Skip over navigation
Brown Home Brown Home Brown University Cogut Center for the Humanities Brown Home Brown Home Brown University

Fall HMAN Courses 2011-12


HMAN1970Y                                       (M 3:30 - 6:00pm)

Politics and Authority in Islamic Law and Society
Nancy Khalek, Faculty Fellow

Few courses offer insight into the genesis of Islamic political theory in light of the social and historical circumstances of the medieval period. This seminar seeks to address major trends in political thought of classical Islam. In addition to reading secondary scholarship on social and political aspects of early Muslim society, we will also examine primary sources in translation (Prolegomenon, Book of Ordinances); literary genres, including official state epistles from the medieval period; and the work of Ibn Taymiyya. Finally we will address issues of authority, ethics and gender in contemporary analyses.

HMAN2970E                 (N Hour W 3:00 - 5:20pm)                                      

Pain, Medicine, and Society
Jay M. Baruch, MD; Christine Montross, MD; Michael P. Steinberg, Cogut Center Director

We will take on the big question of pain as an interdisciplinary enterprise, drawing on the rich and varied faculty of Brown University and Alpert Medical School. We will examine acute/chronic/physical/psychic pain, the nature of suffering, and why some might find value/solace in pain and suffering. We will examine representations of pain in literature, art and music; look at the shifting conceptions of pain and suffering across cultural/ethnic/religious communities, and the actual/perceived barriers to effective treatment of pain. Most importantly, we will foster sensitivity and impart tools that will improve our understanding and treatment of individuals suffering from pain. Enrollment limited to 20 students in Medical Humanities and graduate Humanities fields. Honors undergraduates and PLMEs may enroll with instructor permission.

HMAN 2970F                              (Th 1:00 - 3:20pm) 

Nationalism, Colonialism, Religion, and International Law
Nathaniel Berman, Faculty Fellow

This seminar explores the internationalism of the past century in terms of its relationship to separatist nationalism, anti-colonialism, and religious mobilization. It takes as its point of departure the dramatic political, cultural, and intellectual transformations that followed in the wake of World War I. A guiding hypothesis of the seminar is that internationalism cannot be understood apart from its complex relationship to the “identity” broadly conceived – identity of local/transnational groups as well as the identity of internationalists themselves. Readings will be drawn from law, cultural studies, politics, and postcolonial theory. Enrollment limited to 20. Open to graduate students and advanced juniors/seniors by permission of the instructor.

Spring HMAN Courses 2012

HMAN1970A                                M Hour (M 3:00 - 5:20pm)

Religion, Secularization and the International
Nathaniel Berman and Thomas Lewis, Faculty Fellows

For the past several decades (especially since 2001), internationalists have been increasingly preoccupied by the perceived challenge posed by “return of religion.” Religion is now often proclaimed to pose the single greatest challenge to construction of liberal legal/political order, and less often as the greatest hope for preservation/improvement of that order. We will explore genealogies of the three key terms at stake in this conundrum – “religion,” “secularization,” and “the international”, and to the ways these genealogies have been intertwined. We will start from the proposition that none of these terms refer to ahistorical or uncontroversial essences, but to theoretical/practical contestation/ reconfiguration. 

HMAN 1970U                                N Hour (W 3:00 - 5:20pm)

Botanic Verses: Plants, People, and the Words that Bind Them
Paja Faudree, Faculty Fellow

This course considers how language mediates between plants and people. It’s organized around key themes: discourses about diversity; regimes of naming; “multispecies ethnographies” and environmental crises; colonialism and botanical migrations; “biopiracy” and indigenous knowledge; controversies over plants used in medicinal settings; the commercialization and criminalization of hallucinogenic plants; and critiques of modern food production, including the “locavore movement” and opposition to genetically modified foods. The course will draw from a wide range of sources – scholarly, popular, literary, cinematic, and cyber – and we’ll use them to illuminate both explicit and hidden facets of how language shapes plant-people relations.

HMAN1970Z                                Q Hour (Th 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Knowledge Networks and Information Economies in the Early Modern Period
Harold Cook, Faculty Fellow

This course is designed to introduce students to major topics in the developing historical literature on the relationships between intellectual and economic history, and their implications for European culture, mainly in the first two centuries after Columbus and Da Gama. 

