Courses

Spring 2020

Gender and Sexuality in African History
This course explores the history of gender and sexuality in Africa. By reading an eclectic range of historical sources (including films, novels, and anthropological works) alongside recent secondary literature, students will explore several important questions. How have African cultures, religions, experiences of colonialism, political formations, medicines, and youth, shaped, and been shaped by, understandings of gender and sexuality? What link is there between contemporary LGBTQ activism and African history? Why do debates about Africa often center on issues of gender and sexuality? Is "queer" a meaningful method for African studies?
Instructors: Wendy Laura Belcher
Gender and Sexuality in African History
This course explores the history of gender and sexuality in Africa. By reading an eclectic range of historical sources (including films, novels, and anthropological works) alongside recent secondary literature, students will explore several important questions. How have African cultures, religions, experiences of colonialism, political formations, medicines, and youth, shaped, and been shaped by, understandings of gender and sexuality? What link is there between contemporary LGBTQ activism and African history? Why do debates about Africa often center on issues of gender and sexuality? Is "queer" a meaningful method for African studies?
Instructors: Wendy Laura Belcher
Interpretation: The Problem of Context
The need to think "contextually" is a basic premise shared by many scholarly practices of interpretation, including cross-cultural comparison and translation in anthropology, comparative literature, and beyond. But what exactly does context mean in these practices, how does it work, and where does it end? How does context help us frame particularity and generality, periphery and center, past and present? How does it support normative positions of relativism or universalism? In this seminar, we explore context as a concept and tool, through readings in a variety of disciplines as well as specific research projects, including our own.
Instructors: Elizabeth Anne Davis, Karen Renee Emmerich
Interpretation: The Problem of Context
The need to think "contextually" is a basic premise shared by many scholarly practices of interpretation, including cross-cultural comparison and translation in anthropology, comparative literature, and beyond. But what exactly does context mean in these practices, how does it work, and where does it end? How does context help us frame particularity and generality, periphery and center, past and present? How does it support normative positions of relativism or universalism? In this seminar, we explore context as a concept and tool, through readings in a variety of disciplines as well as specific research projects, including our own.
Instructors: Elizabeth Anne Davis, Karen Renee Emmerich
Language & Subjectivity: Theories of Formation
The purpose of the course is to examine key texts of the twentieth century that established the fundamental connection between language structures and practices on the one hand, and the formation of selfhood and subjectivity, on the other. In particular, the course focuses on theories that emphasize the role of formal elements in producing meaningful discursive and social effects. Works of Russian formalists and French (post)-structuralists are discussed in connection with psychoanalytic and anthropological theories of formation.
Instructors: Serguei Alex. Oushakine
Language & Subjectivity: Theories of Formation
The purpose of the course is to examine key texts of the twentieth century that established the fundamental connection between language structures and practices on the one hand, and the formation of selfhood and subjectivity, on the other. In particular, the course focuses on theories that emphasize the role of formal elements in producing meaningful discursive and social effects. Works of Russian formalists and French (post)-structuralists are discussed in connection with psychoanalytic and anthropological theories of formation.
Instructors: Serguei Alex. Oushakine
Learning Shakespeare by Doing
A course on works of dramatic literature whose comparative dimension is theatrical performance. We will consider four Shakespeare plays covering a range of theatrical genres; the emphasis will be on the ways in which Shakespearean meaning can be elucidated when the reader becomes a performer. Students will move from the reading/performing of individual speeches to the staging of scenes to the question of how an overall theatrical conception for a play might be a key to the fullest understanding of the text. Students will write papers about their readings and performances; grades will be based on both the writing and the performing.
Instructors: Leonard Barkan
Learning Shakespeare by Doing
A course on works of dramatic literature whose comparative dimension is theatrical performance. We will consider four Shakespeare plays covering a range of theatrical genres; the emphasis will be on the ways in which Shakespearean meaning can be elucidated when the reader becomes a performer. Students will move from the reading/performing of individual speeches to the staging of scenes to the question of how an overall theatrical conception for a play might be a key to the fullest understanding of the text. Students will write papers about their readings and performances; grades will be based on both the writing and the performing.
Instructors: Leonard Barkan
Literary and Cultural Theory: Cartographies of the Image in the 21st Century
If the spectacular explosion of images during the last 20 years is one of the signatures of our contemporary era, one of our most urgent tasks is to understand the role and place of these images in our everyday life, and this without assuming we know what an image is. If we are to understand the innumerable mediums and forms in which images now appear, this course suggests that we must read these mostly digitized, and even post-digitized, appearances of the image through patient, and persistently pre-digital forms of reading that, proleptically, already comprehend digital and even post-digital phenomena avant la lettre.
Instructors: Eduardo Lujan Cadava
Literary and Cultural Theory: Cartographies of the Image in the 21st Century
If the spectacular explosion of images during the last 20 years is one of the signatures of our contemporary era, one of our most urgent tasks is to understand the role and place of these images in our everyday life, and this without assuming we know what an image is. If we are to understand the innumerable mediums and forms in which images now appear, this course suggests that we must read these mostly digitized, and even post-digitized, appearances of the image through patient, and persistently pre-digital forms of reading that, proleptically, already comprehend digital and even post-digital phenomena avant la lettre.
Instructors: Eduardo Lujan Cadava

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