Past Courses – (TEST)
In this seminar we will study the vocabulary and practices of intellectual elaboration and composition during the pre-modern eras, within the context of Philosophical and Scientific Fictions. Some of our fields of inquiry will be: Iberian Studies, Mediterranean Studies, Medieval Theory and Philosophy, Manuscript Studies, and History of the Book. We will investigate these fields in dialogue with the construction and development of pre-modern disciplines. We will to focus on mainstream views of intellectual creation, including poetics, rhetorics, dialectic, problem-creation, the lie as an intellectual fabrication, narrative of the self, oneirocriticism, legal fiction, sacred and lay exegesis, miracles, fables, and poetry with music. The survey covers two parts (scientific discipline versus experience) that hinge on the particular and even central problem of the narrative of the self—and in a way we will be traveling back and forth between discipline and experience trying not to disentangle them too much. This focus—perhaps a bit obscure for now—will become more evident as we read the different texts. My suggested and recommended readings cover many other texts from the Antiquity to the (very) Early Modern period. In this sense, I aim to forge a broad intellectual context for a set of Iberian texts that might be considered within a theoretical survey of Medieval Iberian cultures.
Prerequisites: FILM W1000. An introduction to some of the major texts in film theory, with particular attention to film theory’s evolving relations to a number of philosophical issues: the nature of the aesthetic; the relation of symbolic forms to the construction of human subjectivities; narrative and the structure of experience; modernity, technology, popular culture, and the rise of mass political formations; and meaning, intention, and authorship. FILM Q4001
As recent scholarship on empire has shown, colonial domination and violence have often been accompanied by various forms of intimacy. In this course we consider the different ways in which love, desire and household and family relationships have emerged as questions in the French colonial context from the age of plantation slavery to the era of decolonization. The material spans the history and geography of the French empire. We consider works from the Caribbean, Louisiana, Vietnam and the Maghreb, considering both the transmission of categories and practices across colonial contexts and historical and regional specificities. Our primary lens is that of literature, but we also draw on other sources and on insights from history, sociology, law and other disciplines.
As in many other European countries in the last fifteen years, the historiography of France has been reshaped by interest in the imperial trajectory of the nation. This class will explore this ‘imperial turn’, and examine its specificity vis-à-vis the historiographies of other European empires. We will examine the questions that have been at the center of the historian’s agenda: what kind of historical processes are revealed (or masked) by the imperial perspective? How do we think historically about the relationships between nation, Republic and empire? How has the ‘imperial turn’ shaped the categories and writing practices of historians? What are the contributions of historians to the understanding of postcolonialism? All readings and discussions are in English.
The main work is a close reading of some of Freud’s major early texts including Studies on Hysteria (1895), The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905). The emphasis will be on Freud’s understanding of sexuality and mental energy. In the later classes, the reading will include more secondary texts but the emphasis remains on Freud’s writings.
In the seventeenth century, Shakespeare had already begun to serve as a vehicle of British colonial aspirations, bearing conjoined messages about nation, empire, and civilization, justifying cultural domination, and serving as the touchstone of literacy for new British subjects. At the same time, the multiple geographies of the plays themselves—moving across “The Globe” from Inverness to Libya, Syria to Navarre, the “seacoast of Bohemia” to the never-never-island of The Tempest—helped to destabilize their meaning, revealing “more things on heaven and earth” than British Shakespeare missionaries might ever have dreamt. In the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, rapidly changing media, the acceleration of global communication, norms of interpretive innovation, and the desire to turn imperial cultural tools against themselves combined not only to multiply the number of Shakespeare productions but to diversify still further their settings and implications. In this course, we will examine adaptations of Shakespeare (primarily on film) by directors working in a variety of media, languages, and places. Close reading of performance and cinematic detail will undergird broader discussions of how media, politics, economics, local, national, and cosmopolitan identities (and more) shape interpretation. (Note: This course fulfills the post-1700 requirement, and may be taken as either a 6000- or 4000-level course.)
Despite the rise in oceanic, hemispheric, and regional studies in the past decade, and despite the institutional formations of Transatlantic, Black Atlantic, and Diaspora studies, the South Atlantic has not emerged as a particularly potent conceptual or analytical configuration in cultural studies. In “The Global South Atlantic,” we will examine some of the socio-historical linkages and cultural circulations among Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean; perhaps more importantly, we will also examine both the various ideological and cultural efforts to produce a coherent political and economic image-space of the “South Atlantic” and the forces that have kept it from coming into being or capturing the imagination. “Global” in the course title not only points to the international south-south connections that would constitute a functional system of relations called the “South Atlantic”; it also recognizes that the “South Atlantic” is an imaginary that has been thought and practiced variously from multiple locations.
Our primary literary texts from and about Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean engage periods and issues that establish and reconfigure relations among peoples around the south Atlantic: charter-company colonialism; the transatlantic slave trade and abolitionism; anti-colonialism and decolonization; tricontinentalism and the non-aligned movement; Cold War dictatorships, resource extraction, and human rights internationalism; indigenous movements and dirty wars; diasporas and exiled intellectuals; transitional justice and truth commissions; regional economic and security communities.
This lecture for undergraduates is a survey of the literature of the Holocaust, ranging from its origins in Europe during the war to the widespread and global legacy among second and third generation writers, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, until the present day. Though the course will be taught in translation, readings will be taken from Yiddish, Hebrew, English, Polish, German, French, Dutch, and Hungarian literature. Among the thematic topics to be covered: the ethics of witnessing; the limits of representation and other formal aspects; historicity and autobiography; trauma and the second generation writer; the Holocaust in other media.
Instructor: Nicole M Gervasio
This course explores human rights issues in contemporary novels, films, and short stories from Africa and the Caribbean as well as humanitarian-inspired art, films, television, and music videos circulated around the world. When postcolonial writers and cultural producers decide to represent violence in their countries, they risk reproducing racist stereotypes that permeate international media. And yet, violations of basic human rights tied to civil war, sexual violence, religious fanaticism, and ethnic strife are intimate features of their national histories. How can postcolonial writers undermine the harmful stereotypes and dominant narratives that predetermine their stories in the international public sphere without reproducing stereotypes? To better understand strife abroad, we will take an interdisciplinary feminist approach to the politics of representing human rights. Our readings, paired with options for poetry slams, film screenings, and walking tours in New York City, will prompt us to reflect critically on the ambivalences surrounding human rights in our own U.S. culture. We will engage literary representations of historical events ranging from the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, and the Rwandan genocide, all the way up to Black Lives Matter and Islamophobia in the wake of Trump’s election. Final projects invite students to reflect on methods for representing human rights through creative writing and literary zine-making. This course, which fulfills the University Global Core requirement, as well as English major requirements for prose fiction/narrative and comparative/global literature, will appeal to students not only literature but also in human rights, history, political science, African studies, law, and gender and sexuality studies.
This class places into comparative focus one of the oldest and one of the newest forms of global cinema outside of the U.S. It introduces and examines these film industries – their platforms, histories, aesthetics, and place in postcolonial life. We will explore how non-western contexts of film production and exhibition offer alternative histories of film. Topics include: aesthetics and genre; space and urbanization; colonialism and post-colonialism, shifting platforms of media exhibition, globalization, the notion of the popular and its relation to art.