HMAN1970C                               P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)     

Modern Arab Thought: The Arab Renaissance
Elizabeth Kassab, Visiting Professor in the Humanities

This course introduces students to the 19th century – early 20th century Arab thought, known as the “Nahda” or the Arab Renaissance. Through a selection of primary and secondary texts available in English, the students are invited to explore the main questions raised by the thinkers of this epoch, questions pertaining to a perceived civilizational crisis, and to examine the diagnoses and proposals offered by them. Most interesting is the development of these concerns between the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt in 1798 and the struggle for independence from the French and British mandates in the 1930s. The course underlines the changes and the continuities in these concerns under the impact of the dramatic socio-political events of the epoch. It encourages students to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this “Nahda” thought that continues to inform and to preoccupy contemporary Arab debates on culture, democracy, gender and Islam. Indeed the last few decades have witnessed a revisiting of this intellectual era by contemporary critical thinkers in order to understand why its efforts did not come to the desired fruition, but also in order to draw renewed inspiration from its initial impulses. The course examines the significance of this legacy in the Arab world today, especially in connection with the momentous current movements.

HMAN1970B                                O Hour (F 3:00 - 5:20pm)

The Question of the Animal
Thangam Ravindranathan, Faculty Fellow

This course is built around the question of the animal as a difficulty posed to representation and thought at a time when animals have largely disappeared from humans’ living environment, but proliferate as strange protagonists, specters or figures of ambiguity in literature and philosophy. We will consider a range of texts and films that “cast” the animal critically, that is, as a body that strains or scrambles meaning (interruption, irony, illegibility, haunting) and forces us to reconsider the work of language and narrative (indeed, the “human”). Authors include Kafka, Coetzee, Hofmannsthal, Kofman, Chevillard, Darrieussecq, Derrida, Agamben, de Fontenay, Herzog.

2011-12 Humanities Related Courses

The Cogut Center administers two programs that bring teaching postdoctoral fellows to campus: Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows and Postdoctoral Fellows in International Humanities. In addition to doing research and participating in the life of the Cogut Center, each fellow teaches one course per semester for his/her "home" department. These courses, taught by fellows brought to campus by the Cogut Center, help to expand, explore and enhance humanities education at Brown.

You may click on the highlighted course titles to link to the Banner listing.

Related Courses for Fall 2011

HIST 1460                                  G Hour (MWF 2:00 - 2:50pm)

History of the Modern Middle East Since 1918
Shiva Balaghi, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities 

A comparative survey of independence movements and the rise of modern states and societies in the Middle East since World War I. Problems of political organization, rapid socioeconomic development, and identity formation; causes and consequences of interstate conflicts; the impact of external powers' involvement in the region (with an emphasis on American involvement and interests).

SCSO 1000                                  Hour TBD

Gender, Science, and Society
Rina Bliss, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

This seminar introduces students to interdisciplinary approaches to the role of gender in science and society. It uses an integrated natural and social scientific Problem-Based Learning pedagogy to explore real-world problems like validating knowledge about sexual difference, the relationship between politics and science, and the characterization of biomedical disorders like hormone imbalance and depression. The class will be broken into groups that evenly consist of natural and social science concentrators in order to approach problems from natural and social scientific perspectives. Students will learn critical scholarship including gender studies, feminist theory, and science and technology studies.

MCM1202E                                  E Hour (MWF 12:00 -12:50pm)

Extreme Asian Cinema: Contemporary Genre Cinemas in an East Asian Context
Michelle Cho, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Since the late 1990s, a discourse of "extreme Asian cinema" has gained traction among aficionados of global cinema, transforming our understandings of "national cinema." In this course, we will interrogate the spectacular aesthetics of "extremity," with its violence, polymorphous perversion, and grotesquerie, in relation to social and cultural phenomena in contemporary East Asia. By analyzing the genres of the gangster film, the revival of wuxia (heroic martial arts genre) and samurai films, horror, revenge films, and techno-dystopia and ecological disaster anime, we will explore "extreme Asian cinema," as a response to cultural shifts in global identities and film experience. Enrollment limited to 50 sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

ANTH 0110                                G Hour (MWF 2:00 - 2:50pm)                                 

Anthropology and Global Social Problems: Humanitarianism and Human Rights
Bianca Dahl, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

The course introduces anthropology approaches to some of the central problems humans face around the world, including environmental degradation and cultures of consumption, hunger and affluence, war, racial division and other forms of inequality. Not open to students who have taken ANTH 1322.

