Skip to main content
   
  homeabout SHCfocal themecoursesfellowshipsgrantseventsprojectscontact  
   
 
 

FALL 2007 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 404  The Task of the Cleric: Improvisations in Discipline (also SPAN 404, COML 406.01)
SHUM 408 Improvisational Economies
(also ANTHR 407)
SHUM 415 Environmental Interventions
(also STS 415, INFO 419, VISST 415)
SHUM 416 Poetry and Totality
(also COML 406.02, ENGL 407.01)
SHUM 418 On the Inner Voice
(also COML 406.03, ENGL 407.03, FREN 418, COGST 418)
SHUM 419  Imagining Contemporary Asia
(also ENGL 407.02, ASIAN 423)
SHUM 477 Improvising Across Disciplines
(also HIST 477/677, COML 477)

......................................................

SHUM 404  The Task of the Cleric: Improvisations in Discipline
(also SPAN 404, COML 406.01)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students. 
S. Pinet. 
T 10:10-12:05.
This seminar will explore three main topics –translation, cartography and economy– through two thirteenth-century Spanish works of mester de clerecía, the Libro de Alexandre, and the Libro de Apolonio. While all of these are decidedly Spanish (Castilian) works, their obvious links to a general Western European romance and epic tradition offer ample opportunity to reflect on questions of sources, authority, originality, as well as the close analysis of the practices that reveal developments –especially in the visual arts, politics, and economy– contemporary to their composition. Readings will include a variety of theoretical materials on translation, space/place, cartography, and political economy by authors such as Michel de Certeau, Marcel Mauss, Paul Zumthor, George Steiner, Walter Benjamin and Fredric Jameson, among others.

Simone Pinet is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Medieval Studies at Cornell University. She has published articles on the Poem of the Cid, the Libro de Alexandre, Amadís de Gaula, Cervantes’s theater and Don Quijote, on a variety of topics such as maps, monstrosity, spatiality, poetics, tapestry-weaving, chivalric ideology, islands, translation, and the emergence of the novel.  She is also the author of the chapter on literature and cartography in Spain in volume three of the History of Cartography series, of a book on the figure of Merlin in medieval Spanish literature (El baladro del sabio Merlín, 1997), and another on insularity and fiction in medieval and early modern Spain (Archipelagoes, under review). Her study on space in the Poem of the Cid received the John K. Walsh award for best article published in La corónica in 2005. Her current research concerns mester de clerecía.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 408 Improvisational Economies
(also ANTHR 407)
Fall.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students. 
J. Mantz.
R 2:30-4:25. 
Most of us are familiar with Marx’s arguments about the dehumanizing character of the industrial labor process, and how the commodification of labor in modern capitalism has forged systems of economic and social alienation, inequality, and regimentation. The most important implication of this argument for humanistic studies of political economy is the degree to which the capitalist labor process removes (or at least radically stratifies) the human potential for creativity and free expression. Critics of this notion sometimes argue that the categories of industrial labor that Marx discussed in the 19th century have less saliency in today’s post-industrial, or more recently, digital world; and new opportunities for human creativity and expression are emerging as we enter a new phase of informational experience. While the legitimacy of this claim is confronted by the fact that access to the liberties promised by digital technologies is highly disproportionate on any global scale, it is certainly true that the concept of labor needs rethinking for the contemporary era. In reworking the concept of labor for the digital age, this seminar considers the extent to which labor has been a site of human contestation over meaning and purpose; how laborers have forged new systems of economic improvisation and creativity, even under the most mechanized and exploitative of regimes; and what the impact of these divergent human labor experiences are for our contemporary world. We begin with a discussion of the different ways in which the concept of labor has been categorized and what implications the disciplinary division of labor has had for it. We then turn our attention to an analysis of socioeconomic types of labor, with the intent of exploring how different kinds of productive experiences are regimented, as well as how human beings in myriad ways attempt to establish meaning in their economic lives. Finally, we consider past and present attempts to obviate the state or regulatory authority altogether, and rely instead on innovation, creativity, and cooperation in more voluntaristic labor regimes.

