AAS 561: Race and Cultural Critique

Professor: Junaid Rana
Meets: Wednesdays, 2:00-4:50pm

Introduction to graduate level theoretical and methodological approaches in Comparative Race Studies. As a survey of theories of race and racism and the methodology of critique, this course offers an interdisciplinary approach that draws from anthropology, sociology, history, literature, cultural studies, and gender/sexuality studies. In addition, the study of racial and cultural formation is examined from a comparative perspective in the scholarship of racialized and Gender and Women's Studies. Same as AFRO 531, ANTH 565, GWS 561, and LLS 561. 


ANTH 414: Writing Ethnography

Professor: Alma Gottlieb
Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 - 11:00am

Scholars are also authors!

Too often, scholarly writing is jargon-laden and webose, if not dull and impenetrable. But this is not inevitable.

In this course, we explore ways to enliven academic writing. Keeping audience in mind, we explore both conventional scholarly writing and (especially) experimental modes of conveying scholarly research to broader readerships. Op-ed pieces and blogs, feature essays and memoirs, fiction and poetry, Google maps and graphic novels, parodies and how-to manuals, even cookbooks and flip books will all merit our attention.

Beyond reading published works in exemplary and creative ethnography, students will draw on a body of data from a particular ethnographic context (either from library research or your own fieldwork data) to try your hand at experimenting with several ethnographic writing genres.

Prerequisites: This course is especially designed for advanced undergraduate students who have already taken at least one 300/400-level course in Anthropology, and for graduate students in Anthropology, English/writing studies, and education. Other students may thrive in the course, but do contact the instructor before enrolling.

General Education Credit: For undergraduate students, this course is approved for credit in the campus-wide Advance Composition requirement (formerly, Composition II). 


ANTH 515: The Anthropology of Time

Professor: Jessica Greenberg
Meets: Tuesdays, 2:00-4:50pm

Anthropologists have long observed that time is an emic category that is contextually specific and emergent in practice. At the same time, concepts such as modernity, futurity, nostalgia or hope often smuggle assumptions about time and temporality into anthropological analysis. This course will examine different anthropological approaches to time as object of study and mode of analysis. We will examine under what conditions anthropologists have located time in everyday practice, in state formations, and in affectively charged material objects. We will further ask whether there is value to an "anthropology of time" and how it might relate to critical interventions that challenge colonial and imperial forms of historicity. The course will proceed through a number of topics including time and labor, time and embodiment, nostalgia and the material object, the politics of futurity, modernity and revolution as North Atlantic fictions, and chronotope as social practice. 


ANTH 515: Performance Studies

Professor: Jane Desmond
Meets: Thursdays 9:00 - 11:50am

As an emergent area of specialization, “performance studies” focuses on the cultural analysis of live events,  and can include the activities of daily life, community practices, sports, theater ,music, rituals, festivals, religious practices, dance, performance art, political rallies, the conduct of war, and even extend to practices like cooking, shopping ,tourism, medical protocols, torture, labor, the imposition of colonial modes of the use of space, and acts of self-presentation including movement style and vocalization. 

            An emphasis on the body and enactment will ground our discussions. Specific attention will be paid to the historical and community specificity of cultural production and reception in these arenas, and the ways that these elements resonate with intersecting categories of social differentiation including those of gender, racial or ethnic identity, national identity, sexuality, age, social class, and perceptions of bodily ability/disability. In addition to a final research paper on a topic of their choosing, students will conduct observation exercises, attend live events outside of class, and be responsible for leading some discussions.  Readings will be drawn from disciplines across the humanities., and will be augmented with film and video clips. Case studies will focus on the United States with comparative studies from Japan, Nigeria, Argentina and other sites.  Students' own research may focus on any part of the world. 


CWL 561 / ENGL 578: Documentary Aesthetics: History, Memory, Trauma

Professors: Lilya Kaganovsky and Michael Rothberg
Meets: Mondays 5:00-8:00pm (screening); Wednesdays 3:00-4:50pm

This seminar will focus on non-fiction cinematic works that depict and reflect on key 
moments in twentieth-century history. It will be team-taught by Lilya Kaganovsky, a 
scholar of Russian and Soviet film, and Michael Rothberg, a scholar of memory, 
trauma, and genocide. In order to explore the documentary impulse as a broad 
aesthetic tendency, we will juxtapose film with other documentary experiments in 
photography, literature, and painting. We will be especially interested in works that 
thematize memory, trauma, testimony, and forgetting and engage with some of the 
most extreme events of the last century, including World War II, the Holocaust, and 
the Leningrad Blockade as well as the formation and deformation of the Soviet and 
Nazi states and the upheavals of the 1960s. Drawing on experiments with 
documentary form by American, French, German, Israeli, and Soviet/post-Soviet 
filmmakers, we will pursue questions of referentiality, aesthetics, and archiving and 
inquire into the politics of non-fiction representation. Discussion of particular films 
will be supplemented by critical and theoretical work on documentary cinema, 
cultural memory, trauma, and historical representation.