ANTH 1630                               F Hour  (MWF 1:00 - 1:50pm)                                           

The City, the Maroon and the Mass Grave:  An Introduction to the Historical Archaeology of Latin America
Felipe Gaitan-Ammann, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

How has archaeology contributed to our understanding of the past in the former Spanish colonies? How has this knowledge been presented and made socially relevant in present-day Latin America? This course proposes a critical insight into the achievements and future challenges of historical archaeology in Spanish speaking America, exploring the diverging trajectories that the discipline has had in different countries of the region, and the way in which archaeological knowledge about the colonial, republican, and contemporary periods has been either ignored or assimilated into the development of specific politics of cultural heritage at the local level.

GRMN 1660L                           E Hour (MWF 12:00pm - 12:50pm)

German Jews and Capitalist Markets in the Long Nineteenth Century
Kevin Goldberg, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This course focuses on the commercial lives of German Jews, 1789-1918. While the classic historiographical debates surrounding assimilation, emancipation, and anti-Semitism will not be ignored, our spotlight will remain on capitalist markets, where Germans and Jews most often encountered one another. Our study will begin and end in the Franco-German borderlands, with revolution and warfare. In between, we will traverse the German landscape, meeting, among others, bankers in Frankfurt, wine merchants in the Rhineland, and department store magnates in Berlin, all in an attempt to understand the complexities of cross-cultural (dis)integration. Readings and instruction in English.

JUDS 0050D                              P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)                                             

Astrology, Magic, and Science
Maud N. Kozodoy, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

What did the universe look like before modern science? How did Christians, Muslims, and Jews imagine the natural world and humanity's place in it? Astrology, magic, and science played important roles in medieval attempts to explain the origins of the universe and the forces that govern the world. They sometimes challenged religious authority by competing with it as sources of truth. We will examine the interrelationship of astrology, magic, science, and religion in Western culture from the medieval to the early modern period and the permeable boundaries among them. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students.

ENGL 1761W                               E Hour  (MWF 12:00 - 12:50pm)                                             

Modern South Asia: Literature and Theory
Madhumita Lahiri, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This seminar provides an overview of 20th and 21st century writing from and about South Asia. It will serve, in addition, as an introduction to postcolonial studies. Theoretical readings will focus on issues of diaspora; transnational cultural circulation; and subaltern historiography. Fiction will be primarily Anglophone (Anand, Du Bois, Forster, Naipaul, Rushdie, etc.), with some vernacular texts in translation (Chugtai, Limbale, Premchand, Tagore). Enrollment limited to 20.

ENVS 2700B                                 Hour TBD

Sociology of Natural Resources, Community Conflict, and Social Movements
Stephanie Malin, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Examining a variety of natural resources – including water, uranium, and oil/gas – this course examines sociology of natural resource-related issues, related community conflicts and social movements. This seminar challenges students to analyze conditions that encourage or prohibit social movements related to natural resource controversies, while inviting application of a political-economic theoretical frameworks. We will discuss US and global cases, and a global development perspective permeates the course. Ethical debates in natural resource development decisions will be examined in the context of theories of development. As a seminar, students will shape class discussions and add their own interests to the mix. Enrollment limited to 10 graduate students. Instructor permission required.

AFRI 1180                                      P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Visual Cultures of the Afro-Americas
Katherine M. Smith, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow 

This course will examine how the visual modalities of power operate to ascribe, authenticate, and contest meaning within the Afro-Americas, understood here to include Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latin American and African-American cultures. We will query the complex histories and technologies that constitute the social life of vision in the Afro-Americas, while cognizant of the fact that the field of visuality cannot be understood from single point of view. We will consider images made of and images made by peoples of African descent throughout the Americas as we attend to the reception, interpretation and reproduction of images, as well fields of invisibility. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

Related Courses for Spring 2012

HIAA1410C                                                 P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)

What is Islamic Art?
Shiva Balaghi, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

What is Islamic Art? Does Islam prohibit certain kinds of art? Can Islamic art be modern? This course draws on Brown’s Minassian Collection of Islamic Art to help clarify these questions. Focusing on three forms from the collection — manuscripts, painting, and pottery — the course introduces students to key concepts in Islamic Art History. We’ll then explore complex ways in which contemporary artists from the Middle East and South Asia borrow from and subvert
traditional art forms as they grapple with questions of modernity in visual culture. The course features workshops with art objects and guest lectures by leading scholars of the field. Permission of instructor required. For override, email with subject heading “Islamic Art class” and attend first session.

