AAS 590 / ENG 581 / LLS 596: In the Realm of the Senses: Minoritarian Aesthetics

Professor: Sandra Ruiz
Meets: Tuesdays, 2:00 - 4:20 PM

For bell hooks: “aesthetics is more than a philosophy or theory of art and beauty; it is a way of inhabiting space, a particular location, a way of looking and becoming”, or too, a pathway into the complicated political life of minoritarian subjects. In order to assess such complexity, this course will go beyond the aesthetic as merely a visual and aural construction to include touch, taste, smell, and the sense of the minoriatrian body in time and space. By drawing on and departing from traditional constructions of aesthetic theory, this course will turn to philosophy, performance studies, literary theory, visual culture, cultural studies, and ethnic and area studies to answer the following questions: how can the aesthetic help inform our understanding of difference, and resistance? And how can minoritarian politics engage with the sensorium, moving deeply into the realm of the senses, and the social spaces of the communal? 


ANTH 515: Social Theory: From Durkheim to Latour

Professor: Virginia R. Dominguez
Meets: Mondays, 4:00 - 6:50 PM, 404 Flagg Hall

The seminar promotes the analysis and contextualization of theoretical directions/projects that have developed over the past century in Western Europe and that have been greatly influential in the development of social/cultural anthropology and the humanities in the U.S.  Scholarly trajectories will be examined in light of their spatial and historical location--stressing their "situated knowledge" as well as their transnationalism.  The course will also stress critical reading, critical writing, and critical argumentation at the graduate level, including the art of revising and rewriting.

This course may be taken for 4 credit hours or for 2 credit hours, and there are also two different ways that students registered for 4-credit hours may fulfill the requirements of this course. 


ARTH 510 / AFST 509: Seminar in African Art: "Entangled Objects: The Work of Art in a Global World"

Professor: Prita Meier
Meets: Mondays, 4:00 - 6:50 PM, 404 Flagg Hall

This seminar examines the significance of globalism for the study of visual and material culture. How do we attach meaning to objects that have moved from one culture to another or from one context to another? How does the meaning of art change if we think of it as a thing in circulation? What exactly is a "global" perspective? We will examine how different disciplines consider these key questions. Subjects to be studied include: the circulation of commodities, cultural dimensions of globalization, the agency of objects, the politics of the contemporary global art market, museums as sites of transculturation, border thinking, and the current state of "world" art history. With emphasis on the place of Africa and the Global South in the study of globalism. 


ENG 527: Enlightenment Narratives of Education

Professor: Hina Nazar

In “What is Enlightenment?” (1784), Immanuel Kant described enlightenment as the emergence from “self-imposed tutelage” into critical and moral independence.  Kant’s well-known formulation obscures, however, how shedding the shackles of tutelage was understood by the eighteenth century to be itself a matter of tutelage or education.  This seminar considers the paradoxical rhetoric of education—tutelage to be free from tutelage—permeating eighteenth-century letters.  It also reassesses, in light of the period’s concern with education, some key liberal legacies of the Enlightenment, such as its norm of autonomy or self-governing agency. The idea that reason is less an inborn capacity than a construction or development—a product of experience and hence capable of being shaped by human intervention—constitutes one of the most powerful and contested legacies of Enlightenment modernity.  It found particular appeal amongst women, who used it to contest long-standing essentialist notions of women’s biological and mental inferiority.  It was a crucial shaper, too, of the new genre of the novel, of which a principal subset was the Bildungsroman or “novel of education.”  Navigating the intersecting fields of eighteenth-century theories of education, histories of the novel, and feminist/gender theory, we will consider questions such as the following: What are the principal goals of education according to Enlightenment thinkers and novelists?  How do considerations of race, class, and gender mark the period’s discourses of education?  How do various authors imagine the relationship between inherited custom and critical independence, and between teachers and students?  What do we make of the period’s rhetoric of “nature” and how does it evolve over the course of the century?  Why do so many women educationists deploy a separatist rhetoric, best exemplified by Mary Astell’s argument that women should retreat from a corrupt and corrupting social world into a “Protestant nunnery”?  How do the texts we read challenge the conventions of literary periodization—for example, the separation of “eighteenth century” and “Romantic”?  These preliminary questions are expected to be refined and supplemented by the questions you bring to the seminar table.


