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Courses for Fall 2013

HMAN 2970F (M 3:30 - 5:40pm)

Nationalism, Colonialism, and International Law
Nathaniel A. Berman
Rahel Varnhagen
Professor of International Affairs, Law, and Modern Culture, Cogut Center for the Humanities

This seminar explores the internationalism of the past century in terms of its relationship to separatist nationalism, anti-colonialism, and religious radicalism. It takes as its point of departure the dramatic political, cultural, and intellectual transformations that followed in the wake of World War I. A guiding hypothesis of the seminar is that internationalism cannot be understood apart from its complex relationship to "identity" broadly conceived – identity of local/transnational groups as well as the identity of internationalists themselves. Readings will be drawn from law/cultural studies/politics/postcolonial theory.

HMAN 1970P Q Hour (Th 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Pragmatism, Religion and Politics
Stephen S. Bush
Faculty Fellow

Pragmatism is a distinctive American school of thought that sees the goal of philosophy not as the apprehension of timeless truths but as a practical project of bettering individual lives and society as a whole. Pragmatists such as William James and John Dewey were devoted to deepening America's commitment to democracy. Both saw an important place for an unconventional sort of religion in democratic life. This course explores the pragmatist thought of James, Dewey, and others, looking especially at their views on religion and politics. We also will explore the influence of pragmatism on Barack Obama.

HMAN 2970J N Hour (W 3:00 - 5:20pm)

Realism, Idealism, and Modernity
Paul D. Guyer
Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy

Department of Philosophy

This course continues discussion of realism and idealism as alternative responses to the challenges of modernity. We begin with Schelling's System of Transcendental Idealism and selections from Hegel; subsequent authors include Nietzsche, a Neo-Hegelian such as F.H. Bradly, a Neo-Kantian such as Ernst Cassirer, a pragmatist such as John Dewey or C.I. Lewis, and more recent philosophers such as Rudolf Carnap, Thomas Kuhn, Jurgen Habermas, and others. We will especially consider how recent versions of conceptual relativism such as Kuhn's draw on both the realist/idealist traditions to model the modern scientific outlook. Undergraduates with instructor permission. HMAN 2970H helpful but not required.

HMAN 1971A N Hour (W 3:00 - 5:20pm)

City Spaces, City Memories
E. Tamar Katz
Faculty Fellow

Since 9/11, New York City has become a site of collective memory, in which a variety of disciplines have asked how we can memorialize people and the buildings that house them. The city, however, has been a space of memory for much of the twentieth century. This course will discuss 20th and 21st century New York City to consider the ways people have located personal and the communal pasts in the city's spaces, especially in its buildings. We will examine novels, journalism, memoirs, architectural criticism and photography, along with memorials and tourist attractions.

HMAN 2970L (Th 1:00 - 3:30pm)

History and Theory of Catastrophes
Adi Ophir
Mellon Visiting Professor in the Humanities
Cogut Center for the Humanities

This seminar proposes a philosophical history of catastrophes (large-scale disasters) and uses it as a vantage point for questioning contemporary critiques of modernity/secularization. Starting from Biblical narratives of God-made disasters, we will follow God's role in the way north-western societies interpret/cope with catastrophes. Reading/viewing documentation of catastrophes from Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year to Cooper's/Block's/Spike Lee's reports on Hurricane Katrina, we will examine the emergence of the state as a major actor responsible for preparing for catastrophes/mitigating their effects, but often also for their generation, and discuss the globalization of catastrophes and with catastrophes as special sites of globalization.

HMAN1970O P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Autonomy and Globalization
Linda E. Quiquivix

Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Humanities
Cogut Center for the Humanities

Many of today's dissident movements adopt leaderless/self-managed practices presenting us with radically different notions of what it means to self-determine. We will situate these movements within historical struggles for autonomy. By "autonomy" we understand the quality or state of being self-governing/self-determining. By "self," we understand not the self-originating/self-determining/rational individual constructed by Enlightenment liberal humanism, but rather, a diversity of self-defined collectivities made up of social individuals. We will consider runaway slave societies (Western Hemisphere), Operaismo (Italy), Zapatistas (Mexico), Tahrir Square's protesters (Egypt), Occupy Movement (US), Shackdwellers (South Africa), refugee/migrant movements. Readings include Marx/ Cleaver/Linebaugh/Rediker/Negri/Tronti/Virno/Berardi/Holloway/others, and documents from movements we engage.

HMAN1971B P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Paris Archive: The Capital of the Nineteenth Century, 1848-1871
Anthony Vidler
Professor of Humanities and History of Art and Architecture

We will take as our starting-point Walter Benjamin's notes for his unfinished masterwork "The Arcades Project." The Passagenwerke comprise a massive index of citations/observations on the nature/form of the city of Paris in every aspect of its cultural/political life in the 19th/20th centuries. We will read works from which he culled his aphorisms/investigate the present status of each of his assertions/citations, with historical/contemporary readings. We will discuss the nature of historical/archival interpretation and try to bring together artifacts – textual/visual/sensorial - that might constitute a "Museum" of 19th Century Paris. Graduate students encouraged to register.

