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FALL 2016 COURSE OFFERINGS

The Society annually awards fellowships for research in the humanities. The fellows offer, in line with their research, informal seminars intended to be exploratory or interdisciplinary. These seminars are open to graduate students, suitably qualified undergraduates, and interested auditors. Students who want credit for a seminar should formally register in their own college. Persons other than those officially enrolled may attend as visitors with permission of the fellow.

COURSE LIST QUICK JUMP
(or you can scroll down the page):
SHUM 4601 Gender, Islamized Armenians, and the Collective Memory of the Armenian Genocide
(also NES 4601)
SHUM 4602 Queer Origins
(also ENGL 4902, FGSS 4602, LGBT 4602)
SHUM 4603 SURFACE/FLESH/COLOUR/MAKE-UP: Skin in the Visual Arts, 1500-1850
(also VISST 4663)
SHUM 4604 Original Skin: Reading Skin in Philosophy and Theology
(also RELST 4614)
SHUM 6308 Cuba as Project: Urban, Political, and Environmental Transformations of the Island
(also ARCH, COML)

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SHUM 4601 Gender, Islamized Armenians, and the Collective Memory of the Armenian Genocide
(also NES 4601)
Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
E. Semerdjian
M: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

How did the Armenian Genocide transform from an event that sparked massive international humanitarian intervention into one largely forgotten? Despite state denial, how has the memory of the Armenian Genocide come to dominate Kurdish and Turkish political debates over the last decade? What role have Islamized Armenians played in this debate and how have their narratives underscored gender as a central aspect of the Armenian Genocide? This course sets out to tackle these questions by first examining scholarship on the Armenian Genocide and Turkish state denial. The course addresses the specific experiences of trafficked women and children who were subjected to forced Islamization as an aspect of genocide. These practices of erasure will be examined within the context of the late Ottoman understanding of gender and slavery, and emerging Turkish nationalism which targeted Armenians for extermination through mass murder, enslavement, and forced assimilation. The course later shifts to examine the way that remembrances and memorials for the Armenian Genocide have been central to Turkish and Kurdish civil society activism over the last decade. The assassination of Hrant Dink in 2007 marked a major turning point in activism and identity politics among the descendants of Islamized Armenians. Assigned course materials include an interdisciplinary mix of scholarly readings, oral histories, novels, memoirs alongside print and visual media.

Elyse Semerdjian is Associate Professor of Islamic World/Middle Eastern History at Whitman College. She received her Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University. A specialist in the history of the Ottoman Empire and Syria, she authored “Off the Straight Path”: Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo (Syracuse University Press, 2008) as well as several articles on the topics of gender, social history, Muslim/non-Muslim relations, Armenian history, and law in the Ottoman Empire. Some recent publications include “Armenian Women, Legal Bargaining, and Gendered Politics of Conversion in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Aleppo,” Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies, “Sexing the Hammam: Discourses on Gender and Sexuality in the Ottoman Bathhouse,” in Gender and Sexuality in Muslim Cultures, ed. Gul Ozyegin (London: Ashgate, 2015), and “Naked Anxiety: Bathhouses, Nudity, and Muslim/non-Muslim Relations in Eighteenth-Century Aleppo,” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 45:4 (November 2013). She is currently writing a book entitled Remnants: Gender, Islamized Armenians, and Collective Memory of the Armenian Genocide.

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SHUM 4602 Queer Origins
(also ENGL 4902, FGSS 4602, LGBT 4602)
Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
K. Ohi
T: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

“For Man to tell how human Life began / Is hard; for who himself beginning knew?”: this is Adam, in Book 8 of Paradise Lost; as Wordsworth writes in the Prelude, “Not only general habits and desires, / But each most obvious and particular thought, / Not in a mystical and idle sense, / But in the words of reason deeply weigh’d, / Hath no beginning.” Poets and writers must nevertheless confront the origin; our finitude means our knowledge is fractured—and constituted—by the impurity of inception, and, from a certain angle, there is perhaps no question more central to literary creation.

Queer theory, meanwhile, has been reluctant to examine questions of origination, in part, no doubt, because origins are, by definition, outside history. Whereas much early gay liberation focused on etiological narratives, queer theory shares with the common sense of contemporary regimes of sexual tolerance a suspicion of such narratives: as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick noted, no matter what the specific narrative, it is difficult to protect any account of gay becoming from a fantasy that gay people might become straight. This course, however, will attempt to revisit the question of origin in relation to sexuality by linking it to the problem of literary creation.

