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
In this course, we will study literary responses to and representations of loss, both public and private, in twentieth- and twenty-first-century French literature. We will investigate how mourning intersects with various theoretical and historical topics including gender and sexuality, the memory of war, and the AIDS epidemic. We will discuss how the particular intellectual contexts and historical events of the twentieth century brought about shifts in the way that individuals and communities experienced loss and worked through grief. We will consider how the work of mourning generates political as well as aesthetic questions, and we will ask how literature helps us to think about loss and to propose alternative models of mourning. Readings may include literary works by Marcel Proust, Simone de Beauvoir, Hervé Guibert, and Patrick Modiano. We will also look at theoretical writings on loss from a variety of perspectives, from psychoanalysis to deconstruction and queer theory.... Read more about The Politics and Aesthetics of Mourning
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
The disparate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the global impact of the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd have highlighted for all to see the dramatic inequities and entrenched human rights violations that continue to plague human societies. Extreme poverty, especially among communities of color, is sky rocketing, refugees and other forced migrants are blocked from seeking life-saving protection, domestic violence is soaring, evidence of structural racism and its enduring legacy is present on every continent. Despite over half a century of...
Human rights practitioners around the world rely upon human rights law, language, and methodologies in the struggle for social justice. This freshman seminar explores the underlying legal framework in which human rights advocates operate, and uses specific case studies to consider the legal, ethical, and strategic challenges that practitioners grapple with in their work. The seminar is designed to encourage students to critically evaluate the human rights movement while offering an introduction to some of the essential tools and strategies used by human rights advocates...
Narrative Negotiations explores narrative “voice” in a wide range of literary and cultural texts. Narrative voice is a lively dialogue between the author and the reader as they engage in the experience of determining the value and veracity of the narrative: whose story is it anyway? The writer creates the imaginative universe of character, plot, emotions and ideas—she seems to be holding all the cards; but it is the reader who rolls the dice as she draws on her human experience and moral values to question the principles and priorities of the storyteller. The game of narrative becomes deadly serious when storytelling confronts issues of colonialism, slavery, racial profiling and gender discrimination.... Read more about Narrative Negotiations: How do Readers and Writers Decide on What are the Most Important Voices and Values Represented in a Narrrative?
We coined the term implicit bias in 1995 to capture the idea that bias, i.e., a deviation from accuracy or values can be implicit, i.e., operate without conscious awareness or conscious control. The idea emerged from basic research on implicit social cognition (ISC), an area of scientific psychology that explores the hidden aspects of mental representations of self, other, and social groups. Today, 25 years later, the term implicit bias has transcended academic psychology and permeated contemporary culture where it is used and contested every day. In this seminar, we will study the science of implicit bias, with a focus on disparities that emerge along the lines of social categories of age, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, physical attributes, religion, politics, language and culture, geographic region and nationality.... Read more about Implicit Bias: Science and Society
Examines human creativity from three perspectives: a) empirical research sources, b) case studies of eminent creative achievers, and c) ourselves as creative subjects. Topics include the definition and measurement of creativity, the creative process, the neuroscience of creativity, the creative personality, the role of family life and culture in creativity, the relationship of creativity to IQ, gender differences, and the relationship of creativity to psychopathology. The course format will consist of a combination of lectures, student presentations, and discussion. Students will write a final paper on the topic of their choice related to creativity.... Read more about Creativity Research: Eccentrics, Geniuses, and Harvard Students
This course explores how nominal features like person, number, and grammatical gender are formally marked as well as interpreted, with greatest attention paid to grammatical gender. Are categories such as “masculine”, “feminine”, and “neuter” linguistically on equal footing, or are there asymmetries in how they are morphologically expressed or in how they map onto meanings? Are these categories represented consistently across languages? Depending on enrollee/participant interests, topics may include the representation of “markedness”; morphosyntactic defaults; connections between notional and non-notional gender assignment to nouns; gender and scope interactions; the interpretability of fake indexicals; and singular they.... Read more about Morphosemantics
What is the relationship between cultural change and individual pathology? Are the stresses of modern life implicated in the emergence of new forms of psychic distress and mental illness? Over the past century, psychological experts have identified new emotions, dissatisfactions, and disorders, producing an expansive catalogue of modern woes and fashioning a range of remedies. With attention to variations across race and gender, we explore the coalescence and cultural fortunes of, among other topics, the personality disorders (narcissism, BPD); trauma, PTSD; disorders of identity and of attachment; social anxiety, isolation; gaslighting; Black Rage; greed, success neurosis, imposter syndrome; stress, coping, burnout.... Read more about Psychopathologies of Modern Life
Human rights and humanitarianism are fundamental to modern political ethics. Yet the moral consensus surrounding these terms obscures an often disturbing history. This course is an introduction to human rights and humanitarianism as frameworks for understanding European, imperial, and global history from the enlightenment to the present day. Rather than uncritically accepting a triumphalist narrative, we will explore how these concepts were constructed over time, asking how they were used in practice, whose interests they served, and how they enabled inequality and exclusion along axes of race, gender, class, and nationality even as they promised a more just world.... Read more about Human Rights and Humanitarianism in the Modern World
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
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
In this seminar, we will ask: first, how has the present wave of far-right parties in western and central Europe tapped into notions of national decline, instability, and changing demographics? Second, what can we learn about these movements by studying histories of European fascism in France, Germany, Spain, and Italy? And finally, how have these histories been obscured and rehabilitated in different ways in each of these countries? By moving from contemporary cases of resurgent nationalist sentiment to their interwar predecessors and back again, and through a consideration of novels, films, historical documents, speeches, and monuments, among other sources, the course will seek to uncover how anxieties of migration, race, and empire—as well as changing roles of religion, gender, and nationhood—shaped political animosities and allegiances within the European Far Right both a century ago and today.
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
German History loomed like a specter over the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, Americans have been debating the relevance and legitimacy of comparisons between German history and our contemporary world. How useful is German history for understanding our current moment? How might our present day concerns distort what we see in the past? This course will examine the history of Germans in Europe and elsewhere, starting with the revolutions of 1848 and ending with the separation of Austria, West Germany, and East Germany following the Second World War. Themes will be war, insurrection, and terrorism, revolution and counter-revolution, gender and sexuality, reform, violence, anti-semitism, racial thinking and racism, and migration.... Read more about German History from Bismarck to Hitler
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
Migration, both voluntary and involuntary, helps to shape the culture, society, economics, and politics of the modern world. It benefits both movers and receiving countries, but also entails considerable costs. The course begins with consideration of the broad sweep of population movements, and addresses various impacts on both migrants and receiving countries. It focuses primarily, however, on the politics of and political science research about contemporary population movements in the United States and other western nations. Topics include patterns of incorporation and exclusion, consequences of different legal statuses, and the differential impact of migrants’ nationality, gender, and class status.... Read more about Migration
Considers theories of power in American political science and political theory; how to measure and use these theories to understand political choices. Attention to race, gender, class, legal standing, policies, history, values and institutional frameworks.... Read more about Power in American Society
This is a survey of advanced topics in political economy, with a focus on affluent democracies in North America, Western Europe, and East Asia. We will explore cross-national differences in the organization of economic, political, and social institutions, and how these produce divergent economic policies and outcomes. We will also ask how class, race, and gender affect the politics of inequality and redistribution, and we will consider the political and economic consequences of globalization, women’s economic mobilization, and new technology -- including the rise of right populism. The course is taught seminar-style and restricted to a maximum of 16 advanced undergraduates.... Read more about Political Economy: Advanced Democracies