Spring 2019

  • Tales of Hospitality: France, North Africa, and the Mediterranean

    Since the Revolution, France has declared itself a haven for refugees from all countries. Yet, a series of laws and often fierce debates have recently marred this benevolence with sometimes dramatic limitations. Keeping in mind different models of hospitality in the Western, Mediterranean, and Arab traditions, we will examine the 'case study' of France and North Africa by comparing ethical and political, individual and collective models of hospitality. We will address issues such as immigration, nationality, and cultural identity and reflect on what it means to welcome a stranger.
  • Le Monde par la bande

    This course explores representations of the World and History in major bandes dessinées (or graphic novels) published in French from the 1930s to the present, and produced by authors of various backgrounds (French, Belgian, Italian, Jewish, Iranian). Informed by theoretical readings, discussions will address key aesthetical, political, and ethical issues, including Exoticism, Orientalism, (Post)colonialism, national and individual identity, as well as the theory of reception, to critically assess the fluctuations of these visions between fantasy and testimony.
  • German Intellectual History: Margins of Enlightenment

    What mechanisms of exclusion accompanied the constitution of modern reason in the eighteenth century? Are the universalist ideals of the Enlightenment inherently flawed, or can they be recuperated by a more inclusive universalism? This course interrogates Enlightenment universalism by reading canonical eighteenth-century works together with texts that highlight the occult, gendered, and racialized undersides of Enlightened reason.
  • Topics in Hindi-Urdu: Art and Practice of Translation

    The course will focus on topics and issues related to literary translation, from Urdu into Hindi, Hindi into Urdu, as well as the translation of Hindi/Urdu literary works into English and from English into Hindi/Urdu. Readings will address issues of theory and practice, as well as selected literary works and their translations. Includes student translation workshops.
  • East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations

    This course explores East Asia in the global context of imperialism, colonialism, the Cold War, and neoliberalism. We will traverse a wide range of materials (literature, film, photography, installation art) to understand how they are connected by historical forces. Open to anyone interested in a critical understanding of modern East Asian cultures, this course offers an interdisciplinary introduction that draws upon methods from film and media studies, art history, literary studies, and critical race studies.
  • Humanistic Perspectives on History and Society: Revolution

    Intensive reading of texts of revolution as event, process, rupture, repetition, and metaphor. Worldwide examples considered in terms of a chain of displacements within and across historical time (C17th to contemporaneity; England, USA, France, Haiti, Russia, Mexico, China, Algeria, and beyond). Why and how is revolution different from other radical transformations such as national liberation? What are the openings and where are the dangers in the revolutionary situation, and how have both proponents and opponents of revolution represented them?
  • Topics in the History of Opera: Verdi and Shakespeare

    Over the course of his lengthy career, Giuseppe Verdi composed three operas based on plays by William Shakespeare. His operatic treatment of Macbeth (1847) was composed when Verdi was only 33-years old; he would wait another forty years before returning to Shakespeare for his two final (and arguably greatest) operas: Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1891). This seminar focuses on a close reading and analysis of these three operas; literary sources, ottocento operatic conventions, performance traditions, representations of race and gender, genre, etc.
  • South Asian American Literature and Film

    This course examines literature and film by South Asians in North America. Students will gain perspective on the experiences of immigration and diaspora through the themes of identity, memory, solidarity, and resistance. From early Sikh migration to the American West Coast, to Muslim identity in a post 9/11 world, how can South Asian American stories be read as symbolic of the American experience of gender, class, religion, and ethnicity more broadly? Students will hone their skills in reading primary materials, analyzing them within context, writing persuasively, and speaking clearly.
  • Roma (Gypsies) in Eastern Europe: The Dynamics of Culture

    "Roma (Gypsies) in Eastern Europe" treats Romani history, cultural identity, folklore, music, religion, and representations in literature and film. Roma have been enslaved, targeted for annihilation, and persecuted for centuries. Yet they have repeatedly adapted and adjusted to the circumstances surrounding them, persisting as distinctive ethnic communities while simultaneously contributing to and forming part of the dominant worlds in which they live. This course offers novel perspectives on ethnic minorities and the dynamics of culture in Slavic and East European society.
  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace: Writing as Fighting

    We start with Tolstoy's artistic stimuli and narrative strategies, explore the author's provocative visions of war, gender, sex, art, social institutions, death, and religion. The emphasis is placed here on the role of a written word in Tolstoy's search for truth and power. The main part is a close reading of his masterwork The War and Peace (1863-68) - a quintessence of both his artistic method and philosophical insights. Each student will be assigned to keep a "hero's diary" and speak on behalf of one or two major heroes of the epic (including the Spirit of History).

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