Spring 2023 Course Offerings

SPAN 535 Bodies Experimentales

Prof: Xiomara Verenice Cervantes-Gómez

Meets: Wednesdays 2-4:50 pm

Experimentar (verb. to experience; to experiment) leads this seminar on a study of how bodies experiment with political and cultural narratives about its experiences. Moreover, in this vein, the structure of the seminar experiments with the experience of studying bodies by blending the seminar with practice-based research: this is a seminar and practicum experiment. In “Bodies Experimentales,” we will ask, how does the body experience other gendered and racialized material worlds? Grounded queer theory and transgender studies, this seminar studies the themes of abjection, citizenship, hegemony, shame, and vulnerability. Informing our critical and theoretical lexicon, this seminar takes a transdisciplinary approach through critical theory (Butler, Bataille, Derrida, Fanon, Grosz, Levinas, Preciado, Richard), Afropessimisms and Black feminisms (Jackson, Macharia, Quashie, Scott, Sharpe, Spillers), performance studies (Alvarado, Doyle Fusco, Lepecki, Muñoz, Phelan, Schneider), and practice-based research. We will take a step away from the written text, to participate in body-based knowledge production through actual participation in the body’s performance. Students will be asked to physically participate in these techniques through a hands-on methodology. The practicum component of the seminar is inclusive of all bodies and informed by experimental dance, improvisation, modern dance, movement art, performance activism, and theater. At stake in this experiment are the aesthetic crossing of theory and practice. Students will design and develop both theoretical and performance works to shape how as scholars we experience theories of the body. In addition to our own performance as a case study, we also study experimental works by Spanish and Latin American artists (Almódovar, Elizondo, Eltit, Lemebel, Mendieta, Ocaña, and others). This course will be taught in English (knowledge of Spanish is highly recommended). All-body inclusive. Cross listed as CWL 562

ERAM 554 Pro-seminar in Postcolonial Theory and Methodology

Prof: Cameron McCarthy

Meets: Thursdays 12-2:50 pm (Online)

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 methodology insisting on 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 a cultural studies, postmodernism, globalization studies, feminist theory, and research in the areas of development and dependency theory and modernization studies.

REL 511 Intro to Political Theology

Prof: Bruce Rosenstock

Meets: Mondays 3-5:00 pm

The study of political theology is focused on the concept of sovereignty as both a human and a divine institution. The course examines its roots in the Hebrew Bible and traces how it changes from antiquity to modernity, especially in the context of the racialized post-1492 nation state. Readings include (whole or selections): Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution; John Gager, Community and Kingdom; Ernst Kantorowitz, The King’s Two Bodies; Baruch Spinoza, Political-Theological Treatise; Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; Max Stirner, The Ego and its Own; Karl Marx, The German Ideology; Carl Schmitt, Political Theology and Land and Sea; Michel Foucault, Society Must be Defended; Sylvia Wynter, Unsettling the Coloniality of Being.

AAS 539 Youth, Culture and Society

Prof: Soo Ah Kwon

Meets: Wednesdays 2:00-4:50 pm (Davenport Hall, room 312)

Examines youth as a historically and culturally specific social formation; examines discursive and material positioning of youth within broader intersecting racial, cultural, socio-economic, gender and political contexts to situate youth and youth cultural practices within global and local processes. Specific topics include youth cultures, juvenile justice, education, labor, consumerism, politics, sexuality and activism, as well as methodological considerations of conducting research on youth.

ENGL 581 What is World Literature?

Prof: Waïl Hassan

Meets: Wednesdays 3:00-5:00 pm

This seminar examines the concept of “world literature,” from Goethe’s popularization of the term “Weltliteratur” to the current academic industry, which has boomed since the end of the Cold War, producing conferences, workshops, monographs, and anthologies. What are the theoretical underpinnings of world literature in its various articulations and paradigms? What is considered “world literature” and what is not? Topics of discussion include the role of translation, transnational circuits of exchange and mobility, literary prizes, and the publishing industry, along with the multiple afterlives of older classics such as The Arabian Nights and Shakespeare. The seminar should appeal to students with interest in globalization, postcolonial, and transnational studies, or who would like to acquire a foundation for teaching the world literature courses.

ARTH 540 Theories of Material Culture

Prof: David O’Brien

Meets: Tuesdays 2:00-4:50 pm

This seminar introduces students to a variety interpretive modes for understanding material culture. It asks: how has the recent emphasis on the material world reshaped the humanities and, in particular, art history? We will begin by examining some of the theoretical work that has encouraged the material turn (e.g., Daniel Miller, Arjun Appadurai, Bill Brown, Christopher Pinney, Bruno Latour) and then focus on examples of scholarly work devoted to specific examples of material culture. Students in the seminar may explore research topics related to any period, place, or medium. Students from all disciplines are welcome.

