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2009-10 Humanities Related Courses

The Cogut Center administers two programs that bring 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.

Courses for Fall 2009

MUSC 1240A

Sonic Psychogeography
Betsey Biggs,
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Psychogeography loosely describes a cluster of art practices that explore the effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behaviors of individuals. How can sound, uniquely powerful in triggering memory and connecting us to the present moment, be used in psychogeographical work? Traveling, mapping, walking, and otherwise getting around both urban and rural landscapes will inspire class projects: audio collages, video works, headphone tours, interactive installations, public interventions. Come prepared to walk, to read, to listen, to look, and to make. Some experience with sound or video editing required.


The New Science of Race: Racial Biomedicine in the 21st Century
Catherine Bliss, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course draws on film, news media, scientific discourse, and social theory to engage biomedicine’s most controversial investigations of race and the social scientific questions they have provoked. The course asks: How is contemporary science imagining, constructing, and producing knowledge about race? What are the social, political, and cultural implications of this knowledge? Students will be introduced to important science studies methods that we will apply to historical and contemporary research agendas. No prior knowledge of science or racial theory is required.

COLT 1812B

Imagining the Eastern Mediterranean in Literature And Film
Ipek Celik, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Historically, the Eastern Mediterranean has been a space of encounters, circulations, and exchanges of people, commodities, and ideas--a space that divides as well as unites. Its cities have been shaped by the interaction of different ethnic and religious cultures (Arabs, Armenians, Greeks, Kurds, Turks; Christians, Jews and Muslims), sometimes co-existing, other times assimilating or overtaking one another. The region's mixed character has inspired many works of literature and film whose dominant themes cluster around social tensions or connections between the diverse communities of the region. This class will explore cultures and eclectic identities of the Eastern Mediterranean and its cities (Athens, Alexandria, Beirut, Haifa, Istanbul, Jerusalem) through the works of literature and film. Focus will be on two central themes: first, the relationship between fiction and the history/ memory of Eastern Mediterranean cities and peoples; second, the origins and sustenance of certain discourses that describe the Eastern Mediterranean with nostalgia for vanished cosmopolitanism. Writers and poets may include Sait Faik Abasiyanik, Etel Adnan, Constantine Cavafy, Mahmoud Darwish, Lawrence Durrell, Ghassan Kanafani, Edwar al-Kharrat, Herman Melville, Ronit Matalon, Amos Oz, Orhan Pamuk, Anton Shammas, and Mehmed Uzun; filmmakers may include Fatih Akin, Simone Bitton, Tassos Boulmetis, Youssef Chahine, Atom Egoyan, Annemarie Jacir, Elia Suleiman, and Dervis Zaim.

ANTH 0066J 

So You Want to Change the World?
Bianca Dahl, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Examines from an anthropological perspective efforts to address global poverty that are typically labeled as "development." The enterprise of development is considered critically, both with regard to the intentions and purposes that underlie the actions of wealthy countries, donor organizations, and expatriate development workers and with regard to the outcomes for the people who are the intended beneficiaries. Privileging the prespectives of ordinary people in developing countries, but also looking carefully at the institutions involved in development, the course relies heavily on ethnographic case studies that will draw students into the complexity of one of the greatest contemporary global problems: social inequality. In a highly participatory seminar, students will read, discuss, and write about ethnographies that combine theoretically sharp and experience-near accounts of poverty and development in a range of world areas and across numerous specific development problems such as the environment, public health, gender inequality, agriculture, population and economic transformation.


Stephen Groening, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

What is it about the journey and mobility that is so appealing to filmmakers and the film industry? Is the concurrent rise of mass tourism and cinema accidental? If the moving image is the quintessential modern aesthetic experience, can mobility be considered the modern social imperative? What systems or linkages allow images, films and people to travel between social, cultural, and economic contexts? Drawing from a wide range of film theorists as well as a diverse set of films, including travelogues, ethnographies, avant-garde pieces, Hollywood spectaculars, and the work of indigenous filmmakers, this course explores the links between physical movement and the virtual mobility provided by the image.

