ARTH 546: Carework

Professor: Erin Reitz
Meets: Wednesdays, 1-3:50 pm (316 Art and Design Building)

This seminar focuses on the aesthetics of care and carelessness in artistic, curatorial, academic, and institutional practices, especially in times of (unending) crisis. Our core aim will be to conceptualize the poetics and politics of “carework,” in dialogue with the many thinkers and makers whose contributions on this score will be our central objects of study. Who cares and how, exactly? What can and can’t care do? And why should we care about care, when it's so often transactionalized in corporate culture, whether in hospitals or universities? Our assigned readings and viewings will draw from a range of disciplines and movements, from art history, critical trans studies, and museum studies to disability justice, mutual aid, and prison abolition. Throughout the semester, we will ground our conversations in some of the most trenchant critiques on the subject of caretaking by Indigenous and Black writers, scholars, artists, and image-makers. [Image credit: Brooklyn Liberation marchers protest outside the Brooklyn Museum, June 14, 2020, photo by Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times]


CWL 502

Professor: Waïl S. Hassan
Meets: Mondays 3:00-4:50 PM

This seminar is an intensive introduction to the history and methods of Comparative Literature. Readings will focus on the development of the discipline from the early nineteenth century in France and Germany to its institutionalization in the U.S. academy in the mid-twentieth century, and on to the present around the world. The discipline is informed by philological, philosophical, historical, geographical, anthropological, and other humanistic discourses which will be examined over the course of the semester, particularly with reference to the questions of alterity, worldviews, nationalism, translation, and (post)colonialism. Advanced knowledge of at least one language besides English is required.


CWL 561: Reading World Literature

Professor: Brett Ashley Kaplan
Meets: Thursdays 3:30-5:50 pm

This course is open to graduate students in all fields who want to expand their close reading practices. We'll read a variety of texts and use diverse critical and theoretical skills to approach literary analysis. Polyglots can read in the original languages, but all books will be available in English and students will propose some of the readings. Everyone writes short essays throughout the semester that examine the "universe in a grain of sand." 


ENGL 582: Genre Theories and Histories

Professor: Lindsay Russell
Meets: Tuesdays 3-5:50 pm

Genre theory has been around for a long time (maybe forever), and it has found a home in a lot of disciplines (literature, linguistics, rhetoric, film, psychology, computer science, and so on). This course considers how theorists from several different fields have approached the study of kinds, classes, and sorts. If genres aren’t simply sets of texts similar in form and content, what are they? What does it mean to think of a genre as rhetorical and social, cognitive and coercive? How do genres orchestrate not just cultural productions but cultural expectations and relations? Where do genres come from for that matter? This seminar will be particularly interested in theories of genre that take root in historical perspectives, tracing the development of a single genre—the religious treatise, the architecture notebook, the resume, the dissertation, the anthropological monograph, the pastoral poem, the animal autobiography—over time. How do generic patterns (in form, content, situation, exigence, audience, action) take and then shift shape? What prompts a genre to change and how much can it do so before it becomes a different genre? How do genre histories enrich genre theories?


ENGL 578: Feminist Futures: Digital Engagements with Data & Design

Professor: Melissa Littlefield
Meets: Tuesdays 3-5:50 pm (online)

Interested in digital collectives, gaming environments, digital domestication, and big data? Enjoy reading science fiction, watching Black Mirror, and listening to the Flash Forward podcast? Then, this is the seminar for you! Using Feminist Technoscientific scholarship as our backdrop, we’ll explore digital environments such as gaming platforms and internet collectives, we’ll reconsider the metaphors and material realities of data “banks,” and reimagine public, private and domestic spheres via techno-mediation. We’ll pay particular attention to marginalized voices, the impact of feminist science studies, and the methodologies of interdisciplinary fields. Our assignments will be practical and may include: a syllabus buildout, a virtual presentation, alt-ac writing for online and social media spaces, and a conference or research paper on a topic of your choosing. Course texts will include plenty of critical/theoretical texts, and speculative fiction of all kinds: novels, television shows, short stories, flash fiction, and 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—all are welcome! 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. **Please note** this course will meet synchronously online. We will use Zoom for many of our meetings, but we will also “meet” in other virtual environments throughout the semester.


