Past Courses – (TEST)
A seminar on the theory and practice of translation from the perspective of comparative diaspora studies, drawing on the key scholarship on diaspora that has emerged over the past two decades focusing on the central issue of language in relation to migration, uprooting, and imagined community. Rather than foregrounding a single case study, the syllabus is organized around the proposition that any consideration of diaspora requires a consideration of comparative and overlapping diasporas, and as a consequence a confrontation with multilingualism, creolization and the problem of translation. The final weeks of the course will be devoted to a practicum, in which we will conduct an intensive workshop around the translation projects of the student participants.
Comparative media is an emergent approach in media and film theory. This course, taught by scholars from German and anthropology, introduces students to cutting edge research in media drawing on history, film & media theory, sound studies, literature, anthropology & visual culture. It adopts a comparative approach to media as machines and aesthetic practices by examining contemporary media in relation to the introduction of earlier technologies. In doing so it de-centers media theory, extending our focus beyond the U.S. and Europe by examining other cultural locations of media innovation and appropriation.
Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission. (Seminar). This course focuses on the tumultuous 1930s, which witnessed the growth of anticolonial movements, the coming to power of totalitarian and fascist regimes, and calls for internationalism and a new world vision, among other developments. Even as fascism laid down its roots in parts of Europe, the struggle for independence from European colonial rule accelerated in Asia and Africa, and former subjects engaged with ideas and images about the shape of their new nations, in essays, fiction, poetry, and theater. Supporters and critics of nationalism existed on both sides of the metropole-colony divide, as calls for internationalism sought to stem the rising tide of ethnocentric thinking and racial particularism in parts of Europe as well as the colonies. We’ll read works from the metropole and the colonies to track the crisscrossing of ideas, beginning with writers who anticipated the convulsive events of the 1930s and beyond (E.M. Forster, H.G. Wells, Gandhi), then moving on to writers who published some of their greatest work in the 1930s (Huxley, Woolf, C.L.R. James, Mulk Raj Anand), and finally concluding with authors who reassessed the 1930s from a later perspective (George Lamming).
Also listed as L-8866 S.
Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the great masters of suspicion from the nineteenth century, radically challenged the way we think and engage the world. Nietzsche’s writings and thought had a tremendous influence across the disciplines, upending many—especially philosophy, political thought, philology, and critical theory—and significantly marking others, such as law, anthropology, and the humanities. A number of contemporary critical thinkers in the 20th century—Georges Bataille, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Blanchot, Aimé Césaire, Léopold Senghor, Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Sarah Kofman, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, Jacques Derrida, Ali Shariati, and others—drew inspiration from Nietzsche’s writings and developed a strand of critical theory that has had great influence in disciplines as varied as history, law, philology, and the theory of science. These twentieth century thinkers helped forge a unique Nietzschean strand of contemporary critical thought.
In some disciplines, such as philosophy and political theory, the critical influence of Nietzsche’s thought has been analyzed and explored along many dimensions—epistemological, moral, political, and aesthetic, among others. In other disciplines, though, Nietzsche’s influence has been less well understood and studied. As Peter Goodrich and Mariana Valverde note, in their edited collection Nietzsche and Legal Theory: Half-Written Laws (Routledge, 2005), many other scholars have read Nietzsche “not so well,” “rather hurriedly, and through secondhand accounts.” As a result, certain disciplines have missed some of the central critical insights of Nietzsche—including his trenchant critique of “the timeless transcendent value of natural law theory,” as well as his equally cutting critique of “the comparably timeless Kantian ideal of freedom.” (Goodrich and Valverde, at 2).
The purpose of this seminar is to explore the rich tradition of contemporary critical thought that has emerged in the wake of Nietzsche. In other words, to explore Nietzschean critical thought in contrast, say, to the Marxian or Freudian traditions. The seminar will proceed through a close reading of the writings on or influenced by Nietzsche of Bataille, Heidegger, Blanchot, Césaire, Senghor, Arendt, Fanon, Deleuze, Klossowski, Foucault, Kofman, Derrida, Irigaray, Cixous, Shariati, and others, with the purpose of excavating critical insights across the disciplines and formulating a coherent Nietzschean strand of contemporary critical thought. This graduate student seminar will thus explore thirteen contemporary critical thinkers from the 20th century who engaged Nietzsche’s thought to challenge our critical thinking across a number of disciplines in social thought, law, and the humanities.
The graduate student seminar will be structured to frame a series of 13 formal seminars (the “formal seminars” or “Nietzsche 13/13”) at which two guests, from different disciplines, will be invited to discuss the readings and present on the themes of the seminar. Each formal seminar will host two specialists from across the disciplines, one from Columbia University and one from outside campus. It will also frame and interrelate with a Paris Reading Group that will run alongside the seminar. (See Paris Reading Group below). The graduate student seminar thus will serve as the vehicle to enrich the formal seminars and support the intellectual apparatus that will accompany the formal seminars. It will also prepare entries for the blog of the formal seminars, host the scholars invited to participate in the formal seminars, and prepare questions and comments for the formal seminars. It will serve as the structure that will nourish the formal seminar series. This seminar will also function as an advanced graduate research seminar. We will form four or five research clusters that will conduct on-going research in coordination with the formal seminars.
