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FALL 2017 COURSE OFFERINGS

The Society annually awards fellowships for research in the humanities. Fellows offer experimental, innovative seminars on their research topics. These 4000-level courses are open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Those interested in auditing a course should contact the instructor for permission.

COURSE LIST QUICK JUMP
(or you can scroll down the page):
SHUM 4613 Theorizing the Local and the Global: Corruption and the Indian Novel in English
(also ASIAN 4463, ENGL 4996)
SHUM 4614 Polluted Senses
(also ANTHR 4014)
SHUM 4615 Artivism: Electronic Civil Disobedience
(also VISST 4615)
SHUM 4616 Corrupting Environmental Media
(also COML 4614, STS 4616)
SHUM 4617 Seeing Corruption in Mexico
(also LATA 4617, VISST 4617)
SHUM 4618 Data Corruption’s Deep History
(also ARKEO 4618, CLASS 4632, COML 4615, MEDVL 4718, STS 4618)

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SHUM 4613 Theorizing the Local and the Global: Corruption and the Indian Novel in English
(also ASIAN 4463, ENGL 4996)
Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
A. Ben-Yishai
R: 12:20 – 2:15 p.m.

This course will survey the history of the novel in India in English over the past hundred years, from colonial rule, through the consolidation of the Indian nation, to the growing pressures of globalization. Focusing on realist fiction, we will address the ways that generic conventions change over time, and discuss the local and the global as formal concerns, modulating in relation to the world beyond India as well as in negotiation with its multiple locales, identities, languages, and cultures. Through this prism, we will focus our attention on the theme of corruption – of politics, of the nation, of language and literary form – that has been a constant (though often figured as crisis) in this literary tradition which simultaneously is and is not a national tradition.

Central to our theoretical discussion will be the meaning of Indian writing in English, and its relation to what has come to be called “world literature.” We will inquire into the stakes of categorizing our novels as “Indian,” “Anglophone,” “Postcolonial,” “World literature,” or various other generic and formal categories. What methodologies and ideologies do each of these categories imply? Are the theoretical frameworks determined by us (and our proclivities as readers or critics) or demanded by the texts themselves? Are the ways in which we read mutually exclusive or can we come up with an eclectic methodology?

Ayelet Ben-Yishai is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the English Department at the University of Haifa. She specializes in Victorian and postcolonial literature and culture, and in the history and theory of the novel, with particular focus on questions of realism, literary epistemology, and the novel. A comparatist by training, she has degrees in both law and literature and has written extensively on their intersections. Her more recent research and teaching interests include narrative theory, Indian Anglophone writing, and world literature. She is the author of a book, Common Precedents: The Presentness of the Past in Victorian Fiction and Law (Oxford, 2013) and articles in NOVEL, Modern Fiction Studies, and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, among others. She has been an Honorary Fellow at the IRH at UW-Madison, a recipient of an Israel Science Foundation grant for her research on realism in the postcolonial novel, and is the organizer of an interdisciplinary and comparative research group entitled, "Twentieth-century Partitions: Legacies of British Rule." In addition to her book on the Emergency, she is in the early stages of research of another on the ethical, political, and discursive problem of complicity.

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SHUM 4614 Polluted Senses
(also ANTHR 4014)
Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
C. Casey
M: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

Nothing is more essential to humans than everyday sensory experiencing. We see the red of a sign, feel the rain on our skin, or smell the stench of garbage, and decide what to do. Our senses clue us into a range of possibilities and potential dangers. But are our sensory experiences universal? No. We have ample evidence that what people consider as their senses varies widely across societies, cultures, national borders, and other geopolitical spaces, as do personal synesthetic experiences. Sensory experiences also change across time, with new technologies. This seminar engages the global diversity of sensory experiences and apprehension, honing in on multiple sensory forms of ‘pollution’ (aesthetic, political, ecological, religious, legal and cultural), and emerging conceptual and experiential approaches to “polluted senses”. Concepts and enactments of pollution affect what is communally sacred, social and environmental, but also what is degenerative, contaminated or corrupt such as health or moral crises and social, political conflicts.