Beginning in 2007, Jeffrey W. Mantz is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at George Mason University. From 2003-07, he was an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Stanislaus, and from 2001-03, he was an Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Vassar College. He holds a PhD from the University of Chicago. His research interests are in the political, economic, and cultural changes underlying the digital age. He conducts research in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Caribbean, for which he has received many grants and published a number of articles.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 415 Environmental Interventions
(also STS 415, INFO 419, VISST 415)
Fall.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students. 
P. Sengers. 
T 2:30-4:25. 
This course explores the environment as a scene and technology design as a tool for improvisational political action.    We will trace the work of artists, designers, and programmers who are expanding the role of information technology (IT) from a modernist tool for representing and controlling the environment to an open-ended medium for situated consciousness-raising, networking, and reflecting about the environment.   These systems aim for a new relationship to the environment: rather than containing the environment or environmental problems, they make room for more flexible, improvisational interactions between humans and the natural environment and its inhabitants.    Indeed, environmental problems are compelling, but difficult or perhaps impossible to fully model on a global scale; they require us, instead, to improvise tactics and actions in response to ongoing problems and opportunities. We will analyze the cultural and political issues involved with the environment and their potential for IT-based interventions using a variety of on-the-ground strategies.  The course will include a collaborative group project leveraging students from different disciplinary backgrounds to develop an environmental intervention of their own.  No experience with computers or other technologies is required.

I am an assistant professor in Information Science and Science & Technology Studies at Cornell, where I lead the Culturally Embedded Computing group.   I develop new kinds of interactive technology that respond to and encourage critical reflection on the place of technology in culture. I use insights from cultural analysis of IT to identify and rethink the assumptions underlying technologies, to build systems to support critical reflection on emotional and social experiences, and to develop new techniques for designing systems, including the use of self-experiment in design and new forms of evaluation for open-ended systems. Previously, I worked as a research scientist in the Media Arts Research Studies group at the German National Computer Science Research Center (GMD) and was a Fulbright Scholar at the Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany. In August 1998, I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a self-defined interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence and Cultural Theory.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 416 Poetry and Totality
(also COML 406.02, ENGL 407.01)
Fall.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students. 
C. Nealon. 
W 2:30-4:25. 
For centuries, the humanities have offered "poetry" as the metaphor for what distinguishes them from the sciences. In this metaphor, "poetry" is meant to indicate an illuminating totality of experience, a kind of knowledge that gives you a holistic 
understanding of the world. But from the time of the Cold War, "totality" has come to be seen as a figure for totalitarianism, or for the shutting-down of open-ended, ongoing experience. Both ideas about totality are deeply ingrained in contemporary poetry, though they are contradictory. How do contemporary poets navigate this contradiction? To answer this question, we will read a variety of recent and contemporary poetry, as well as theories of totality, including Agamben, Arrighi, Debord, Hardt and Negri, Jameson, Postone, Shutt, and Zizek.

Christopher Nealon is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Foundlings: Lesbian and Gay Historical Emotion Before Stonewall (2001), and The Joyous Age (poems, 2004). His current work is in contemporary aesthetics and critical theory.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 418 On the Inner Voice
(also COML 406.03, ENGL 407.03, FREN 418, COGST 418)
Fall.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  D. Riley.  R 12:20-2:15. 
Is the ‘inner voice’ spontaneous, imposed, or a dictated improvisation? We shall be reflecting on this topic [in its poetic, but more often in its extra-literary incarnations] via readings in phenomenology, the history of aphasiology and the history of consciousness, recent developments in neurology, and in philosophies of language and of the self.  The emphasis will range from theories of the inner voice’s location, to its vulnerability or durability.  Detailed readings will be suggested on a weekly basis, as the course evolves.

Denise Riley is currently Professor of Literature with Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her recent writing is concerned with the immediate emotionality of language, and has included investigations in the philosophy of language, in social philosophy, and the nature of self-presentation and irony. Her main books are War in the Nursery: Theories of Child and Mother [1983]; ‘Am I that Name?’ Feminism and the Category of Women in History [1988]; The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony [2000]; The Force of Language, with J-J. Lecercle [2004]; and Impersonal Passion: Language As Affect [2005].  She has published many collections of poetry, including Penguin Modern Poets 10, with Douglas Oliver and Ian Sinclair, [1996], and Denise Riley: Selected Poems [2000].  She edited Poets on Writing; Britain 1970-1991[1992] and co-edited the Language, Discourse, Society Reader [2004].  She was formerly Writer in Residence at the Tate Gallery, and will be working at Tate Britain on a project on the sublime.  Her teaching includes European modernism and art movements, European philosophy, and poetry and poetics.  She has also taught on stoicism, for the London Consortium. Now she hopes to extend her work on the nature and history of understandings of the inner voice and inner speech, and how they enter into our ideas of what’s interior and what’s outside.   