2013-14 Humanities Related Courses

The Cogut Center administers two programs that bring teaching postdoctoral fellows to campus: Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows and Postdoctoral Fellows in International Humanities. In addition to doing research and participating in the life of the Cogut Center, each fellow teaches one course per semester for his/her "home" department. These courses, taught by fellows brought to campus by the Cogut Center, help to expand, explore and enhance humanities education at Brown.

Related Courses for Fall 2013

URBN1230 AB Hour (MW 8:30 - 9:50am)

Crime and the City
Stefano Bloch
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Urban Studies

This course surveys aspects of crime and policing in the contemporary urban environment. Topics will include community policing strategies from Skid Row in Los Angeles to Times Square in New York City, low-level criminality, neighborhood change, transgression, and the ways in which urban-based subcultures— skateboarders, graffiti writers, gutter punks, gang members and homeless youth—occupy public space.

ENGL1311H G Hour (MWF 2:00 - 2:50pm)

Sagas Without Borders: Multilingual Literatures of Early England
Lesley Jacobs
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course traces evolutions of the hero in Old English, Norse, Welsh, and Irish narratives within and around early medieval England. Introduction to genres of saga, romance, and the short poetic lai, as students consider how the nature of the hero changes in specific cultural and linguistic moments. Texts in modern English translation. Essays will focus on close textual readings.

GRMN2660S O Hour (F 3:00 - 5:20pm)

Inheriting (in) Modernity
David Krell
Visiting Professor in the Humanities


Gerhard Richter
Professor of German Studies

This seminar will devote itself to the vexing question of what an intellectual and cultural inheritance is and how one should respond to its demanding complexities. How do we relate to a tradition, a legacy, a canon, an estate, a previous way of thinking and being? The readability of an inheritance and its many ghosts can be confronted in a rigorous fashion only in the moment when this very readability threatens to break down and the idea of a straightforward understanding is suspended. Readings include Nietzsche, Freud, Kafka, Bloch, Benjamin, Heidegger, Adorno, and Derrida. (Taught in English).

ANTH1305 AB Hour (MW 8:30 - 9:50am)

Medical Humanities: Critical Perspectives on Illness, Healing and Culture
Amy Moran-Thomas
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities
Anthropology/Population Studies

Medicine is arguably the most humanistic of the hard sciences, one that strives to ensure the basic dignity of individuals. In our increasingly globalized world, access to medical care is recognized as a fundamental human right. However, there continues to be considerable debate over the "best" ways to provide medical services to economically and culturally diverse communities across the globe, given the complex ways that people prioritize and perpetuate their health. Drawing on a range of disciplines, this seminar explores the multifaceted relationships between biomedicine and cultural understandings of illness, both in the US and worldwide. Instructor permission required.

FREN1110G N Hour (W 3:00 - 5:20pm)

En Marge: Exilés et Hors-la-Loi au Moyen Age
Jason M. Moreau

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
French Studies/Comparative Literature

Through a close reading of medieval texts from a diverse selection of genres and voices, this course will seek to understand not only those excluded from medieval society, but also their relationship to that society. The thematic focus will be on the condition of marginality itself—the way in which the margins belong fully neither to the outside nor to the inside, but describe a meeting point between them. In this course, students will be asked to consider the marginal space as it provides a dual perspective on excluded individuals and on the world that excludes them.

PHIL1680 H Hour (T/Th 9:00 - 10:20am)

Medieval Philosophy
Rafael Nájera
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Since the Renaissance, medieval philosophy has often been unjustly dismissed as arcane and irrelevant, despite impressive innovations in ethics, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and logic. Instead of surveying so vast a field, the course focuses on one or two sets of problems, such as the problem of evil, the freedom of the will, the existence of God, universals, substance, mind and meaning.

RELS1746 P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Varieties of Secularism
Elayne Oliphant
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Secularism is often thought of as the simple absence of religion. But is it so easy to distinguish the religious from the non-religious? What precisely is secularism? How does it vary from place to place, and how does it relate to the state? This course examines how secularism carries a powerful, but implicit presence in our daily lives by examining the relationship between secularism, modernity, and the nation-state in a variety of different countries around the world. We will also look at how secularism is enacted, produced, and represented through practices and institutions, such as art museums and the courts.

HIST1978E N Hour (W 3:00 - 5:20pm)

Global Ideas of Race in the History of the Biological, Medical and Human Sciences
Richard Parks
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Despite the certainty with which these authors made their pronouncements, "race" has remained not only a salient concept within a variety of disciplines, but also an enduring object of scientific investigation and controversy. The purpose of this course is to trace the origins of "scientific" concept of race and interrogate its transformations and uses over time. The primary sources assigned, ranging from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, will highlight the multiple, and often ambiguous, definitions of the term; also underscoring the concept's correlation, at various points in history, to idea of species, variety, tribe, linguistic group, nation, civilization.

MES1999 P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Arab Youth: Movements, Cultures
Mayssoun Succarie
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities
Middle East Studies

"Youth" has become a central social concept in the contemporary global economy. In the wake of 9/11, the discussion of "youth" in the Arab world became a global priority. This course takes an anthropological and sociological approach to studying youth. Why has "youth" become a focus of concern now? How does this shape our thinking about social, economic, political, and historical issues in the Arab world, and what issues does it obscure? The course examines the historical emergence and transformation of categories of "youth," "teen" and "adolescent" in the contexts of capitalist industrialization, nationalism, post/colonialism, state formation and globalization.