Conerly Casey is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has extensive ethnographic experience with young Muslims in northern Nigeria and Kuwait in broad areas of health and healing, conflict and violence, and mediated affect and emotion. Her present research evaluates the sensory politics and mediated affects of violent sensorial, such as the sights, sounds, and movements of war, on memory and emotion. Recent publications include: “Remembering and Ill Health in Post-invasion Kuwait: Topographies, Collaborations, Mediations” in Genocide and Mass Violence: Memory, Symptom and Recovery, eds. Devon Emerson Hinton and Alexander Laban Hinton (Cambridge University Press, 2015), “The Art of Suffering: Postcolonial (Mis) Apprehensions of Nigerian Art” in Suffering, Art and Aesthetics, eds., Ratiba Hadj-Moussa and Michael Nijhawan (Palgrave Macmillan 2014), and “States of Emergency”: Armed Youths and Mediations of Islam in Northern Nigeria” in Journal of International and Global Studies 5 (February 2014), republished in Déjà Lu Journal (World Council of Anthropological Associations 2016). She also edited, with Robert B. Edgerton, Companion to Psychological Anthropology: Modernity and Psychocultural Change (Blackwell Publishers, 2005), which received a Choice Magazine Outstanding Book Award.

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SHUM 4615 Artivism: Electronic Civil Disobedience
(also VISST 4615)

Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
R. Dominguez
T: 10:10 a.m. – 12:05 p.m

This seminar will investigate the critical theories and practices by post contemporary artivist and activist networks to corrupt the protocols of networks across the arcs of the planet by focusing on the history and manifestation of a single formation: Electronic Civil Disobedience (ECD). By focusing on ECD as a specific practice the seminar will be able to open a politics of the question into the multiple trajectories and layers that are happening now under the sign of hacktivism.

We will also examine the trajectories of tactical media, digital zapatismo, hacktivism, cyberwar, cybercrime, cyberterrorism and social netwar that arose at the same time as ECD. Core questions for the seminar will be: is ECD a useful tactic for contemporary activism and if so how and when; and, to what degree have post 9/11 politics network containment e/affected the practice of ECD. What new tactics and strategies have emerged with social networking and distributed video models during this past decade. We will read sections from: The Electronic Disturbance and Electronic Civil Disobedience by Critical Art Ensemble; also, Hackitivism: network_art_activism by Electronic Disturbance Theater; and The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico by David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla, The Coming Swarm: DDOS Actions, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet by Molly Sauter and also consider current hacktivist practices by Anonymous. As part of our reflections we will also investigate the use of “drones” in current wars and activism-and how artivist are activating “drones” as a platform for extending the concepts of ECD and hacktivism.

Ricardo Dominguez is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a group who developed virtual sit-in technologies in solidarity with the Zapatistas communities in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1998. His recent Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab project (tbt.tome.press) with Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardenas, Amy Sara Carroll, and Elle Mehrmand, the Transborder Immigrant Tool (a GPS cell phone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/US border) was the winner of “Transnational Communities Award” (2008), an award funded by Cultural Contact, Endowment for Culture Mexico–US and handed out by the US Embassy in Mexico. It also was funded by CALIT2 and the UCSD Center for the Humanities. The Transborder Immigrant Tool has been exhibited at the 2010 California Biennial (OCMA), Toronto Free Gallery, Canada (2011), The Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands (2013), ZKM, Germany (2013), as well as a number of other national and international venues. The project was also under investigation by the US Congress in 2009-2010 and was reviewed by Glenn Beck in 2010 as a gesture that potentially “dissolved” the U.S. border with its poetry. Dominguez is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, a Hellman Fellow, and Principal/Principle Investigator at CALIT2/QI, UCSD. He also is co-founder of *particle group*, with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, Amy Sara Carroll, whose art project about nano-toxicology entitled *Particles of Interest: Tales of the Matter Market* has been presented at the House of World Cultures, Berlin (2007), the San Diego Museum of Art (2008), Oi Futuro, Brazil (2008), CAL NanoSystems Institute, UCLA (2009), Medialab-Prado, Madrid (2009), E-Poetry Festival, Barcelona, Spain (2009), Nanosférica, NYU (2010), and SOMA, Mexico City, Mexico (2012): hemisphericinstitute.org/hemi/en/particle-group-intro.

