuals, protesting youths, heroic communist martyrs, the towering and enigmatic chairman Mao Zedong, long-suffering peasants, and fanatical Red Guards. These men and women made and remade modern China. This class is history and, thus, is not primarily concerned with contemporary China; but, by the end of the year, students will be well-equipped with an understanding of China’s recent past—knowledge that will help immeasurably in making sense of today’s China as it becomes increasingly important in our globalized economy and society.

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The Atomic Bombs as History, Experience, and Culture: Washington, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki

Open , Seminar—Fall

In January 2018, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the hands of the Doomsday Clock (yes, it’s a thing) at two minutes to midnight, the nearest it has been to catastrophe since 1953. In February, Putin announced that Russia has developed “invincible” nukes capable of hitting virtually anywhere on the globe, while Donald Trump goaded Kim Jong-un with tweets about the size of his nuclear “button.” With world leaders flirting with the prospect of nuclear holocaust, an understanding of the only instance of nuclear warfare is again relevant—even crucial. Through a rich variety of sources (textual, visual, and cinematic), this seminar will examine the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 from three major perspectives. First, reading scholarship and primary documents, we will look at the decision to drop the bombs, as well as the postwar claims justifying them. We will challenge the American narrative that the bombings were militarily necessary, while also putting them into the historical context of World War II—specifically, strategic bombing of nonmilitary targets, prospects of Japanese surrender in the final months of the conflict, and the looming Cold War with Russia. Second, we will confront the effects of the bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and their populations. Technical descriptions and firsthand accounts will help us grasp the unique destructiveness of the atomic bombs on both bodies and buildings, as well as how people coped with that destructiveness. The diary of Michihiko Hachiya, for example, will reveal a medical doctor’s observations on the breakdown of society and how ordinary Japanese dealt with the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. And finally, the course examines the impact of the bombs on Japan’s postwar culture, including the profound sense of victimization they imparted, which has complicated Japanese narratives about World War II and inspired an abiding pacifism in Japanese society. In a different vein, serious literature—such as Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse—will open up the relevance of atomic narratives by exploring the social alienation endured by the hibakusha (bomb survivors) in postwar Japan. Shōmei Tōmatsu's photography of Nagasaki and its hibakusha will provide a visual window on the bombs’ legacy, as well. We will also examine some popular culture—the original (1954) Godzilla (Gojirō) movie and some anime or manga—for the ways in which the bombs were appropriated and invoked in apocalyptic imagery, imagery that expressed a distinctive understanding of the dark side of science and technology and made a lasting contribution to wider global culture.

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Reading China’s Revolutions Through Fiction and Memoir

Open , Seminar—Spring

Some of the most consequential and revolutionary prose written in 20th-century China is to be found neither in history nor politics but in fiction and memoir. Indeed, state leaders, reformers, and revolutionaries all believed that fiction was central in their push toward political change and national modernization. The premise of this course is that literature offers an important glimpse into the individual, social, and cultural goals and ramifications of China’s political revolutions. More specifically, the course will look at the short-story fiction and memoirs produced following the 1911 revolution and May Fourth Movement (1919), the 1949 communist revolution, the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), and the post-Mao era (1976-1990). Although we will use various methods of literary analysis, the primary approach to the readings will be historical. Topics to be explored include: the ways in which early writers viewed the problems of traditional literature, the role of literature in bringing about social and political change, the tension between the individual and society, and changing notions of gender. We will also look at the ways in which some writers (among them Lu Xun and Ding Ling) created new narrative techniques to embody their vision of social realism and in which others adopted Western literary techniques to convey their self-image as “modern” or “international” writers.

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Personal Narratives: Identity and History in Modern China

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar explores the realm of private life and individual identity and its relationship to the historical events and changes taking place in modern China from the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911) into the Reform era (2000s). Our investigations will cover an eclectic mix of “personal” writings: diaries, letters, memoirs, oral testimony, autobiographies, third-party anthropological reconstructions of individuals, and (auto)biographical fiction. Among others, we will encounter late imperial Confucian radicals and mystics, petty literati, young urban women and their mothers with bound feet, peasants, radical revolutionaries, intellectuals, Maoist Red Guards, and factory workers. These personal narratives not only open up windows on the lives and times of their writers but also allow us to investigate the intersection between the practice of writing and identity construction in modern China. The primary readings will be contextualized with historical scholarship and supplemented by selections from some important theorists (Benedict Anderson, Anthony Giddens, and René Girard) that provide interdisciplinary analytical tools to explore the construction of personal identity and the self. We will ask ourselves how the writers of the personal writings present themselves: What are their self-conceptions and self-deceptions? Where does their sense of “self” come from, and how do they construct private selves through writing? We should even dare to ask whether these categories of “private” and “self” are relevant. The rapid, often traumatic, changes of modern China will cause us to consider how these people understood and situated themselves in wider society and the events of their time and, thus, will raise questions about the imaginative constructions of national (or social) communities that are smuggled inside these “personal” stories.

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Political Economy of Women

Open , Lecture—Year

What factors determine the status of women in different societies and communities? What role is played by women’s labor, both inside and outside the home? By cultural norms regarding sexuality and reproduction? By religious traditions? After a brief theoretical grounding, this course will address these questions by examining the economic, political, social, and cultural histories of women in the various racial/ethnic and class groupings that make up the United States. Topics to be explored include: the role of women in the Iroquois Confederation before white colonization and the factors that gave Iroquois women significant political and social power in their communities; the status of white colonist women in Puritan Massachusetts and the economic, religious and other factors that led to the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692; the position of African American women under slavery, including the gendered and racialized divisions of labor and reproduction; the growth of competitive capitalism in the North and the development of the “cult of true womanhood” in the rising middle class; the economic and political changes that accompanied the Civil War and Reconstruction and the complex relationships between African American and white women in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements; the creation of a landless agricultural labor force and the attempts to assimilate Chicana women into the dominant culture via “Americanization” programs; the conditions that encouraged Asian women’s immigration and their economic and social positions once here; the American labor movement and the complicated role that organized labor has played in the lives of women of various racial/ethnic groups and classes; the impact of US colonial policies on Puerto Rican migration and Puerto Rican women’s economic and political status on both the island and the mainland; the economic/political convulsions of the 20th century—from the trusts of the early 1900s to World War II—and their impact on women’s paid and unpaid labor; the impact of changes in gendered economic roles on LGBT communities; the economic and political upheavals of the 1960s that led to the so-called “second wave” of the women’s movement; the gendered and racialized impact of the Great Recession and its aftermath; the current position of women in the US economy and polity and the possibilities for inclusive public policies concerning gender and family issues.

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Econometric Analysis: Structural Explorations in the Social Sciences

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture requires some basic knowledge (high-school level) of mathematics and statistics. A review of core concepts in these subjects will be carried out at the beginning of the fall semester.