SOC 583: Global Ethnographies

Professor: Zsuzsa Gille
Meets: Mondays 3:30-6:20 pm

The purpose of this course is to help graduate students develop an analytical and methodological toolkit with which to embark on their transnational research projects. We will place special emphasis on how to connect parts to wholes, how to theorize from particular cases, and how to connect different scales; in sum, our key focus is research design and its implications for findings and interpretation. The course is equally a methodology and a theory course, as the two cannot be separated from each other, as such, we will learn how to be alert to the politics of methods and analysis and how to avoid common pitfalls in classical social science epistemologies. Among the key guiding questions of the course, paramount are the following: How can ethnography, traditionally understood as the study of the here and now, be relevant for the study of communities and cultures whose boundaries are seen as increasingly porous? How do we study issues, people, places without ignoring connections and links among multiple sites but without fetishizing the global? How do we choose the appropriate level of analysis when social relations stretch beyond national boundaries? What implications does the conceptualization of globalization carry for methodology and political conclusions? Students will work on their research projects, at whatever stage, applying the theories, concepts and methodological moves discussed in the course.


GWS 580: Queer Theory & Methods

Professor: Ghassan Moussawi
Meets: Online, Tuesdays from 3:30-6:20 pm

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 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 and 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. This course is open to students from all disciplines.


AAS 561: Race and Cultural Critique

Professor: Lila Sharif
Meets: Wednesdays 2-4:50 pm

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 a number of disciplines including 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 and centers scholarship in Ethnic Studies and Gender and Women's Studies. 

Course Information: Same as AFRO 531, ANTH 565, GWS 561, and LLS 561 (4.000 Credit hours)


LAW 657: International Human Rights Law

Professor: Francis Boyle
Meets: Mondays & Tuesdays 4:30-5:45 pm

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.

Sequence and Prerequisites: Restricted to students in the Law department and to Unit Affiliated Students who request permission from Prof. Boyle.


MDIA 590: New Media Theory

Professor: James Hay
Meets: Mondays, 5-7:50 pm

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 recent studies 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 seminar also addresses the complex and changing relation between theory and the changing politics, economies, cultures, and technological regimes of media practice.

The course is open to students from all disciplines, and its approach to this topic addresses the importance of interdisciplinary encounters with theory and media. 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 contemporary media. 

Some of the questions and theoretical perspectives that the course will address pertain to the following topics and developments:

  • What are “media” now? What is “new”?
  • Media & Theory: New Media? New Theory? Post-media Theory? The Current Media
  • Platforms of Theory?
  • New Media Histories & Historiographies—After “Media Archaeology”
  • The Futurisms of Media Research, Development, & Advertising
  • Recent theories of the mediatization of contemporary life
  • New Media as Archive of the Past
  • Old Media as New Media—Cinema, Television, Print Media
  • Gaming through Contemporary Media
  • Technologies of Pornography & Erotica
  • Technologies of Dating
  • Digital Food & Culinary Cultures
  • Digital Currencies: Changing Technologies of Financial Exchange and Consumerism
  • Transformations of Social Media: From “Social Network” to a “Meta-verse”
  • Media convergence, platforms, and transmedia
  • The New Media Mode of Production & Consumption—Media Economies, Creative
  • Industries & Forms of Digital Labor
  • What is a “Popular Culture” now?
  • Data Economies & Algorithmic Culture
  • Surveillance & Security Society
  • The Selfie & Other Digital Technologies of the Self
  • Self-tracking & the Quantified Self
  • Biopolitics and New Media/Technological Regimes
  • New Media Space & Time
  • Ambient Media—“smart” houses, “smart cities,” commercial space, personalized
  • transport
  • What are publics & privacy now?
  • Media/Infrastructure
  • Media, Mobility, Circulation, Migration, & Speed
  • The Latest “New Frontier” of Satellites, Orbiting Bodies, & Astronautical Travel
  • Media, Governmentalities & Citizenship
  • The Global Economies, Global Governmentalities, & Globalized Cultures of New Media
  • Media in Contemporary Politics & Movements
  • What is Democracy in the Current Media Environment?
  • What is Liberalism in the Current Media Environment?
  • Conspiracy Theory
  • Media & Activism
  • Hacking & Piracy
  • Media &; Warfare
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual & Augmented Reality
  • Haptic Media & the New Sensorium
  • Smart Objects & the “Internet of Things”
  • “New Materialist” Studies of Media
  • Lessons & Legacies of Cybernetics and of Science & Technology Studies
  • The “post-human”: from the Anthropocene to a Technocene
  • Greening the Media
  • Media & the COVID Pandemic