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SHUM 4616 Corrupting Environmental Media
(also COML 4614, STS 4616)

Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
R. Mukherjee
M: 12:20 – 2:15 p.m.

How are theories of viral media and microbial contagion related? What are the connections between capitalism, collaboration, corruption, and contamination, and why should such relationships be part of environmental mediations? What is the contribution of corruption to carbon footprints and the Anthropocene, and how can regulating corruption aid in controlling our quotidian precarity and averting the future apocalypse?

In this course, we will conceptualize media as environment (and the environment as media), and study the different ecologies (and geologies) of information and material flows, paying attention to proliferating scams, leaks, and copies. One might see the materialization of corruption in practices of nepotism and bribery fostered by vested interests, and corruption can also be discerned as a socio-material value related to ethical and physical decay and degradation. Here, corruption gets associated with contamination, and is seen to spread through the environment and body politic. Regarded in these ways, “Corrupting Environmental Media” becomes a course about the entangled epistemological and phenomenological dimensions of mediation and corruption.

The course begins with discussion of films and various other media (including artworks and literary texts) that deal with the adverse environmental effects of governmental and corporate corruption including the impact of mega-development projects on people’s livelihoods, water bodies, and the planet. We shall then move on to conceptualizing corruption as contagion understood at both biological (pandemics) and informational (computer viruses) levels. Reactions to corruption or contagion treat them as threatening diseases needing boundaries and borders, and yet corruption/contagion is a profoundly relational practice. Capitalism thrives not only on accumulation but also through collaboration, and such collaborations lead to contaminations. The final section of the course traces the circuits linking capital, corruption, and media.

Rahul Mukherjee is the Dick Wolf Assistant Professor of Television and New Media Studies in the Cinema and Media Studies program (Department of English) at University of Pennsylvania. His book project examines environmental controversies related to radiant infrastructures such as nuclear reactors and cell antennas, which irradiate promises of development and simultaneously generate intense fears of carcinogenic radiations. His writings have appeared in the journals Media, Culture & Society, BioScope, New Media & Society, and Science, Technology & Human Values and several other edited collections and online journals. Drawing on the conceptual lenses of infrastructure studies, media anthropology, and environmental humanities, he has been studying public cultures of uncertainty about disruptive technologies by attending to frameworks concerned with affect, media practices, and relational ontologies. Rahul has been part of a collaborative project exploring ICT usage in Zambia and more recently has embarked on another fieldwork researching the use of memory cards and memory sticks as part of mobile media assemblages affording circulation of vernacular music videos in India.

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SHUM 4617 Seeing Corruption in Mexico
(also LATA 4617, VISST 4617)

Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
L. Pérez León
R: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

The seminar seeks to examine the relationships among three topics: (i) social vision (a form of collective intentionality), (ii) institutional corruption in Mexico, and (iii) artistic visual representations of institutional corruption in Mexico. Two questions will guide the seminar discussions: Can we see institutional corruption? And, are visual representations of institutional corruption a form of collective intentionality? To tackle them, our case study will be series of photographs, films, and documentaries depicting corruption within three institutional settings in Mexico: the government, the university, and the family. The seminar will be divided into three parts.

Part I. Social vision (a form of collective intentionality): Some of our mental states are directed at human individuals. Here, we will examine the idea that some of our visual experiences are also directed at human individuals, as well as standard visual properties and social affordances, posited to examine the various ways in which a human individual visually appears. Additionally, we will reflect on the claim that some of our visual experiences directed at human individuals are the kind of mental states that contribute to the constitution of social institutions.

Part II. Institutional corruption in Mexico: Social institutions aim to fulfill certain ends by means of particular processes. A social institution is sometimes understood as consisting in a structure of differentiated roles occupied by human persons. Role occupants are related, partly, by their contribution to the ends and the processes of the social institution. Here, we will discuss ends as well as structures of roles and tasks within three institutional settings in Mexico: the government, the university, and the family. In addition to this, we will examine some instances of role occupants who are corrupt or who have been corrupted within the mentioned social settings.