The course is designed for all students interested in the social sciences who wish to understand the methodology and techniques involved in the estimation of structural relationships between variables. The course is intended for students who wish to be able to carry out empirical work in their particular field, both at Sarah Lawrence College and beyond, and critically engage empirical work done by academic or professional social scientists. The practical hands-on approach taken in this course will be useful to those students who wish to do future conference projects in the social (or natural) sciences with significant empirical content. It will also be invaluable for students who are seeking internships, planning to enter the job market, or desiring to pursue graduate education in the social sciences and public policy. After taking this course, students will be able to analyze questions such as the following: What is the relationship between slavery and the development of capitalist industrialization in the United States? What effects do race, gender, and educational attainment have in the determination of wages? How does the female literacy rate affect the child mortality rate? How can one model the effect of economic growth on carbon-dioxide emissions? What is the relationship among sociopolitical instability, inequality, and economic growth? How do geographic location and state spending affect average public-school teacher salaries? How do socioeconomic factors determine the crime rate in the United States? During the course of the year, we will study all of these questions. In the first semester, we will cover the theoretical and applied statistical principles that underlie Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression techniques. We will begin with the assumptions needed to obtain the Best Linear Unbiased Estimates of a regression equation, also known as the “BLUE” conditions. Particular emphasis will be placed on the assumptions regarding the distribution of a model’s error term and other BLUE conditions. We will also cover hypothesis testing, sample selection, and the critical role of the t- and F-statistic in determining the statistical significance of a social metric model and its associated slope or “β” parameters. Further, we will address the three main problems associated with the violation of a particular BLUE assumption: multicollinearity, serial correlation, and heteroscedasticity. We will learn how to identify, address, and remedy each of those problems. In addition, we will take a similar approach to understanding and correcting model specification errors. Finally, we will focus on the analysis of historical time-series models and the study of long-run trend relationships between variables. At the end of the fall semester, students will have to carry out an econometric analysis of a World Bank study on labor markets. The spring semester class will build on the fall class by introducing students to advanced topics in econometrics. We will study autoregressive dependent lag (ARDL) models, co-integration, and error correction models involving nonstationary time series. We will investigate simultaneous equations systems, vector error correction (VEC), and vector autoregressive (VAR) models. The final part of the seminar will involve the study of panel data, as well as logit/probit models. As with the fall class, the spring class will also be very “hands-on,” in that students will get ample exposure to concrete issues while also being encouraged to consider basic methodological questions (e.g., the debates between John Maynard Keynes and Jan Tinbergen) regarding the power and limitations of econometric analysis. At the end of the spring semester, students will have to do in-class presentations of self-designed econometric projects (either singly or in groups) on topics of their choice. The spring semester is particularly relevant to students who wish to pursue graduate studies in a social-science discipline, although it will be equally relevant for those seeking other types of graduate degrees that involve knowledge of intermediate-level quantitative analysis.

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Microeconomic Theory and Policy: Advanced Topics

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Some prior background in economics is required.

What assumptions, methodologies, values, vision, and theoretical foundations do microeconomists incorporate and rely upon for analyzing economic behavior at the individual level? What insights, knowledge, inferences, and/or conclusions can be gleaned through examining characteristics of individual firms, agents, households, and markets in order to understand capitalist society? How do our theories of individual and business behavior inform our interpretation of distributional outcomes? Among other topics, this semester-long seminar in intermediate microeconomics will offer an inquiry into economic decision-making vis-à-vis: theories of demand and supply, the individual (agents), households, consumption (consumer choice); theories of production and costs; theories of the firm (business enterprise, corporations); theories of markets and competition; prices and pricing theory; public policy and legal foundations; and theories of value and income distribution. Critical analysis, reflection, and insight into these and other topics will be supported and strengthened by appealing to a broad range of traditions in economics, including neoclassical (orthodox, mainstream, marginalist) and post-Keynesian, feminist, Marxian, law and political economy, and institutionalist (heterodox schools of thought). Insights from legal analyses on microeconomic topics (such as cost-benefit analysis, the Coase theorem, and Pareto optimality) will also be discussed.

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Introduction to Property: Cultural and Environmental Perspectives

Open , Seminar—Fall

Perhaps few issues are more contentious in the environmental arena than those surrounding struggles over rights to private, as well as common, property resources. What is property, and how is it made? Who makes property? How are property rights performed, publicized, and enforced? What is a commons, and what is common property? Debates over the “commons” implicate ideas of citizenship, community, the public good, justice, and governance. Controversies over public space and community gardens, genetic recombinant research and rights to the genome, and North-South disputes over rights to biodiversity in the geographic South—as well as debates over property in the Middle East—form some of the hotly contested terrain of property rights and the commons use and ownership. Property rights on a variety of scales—from the biomolecular to whole organs and organisms, from individual trees to whole ecosystems—are examined in varied geographic, biological, cultural, and historical contexts. This course is an introduction to ideas and cultures of property (private, public, and collective); debates, claims, and arguments over the commons; and the environmental and social consequences of different property regimes.

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Landscapes in Translation: Cartographies, Visions, and Interventions

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Fall

Open to students with developed skills in critical thinking and analysis of texts. A background in humanities, social sciences, or arts is preferred.

This course investigates the multiple ways in which landscapes have been imagined, interpreted, physically shaped, and controlled in a variety of historical and contemporary sites. The first section, Cartographies, explores ideas of landscape in Euro-America, Southeast Asia, and colonial-era Africa. The literatures of critical geography and political ecology provide theory and cases illuminating connections between the position of the cartographer and presuppositions about the nature of the territory being mapped and managed. We examine how landscapes on a variety of scales, from “bioregions” to nations, are imagined, codified, and transformed through representational processes and material moves. The second section, Visions, investigates how landscapes are embodied in fine arts and literature, as well as in garden and urban design. Readings draw on examples of landscape design in colonial New England and Indonesia and on contemporary examples of landscape design in response to climate change. We also study reworkings of the urban landscape to integrate more productive, biologically diverse “fringes,” as well as rooftop farms and apiaries. The third section, Control: Emerging Security-Scapes, investigates the rise of militarized “security-scapes” or “surveillance-scapes,” dating from slavery in the United States to the Department of Homeland Security in the post-9/11 era. We analyze the visual surround and landscapes seen by remote drone “pilots” scanning Los Angeles and Somalia and surveillance of the occupied Palestinian landscapes. We draw upon websites, advertisements, and new scholarship in security studies, media studies, and social theory.

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History and Aesthetics of Film

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture is a superlecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

This class will provide a detailed survey of the history of moving-image art, as well as an introduction to key aesthetic and theoretical concepts in the study of film. We will study the major elements of film form—editing, photography, shot composition, sound, mise-en-scene—as phenomena emerging from specific historical contexts and chart their development both over time and as they travel around the world. While the emphasis of the earlier part of the course will be on film art’s European and American origins, we will approach it as a truly global phenomenon with considerable attention devoted to East and South Asian, African, Latin American, and Middle Eastern cinemas. While the basic structure of the course will be chronological, we will develop the vocabulary and viewing skills necessary to identify and analyze the key components of film texts as we proceed; for example, our examination of editing will be situated within our discussion of 1920s Soviet cinema, while possible uses and aesthetic implications of sound will be examined alongside a number of diverse early experiments with sound. Other key moments to be studied include the development of the “classical” Hollywood cinema (and challenges to it), the emergence of new national art cinemas in the post-World War II era, the radical cinema traditions of the 1960s and ’70s, and developments in film aesthetics since the introduction of digital filmmaking techniques in the 1990s. Key theoretical approaches in film studies will also be situated in their historical context, including early debates around film’s status as art from the 1910s and ’20s, inquiries into the relationship between photography and reality from the post-World War II period, and Marxist and feminist analyses of the ideological implications of film form and its relationship to the spectator from the 1960s and ’70s.

