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HMAN Courses for Fall 2008

HMAN 1970H                                          Q Hour (Th 4:00 – 6:20pm)

Specters of Comparison
Nergis Ertürk, Visiting Professor in the Humanities
Comparison, which posits a likeness between the dissimilar, is always profoundly haunted by the question of its ground and judgment. This seminar will examine the comparative logic of capitalist modernity in the works of Marx, Weber, Adorno and Horkheimer, Foucault, Heidegger, and Benjamin. We will ask the following questions: How is equivalence established between nonequivalent objects? How are actual social relations quantified and measured, and is there an ethics to modern forms of comparability? How does language reflect and produce these operations? Or, to put it differently: What are the forms through which difference "haunts" us? We will pay special attention to figures of the double and the ghost in Hoffmann and Freud. Other topics to be covered include rationalization and the disenchantment of the world, the modern uncanny, "mediauras," colonial comparison, and the ethics of incommensurability.

HMAN 1970A                                               M Hour (M 3:00 – 5:20pm)

Eating Cultures:  Food and Society
Matthew Garcia, Faculty Fellow
This course will look at various ways to understand the complex role of food in society.  We will look at issues of food production and consumption, and how our relationship to food contributes to the political and social structures that we live with.  Our approach will be historical and pay special attentions to the ways in which communities of color and immigrants have shaped, and have been shaped by, the food they cultivate, harvest, consume, and market.  The readings explore how food creates ways for people to form bonds of belonging while also creating bonds of control and regimes of inequality.


HMAN 1970G                                                P Hour (T 4:00 – 6:20pm)

A History of Humanness:  Scientific & Popular Cultures in the 20th Century United States
Megan Glick, Visiting Professor in the Humanities
What does it mean to be human? Within the present moment, it is common to critically consider one’s race, class, gender, and sexual identities, but it is rare to imagine one’s “species” as part of this formulation of self. Rather, the category of “humanness” is often still understood as an essential, biological truth. This course asks students to contemplate scientific and cultural constructions of humanness in the 20th century U.S. in two primary ways. First, we will address the literal production and invocation of humanness, by historicizing the evolution and maintenance of the boundaries between the animal, human, and technological worlds. Second, we will consider the symbolic production of humanness, by reflecting upon instances in which particular groups of people are not treated as fully “human” in the socio-political sense. As such, this course understands the “human” to be both a biological marker of species difference, and a category of social difference produced alongside and in dialogue with the categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality. The course is organized both chronologically and thematically, and will draw upon historical, cultural theoretical, scientific, and popular works.

HMAN 1970K                                                 N Hour (W 3:00 – 5:20pm)

The Origins and Contours of American Nationalism, 1780-1900
Michael Vorenberg, Faculty Fellow
American Nationalism, a perennial subject of interest to historians, has received particular attention from all types of scholars in recent years, especially in the wake of international conflicts after the attacks of September 11, 2001.  This course seeks to contextualize and historicize the topic of American nationalism by examining a series of interrelated questions: How and when did the United States become a nation, and how and when did American nationalism arise?  How does American nationalism compare to nationalism in other regions?  What have been the major tensions and conversations around the topic of American citizenship?

HMAN 1970F                                               O Hour (F 3:00 – 5:20pm)

Visualizing History: The Politics of Material Culture in Modern South Asia
Vazira Zamindar, Faculty Fellow
This advanced history seminar will examine the making of art, art historical and archaeological knowledge through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in colonial and postcolonial South Asia, as sites and objects came to be ‘discovered’, interpreted and contested through scientific, religious and national claims. We will examine a series of sites, objects, and images, including the Indus Valley seals, Asoka’s Buddhist columns, Bodhgaya, sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses, erotic sculptures, temple at Somnath, and more recently the Babri mosque at Ayodhya, the Bamiyan Buddhas and M. F. Husain’s paintings of Hindu goddesses. Unlike an art history course, the sites, objects and images that we will examine do not follow aesthetic or period styles, but rather serve as foci to historically and theoretically examine the making of different kinds of knowledge and the new contestations that they engendered.

