Past Courses – (TEST)
(Seminar). Major works of rhetorical theory from Greek and Roman antiquity to early modern Europe with a focus on the continuities and changes and with special attention to the forensic elements of both their inventional and stylistic strategies.
A survey of the Czech, German, and German-Jewish literary cultures of Prague from 1910 to 1920. Special attention to Hašek, ÄŒapek, Kafka, Werfel, and Rilke. Parallel reading lists available in English and in the original.
The focus of this seminar will be novels by Arab writers. The course will explore the history of the Arabic novel: its rise, development, and evolution. We will read and analyze novels belonging to various periods in Arab history and representing diverse points of views, including gender, identities, and different sub-cultures and sub-genres. We will look into the connections therein between the novel and the historical backdrops of colonialism, decolonization, globalization, war, rights and personal independence from several perspectives and writers across the Arab world. We will also consider the modern Arabic novel’s engagement with the global and local as well as its nod to the Arabic literary tradition; its engagement with technology, scientific progress, absurdity, loss, trauma, the human condition, as well as dystopic themes. No knowledge of Arabic is required.
Is it reassuring that no philosophical treatise ‘On the Mother’ seems to have been written in the history of occidental thought? Should we be relieved that nothing this violently direct, obscene, on the mother, seems to have been produced? Or should we rather be disturbed that ‘thinking mothers’ has not been a declared task for the mostly male-bonding and father-bound trans-generational band called ‘thinkers’? Would thinking, as philosophical thinking which in one of its traditional senses calls for thinking the essence of ‘a thing’, not require to think motherhood, maternity, or the Mother as the essence of mothers? Would thinking mothers in their supposed essence as giving birth, bringing to life, as a singular (mother) in relation to a singular (progeny), kill the mothers, each and every single one, by thinking that essence which they all would be supposed to share? Does the mother not allow us to think? Is thinking matricidal? Does the essence of mothers lie in not thinking the essence of mothers? Are mothers and thinkers engaged in a struggle for life and death, like two rivaling twins outside of themselves in a womb we have to invent in order to imagine it? Where can we find room to speculate a little differently facing the mirror of thinking mothers? Do we have to resort to psychoanalysis and literature in order to un-think these questions?
We will read authors whose writings resonate with this conundrum.
Designed for graduate and advanced undergraduate students in the social sciences, humanities, and computer science, this hybrid course is situated at the crossroads of historical exploration and computer sciences. Students will be exposed to digital literacy tools and computational skills through the lens of the Making and Knowing Project. The edition will draw on collaboration with and research done by the Making and Knowing Project http://www.makingandknowing.org/ on an anonymous 16th-century French compilation of artistic and technical recipes (BnF Ms. Fr. 640). Students will work from the encoded English translation of the manuscript, prepared by the Spring 2017 course “HIST GR8975 What is a Book in the 21st Century? Working with Historical Texts in a Digital Environment.” This course will also utilize the concepts and prototypes developed by computer science students in the Spring 2018 “COMS W4172: 3D User Interfaces and Augmented Reality (AR). The skills students will learn over the course of the semester are widely applicable to other types of Digital Humanities projects, and indeed, in many fields outside of traditional academic study. For the final project, students will collaborate to investigate linguistic features of Ms. Fr. 640 using natural language processing and text mining techniques. These projects will shed light on topics of interest within the manuscript and uncover connections within the textual data. By using the tools prototypes in a Spring 2018 COMS W4172 course, and working alongside computer science students, the groups will learn to adapt and recode data sets, and to view them into a variety of visualizations.
INSTRUCTOR PERMISSION REQUIRED. SEE DEPT WEBSITE FOR DETAIL
Instructor: Christopher C. Baswell
This class is designed to introduce graduate students (and some advanced undergraduates) to the paleography of English vernacular manuscripts written during the period ca. 700 -1500, with brief excursions into Latin and into French as it was written on the Continent. The purpose of the course is fourfold: (1) to teach students how to make informed judgments with regard to the date (and sometimes place) of origin, (2) to provide instruction and practice in the accurate reading and transcription of medieval scripts, (3) to learn and use the basic vocabulary of the description of scripts, and (4) to examine the manuscript book as a product of the changing society that produced it and, thus, as a primary source for the study of that society and its culture. In order to localize manuscripts in time and place, we also examine aspects of the written page besides the script, such as the material on which it is written, its layout and ruling, the decoration and illustration of the text, the provenance, and binding. We also examine the process of manuscript production itself, whether institutional, commercial, or personal. The history of book production and of decoration and illumination are thus considered part of the study of paleography, as is the history of patronage and that of libraries. Manuscripts are among the most numerous and most reliable surviving witnesses to medieval social and intellectual change, and they will be examined as such. To become proficient in the study of manuscripts it is necessary to look at manuscripts, as well as to read about them. The more time you are able to spend looking at manuscripts critically, in the manuals and in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the greater will be your first-hand experience and hence your reliable knowledge.
In the period since 1965, fiction has become global in a new sense and with a new intensity. Writers from different national traditions have been avidly reading each other, wherever they happen to come from, and they often resist “national” and regional labels altogether. If you ask the Somali writer Nuruddin Farah whether the precocious child of Maps was inspired by Salman Rushdie´s Midnight´s Children, he will answer (at least he did when I asked him) that he and Rushdie both were inspired by Sterne´s Tristram Shandy and Grass´s The Tin Drum. At the same time, the human experiences around which novelists organize their fiction are often themselves global, explicitly and powerfully but also mysteriously. Our critical language is in some ways just trying to catch up with innovative modes of storytelling that attempt to be responsible to the global scale of interconnectedness on which, as we only rarely manage to realize, we all live. Authors will include some of the following: Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Jamaica Kincaid, W.G. Sebald, Elena Ferrante, and Zadie Smith.
Philology, broadly defined as the practice of making sense of texts, is a fundamental human activity that has been repeatedly institutionalized in widely separated places and times. In the wake of the formation of the modern academic disciplines in the nineteenth century and their global spread, it became difficult to understand the power and glory of older western philology, and its striking parallels with other pre- and early modern forms of scholarship around the globe. This class seeks to create a new comparative framework for understanding how earlier generations made sense of the texts that they valued, and how their practices provide still-vital models for us at a time of upheaval in the format and media of texts and in our scholarly approaches to them. Students will encounter key fields of philology—textual criticism, lexicography, grammar, and, above all, commentary—not in the abstract but as instantiated in relation to four foundational works—the Confucian Analects, the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki, the Aeneid, and the Tale of Genji—and the scholarly traditions that grew up around them. We are never alone when we grapple with the basic question of how to read texts whose meaning is unclear to us. Over the course of the semester, this class will foster a global understanding of the deep roots and strange parallels linking contemporary reading and interpretation to the practices of the past.