................................................ top of page

SHUM 419  Imagining Contemporary Asia
(also ENGL 407.02, ASIAN 423)
Fall.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students. 
W. Wee. 
R 10:10-12:05. 
This seminar will revisit some of the arguments on globalization and cultural change/re-formation that have emerged, and reconsider them in relation to rapid development in East Asia since the 1980s that has led to the significance of “East Asia” as a region. Specifically, we will consider the fact that globalization creates/strengthens trade within regions and how increased regional trade circulations may contribute toward an emergent and improvised cultural imagining of an Asian Modern in the realms of cultural identity, cultural production, and visual art exhibitions. The seminar will keep in mind that the omnibus term “Asia” is a historic colonial/postcolonial problematic, and made to cover a great range of cultural and social diversity. There will be an examination of the critical scholarship that has emerged from East Asia itself since the 1990s. The “framing” readings will range widely and include Chen Kuan-Hsing, Sun Ge, Wang Hui, Koichi Iwabuchi, Fredric Jameson, Peter Katzenstein, and Tsuang-yi Michelle Huang. The seminar will then proceed to look at various artistic productions—“high” and “mass” cultural products—and consider the contrasting and similar attitudes towards a putative contemporary “East Asia”.

C. J. Wee Wan-ling is an associate professor of English at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has published books on British literature and culture in relation to colonialism (Culture, Empire, and the Question of Being Modern, 2003), modernization in Asia and culture in relation to globalization (The Asian Modern: Culture, Capitalist Development, Singapore, in press), and edited an anthology on cultural change in Southeast Asia in the 1980s-90s (Local Cultures and the “New Asia”: The State, Culture, and Capitalism in Southeast Asia, 2002). He is co-editing, with Jon McKenzie and Heike Roms, an anthology that addresses the recent global development of cultural performance research (Contesting Performance: Global Genealogies of Research, in preparation). His current research focuseson the relationship between contemporary visual art, theatre, and urban culture in Singapore in relation to the larger region.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 477 Improvising Across Disciplines
(also HIST 477/677, COML 477)
Fall.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students. 
D. LaCapra. 
M 2:30-4:25. 
How does one best understand the concept and practice of improvisation?  How is it related to processes of repetition, displacement, conversion, trauma, and radical change?  How does one situate the notion of creation ex nihilo, and does it refer to an improvisational form?  Is cliché the opposite of improvisation or does a crucial form of improvisation involve the recycling and possible renewal of cliché?  What is the differential role of improvisation in religion, philosophy, politics, literature, and historiography?  Is improvisation a specifically human capacity, serving as another criterion to divide the human from the animal?  In addressing these questions, the seminar will pay particular attention to the (improvisational?) relation between the secular and the sacred, including the recent turn to the “postsecular” as well as the more or less “creative” return of political theology.  Readings include Flaubert, Nietzsche, Beckett, Heidegger, Woolf, Kristeva, Derrida, Agamben, Badiou, and Zizek.  Some attention will also be paid to the music of Art Tatum.

Dominick LaCapra has a joint appointment in History and Comparative Literature and is a member of the graduate field of Romance Studies and the Program in Jewish Studies.  His primary interests are in modern European intellectual and cultural history as well as in critical theory.  He has taught and published on a diversity of topics and major intellectual figures (among them Durkheim, Derrida, Foucault, Heidegger, Habermas, Wittgenstein, Stendhal, Flaubert, Woolf, Mann, and Gaddis).  He has also worked in the areas of trauma and Holocaust studies.  The most recent of his twelve books are History and Reading (2000); Writing History, Writing Trauma (2001); and History in Transit: Experience, Identity, Critical Theory (2004).

...................................................... top of page

SPRING 2008 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 419 Imagining Contemporary Asia in High and Mass Cultural Production
SHUM 420 Bodies in Medicine and Culture
SHUM 421 Cutting and Film Cutting
SHUM 423 Futures of American Poetry
SHUM 424 The Mediterranean and Cervantes
SHUM 425 Cerebral Seductions
SHUM 426 Modernity and Critique
SHUM 428 Sensing Thinking
SHUM 430 Epistemologies of U.S. Empire
SHUM 450 Science, Religion, and the Humanities Since Darwin

 

......................................................

