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Humanities (HMAN) Courses

This topics seminar in the humanities is available to junior or senior undergraduates as well as graduate students.  The number, variety and topics of sections will vary from semester to semester and year to year.  All classes are taught either by Brown faculty, as Cogut Center Faculty Fellows, or Visiting Professors in the Humanities from other institutions who are in residence at the Cogut Center.  Topics are offered that relate directly to faculty expertise and research as well as to the interests and needs of relevant departments. This seminar provides an in-depth enhancement to humanities scholarship for the advanced undergraduate. Graduate students are welcome.

You may click on the highlighted course titles to link to the Banner listing.

Courses for Spring 2014

HMAN 1970K                             N Hour (W 3:00 - 5:20pm)

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

In an arguably "post-secular" age, conflicts over the relationship between religion and law have moved to the forefront of international debate. In our multicultural/globalized world, such conflicts often provoke contestation over the very possibility of universal definitions of either "religion" or "law," let alone their proper relationship. Our interdisciplinary inquiries on these questions will include concrete legal disputes in domestic/international courts; theoretical debates over the construction of "religion" in fields such as anthropology, religious studies, and philosophy; and historiographical controversies about the relationship between "secularization" and sovereignty, particularly in light of the legacy of colonialism. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

HMAN 1971C                Q Hour (Th 4:00 - 6:20pm)

History, Theory and Practice of Storytelling Using Stereoscopic ("3D") Motion Pictures
Theodore Bogosian
Distinguished Visiting Lecturer

This course will support/enhance Brown’s tradition in the Humanities by sharpening the focus on interdisciplinary/comparative work across cultural/linguistic boundaries. Can science/technology/medicine foster the presentation of innovative work in humanities by bringing 3D to New Media? Why do some cultural values dictate genres typically produced in 3D? What were the origins of 3D motion pictures/how might new technologies affect the distribution/visualization of 3D projects? How can 3D enrich relations between humanities and studio/performing arts? We provide Brown students with an opportunity to establish a foundation for analyzing/telling stories using stereoscopic tools, and receive basic technical experience using 3D small-format video equipment.

HMAN 2970B                                    P Hour (T 4:00 - 6:20pm)

And What About the Human?
Barrymore A. Bogues
Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences & Critical Theory

This course will think about the question posed by radical anti-colonial thought: and what about the Human? Through the writings of Foucault, Arendt, Heidegger, Fanon, Wynter and Cesaire, as well as the novels of Lamming and Vera, we will examine the meaning of the “death of Man” in contemporary critical thought and theory, and the ways in which western anti-humanism thought claims to replace the figure of the human with discourse and language, while also contrasting the ways in which radical anti-colonial thought has constructed the figure of the human. Enrollment limited to 20.

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

Race, Space and Struggle
Linda Quiquivix
Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Humanities
Cogut Center for the Humanities

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. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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

Working (on) Concepts in the Humanities
Adi Ophir
Mellon Visiting Professor in the Humanities
Cogut Center for the Humanities

Concepts are usually thought of as cognitive tools, constituents of thought used for categorization, inference, memory, learning, and decision-making. We shall think about them rather as effects of a language game of a special kind whose rules change across genres, media, and discursive regimes. Looking for these rules and analyzing them comparatively, we shall ask how concepts are formed, displayed, and performed, when do we need them, and can we do without them. We shall read philosophers (Plato, Descartes, Kant, Wittgenstein, Arendt, Foucault, Derrida, and Deleuze), intellectual historians (Koselleck, Skinner), anthropologists (Taussig, Stoler), literary works (Kleist, Kafka, Musil) and look at some conceptual art. In their class presentations, students will be encourages to explore concepts iin literary and philosophical texts on which they are currently working in other contexts. Enrollment limited to 20.

HMAN1971D                                       N Hour (W 3:00 - 5:20pm)

Contested Spaces/Occupied Places: Spatial Theories in Practice Post '68
Anthony Vidler
Professor of Humanities and History of Art and Architecture

Occupy movements from New York to Istanbul have re-invigorated discussion over political uses of space, hotly debated subject uprisings of 1965/Los Angeles and 1968/Paris. This seminar will provide a framework for thinking through implications of spatial interventions both literal/virtual in the modern period. Topics include Debord’s "Unitary Urbanism"; Lefebvre’s "Right to the City"; Foucault’s "Heterotopias"; Deleuze/Guattari’s “Schizo-Space;” Derrida’s “Cities of Refuge;” Harvey’s “Spaces of Hope;” Weizman’s “Border Territories;” Davis’s “Planet of Slums,” Bourdieu/Latour’s “Network Theory.” Topics will be accompanied by case studies of spatial struggles in context. Students will develop their own research for class presentation of theory in practice.

Student Feedback on HMAN Classes

“One of the best courses I have taken.  Discussion was better than any other class.”

“While I am in an interdisciplinary major, it was the first truly interdisciplinary course I have taken.”

 “This course very much influenced the way I see the world and the way I will approach my future academic work.”

Great course — wide-ranging in focus but cohesive overall goals.  Quality of discussion was very high level.  I learned so much from this course and was continually challenged in the best possible way.”

“I loved this course; it was way out of my comfort zone but so rewarding.”

“I’ve never had a professor challenge me and respect me as much as [the instructor] did this semester.  She asked me to have ideas and arguments and thoughts on an enormous range of issues, and then to defend the hell out of them.  I couldn’t help but learn and grow because of it.”

“This course was phenomenal—it bridged worlds.”

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.

You may click on the highlighted course titles to link to the Banner listing.