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Year Zero: Cinema in the Wake of War

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

How did the cinema confront the catastrophic events of the mid-20th century? How did it begin to tackle the historical, physical, social, and psychic trauma effected by the incomprehensible phenomena of Auschwitz and by the blinding light of Hiroshima? The seminar will explore this “crisis of representation” and the cinema’s response to an era that saw suffering and ruin by unprecedented means and on an unprecedented scale, the death and displacement of millions, the devastation of cities, the utter despair in humanity and yet, inevitably, also the remaking of life out of the ruins. Focusing primarily on the postwar European experience but considering, as well, the Pacific theatre of war and the American response, the seminar will interlace fiction films, documentaries, and newsreels and draw upon historical, critical, and literary texts. Screenings will include Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero, Clément’s Forbidden Games, Bernstein’s Memory of the Camps, Resnais’s Night and Fog and Hiroshima mon amour, Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain, and many others.

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Documentary Filmmaking: Truth, Freedom, and Bearing Witness

Open , Seminar—Year

Nonfiction is our search for the truth; it is an exploration in humanity—our beauty, complexities, and the often unimaginable. This class is designed for students who, through filmmaking, hope to move humanity one step closer to understanding who we are and how connected our life experiences may be. In this yearlong course, students produce one 15- to 30-minute documentary on the subject of their own choosing. Students will develop treatments, pitch their projects, create production schedules, and work in small teams to create their films. Each week, students must demonstrate clear progress on their projects, including outlined shoot dates, updates on production needs, screening of unedited material, assembly cuts, rough cuts, and the eventual final delivery of their conference films. During class, we will screen short- and long-form documentary films from around the world, complemented by hands-on production techniques and experience. Although this is an open class, students must be prepared to learn camera operation, sound recording, and lighting with diligence and professionalism. Each student will direct his/her own project; however, the crew will be made up of the student’s peers, who will be entrusted with delivering strong technical material. This course will challenge students to think beyond the beautiful gates of Sarah Lawrence and take on subjects and opportunities that are new spaces both emotionally and physically. Nonfiction requires passion for storytelling and, ultimately, a passion for people. We hope to finish the year with a lens on the world that’s evolved to new heights of understanding and compassion.

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Creating the Web Series

Open , Seminar—Year

Each student, without exception, must interview with the instructor.

During the fall semester, the students will develop a community that supports a judgment-free working environment, where the goal is to collectively create the best original work possible. This class is not about competition but, rather, about creating collectively. During our Monday sessions, the students will conceive and develop 3- to 5-page film scenes that thematically capture a specific moment in time. The concept and materials to be developed will be revised and finalized for shooting by the end of the fall semester. (These scenes can also be the genesis of a larger script to be worked on later.) During our Thursday sessions, we will begin with warmup exercises developed to get outside of our passive selves and play like children. These exercises will expand our vocal and physical creative base. We will work on intimacy and trust exercises that address issues such as blocking, negating, and posturing. We will read both published and original scenes that will be memorized for the following week. We will break down the scenes dramatically to demonstrate what works and what does not. The students will work on improvisational exercises—taken from beats within the script—that will explore and expand the complexities of a character’s inner life. For our conference work, we will view and discuss feature films and documentaries that primarily focus on the Central American revolutions—such as El Norte, Finding Oscar, Under Fire, and Salvador—but will also include the historical origins of religious and cultural conflicts with films such as The Mission, Apocalypto, and Where the River Runs Black. The fall semester conference work will involve writing about a specific aspect of the films viewed and discussed in class. The spring conference work will be shooting the vignettes. The students will be required to experience all production areas, (editing, lighting, sound, camera, and directing) and to keep a weekly journal of the journey throughout the year. The goal is to make the class self-sufficient, in that students will write, direct, film, and edit their own material. We will have tech-lab workshops that help students better facilitate skills in lighting, cameras, sound, and editing. This class is open to writers, actors, and directors interested in creating through collaboration.

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Food, Agriculture, Environment, and Development

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

Where does the food we eat come from? Why do some people have enough food to eat and others do not? Are there too many people for the world to feed? Who controls the world’s food? Will global food prices continue their recent rapid rise? And, if so, what will be the consequences? What are the environmental impacts of our food production systems? How do answers to these questions differ by place or by the person asking the question? How have they changed over time? This course will explore the following fundamental issue: the relationship between development and the environment, focusing in particular on agriculture and the production and consumption of food. The questions above often hinge on the contentious debate concerning population, natural resources, and the environment. Thus, we will begin by critically assessing the fundamental ideological positions and philosophical paradigms of “modernization,” as well as critical counterpoints that lie at the heart of this debate. Within this context of competing sets of philosophical assumptions concerning the population-resource debate, we will investigate the concept of “poverty” and the making of the “Third World,” access to food, hunger, grain production and food aid, agricultural productivity (The Green and Gene Revolutions), biofuels, the role of transnational corporations (TNCs), the international division of labor, migration, globalization and global commodity chains, and the different strategies adopted by nation-states to “develop” natural resources and agricultural production. Through a historical investigation of environmental change and the biogeography of plant domestication and dispersal, we will look at the creation of indigenous, subsistence, peasant, plantation, collective, and commercial forms of agriculture. We will analyze the physical environment and ecology that help shape but rarely determine the organization of resource use and agriculture. Rather, through the dialectical rise of various political-economic systems such as feudalism, slavery, mercantilism, colonialism, capitalism, and socialism, we will study how humans have transformed the world’s environments. We will follow with studies of specific issues: technological change in food production; commercialization and industrialization of agriculture and the decline of the family farm; food and public health, culture, and family; land grabbing and food security; the role of markets and transnational corporations in transforming the environment; and the global environmental changes stemming from modern agriculture, dams, deforestation, grassland destruction, desertification, biodiversity loss, and the interrelationship with climate change. Case studies of particular regions and issues will be drawn from Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the United States. The final part of the course examines the restructuring of the global economy and its relation to emergent international laws and institutions regulating trade, the environment, agriculture, resource extraction treaties, the changing role of the state, and competing conceptualizations of territoriality and control. We will end with discussions of emergent local, regional, and transnational coalitions for food self-reliance and food sovereignty, alternative and community supported agriculture, community-based resource management systems, sustainable development, and grassroots movements for social and environmental justice. Films, multimedia materials, and distinguished guests will be interspersed throughout the course. One farm field trip is possible, if funding permits. The seminar participants may also take a leading role in a campus-wide event on “food and agriculture,” tentatively planned for the spring. Please mark your calendars when the dates are announced, as attendance for all of the above is required. Attendance and participation is also required at special guest lectures and film viewings in the Geography Lecture and Film Series—approximately once per month in the evening from 6-8 pm. The Web board is an important part of the course. Regular postings of assignments will be made there, along with follow-up commentaries. There will be in-class essays, debates, and small group discussions. Conferences will focus on in-depth analyses of course topics. You will be required to prepare a poster project and paper on a topic of your choice related to the course, which will be presented at the end of each semester in a special session.