EAST1950U                                                    Q Hour (Th 4:00 - 6:20pm)

South Korean Cinema: From Golden Age to Korean Wave
Michelle H. Cho, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This seminar explores the cinema of South Korea, proceeding chronologically and thematically, interrogating the key problematics of gender and genre. We will think about cinema's role—as a medium for visual storytelling and as a site for producing cultural norms and values—in assessing the consequences of historical events and in helping to construct official histories. Across films from Korean cinema's "golden age" (1950s and 60s) to post-authoritarian realist cinema to the contemporary era of globalized, transnational genre films, we will map the questions, themes, and debates on the formation and effects of South Korea's cinematic imaginary of nation. Enrollment limited to juniors and seniors.

ANTH1625                                                            (T/Th 3:00 - 4:30pm)

Questions of Remembrance: Archaeological Perspectives on Slavery in the New World
Felipe Gaitan-Ammann, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Archaeology of slavery, and particularly that of enslaved African-American communities in what came to be the United States, has been one of the fastest growing areas of archaeological research in the last few decades. This course will look into both classic and current literature on the archaeology of Atlantic slavery in order to understand the development of this archaeological subfield, from an initial focus on the living conditions of slaves on plantation sites to later interests in the processes of consolidation of African-American ethnicities. What are current challenges faced by those investigating the material constitution of African Diaspora through time?

GRMN1661E                                          E Hour (MWF 12:00 - 12:50pm) 

Germany, Alcohol, and the Global Nineteenth Century
Kevin D. Goldberg, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This course examines the German "long nineteenth century" through the lens of the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol. The cultural resonance of alcohol allows us to better situate Germany in an increasingly global context, where its exchange reflected broader patterns of modernization, social transformation, and nationalism. Whether brewing beer in Chinese Tsingtao, harvesting grapes in California's Napa Valley, or celebrating Purim with wine in Palestine, Germans engaged the nineteenth-century world through their own historical traditions and trades. Our endeavors will be aided by the remarkable "Alcohol and Addiction Studies" special collections at the John Hay Library.

JUDS0990J                                          P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)   

Body and Society: Medicine and Medical Ethics in the Pre-Modern World
Maud Kozodoy, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course examines approaches to the human body, medical ethics, and sexual identity in medieval Western culture and society. We will begin with the theory and practice of medicine, comparing the Arabic tradition of the tenth through twelfth centuries with that of Christian Europe in the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries and tracing the Jewish medical tradition as well. We will then turn to ethical issues, including contraception and abortion, the doctor-patient relationship, intractable conditions, and the moral dimension of disease.

ENGL0800I                                                 H Hour (T/Th 9:00- 10:20am)

Global South Asia
Madhumita Lahiri, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course provides an introduction to contemporary fiction by South Asia and its diaspora. We will read novels written in North America, the Caribbean, Australia, Africa, the United Kingdom, and of course South Asia, paying particular attention to issues of identity, ethnicity, and transnational circulation. Authors include Adiga, Hanif, Lahiri, Meeran, Mistry, Naipaul, Roy, Rushdie, Selvadurai, and Sinha.

HIAA1890G                                                  P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)         

Contemporary Art of Africa and the Diaspora
Katherine M. Smith, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Will explore the art of contemporary Africa and its diaspora with an eye towards understanding the political and economic context in which it is produced and consumed. Our approach will be interdisciplinary, putting key theoretical texts from anthropology on the political economy of Africa in dialog with the works of contemporary artists. However, the intent here is not to reduce creativity to an economic activity alone, though we will be addressing the topic of art markets. Rather, we will explore artistic practices that surmount "the tyranny of the 'already,'" as Malian writers Konate and Savane have eloquently said. Enrollment limited to juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

HMAN Courses in Past Years

Humanities Related Courses
These are courses taught by Cogut Center Fellows for other departments.