In the course of the semester, we will read literary and theoretical texts concerned with aspects of literary origin or inception. This might include epic poetry (moments from The Iliad, The Metamorphoses, and Paradise Lost), drama (Shakespeare’s Hamlet or The Tempest), and, among many other possible examples from lyric poetry, the specific case of Wallace Stevens. We might also look at the question of origin in the novel—at moments from Robinson Crusoe, for example, and at the opening paragraphs of a series of novels from the 18th to the 20th centuries. We might also read, as a signal if perhaps idiosyncratic instance, Henry James’s Prefaces to the New York Edition, which repeatedly offer, though in baffling terms, accounts of the “germs” of the novels they preface. As a way of organizing our sense of theoretical approaches to the question of linguistic origin and inception, we will explore the specific question of gesture by way of a series of writers: Rousseau, Artaud, Agamben, and Eudora Welty.

Alongside these texts, we will examine thematizations of sexual initiation and etiologies of desire: Freud’s case histories (Leonardo, the primal scene in the Wolf Man case, the short lesbian case histories) and moments from early sexology, for example, and Foucault’s account of the beginnings of sexual identity—not just the first volume of The History of Sexuality but also the late, and sometimes fragmentary, considerations of truth-telling and confession in various lectures and seminars. Scientific and quasi-scientific considerations of animal “sexuality” might provide a window into contemporary understandings of the origins of human sexual desire, and we might also look at depictions of queer childhood: Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain, Carson McCullers’ “Member of the Wedding,” Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms, and Su Friedrich’s remarkable film Hide and Seek, for example.

Kevin Ohi is Professor of English at Boston College and the author of Innocence and Rapture: The Erotic Child in Pater, Wilde, James, and Nabokov (2005); Henry James and the Queerness of Style (2011); and Dead Letters Sent: Queer Literary Transmission (2016). A graduate of Williams College (BA) and Cornell University (PhD), he is the recipient of fellowships from the National Humanities Center and the Guggenheim Foundation. His research and teaching interests include: queer theory, aestheticism and decadence, Victorian literature, American literature, literary theory, and the history of the novel. He is currently working on three projects: on narrative perspective, abstraction, and embodied desire; on the concept of origin in literary creation; and on solitude.

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SHUM 4603 SURFACE/FLESH/COLOUR/MAKE-UP: Skin in the Visual Arts, 1500-1850
(also VISST 4663)

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

The skin is our largest organ: it functions as a protective cover for the human body and determines its outer appearance. Any artist engaging with the naked parts of the body has thus to confront the representation of skin. Throughout the early modern period the imitation of skin – or flesh as it was described at the time – was considered one of the most challenging artistic tasks, and it was also the most overdetermined: Flesh was a paramount site of lifelikeness, a site where artists strove to make artificial bodies look as if they were alive. This seminar will explore the rich art theoretical discussion of flesh and flesh tones in Italian and French art theory, in relation to questions of imitation, colour, deception and the association of paint and make-up.

The course will also consider the broader cultural history of skin, the multiple functions and symbolic articulations of skin and flesh, and the ways in which images have engaged with these themes since the late Middle Ages: The iconography of flaying in art works and anatomical atlases; the function of skin as the organ of touch and the relations between touch and painterly touch; the associations of flesh and paint, skin and surface and issues of skin colour. The course will focus in particular on eighteenth and nineteenth-century France and among the works and artists considered are medical imagery of skin and its diseases, eighteenth-century pastel portraits, as well as paintings by Fragonard, David or Ingres.Drawing upon analytical resources from multiple disciplines, the course will consider art theoretical discussions around flesh tones; the significance of different ways to depict skin; technical aspects of the rendering of skin in painting and sculpture; the intersection of anatomy and depictions of the body surface; and relevant material from the history of medicine and anthropology.

Gemma Angel is an interdisciplinary scholar specialising in the history and anthropology of the European tattoo, tattoo collecting and preservation, and medical museum collections of human remains. She completed her doctoral thesis at University College London (UCL) in collaboration with the Science Museum in 2013, on a collection of 300 preserved human tattooed skins of nineteenth-century European origin.

Her research coheres around themes of memory, tactility and the affective force of human remains, particularly in relation to human skin and the European tattoo. Practices of marking, excising and preserving human skin in European medical-scientific contexts are at the core of her research, which deals with both the symbolic power of the flayed skin, its representation in the visual arts and popular culture, and its practical use in the fabrication of objects such as book covers, garments and display items.