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Introduction to Development Studies: The Political Ecology of Development

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Year

Experience in the social sciences is desired but not required.

In this yearlong seminar, we will begin by examining competing paradigms and approaches to understanding “development” and the “Third World.” We will set the stage by answering the question: What did the world look like 500 years ago? The purpose of this part of the course is to acquaint us with and to analyze the historical origins and evolution of a world political-economy of which the “Third World” is an intrinsic component. We will thus study the transition from feudalism to capitalism, the rise of merchant and finance capital, and the colonization of the world by European powers. We will analyze case studies of colonial {development” to understand the evolving meaning of this term. These case studies will help us assess the varied legacies of colonialism apparent in the emergence of new nations through the fitful and uneven process of decolonization that followed. The next part of the course will look at the United Nations and its associated institutions and the role that they have played in the post-World War II global political-economy—one marked by persistent and intensifying socioeconomic inequalities, as well as frequent outbreaks of political violence across the globe. By examining the development institutions that have emerged and evolved since 1945, we will attempt to unravel the paradoxes of development in different eras. We will deconstruct the measures of development through a thematic exploration of population, resource use, poverty, access to food, the environment, agricultural productivity, and different development strategies adopted by Third World nation-states. We will then examine globalization and its relation to emergent international institutions and their policies; for example, the IMF, World Bank, AIIB, and WTO. We will then turn to contemporary development debates and controversies that increasingly find space in the headlines: widespread land grabbing by sovereign wealth funds, China, and hedge funds; the “global food crisis”; and the perils of climate change. Throughout the course, our investigations of international institutions, transnational corporations, the role of the state, and civil society will provide the backdrop for the final focus of the class: the emergence of regional coalitions for self-reliance, environmental and social justice, and sustainable development. Our analysis of development in practice will draw upon case studies primarily from Africa but also from Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the United States. Conference work will be closely integrated with the themes of the course, with a two-stage substantive research project beginning in the fall semester and completed in the spring. Project presentations will incorporate a range of formats, from traditional papers to multimedia visual productions. Where possible and feasible, students will be encouraged to do primary research during fall study days and winter and spring breaks.

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Intermediate/Advanced Greek: Defeating Despotism: Essential Strategies From Ancient Greek and Roman Epic Poetry

Intermediate/Advanced , Small seminar—Fall

Permission of the instructor is required.

Fearing tyranny, the framers of the US Constitution in the 18th century drew vital lessons from ancient Athenian democracy (508-322 BCE) and the Roman Republic (509-27 BCE). Before and during the Greeks’ and Romans’ radical and unprecedented experiments in broader political participation, Ancient Greek and Roman epic poetry shaped cultural attitudes regarding the use and abuse of power. As the modern world drifts backward in the 21st century toward various forms of dictatorship and authoritarian populism, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Vergil’s Aeneid can help arm us against the tyrants we might serve and the tyrants we might become. Students will read all three epics in their entirety in English translation. Greek conferences will meet twice each week either individually or in small groups to suit each student’s needs/abilities. In conference, students will develop their comprehension of ancient Greek by close reading of selected texts.

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Intermediate Italian: Modern Prose

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

This intermediate-level course aims at improving and perfecting the students’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, as well as their knowledge of Italy’s contemporary culture and literature. In order to acquire the necessary knowledge of Italian grammar, idiomatic expressions, and vocabulary, students will be exposed to present-day Italy through the selection of modern Italian literature (e.g., short stories, poems, and passages from novels), as well as specific newspaper articles, music, and films in the original language. Some of the literary works will include selections from Alessandro Baricco, Gianni Rodari, Marcello D’Orta, Clara Sereni, Dino Buzzati, Stefano Benni, Antonio Tabucchi, Alberto Moravia, Achille Campanile, and Italo Calvino. In order to address the students’ writing skills, weekly written compositions will also be required as an integral part of the course. The materials selected for the class— whether a literary text, song, video, or grammar exercise—will be accessible at all times to the students through myslc. Conference topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, film, or any other aspect of Italian society and culture that might be of interest to the student. Conversation classes will be held twice a week with the language assistant.

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Beginning Latin

Open , Seminar—Year

This course provides an intensive introduction to Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary—with a view toward reading the language as soon as possible. Close reading of Vergil’s Aeneid in English will accompany intensive language study in the fall. By midsemester, students will be translating authentic excerpts of Latin poetry and prose. During the spring semester, while continuing to develop and refine their knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary, students will read selections of the Aeneid in Latin.

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First-Year Studies: The Invention of Homosexuality

Open , FYS—Year

Different historians trace the invention of homosexuality to different historical moments from the 16th to the mid-19th centuries. The invention of heterosexuality, it would seem, followed after. Certainly the term "heterosexual" appeared only after the term “homosexual” was coined in the latter 19th century. Neither meant, at first, what they mean today. In this class, we will study the development of modern understandings of same-sex desire in relation to understandings of sex, gender, race, class, nation, nature, culture, and opposite-sex desire. We will be drawing centrally on literary works, especially novels, which have been crucial sites for the construction and dissemination of conceptions of sexuality. But we will also be reading histories, science, laws, letters, and polemics—and watching films. Although we will be considering some earlier materials, we will focus on two periods: first, from the 1880s to the 1960s; then, from the 1960s to the present. By the 1880s, almost everyone agrees, a recognizably modern understanding of homosexuality was becoming available. The sexual/cultural landscapes that subsequently developed were not radically rearranged until the 1960s, when the gay and women’s liberation movements articulated a political analysis of sexuality. Over the past 50 years, that political analysis—and the activism it continues to foster—have had profound consequences, even as earlier understandings still shape LGBT lives and cultural presences. This course will serve as an introduction to a broad range of modern literature; to fundamental works in the history of sexuality and contemporary queer studies; and to critical thinking about how we talk, read, and write about sex. Conference work may be focused on any period from the 19th century to the present.