ENG 537: Genre and Seriality

Professor: Lauren Goodlad
Meets: Mondays, 1:00 - 2:50 PM, 113 EB

This course undertakes in-depth exploration of the nineteenth-century fictional genres that both exemplified and fueled the great wave of serialized print culture which began in the 1830s with the advent of Balzac and Dickens.  While comparisons to such genres are visible in the novels and novel series of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the most salient afterlife of Victorian-era fiction is arguably to be found in the millennial surge of serial television which has flourished on cable and streaming platforms since The SopranosThe Wire, and Mad Men  Our critical readings will focus directly on theories of genre, seriality, and the relevant material cultures including classic work by Bakhtin and Todorov as well as recent criticism by John Frow, Robyn Warhol, Franco Morretti, Jason Mittell, Sean O’Sullivan, Susan Bernstein, and others.  Our fictional readings will include Balzac’s Lost Illusions, Trollope’s Framley Parsonage, and a George Eliot novel to be chosen by the class.  We will also watch the first season of the Danish television series, Borgen. Students are advised to view additional serial television shows in advance—most especially the first two seasons of The Wire.


ENG 584: Fashion Rhetorics

Professor: Eric Pritchard

In this graduate seminar we will read scholarship at the intersections of rhetoric and fashion studies, a scholarly discourse cutting across a range of disciplines and fields including rhetoric and composition, literary studies, history, performance studies, ethnic studies, and sociology. We will examine a diversity of adornment performance – past and present, in everyday life and as rendered in cultural productions (e.g. arts, literature, and film) to document the emergence of fashion and style's impact on social, political, and economic terrain, but also a myriad of critiques of fashion and style emerging from scholarly works in the field as well as in popular media. This course will especially emphasize research on rhetoric and fashion in relation to critical race theory, feminist theory, and queer theory. Engaging this scholarship, we will posit the implications of this research for the current state and next steps of fashion as an interdisciplinary field of study generally, and what the place of that field is and can be within rhetorical studies, literary studies, American Studies, and Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies in particular.

The course will also support the development and support of each student finding or further developing their own fashion and style studies research, writing, and creative projects, with an eye toward exploring the broad implications of their interests for theory, methodology, and pedagogy of this field. Course readings will include texts by Roland Barthes, Carol Mattingly, Minh Ha T. Pham, Valerie Steele, Tanisha C. Ford, Reina Lewis, Tiffany M. Gill, Vicki Karaminas, Anne Hollander, Elizabeth Wilson and others.


ENG 578: Techno-Cultures

Professor: Melissa M. Littlefield
Meets: Tuesdays, 1:00 - 2:50 PM

Radio, telephone, television, computers; brain imaging, pharmaceuticals, artificial hearts; fax machines, refrigerators, automobiles; artificial sweeteners, frozen food, GMOs. If you’re interested in the history of technologies; intersections between technology, science, and culture; and really great stories, then this is the seminar for you. We’ll read in and around some foundational texts from the history of technology, (feminist) science and technology studies, and literature and technology (Kittler, Kuhn, Haraway, Latour, Star, Marx, Wajcman). Then we’ll move on to some excellent case studies and fiction. Our goal is to think critically about the ways that technologies are not only invented and introduced to various publics, but how their production and use becomes ubiquitous and invisible. Topics will partially depend on student interest. All are welcome; previous experience with science and technology studies is NOT required.


EPS 520: Design and Sustainability Education

Professor: Pradeep Dhillon
Meets: Thursdays, 1:00 - 3:50 PM

Design permeates every aspect of human activity and yet often remains hidden from view. Making the hidden visible is a philosophical task and one we will undertake in this seminar. We will consider various philosophical approaches to understanding design both analytically and through the lens of pragmatism. We will survey the approaches that take design to be a puzzle, a cognitive problem, and embodied practice. We will evaluate these approaches in relation to their significance for educating towards sustainable living, consuming, and building. The seminar participants will develop projects related to the readings but based in their own disciplines. Thus, for example, students might explore how somaesthetics speaks to their area of research interest whether it be designing educational games, a curriculum or educational policy, landscapes, buildings, or consumer products.. The overall theme of the seminar will be the exploration of the concepts and practices of design in order to build greater awareness of the need to create, work, and educate, in a manner that contributes towards more sustainable cultural practices in what some are beginning to call “the age of the anthropocene.”