Since completing her PhD, Gemma has been awarded a Wellcome Trust ISSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to study anatomical collections at the University of Leeds Humanities Research Institute (2015), and she is currently a Junior Research Fellow at UCL Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) (2015-16). Her current ethnographic research project Looking, Feeling, Knowing: The politics of seeing in medical collections of human remains after the Human Tissue Act explores the complex political entanglements of looking, affective response and medical knowledge within the medical museum. She also convenes the IAS seminar series Bodily Matters: Human Biomatter in Art, which explores the materiality, aesthetics and ethics of human biomaterial in contemporary art practice.

Gemma's research interests encompass the medical humanities, anthropology, STS, museums and visual culture, as well as the methodological intersection of ethnography and historiography. Methodologically, she is interested in exploring the intersection of ethnography and historiography, particularly in relation to the production of new historical knowledge and the 'afterlives' of museum objects.

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SHUM 4604 Original Skin: Reading Skin in Philosophy and Theology
(also RELST 4614)

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

This seminar will focus on the question of skin as something legible, a source of sign or narrative, particularly in philosophical theology and in visual culture. Much of Western culture has valued unmarked, unreadable skin, skin that is or can pass as what is normative. Theologically, this absence of marking connects both to a sense of blank purity and to a sense of indifference to the body, an indifference shared by philosophy.

We’ll begin by studying cosmetic erasure of marks of ethnicity and age, and contrasting procedures that have intentional commemorative or narrative functions, to give us a sense of what a sign or story on skin might look like. From philosopher Michel Serres’ The Five Senses, we will take up an interdisciplinary exploration that brings myth and visual arts together with phenomenology. We will then turn to Biblical instances of skin as stigma, beginning with readings of the mark of Cain, which feed into 19th and 20th century American racism, and the scars of Paul. Though both of these kinds of marks actually have positive value in their contexts, their stories are turned to quite different uses. We turn then to early modern instances of stigmata as breaks in the skin and expressions of Christian devotion, but also as modes of a particularly physical communication. (We make take a side tour into some popular religious tattoo imagery.) Finally, the idea that skin is inherently stigmatic, simply by virtue of being skin, emerges in the readings of Genesis 3 as the limitation of the human by skin, at the point of the fall from grace and banishment from Paradise. (Though these are not the most common readings, they are among the most intriguing.) After exploring the traditions of reading the relevant verses in this way, we will end the course with a look at ideas about the skin-surfaces of resurrected bodies. Some traditions emphasize the wholeness and impermeability of these bodies; others valorize their scars and marks of damage.

Karmen MacKendrick is a professor of philosophy at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. Her research is interdisciplinary, but centered on philosophical theology and issues of corporeality. Her work on Skin is part of a larger consideration of the complexity and mystery of materiality. She has recently written on the materiality of language (A Matter of Voice, Fordham, 2016 [forthcoming May]), the seductive attractions of theology (Divine Enticement, Fordham 2012), and the strange allure of Augustine of Hippo (Seducing Augustine, with Virginia Burus and Mark Jordan, Fordham 2010).

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SHUM 6308 Cuba as Project: Urban, Political, and Environmental Transformations of the Island
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to fellowship recipients. 
T. McEnaney & T. DuFour
T: 12:20 – 2:15 p.m.

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS
The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the Society for the Humanities announce an innovative graduate traveling seminar for students in the humanities and design disciplines. The Fall 2016 seminar is, “Cuba as Project: Urban, Political, and Environmental Transformations of the Island” (ARCH 6308, SHUM 6308, COML 6073). Expanded Practice Seminars are offered under the auspices of Cornell University’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities grant. Selected students receive a $1,000 stipend and a funded, week-long travel program to Cuba in Fall 2016. 

Expanded Practice Seminars bring students and faculty in the humanities and the design disciplines together around a common and pressing urban issue such as the cultural and material practices induced by national or ethnic divisions; the increasingly leaky taxonomy of the terra firma in areas where land/water boundaries are rapidly changing; and the inadequacy of static zoning models that fail to capture dynamic, urban economics and performance. The intent of the Expanded Practice Seminar is to study complex urban conditions using theoretical and analytic tools derived in equal part from the design disciplines and humanist studies. The Expanded Practice Seminar includes a site visit to experience the conditions under study and meet with local experts, designers, and authorities. This on-site component is a vital and novel aspect of these seminars. The seminar is open to selected students in a range of humanities and design disciplines. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the Expanded Practice Seminar, a wide range of skills and backgrounds are welcome. Advanced undergraduate students may apply, but preference will be given to students in their first three years of graduate study.

