MACS/ENGL/CWL 504: Grad Film Theory and Criticism

Professor: Julie Turnock
Meets: Tuesday 1-4:50pm, 332 Gregory Hall

This course engages with, uses, and challenges various theoretical ideas and approaches to film. Throughout the semester, we will address questions such as: Is cinema studies a discipline distinct from other studies of moving images, and on what bases have theorists made such a claim? How do we incorporate films and media into our research projects? And what is the status of film in such projects? How have theorists conceptualized the relationships among film, media, and the larger global society? We will discuss the historical and cultural context in which particular theories emerged, and we will reflect on the role of film theory in the development of film studies as a discipline. Additionally, we will look at how film studies has both taken up and influenced theoretical lines of thought such as ideologies of Marxism, semiotics, Soviet formalism, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, feminism, critical race theory, sexuality studies, queer theory, transnationalism, and critiques of neocolonialism. We will read canonical authors, e.g., Adorno, Bazin, Bellour, Benjamin, Bhabha Bordwell, Comolli and Narboni, Deleuze, Doane, Dulac, Dyer, Eisenstein, Gunning, Hansen, hooks, Metz, Mulvey and more.
Every class session will include a screening of approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours.


CWL 581: The "Echo-Logical" - The Sound of Politics 

Professor: Rob Rushing
Meets: Thursdays 2-5:00pm, 3024 Foreign Language Building 

In this seminar, we’ll attempt to put together a number of different ways of thinking about sound, from the biopolitical (sound as what binds and disrupts the community) to the phenomenological (sound as a “vibrational practice” that unites the subject with the surrounding space) to environmental humanities (sound as a marker of the health of environment — as well as what disrupts it), all trying to understanding sound as one of the principal ways we understand the space that we occupy — also as a political space. Readings comes from sound studies, film sound, political philosophy and more, and  include Agamben, WalthamSmith, Eidsheim, Cavarero, Merleau-Ponty, Sterne, Lacoue-Labarthe, Calvino, Proust, Hagood, Voegelin and Carson; equally importantly, we will listen to a wide variety of sounds, from opera (particularly Chris Cerrone’s award winning opera of Invisible Cities) to noise; art sound projects from John Cage’s famous 4’33” and Basinski, The Disintegration Loops; films like Blue Velvet; television (“Hush”); music from Mozart to Steve Reich; and naturally, silence as well. For more information: rrushing/581c/

PHIL 511: Seminar in Ethical Theory

Professor: Helga Varden
Meets: Tuesday 3:30 - 6:20pm, 402 Gregory Hall 

This course explores central questions regarding evil with the help of the works of Immanuel Kant and Hannah Arendt. In particular, we investigate questions such as: Why is it tempting for human beings to do bad things to themselves and to others? Why are we responsible for wrongdoing, indeed even in cases where there is much self-deception or other subjectively difficult subjective states involved? How should we describe and face evil whether it comes from other individuals, from society, or from legal-political institutions? How can we capture different kinds and degrees of wrongdoing and heinousness? What are typical institutional kinds of wrongdoing? And what are distinctive features of institutional uses of institutional unjustifiable violence? To investigate these questions, we will engage the resources found in both Kant’s practical philosophy, including his writings on law and politics, history, religion, and anthropology, as well as Hannah Arendt’s writings on politics, including her writings on the human condition, violence, totalitarianism, revolution, the mind and thoughtlessness, and Eichmann and the banality of evil. 

CAS 587: Abolition

Professor: Toby Beauchamp and A. Naomi Paik 
Meets: Tuesdays, 1 - 3:50pm, Room 102 Gender and Women's Studies Building

Focused on the theories and practices of abolition, this interdisciplinary graduate seminar examines the radical, yet realizable, possibilities of abolition in its many forms. We will consider the dense web of relationships that extend far beyond the prison as a material structure, tracing the many different sites and effects of the prison industrial complex as well as the multiple efforts to dismantle it. At the same time, we will follow what W.E.B. DuBois and Angela Davis call "abolition democracy," which positions abolition as a process of creation rather than simply of dismantlement. Accordingly, the course looks closely at practices that redirect resources away from systems of oppression and toward imagining and building new conditions where all can survive and thrive.

