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Fall Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CLEN GU4723 (4pts.) Go to Registrar
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18th Century Comparative Novel

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This course encompasses a series of readings in the eighteenth-century European novel. Style, narratology, the “rise” of realism and the history of novel criticism will all figure in our discussions; the seminar offers a theoretical rather than a thoroughly historical survey, and should serve as groundwork for considering questions about style and the novel in other periods and national traditions.

Fall 2019 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CLEN GU4822 (3pts.)

19TH CENTURY EUROPEAN NOVEL

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The 19th Century European Novel in the field of the emotions and in the cultural context of the major thinkers and the major historical events of the era.We will examine feelings, emotions, and passions in the novels from the perspectives of affective neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and philosophy in order to lay bare more clearly what is known and believed versus what is unknown, ignored or latent about human emotional reality at this time. Reading: Austen, Kleist (novella), Emily Bronte, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Hardy, D.H. Lawrence. No reading outside of the novels will be required on your part.

Further, my aim is to expand our cultural knowledge of the era by including the conceptual contributions and formative ideas of major 19th century thinkers in my lectures on the novels. Optional Reading of short selections from: Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, Darwin, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Freud. Those who wish to read and write in a comparative way or on any of the optional writers will be able to do so in lieu of one or, possibly, two novels.

Fall 2019 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CPLS UN3980 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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Abolition: A Social Justice Practicum

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This is a course team-taught by Bernard Harcourt and Alexis Hoag.

This course will explore the social justice road to punitive abolition—to the abolition of capital punishment and the dominant punitive punishment paradigm in the United States. It will investigate how abolition of the death penalty might be achieved in this country, but also what it might mean to imagine abolition in the context of policing, of the prison, and also of punishment more broadly.

The United States incarcerates more of its own than any other country in the world and than any other civilization in history. With over 2,600 inmates on death row, 2.2 million people behind bars, another 5 million people on probation or parole, and over 70 million people in the FBI’s criminal record database, this country now operates a criminal justice system of unparalleled punitiveness. The burden of this system has fallen predominantly on poor communities of color. In fact, in some striking ways, this country’s criminal justice system and reliance on mass incarceration have replaced chattel slavery. As Bryan Stevenson explains, “Slavery didn’t end in 1865. It just evolved.”

This course will explore how the country can move from a punitive paradigm to a new paradigm that favors instead education and well-being. It will investigate: (1) how to chart a social justice path toward abolition of the death penalty; (2) how to reimagine the criminal justice system so that it is no longer based on a punitive paradigm; and (3) what it would mean to imagine abolition more broadly of policing and punishment.

Fall 2019 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CLGR GU4250 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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AESTHETICS & PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY (ENG)

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This course offers an introduction to German intellectual history by focusing on the key texts from the 18th and 19th century concerned with the philosophy of art and the philosophy of history. Instead of providing a general survey, this thematic focus that isolates the relatively new philosophical subspecialties allows for a careful tracing of a number of key problematics. The texts chosen for discussion in many cases are engaged in lively exchanges and controversies. For instance, Winckelmann provides an entry into the debate on the ancients versus the moderns by making a claim for both the historical, cultural specificity of a particular kind of art, and by advertising the art of Greek antiquity as a model to be imitated by the modern artist. Lessing’s Laocoon counters Winckelmann’s idealizing approach to Greek art with a media specific reflection. According to Lessing, the fact that the Laocoon priest from the classical sculpture doesn’t scream has nothing to do with the nobility of the Greek soul but all with the fact that a screaming mouth hewn in stone would be ugly. Herder’s piece on sculpture offers yet another take on this debate, one that refines and radicalizes an aesthetics based on the careful examination of the different senses, especially touch and feeling versus sight.—The second set of texts in this class deals with key enlightenment concepts of a philosophical anthropology informing the then emerging philosophy of history. Two literary texts will serve to mark key epochal units: Goethe’s Prometheus, which will be used in the introductory meeting, will be examined in view of its basic humanist program, Kleist’s “Earthquake in Chili” will serve as a base for the discussion of what would be considered the “end” of the Enlightenment: be that the collapse of a belief in progress or the critique of the beautiful and the sublime. The last unit of the class focuses on Hegel’s sweeping supra-individualist approach to the philosophy of history and Nietzsche’s fierce critique of Hegel. Readings are apportioned such that students can be expected to fully familiarize themselves with the arguments of these texts and inhabit them.