Part III. Artistic visual representations of institutional corruption in Mexico: Groups of contemporary photographers (particularly photojournalists), filmmakers and documentary makers have been interested in depicting corrupt settings in Mexico: in particular, the ways in which role occupants’ actions preclude the fulfillment of the ends of the government, the ends of the university, and the ends of the family. Here, we will analyze these artists’ shared understanding of what is depicted and of how depiction works.

To conclude, we will focus on the institutional affordances created by the artistic work of those photographers, filmmakers, and documentarians examined in our previous sessions.

Laura Pérez León received her Ph.D. in philosophy with a focus on cognitive sciences from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 2013. Her current research focuses on the nature of social vision, and the role of social perception in the constitution of the social world. Before coming to Cornell she conducted research on the phenomenal character of social vision in the Philosophy Department at Harvard University (2014-2017), and before that for a project on the philosophy of perception at UAM-C in Mexico City, Mexico (2012-2014). In 2014 Laura founded MENTEINVESTIGACION, an organization of philosophers interested in topics in the philosophy of mind in Mexico. Laura’s research interests include Philosophy of mind, Philosophy of Cognitive Sciences, Social Philosophy, and Social Documentary Photography.

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SHUM 4618: Data Corruption’s Deep History
(also ARKEO 4618, CLASS 4632, COML 4615, MEDVL 4718, STS 4618)

Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
C. Roby
T: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

How can studying the deep past of information storage and transmission help us understand our current engagements with information and contemplate its future? This course is designed to encourage students to think critically about the material substrates and mechanisms of information storage and transmission, which are often taken for granted until they break down. We will consider mechanisms of storage and loss from ancient media like clay cuneiform tablets to digital media (whose veneer of immateriality and exact reproduction disguises the complexities of the material mechanisms of storage and translation). Crucial to this process will be a strong focus on the material media involved: the ecologies of papyrus, parchment, and paper; the production of linen paper from a bubbling fermentation driven by the microorganisms on the clothing rags used to make it; the nuts and bolts of electronic data storage and transmission, from the micro-scale of a solid-state hard drive to the macro-scale of the server farm. Compilations and remixes, selective archival storage, piracies and hacks, inscribed objects and their digital “surrogates”: the transformation and re-use of information is a force potentially constructive, potentially destructive, so we will think critically about valuing originals and copies, and what “original” and “surrogate” imply not just right now but over past centuries.

Courtney Roby is an Assistant Professor of Classics at Cornell University. Her research focuses on the literary aspects of scientific and technical texts from the ancient world. Her first book (Technical Ekphrasis in Ancient Science: The Written Machine between Alexandria and Rome, Cambridge University Press 2016) traced the literary techniques used in the textual representation of technological artifacts from Hellenistic Greece to late-ancient Rome. Her current interests include the construction of scientific models in antiquity, ancient approaches to what we now call “distributed cognition,” and the troubled textual tradition of Hero of Alexandria.

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SPRING 2018 COURSE OFFERINGS

The Society annually awards fellowships for research in the humanities. Fellows offer experimental, innovative seminars on their research topics. These 4000-level courses are open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Those interested in auditing a course should contact the instructor for permission.

COURSE LIST QUICK JUMP
(or you can scroll down the page):
SHUM 4619 Writing on Tape in the 1970s
(also AMST 4619, ENGL 4619, MUSIC 4454)
SHUM 4620 Undocumentation
(also AMST 4620, COML 4616, FGSS 4620, LATA 4620, LSP 4621, ROMS 4625, VISST 4620)
SHUM 4621 Joyce and the Graveyard of Digital Empires
(also ENGL 4997)
SHUM 4622 Thinking Through Transparency
(also COML 4618)
SHUM 4623 Scandal, Corruption, and the Making of the British Empire in India
(also ASIAN 4465, HIST 4723)
SHUM 4624 The Politics of Imprisonment
(also HIST 4724)

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SHUM 4619 Writing on Tape in the 1970s
(also AMST 4619, ENGL 4619, MUSIC 4454)
Spring. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
J. Braddock
M: 12:20 – 2:15 p.m.