SHUM 419 Imagining Contemporary Asia in High and Mass Cultural Production
(also ENGL 407.02, ASIAN 423)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students.
W. Wee.
R 10:10-12:05.
The seminar will revisit some of the arguments on globalization and cultural change that have emerged over the past decade or so, and consider their stances in relation to the rapid economic changes in East Asia since the 1980s, in the wake of what the World Bank in 1993 called the East Asian Miracle. We will consider the possible relationship between the fact that "globalization" creates/strengthens trade within regions and how these increased regional trade circulations may lead to an emergent and improvised post-Miracle cultural imagining of the region itself -- of an idea of an Asian Modern shared by the states of East Asia, a region which in terms of the cartographic imagination now seems to include the successful countries of Southeast Asia -- by both state and non-state actors in the realm of culture and cultural identity and production. The seminar will keep in mind the caveat that the omnibus term Asia always is problematic, as it is made to cover a great of cultural and social diversity. There will be some examination of recent critical scholarship that has emerged from East Asia itself since the 1990s. The seminar will then proceed to look at various artistic productions -- ranging from “high” culture such as theater and contemporary visual culture, to mass cultural products, such as Hong Kong film and Japanese and Korean pop music -- and consider the contrasting and similar attitudes towards a putative “East Asia” that have arisen since the 1980s.

...................................................... top of page

SHUM 420 Bodies in Medicine and Culture
(also STS 402, BSOC 402, FGSS 425)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students. 
R. Prentice. 
W 2:30-4:25. 
Every day we are barraged with cultural messages telling us to eat better, get more exercise, stop smoking, practice safe sex. These messages make us insecure about our bodies: Am I thin enough, ripped enough, sexy enough? They are also contradictory: Fish makes you smarter; mercury in fish makes you sick. Many of these messages use the language of science and medicine: There are obesity "epidemics" and chocolate "addictions." Our bodies are described and treated like machines: transplant surgeons talk about our "spare parts"; computer programmers describe their brains as "wetware." Our sense of our bodies may feel improvised, created on the fly from a collage of scientific, medical, cultural, and advertising snapshots. This course draws from literature in science and technology studies, anthropology, and feminist and gender studies to examine how bodies emerge from the shifting lessons of science, technology, and medicine, as well as how cultural and political concerns express themselves in and through bodies.

Rachel Prentice is an assistant professor in the Department of Science & Technology Studies. Her research focuses on the engineering of bodies in medicine. Her current book project examines the relationship of new technologies to changes in anatomical and surgical training.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 421 Cutting and Film Cutting
(also FGSS 426, COML 411.03)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  
S. Fathy. 
R 12:20-2:15. 
This course will consist of comparative analysis of films on female and male genital cutting. The deconstruction of the cinematographic discourse will be dealt with on both thematic and technical levels. Theoretical references will include Derrida’s Circonfession along with works by Freud, Jean-Luc Nancy, etc.

Safaa Fathy is a writer and a film maker. She signed a film about Jacques Derrida (Derrida’s Elsewhere 1999) and co-signed with Derrida a book (Tourner les mots Galilée 2000). She publishes poetry in Arabic and plays in French (Ordalie/Terreur Editions Lansman, 2003). She has published numerous articles about cinema, theater and poetry in English, French and Arabic. She was the administrator of the Fonds Jacques Derrida, at the French archive (IMEC) Institut de la Mémoire Contemporaine in Paris and responsible for curating the Audiovisual Archives of  Jacques Derrida at the University of California in Irvine. Her work has been translated into 10 languages and she has been elected by the American Biographical Institute (ABI) for inclusion as one of 1000 women in the 2006 edition Great Women of the 21st century.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 423 Futures of American Poetry
(also AMST 402, ENGL 408.01)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.   
M. Cavitch. 
R 2:30-4:25. 
This course will be a broad-based introduction to American poetry, from the beginnings of English settlement to the early 20th century.  Our approach will be historical, and it will be oriented towards English-speaking North America.  But we’ll eschew national determinism.  Instead, we’ll concentrate on the uncertain and dynamic futures that American poetry anticipates and helps bring into being.  Looking ahead, 17th-century poets of the Colony of Virginia, for example, could not, and would not, have anticipated anything remotely like the United States of America.  Nor could their contemporaries in New Haven Colony have anticipated any future nation in which the political influence of a wildly heterogeneous evangelical activism would help lead it into the bloodiest civil war of the modern era.  What did they anticipate instead?  This is the fundamental question we’ll be asking of every phase and form of American poetry, from Puritan fantasias on the Last Judgment to Enlightenment odes to progress; from musings on providential design to sentimental assurances of a personal afterlife; from Gothic and Romantic visions of Indian Removal to elegiac expressions of the infanticidal unconscious; from incitements to bloody rebellion to calls for peaceful resignation; from brashly confident forecasts of canonicity to the more quietly ambivalent poetics of pseudonymity and anonymity.  In other words, we’ll be reading forward rather than backward, paying special attention to how all sorts of futures—scenarios of desire, audience, vision, prophecy, exhortation, novelty, anxiety, mortality, transmission, and transcendence—get figured in and for American poetry by a wide range of authors, including Anne Bradstreet, Michael Wigglesworth, Edward Taylor, Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, Philip Freneau, Joel Barlow, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, George Moses Horton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Julia Ward Howe, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Helen Hunt Jackson, Emma Lazarus, E. A. Robinson, Stephen Crane, and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