CLAS 1120I

Skeptical Traditions                          
Rebecca Handler-Spitz, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

The skeptical project begins and ends in doubt and the refusal to affirm any belief dogmatically.  While these ideas are most frequently associated with the writings of Cicero and Sextus Empiricus, they also appear in early Buddhist and Daoist texts.  The course examines several strands of skeptical philosophy as they appear in writings from ancient Greece, Rome, China, and India.  It further explores literary enactments, appropriations, and critiques of skepticism evident in the skeptical revival of the European Renaissance and in Zen koans.

EAST 1950

After Empire: History, Memory, and Mourning
Yukiko Koga, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Over the last two decades new intellectual endeavors have shed light on the questions of memory and mourning stemming from past violence and injustice. With specific focus on the afterlife of the Japanese colonial enterprise that disappeared in 1945, Manchuria in particular, this course explores larger questions of history, memory, and what it means to come to terms with the past. We shall examine such questions as: what historical constellations made some war victims visible and others invisible in the postwar years; what are the socio-economic and psychological forces behind this politics of appearance and disappearance; and what are the effects of colonial traces within the dynamics of history, memory, and mourning? Even though the course draws examples from China and Japan, students are encouraged to pursue their own choice of exemplary cases elsewhere in their final paper project.


Transnational Cuba: History and Contemporary Life
Adrián López Denis, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course explores the impact of modernity, slavery, and colonialism in the production of Cuban national identity. We will discuss how technologies of power affected the development of the island, with an emphasis on the role of modern forms of social domination based on race, gender, and class. Taught in Cuba.


HIAA 1890F                                  

From Worlds in Miniature to Miniature Worlds:  Theming and Virtuality
Ipek Tureli, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This seminar surveys spaces of consumption that are organized around themes such as theme parks. Miniaturization, in particular, is a prevalent spatial strategy used in themed environments that range in form from historical quarters of cities that are reconfigured as miniature museum-cities to the culturally-themed hyperreal representations that emerge in multi-user virtual environments such as Second Life. What are the different kinds of experience these spaces offer to visitors immersed in their exhibitions? What are the appeals of themed environments and virtual reality technologies they employ? Posing such questions, this seminar explores theming and virtuality both historically and globally.

GNSS 1960F

Gender, Literature and Nation: Writing Nations, Writing Subjects
Silvia Valisa, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This seminar explores the intersection of gender, literature and nation as a productive ideological knot that helps decipher the trajectory of countries as linguistic, literary and national realities. Why are countries often represented as women? How can we understand gender as a founding category of our linguistic, cultural and political competence? Why are notions of femininity and masculinity so fluid and open to negotiation, and at the same time so rigidly codified in art, culture and politics?

Courses for Spring 2010

HIST 1975V

Culture, Politics, and History in the Middle East
Shiva Balaghi, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

The nexus of culture and politics helps determine the relationship of the Middle East to the West—and the internal understandings of these increasingly polarized societies. This course seeks to complicate the layered histories of the modern Middle East by examining culture and politics through a variety of historical genres, including academic monographs, theoretical analysis, films, art, fiction, graphic novels, music, and the internet. The readings draw from different academic fields, including history, anthropology, sociology, and political science, providing an opportunity to think of the ways that academic disciplines draw on and shape historical narratives.

MUSC 0210C

Music/Video: An Introduction to Electronic Sound and Image
Betsey Biggs, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

A survey of basic techniques in creating computer-based music and video, with a special focus on the ways that sound and image impact one another. We will work to develop critical listening and viewing skills through the study of important historical and contemporary works ranging from experimental audio and video to film soundtracks to MTV. Through ten progressive weekly assignments, you will learn how to create imaginative electronic music and video. The final project will consist of a five-minute audiovisual piece which will be screened, performed, or exhibited at a public event. Enrollment is limited to 12 and will be determined by a questionnaire handed out during the first class.

