Fall 2013 Course Offerings

AIS 503/ENGL 581: #Indigenous: Digital Natives, Technology, and Indigenous Critical Theory

Professor: Jodi Byrd
Meets: Thursdays 3:30-5:50

With #idlenomore and the rise of social media for indigenous activism, decolonization, and mobilization, questions emerge about the role digital technology plays in indigenous modes of resistance locally and globally. This course, in conjunction with the fall symposium on Indigenous New Media, will look at some of the recent scholarship in indigenous studies that considers the impact of media, technology, and digital cultures on knowledge production at the site of materiality, recognition, and language. In reading key texts across a range of disciplines from video game studies to queer theory, the course will ask students to consider how a concept like indigeneity mobilizes and disrupts the structures of settler colonialism and notions of spatiality, territoriality, temporality, and futurity. Some of the texts may include Ian Bogost, Unit Operations; Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure; Mishuana Goeman, Mark My Words; Mark Rifkin, When Did Indians Become Straight; Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Red: A Haida Manga; and Chadwick Allen, Trans-Indigenous.


ANTH 515: Reading French Theorists

Professor: Virginia Dominguez
Meets: Tuesdays 6:00-8:50pm

This graduate seminar promotes the analysis and contextualization of theoretical directions/projects that have developed in France and its francophone worlds over the past century and that have been greatly influential in the development of cultural anthropology and the humanities in the U.S. Scholarly trajectories will be examined in light of their spatial and historical location--stressing both their "Frenchness" and their transnationalism. The coursewill also stress critical reading, critical writing, and critical argumentation at the graduate level, including the art of revising and rewriting.


ARTH 550: Gordon Parks and the Politics of Black Visuality in
20th-century Popular Media

Professor: Jennifer Greenhill
Meets: Thursdays 3:00-5:50pm

This course uses the powerful and wide-ranging work of Gordon Parks (1912-2006) as a way into the politics of black visuality in popular media during the second half of the twentieth century. We will consider Parks's Farm Security Administration work of the 1940s, his Civil Rights era photojournalism, the fashion images he produced for Vogue, as well as his work as a writer, as a composer, and as a director of legendary blaxploitation films like Shaft (1971). Critical race theory and period literature—by Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright, for example—will help to contextualize and problematize Parks's varied art, as we work toward an understanding of its enduring relevance today, in relation to contemporary photography, film, and commercial imagery.


CWL 581: The Animal That Therefore We All Are

Professor: Brett Ashley Kaplan
Meets: Tuesdays 2:00-3:50

Course texts include: Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I am; Donna Haraway, When Species Meet; J.M. Coetzee, The Life & Times of Michael K.; W.G. Sebald, Rings of Saturn; Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir; paintings of Martin Wittfooth, and other works.

email: bakaplan@illinois.edu


ENGL 578: Affect, Cognition, The Human

Professor: Andrew Gaedtke
Meets: Mondays 1:00-2:50

This seminar will examine how affect has emerged as a key concept at the intersection of the humanities and the sciences of the mind. While the category offers a point of contact between long standing disciplinary divisions, it has also emerged as a way to rethink intractable conceptual dualisms such as mind and body, physiology and culture, the normal and the pathological, the individual and the social, and the human and the non-human. We will critically examine recent claims made in the fields of cognitive science, neuroscience, neo-phenomenology, and cultural theory while assessing their political, philosophical, historical, and aesthetic implications. In addition we will discuss several works of contemporary fiction that address this cognitive turn toward affect and its cultural implications. If the humanities have long been invested in psychoanalytic models of the mind, we will consider what it would mean for our disciplines to engage critically and productively with these emergent discourses of affect. Finally, we will ask what transdisciplinary space might be opened between the humanities and the cognitive sciences. This seminar is sponsored by the UIUC Network for Neurocultures and the Graduate College's Intersect Program.