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Queer Americans: Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Willa Cather, and James Baldwin

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Fall

Queer Americans certainly, James, Stein, Cather, and Baldwin each fled “America.” James (1843-1916) and Stein (1874-1946) spent their adult lives in Europe. Cather (1873-1947) left Nebraska for Greenwich Village—after a decade in Pittsburgh, with a judge’s daughter along the way. Baldwin (1924-1987) left Harlem for Greenwich Village, then the Village for Paris. As sexual subjects and as writers, these four could hardly appear more different; yet Stein described James as “the first person in literature to find the way to the literary methods of the 20th century,” Cather rewrote James to develop her own subjects and methods, and Baldwin found in James’s writings frameworks for his own. In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, James, Stein, and Cather witnessed the emergence of modern understandings of homosexuality and made modern literature, each pushing boundaries, always in subtle or dramatic ways. (Stein, for example, managed to parlay the story of her Paris life with Alice B. Toklas into an American bestseller in 1933.) In the second half of the 20th century, Baldwin began to dismantle modern understandings of sexuality and of literature. Examining the development of their works side by side will allow us to push the boundaries of lesbian/gay/queer cultural analyses by pursuing different meanings “queer” and “American” through an extraordinary range of subjects and forms. Beginning with James on gender, vulnerability, and ruthlessness, this course will range from Cather’s pioneers and plantations to Stein on art and atom bombs and Baldwin on sex and civil rights. We will read novels, novellas, stories, essays, and memoirs by James, Cather, and Baldwin, plus Stein’s portraits, geographical histories, lectures, plays, operas, and autobiographies. Literary and social forms were both inextricable and inseparable from the gender and cross-gender affiliations and the class, race, and ethnic differences that were all urgent matters for these four. James’s, Stein’s, Cather’s, and Baldwin’s lives and works challenge most conventional assumptions about what it meant—and what it might mean—to be a queer American. Conference projects may include historical and political, as well as literary, studies, focusing on any period from the mid-19th century to the present.

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First-Year Studies: 20th-Century Italian Literature

Open , FYS—Year

No previous knowledge of Italian is required.

The course will explore 20th-century Italian literature, focusing on important literary figures, works, and movements (e.g., futurism, neorealism) that helped shape the century. Italy had become a unified nation in 1860, and its literature addressed issues such as (national and personal) identity, tradition, innovation and modernity, the role of literature and of the writer, and the changing role of women in Italian society. We will also explore the interrelation between Italian literature and crucial historical events such as the Great War, the rise and fall of Fascism, World War II, the Resistance, the birth of the Republic, the postwar economic boom, the students’ and women’s movements of the 1960s and ’70s, and the terrorism of the “Anni di Piombo.” We will examine sources ranging from manifestos and propaganda to poetry, fiction (novels and short stories), memoirs, and diaries; the main focus, however, will be on the novel. Texts will include those authored by Gabriele D’Annunzio, Ignazio Silone, Vasco Pratolini, F. T. Marinetti, Italo Svevo, Grazia Deledda, Sibilla Aleramo, Alba de Céspedes, Alberto Moravia, Anna Banti, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, and Italo Calvino. Readings will be supplemented by secondary-source material that will help outline the social, historical, and political context in which those authors lived and wrote, as well as provide relevant critical frameworks for the study of their works. Individual conferences will be held every other week; conference topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, or topic relevant to the course and that might be of interest to the student. On alternate weeks, we will have group activities that may include film screenings, museum visits, and talks relevant to the week’s topics.

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The Bible and Literature

Open , Lecture—Year

The Bible: the story of all things, an epic of human liberation and imaginative inspiration; a riven and riveting family saga that tops all others in its depiction of romance, intrigue, deception, seduction, betrayal, existential dread, love, reconciliation, and redemption; an account, as one commentator described it, of God’s ongoing “lover’s quarrel” with humanity; a primary source book for major literature across the planet, still powerful in its influence on the style and subject matter of both prose and poetry. In the first term, this course will provide close readings of major biblical narratives and poetry in Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Lectures will explore and interpret a number of patterns and literary types: the major historical narratives of both scriptures; the poetics and speech acts of creation, blessing, promise, covenant, curse, and redemption; the visionary prophetic tradition from Moses to John, the writer of the Apocalypse; the self-reflective theological interpretations of history by Hebrew chroniclers and the New Testament letters of Paul; the sublime poetry of the Psalms, the Song of Songs, and the Apocalypse of John; and the dark wisdom of the Book of Job and of Ecclesiastes. The second term will study the work of major writers who have grounded their own work in biblical themes, narrative patterns, characters, and images and who have so transformed their biblical sources as to challenge their readers to rethink what scripture is and how it works. Selections will be drawn from the work of Dante Alighieri, John Milton, John Bunyan, William Blake, Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison. If there is enough interest in the class, there will be a “Bible Blockbusters” film series on Sunday evenings during the spring term.

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17th-Century British Literature

Open , Seminar—Year

Prerequisite: At least one year of a college-level class in the humanities or a strong AP course in literature.

In England during the 17th century, the great ordering coherences of medieval and earlier Renaissance thinking seemed to disintegrate under the warring impulses of individualism and authority, empiricism and faith, and revolutionary transformation and reinforcement of tradition. Yet, even as monarchy and established church were challenged and torn apart, the 17th century produced an extraordinary flowering of drama, poetry, and prose that expressed the contradictory energies of the period. This course will study English writing of the 17th century in a roughly chronological sequence. The first semester will explore the aesthetics and ideology of the Stuart court and the robust and bawdy urban center of London through a reading of masques and plays by Jonson and Shakespeare and their contemporaries; dramatic and meditative experiments in “metaphysical” and moral verse by John Donne, Ben Jonson, Aemilia Lanyer, George Herbert, and other poets; various developments in scientific, philosophical, and meditative prose by Francis Bacon, Richard Burton, and Thomas Browne; and the early poetry of John Milton. The second semester will study major writing in the period of the English Revolution and Restoration. Our focus will be on Milton, but we will also study the poetry of the Cavaliers, Katherine Philips, Andrew Marvell, and John Dryden and the prose of Thomas Hobbes, John Bunyan, Aphra Behn, and Margaret Cavendish.

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Theatre in America I: The Golden Age

Open , Seminar—Fall

In the mid-1930s, the United States was struggling with the Great Depression—and its destiny seemed economically, politically, and morally questionable. By the end of the 1950s, the United States was the richest and most powerful country in the world, styling itself as “the leader of the free world.” During that time, the country waged successful war against dictatorship on two fronts, engineered a New Deal for Americans, and ratified legislation barring racial segregation in public schools. The country had also developed and dropped the atomic bomb on two cities, conducted remorseless and punitive investigations into “un-American” activities, and routinely practiced blatant racial and gender discrimination. Not by happenstance is its theatre of this time rich in joy and devastating in self-reflection. On the one hand, we will examine the wonderful and complex musical collaborations of Richard Rodgers with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein Jr., as well as the work of Frank Loesser, Leonard Bernstein, and Meredith Willson. On the other, we will consider the searching dramas of Clifford Odets, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, William Inge, and Lorraine Hansberry. Our questions will be their questions: What price paradise? How real if “golden”? Can the cowman and the farmer be friends? Possible conference work may involve the novel, poetry, film, radio, and that revolutionary phenomenon, television, of the period.

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Defeating Despotism: Essential Strategies From Ancient Greek and Roman Epic Poetry

Open , Small seminar—Fall

With the permission of the instructor, qualified students may opt to take this course as Intermediate or Advanced Greek and will do conference work in Greek at the appropriate level. Greek conferences will meet twice each week either individually or in small groups to suit each student’s needs/abilities. In conference, students will develop their comprehension of ancient Greek by close reading of selected texts.