EPS 590: Pro-seminar in Postcolonial Theory and Methodology

Professor: Cameron McCarthy
Meets: Thursdays, 12:00 - 2:50 PM

Within the past decade and a half or so, there has been a steady expansion of scholarship calling attention to the rethinking of center-periphery relations between the third world and the first world. This body of scholarship—most often identified with literature studies, but which has expanded well beyond to other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences—has come to be known as postcolonial theory. Proponents of postcolonial theory have sought to address a wide range of topics related to the historical and contemporary relationship between metropolitan and periphery countries as well as the spatio-temporal impact of colonial and neo-colonial relations on dominant and subordinated groups in the metropolitan countries themselves. These topics include the historical and geographical evolution of colonial relations and post-independence developments in countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean; patterns of identity formation, cultural representation, translation and cross-cultural connection between the metropole and the periphery in disciplinary areas such as literature, popular culture, music and art; and, concerns bearing upon the redefinition of the nation state in the light of globalization or the intensification and rapid movement of cultural and economic capital across national borders. Postcolonial scholars have also foraged into the area of research methods insisting on a critique of methodological nationalism, the foregrounding of interdisciplinarity and the critical integration of scholarly methods across social science and humanities paradigms.

This course is intended as an overview of the major currents of thought in this emergent body of scholarly work.  After considering some preliminary issues of the history, definition and terms of reference of postcolonial theory, we will explore the major themes and substantive theoretical and methodological claims and interventions of postcolonial theorists.  This course should have broad appeal to students pursuing critical studies in the humanities, social sciences, education, the communications fields and in the emerging field of globalization theory.  Every effort will be made in the course to explore interdisciplinary connections between postcolonial theory and other related bodies of thought such as cultural studies, postmodernism, globalization studies, feminist theory, and research in the areas of development and dependency theory and modernization studies.


GEOG 595: Spaces of Marxism

Professor: Brian Jefferson
Meets: Tuesdays, 2:00 - 4:50 PM

This reading-intensive module explores Marxian analyses of relations between capital and space. We will investigate how scholars use Marx to explain processes of colonization, urbanization, uneven development, and agrarianism. We also engage with newer texts using Marxian concepts to critically examine ethnoracialized spaces including slave plantations, carceral networks, colonial settlements, sweatshops, ghettoized neighborhoods, slums, and borderlands; and gendered spaces including the domestic sphere, workplaces, prisons, sex markets, and spaces of care work.


GER 574/496: Romanticism and its Afterlives

Professor: Laurie R. Johnson
Meets: Mondays, 3-4:50 PM

According to much literary and cultural historiography, Romanticism ended in approximately 1850. In this course, however, we will consider and test the notion that Romanticism is still with us, in various guises. And, we will investigate the extent to which Romanticism's afterlives still matter--how Romantic are we, and is this a good thing?

Romanticism and its philosophical predecessor, Idealism, are among the most significant movements in Western intellectual history. Around 1800, thinkers responding in part to the critiques of Immanuel Kant started to let go of the distinction between the external and internal world, a separation that had gone largely unquestioned in the past. German authors such as the Schlegel brothers, Novalis, Hölderlin, Tieck, Hoffmann, and Eichendorff took philosopher J.G. Fichte's assertion that the ego posits its own reality seriously and explored the consequences, in poetry and philosophy, that represented an entire culture's turn "inward." Hegel developed aggressive arguments for the dominance of the aesthetic in everyday life, while Schelling composed a vast Romantic philosophy of nature and of mythology. Their work had an inescapable influence on the thought of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, among many others.

We will consider Romanticism as a movement with both "regressive" and "progressive" aspects--its proponents often embraced a philosophy of self-liberation and creativity, but sometimes simultaneously an ideology of political and religious totality (Friedrich Schlegel's envisioning of the Catholic Church ruling the earth, Richard Wagner's dream of a "total art work" that would encompass all aesthetic possibilities and productions). Romantics have been blamed for the fascist aesthetics of the Third Reich, and also credited with inspiring the Beat generation and the protest cultures of the 1960s. In the course, we will analyze texts and other cultural products from the late eighteenth century to the present in order to trace Romanticism's journeys through time, and in a variety of venues: social and political as well as aesthetic.

