Classes

    Hidden Figures: The City, Architecture and the Construction of Race and Gender

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022
    What hidden figures do our buildings and urban environment conceal? There exists systematic erasure of the contributions of Women of Color - Queer, Black and Indigenous -in the design field. This course is experimental by nature; it attempts to dismantle White-Supremacy ideology and the Western canon by not focusing on European, White and European American figures. The seminar explores critical race and gender theory to provide a framework for understanding society's role and cultural influences to the commissioning of buildings and the planning of cities. It will engage questions of authorship and production as it relates to the construction of our built environment. It will examine the hidden figures, often excluded from the canon of knowledge. These significant figures have made meaningful contributions to the built environment in colonial and post-colonial contexts.... Read more about Hidden Figures: The City, Architecture and the Construction of Race and Gender

    The Essay: History and Practice

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    Matthew Arnold famously said that poetry is, at bottom, “a criticism of life.” But if any literary form is truly a criticism of life, it is the essay. And yet despite the fact that all students write essays, most students rarely study them; bookshops and libraries categorize such work only negatively, by what it is not: “non-fiction.” At the same time, the essay is at present one of the most productive and fertile of literary forms. It is practiced as memoir, reportage, diary, criticism, and sometimes all four at once. Novels are becoming more essayistic, while essays are borrowing conventions and prestige from fiction. This class will disinter the essay from its comparative academic neglect, and examine the vibrant contemporary borderland between the reported and the invented. We will study the history of the essay, from Montaigne to the present day. Rather than study that history purely chronologically, each class will group several essays from different decades and centuries around common themes: death, detail, sentiment, race, gender, photography, the city, witness, and so on.... Read more about The Essay: History and Practice

    Gender and Representation

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    Margaret Atwood is often asked if the The Handmaid’s Tale is a “feminist” novel. Her response: “If you mean an ideological tract in which all women are angels and/or so victimized they are incapable of moral choice, no. If you mean a novel in which women are human beings — with all the variety of character and behavior that implies — and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes. In that sense, many books are ‘feminist.’” This course focuses on such feminist books. It explores issues of perspective: what happens when an author writes from the perspective of a woman? Since taking this perspective does not depend on biology, we will explore authors from a variety of backgrounds, especially those whose class, race, and/or ethnicity add another dimension. We’ll focus on contemporary Anglophone novels and drama.... Read more about Gender and Representation

    Five Shakespeare Plays

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    We'll be reading HamletKing LearThe Merchant of Venice, Henry V, and The Tempest.  Special attention to dramatically motivating issues involving familial kinship, racial and linguistic difference, and national and religious conflict.   Philosophical and historical issues include Shakespeare's unique use of language, the ambiguous authorship of the plays, gender issues informing stage production, the sense of place in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and the influence of the Shakespearean canon  in the various arts and media.... Read more about Five Shakespeare Plays

    Tattoo: Histories and Practices

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    This course’s focus is on the social history of tattooing in Europe and North America from the mid-18th century to the present. The course also considers tattoo practices in Asian, Polynesian, and indigenous North America cultures. In addition to their own intrinsic interest, these practices and their histories are essential to a critical understanding of the development of tattooing within globalized modern and post-modern culture.... Read more about Tattoo: Histories and Practices

    Advanced French I: The Contemporary Francophone World Through Cinema

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    In this advanced French language and culture course, you will explore Francophone cultures through contemporary films to build interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational modes of communication while activating analytical and creative thinking. Course materials include French-language films and corresponding literary texts, images, and supporting authentic materials such as posters and advertisements that will help you develop oral and written communication skills through close readings and cultural analysis. Course themes investigate contemporary issues at the heart of Francophone societies today, including deportation and (non)belonging, policing, ableism, education, Blackness, sexuality and transgender identity, as well as the role of the family. The structure of class will promote spontaneous exchange about films and topics studied, real-and real-time collaboration with classmates. Creative assignments include interactive writing assignments, short compositions, scripts, and a short film. No previous familiarity with film study is necessary.... Read more about Advanced French I: The Contemporary Francophone World Through Cinema

    Queer Latinx Borderlands

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    What does Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny have to do with 16th century Mexico criminal archives? What does the Netflix series Pose (2018) have to do with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848)? They converge in the queer borderlands, Chicana lesbian Gloria Anzaldúa’s spatial framework. Just as border studies has taught us that such encounters and crossroads exist far beyond literal borders, so too does this course delink from any geographical space, instead deploying Anzaldúa’s framework to provide an account for two major arcs while centering gender and sexual non/normativity.... Read more about Queer Latinx Borderlands

    Sound and Color: Music, Race, and US Cultural Politics

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    Although race is often presumed to be a visual phenomenon, it is also created and produced through sound. But what does race sound like? What might we learn when we attune our ears to the music and noise that race makes in popular music, on the stage, and in literature? How can texts like songs, films, and novels both reinforce and challenge cultural hierarchies and arrangements of social power? This course explores the sonification of race and the racialization of sound, music, and noise in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present.... Read more about Sound and Color: Music, Race, and US Cultural Politics

    American Noir

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    This class will examine noir not only as an aesthetic—brutality disguised in beauty—but also as a social commentary on American life in the 1940s and 50s. How did cultural conceptions of the tough guy and femme fatale reflect or shape the gender and sexual politics of the era? How did noir speak to anxieties surrounding race, ethnicity, and social class? And how did America’s anti-heroes reflect a changing conception of nationhood and citizenship in the atomic age? By looking at cultural works like films, novels, and true crime pieces in the context of postwar psychology and sociology, we will consider what audiences’ fascination with violence, murder, and deceit revealed about the American identity.... Read more about American Noir

    Questions of Theory

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    To explore key literary, cultural and critical theories, we pose questions through readings of classic and contemporary theorists, from Aristotle to Kant, Schiller, Arendt, Barthes, Foucault, Glissant, Ortiz, Kittler, and Butler, among others. Their approaches include aesthetics, (post)structuralism, (post)colonialism, media theory, gender theory, ecocriticism. Each seminar addresses a core reading and a cluster of variations. Weekly writing assignments will formulate a question that addresses the core texts to prepare for in-class discussions and interpretive activities.... Read more about Questions of Theory

    Spiritual Paths to Abstract Art

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    Approaching 20th-century abstract art through the lens of religious studies, this course explores alternatives to twentieth-century narratives of modern art centered on the existential crisis of a heroic-- usually male, Caucasian and secular—individual.  In contrast, we will center paths to abstraction in which a departure from or repurposing of the figure emanates from spiritual sources not usually associated with modernity.  Locating the artists’ work within their biographies and their communities, the course focuses on abstraction as a vehicle for delving intersections of spirituality with history, race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.... Read more about Spiritual Paths to Abstract Art

    Mystical Theology

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    This course will examine the history of mystical theology in early and medieval Christianity. Through a close reading of primary texts in translation we will explore the practices through which the mystical life is pursued; the interplay of affirmation (kataphasis) and negation (apophasis) in language and images surrounding mystical reading, prayer, and meditation; varying conceptions of mystical union and annihilation; and the role of gender and what we might call sexuality within texts about the mystical life. Jointly offered in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as Religion 1448.... Read more about Mystical Theology