Fearing tyranny, the framers of the US Constitution in the 18th century drew vital lessons from Ancient Greek democracy (508-322 BCE) and the Roman Republic (509-27 BCE). Before and during the Greeks’ and Romans’ radical and unprecedented experiments in broader political participation, Ancient Greek and Roman epic poetry shaped cultural attitudes regarding the use and abuse of power. As the modern world drifts backward in the 21st century toward various forms of dictatorship and authoritarian populism, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Vergil’s Aeneid can help arm us against the tyrants we might serve and the tyrants we might become. Students will read all three epics in their entirety in English translation.

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The Music of What Happens: Alternate Histories and Counterfactuals

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

The alternate history imagines a different present or future originating in a point of divergence from our actual history—a branching point in the past. Alternate history is both an increasingly popular form of genre fiction and a decreasingly disreputable form of analysis in history and the social sciences. While fictions of alternate history were, until very recently, only a subgenre of science fiction, two celebrated American “literary” novelists, Philip Roth and Michael Chabon, have within the last four years written well-regarded novels of alternate history (The Plot Against America and The Yiddish Policeman’s Union). Similarly, while counterfactual historical speculation is at least as old as Livy, academic historians have until recently scorned the practice as a vulgar parlor game; but this is beginning to change. In the early 1990s, Cambridge University Press and Princeton both published intellectually rigorous books on alternate history and counterfactual analysis in the social sciences; Cambridge more recently published a volume analyzing alternate histories of World War II; and in 2006, the University of Michigan Press published an interesting collection of counterfactual analyses titled, “Unmaking the West.” This course will examine a number of fictions of alternate history, some reputable and some less reputable, and also look at some of the academic work noted above. We shall attempt to understand what it might mean to think seriously about counterfactuals, about why fictions of and academic works on alternate history have become significantly more widespread, and about what makes an alternate history aesthetically satisfying and intellectually suggestive rather than ham-fisted, flat, and profoundly unpersuasive.

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Romance and Realism, Experiment and Scandal: The 18th-Century Novel in English

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

The 18th century introduced the long, realist prose fictions that we now call novels. As often with emergent literary forms, the novel arrived with an unsavory reputation; and its early practitioners labored, often unsuccessfully, to distinguish their work from ephemeral printed news, escapist prose romances, and pornography. It was not until the defining achievement of authors such as Jane Austen and Walter Scott, at the beginning of the next century, that the novel achieved a status as polite and even prestigious entertainment. This yearlong course looks at the difficult growth of the novel from its miscellaneous origins in the mid-17th century to the controversial experiments of the early 1700s and the eclectic masterpieces of Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Austen, and Scott. Other authors may include Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, John Cleland, Tobias Smollett, Matthew Lewis, Frances Burney, Charles Brockden Brown, and Maria Edgeworth. Everything we read will be arresting and restlessly experimental; much of it will also be bawdy, transgressive, and outrageously funny. Topics of conversation will encompass the rise of female authorship, the emergence of Gothic and courtship fiction, the relationship between the novel and other literary genres or modes (lyric and epic poetry, life-writing, allegory), novelists’ responses to topical subjects of debate (the slave trade, the American and French Revolutions), the reinvention of the novel in North America, the representation of consciousness, and the meaning of realism. We may also consider films adapted from 18th-century fiction such as Tony Richardson’s 1963 Tom Jones and Michael Winterbottom’s 2006 Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.

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Translation Studies: Poetics, Politics, Theory, and Practice

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

Linguistic proficiency in a foreign language is strongly recommended.

Translation is the process by which meanings are conveyed within the same language, as well as across different languages, cultures, forms, genres, and modes. The point of departure for this course is that all interpretive acts are acts of translation, that the very medium that makes translation possible—language itself—is already a translation. Because difference, “otherness,” or foreignness is a property of language, of every language, perhaps some of the most interesting problems that we will address revolve around the notion of “the untranslatable.” What is it that escapes, resists, or gets inevitably lost in translation? And what is gained? Does linguistic equivalence exist? How do we understand the distinction between literal and figurative, formal and vernacular, expression? And what underlies our assumptions about the authenticity of the original text or utterance and its subsequent versions or adaptations? Although translation is certainly poetics, it is also the imperfect—and yet necessary—basis for all cultural exchange. As subjects in a multicultural, multilingual, and intertextual universe, all of us “live in translation”; but we occupy that space differently, depending on the status of our language(s) in changing historical, political, and geographic contexts. How has the history of translation theory and practice been inflected by colonialism and postcolonialism? How are translation and power linked in the global literary marketplace? Our readings will alternate between the work of theorists and critics who have shaped what we call translation studies and literary texts that thematize or enact the process of translation, beginning with Genesis and the Tower of Babel. In addition, a workshop component to this course, involving visiting members of the foreign-language faculty and other practitioners of translation, will engage students directly in the challenges of translating.

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Transformation Sounds! Ethnomusicology and Social Change

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course may be counted as either humanities or social science credit. This course may also be taken as a semester-long component.

This course features the interdisciplinary study of music and culture by focusing on the role of music in social change. Why is music so important to social movements? How is music used to both challenge and support certain ideologies and institutions of power? How have governments used music to build national solidarity, and how have activists used it to incite change? How can we relate these phenomena to our own experiences with music in daily life? We will explore answers to these questions through historical and ethnographic literatures and learn about the diverse settings in which music and politics intersect. The course presents some theoretical foundations of music, self, and society and then examines music and politics in specific contexts. Class sessions will explore topics such as American spirituals during slavery and emancipation, Islamic political movements in Iran, and the role of music and sound in the Occupy Wall St. and Black Lives Matter movements. We will learn the many ways in which music becomes a resource for modeling the kind of social and political transformations that people hope to create in their communities or nations. For example, we will observe governments’ and citizens’ musical appropriations and reappropriations, and we will trace the ways groups often claim and adapt a single musical genre to differing ends. Throughout the course, we will listen to and discuss numerous musical examples and gain familiarity with the musical genres that we study. Class sessions will be devoted to discussing readings from a wide range of fields, including ethnomusicology, anthropology, history, and sociology. No prior experience in music is necessary. Participation in the Faso Foli (West African percussion) ensemble is strongly encouraged.

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Philosophy as Therapy

Open , Lecture—Year

Since Socrates, philosophy has understood itself as therapy—of “opinion” (Socrates, Plato), of anxiety and passion (the Stoa), of superstition (the Epicureans), and of dogmatism (the Pyrrhonian skeptics and the New Academy). This conception of philosophy receded in the Middle Ages—when philosophy in Christian Europe was conceived of as a “handmaiden to theology”—but returned in the Renaissance and continued to be important in the Enlightenment. Among the moderns, thinkers who understand philosophy as involving therapy include Montaigne, Descartes, Shaftesbury, and Kant, as well as some in the 20th century. In the fall semester, we shall focus on the ancients; in the spring, on the moderns.

