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