Fall 2019 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CLGR GR6828 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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Aesthetics and Politics Today (in English)

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On which grounds can we claim, in 2020 and with scholarly confidence, that a literary text has “progressive” or “right-wing” affinities? How do we measure the success of another text’s apparent experimental critique of racist or homophobic dispositifs? Or what could justify the declaration that a film elicits a revolutionary sensibility? Against the backdrop of new political populisms and fascisms, questions such as these couldn’t be more topical today. But do we have equally topical answers? Both within and beyond academia, political reading practices have long been countered with the charge that they don’t do justice to the aesthetic qualities of their object. In the twenty-first century, old-school articulations of this point have been revamped in the name of new formalisms and a range of postcritical methods. The course starts from the premise that these new formalist and postcritical challenges are worth listening to, but do not require that we abandon the desire to read politically. Rather, they can help us refine our skills and develop interpretative methods accounting for hateful or empathetic, egalitarian or elitist overtones and undertones of aesthetic texts in non-reductive, non-symptomatic ways, making room for ambiguity, affective incongruity and multivoicedness, without entirely separating art from ideology. Towards the goal of describing relations between aesthetics and politics in ever more convincing terms, we will return to the tradition of theorizing their interplay from the Frankfurt School to Jacques Rancière, along with selected texts from the fields of critical race and queer studies, and put all of them in a dialogue with new formalist and postcritical perspectives. As we go along, we will probe our reading skills on a number of aesthetic objects (literature & audiovisual).

Fall 2019 Course Type: Joint Course Code: ARCH A4780 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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ARCHITECTURE + HUMAN RIGHTS

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Fall 2019 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CLEN GR630 (4pts.)

BLACK RADICALISM & THE ARCHIVE

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Fall 2019 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CPLS GR6454 (3pts.)

BLOOD/LUST: EARLY MODERN MEDITERRANEAN

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This course examines, in 16th and 17th century Spain and England (1580-1640), how the two countries staged the conflict between them, and with the Ottoman Empire; that is, how both countries represented national and imperial clashes, and how the concepts of being “Spanish”, “English”, or “Turk” often played out on the high seas of the Mediterranean with Islam and the Ottoman Empire. We will consider how the Ottoman Empire depicted itself artistically through miniatures and court poetry. The course will include travel and captivity narratives from Spain, England, the Ottoman Empire, and the Barbary States.

Fall 2019 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CLGR GU4242 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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Dangerous Passions: Collecting, Hoarding

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The collector, warns the literary critic Walter Benjamin “is motivated by dangerous though domesticated passions.” Far from merely a playful or antiquarian practice, collecting was depicted by various authors and theorists as a pathological tendency which often borders on compulsion and kleptomania. This interdisciplinary seminar examines the psychological, economic, and aesthetic forces which motivate people to collect. From Noah’s Ark to A&E’s popular show, “Hoarders,” collecting is related to the practice of organizing, cataloguing, and understanding the world we live in. This seminar poses the question: to what extent is collecting a trans-historical phenomenon and to what extent is it a fundamentally modern process shaped by the expansion of capitalism and private property? How has technology informed the dynamics of collecting and how might we redefine it today given our virtually limitless electronic storage capabilities? Beginning with the Renaissance Wunderkammer and the emergence of the museum, we will examine what Benjamin calls the “domesticated” side of collecting. We will then turn our attention to the “dangerous” undercurrents of collecting by teasing out the differences between collecting, hoarding, and possessing. This seminar explores the dangerous political and ethical ramifications of collecting practices, such as the relationship between imperial conquest and the growth of museums, world fairs, and human zoos. Finally, to better understand the institutional dynamics of collecting, curating, and exhibiting, we will be visiting the American Museum of Natural History as well as the Trash Museum in Harlem.

Fall 2019 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CLRS GU4011 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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DOSTOEVSKY, TOLSTOY & ENG NOVEL

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A close reading of works by Dostoevsky (Netochka Nezvanova; The Idiot; “A Gentle Creature”) and Tolstoy (Childhood, Boyhood, Youth; “Family Happiness”; Anna Karenina; “The Kreutzer Sonata”) in conjunction with related English novels (Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Eliot’s Middlemarch, Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway). No knowledge of Russian is required.