Materials to be submitted:
1. C.V.
2. 500–700 word statement of interest describing your background interest in the seminar topic

No letters of recommendation are required.

Applications must be submitted via http://urbanismseminars.cornell.edu/apply/ by June 30, 2016.

COURSE DESCRIPTION
This seminar explores the symbolic and political tensions and contradictions inherent in the motif of the island, in relation to both its contrast and conflation with the theme of the urban. Cuba stands, in this regard, as an exemplary site of the modern insular project. The seminar situates the island in its archipelagic context, as both a spatial and historical category, inquiring into continuities and ruptures that implicate Cuba in a wider horizon of appropriations of islands as both concrete geographies and symbolic territories.

Positioned within the Caribbean archipelago, Cuba has long been a space of transition. The restored colonial neighborhood of La Habana Vieja or the UNESCO-honored city of Trinidad, the monumental edifices of the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana and the “Che” Guevara mausoleum in Santa Clara, the towering constructivism of the Russian embassy, and the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay stand as physical markers of Cuba’s tumultuous political, economic, and cultural history. Alongside these structures, the legacy of socialist industrial and agricultural development leaves traces of its environmental effects on the culture, and in the soil, the sea, and the atmosphere. How will these conditions shift now, when Cuba is again at a nascent moment of fundamental change? In order to grapple with the island’s current transformation, and its relationship to the Caribbean, the Americas, and the wider global horizon, this course situates Cuba at the intersections of literature, architecture, art, urban planning, cartography, anthropology, political philosophy, and political ecology. We will investigate urban agriculture, neo-baroque aesthetics, colonial restoration projects, “ruinology,” public housing, new media infrastructure, and state projects oriented toward the incorporation of rural and hinterland geographies. We will explore themes of the “insular” from its understanding in antiquity to its medieval substitution of the forest as the domain of the marvelous and the wild, its cartographic genesis, its emblematic significance as utopia, its ideological appropriation toward modern notions of community, and its continuity as an ecological horizon of ontological plurality. The seminar will examine how symbolic and material practices structure the social and environmental space that shape and are shaped by the activity of the natural world, the extensions of the communist state, and the experience of everyday life.

Course Instructors: Tom McEnaney (Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, College of Arts & Sciences) and Tao DuFour (Visiting Assistant Professor, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning)

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SPRING 2017 COURSE OFFERINGS

The Society annually awards fellowships for research in the humanities. The fellows offer, in line with their research, informal seminars intended to be exploratory or interdisciplinary. These seminars are open to graduate students, suitably qualified undergraduates, and interested auditors. Students who want credit for a seminar should formally register in their own college. Persons other than those officially enrolled may attend as visitors with permission of the fellow.

COURSE LIST QUICK JUMP
(or you can scroll down the page):
SHUM 4605 Bio-Politics and Poetics of Nakedness
(also COML 4947, FGSS 4947)
SHUM 4606 The Powers of Skin in Africa
(also ASRC 4066, ANTHR 4106)
SHUM 4608 Victorian Masculinities
(also ENGL 4908, FGSS 4608)
SHUM 4609 Deep Skin In Digital Architecture
(also ARCH 6308, STS 4601, VISST 4609)
SHUM 4610 Media and Elemental Things
(also STS 4610, VISST 4610)
SHUM 4611 Screening Blackness
(also ASRC 4611, PMA 4961)
SHUM 4612 The Body's Edge in Performance
(also CLASS 4602, COML 4785, PMA 4965)

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SHUM 4605 Bio-Politics and Poetics of Nakedness
(also COML 4947, FGSS 4947)
Spring. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
N. Diabate
R: 10:10 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

This course explores multiple genres and disciplines to track and reflect on the use of nakedness as an ever-proliferating form of oppositional politics in our biopolitical era. Through close reading of literary texts, we will uncover the most innovative literary forms used to represent the most universal and yet the most culturally specific mode of contestation. Newspaper reports and videos of various social movements such as Lactivism, anti-globalization, anti-AIDS, and Environmentalism (‘Striptease for Tree,’ World Naked Bike Riders) will provide the materials to analyze the cultural, social, and political factors behind the proliferation of nakedness in contentious politics. Attention to geographical and historical contexts, including but not limited to Ancient Greece, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Asia will establish the longstanding nature of nakedness in protest. To enrich our exploration, the course will also take into account variables of race, gender, and bodily abilities and how they complicate accounts of specific exposed skins. Primary texts include Devi’s “Draupadi,” Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, Tennyson’s “Godiva,” Auden’s “Cave of Nakedness,” Ngugi’s Wizard of the Crow, Echewa’s I Saw the Sky Catch Fire, videos of Femen, gay parades, and Occupy Wall Street. These visual and literary texts will be analyzed in conjunction with theoretical reflections on shame/injury, biopolitics, exposure, and humanity by Freud, Foucault, Derrida, Levinas, Nancy, and Berger. Assignments will clarify and build upon the readings and films and include reflection papers, analytical, and argumentative essays. Finally, this course is an opportunity to think through how special kinds of skin do very specific kinds of social and political work.