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Community and Civility

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Social theorist Wendell Berry argues, “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” This course will explicitly examine Berry’s ideas about collective possibility and how community shapes the American idea, our national ethos, political and social life, and the very concept of civility that is essential in society. From America’s founding to the Age of Trump, the course will look at how concepts of community and civility have evolved from New England and frontier towns to suburban postwar sprawl and the current rise of inner cities, planned communities, and gentrification. Moreover, the course will attempt to make sense of the seeming polarization in American society today, along with the concurrent rise in rudeness, anxiety, social dislocation, and isolation that is chronicled regularly in both popular and academic writing. To be sure, this course on community and civility fits into a larger and growing area of research that has shown that the norms and networks of civil society have powerful practical effects in many disparate geographic, political, and economic arenas, including questions of inequality and social mobility. We will examine concepts such as “social capital” and “civil society,” and the seminar will explore these areas with a focus on the United States. Although many issues, concepts, and methods discussed in this seminar have important analogues in other settings, from the United Kingdom to Brazil, the literature and substantive focus of this seminar is entirely US-based. This seminar is intended to be both practical and contemporaneous to the politics of the present, and it will straddle the border between academic research and contemporary policy questions. The course will be both applied and theoretical and will ask students to apply social scientific concepts and methods to controversial public problems. The course is advanced, the workload is intense, and prior background in American history and politics is preferable.

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First-Year Studies: Judaism, From Religion to Radicalism

Open , FYS—Year

Judaism, since the biblical age, has defied easy categorization—oscillating between religion and ethnicity, law and spirituality, tradition and rupture. This dynamism is further complicated by the very nature of the diasporic experience, which has involved both resisting and appropriating aspects of the dominant culture (e.g., gender, magic, mysticism, and martyrdom). This course provides an introduction to Jewish spirituality and culture by looking at the interplay between its texts and contexts. We begin with formative works like the Bible, the Talmud, classics of Jewish philosophy, and Kabbalah. We then engage with texts produced by modern movements that challenged, displaced, or reinforced normative Jewish practice, such as messianism, Hasidism, nationalism (e.g., Zionism), Freudian psychoanalysis, and revolutionary Marxism. The desired outcome is an awareness of how the Jews’ outsider status has helped produce bold, varied conceptions of the world that, in turn, challenge our own.

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The Jews of Europe

Open , Lecture—Fall

This course conceives European Jewry as forming a dynamic counterpoint to dominant non-Jewish European societies down to today. First, we examine the Talmud-centered, insular “Ashkenazic” Jewish communities of medieval France and Germany. Then we proceed to the more worldly “Sephardic” Jews in Muslim and Christian Spain, encountering poets, philosophers, Kabbalists, and secret Judaizing “Conversos.” We follow the exiles of Spain as they return to open Jewish practice and examine the widespread embrace of a messianic pretender named Shabbetai Tzvi. We then turn to the blossoming Jewish life in Eastern Europe, with its extensive self-government, economic niches, world-renowned yeshivas, and popular mysticism (Hasidism). In the last part of the course, we examine the dissolution of the “ghetto” throughout Europe, the rise of religious innovations like Reform Judaism and Orthodoxy, the simultaneous rise of racial anti-Semitism, and Jewish political responses like Zionism, Socialism, and radicalism down to the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust. Throughout, we attempt to balance negative flashpoints like Crusades, blood libels, the Inquisition, pogroms, and genocide with European Jewry’s major economic, intellectual, and spiritual innovations.

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Readings in the Hebrew Bible: Genesis and Exodus

Open , Seminar—Fall

The Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible has remained at the mythological foundation of Western culture. Genesis has informed Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theology. If that weren’t enough, the book contains a great and memorable cycle of stories from Adam and Eve and Noah and the Flood to the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, just to name a few. These stories permeate our literature, our art, indeed our sense of identity. The narrative itself is the beginning of a greater epic of liberation, including Exodus and the rest of “the five books of Moses.” What are these books? How were they written? Who wrote them, and for whom? Who preserved them? How do we read them so that their ancient perspective, their social and historical context, is not lost? In order to recover this ancient context, we will also read contemporary writings such as The Babylonian Creation Story, as well as The Epic of Gilgamesh.

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American Religious Mythmaking: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Open , Seminar—Fall

History, like the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, is the telling of a story that reveals something about who we are, how we came to be here, and what our purpose is. In this course, rather than looking at past events in chronological order, we will explore some of the stories that Americans have told themselves over the centuries to make sense of their peoplehood and their place in the world. By exploring iconic events, institutions, texts, and artifacts from the Great Awakening to the Black Church to Fiddler on the Roof, we will see how religious narratives have informed interpretations of the American past, layering ancient stories of conquest, redemption, and rebirth onto memories of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. While intentionally foregrounding Protestant religious narratives because of their dominance in American culture, this course will also attend to indigenous, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Mormon experiences and stories.

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Modern Jewish Literature

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

As Jews were emancipated in Europe, many began to grapple with the challenges of modernity through literary genres like poetry, autobiography, and fiction. Writers like Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, Primo Levi, S. Y. Agnon, Sholem Aleichem (whose works formed the basis of Fiddler on the Roof), Grace Paley, and Cynthia Ozick achieved universal acclaim. But the path of the modern Jewish writer nearly always entailed alienation, rebellion, nostalgia, and a need to grapple with increasingly virulent forms of anti-Semitism—culminating in the Holocaust. In new centers in America and Israel, the Jews’ improved status yielded new kinds of alienation, witnessed especially in works by authors like Philip Roth, Amos Oz, and David Grossman. Despite the tension and occasional anguish that runs through modern Jewish literature, we will discover works of beauty, poignancy, and illumination. The Jewish writer's “pariah” status seems to have offered a unique perspective on the world and profound insights into the modern condition.

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Readings in Early Christianity: The Johannine Community

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Fall

The Fourth Gospel of the Christian New Testament and the epistles associated with its authors, 1-3 John, have been particularly significant for the development of Christian thought. In this course, we will study The Gospel of John closely, engaging in the hermeneutical arts with an eye to the development of Christian theology, as well as uncovering the history and growth of the early Christian community responsible for its unique prose and views regarding Jesus of Nazareth and the role of Christian discipleship. We will immerse ourselves in the Hellenistic world, especially as it relates to Mediterranean Judaism. In doing so, we will examine the roots of Christian anti-Semitism and the development of Gnosticism and Christian docetism.