SCSO 1550D

Biomedicalization: The Body as a Social Problem
Catherine Bliss, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Why are more and more aspects of daily life seen as biomedical problems? What are the social processes and political effects that motivate people to view the body this way? This course explores how contemporary health and behavior conditions are being defined and treated by analyzing biomedical research, health, and bodily knowledge in its various institutional formations: governmental knowledge, health policy, capital markets, and popular culture. Recommended prerequisites for the course are either one course in medical sociology or anthropology (e.g. Culture and Health) or one in science studies (e.g. Introduction to Science and Society). Enrollment limited to 40.

COLT 1812F

Violence and Representation
Ipek Celik, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This course traces diverse genealogies from which to theorize violence and its relation to aesthetics. We will identify a disciplinary philology for “violence” as a signifier within visual culture, art practice and literature; historicize key transitions in varied invocations of violence in representation; study texts (photography, film, novel, installation) that create a space where violence can be discussed as both everyday and extraordinary. Some issues to be considered: representability in moments of historical crisis (war, colonialism, genocide); the efficacy of genres and artistic movements in representing violence (tragedy, surrealism, theater of cruelty); and the violence of representation (surveillance, spectatorship, voyeurism).

ANTH 1322

Human Rights, Social Justice, and Humanitarian Intervention: The Anthropology of Global Aid
Bianca Dahl, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

From child soldiers to starving refugees, Americans are inundated with media images of violent suffering in the developing world. Our politicians frequently present international humanitarian intervention as an unequivocal good, without examining the actual outcomes of aid initiatives. This course uses tools from anthropology to explore the motivations for global aid, along with the concrete—and often unexpected—effects it produces on the ground. Foregrounding an ethnographic approach, we seek to understand the enduring influence of the concept of "rights," the ways that local populations both welcome and resent humanitarian work, and the successes and failures of international charitable organizations. First-year students require an instructor override to register.

MCM 1201M

Surveillance: Paranoid Cinema, Reality TV, and Technologies of Seeing
Stephen Groening, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

The introduction of visual technologies that record and reproduce two-dimensional moving images is key to a new form of disciplinary power. Through the use of these recording technologies, the practice of surveillance has aided the state in its quest to control its subjects and prevent criminal behavior. This course will investigate the prevalence of surveillance technologies and examine their implications for fundamental issues in film theory as well as our social, political, and cultural future. Enrollment limited to 50.

CLAS 1120J

Essaying the Essay
Rebecca Handler-Spitz, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This course explores the personal essay as a vehicle for self-expression. Examining self-reflective essays from a variety of cultures and time periods--ancient, modern, East, and West--we trace the theme of friends as dialectical others against whom individuals define themselves. Our investigations will lead us to a provisional definition of the essay genre, keeping in mind its unique placement between fiction and non-fiction, and its relationship with non-Western forms such as the suibi and the xiaopin wen. First year students need instructor permission to enroll.

HISP 1370U

Cuba: Historia y Literatura
Adrian Lopez Denis, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Este curso constituye un viaje literario a lo largo de la historia de Cuba, desde el siglo dieciseis hasta el presente. Nuestro objetivo central es complejizar la relación entre historiografía y ficción narrativa. Entre los textos que analizaremos se incluyen tres novelas, un testimonio, una docena de cuentos y un número similar de ensayos y poemas.

HIAA 0490

Urban Modernity and the Middle East
Ipek Tureli, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course explores the relationship between modernity and the city in the context of the Middle East. Its goal is to provoke historically grounded, critical and comparative thinking about cities during the modern period. The concept of urban modernity refers to the experience of modern city life and the associated cultural celebration of innovation. Middle Eastern cities, in contrast, have generally been studied privileging the role of the West, and through the lens of development. Organized in three parts, this course introduces theories of urban modernity, examines the genealogy of the study of Middle East cities, and then seeks to appropriate the lens of urban modernity to look at a number of cities in the Middle East.