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2008-09 Humanities Related Courses

These courses, taught by fellows brought to campus by the Cogut Center, help to expand, explore and enhance humanities education at Brown.

Courses for Fall 2008

ITAL 1920                                    

Independent Study Project
Lorenzo Benadusi, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Independent study supervised by a member of the Italian Studies Faculty. Students may pursue independent research in order to prepare for their honors thesis or honors multimedia project, or they may enroll in the course in order to work individually with a faculty member on a specific area of Italian Studies not covered in the current course offerings.

EAST 1950C                                

After Empire: History, Memory and Mourning
Yukiko Koga, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Over the last two decades new intellectual endeavors have shed light on the questions of memory and mourning stemming from past violence and injustice. With specific focus on the afterlife of the Japanese colonial enterprise that disappeared in 1945, Manchuria in particular, this course explores larger questions of history, memory, and what it means to come to terms with the past. We shall examine such questions as: what historical constellations made some war victims visible and others invisible in the postwar years; what are the socio-economic and psychological forces behind this politics of appearance and disappearance; and what are the effects of colonial traces within the dynamics of history, memory, and mourning? Even though the course draws examples from China and Japan, students are encouraged to pursue their own choice of exemplary cases elsewhere in their final paper project.

HIST 1320                                    

Transnational Cuba: History and Contemporary Life
Adrian Lopez-Denis, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This course explores the impact of modernity, slavery, and colonialism in the production of Cuban national identity. We will discuss how technologies of power affected the development of the island, with an emphasis on the role of modern forms of social domination based on race, gender, and class. Taught in Cuba.

COLT 1421C                               

Subaltern Studies: History, Literature, Theory
Syed Nauman Naqvi, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Charts the literary as an analog space of the subaltern in the influential postcolonial project of subaltern studies, taking as its point of departure the premise that "the small voice of history" and that of literature and its theory complement each other to disturb the figurations of the dominant.

HISP 1370P                                

Contemporary Cuban Literature and Visual Culture
Rachel Price, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

In this course we will read novels, short stories, essays and poetry; examine art work, performances and blogs, and watch films produced in Cuba or in the Cuban diaspora during the "Special Period," or since the 1990s.  Authors, filmmakers and artists may include Ena Lucía Portela, Juan Carlos Tabío, Fernando Pérez, Carlos Garaicoa, Belkis Ayán, Antonio José Ponte, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Iván de la Nuez, Reina María Rodríguez, Victor Fowler,  Antón Arrufat, Ana Lydia Vega Sergova, Jesús Díaz, Zoé Valdés.

TSDA 1281G                               

Caribbean Culture and Performance
Meida McNeal, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

Utilizing ethnography, history, media and Caribbean and performance theory, this course considers how different kinds of Caribbean cultural performance figure as "narratives" of difference and unity across a vast sociocultural terrain where notions of race, class, gender, national and global belonging are engaged. We will analyze festivals, vernacular social forms, stage/commercial performance and everyday cultural performance in a Caribbean context.

ARCH 1200H                                 

Islamic Landscapes: Cities, Frontiers and Monuments
Ian Straughn, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course will examine the built environments of the Islamic Period Middle East through the growing archaeological and historical record of its cities, monuments, and other spaces. We will explore what these landscapes tell us about the diverse nature of Muslim societies, relations between Muslim and non-Muslim inhabitants, and ways in which cultures engage with space and place through their physical, emotional, and intellectual resources.

Courses for Spring 2009

EAST 1950E                                  

Anthropology of Urban China
Yukiko Koga, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This course examines the emergence and transformation of urban life in contemporary China through the lens of ethnography. Global political economic forces are drastically reshaping the Chinese landscape; by the end of the next decade more than half of its 1.3 billion people will live in cities. The China of today is unfolding within these cities, where generational change and social disparities are sharpened, new consumption patterns and identities take shape, and conflicts among the city-dwellers, nouveau riche, and labor migrants play out. The ethnographic texts in this course capture how these changes are experienced in everyday life. Through reading these texts together we will examine the lure and disillusionment of "modern life," a buzzword in today's China, and how the major socio-economic and cultural transformations of the present relate to the past.


Modern Latin America I
Adrian Lopez-Denis, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This course offers an introduction to the history of Latin America, beginning with the late colonial period and running through the close of the twentieth century. Emphasis is placed on political, social, and cultural history; less attention is paid to diplomatic and economic history.

TSDA 1281L                                     

Critical Performance Ethnography: Issues in Globalization, Modernity, Citizenship/Belonging and Justice
Meida McNeal, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This seminar introduces students to key theories and methods of critical performance ethnography. Since culture is made visible to us through its representations, e.g., its structures, dramas, symbols, metaphors, habits, everyday practices, landscapes, language patterns, etc., performance becomes a primary point of entry and inquiry where we may be/act, see/hear, feel/sense, and think/evaluate within an Other world and our own.  Ethnographers must pay keen attention to “how” stories are constructed: the local worlds from which they are created, their interaction with larger global issues and events and the “politics” involved in their need for coming into existence at all.

TSDA 1281G                                  

Caribbean Culture & Performance
Meida McNeal, Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities

This course utilizes Caribbean performance to illuminate discourses of race, ethnicity, class, gender/sexuality and belonging.  Drawing upon examples from festivals, vernacular social forms, stage/commercial performance and everyday life, we will analyze how Caribbean performances enact cultural narratives of unity and difference. How do specific cultural events/performances signify particular stories of Caribbeanness?  How do these same cultural events/performances open up into multiple narratives – telling many stories – depending on what social variables and whose perspective(s) we are examining?


Postcolonial Melancholia
Syed Nauman Naqvi, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Figures of loss and defeat proliferate widely in the accounts of colonization, national liberation, and decolonization in South Asia, Africa, the Arab world, and the Americas. We will attend to the particularity of loss by juxtaposing readings in literature and postcolonial theory with readings on mourning and melancholia, drawn from a range of disciplines.


Caribbean Messianisms and Utopias
Rachel Price, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course explores messianic and utopian thought in and about the Caribbean, broadly construed.  We will pair a range of literary and historical readings with philosophical considerations of messianism's and utopia's relation to politics and time.  Texts may include Columbus's diaries, Vargas Llosa's La guerra del fin del mundo; Carpentier's El reino de este mundo; a novel about Dominican cult leader Olivorio Mateo; literature and films from the Cuban Revolution; and lyrics by salseros-turned-pentacostals Richie Ray and Bobbie Cruz.


Islamic Civilizations
Ian Straughn, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This introduction to early Islamic civilization will examine the interrelationship between the emerging Islamic religious tradition and the development of specifically Muslim social institutions, the role of ethnic and religious minorities, and the flowering of Islamic thought and material culture. Students will study archaeology, political and social histories, visual arts, and textual traditions to explore the evolution and institutionalization of Islam from Spain to Central Asia.

HIAA 0490                                     

Urban Modernity and the Middle East
Ipek Tureli, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

This course explores the relationship between modernity and the city in the context of the Middle East. Its goal is to provoke historically grounded, critical and comparative thinking about cities during the modern period. The concept of urban modernity refers to the experience of modern city life and the associated cultural celebration of innovation. Middle Eastern cities, in contrast, have generally been studied privileging the role of the West, and through the lens of development. Organized in three parts, this course introduces theories of urban modernity, examines the genealogy of the study of Middle East cities, and then seeks to appropriate the lens of urban modernity to look at a number of cities in the Middle East.

Click here for more information on 2008-09 HMAN seminars.