This course examines the way audiotape both corrupted and enabled the aesthetic and political culture of the 1970s. After writing On the Road in the mid-1950s, Jack Kerouac spent twenty years writing a novel that tried to emulate in literary writing the particularities of tape recording. By the time Visions of Cody was finally published in 1972, audiotape had itself become an aesthetic medium in its own right. And yet not only had tape become the means for a revolution in recorded music, sound art, and literary writing, it had also become an instrument of political communication and surveillance.

The possibilities of editing (via the cut, the loop, or the overdub) on one hand, and the seeming capacity for indiscriminate recording of sound on the other, revealed tape to be a medium with claims both for authentic documentation and for deception. Its increasing portability and ubiquity, moreover, erased long-standing divisions between private and public speech, a fact that is as appreciable in the work of Andy Warhol as it is in the career of Richard Nixon. With one ear to the state and another to the music industry, this class will focus on the way literary writing responded to and incorporated the new technology. Authors and artists include Alvin Lucier, Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs, The Last Poets, The Firesign Theatre, The Credibility Gap, Andy Warhol, Adrian Piper.

Jeremy Braddock is Associate Professor of English at Cornell University, and the author of Collecting as Modernist Practice, which was awarded the 2013 Modernist Studies Association Book Prize, and co-editor of Paris, Capital of the Black Atlantic (2013). He holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and has been Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center (2007-8). His research interests include the production and long reception of modernism in the United States, African American literature, the sociology of culture, and the study of media. He is currently at work on two projects, a study of libraries and information before and during the Second World War, and a book-length project on The Firesign Theatre.

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SHUM 4620 Undocumentation
(also AMST 4620, COML 4616, FGSS 4620, LATA 4620, LSP 4621, ROMS 4625, VISST 4620)
Spring. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
A. Carroll
M: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

Long before Donald Trump speculated on the merits of putting another “F” in NAFTA to transform it into the “North American Free and Fair Trade Agreement,” greater Mexican art workers contemplated Other “F”-ing revisions of the treaty’s acronym. Drawing on, but also subverting documentary aesthetics, art workers in the Mexican-US borderlands turned to performance and conceptual art and literary practices and expanded cinema to corrupt the logic of the statistic, the percentile, the spreadsheet, the exposé on both sides of the border. The prefix “un-” of “undocumentation,” or alternately the “in-” of “indocumentación,” in this archive indexed a mode of erasure operative in documentation proper. It illuminated what was hidden in plain sight. It demonstrated the work’s collective will to erase, strike-through, and palimpsest master narratives of local and global unification. Importantly, it also reflected art workers’ commitments to portraying the particularities of undocumented extreme labor situations in a key period of Mexican-US neoliberal transition now synonymous with (1) the deindustrialization and precaritization of the US (Midwest), (2) the dismantling of the Mexican parastate, the devastation of small Mexican agribusiness and maritime industries, and the opening of Mexican markets; (3) the emergence of a reconfigured North American racial capitalism inseparable from post-1994 and post-9/11 (2001) border militarization and the sensationalist criminalization of undocumented entrance into the US; (4) the advent of a new sex/gender system coincident with free trade and export processing zones; (5) the US funneling of hemispheric narco-flows through the Mexican corridor; (6) the rise of alter-globalization movements in part inspired by Zapatismo; and (7) the US culture wars and the rise of Mexican contemporary art. In this seminar we will examine, among other “primary documents,” mixed media by the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo and Liz Sisco, Louis Hock, and David Avalos; border writing by Gloria Anzaldúa, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, the Zapatistas, Sara Uribe, Sergio González Rodríguez, and Cristina Rivera Garza; contributions to the Tijuana-San Diego installation festival inSITE; and undocumentaries from Alex Rivera’s Borders Trilogy to Sergio De La Torre and Vicki Funari’s Maquilapolis, and Natalia Almada’s El Velador. We also will remain attentive to what Jasbir Puar characterizes as “the archive… rushing at us” (e.g., responses to the recycling of NAFTA panic in the 2016 US Presidential elections and the sheer range of the Trump administration’s –phobias and –isms). Consulting scholarship in art history, visual, literary, cinema, and performance studies, we will develop close readings of border cultural production that are attuned to undocumentation’s “conversational,” “disappropriative,” and “artivist” aspirations. Consulting inter/disciplinary scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, particularly work from Latin/x American and American, women’s, gender, and sexuality, ethnic, postcolonial, and border studies, we will address both the site-specificity of the Mexican-US borderlands and the imaginary geographies of borderization and the Border with a capital “B.” Finally, to balance the scales of theory and practice, of contemplation and action, in the semester’s final weeks, we will workshop participants’ own articulations of undocumentation-as-method.

Amy Sara Carroll (MFA, Creative Writing, Poetry, Cornell University; PhD, Literature, Duke University) is the author of two collections of poetry SECESSION (Hyperbole Books, an imprint of San Diego State University Press, 2012) and FANNIE + FREDDIE/The Sentimentality of Post-9/11 Pornography (Fordham University Press, 2013), chosen by Claudia Rankine for the 2012 Poets Out Loud Prize. Since 2008, she has been a member of Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab, coproducing the Transborder Immigrant Tool which has been included in numerous art exhibitions, including the 2010 California Biennial. With EDT 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab and the University of Michigan interdisciplinary workshop the Border Collective, she collaboratively authored [({ })] The Desert Survival Series/La serie de sobrevivencia del desierto (The Office of Net Assessment/ University of Michigan Digital Environments Cluster Publishing Series, 2014), that digitally has been redistributed by CTheory Books (2015), the Electronic Literature Collection, Vol. 3 (2016), CONACULTA E-Literatura/Centro de Cultura Digital (2016), and HemiPress (2017). In 2015, Carroll served as the University of Mississippi Summer Poet in Residence. Summer 2010 and every summer thereafter, she has participated in Mexico City’s alternative arts space SOMA. Carroll’s first critical monograph REMEX: Toward an Art History of the NAFTA Era is forthcoming from the University of Texas Press under the auspices of their Mellon Latin American and Caribbean Arts and Cultures Publishing Initiative.

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SHUM 4621: Joyce and the Graveyard of Digital Empires
(also ENGL 4997)

Spring. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
E. Graham
R: 12:20 – 2:15 p.m

A survey of digital media scholarship from 1970 to 2000 that takes as its focal point Joyce’s 1922 novel, Ulysses—one of the most influential literary works of the 20th century—this seminar investigates major theories of media and literature in relation to the emergence of electronic media technologies. Drawing upon critical theory, media history, and specific artistic and scholarly projects in old and new media, the course asks how and why Joyce came to be used as a defining figure of the “golden age” of hypertext theory: both an exemplary artist and an ultimate editorial challenge. Of special interest to the course is the fate of scholarly projects that took Joyce as their subject, for the challenges of sustainability that the first wave of digital scholarly projects encountered—challenges that reflect on more general problems of preservation in the digital environment, like data corruption, memory failures, and link rot—give rise to important questions about loss, failure, and memory in the history of the digital humanities. If we accept that the history of computing comprises multiple histories that reflect the histories, purposes, and designs for the future of multiple communities of practitioners, what uses can historians make of historical pathways that seem, in retrospect, to represent detours, dead ends, or lost ways? How can we recover, and usefully discuss, projects and editions that, unable to sustain themselves in the digital environment, have left few or no traces for present-day scholars to analyze? How can we design and produce traditional scholarly outputs (talks, articles) for electronic scholarly projects in ways that recognize the value of detours and false starts—what John Unsworth has called “the importance of failure”? What is the relationship between digital literary studies and the project-driven, positivist ethos of current practice in the digital humanities? Themes that the class explores include hypertext theory, poststructuralist theory, electronic scholarly projects, histories of computing, histories of the book, concepts of the “social text,” and the history of predictions about the fate of traditional written forms in an electronic world. Authors and works include James Joyce, Marshall McLuhan, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, George Landow, Jay David Bolter, Hans Walter Gabler, Michael Groden, Jerome McGann, and interactive digital texts.

Elyse Graham is Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at Stony Brook University and a research affiliate at MIT. She studies early modern literature, print and information systems, and the history and theory of technology.

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SHUM 4622 Thinking Through Transparency
(also COML 4618)
Spring. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.  
A. Parry
T: 12:20 – 2:15 p.m.