HMAN Courses for Spring 2009

HMAN 1970C                                                M Hour (M 3:00 – 5:20pm)

Europe in the Vernacular
Elizabeth Bryan, Faculty Fellow                                      

Why did a few early medieval European authors write not in Latin or Arabic but in vernacular languages like Castilian, Early Middle English, or Old French?  We will read primary texts by Layamon, Alfonso X, Dante, troubadours and anonymous others, and assess previous claims about the “rise of the individual” and various proto-nationalisms as we potentially rewrite the story of how, why, and for whom vernacular writings came to be.  Readings in modern English supplemented by medieval languages. Graduate projects must engage a text in a medieval language.

HMAN 1970E                                                  O Hour (F 3:00 – 5:20pm)

Arts of Deformation: Fantasy and Caprice in European Music, Literature and Visual Arts, 1600-1850

Dana Gooley, Faculty Fellow  

This interdisciplinary seminar examines the history and cultural significance of fantasias, capriccios, and other genres of bizarre and grotesque expression across the arts. Themes include the historical origins of “fantasy” and “caprice,” the social purposes of creative “free play,” the Enlightenment’s troubled engagement with the irrational, and the marginality of fantastic genres relative to classical aesthetic traditions. Subject material includes music from Frescobaldi to Liszt, visual arts from Piranesi to Delacroix, and literature from the commedia dell’arte to ETA Hoffmann and Victor Hugo. Working proficiency in either Italian, French or German preferred.

HMAN 1970D                                                 N Hour (W 3:00 – 5:20pm)

Prejudice in Early Modern England

Timothy Harris, Faculty Fellow

Examines English attitudes towards the ‘other’ in the period from the Reformation to the early Enlightenment. Utilizing a combination of theoretical and secondary readings and primary source materials, the course will investigate English prejudices against and stereotypes of  religious minorities within England (Catholics and Puritans), the non-English peoples of the British Isles (Scots, Welsh and Irish), continental Europeans (particularly the Spanish, the French and the Dutch), and the non-Christian other (Jews, Turks, and Blacks) during a period of revolutionary upheaval.

HMAN 1970I                                                   P Hour (T 4:00 – 6:20pm)

Works of Memory
David Kyuman Kim, Visiting Professor in the Humanities

In an age shaped by globalization, migration, mobility, and terrorism, the challenge of analyzing and understanding the work of memory takes on renewed significance. The work of memory comes at the service of quests and questions about “home,” “homeland,” “race,” “a people,” “nation,” “culture,” “trauma,” and the like. For example, how do ideas such as “home” begin with an identification with a particular physical place/space and time/history and evolve into an idea, a metaphor, or even a state of mind? What are the public and private mechanics of memory that serve to fortify as well as unsettle individual and collective psyches? What are the effective features of forms of public memory making, such as memorials and memoirs?

In this seminar, we will examine how concepts such as identity, home, diaspora, exile, homeland, return, cultural nationalism, displacement, estrangement, and nostalgia function as symbolic resources as well as sites of political, psychological, cultural, and spiritual identity. Our approach will be to read meditations by playwrights, memoirists, and critics on these concepts and experiences against an array of theoretical approaches from political theory, psychoanalytical theory, theories of religion, and cultural and literary studies, with the objective of gaining a broad understanding of the work of memory.

HMAN 1970B                                               Q Hour (Th 4:00 – 6:20pm)

Clean and Modern: Meanings of Health and Hygiene in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Ethan Pollock, Faculty Fellow

This seminar will explore the ways in which health and hygiene fit into broader conceptualizations of European “modernity” and the process of modernizing others.  The seminar will be organized into three sections.  We will start by reading and discussing general histories of public health.  Then we will move on to monographs and articles that address disease, the body, and the advent of medicine in various modern European contexts (including “backwards” Russia!).  Finally, we will study how modern medical ideas came into contact with local healing traditions in China, British India, and elsewhere. This seminar will be relevant to programs in history, public policy, international relations, and medicine.

To view the related course catalog for 2008-09, click here.