ANTH 515: Queer Anthropology: Theory and Method

Professor: Martin F. Manalansan IV
Meets: Thursdays 12:00pm-2:50pm

This seminar examines the history and continuing legacy of LGBT and queer theory in the anthropological imagination. Ethnographic studies and theoretical essays are read to come to terms with enduring questions and new inquiries about sex and gender in relation (but not limited) to race, class, ethnicity, nationalism and globalization.


ARTH 546: Theories of Photography

Professor: Terri Weissman
Meets: Tuesdays 5:00pm-7:50pm

This course introduces students to political and cultural debates around the status of the photographic image in the 21st century. Among the topics explored: documentary, witness/cell phone photography, surveillance imagery, (embedded) photojournalism, biometrics, the relationship between photography and cinema, and the relationship between photography and political rights. 


CWL 471/SPAN 465/SAME 490: Spain and the Modern Arab World, 1492-2014

Professor: Eric Calderwood
Meets: Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00pm-2:20pm

Spain has long been an evocative site for literary and artistic reflections on the past, present, and future of the Arab world. This course will explore the diverse and often contradictory attempts to make sense of Spain's relationship with the Arab world and with its own Islamic past. We will start in 1492, with the fall of the last Muslim kingdom in medieval Iberia, and we will work our way up to the present day, when Spain has become a major destination for immigrants from the Arab-Islamic world. We will study a broad array of Spanish and Arabic sources in English translation, including literary texts, narrative and documentary films, historiography, journalism, and music. 


CWL 501: Theory of Literature

Professor: Brett Ashley Kaplan
Meets: Thursdays 2:00pm-4:00pm

This seminar corresponds with the Unit for Criticism's Modern Critical Theory Lecture Series. It is designed to introduce critical theory and to ensure that incoming graduate students have a rigorous and historically structured sense of the path to the contemporary theory that is the true north of much scholarship in the humanities. Moving through such key thinkers as Kant, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, Derrida, Said, Fanon, Butler, and others, the course offers close readings of many of the central works of these theorists. Final papers should both draw upon these theories and advance each student's own research agenda. In Fall 2014 the course will be taught by Brett Ashley Kaplan and meet on Thursdays from 2-4 as well as at the lecture time of the Unit lecture series. 


CWL 561/MACS 496/MDIA 590: Satyajit Ray and Indian Cinema

Professor: Rini Mehta
Meets: Mondays and Wednesdays 2:00pm-3:50pm

This course offers a window on India's art cinema movement through the work of its best-known exponent. Ray's 1955 film Pather Panchali (Song of the Road) has been widely perceived as the harbinger of a new cinematic realism in India, and also the agent of Indian cinema's entry into high-modernist movements in world cinema. Two distinct modes of influence, one influenced by Italian neo-realism and the other by French and Japanese filmmakers such as Renoir and Ozu, made their mark on Ray during his early career as an artist in the world of advertising. A number of Indian directors were exposed to non-Hollywood forms of filmmaking following India's first International Film Festival in India 1951, and the impression that European and Japanese films made on Indians quickly manifested into visible influence. The synthesis that occurred in the 1950s between neo- and nouveau-realist techniques and pre-existing 'social' contents of Indian cinema took several distinct forms. Ray's films need to be examined within the broader, comparative framework of Indian cinema, hence the title of this course.

Two threads of examination will run through this course: one thread following the theoretical bases of Ray's technique as an auteur, and another following the content and politics of his films in the context of the politics of cinema' in India. Satyajit Ray's career as a filmmaker spanned a long 37 years, and corresponded with significant changes in India's postcolonial history as well as shifts in the state's relationship with cinema. Students will watch representative films from specific clusters of Ray's oeuvre--the Apu Trilogy, the Calcutta-based films, long and short films based on Tagore's works, films made for children--and discuss them in the context of their political background on the one hand and other commercial and art trends, Indian and international, on the other. Ray's documented differences with his contemporaries in both art and commercial cinema will be examined, with an eye on the various shifts in India's postcolonial nationalist politics and aesthetics of representation. 