Contact: gaedtke@illinois.edu


ENGL 578: Theories of Racial Capitalism

Professor: Aaron Carico
Meets: Wednesdays 3:00-4:50pm

In a moment when many disciplines across the humanities and social sciences are returning to questions of political economy, this interdisciplinary seminar will attend to the knot that binds together racial formations and the formations of capitalism. Much of the course will be focused on the American scene, considered both at a wide angle—from early settler colonialism to twentieth-century acts of Asian exclusion to more recent instances of minority asset-stripping—and in close-up—through a more sustained focus on slavery, its commodity logics, and their residues. A number of overarching questions will guide our inquiries: Are the drives that subtend racial capitalism synonymous with the drives that subtend the American project? How does the law enact and order the modes of racial subjection required by capitalism's insuperable profit motives? How is the incessant reproduction of race implicated with capitalism's unending moment of primitive accumulation? In what ways does racial commodification structure the category of the human, and how can that ontological crisis be redressed? And does an effective critique of racial capitalism also demand that we reconsider periodization and historicity--that is, how we narrate the past's difference in and from the present? Readings will include works by Cedric J. Robinson, Saidiya Hartman, David Kazanjian, Ian Baucom, Stephen Best, Colleen Lye, Silvia Federici, and Angela Mitropoulos.

Contact: carico@illinois.edu


CWL 581: Memory: Between Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience

Professor: Nancy Blake
Meets: Thursdays 3:00-4:50

Amnesia is "film noir's version of the common cold" (Lee Server, in Ava Gardner: "Love is Nothing," 2006)

A return to Freud's disagreement with Jung, in particular his plea for a material based science as opposed to "occultism," should convince us that there is a continuum, rather than a change of direction, between psychoanalysis and neuroscience. Since Freud insisted that psyche and soma are isomorphic, it follows that information processing can be studied fruitfully from both the perspective of psychoanalysis and of neuroscience. Neuroscience demonstrates that because of "brain plasticity" anything learned brings about an anatomical change in the brain. Moreover, the recent work on "mirror neurons" sets up a means of documenting the relationship between first-hand experience and spectatorship. The automated decision-making processes in the brain which are not yet fully understood, constitute what Freud and Lacan study as the unconscious and in 1987, Stern conjectured that what has been called the Oedipal complex depends on the ability to construct a narrative, i.e. to integrate affect with words and images.

If, as has often been noted, film has, from its beginnings been fascinated by the themes of memory and amnesia, dream and reality, the capacity to conceptualize the future based on the experience of the past, then film seems an ideal medium to explore some of the questions raised by the sciences of the mind today.

Films: Anastasia (Anatole Litvak, 1956), Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950), Mulholland Drive (D. Lynch, 2001), The Bourne Identity (Doug Liman, 2002), Paris, Texas (W. Wenders, 1984), Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000), Se Quien Eres (P. Ferreira, 2000), L'Année dernière à Marienbad (A. Renais, 1961), Solaris (A. Tarkovsky, 1972), Abre los Ojos (A. Amenabar, 1997), Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), Le Retour de Martin Guerre (D. Vigne, 1982), Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982), Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010).

Theory: Freud, Loftus, Baxendale, Squier, Stern, Lacan, Konishi, LaBerge, Deleuze, Bellour and others

Contact: nblake@illinois.edu

GSLIS/GWS/MDIA 590: Dialogues in Feminism and Technology

Professors: CL Cole, Sharra Vostrel, Sharon Irish
Meets: Mondays 2:00-4:50

Part of a massively distributed collaborative learning experiment, this seminar investigates the intersection of gender and technoculture. Built around a shared set of recorded dialogues with preeminent thinkers and artists concerning feminisms and technologies, the course utilizes collaborative resources, texts, and even objects to examine policy, accessibility, innovation, and citizenship. Student projects may utilize Scalar (a non-linear publishing platform) or the on-campus Fab Lab to build gender-conscious technologies and networks, situating them within local, interdisciplinary, and international conversations. Through reading, discussion, writing and making, we will add to a growing and global database of materials relating feminist technologies to economies, identities, infrastructures, and movements.

