Undergraduate

  • Communication and the Arts: The Battle of the Books: Culture Wars in Early Modern Europe

    This course will focus on a major intellectual controversy of the 17th and 18th centuries known as the <i>Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns</i>. Through close readings of seminal texts we will address issues pertaining to the historical significance of the <i>Quarrel</i>, its sociopolitical implications, and the role it played in the cultural and scientific evolution of early modern Europe.
  • Holocaust Testimony

    This course focuses on major issues raised by but also extending beyond Holocaust survivor testimony, including the communication of trauma, genres of witnessing, the ethical implications of artistic representation, conflicts between history and memory, the fate of individuality in collective upheaval, the condition of survival itself, and the crucial role played by reception in enabling and transmitting survivors' speech.
  • Topics in Literature and Ethics: Modern Evil

    This is a course on the problem of evil in the modern world as it is represented in works of literature and film. What is the nature of evil and how is it imagined? How can the noble ideas that define the modern world--justice and human rights, for example--be reconciled
  • Topics in Postcolonial Literature: Postcolonial Cities

    Addresses the literature of several cities that have been central in shaping the modern imagination: Bombay, Cairo, Lagos, and Johannesburg. It will explore how the emergence of these global cities has transformed the meaning of urban landscapes and their representation in literature. The course will also examine how migrant writers from Africa and the Caribbean have transformed old cities such as London and New York. How does the city shape the form of writing? How does language itself transform the meaning of the urban experience?
  • Bollywood Cinema

    Bollywood generates more films each year than other global film industries, circulating films across Africa, Asia, and beyond. What are the dominant trends and genres of popular South Asian cinema since independence? We will assume a capacious meaning of "Bollywood" as a global phenomenon. Course topics include the recent resurgence of Pakistani film industry as well as "Third Cinema," against which the popular is often defined in studies of postcolonial cinema. Course topics include melodrama, the popular, translation, diaspora, migration, nationalism and affect.
  • East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations

    Second in the two-semester sequence on East Asian literary humanities, this course begins in the seventeenth century and covers a range of themes in the history, literature, and culture of Japan, Korea, and China until the contemporary period. Looking into the narratives of modernity, colonialism, urban culture, and war and disaster, we will see East Asia as a space for encounters, contestations, cultural currents and countercurrents. No knowledge of East Asian languages or history is required and first-year students are welcome to take the course.
  • Classics of Scientific Communication: Lucretius, Galileo, and Darwin

    How does revolutionary science happen? Why do some scientific texts have staying power? Do scientific concepts follow particular trajectories through social sciences, the arts, and popular culture? We will address such questions in this interdisciplinary course for students interested in the peculiar dynamics of scientific cognition, theoretical elaboration and system-building, and strengths and limits of representation.
  • Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities: How Literatures Begin

    The course examines the problem of the origins of literary traditions. There will be some comparative material from different cultural and literary traditions, though the main focus will be on the European context from antiquity through modernity. Why do literatures come into existence at certain times and places? Is this something we should take for granted? What are the circumstances that lead to the development of a literature?
  • Marvels and Wonder in Classical Arabic Literature

    This course explores a variety of medieval Arabic texts through the lens of wonder. It is through marveling at the foreign and inexplicable that we position ourselves in the world and separate the Self from the Other. Yet, wonder is also what prompts our curiosity for discovery and provokes our search for explanations. Where was the line drawn between the familiar and the strange in medieval Arabic culture? How was wonder defined? What role did it play? The course is taught in English in its entirety. No prerequisites.
  • Communist Modernity: The Politics and Culture of Soviet Utopia

    Communism is long gone but its legacy continues to reverberate. And not only because of Cuba, China or North Korea. Inspired by utopian ideas of equality and universal brotherhood, communism was originally conceived as an ideological, socio-political, economic and cultural alternative to capitalism's crises. The attempt to build a new utopian world was costly and brutal: equality was quickly transformed into uniformity; brotherhood evolved into the Big Brother.

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