Related Courses for Spring 2014

URBN1870R                      M Hour (M 3:00 - 5:20pm)

Do-It-Yourself Urbanism
Stefano Bloch
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Urban Studies

This seminar examines urbanism conceived as the autonomous, creative, and everyday making of city space. It analyzes the concepts of “right to the city” and “do-it-yourself” urbanism through protests over public space in Istanbul, Occupy encampments across the U.S., individual gestures of anarchist contestation, and graffiti and street artists' small-scale acts of aesthetic transgression. We engage the major conversations in the academy and on the streets about possible urban futures, including Latino urbanism from a thirdspace perspective and in its guerrilla, insurgent, participatory, and vernacular incarnations.

ENGL1311E                       B Hour (MWF 9:00 - 9:50am)

History of the English Language
Lesley Jacobs
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Provides an introduction to the study of the English language from a historical, linguistic, and philological perspective, and an overview of the study of the "Englishes" that populate our globe. While providing students with the ability to identify and explain language change through historical periods, also examines language as a social and political phenomenon.

ANTH1310                           D Hour (MWF 11:00 - 11:50am)

International Health: Anthropological Perspectives
Amy Moran-Thomas
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities
Anthropology/Population Studies

This upper-level medical anthropology course focuses on the social and cultural complexity of health problems in developing nations, employing anthropological approaches to public health. International health issues such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, reproductive health, violence, and mental illness will be examined. The historical, political and socio-cultural dimensions of international health problems will be explored through reading ethnographic case studies.

ANTH1552                                        Q Hour (Th 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Environmental Change: Ethnographic Perspectives
Amy Moran-Thomas
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities
Anthropology/Population Studies

What can anthropology's concepts and methods help us understand about the ways people unevenly experience, govern, fuel or contest global environmental changes today? Focusing on sociocultural accounts and ethnographic films, we will examine contemporary realities such as global warming and the anthropology of hydrocarbons; water politics and privatization of nature; pollution and its governance; agricultural change and human health; nuclear disaster; biodiversity and deforestation; the microbiome and society; and the ways environmental science is being produced alongside its emerging markets. Students will learn to put debates about ecological change in dialogue with anthropological thought and tools from the environmental humanities.

COLT1813P                                      J Hour (T/Th 1:00 - 2:20pm)

Captive Imaginations: Writing Prison in the Middle Ages
Jason M. Moreau

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
French Studies/Comparative Literature

Many great works of the Middle Ages were written in prison or about the experience of imprisonment. Reading some of these masterpieces, we will discover why the medieval prison was such a fruitful space for poetic creation, and how the perspective of incarcerated writers helped to shape a diversity of literary traditions. Topics will include fortune and free will, sexual and cultural difference, and the construction of the individual. We will also explore the nature of medieval systems of captivity, which differed greatly from those of modern society. Selected authors: Boethius, Mas'ud Sa'd Salman, Juan Ruiz, Chaucer, François Villon.

PHIL1100C                                      B Hour (MWF 9:00 - 9:50am)

Medieval Arabic Philosophy
Rafael Nájera
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Medieval Arabic philosophy is, broadly speaking, a derivation and continuation of the philosophy of the Hellenistic world. This course is a general study of the most important figures and ideas in this philosophical tradition with a special emphasis on metaphysical thought. The goal is to gain an overall view of the issues that were important to thinkers of the tradition and of the approaches taken to try to solve them. This course is a sort of philosophical journey into the past aiming at getting to know it as best as we can.


RELS1720                        M Hour (M 3:00 - 5:20pm)

Religious Ethnographies
Elayne Oliphant
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities
Religious Studies

This course will explore how religiosity is symbolized, experienced, contested, and produced in our modern, global, secular age. We will draw on rich ethnographic studies of religious life in Egypt, Siberia, England, China, the US, and elsewhere, as well as the myriad linkages and migrations that bring these sites together. Our ethnographic lens will allow us to see religious sensibilities as deeply embedded in a diverse array of social processes, categories, and structures. Religious lives, in other words, are never formed or reproduced in isolation but simultaneously represent, transform, and are generated by the social milieux in which they circulate.

HIST1978F                                        M Hour (M 3:00 - 5:20pm)

History of Global Urban Epidemics
Richard Parks
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Polio. Plague. Pox. This seminar will use historical, sociological, journalistic, epidemiological, documentary film, and literary sources to explore urban disease outbreaks and human responses from ancient to modern times. By examining cases such as plague in Florence and Hong Kong, yellow fever in Charleston and Veracruz, smallpox in Rio de Janeiro and Bombay, AIDS in New York and Kampala, and SARS in Toronto and Beijing, we will seek to understand the role of urban ecological factors in the emergence of disease, and the nature of social, scientific, and civic authority responses to urban epidemics. Enrollment limited to 20.

MES1999A                        Q Hour (Th 4:00 - 6:20pm)

Cultures of Neoliberalism in the Middle East
Mayssun Succarie
Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities
Middle East Studies

The course focuses on debates in the social sciences in the Arab world around contradictions of the cultures of neoliberalization in contemporary Arab culture(s), society (ies) and economy (ies). We will explore the relevance of neoliberalism to the increasing relevance of consumption and consumerism, for citizens and scholars alike, in shaping selfhood, society, identity and even epistemic reality, the concomitant eclipse of such modernist categories as social classes, the burgeoning importance of generation, ethnicity, gender, identity and social movements. Also covered, the relation of political Islam to neoliberalism, and the rise of labour migration in/out of the Arab world.

HMAN and Humanities Related Courses
2013-14 (Fall only)

HMAN Courses in Past Years

Humanities Related Courses
These are courses taught by Cogut Center Fellows for other departments.