HIST 591: History and Social Theory

Professor: Tamara Chaplin
Meets: Tuesdays 3:00-4:50

"Theory"—love it or hate it, social theory provides the epistemological framework through which historians, sociologists and other scholars in the humanistic and social science disciplines conceptualize our world. Our task this semester will be to come to grips with some of the central thinkers and concepts structuring classical and contemporary social theory. Our goal will be to develop a modicum of familiarity and comfort with material that is renowned for its complexity—and in so doing to begin to create a "theoretical toolbox" that is both available and useful to us as historians. We will examine the works of canonical 19th century and 20th century thinkers, as well as postmodern, feminist, postcolonial and queer critical responses to them. Our readings will draw on the scholarship of such theorists as Comte, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, Gramsci, Habermas, Geertz, Bourdieu, Lacan, Foucault, de Certeau, Lyotard, Scott, Butler, Fanon, Said, Bhaba, Halberstam and Ahmed.


KINES 594: Bodies in Science and Culture

Professor: Melissa M. Littlefield
Meets: Tuesdays 12:00-2:50

Bodies are central to knowledge production: they are what we work with, on, in, and through. But how have bodies been defined and redefined by science and culture? In this course, we will examine this question through a range of historical and contemporary readings and case studies: from the history of anatomy illustration to Barbie's anthropometry, from body modification to theories of "fitness." This graduate course is intended to serve students in a wide range of disciplines, from the sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. Although our focus will be a socio-historical approach, we will engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue about bodies that welcomes many different perspectives.


LAW 656: International Law

Professor: Francis A. Boyle
Meets: TBD

The International Law course examines the variety of roles played by law and lawyer in ordering the relations between states and the nationals of states. The course utilizes a number of specialized contexts as a basis for exploring these roles. The contexts include, among others, the status of international law in domestic courts; the efficacy of judicial review by the International Court of Justice; the effort to subsume international economic relations under the fabric of bilateral and multilateral treaties; and the application -- or misapplication -- of law to political controversies that entail the threat of actual use of force. The course proceeds through an examination of problems selected to illuminate the operation of law within each of these contexts.

Sequence and Prerequisites: None.


LAW 792: The Constitutional Law of US Foreign Affairs

Professor: Francis A. Boyle
Meets: Tuesdays 4:30-6:10

The purpose of this seminar will be to analyze the constitutional framework surrounding the conduct of foreign relations by the United States government. One of the major themes of the course will be that the Executive Branch of the federal government must come to understand that the constitutionally mandated separation-of-powers system, together with its concomitant rule of law, must be accepted as an historical fact to be dealt with on its own terms, rather than subverted, ignored, or expressly violated. If the Executive Branch wishes to design and execute a coherent and consistent foreign policy, it must take into account and cooperate with the Congress, and to a lesser extent the Courts, in the formulation of American foreign policy. The much vaunted goal of developing a truly bipartisan approach to foreign affairs cannot be achieved unless and until the President is willing to recognize the facts that the Congress is an independent and co-equal branch of government as well as that the President is subject to the rule of law in the area of foreign policy as well as domestic affairs.

The course will focus upon specific problem areas within which these issues have already been historically addressed: the right to foreign travel; intelligence operations and secrecy; the war powers controversy and military operations abroad; treaties and other international agreements, particularly with respect to human rights and arms control; the relationship between the federal government and the states of the union in foreign affairs; citizenship, immigration, deportation, and exclusion; the rights of aliens; international criminal jurisdiction of U.S. courts and international terrorism; foreign sovereign immunity; the act of state doctrine; and the political question doctrine in the foreign affairs area.

Sequence and Prerequisites: None.


PS 579: Special Topics in Political Theory: New Materialisms

Professor: Samantha Frost
Meets: Thursdays 1:00-3:30

This graduate course in political theory will engage some of the ideas and concepts associated with the new materialisms. In particular, it will introduce students to some of the European thinkers whose work has inspired or is consonant with the recent move to re-imagine materiality. Readings will include the work of such thinkers as Gilles Deleuze, Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux, Bruno Latour, Alain Badiou, Michel Henry, Catherine Malabou, Michel Serres, Myra Hird, and Paul Rabinow. In working through these ideas, students will explore how a focus on materiality challenges us to rethink notions of time, space, scale, environment, individuality, species, and politics.