The course will combine an introductory survey of a major literary field with opportunities for original scholarship.  Having recently been wrestled out of the clutches of a largely non-reflexive antiquarianism, the field of early American poetry presents exciting new opportunities for dynamic, innovative, idea-driven research and criticism.  Advanced students of poetry and/or American literature may want to devise more elaborate research projects.  But there will be no expectation of prior experience with early American literature.  And we’ll take a no-student-left-behind attitude to the study of prosody and versification, beginning the semester with a brief, intensive (re)introduction to poetic history and form.  Versophiles and versophobes alike who want to get a head-start could read John Hollander’s Rhyme’s Reason in advance of the first class meeting (it will be required reading for the second class meeting).

Assignments will include two very short essays (2-3 pages), an in-class presentation, an annotated bibliography (approx. 10 pages), and a conference-length paper (8-10 pages).

Max Cavitch (B.A Yale, Ph.D. Rutgers) is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.  He teaches all periods of American literature, from the beginnings of English contact and settlement to the present day, concentrating in U.S. literature and culture before 1900.  His teaching and research interests also include gender and sexuality studies, historiography and poetics, genre theory, and circum-Atlantic cultural history.  Presently, he is writing a book about Phillis Wheatley.  His first book, American Elegy: The Poetry of Mourning from the Puritans to Whitman, was recently published by the University of Minnesota Press.  He has also published essays on a wide variety of topics in the journals Early American Literature, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, American Literature, Victorian Poetry, and American Literary History.  Since 2001, he has served on the Advisory Council of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 424 The Mediterranean and Cervantes
(also SPAN 434, NES 449, HIST 429, COML 411.01)
Spring. 4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  
M. Garcés. 
M 2:30-4:25. 
This course concentrates on the twin themes of cultural exchanges and cultural frontiers in the early modern Mediterranean, where the writer Miguel de Cervantes played an important role as soldier, captive, and spy. We will explore contacts between Muslims and Christians in historical and literary texts emerging from Granada, Algiers, Sicily, Cyprus, and Istanbul in the 16th and 17th centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the dynamic improvisation of identities and transfer of men and ideas promoted by the “renegades” — Christians who converted to Islam and fled to Ottoman territories. The readings will range widely and include chronicles on the Guerra de Granada (1568-1570)—the last armed struggle on Spanish soil between Christianity and Islam—by Nuñez-Muley and Pérez de Hita, among others;  English and Spanish reports of captivity; plays and novels by Calderón, Cervantes, Marlowe, and Shakespeare, as well as eyewitness accounts of life in Algiers and Istanbul by Antonio de Sosa and Ogier de Busbecq. Course selections will be supplemented with an ample range of critical approaches. Reading knowledge Spanish is highly recommended.

María Antonia Garcés is Associate Professor in Hispanic Studies at the Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University. She studies the literatures and cultures of early modern Spain, including its relations with Muslim North Africa and the Mediterranean, interests that include psychoanalysis and cultural studies. Her book Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive’s Tale (Vanderbilt UP, 2002; rev. ed. 2005), a study of Cervantes’s Algerian captivity (1575-1580) and its effects on his fiction, received the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) in 2003. A  revised and expanded version of the book was recently published in Spain as Cervantes en Argel: historia de un cautivo (Madrid: Gredos, 2005). Her current research concerns the improvisation of identities and of new modes of subjectivity carried out by “renegades” in the early modern Mediterranean. 

