Classes

COVID-19, inequality and the Latinx Community

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021
When the coronavirus pandemic started to hit the world in 2020, it gave the wrong impression that it would affect everyone the same way, acting as a ‘great equalizer’. However, the effects of COVID-19 exacerbated structural injustices and the impact varied dramatically different depending on race, gender, class. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in May 2021, Hispanics/Latinos were twice as likely to get the virus in comparison to white adults, and 2.3 times more likely to die from it. Even as vaccines have become available, their distribution has also been affected by disparities of access. For this class we will analyze discursivities that have been exposed by the pandemic and have since become topics of ethical and social reevaluation: health disparities, the distribution of labor, housing and transportation, language access, environmental racism (including activism against anti-Asian and anti-Black violence).... Read more about COVID-19, inequality and the Latinx Community

Implicit Bias: Science and Society

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021
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

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

Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, and the Transpacific Ethnography of Asian America

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

Given the urgency of the contemporary political moment and heightened conversations around race and especially gendered racial violence, what might anthropology stand to gain from an overt engagement with ethnic studies? Furthermore, how might anthropology’s longstanding interest in local meaning, knowledge, and practices disrupt hegemonic or US-centric notions of the ethnic Other? By foregrounding scholarship that traverses ethnic studies, Asian American studies, and anthropology, this course is designed to highlight the ways that histories of minoritized groups overlap and are connected.... Read more about Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, and the Transpacific Ethnography of Asian America

Readings in Native American and Indigenous Studies: Seminar

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021
This course offers a survey of the historiography of Native American and Indigenous Studies.  Centered on six themes—Power and the Middle Ground, Borderlands, Settler Colonialism and Sovereignty, Race and Slavery, Modernity and Futurity, and Global and Comparative Indigeneity—the course is designed to allow explorations into additional terrain, including gender and sexuality, law and policy, and comparative ethnic studies, among others.  Core readings will focus on recently published scholarship.  To explore field trajectories, scholarly exchange, and indigenous politics, members of the class will research and write historiographical essays that will be shared collectively, and form the basis for seminar discussion.... Read more about Readings in Native American and Indigenous Studies: Seminar

Keats Isn't Dead: How We Live Romanticism

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

Our thoughts and feelings about identity, self-expression, and the power of the imagination draw on the British Romantic poetry of the Long Eighteenth Century—whether we've read any or not. Focusing on John Keats (his key poems, and his key ideas, about "negative capability", the "camelion poet", and so on), this course makes unconventional connections into the twentieth, and twenty-first century. Tracking issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, we'll bounce from Keats into war verse; African-American poetries; world/postcolonial writing; the literature of social class; feminist experimentalism; and constructions of masculinity. Concentrators will learn how to analyze poetry in both closed and open forms.... Read more about Keats Isn't Dead: How We Live Romanticism

German History from Bismarck to Hitler

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021
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

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

Feminist Science Studies

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

This seminar is an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of feminist science studies. As the feminist movements of the 1970s began to change the American political landscape, academic feminists began inquiries into the marginalization of women in science – a debate philosopher Harding called “the woman question in science.” Feminist scientists began to examine sex, gender and race bias in their own disciplines. In consequence, they raised questions about androcentric – male-centered – epistemologies underlying Western science (alongside a growing critique of Eurocentrism).... Read more about Feminist Science Studies

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

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

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

The Greatest Chinese Novel

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

The Story of the Stone (also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber) by Cao Xueqin (1715?-1763) is widely recognized as the masterpiece of Chinese fiction. It is also a portal to Chinese civilization. Encyclopedic in scope, this book both sums up Chinese culture and asks of it difficult questions. Its cult status also accounts for modern popular screen and television adaptations. Through a close examination of this text in conjunction with supplementary readings and visual materials, the seminar will explore a series of topics on Chinese culture, including foundational myths, philosophical and religious systems, the status of fiction, conceptions of art and the artist, ideas about love, desire and sexuality, gender roles, garden aesthetics, family and clan structure, and definitions of socio-political order.

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