This course is for graduate and undergraduate students. Readings and discussions are in English, with no prerequisites. However, graduate students in German should read the course texts in German (and may choose to write essays in German), and undergraduate German majors/minors are encouraged to do so.


MDIA 590: New Media Theory

Professor: James Hay
Meets: Tuesdays, 6:00-8:50 PM, 325 Gregory Hall 

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.

This seminar is for 4 hours of credit.  It initially and mistakenly was listed as for only 3 hours of credit.  The registration system now recognizes that it is for 4 hours credit.  Thanks, JH


RLST 461: Indigenous Traditions

Professor: James Treat
Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-10:50 PM, 1038 Foreign Languages Building

This is an interdisciplinary seminar on indigenous religious traditions, focusing especially on the study of native North American religions.

Assigned readings are drawn from representative texts covering important perspectives in the relevant fields. Research projects allow each participant to supplement our collective effort by exploring an individual interest in greater detail.

Students have the opportunity to gain a basic understanding of indigenous traditions; to conduct focused research on a related topic, theme, or issue; and to develop critical skills for use in educational, professional, and personal settings. For more information, visit the course website.


UP 521: Global Displacements, Cities and Citizenship in a Transnational Era

Professor: Faranak Miraftab
Meets: Tuesdays, 3:30-5:20 pm, Room 19 Temple Buell Hall 

We live in an era marked by unprecedented movement and crisscrossing of capital, labor, and populations. Some move within, others across, national and local territories; some movements are voluntary others are forced by war, climate change and greed of real estate capital. Immigrants and displaced people have varied and complex stories both in places they leave behind and arrive to. They make place locally, trans-locally and transnationally and they involve in processes of both displacement and in-placement—be it in metro or nonmetropolitan areas, be it in established cities or overnight erected refugee camps. People’s earnings and care work in one location lead to development of housing and infrastructure in another location across the globe. Cultural influences experienced by one group in one geographic and political economic location leads to change in cultural practices and its spatial expressions in another. In this process immigrants and displaced people are also reconstituted as contested political subjects and actors both in their communities of origin and destination.

The varied and intense contemporary processes of global displacement have profound implications for cities and citizenship. In particular in this historical moment when an unprecedented number of people (over sixty million) are globally displaced some to refugee camps others to previously homogenous cities, we need to pay close attention to what these processes mean in spatial and socio-political terms for those who move and for those who did not. For example, in the context of the current geopolitical struggles and wars waged in the Middle East, we witness cities obliterated and others erected overnight as refugees’ temporary camps, which only become permanent human settlements. In this processes of “refugee urbanization” people as stateless inbetween subjects do not cease their practices of citizenship. But what forms and shapes do these practices of citizenship from below take? What new organizations and relationships govern these urban forms and their inhabitants’ interactions? Solidarity and humane citizenships? White citizenship and propertied citizenship? In short, displacement and displaced people, whether produced through financialization of cities or through climate change, war, economic and/or gender violence, and/or immigration present complex dynamics with particular spatiality and politics that need interrogation. In this seminar we aim to do that.

This weekly seminar brings together graduate students from multiple disciplines with strong interest in transnational urban studies to collectively interrogate the complexity of such processes. For enrolment in this seminar no prior course work in planning per se is required but prior course work and exposure to debates and literature on international development, globalization and transnational studies is needed. Selected readings within the emergent scholarship in urban planning, geography, sociology and anthropology will be used as catalyst to reflect and re-interpret our understanding of processes that shape cities and urban citizenship locally and trans-locally.

We structure the semester around distinct processes that lead to displacement (e.g. wars, climate change, financialization etc.) and around each of these organizing themes we use city and citizenship as rhetorical devices to explore the spatial and social dimensions of these processes. As the former includes broadly defined temporary and permanent human settlements, the latter includes inclusions and exclusions (re)negotiated among racialized, ethnicized, gendered citizens and national and supra-national organizations. 


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