................................................ top of page

SHUM 425 Cerebral Seductions
(also ENGL 408.02, COML 411.02, COGST 425, FREN 423)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  
W. Jones. 
T 12:20-2:15. 
Quick quiz: what’s the most important sexual organ for humans? The brain, of course! Cerebral Seductions concerns both sex and the brain in various ways. We will explore the emergent field of cognitive literary theory and criticism, reading the work of cognitive critics (e.g., Hogan, Richardson, and Zunshine) and cognitive scientists  (e.g., Damasio, Gazzaniga), while also considering the ways that other types of literary theory (historicist, poststructuralist, psychoanalytic) might be incorporated within a cognitive framework. With this approach in mind, we will read texts within a literary tradition that recognized—right from the start—the cerebral element in human sexuality: the libertine tradition in eighteenth-century England and France. Authors will include Rochester, Behn, Richardson, Laclos, de Sade, Austen, and others.

Wendy Jones is the author of Consensual Fictions: Women, Liberalism, and the English Novel (U of Toronto Press, 2005), as well as articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. Her “Emma, Gender, and the Mind-Brain” is forthcoming in ELH. She teaches literature and writing in the English Department at Cornell.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 426 Modernity and Critique
(also ENGL 408.03, COML 454, HART 416)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  
B. Maxwell. 
T 10:10-12:05. 
Modernity can be provisionally defined as the aggregate condition of life attendant on the massive dislocations commencing in the 16th century with the process defined by Marx as the "primitive accumulation" of capital.  The more familiar phases (or faces) of modernity, the 19th century urban regime of "transcendental homelessness" (Lukacs) and the "exploded picture puzzle" (Bloch) of the 20th century, generated extraordinary critical examinations by Marxist and anarchist thinkers, extraordinary often in their insight and often enough in their blindness to the world beyond Europe.  Surrealism, some would argue, breached the self-enclosure of European radical thought and found a world of anger and analysis already largely formed, ready to speak its own languages of critique.  In the later work of Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem, and the others of the Situationist International, we arguably have both the ruins of the earlier critical projects as well as exceptionally important means for living critically in and against our moment.
 
The course will take up three concerns:
1) Critiques of modernity advanced by Marxism and by anarchism.
2) The aesthetics targeted by these critiques, and the aesthetics, if any, desired by them.
3) The Situationist advance into new dimensions of social critique and aesthetic theory.
 
The reading list will include texts by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Max Weber, Antonio Gramsci, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Saint-Simon, Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Errico Malatesta, André Breton, Herbert Read, Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Ernst Bloch, Theodor W. Adorno, Siegfried Kracauer, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Raymond Williams, Henri Lefebvre, Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem, Jacques Camatte, Amiri Baraka, Samir Amin, Maria Mies, Silvia Federici, T. J. Clark, Hal Foster, Giorgio Agamben, the Retort group, and the Midnight Notes collective.  All readings in English.

Barry Maxwell teaches in Comparative Literature and American Studies at Cornell, and holds graduate degrees from Stanford and Simon Fraser University.  In recent years, he has developed courses on surrealism, Melville, the literature of the outlaw, policing and prisons in American culture, and hemispheric American literatures.  He has published on Benjamin, Bloch, Burke (Kenneth), Crane (Stephen), Davis (Miles), Douglass, David Hammons, Hawes (Hampton), Nathaniel Mackey, Pepper (Art), Sun Ra, and Whitman.  He is at work on a book titled The Grammar of Enclosure, which traces dramas of expropriation and enclosure of the commons in hemispheric American literature and culture.  In 2004, he received the John M. and Emily B. Clark Distinguished Teaching Award.