In addition to the exploration of Ray's works, students will gain insight into the socio-political history of Indian cinema. All films will be screened with subtitles. Assignments include two papers and bi-weekly responses/blogs.


EALC 500: The Ethnography of Chinese Modernity

Professor: Jeffrey T. Martin
Meets: Mondays 2:00pm-4:20pm

This seminar is an exercise in the application of ethnographic methods to the study of modern Chinese society. We focus on the proposition that "guanxi" defines a culturally distinctive ideal of social relationships. This focus allows us to consider two questions, one substantive and one methodological. The substantive question is this: Is modern Chinese society somehow different from other modern societies? To evaluate this, we will survey some of the ways descriptions of guanxi are mobilized as evidence for arguments about Chinese cultural exceptionalism. Arguments about cultural difference can be contentious. Those who champion the cause of Chinese (or Asian) exceptionalism range from autocratic advocates of "Asian Values" to progressive practitioners of a postcolonial "Asia as Method." Locating a survey of the guanxi literature within this wider field of intellectual and political dispute supplies us with material to engage our second, methodological question, i.e.: How do different participants in debates over cultural exceptionalism claim to know what they are talking about? The methodological component of the course is concerned with identifying what makes a given piece of evidence solid ground for building arguments for or against cultural difference. Here we will pay particular attention to the value attached to specifically ethnographic data (broadly understood as empathetic testimonials about qualitative aspects of human life). Within the interdisciplinary field of debate about the cultural qualities of Chinese modernity, what kind of truth rides on specifically ethnographic knowledge?


ENGL 500: Introduction to Criticism and Research

Professor: Robert Dale Parker
Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30pm-1:45pm

This course is a survey-introduction to the concepts and methods of recent critical theory. In short, it is a ticket to engaged fluency in the dialogues and opportunities of contemporary criticism, designed for newer English graduate students (and more experienced graduate students) who do not already have a broad background in critical theory. We will proceed through a series of cumulative, overlapping units on new criticism, structuralism, deconstruction and poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer studies, Marxism, historicism, cultural studies, critical race theory, postcolonial studies, reader response, ecocriticism, and disability studies. We will also participate in the Modern Critical Theory Tuesday evening lecture series sponsored by the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory and including parallel graduate seminars from other departments. Depending on scheduling and student interests, we may devote sessions to such practical concerns for graduate study in English as research methods, graduate writing, preparing for publication, and organizing and planning one's graduate studies and academic progress intellectually and administratively. Attendance, inquisitiveness, and active participation in class discussion are crucial. (Students who prefer to be seen but not heard should not enroll.)


ENGL 564: Realism and Seriality

Professor: Lauren M.E. Goodlad
Meets: Mondays 3:00pm-4:50pm

This course undertakes in-depth exploration of serialized realism as a genre central to nineteenth-century fiction as well as late-twentieth/early twenty-first century television series. In addition to a broad selection of critical readings that situate serialized realism as a form, genre, aesthetic material object, and historical phenomenon, we will read a selection of nineteenth-century fiction (by authors including Balzac, Flaubert, George Eliot, and Trollope) and we will view the first two seasons of Mad Men (2006-present) and a second series to be selected by the class. Students are advised to view additional serial television shows in advance—most especially The Wire (2002-08).


GEOG493: The Nature of Sub-national Democracy in the Developing World: Emancipating Interventions?

