Past Courses – (TEST)
Radical democracy is usually understood as a non-representational political activity which invites direct forms of political participation. Further, it is often characterized by an emphasis on the confluence of the ontological and the political.
In addition to these features, I would like to show in this course that the agonistic element is equally, if not more, important. In particular, it is significant to recognize, not only that the way that human interaction is articulated in terms of radical democracy is opposed to the logic of human relations according to conceptions of sovereignty. In addition, it is crucial to describe the agonistic relation between these two competing ways of conceiving human interconnections. What is the relation between radical democracy and sovereignty?
Spinoza is a crucial figure in this thinking of democracy. There are several reasons for this. His metaphysics identifies the conception of a transcendent God as the “sanctuary of ignorance” which regulates human political prejudices but which can nevertheless be overcome through a monist ontology. This ontology determines being in terms of power, thereby pre-empting representation. And, finally, it develops of theory of human interactivity whereby “man is god to man,” which leads to a conception of commonality as the essence of the political.
In this class we will investigate the representation and thematization of theories of risk in illness narratives and contemporary novels. As the difference between perceived and actual risks seems to magnify, as the benefits of technological innovation are increasingly seen as producing risks of an equal magnitude, as our health and our environment are constantly besieged by narratives of risk, fictional and autobiographical characters and protagonists are more firmly inhabiting these ‘riskscapes’. How do illness narratives and novels make formal choices about what kinds of risk stories can be told? How does the generative capacity of risk, and its related terms paranoia and anxiety, motivate plots and metaphors? How does an understanding of risk help us discriminate between hypochondria and other more tangible forms of disease? We will explore theories of risk, and the production of meaning around risk in works by Don Delilio, Richard Powers, Amitav Ghosh, Susanne Antonetta and Alice Wexler among others.
Instructor: E. Grimm
Designed for students writing a senior thesis and doing advanced research on two central literary fields in the student’s major. The course of study and reading material will be determined by the instructor(s) in consultation with students(s).
Students who decide to write a senior thesis should enroll in this tutorial. They should also identify during the fall semester a member of the faculty in a relevant department who will be willing to supervise their work and who is responsible for assigning the final grade. The thesis is a rigorous research work of approximately 40 pages (including a bibliography formatted in MLA style). It may be written in English or in another language relevant to the student’s scholarly interests. The thesis should be turned in on the announced due date as hard copy to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Some of the most exciting theoretical moving image work in recent years has centered on the problem of the acoustic sign in cinema and especially around the relation between image track and sound track. This course rethinks the history and theory of cinema from the point of view of sound: effects, dialogue, music. It begins with some history of cinematic sound recording and play-back technologies and ends with contemporary digital audio experiments. Basic theoretical constructs revisited are realism (sound perspective, dubbing), anti-realism (contrapuntal and dissonant effects), genre (the leitmotiv), perception (the synaesthetic effect) as well as word vs. wordlessness. The silent to sound divide considered from the silent film composite score to the Wagnerian classical Hollywood score associated with the Viennese-trained Max Steiner and Eric Korngold to the scores of John Williams. Western contrasted with non-Western traditions in musical scoring. Films screened include: King’s Row (Sam Wood, 1942), Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945), Dreams (Akira Kurosawa, 1990), Komal Gandhar (Ritwak Ghatak, 1961). Undergraduate permission required.
Instructor: C. Popkin
The course explores the conceptualization of space born of the human experience of being in the world, bringing to bear the theoretical perspectives of a number of disciplines and fields (literary and cultural theory, philosophy, religion, anthropology, sociology, geography, cartography, history, architecture, film, cognitive psychology, physics, gender studies, and postcolonial studies, among them), with particular attention to the role of spatial modeling in the production of meaning in literary narrative. It considers as well the meaning(s) accrued by a range of significant places and spaces (forest, steppe, field, village, monastery, fortress, prison cell, home, foreign land, country estate, city streets, public square, human body, and many others) in the context of Russian culture. The literary texts that serve as the material basis for our investigation have been chosen for their suggestiveness and because of their status as major works of Russian prose that have somehow fallen between the curricular cracks.
Primary readings available in both Russian and English; knowledge of Russian not required.
Examines prose and poetry by writers generally less accessible to the American student written in the major Central European languages: German, Hungarian, Czech, and Polish. The problematics of assimilation, the search for identity, political commitment and disillusionment are major themes, along with the defining experience of the century: the Holocaust; but because these writers are often more removed from their Jewishness, their perspective on these events and issues may be different. The influence of Franz Kafka on Central European writers, the post-Communist Jewish revival, defining the Jewish voice in an otherwise disparate body of works.