Naminata Diabate is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. A scholar of sexuality, race, biopolitics, and postcoloniality, Naminata’s research primarily explores African, African American, Caribbean, and Afro-Hispanic literatures, cultures, and film. Her recent writing has appeared in journals and collections of essays such as The Journal of the African Literature Association; Development, Modernism and Modernity in Africa; Oral and Written Expressions of African Cultures, and The Ethnic and Third World Literatures Review of Books. Her forthcoming essays include: “Genealogies of Desire, Extravagance, and Radical Queerness in Frieda Ekotto’s Chuchote Pas Trop” (Research in African Literatures) and “Women’s Naked Protest in Africa: Fieldwork in Comparative Literature” (Fieldwork in the Humanities). Currently, she is working on two book manuscripts: “Naked Agency: Genital Cursing, Biopolitics, and Africa,” and “Same-Sex Sexuality and Mediality in Africa and Its Diaspora.”

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SHUM 4606 The Powers of Skin in Africa
(also ASRC 4066, ANTHR 4106)
Spring. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
S. Langwick
M: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

What powers and capacities does skin have? This class begins and ends with thinking about the recent violence against people with albinism in East Africa. Through the semester we will examine a range of theoretical approaches to the body, opening up ways of accounting for the energies and vitalities of the body and body parts. Scientific understandings of bodily life will be put in conversation with other notions of bodily life. Students will read theoretical works together with classic historical and ethnographic texts about practices involving, and attending to, the skin in Africa. In our efforts to examine the power and capacity of skin in Africa over time, we will consider topics from beatification, scarification, witchcraft, magic, and traditional medicine to the hygiene campaigns of colonialism, the development of dermatology as a defined specialty, the rise of global health and medical humanitarianism. Descriptive ethnographic and historical texts will be read as primary evidence along side of theoretical approaches to the lived body with the intention of provoking innovative readings of these primary texts and a greater understanding of the theoretical arguments. Some of the theoretical texts that will be taken up in this class are Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception and The Visible and the Invisible, Lyotard's The Inhuman, Deleuze's The Fold, Serre’s The Five Senses, and Barad’s On Touch and Touching. We end by imagining the implications of, and possibilities for, interventions into violence against people with albinism.

Stacey Langwick, MPH, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University. She is author of Bodies, Politics and African Healing: The Matter of Maladies in Tanzania (2011) and co-editor of Medicine, Mobility and Power in Global Africa (2012). Her articles and essays have appeared in American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, Science, Technology and Human Values, Medical Anthropology, and a number of edited volumes. In recent years her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren, Fulbright, the Mellon Foundation, the Cornell Society for the Humanities, the Institute for Social Sciences at Cornell and the Einaudi Center for International Studies. She is currently working on two projects. The first -- The Politics of Habitability: Plants, Sovereignties and Healing in a Toxic World -- examines the emerging herbals industry in Tanzania. She examines that ways that this new herbalism (mis)translates and (re)configures notions of medicine, property, chronicity and crisis that are fundamental to global health. The second -- (Un)ethical Substances: The Power of Skin in East Africa – strives to account for the vitality and power of the body in Africa and the ways that mediating this vitality and power come to be at the heart of ethical life. At Cornell, she serves in the graduate fields for Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, and the Africana Studies and Research Center and is also an active member of the Global Health program.

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SHUM 4608 Victorian Masculinities
(also ENGL 4908, FGSS 4608)

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

This course will focus on Victorian genders with a special emphasis on masculinities. Additionally, we will spend time reading and thinking about secondary works which interrogate and historicize our principal terms. By the end of the course, you will have read a substantial amount of important secondary work regarding mid-century masculinities, as well as a good selection of both canonical and less-known Victorian works. The course will focus on novels (probably seven or eight) and secondary readings about gender and especially masculinity. Most of these readings will be critical and historical, rather than theoretical in the strict sense, and so you should either be familiar with basic concepts in gender theory or be prepared to do a little extra reading on your own. However, the class discussion will be tailored to (and by) the class members, so you if need to know more about something, please ask. I would also like to emphasize that, although the course will focus on the construction of masculinity in the period, that topic cannot be discussed without reference to female identity, class, and sexuality, among other issues. The use of the plural in the course title is not simply a convention; it reflects the imbrication of gender with other identity categories, despite the increasing sense of a widely shared masculine “essence” which marks the period and which it left as a legacy. In short, I expect seminar conversation to be rather wide-ranging.

Pamela K. Gilbert is Albert Brick Professor in the Department of English at the University of Florida. She has published widely in the areas of Victorian literature, cultural studies, and the history of medicine. Her books include Disease, Desire and the Body in Victorian Women’s Popular Novels, (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Mapping the Victorian Social Body (SUNY Press, 2004), The Citizen’s Body (Ohio State University Press, 2007), and Cholera and Nation (SUNY Press, 2008). She has edited a collection entitled Imagined Londons (SUNY Press, 2002) and co-edited Beyond Sensation: Mary Elizabeth Braddon in Context (SUNY Press, 1999, with Marlene Tromp and Aeron Haynie). She is the editor of the Companion to Sensation Fiction (Blackwell, 2011), co-associate editor of the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature (2015), and has edited a teaching and scholarly edition of Rhoda Broughton’s novel Cometh Up as a Flower (Broadview Press, 2010). Currently, she is series editor of SUNY’s book series, Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. Professor Gilbert’s research interests include gender, the Victorian novel, the body, Victorian cultural and medical history, and medical humanities. She chaired the Department of English at UF 2007–2011.

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SHUM 4609 Deep Skin In Digital Architecture
(also ARCH 6308, STS 4601, VISST 4609)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
A. Imperiale.
T: 12:20 – 2:15 p.m.

Metaphorical references to skin abound in contemporary architectural discourse. The building envelope is the skin that separates and provides a controlled atmosphere for the interior space of a building, one that is set off from the surrounding environment. This simple definition is challenged when architecture is understood as an organism, and the skin and structure of architecture as a system. The conflation of structure into the skin is used here as a way of thinking of the architectural enclosure as a deep skin, and the individual parts of which an architectural skin is constructed, as a study of the tissue of structure. Much of this work borrowed ideas from the biological sciences viewing the skin not as a monolithic entity but rather as an organic and dynamic system of individual and differentated cells which then combine to constitute the largest organ of the human body. The biological metaphor when transferred to architecture introduces the use of the term organic in relation to the built environment. Just as buildings and cities were referred to as growing organically, contemporary architects use biologically-inspired terms to describe the processes by which computational design may mimic natural processes of growth, a parallel to biology in computational systems. This overlap between the computational and living organism existed at the development of the computer in the mid-twentieth century. Just as an inorganic system is understood in relation to the the environment, so too is the living cell. There is a permeability in a biological system: the boundary of the cell membrane is the delimitation of interior functions of the cell and the pressure of the exterior environment. Seen in a different context, these terms resonate with the question of the architectural skin. Our goal will be to understand the ways in which these theories of systems, biofeedback, and cybernetics are used metaphorically in biological and computational paradigms and are essential to critically engage these metaphors and their use in architecture.

This seminar will develop the historical and theoretical base to engage these ideas across a wide range of interest and in different disciplines. Some of the major themes that we will explore include: the specular/reflecting skin, mediatic skins, skinning the space frame, metabolism and megastructures, the digital skin, supersymmetry and the new grotesque, Big Data and networked skins, and Object Oriented Ontology and opaque skin. A secretive and unrevealing surface lies at the polar opposite of the specular surface, raising questions about the skin of architecture as the site of intersection of theory, materiality, affect, signification, and comfort.

Alicia Imperiale is Assistant Professor of architectural design and history and theory at Tyler School of Art, Temple University. She is an architect and artist and received her Ph.D. in the history and theory of architecture from Princeton University in 2014. Her visual and scholarly work focuses on the impact of technology on art, architecture, representation, and fabrication. She is author of New Flatness: Surface Tension in Digital Architecture (Birkhauser, 2000). Other essays include "Digital skins: architecture of surface" in SKIN: Surface, Substance and Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), “Territories of Protest,” in Log 13, “Seminal Space: Getting under the Digital Skin,” in RE: SKIN, ed. Mary Flanagan, (MIT Press, 2006), “Dynamic Symmetries” in Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry (ICA, 2011) and “Stupid Little Automata” in Architecture & Culture (2014). She is author of the forthcoming book Alternate Organics: The aesthetics of experimentation in art, technology & architecture in postwar Italy. Her research has been supported by a Center for the Humanities at Temple University Faculty Fellowship, a Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Research Grant among others.

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SHUM 4610 Media and Elemental Things
(also STS 4610, VISST 4610)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
G. Kim.
R: 12:20 – 2:15 p.m.

What can an understanding of media technologies in relationship to physical matter, like dust, tell us about the experience of time in the 21st century? How might we reflect on the massive physical – indeed geological – impacts of media that might otherwise remain hidden behind the insubstantial language of “the cloud”? Our planet today is so enmeshed with media technologies that the lives of forests, oceans, viruses, and honeybees, for example, depend on computing systems as much as they do natural ones. Conversely, media relies on being able to draw on elemental metaphors and materials of the elemental world; the language of webs defines our understanding of the Internet, phones depend on mineral extraction, for example. The term “media” thus sits in a muddy zone between technics, nature, and human. How does media studies account for this range of media objects that are neither technological nor natural?

In this seminar, we develop a set of theoretical frameworks and methodologies for thinking about the ontologies, ecologies, and materialities of media with a particular focus on the relationship between media and the elemental world. How would a materialist approach to media recast our definitions of what media is and what it does? How is an understanding of media in relation to elemental materiality transforming the ontological, ecological, and political contours of the field?

This seminar engages such questions by drawing the fields of media studies and new materialism into conversation with perspectives from areas such as anthropology, science and technology studies, art history, environmental studies, archaeology, and philosophy. This is a reading, discussion and research-based seminar. It opens with a set of key readings in media studies and material culture. In subsequent units we explore media in relationship to their articulation via clouds (eg. media metaphors of precipitation and participation), sediment (eg. media as geology, as dust, and media archaeology), bodies (eg. media in animals, insects, humans), atmospheres (eg. media in/as air and environments), ecologies (eg. media in/as environmental systems), and water (eg. leaks, underwater internet cables). This seminar has four main goals: 1) To develop material literacies around media and communication; 2) to explore theories, methods and vocabularies through which to develop thinking around material media; 3) to build an awareness of the thingly politics of media in relationship to the politics of space, time, labor, waste, biosphere, governance, etc.; 4) to develop a set of interdisciplinary research methodologies that uncover the rich network of actors, processes, affects, materials, relationships, and practices that thread through and accrue around material media. Readings will be drawn from sources such as A Prehistory of Clouds (An Hu Hui), Geology of Media (Jussi Parikka); The Undersea Network (Nicole Starosielski), Thing Theory (Bill Brown), Vibrant Matter (Jane Bennet), and Insect Media (Parikka). In addition to providing conceptual frameworks by which students can develop their own research projects, the seminar provides opportunities for students to develop their research using experimental research and thinking practices, such as a sensory ethnography, and experimental making.

Readings will be drawn from sources such as A Prehistory of Clouds (An Hu Hui), Geology of Media (Jussi Parikka); The Undersea Network (Nicole Starosielski), Thing Theory (Bill Brown), Vibrant Matter (Jane Bennet), and Insect Media (Parikka). In addition to providing conceptual frameworks by which students can develop their own research projects, the seminar provides opportunities for students to develop their research using experimental research and thinking practices, such as a sensory ethnography, and experimental making.

Gloria Chan-Sook Kim was 2015-2016 Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for 21st Century Studies (C21) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2014-2015, she was named the Provost Postdoctoral Fellow at C21. Kim received her PhD from the Graduate Program for Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, NY in 2012. Her dissertation, Transmissions: Public Health Information and Ambient Media in the Era of Emerging Infections Under US Health Security was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon/ American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Fellowship. From 2012- 2014 she was Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program for Media and Society at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Kim researches and teaches media studies, visual culture, and science and technology studies. Her research and teaching areas include new materialism, posthumanism, affect, biospheric risk and governance, and the cultures of computation. She has published in the Journal for Consumption, Markets, and Culture, and in various art exhibition catalogues. Her article “Pathogenic Nation-Making: Media Ecologies and American Nationhood Under the Futures of Viral Emergence” is forthcoming in Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology. Kim has worked in the cultural sector, with artists such as Critical Arts Ensemble, exploring issues around biotechnology and bacterial life.Her research has been supported by fellowships and awards from the Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender Studies.