Professor: Jesse Ribot
Meets: Thursdays 2:00pm-4:50pm

Democracy matters. It matters for wellbeing when people are able to influence the political economy that shapes their lives. It matters for risk reduction when it enables people to shape the legal and economic infrastructure of entitlements. It matters for efficiency and equity if you believe that public accountability, the disciplining of leaders, or the internalizing of externalities, makes government more broadly responsive and effective. It also matters because self-determination is a good in and of itself. In the theatre of sub-national democracy, decentralization reforms are being performed across the developing world with the creation of new elected local governments. What is the nature of the resulting local 'democracies'? How would we evaluate whether what is being called local 'democracy' is democratic or not? How do we know if it is likely to be emancipatory or subordinating, or if it is to create citizens rather than maintain subjects? How would we know if democracy, even if real and emancipatory, is efficient or equitable? We will examine these questions through the lens of democratic decentralization reforms involving natural resource management and use in the developing world. Many new local governments are legally empowered to manage and use the local natural resources on which their communities depend. 'Nature', when under local control, is important as a material basis of local democracy. Democratic decentralization of natural resources is lauded as a means of achieving efficiency, equity and justice. What does theory have to say about how to achieve these outcomes? Why are these outcomes so often celebrated but rarely achieved? This course analyzes the two-way relation between natural resource management and three dimensions of local democracy: representation, citizenship, and the public domain. The course investigates theoretical foundations of democracy, localism and decentralization, and analyzes the policy processes by which theory is inscribed in law and project documents and then translated into practice. Through theoretical literature and natural-resource case studies it explores local-democracy effects of environmental interventions and the environmental implications of local democratic decision making. Cases studies of global environmental policy will be used for theoretical and empirical analysis. This year we will focus on cases of risk, vulnerability and adaptation in the face of climate variability and change and in the face of climate change policy interventions.


GEOG595: Social Power, Institutions, and the Environment

Professor: Trevor Birkenholtz
Meets: Thursdays 2:00pm-4:50pm

What is "social" power? Is it a thing, a property that some people possess and others do not? Or is it a capacity that exists relationally between humans? Does this capacity to act, to effect change, or to animate objects necessarily need be a human trait? Under what conditions can non-humans "act" to produce social institutions and drive nature-society-technology relations? Perhaps, following Latour (2005), human and non-human nature and technologies are all social and by looking to the emergence of the associations that bind them, we can get to a more robust theorization of the relationship between "social" power, institutions, and the environment. In this seminar we will examine the way that myriad answers to these questions inform the way we examine social power relations, social institutions and environmental change. 


LAW 656: International Law

Professor: Francis A. Boyle
Meets: TBA

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.


LIS 590/GWS 590/MDIA 590: Dialogues on Feminism and Technology

Professor: Sharon Irish
Meets: Tuesdays 2:00pm-4:50pm

Dialogues on Feminism and Technology is a cross-disciplinary graduate seminar that's part of a Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC) in an international network of institutions and scholars called FemTechNet. This Fall 2014 course will use technology for collaborative creation and peer-to-peer sharing while still valuing local issues and face-to-face connections. The course is built around a set of video dialogues on keywords—including Body, Race, Sexualities, Place, Labor, Archive and Transformation—with preeminent thinkers and artists who consider technology through a feminist lens. One of the course's basic pedagogic instruments is the use of Boundary Objects that Learn, a concept indebted to the work of former UI faculty member S. Leigh Star. 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.

MDIA 590: New Media Theory

Professor: James Hay
Meets: Tuesdays 6:00pm-9:00pm

Note: Due to a mistake by Student Services in the College of Media, this course was given two titles in the university's Enterprise system--"New Media Theory" & "Whiteness in Media Studies." The correct course title is "New Media Theory," and the correct course description appears below. The mistake has now been corrected in the course-registration system. Apologies for any confusion that resulted from that mistake.

The title of this seminar refers to two, conjoined objectives–the seminar's focus on "new" theories of media, and its focus on theories of a so-called "new media" environment. In both senses, the seminar reviews a range of theories that have become most influential in current conversations about media. The seminar considers how and why responses to the current media environment have involved calls for new ways of understanding and theorizing this environment, but the course also considers how some of the theories of the "new media" environment build on older theory and on theory not oriented primarily toward "media."

The course is open to students from all disciplines, and its approach to this topic addresses the importance of interdisciplinary encounters with theory. The seminar does not assume a student's familiarity either with certain kinds of theory or with studies of media.

Although the seminar focuses on theory, it suggests ways that theory informs various kinds of analysis of media in the current context. The seminar also will consider how the circulation of contemporary theory depends on various new media. 


For more information, contact Lauren Goodlad ( or consult the Unit for Criticism website: