THE FUTURE IS RED (WHITE & BLUE):MODERNITYTaught by External Faculty
In the 1920s, the Soviet Union and the U.S. emerged as growing world powers, offering each other two compelling, if often opposed, versions of modernity. At the same time, each country saw its intercontinental rival as an attractive, but dangerous “other”: a counterexample of the road not taken, and a foil for its own ideology and identity. From the 1920s to the heat of the Cold War, Some of the USSR’s most prominent public figures came to the U.S. and several American intellectuals, progressive activists, and officials traveled to the Soviet experiment. This course examines the cultural images of the American and Soviet “other” in the texts that resulted from these exchanges. We will read works about America from Sergei Esenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Ilya Il’f and Evgeny Petrov, and poems, essays, and novels about Russia by Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Louise Bryant, W.E.B. Du Bois, John Steinbeck, and others. Each of these texts attempts to grapple with what it means to be modern—both technologically advanced and socially liberated—in different national contexts and under different proclaimed ideologies.
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THE OTTOMAN PAST IN THE GREEK PRESENTTaught by Dimitrios Antoniou
Almost a century after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman past lives on in contemporary Greece, often in unexpected sites. In the built environment it appears as mosques, baths, covered markets, and fountains adorned with Arabic inscriptions. It also manifests itself in music, food, and language. Yet Ottoman legacies also shape the European present in less obvious ways and generate vehement debates about identity, nation-building, human rights, and interstate relations. In this course, we will be drawing on history, politics, anthropology, and comparative literature as well as a broad range of primary materials to view the Ottoman past through the lens of the Greek present. What understandings of nation-building emerge as more Ottoman archives became accessible to scholars? How does Islamic Family Law—still in effect in Greece—confront the European legal system? How are Ottoman administrative structures re-assessed in the context of acute socio-economic crisis and migration?
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WRITING ACROSS MEDIATaught by Brent Hayes Edwards
This course is structured as a comparative investigation of innovative modernist and postmodernist strategies for conjoining or counterpoising literature with other media, such as photography, painting, film, music, and dance. We will focus on experimental writing practices that deliberately combine disciplines and genres — mixing political commentary with memoir, philosophy with ethnography, journalism with history — with special attention to the ways that formal innovation lends itself to political critique. The course will be especially concerned with the ways that the friction among media seems to allow new or unexpected expressive possibilities. The syllabus is structured to allow us to consider a variety of edges between literature and other media — spaces where writing is sometimes taken to be merely raw material to be set, or ancillary comment on a work already composed (e.g. libretto, screenplay, gloss, caption, song lyric, voiceover, liner note). Examples may include lecture-performances by Gertrude Stein, John Cage, Spalding Gray, and Anne Carson; talk-dances by Bill T. Jones and Jerome Bel; sound poems by Kurt Schwitters, Langston Hughes, and Amiri Baraka; graphic novels by Art Spiegelman, Joshua Dysart, and Alison Bechdel; language-centered visual art by Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Martha Rosler, and Jean-Michel Basquiat; texts including photographs or drawings by Wallker Evans and James Agee, Roland Barthes, W. G. Sebald, Aleksandar Hemon, Theresa Cha, John Yau, and John Keene; and hypertext/online compositions by Shelley Jackson, among others. Requirements will include in-class presentations and regular short structured writing assignments, as well as a 10-12 page final research paper.