Past Courses – (TEST)
Analyzes dramatic texts and performances under the Communist regimes behind the Iron Curtain before 1989. Principal focus is on Czech, Polish, and East German playwrights and their productions; we will consider their work in both legal and illegal contexts. In order to gain a wider understanding of the diversity of underground performative cultures, works from Hungary, Romania, and Slovenia will be considered as well. The seminar also attends to dissident performative activities in the framework of the 1980s revolutions, and reflects on works by western authors and emigrant/diasporic writers produced on stages behind the Iron Curtain.
This course introduces classical and contemporary theoretical and empirical approaches to the sociological study of religion, including secularization and secularity, religious identity formation, and sociological approaches to religious practice and meaning. Special focus will be on contemporary American topics, including religion and transnationalism, the role of religious actors and discourses in American politics, law and economics, and everyday religious practice. Prior coursework in Religion or Sociology is highly encouraged.
Instructor: M. Wilson
Instructor: M. Dosemeci and R. Hofmann
This seminar explores the meaning of the “West” through political and cultural critiques articulated – and carried out – across the world from the late nineteenth century to the present. We will examine how a wide range of writers, philosophers, filmmakers, and political activists have construed the “West” from both the inside and outside. This interdisciplinary approach enables us to highlight how the “West” has been criticized for possessing different and contradictory characteristics – for being materialistic and idealist; national and imperial; secular and Christian; universalist and Euro-centric; progressive and polluting. How did the concept of “West” emerge? How has it been used? For what purpose? What was the “West” supposed to explain and what did it conceal? What political projects did were envisioned – and brought about – through the critique of the “West?” Students will confront these critiques by analyzing how the category of the “West” figured (and figures) into the various agendas of intellectuals from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe itself.
Instructor: B. Robbins and O. Pamuk
*See English Department website for application instructions (Seminar). The phrase “the art of the novel,” a reminder that the ascension of the genre to the status of “high art” rather than merely popular entertainment is still relatively recent, comes from Henry James, himself both a novelist and an influential critic of the novel. The premise of this co-taught seminar is that it is intellectually productive to bring together the perspectives of the novelist and the critic, looking both at their differences and at their common questions and concerns. In addition to fiction and criticism by Orhan Pamuk, students will read novels by Stendhal, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy. Application instructions: E-mail Professor Robbins (firstname.lastname@example.org) by noon, Wednesday, April 11th with the subject heading “Art of the Novel seminar”. In your message, include basic information: your name, school, major, year of study, and relevant courses taken, along with a brief statement about why you are interested in taking the course. Note: When available, an admit list will be posted at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/english/courses_ugsemadmit.htm.
Overview of Greek and Roman literature. Close analysis of selected texts from the major genres accompanied by lectures on literary history. Topics include the context of which the genres rose. the suitability of various modern critical approaches to the ancient texts, the problem of translation, and the transmission of the classical authors and their influence on modern literature.
The point is to examine democracy not as a political system, but as a historical phenomenon characterized by a specific culture: a body of ideas and values, stories and myths. This culture is not homogenous; it has a variety of historical manifestations through the ages but remains nonetheless cohesive. The objective is twofold: 1) to determine which elements in democratic culture remain fundamental, no matter what form they take in various historical instances; 2) to understand that the culture of democracy is indeed not abstract and transcendental but historical, with its central impetus being the interrogation and transformation of society.
This seminar explores the emergence of new media and its vast implications for psychic and social transformation. We will examine significant moments, theoretical foundations, and current directions in the development of digital machines and pursue a series of dialogues with philosophy, psychoanalysis, social theory, arts and literature. Focusing on the role of technology, we begin by framing “the digital” in relation to the scientific and literary modernisms of the early 20th century. In light of these broad trajectories, we will investigate the invention of information theory, cybernetics, digital computing as well as the network systems and institutions of the Cold War. In our discussions, we will consider, for example, the following questions: What constitutes a discrete symbol? When and how did particular symbols and inscription systems become universalized across media and across languages? Does the digital machine address the unconscious? In what ways do they alter the boundaries of sense and nonsense in how humans relate to their “meaningful” world? Can digital thinking be considered ideological? What is the relationship between the digital and the political? How do we reimagine the political beyond the “despotism of number” (Alain Badiou), or in spite of them? These questions will guide our critique of the techné of the digital machine on the one hand and our reevaluation of received notions of language, writing, print, and communication on the other. We will pay close attention to the convergence of text, image, graphics, and design in digital media and try to understand the emerging forms of creative imagination. This seminar encourages students to develop their own comparative and cross-disciplinary research projects.
This seminar satisfies the ICLS required courses in comparative topics or in literary theory.
Instructor: B. Messick
The anthropological approach to the study of culture and human society. Case studies from ethnography are used in exploring the universality of cultural categories (social organization, economy, law, belief system, art, etc.) and the range of variation among human societies.