This course will study the materials, techniques, settings, and meanings of skilled craft and artistic practices in the early modern period (1350-1750), in order to reflect upon a series of issues, including craft knowledge and artisanal epistemology; the intersections between craft and science; and questions of historical methodology and evidence in the reconstruction of historical experience. The course will be run as a “Laboratory Seminar,” with discussions of primary and secondary materials, as well as text-based research and hands-on work in a laboratory. This course is one component of the Making and Knowing Project of the Center for Science and Society. This course contributes to the collective production of a transcription, English translation, and critical edition of a late sixteenth-century manuscript in French, Ms. Fr. 640. In 2014-15, the course concentrated on mold-making and metalworking; in 2015-16, on color-making. In 2016-17, it will focus on natural history, researching the context of the manuscript, and reprising some color-making and mold-making techniques. Students are encouraged to take this course both semesters (or more), but will receive full credit only once. Different laboratory work and readings will be carried out each semester.
(Same as POLS W4150)
Instructor: L. Astourian
A study of landmarks of French cinema from its origins to the 1970s. We will pay particular attention to the relation between cinema and social and political events in France. We will study films by Jean Vigo, Jean Renoir, Rene Clair, Alain Resnais, Francois Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard. In English.
Instructor: A. Fishzon
Violent upheavals of the twentieth century – imperialism, the two world wars, strugglesfor national independence, decolonization, and the Cold War — have made exile anddislocation the great preoccupations of literary works, autobiography, and theoreticalwritings. Globalization, driven by unprecedented trade and new technologies ofcommunication, information, and travel, has accelerated the movement of people,commodities, ideas, and cultures across the world. Diaspora is thus treated here not as asingular but rather historically varied and heterogeneous phenomenon. The transnationalmobility of people may be the result of forced or voluntary migration, self-exile orexpulsion. Refugees, people in transit, are the product of war, ideological heterodoxyand persecution, ethnic conflict, and natural calamity.
Under the broad rubrics of ‘diaspora’, ‘exile’ and ‘displacement’ we will move throughthe course thematically, taking a cross-cultural and cross-temporal approach and coveringthe following topics: nostalgia and homelessness, the ideologies of ‘home’ and nation,immigrant and diasporic cultures, experiences and memory of war, genocide, the politicsof multiculturalism, the predicament of minorities, the exilic perspective, the redefinitionof cosmopolitanism, identity questions (belonging, ‘national origins’, assimilation,acculturation), issues relating to race (racism), sexuality and gender, as well as borders,‘mixing’, and language.
Novels, essays, poems, and films produced in various geographic and historical contextshave engaged creatively with the phenomenological and material aspects of migration,dislocation, and privation. Psychoanalysis has focused on loss, mourning, anxiety, andshame – repetitions as well as impossibilities of return. Postcolonial theory and culturalstudies have had a particular interest in conceptualizing the ‘new’ phenomena of bordersand borderlands, hybridity, language (for example, global English), translation, doubleconsciousness, history and its lack; and all of the above-mentioned theories, narratives,and imaginings have addressed the affective dimensions of migration and diaspora –homesickness, memory, longing, and melancholy.
Diaspora and immigration are multidisciplinary fields. In addition to fictional accounts,we will draw on writings in anthropology, psychoanalysis, poststructuralist theory,history, literary studies, and cultural studies. Theorists to be studied will include:
Sigmund Freud, Edward Said, Svetlana Boym, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Rey Chow,Theodore Adorno, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan. We will watch films and readnovels, memoirs, poems, and other literary by writers such as: Joseph Brodsky, MilanKundera, Gary Shteyngart, Anya Ulinich, Anzia Yezierska, and Vladimir Nabokov,Salman Rushdie, Frantz Fanon, V.S. Naipaul, and Gloria Anzaldua.
Instructor: L. Knapp
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.
Frametale narratives, the art of inserting stories within stories, in oral and written forms, originated in East and South Asia centuries ago; tales familiar to Europe, often called novellas, can trace their development from oral tales to transmitted Sanskrit and Pahlavi tales, as well as Arabic and Hebrew stories. Both Muslim Spain and Christian Spain served as the nexus between the East and Europe in the journey of translation and the creation of new works.
Through readings and films, and employing the theoretical concepts of Homi Bhabha (liminality, hybridity, third space) and Etienne Balibar (frontiers and the nation), as well as selected readings of Fernand Braudel and others on the Mediterranean world, the course examines the structure, meaning, and function of ancient, medieval, and early modern frametale narratives, using as theoretical frame in three ways:
- Theory and practice of frames. Frames are not neutral; they can be narrative seductions, guiding and even strongly manipulating how we read the stories that follow; they can be used to reflect the intersections of orality and literacy. In order to understand their enduring power, we also explore the idea of literary frames through some contemporary films.
- The exploration in their cultural contexts of topics such as the literary figures of the anti-hero and the trickster, precursors to the picaresque, women in the courtroom, the conflict of chance and human agency, monstrous births as political prophecy, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish relations in medieval and early modern Mediterranean cultures, the sexual frankness of the novella form, and gender politics.
- How are narratives formed?
The course traces the development of the short tale/novella from its ancient Asian origins through the seventeenth century, when Cervantes’ literary experiments gave new life to the novella form, and the Spanish writer María de Zayas challenged Cervantes’ views on love and marriage in her own highly regarded collections of novellas; we move to the present with the study of three contemporary films. But before they became complex and entertaining narratives, many of the well known tales had their “bare bones” origins in joke books, laws and legal theories, conduct manuals, collections of aphorisms and other wise and pithy sayings, misogynist non-fiction writings, and Biblical stories.
Although the works are available in English translations, lectures will refer to meanings in both English and the original languages; students who can read the original works in Spanish, Italian, French and/or Latin are encouraged to do so.