................................................ top of page

SHUM 428 Sensing Thinking
(also ENGL 408.04)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  
C. Kronengold. 
T 2:30-4:25. 
This course explores how the activity of thinking is depicted and embodied in a variety of late-modern artistic practices. We will move across media and genres, studying examples of poetry, music, art, dance and film. The course begins from the premise that artworks convey the nature of thinking by showing us that thought relies upon the senses: thinking happens through points of contact between consciousness and less-than-conscious bodily processes. We’ll be particularly concerned to register modes of thought that lie beneath intellectual attention but as it were above the level of preconscious body/brain responses, especially as these liminal modes work to establish relations between a self and its environment. At the center is the question of what it means for an audience to sense someone thinking. What are we doing, exactly, when we search for signs that a silent character, an improviser, a painter or a choreographer is thinking? How might we characterize the politics and the erotics of such a search? The course examines different pictures of thinking in poems by John Ashbery and Elizabeth Bishop, choreography by Merce Cunningham and Jean-Pierre Perreault, works by visual artists like Robert Colescott, Philip Guston, Eva Hesse, Shahzia Sikander and Trevor Winkfield, recordings and videotaped performances of group improvisations including Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Myra Melford, Max Roach, Cecil Taylor, and Pamela Z, and films by Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati and Tsai Ming-Liang. Additional readings will be drawn from Lauren Berlant, William Connolly, Elizabeth Grosz, George Lewis, Iris Murdoch, Fred Moten, Ludwig Wittgenstein and others.

Charles Kronengold has published on popular music, Western art music, film and aesthetics. He is completing two books, Live Genres in Late Modernity and Different Methods, Different Signs: Crediting Thinking in Soul and Dance Music. He teaches music, film and cultural theory at Wayne State University. 

................................................ top of page

SHUM 430 Epistemologies of U.S. Empire
(also ENGL 408.05)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students. 
M. Wesling. 
T 12:20-2:15.
This course will consider how the struggle for imperial dominance has involved the production of various ways of knowing, where the conflicts over political, material, and geographical dominance relies upon and gives rise to epistemological conflicts as well.  We will begin the course with general concerns about the production of knowledge in relation to empire.  First, we’ll consider how the historical process of imperial expansion has been driven by the desire to document the colonial Other; from sources as disparate as travel narratives, ethnographies, census reports, photography displays, tour guides, and the like, part of the temptation of colonial expansion has been the consolidation of power through the production of knowledge, with these forms emerging as instruments of classification and subjugation, as well as ways of translating and relaying the evidence of cultural difference from colony to metropole and back again. The course will then turn to a more concrete example of this epistemological struggle, by looking closely at the production of knowledge surrounding the U.S. expansion into the Pacific and the Atlantic after 1898. We’ll be looking at the surge of epistemological changes that mark the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century in the U.S.: the emergence of the disciplines of Anthropology and of American literary study, the changing classification strategies for museum and library collections, the proliferation of photographic technology, and the great captivation with the displays at the Worlds Fairs are just a few of the interpretive shifts that accompany the U.S. entry into the global colonial stage.  We’ll consider as well, however, precisely how the logic of American exceptionalism called upon the interests of knowledge production as justification for its colonial expansion.

Readings will include works by Michael Elliott, Carol Duncan, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Amy Kaplan, Renato Rosaldo, and Lisa Lowe, Frantz Fanon, Antonio Gramsci, Albert Memmi, Paolo Friere, Mary Louise Pratt, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Gauri Viswanathan

Meg Wesling is an Assistant Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego.  Her publications include articles in American Literature and MELUS,  as well as in the forthcoming NYU volume Capital Q: Marxisms after Queer Theory. She is currently at work finishing her first manuscript, Educated Subjects: Pedagogy, Empire, and Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature.

................................................

SHUM 450 Science, Religion, and the Humanities Since Darwin
(also S&TS 417)
Spring. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students.
G. Ortolano.
T 2:30-4:25.
This seminar considers a series of episodes in which the dichotomy between science and religion has been contested and defended. Topics will include debates about Darwinian evolution, Victorian education, animal experimentation, Christian fundamentalism, literary Modernism, "two cultures" quarrelling, and sociobiology. The approach here will be contextual and historical, with a primary goal in each case being to identify and discuss the rhetorical strategies that have been available to advocates and critics of scientific authority. The focus will primarily fall on debates and developments within Britain, with some consideration of the American context, but the issues and problems considered are likely to interest students of scientific authority, cultural politics, and the public culture more generally.

Guy Ortolano is Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches British history and the history of science. His research examines the relationship between science and literature since the Victorians, and he is currently completing a book on that subject titled "The Two Cultures Controversy: Science, Literature, and Cultural Politics in Postwar Britain" (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press). Guy's other research interests include the 1960s, the New Left and New Right, and urban planning.

................................................