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First-Year Studies: Nations, Borders, and Mobilities: An Introduction to Migration Studies

Open , FYS—Year

In a global context where immigration has become one of the biggest flashpoints in political discourse, our understanding of how people (and things) move across national borders needs to be re-examined and reconsidered. In addition to major humanitarian issues leading to global refugee crises, we are also looking at an ever-growing number of people who move across and within national borders in search of work, opportunities, education, and a chance to fulfill their aspirations for a better life. People also move because of conflict, dispossession, coercion, and environmental issues. Much of this happens in the backdrop of rising xenophobia, anti-immigrant hatred, and the emergence of far-right supremacist movements across societies in the West. Powerful and virulent new articulations of national “purity” and values are being championed in the name of protecting nationhood from the foreign “Other.” Classical scholarship on migration has focused predominantly on two largely distinct phenomena of “immigration” and “emigration,” while more recent developments in transnational studies have led to a stronger emphasis on cross-border movements and flows of people, goods, capital, ideas, and vectors. This yearlong course serves as an introduction to the field of migration studies, drawing upon sociological and anthropological scholarship on issues such as refugee crises, human trafficking, economic exploitation of migrants, modern-day slavery and indentured servitude, and the increasingly precarious conditions of migration. Questions include: What are some of the reasons influencing the movement of people away from their homes and countries of origin? How does the movement of people from privileged and wealthier backgrounds differ from that of people from poorer, marginalized communities (particularly in the Global South)? What are some of the institutional frameworks and regimes that govern, regulate, and produce new classes of “migrants” in today’s world? We will be using classical and contemporary readings that address the themes and issues at hand in addition to nontraditional sources such as videos, fiction, and games. For conference, students will be expected to develop a yearlong research project around a particular theme or problem related to migration and borders. During the first semester, students will prepare a research proposal (with a review of the relevant literature, research questions, and proposed methods of data gathering). For the second semester, students will complete the analysis and prepare their reports and papers. For these projects, students will be encouraged to conduct mini-ethnographic projects, interviews, surveys, and/or archival research in line with their particular interests and skills. In the fall semester, students will also be given an introduction to working with local organizations and groups that are involved with migrant communities—followed by engagement work in the spring with one of those organizations.

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First-Year Studies: (Re)Constructing the Social: Subject, Field, Text

Open , FYS—Year

How does the setting up of a textile factory in Malaysia connect with life in the United States? What was the relationship of mothers to children in upper-class, 17th-century French households? How do our contemporary notions of leisure and luxury resemble, or do they, notions of peoples in other times and places regarding wealth and poverty? What is the relation between the local and the global, the individual and society, the self and “other(s)”? How is the self constructed? How do we connect biography and history, fiction and fact, objectivity and subjectivity, the social and the personal? These are some of the questions that sociology and sociologists attempt to think through. In this seminar, we will ask how sociologists analyze and simultaneously create reality, what questions we ask, and what ways we use to explore our questions and arrive at our findings and conclusions. Through a perusal of comparative and historical materials, we will look afresh at things that we take for granted; for example, the family, poverty, identity, travel and tourism, progress, science, and subjectivity. The objective of the seminar is to enable students to critically read sociological texts and also to become practitioners in “doing” sociology—something we are always already involved in, albeit often unself-consciously. This last endeavor is designed both to train students in how to undertake research and intended as a key tool in interrogating the relationship between the researcher and the researched, the field studied, and the (sociological) text. In conference, students will undertake research on topics of interest to them and learn the craft of research by working on topics of direct interest to them. In the seminar, students will also engage in a few shorter collaborative projects with their peers.

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Marx and Marxisms: Lineages and Contemporary Relevance

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Ideas of social movements and social change throughout the world in the 19th and 20th centuries were significantly informed by the ideas of one social thinker: Karl Marx. Even today, thinkers in the humanities and social sciences— including media and cultural studies—along with social and political activists continue to be engaged with Marx’s ghost. While many detractors would argue—following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end to the “Cold War”—that Marx’s thought is now irrelevant, others argue the opposite: that the current phase of globalization that we are presently in was, in fact, anticipated by Marx. In this seminar, through a close and in-depth study of Marx’s writings and those of others about him, we will examine the impact of Marx’s ideas on thinking about and practices of social change. The themes in Marx’s writings on which we will focus include the following: his views on human nature, social structures and individual agency and subjectivity, alienation, religion and ideology, objectification and commodification, social class and power relations, and political economy including globalization. Following our close scrutiny of Marx’s work in the fall, in the second semester we will study later thinkers whose work has been inspired by Marx and who carried his ideas further and/or addressed new questions in the light of developments since the historical period in which Marx was writing. Among the latter, we will include thinkers such as Gramsci, Barthes, and Williams, who addressed questions of culture and hegemony; structuralists like Althusser, who dealt with the state and ideology; socialist feminists interested in the relationship of class, gender, and sexuality; geographers interested in the relationship of space, class, and power such as David Harvey and Dorren Massey; critical race theorists; and current analysts of globalization. For conference, students could work on specific social thinkers in the Marxist tradition and/or examine political and social movements inspired by his analysis.

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Writing Our Moment

Open , Seminar—Spring

It would be safe to say that journalism and nonfiction writing are currently undergoing a transformation. Our most storied publications are in a state of crisis. Big-city newspapers are failing by the day. Magazines are imperiled. Book publishers face encroaching competition from handheld electronic devices and online search engines that do not recognize copyright laws. What is an ambitious, intuitive writer to do going forward? Quite simply: Harness all of the strengths of the storytelling past to a new world of few space restrictions; more flexible tones; the ready presence of video, audio, and animation—which can either enrich or encroach upon text; and comprehend the role of writer in such a way as to include and exploit new media. We will examine the relationship between literary nonfiction, which has always been cinematic in focus and flexible in tone, and the once and future practice of journalism. Masters of 20th-century nonfiction such as V. S. Naipaul, Truman Capote, Joseph Mitchell, and Roger Angell—steeped as they are in the journalistic practice of their time—can serve as guideposts to our uncertain future. We will examine, through reading and writing, the ways in which the formulas of journalism are transformed into literature. We will emphasize the importance of factuality and fact-checking and explore adapting modern storytelling to video, photography, and sound. As the semester progresses, literary nonfiction will be both discovered and reinvented to fit our new world.

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Nonfiction Workshop: To Tell the Truth

Open , Seminar—Fall

This class will explore the mysteries of writing what has been called “nonfiction,” focusing particularly on questions around what has been called lying and what has been called telling the truth. Was Toni Morrison right when she said our minds have an “antipathy to fraud”? Does lying have a syntax? What are the cultural contexts, nourishments, and manipulations that may affect what happens between a writer and a drafted or published sentence? What's the difference between a lie that illuminates the truth and a lie that obfuscates or tries to extinguish it? Are famous writers good? Can popular writing lie? Is it possible to “tell the truth”? Our readings may include the work of James Baldwin, Anne Carson, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Dionne Brand, Aimé Césaire, Edward Said, Fred Moten, Hannah Arendt, and Virginia Woolf, as well as that of Wallace Stegner, William F. Buckley, Jr., Charlotte Beers, Henry Kissinger, and the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture. In conference, we’ll discuss drafts of student work; in class, we’ll discuss readings, in light of the questions above, as a way of guiding our own makings. You’ll be expected to attend class, engage with assigned and suggested readings, participate in discussions, and, by the end of the class, produce 20 pages of publishable nonfiction. The only prerequisites are a passion for reading that equals your passion for writing and a willingness to undertake whatever might be necessary to read and write better on our last day of class than on our first.

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