MDIA 590 Movie Magic: History and Technology of VFX

Prof: Julie Turnock

Meets: Tuesdays 1:00-3:50 pm

This roughly chronological course will explore special effects technology, history and aesthetics. More specifically, we will use the technological history of special effects (which span cinema history) to examine representational strategies of film. This course will take a broad historical view to question the various binaries common in discussions of special effects, especially optical vs. digital, and realism vs. fantasy. Drawing on texts by theorists and practitioners alike, we will examine how the films mobilize specific technologies, and the aesthetic frameworks they bring into play. The course will discuss the wide variety of films that have made extensive and creative use of special effects. We will screen films ranging from Méliès early trick films, experimentation in the silent era in films such as Metropolis, studio-era process photography and optical printing in King Kong and others, 1960s mainstream with 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as avant-garde animation, the intensified interest of special effects work in 1970s blockbusters in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the 1980s with Tron and The Thing and into the digital era beginning with Jurassic Park in the early 1990s, to the present.

ENGL 564 Minoritarian Aesthetics

Prof: Sandra Ruiz

Meets: Tuesdays 1:00-3:30 pm (English, Room 123)

This course will engage aesthetics beyond its common understanding as the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and appreciation of art and culture, with principles like taste, beauty, the sublime, and (dis)pleasure. Moving beyond the intellectual domain of the cultural elite, this course follows the vitality of the aesthetic through pathways into the pressing cultural expressions of minoritarian life. In engaging such expressions, we will travel with and across the visual to include the particularities of sound, touch, taste, smell, and the full sensorial capacities of the body across world-making practices. To land in the realm of the senses, we will turn to seminal work in performance studies, feminist, trans, and queer studies, visual culture, cultural studies, and relational ethnic studies, to name a few fields. By moving through the entanglements of aesthetics and politics, we will pay keen attention to forms of resistance, revolt, survival, everyday endurance strategies, and diverse avenues of labor. Honoring the idea that aesthetics instructs not only representations and judgements of the social world, but the bonds that form between objects, subjects, entities, histories, narratives, we will focus on how the aesthetic challenges transparent representational norms of difference in form and content. To do so, we will underscore and experiment with how the minor voice writes and recreates the aesthetic into new styles and existences.  

Cross listed as AAS 590 & FAA 598

PS 572 Histories of Political Theories II: Modern Political Theory

Prof: Samantha Frost

Meets: Mondays 9:30-11:50 am (David Kinley Hall, room 404)

In this course, we will survey key texts in European modern political theory, supplemented with texts from non-Western sources. The aim will be to identify and articulate the contours of the modern liberal subject, to examine the ways that this figuration takes shape in theories of perception, knowledge, science, and self-consciousness, and to trace the ways that this figure underpins and vehiculates theories of property, rights, freedom, economics, colonialism, and slavery.

ENGL 537 The Scandal of Aestheticism

Prof: Eleanor Courtmanche

Meets: Mondays 3:00-5:30 pm (FLB, room 1018)

The aesthetic creed of “art for art’s sake,” first codified in an essay by Théophile Gautier, was a bohemian slogan that was considered scandalous in the 19th century. Its rejection of the moral function of art became, by the end of the century, part of a larger movement that questioned inherited categories of virtue, economic productivity, patriotic sacrifice, and traditional gender roles. This class will examine theories of aesthetic autonomy in Victorian and early 20th century British literature, ranging from the lingering importance of Keats and Shelley in the poetic works of Tennyson and the pre-Raphaelites, to Oscar Wilde’s fusion of aristocratic and queer elegance, and Henry James’s theories of the novel. But this class will also consider the fate of the concept of aesthetic autonomy in today’s cultural criticism, in which claims that art is always political sometimes shade over into the assertion that the aesthetic has no independent existence. The idea of a “pure” aestheticism may be as controversial today as it was in 1880. So we may feel it strange that earlier generations fought so hard to liberate art from its cultural and political contexts. Readings may include poetry by Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti; selections from John Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice; William Morris’s lectures on art and socialism; Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray and “The Artist as Critic”; stories by New Woman aesthetes; materials on the Wilde trial and the 1960 obscenity trial against Lady Chatterley’s Lover; Henry James’s The Spoils of Poynton and “The Art of the Novel”; and critical work by Theodor Adorno, Linda Dowling, Sianne Ngai, Dennis Denisoff, and Dustin Friedman.

SOC 501 Contemporary Social Theory

Prof: Zsuzsa Gille

Meets: 3:30-6:30 pm (FLB, Room 1048)

The purpose of this course is to provide graduate students with a systematic overview of contemporary social and sociological theories from various parts of the world as they relate to the central issues of power, culture, and subjectivity. We will compare and contrast concepts of power, conceptual frameworks of relating structure and agency, and diverging meanings of and significance attributed to culture. While always attending to the historical and political context of each contemporary theorist, we will engage in a relational reading of some key texts. We will focus on the following relations: a) Freud, Marx, and the Frankfurt School; b) Semiotics, Structuralism, Functionalism, and Structural-Functionalism; c) Gramsci’s concept of hegemony and British Cultural Studies; d) Structuralism and Poststructuralism; e) Postmodernism and Late Capitalism; f) Poststructuralism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, postfeminism, and postsocialism. In addition, we will discuss Bourdieu, U.S. micro-sociology and its critiques.

LAW 657: International Human Rights Law

Professor: Francis A. Boyle

Meets: Mondays & Tuesdays 3-4:15 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.