There is an abiding fascination with transparency and its opaque underside, corruption, within cultural narratives that critically address liberalism and liberalization. This course addresses that fascination in contemporary texts, approaching transparency/corruption as both content and form, and exploring how and why this narrative mode has deepened and proliferated with the strengthening of populist forms of cultural nationalism worldwide. We will consider the cultural texts alongside studies of liberalism as a product of colonialism, and political theorizations, especially from South Asia, of the neoliberal anti-corruption discourses used by corporate-backed right-wing movements. We will treat cultural texts as unique resources for reappraisals of neoliberal (anti-)corruption discourses in a transnational framework, looking at how our selected texts enable critical readings of (anti-)corruption across a range of geopolitical sites undergoing some of the following processes: corporatization and privatization, militarization, the discrediting of the left and/or elected legislatures along with the rise of right-wing movements, and increasing criminalization and incarceration of targeted groups, especially in relation to accelerating racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. By bringing these concerns to cultural texts, we look at them as embedded in material contexts that are not coextensive with a national territory. Instead, we will think about how a given text can be more precisely contextualized in relation to particular sites or affected groups within or exceeding a national territory, and, simultaneously, in relation to neoliberal or liberalizing shifts that have transnational causes and that create possibilities for resistance that are both local and transnational at once. In this sense our seminar will develop a critically comparative methodology for situating cultural texts.

We will select contemporary texts in literary and visual genres, especially in narrative forms that allow for large-scale embedded reveals and critical rewritings of assumed individualizing narrative logics in their respective genres. We will consider how they raise questions and imagine possibilities not only in their content, as representations of transparency or corruption, but also in the unusual or innovative frameworks that their formal structures offer for critical thought. Possible cultural texts include Octavia Butler’s Parable series, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem series, and televised serials such as Game of Thrones. The larger goal for the seminar is to understand the unique ways cultural accounts of transparency/corruption can engage the constitutive categories of liberal political thought, such as freedom, rights, property, progress, autonomy, and legality. Seminar participants are encouraged to select their own cultural texts that deal with transparency/corruption for presentations; texts chosen by participants can also be added to our general course readings when appropriate, depending on availability and language.

Amie Elizabeth Parry is a Professor in the English Department of National Central University and a core member of the Center for the Study of Sexualities. Her books include Interventions into Modernist Cultures: Poetry from Beyond the Empty Screen, which received the Book Award in Literary Studies from the Association for Asian American Studies in 2009, and Penumbrae Query Shadow: Queer Reading Tactics (in Chinese), jointly written with Naifei Ding and Jen-peng Liu. She has also published articles in positions: east asia cultures critique, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, and Wenshan Review.

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ASIAN 4465, HIST 4723
(also ASIAN 4465, HIST 4723)

Spring. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
R. Travers
M: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

This course will examine the origins of modern imperialism through the lens of corruption, exploring how corruption scandals became sites for generating new ideas and practices of empire. As the English East India Company conquered vast Indian territories in the late 1700s, it was besieged with allegations of corruption against its leading officials. Critics of the Company’s empire drew on long-standing ideas about how militarism and luxury had corrupted the ancient Roman empire, as well as on new enlightenment theories of natural rights. Meanwhile, the British parliament staged repeated investigations of imperial corruption in India, most famously the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings, the former Governor of Bengal (1787-1795). Corruption scandals put imperialism itself on trial, and raised troubling questions about the corrupting effects of military conquests in distant lands.

In this course, we will explore the causes and effects of these imperial corruption scandals, and situate them in the context of new understandings of public virtue and corruption in eighteenth century Britain. How did corruption scandals produce new ideas of imperial reform? What can these scandals tell us about contemporary notions of racial and cultural difference? What role did gender and sexuality play in imperial scandals? We will also examine how British imperial politics was shaped by encounters with Indian political ideas. The decline of the Mughal empire in the eighteenth century generated a large body of Indian writings on political corruption (much of it in Indo-Persian), often focusing on courtly luxury and official profiteering. We will consider how Indian writers critiqued the corruption of British imperial rule, and also how British ideas about the corruption of Indian states were adapted from Indian political writings.