ENGL 547: Seminar in Early American Literature - Colonial Anthropocene: From the Age of Extraction to the Age of Extinction

Professor: Patricia Loughran
Meets: Mondays, 2-4:50pm, 135 English Building | Meets with History 502: Problems in Comparative History

“Human beings are magical. Bios and Logos. Words made flesh, muscle and bone animated by hope and desire, belief materialized in deeds, deeds which crystallize our actualities.”-Sylvia Wynter

In this course we will explore the early Americas as a laboratory for the newly invented concept of the human, grounding our itinerary in the monumental genealogy laid down by the Jamaican cultural theorist Sylvia Wynter, who posits two crucial moments in the formation of our contemporary predicament: Man 1 (dating to Europe’s first encounter with the Americas in 1492) and Man 2 (dating to the liberal Enlightenment and its 19C Darwinian aftermath). We will trace the rise of Man 1 and Man 2 (and the worlds they both created and destroyed) and then look at contemporary attempts to think with and beyond these formations in recent work on post- and non-human Being. Our reading list will thus think “early America” both transnationally and transhistorically, with most of our attention given to cultural theorists such as Wynter, Saidiya Hartman, Katherine McKittrick, Hortense Spillers, Charles Mills, Walter Mignolo, Nick Estes, Fred Moten, Christina Sharpe, Lisa Lowe, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, and Alexander Weheliye, among others. Please note: this is not a course specifically about climate change, though climate change does provide the inevitable contemporary backdrop for the conversations we will be exploring. Instead, the course considers a related but slightly different set of planetary catastrophes with “Man” at its center: in short, colonialism, nationalism, and racial  capitalism.

LAW 657: International Human Rights Law

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

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.


GWS 580: Queer Theories and Methods

Professor: Ghassan Moussawi
Meets: Mondays, 3:30 - 6:20pm, 102 Department of Gender and Women's Studies 

While a relatively new field and method of inquiry, queer theories have opened up new and multiple ways for us to think of power and knowledge production in the constitution of the social world. This interdisciplinary graduate seminar focuses on a number of key debates in the formation of what came to be known as “queer theory.” Rather than thinking of a singular queer theory, this course rethinks queer theories and methods by focusing on silences, meeting points, and tensions between queer theory, queer of color critique, women of color feminisms, and transnational queer studies. Topics include race and racialization, racisms, borders, immigration, transnational (im)mobilites, affect, hauntings, empire, and settler colonialism. In addition, we will discuss queer methodologies by asking: what are queer methods? How does one conduct “queer” research? We will queer research by considering topics including: collaboration, (bad)feelings, auto-ethnographies, solidarities, and our own positions with regards to our research.

ENGL 582/CI 565: Queer Feminist Methods

Professor: Lindsay Rose Russell
Meets: Mondays, 1-3:50pm, 125 English Building

Drawing on foundational to contemporary scholarship that addresses the construction of sex and sexuality, this course considers how feminist and queer theories shape what we study and how we study it.  With an eye toward building critical research methods for non-normative knowledge making, the class traces the evolving political and intellectual commitments formulated in and by these two fields, often in articulation with other considerations of power and difference (e.g., race, class, ability, age); asking, How do queer and feminist theories advise us to navigate erasure and recovery, abjection and inclusion, evidence and speculation, identity and intersectionality, cultural critique and counterpublic activism?  The course engages work from a variety of disciplines to forge a finer sensibility to what historically and presently constitutes queer feminist work, but it uses recent writing studies scholarship as a springboard for the class to create their own queer feminist methodological priorities. No prior knowledge of queer or feminist studies required, students from all disciplines welcome.

ARTD 551: Design Research Impact

Professor: Deana C McDonagh
Meets: Thursday, 9:30am - 12:10pm, 404 Flagg Hall 

This seminar helps MFA design students connect their research with pedagogy and professional development strategies to disseminate their research into publishing, conferences, communities, and other relevant venues.

