Classes

    The Essay: History and Practice

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022
    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,...
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    The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: The Ethics of Art

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022
    What, if anything, is the relationship between art and morality? Can art be immoral? Or is it a mistake to evaluate a work of art in such terms? Can the moral of a content of a work bear on its aesthetic value, that is, whether it is good art? What of the moral status of artists—does the (im)morality of an artist bear on the success of her work? Should art serve as an instrument of moral education? A force for liberation? A method of unifying people? How do the arts shape who and...
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    Questions of Theory

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    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. 

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    Tasting Place: Food and Culture in America

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022
    We often associate specific tastes and foods with particular places, memories, and experiences. What would it mean, then, to center taste in our study of place and culture? How can places be tasted, and tastes be placed? In this class, we explore the relationship between taste and place within American culture, discussing how elements of nation, region, and identity are created, absorbed, and imagined through foods and their represented forms. The word “taste” has multiple meanings...
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    Con Artist Nation: Scams, Schemes, and American Dreams

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    With the popularity of shows like Inventing Anna and The Dropout, 2022 might be called the year of the scammer. Yet contemporary con artists come from a long lineage of carnival barkers, snake oil salesmen, and self-proclaimed miracle workers. This class examines the conditions of American capitalism and political populism that gave way to a society of schemers and dupes. We will consider how exploitation and self-invention were ultimately bound up in issues of class, race, gender, and religion. How did swindlers create or subvert stereotypes in search of profits? Who were imagined as...

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    Elizabeth Bishop and Others

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This course introduces students to the poetry, literary prose, and artful correspondence of one of the major poets of the twentieth century, considering her innovations in all these genres. We will look at her writing in multiple genres alongside the mid-century shift from ‘closed’ to ‘open’ verse forms, and relate stylistic issues to the intellectual and social changes, and political and historical developments of the period. Bishop’s critique of received ideas about nationality,...
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    The Politics of Personal Writing

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    A long tradition of feminist writing asserts that the personal is political. In this creative writing class, we will critically examine the work of feminist and queer authors such as Dorothy Allison, Roxane Gay, Cathy Park Hong, Audre Lorde, Imani Perry, and Margaret Talusen who use personal experience as a starting point for arguments about class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. Examining how these authors draw on traditions crafted by earlier authors such as James Baldwin...
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    Latinx, 1492 to 2022

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    The 530 years since Columbus’s arrival in Hispaniola have paid witness to the fall and rise of empires, the perseverance of colonial structures of power, and the construction and (re)creation of racial, sexual, and gendered identities. In the midst of such change and continuity, this course sets out to ask: what place does Latinx occupy in this long history? What does Latinidad look like when we trace it back 530 years, when we take 1492 to be its starting point instead of the 20th...
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    Live Theory (and Practice): A Graduate Proseminar in WGS Studies

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This WGS Graduate Proseminar will emphasize in-depth, lively conversations with WGS faculty about the interdisciplinary innovations of WGS Studies today, with singular attention to current debates in feminist and queer theories and practices. Each week, one member of the WGS faculty will guide the seminar in wide-ranging conversation about their own intellectual formation, about their own field of expertise, and about where and how their own writing fits...
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    Race, Gender, and Performance

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    Performance surrounds us. We see performances online, in movies and on TV, on the sports field, in the theatre, in activism, and in everyday life. How do these performances produce or disrupt race and gender? This class provides analytical tools by which to answer this question. Texts include works by Anna Deavere Smith, David Henry Hwang, Bertolt Brecht, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and Judith Butler; topics include AIDS activism, politics of public bathrooms, and weddings....
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    Feminism and Anthropology

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This course considers the relationship between feminism (as activist realm, as theoretical field, in its institutionalized form as gender studies) and anthropology. We will begin with early ethnographic writing by women and about women, and analyze some of the interventions feminists hope to make in anthropology. We will then examine the relationship between feminism and anthropology through two topics: kinship and politics. Our course will consider how feminist anthropologists...
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    Women's Voices in Asian and Asian American Literature

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This course introduces students to the writings of both canonical and lesser-known Asian and Asian American women writers. The course especially examines the works by Chinese/ Chinese American, Japanese/ Japanese American, Korean/ Korean American women writers. Moving from the pre-modern to contemporary era, the course will explore a range of women’s voices and experiences as reflected through poetry, fiction, diaries, and epistles. Authors will include Murasaki Shikibu, Li...
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    Legacies of a Powerful Woman: The Life and Afterlife of Empress Theodora

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    One of the most controversial women of ancient and medieval history is Theodora, wife of Justinian I and empress of the Roman Empire in the 6th century CE. She has been variously portrayed as a hypersexual prostitute and power-hungry, vindictive manipulator, or as a saint, protectress of the needy, champion of women’s rights and revolutionary. Who was this woman really and why did she provoke such conflicting responses? In this seminar, we will explore the historical sources on...
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    21st Century Global Feminisms

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    It has been more than 100 years since women gained voting rights in the US and many European countries, more than 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and China’s state policy of gender equality, 50 years since the transnational Women’s Liberation movement, and over 25 years since the UN Beijing Declaration. Yet, as a group, globally women and girls lag behind men and boys in almost every metric of social and economic power, and systematic nonbinary gender data...
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    Latin Elegy

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    Love, jealousy, angst… but make it fashion. Latin elegy on amatory themes flourished during the early years of the Augustan era (20s BCE), and the genre developed rapidly during the subsequent three decades. The canon of Latin literature records the names of four elegists (Gallus, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid) and in this course we will read texts from all four, as well as works by elegists not included on that list, to track the hallmarks of this varied genre. One theme of the...
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    China's Banned Book: Reading Jin Ping Mei

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    This course will introduce students to the controversial masterpiece of Chinese fiction, The Plum in the Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei). Censored for its erotic content, this sensational book had a profound impact on the development of Chinese fiction. A landmark in the history of the novel, The Plum in the Golden Vase shifts attention away from worthy heroes to examine the everyday exploits and desires of ordinary people. The work of an anonymous author, The Plum in the Golden Vase...
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    Advanced French I: The Contemporary Francophone World Through Cinema

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    In this advanced French language and culture course, you will explore francophone culture(s) through contemporary films. The course is designed to strengthen language proficiency, explore different registers of language, and further refine your grammatical understanding while offering an introduction to film analysis. You will engage in interactive communicative activities exploring themes such as regional differences, Paris and the banlieue, immigration, post-colonialism, cinematic self-portraits, and gender through readings such as film reviews, interviews with directors, and script...

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    Staging Critique: French Theater and the Social Body

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    How has theater in France, from the 17th-century to the present, served as a site of political, social, and philosophical reflection? In this course, we will attempt to answer that question by studying a selection of plays representing the major trends, movements, and writers of French theater from Jean Racine to Marie NDiaye. We will look in particular at how theater privileges the body and the language of emotion to reformulate and respond to questions regarding the relationship...
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    "The Words to Say It": 20th Century Women Writing in French, From Colette to Satrapi

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023
    Motherhood, romantic love, independence, sexuality, citizenship, fantasy, death: these are just some of the themes explored in women's novels, written in French, during the twentieth century. Students will read four exemplary novels, exploring how they have finally become classics, even given what they say about life and what it means for women to write about it. At the same time, the advent and development of feminist and/or queer literary criticism over the course of the 20th...
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