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SHUM 4611 Screening Blackness
(also ASRC 4611, PMA 4961)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
S. Sheppard
M: 10:10 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

The seminar “Screening Blackness” provides a theoretical, cultural, and historical focus on “blackness” in film, media, and visual culture. Here, we will explore how Black skin, as Michelle Ann Stephens describes in Skin Acts, functions “as a master signifier for the specificity, the particularity, of race. It is the object produced by what Frantz Fanon and Paul Gilroy call ‘epidermalization.’ It is the sign for race understood purely as a scopic sight and the skin as the object of a specularizing gaze.” Turning our attention to Black images on screen, we will pay particular attention to blackness as a scopic site but also an embodied performance with meaning and histories that can be attached to it. Considering questions of performance, censorship, embodiment, pleasure, and representational politics, we will evaluate how race, particularly Black skin, has been used as a signifier and complex code for various things on screen. Additionally, we will investigate how blackness is contingent on the specifics of its historical, social, and cultural production and, yet, open to multiple and competing claims. Therefore, blackness here is less a stable racial category than theoretical motor, operated by moving and contested discourses, histories, images, meanings, and performances by Black subjects. Focusing on Black skin representation and discourses of blackness as a cultural signifier, students will watch and discuss important representations and misrepresentations of blackness on screen. As well, students will engage with the interdisciplinary work on race, representation, performance, and Black skinned experiences, including readings from James Snead, Michelle Ann Stephens, Harvey Young, E. Patrick Johnson, Jane Gaines, Mary Ann Doane, Michael Rogin, Kara Keeling, Alessandra Raengo, Nicole Fleetwood, and Amber J. Musser.

Samantha N. Sheppard is an Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University. She earned her PhD in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of California Los Angeles. Her research projects stem from a fundamental curiosity in the relationship between cinema and Black cultural production/production cultures, particularly popular Black cultural expression and African American media and representation. She is currently working on a book manuscript, Muscle Memory: Black Embodiment in Sports Films, which explores the central role race plays in sports films’ generic representations. Her other research interests include media feminisms, women filmmakers, sports media, cultural studies, affect studies, and American television history. Sheppard is the co-editor of From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (University Press of Mississippi, 2016), which includes her essay “Tyler Perry Presents…The Cultural Projects, Partnerships, and Politics of Perry’s Media Platforms.” She published “Persistently Displaced: Situated Knowledges and Interrelated Histories in The Spook Who Sat by the Door” in Cinema Journal (Winter 2013). Her essay “Bruising Moments: Affect and the L.A. Rebellion” is included in The L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema (University of California Press, 2015).

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SHUM 4612 The Body's Edge in Performance
(also CLASS 4602, COML 4785, PMA 495)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
N. Worman
T: 2:30 – 4:25 p.m.

This course examines how skin and bodily margins in drama, performance art, and film shape the way we understand the human and its markers of identity, from the strange carapace that Oedipus presents in the ancient Theater of Dionysus to the "skin suspensions" of the post-body performance artist Stelarc. How does dramatic embodiment represent boundaries and edges and thus skin, coverings, masking, and dress-up in relation to gender and sexuality as well as race / ethnicity and class? How do these edges contribute to viewing bodies as normatively human versus monstrous, distorted, repulsive, wrong? The skin's tragedy most often is its vulnerabilities — its othering and debasement, its tendency to be denigrated or willfully cast off.

This course will focus on these bodily edges, surfaces, and coverings, as well as touching and proximity in ancient and modern drama, film, and performance art. The seminar takes cues from plays by Sophocles and Euripides as unifying threads, since among the ancient dramatists their representations of tragic bodies are most influential. The course will also include plays from the medieval, early modern, and modern periods; films by directors Peter Greenaway, Jenny Livingston, and Jim Jarmusch; and performances and writings by Karen Finley and Marina Abramovic. We will explore the provocations, theatricality, and shock aesthetics of such concepts as Julia Kristeva’s abjection, Antonin Artaud’s "theater of cruelty," and Georges Bataille's "visions of excess," as different ways of approaching what lies at and beyond the edges of the human.

Nancy Worman is Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Barnard College and Columbia University. She is the author of articles and books on style, the body, and literary theory in Greek literature and culture, including Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 2008) and Landscape and the Spaces of Metaphor in Ancient Literary Theory and Criticism (Cambridge, 2015). She is currently working on a book entitled Virginia Woolf and Gendering Greek Aesthetics (Bloomsbury, forthcoming), as well as a series of teaching and research projects centered around "tragic bodies," which explore the aesthetics and politics of embodiment in Greek tragedy and beyond.

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