ENGL 578: Science, Technology, and Speculative Futures

Professor: Melissa Littlefield 
Meets: Thursday, 1-3:50pm, 135 English Building 

Science, Technology, and Speculative Fiction. Ever wonder about the science and technology behind some of your favorite speculative fiction? Or the ways that speculative fiction influences science, technology, and medicine? What are the complex stories behind the bio-tech of Oryx and Crake or Gattaca, the medical advances of The Postmortal, or the cyborgs of Company Town? In this course, we’ll explore the multi-directional traffic between literature, technology, science, and medicine. We’ll pay particular attention to marginalized voices, the impact of feminist science studies, and the methodologies of interdisciplinary fields. We’ll focus on practical assignments: a book review, a research paper on a topic of your choosing, and some alt-ac writing for online and social media spaces. Course texts will include plenty of critical/theoretical texts, and speculative fiction of all kinds: novels, television shows, short stories, flash fiction, video games. 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 on speculative fiction, we will engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue about science, technology, and literature that welcomes many different perspectives. No previous experience with science, technology, or speculative fiction is expected or required


LAW 656: International Law

Professor: Francis A. Boyle 

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.

FR 574: Reading the 19th-Century French Novel

Professor: François Proulx
Meets: Thursdays 3-4:50 p.m., FLB 1046

Graduate seminar on the nineteenth-century French novel and related critical texts.
As the novel gains popularity and prestige the nineteenth century, it increasingly represents readers and reading in complex ways. We will examine how characters in books read other books (real and fictional), outlining particular practices of reading and writing. Our inquiry will extend to related topics: book history and the history of reading; gender history and theory; canon formation and the nineteenth-century emergence of literary studies as a discipline; methods and theories of critical reading today. Readings include works by Balzac, Stendhal, Sand, Flaubert, Rachilde, Huysmans. Taught in French: students from programs other than French Studies may participate and write assignments in English.

LLS 596: Writing Minoritarian Aesthetics

Professor: Sandra Ruiz 
Meets: 3:30-5:50PM, Tuesday, Room 133, 1207 W. Oregon, Urbana | Meets with AAS 590 and ENGL 565

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 social life of minoritarian subjects. In assessing such complexity, this course will go beyond the aesthetic as merely a visual and aural practice and include the particularities of touch, taste, smell, and the full sensorial effects of the body. To land in the realm of the senses, we will work with, but mostly depart from traditional constructions of aesthetic theory by turning to performance studies, literary theory, visual culture, cultural studies, and ethnic and area studies. By addressing how the aesthetic informs our understanding of difference, politics, resistance, and the cultural spaces of the communal, we will also attend to how scholars write the aesthetic into existence, and in consequence embark upon new ways of writing with aesthetic forms.

AAS 561: Race and Cultural Critique 

Professor: Junaid Rana 
Meets: 2-4:50PM, Wednesday, AAS Conference Room 

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.

ARH 540: Collective Memory and Visual Culture

Professor: David O'Brien
Meets: 2-4:40, Thursdays, Art and Design Room 312

This seminar explores the role of visual culture in the formation of collective memory. Part of the course will be devoted to examining leading theories of collective memory (Halbwachs, the Assmans, Caruth, Nora, LaCapra, Warburg) and their applicability to visual culture. A second emphasis will be on case studies related to collective memory from the early modern through the modern period. Much current scholarship on collective memory gives a central place to the twentieth century, andparticularly to such traumatic, horrific, and deadly events as World War I and the Holocaust. In addition to studying ideas formulated in response to these events, we shall explore their applicability to earlier events—in particular, to the Napoleonic wars. Students in the seminar may explore research topics related to any period, place, or medium. Students from all disciplines are welcome.

ARH 491: Insitutional Critique 

Professor: Erin Reitz 
Meets: 5- 7:40, Tuesday, Art and Design Room 316

Institutions—from the museum to the university—overwhelmingly frame the terms and conditions by which we encounter art and come to know what matters most in the so-called art world. This seminar focuses on artistic and activist efforts devised to bring these institutional frameworks into greater public view. Throughout the semester, we will prioritize questioning the relationship between institutional critique and real structural change, as we address topics such as the entrenchment of racism and sexism at institutions supposedly committed to diversity and inclusion and the long-standing entanglements of major industries in cultural affairs. Junior standing or consent of instructor is required to enroll. MFA students are also welcome. Credit: 3 hours