The course is designed to introduce students to British imperial history, the history of colonial South Asia, and the global, connected and comparative history of early modern political thought. Course readings will include European thinkers including Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and Denis Diderot, as well as Indian writers (in translation), including the Indo-Persian historian Ghulam Husain Khan Tabataba‘i and the liberal reformer Ram Mohan Roy. Students will design their own research projects on imperial scandals using primary sources, including parliamentary debates and inquiries, pamphlets and official records of colonial rule.

Robert Travers is Associate Professor of History at Cornell, and holds a PhD from Cambridge University. He is a historian of the British Empire, whose research has focused especially on the origins of the British Empire in India in the late eighteenth century. His book, Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth Century India (Cambridge, 2007), examined the political thought of the first generation of British empire-builders in Bengal, showing how officials of the British East India Company tried to legitimize their conquests by styling themselves as stewards of an ‘ancient constitution’ derived from the history of the Mughal empire in India. His current research continues to explore encounters between British and South Asian forms of political culture, through a study of Indian petitioning and contested ideas of justice in early colonial Bengal. Recent articles include ‘The Connected Worlds of Haji Mustapha (c. 1730-1791); a Eurasian Cosmopolitan in Eighteenth Century Bengal’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 52, 3, 2015, pp. 1-37; and ‘A British Empire by Treaty in Eighteenth Century India’, in Saliha Belmessous ed., Empire by Treaty. Negotiating European Expansion 1600-1900 (Oxford University Press, 2014), pp.132-160.

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SHUM 4624 The Politics of Imprisonment
(also HIST 4724)

Spring. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
R. Weil
T: 10:10 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

Different polities incarcerate in different ways. This seminar put prisons into their wider political contexts, considering them as sites for wider debates about rights, tyranny, corruption and slavery, race and empire. Readings will include as primary sources ranging from the 17th -century to modern times, as well the work of current historians, political theorists, political scientists and activists, including Loïc Wacquant, Michel Foucault, David Rothman, Jennifer Mannion, Alice Bullard, Angela Davis, Andrew Dilts and Heather Thompson.

Among the topics and questions considered in the course: What were the characteristics of imprisonment prior to the rise of the "modern prison"? How did the activism of incarcerated debtors in the mid-17th century English revolution create a public discourse about the relationship between imprisonment and liberty? Why did the birth of the modern prison coincide so closely with the birth of the American (and French) republics? How did changing forms of imprisonment intersect with imperial ambitions, as in the settlement of Australia and New Caledonia with convicts? What do the new generation of activists and scholars mean by "the carceral state?" Why and when do politicians talk about prisons, how do prisons serve as models or anti-models for political society? In what sense can we call prisons political institutions, or speak of a "carceral state?"

Rachel Weil is a historian specializing in the political, cultural, intellectual and gender history of early modern England. She has published articles on a range of subjects: Restoration political pornography, the "Popish midwife" Elizabeth Cellier, John Locke's concept of the family, political informers, and national security legislation targeting Catholics after the Revolution of 1688, as well as two books: Political Passions: Gender, the Family and Political Argument in England, 1680-1714 (Manchester University Press, 2000) and A Plague of Informers: Conspiracy and Political Trust in William III's England (Yale University Press, 2013). Her work has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Huntington Library and Cornell University.

Her current project looks at practices of detention in 17th and 18th-century England. It explores prisons as sites of politics, where both gaolers and prisoners engage in pragmatic and ideologically charged ways with notions of rights, constitutions and authority; and how this in sometimes gave actors in the wider political world an investment in what happened in the prison. It further considers how the detention of prisoners was understood to be similar to (or different from) other situations in early modern England in which people were restrained from moving where they pleased: the confinement of the sick to hospitals or their own houses, the commitment of lunatics to asylums, or slavery. She is a co-founder of and contributor to the blog Early Modern Prisons, where aspects of her research are regularly published.

She is currently Professor of History at Cornell University, where she has taught courses in early modern English and British History (covering 1500-1800), early modern Europe, modern Europe, the history of monarchy, gender history, the history of childbirth, the English Revolution, legal and constitutional history, and the history of prisons.

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