EPS 512: The Corporatization of the University

Professor: Chris Higgins
Meets: Wednesdays 1:00 - 3:50pm

How should we understand the relationship between the educational and economic spheres? How can the university maintain its integrity in light of its partnerships with big business and its competition in the credential market? How has the corporatization of university administration and consumerization of campus culture in recent decades changed the way we have begun to think about teaching and learning, scholarship and speech? Is the commodification of teaching, learning, and research really a new development? Are we witnessing a process of "spherical capture" (Blacker) and the birth of a new creature called the "university of excellence" (Readings)? Or has the Ivory Tower always been just a cover story for a deep entanglement in economic forces? What has the university aspired to be in its long history and what has it become? How should we understand the changing landscape of contemporary higher education? In this seminar we will examine such questions through reading and discussion of primary texts. No background is required: just a desire to wrestle with basic questions about the purposes of higher education and the promise and perils of the institutions we build to embody those purposes.


ITAL 470: Men, Muscles & Myth

Professor: Robert Rushing
Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 - 11:00am

From 1957 to 1965, Italy made almost 300 films set in mythological antiquity and starring American bodybuilders as strongmen of ages past (Hercules, Samson, Goliath, and more). Although these are some of the worst movies ever made, they have a long pre-history (Italy specialized in such films also during the silent era) and a lasting influence (300The Legend of Hercules, and the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand are still quoting them today). They are also a fascinating intersection of biopolitics, gender theory, and straqnge sexuality. No knowledge of Italian needed. Students will give one presentation and write on research paper (8-10 pp).


LAW 657: International Human Rights Law

Professor: Francis A. Boyle
Meets: Mondays and Tuesdays 3:00 - 4:15pm

Based primarily on a series of contemporary "real world" problems, the course introduces the student to the established and developing legal rules and procedures governing the protection of international human rights. Its thesis is that there exists a substantial body of substantive and procedural International Human Rights Law, and that lawyers, government officials, and concerned citizens should be familiar with the policies underlying this law and its enforcement, as well as with the potential it offers for improving the basic lot of human beings everywhere. Additionally, the course presupposes that the meaning of "human rights" is undergoing fundamental expansion, and therefore explores Marxist and Third World conceptions of human rights as well as those derived from the liberal West.


LAW 687: Jurisprudence

Professor: Francis A. Boyle
Meets: Mondays and Tuesdays 4:30 - 5:45pm

In recent years this course has surveyed the principal schools of legal and political philosophy in Western civilizations. Topics include the nature and role of the state, the nature and role of law, and the position of the individual in the state. The principal writers surveyed are Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Bentham, and J.S. Mill.


PHIL 443: Phenomenology

Professor: William Schroeder
Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00 - 4:20pm

Phenomenology is effort to describe and study the different types of consciousness (e.g., imagination, perception, time consciousness), the different kinds of objects of consciousness, and their relationships. This course will offer a general introduction to the various kinds of phenomenology and an examination of the contributions of this movement to one specific topic: intersubjectivity, i.e., the analysis of our experience of other people and our fundamental relationships to them. The philosophers we shall be examining are Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Scheler, Heidegger, and Levinas (if there is time to cover him). Each of these figures make distinctive contributions to this topic, and together they explore a variety of elements and levels of interpersonal experience. Some of them offer surprising, counter-intuitive insights. The course will provide enough background on each of these philosophers to allow students to explore any of them further on their own. In addition, the course will work toward an adequate theory of intersubjectivity--one that does justice to the complexity of the phenomena and the demands of theoretical coherence.

Course Requirements: a midterm, a final, a 10-page term paper, and a few 2-page papers to encourage critical responses.

Prerequisites: one course in philosophy. Note also that the terminology of these philosophers can be difficult to comprehend, but the course will strive to make the claims made with it transparent and clear.

Readings include sections from Sartre's Being and Nothingness; Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception; Scheler's Nature of Sympathy; Heidegger's Being and Time; Husserl's Cartesian Meditations; and Levinas' Existence and Existents. Some of these will be incorporated in a course pack.


PS 579: Nietzsche & His Heirs

Professor: Melissa Orlie
Meets: Wednesdays 3:30-5:50pm

At the center of the course is extensive reading in a broad selection of Nietzsche's representative and greatest books (Birth of Tragedy, Untimely Mediations, Daybreak, The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good an Evil, On Genealogy of Morals, Twilight of the Idols, and Ecce Homo).

As we study Nietzsche's writings, we will assess how Martin Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze have shaped our reception and understanding of Nietzsche.

We will consider also how Nietzsche anticipates–and sometimes surpasses– important contemporary intellectual trends, including new materialisms, theories of emergent causality and complexity, understanding of the relations of human consciousness with other dimensions of biological and animal life, and variants of psychoanalysis after Freud. 


RLST 511: Postmodern Religious Thought After Spinoza

Professor: Bruce Rosenstock
Meets: Mondays 3:00-5:30pm

Our course will explore a number of responses to Baruch Spinoza's attempt to demonstrate through geometric proof that neither God nor human beings possess free will. Spinoza's Ethics attacked the fundamental dogmas of revealed religion: that God can choose to enter historical time and perform miracles. Spinoza's philosophy can be read as a radical challenge to tyranny in both thought (dogmatism) and politics (theocratic power). Many philosophers after Spinoza had an ambivalent relationship to Spinoza. They certainly did not wish to defend the dogmas of revealed religion but they did wish to preserve the possibility of freedom of the will and miracle (as the possibility of "the new"). Without freedom and miracle, human existence seemed to them to fall back under the sway of tyranny, this time understood as the tyranny of the iron laws of a mechanistic universe (consider William Blake's portrait of Newton). The philosophers we will study respond in different ways to the challenge of Spinoza, attempting to turn Spinoza against himself.



For more information on course affiliation, please contact Susan Koshy (skoshy@illinois.edu).