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SPRING 2009 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 4921 Music Industry and Society
(also MUSIC 4321, LATA 4291, ASRC 4521)
SHUM 4922 Ocean: The Sea in Human History
(also HIST 4922, ASIAN 4492)
SHUM 4923 Renaissance Venice, Queen of Seas  
(also COML 4923, ROMS 4923, ARTH 4923, MUSIC 4224, HIST 4923)
SHUM 4924 The Intertidal Zone
(also COML 4115, FREN 4924)
SHUM 4925 Rivers in Human Life and Death  
(also HIST 4925)
SHUM 4926 Cross-Cultural Approaches to the Environment and the Animal
(also COML 4114.101, ASIAN 4488)
SHUM 4927 The Amistad Rebellion
(also ASRC 4927, AMST 4927, HIST 4927)
SHUM 6791 Acoustic Horizons
(also ENGL 6791, VISST 6791, COML 6791)

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SHUM 4921 Music Industry and Society
(also MUSIC 4321, LATA 4291, ASRC 4521)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
M. Monestel. 
T 2:30 - 4:25 ADW 110.

This course will focus on contemporary popular music and its relations with the music industry and the market. However, it will also cover the historical development of different musical processes, different migration, political and social factors on the origins of the music. The course will explore concepts like standardization, cultural exchange, cultural industry and cultural identities in relation to different contextual frames in and out the USA.

Manuel Monestel studied Sociology and Arts at the University of Costa Rica and Popular Culture and Ethnomusicology at the State University of Bahia in Brazil. He has taught various courses and workshops like Ethnomusicology, Music and Cultural Industry, Music and Drama, Music and Dance and Music and Society at the University of Costa Rica and the Distance University of Costa Rica, and has been head of cultural departments and projects for various institutions such as the University for Peace, the National Counsel of University Principals and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. He has published many articles in books (for example Regional Footprints, University of the West Indies, 2006, Nuestra Musica y Danzas Tradicionales, UNESCO, 2003), magazines (Popular Music, Oxford University Press, 1986) and newspapers and the book Ritmo Canción e Identidad: Una historia Sociocultural del Calypso Limonense (2003). A singer and composer of over 100 songs, he has studied, recorded and performed calypso music and other Caribbean styles in Costa Rica during the past three decades and has toured the Americas, Europe and Asia as leader of his band Cantoamerica, with La Orquesta de la Papaya and as a soloist. He is currently writing a book on Costa Rican popular music and is in the process of recording two new music albums.

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SHUM 4922 Ocean: The Sea in Human History
(also HIST 4922, ASIAN 4492)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
E. Tagliacozzo. 
W 2:30 - 4:25 ADW 110.

This course looks at the oceans as a canvas for human history. The class moves through a number of different topics and rubrics in respect to the history of the sea (Ancient Seas, Routes, the Age of Discovery, Science of the Sea, and Whaling) before spending individual weeks on each of the world’s oceans (the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean, and the Polar Seas).

Eric Tagliacozzo is Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies at Cornell University. He is the author of Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States Along a Southeast Asian Frontier (Yale, 2005), which won the Harry J. Benda Prize from the Association of Asian Studies in 2007. He is also the editor or co-editor of three books due out in 2008/9: The Indonesia Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University Press); Clio/Anthropos: Exploring the Boundaries Between History and Anthropology (Stanford University Press); and Southeast Asia and the Middle East: Islam, Movement, and the Longue Duree (also Stanford University Press, and Singapore University Press in Asia). His next book, The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca, will be published by Oxford University Press.

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SHUM 4923 Renaissance Venice, Queen of Seas  
(also COML 4923, ROMS 4923, ARTH 4923, MUSIC 4224,
HIST 4923)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
W. Kennedy. 
T 12:20 - 2:15 ADW 110.

This interdisciplinary seminar will focus upon the social and economic history of the Venetian Republic; its cultural and educational institutions under the aegis of Renaissance Humanism; the evolution of its art, architecture, music, poetry, drama, and opera; and its unique contacts with the Islamic cultures of the Middle East, central Asia, and north Africa. Readings include texts by Italian historians such as Gasparo Contarini and Francesco Guicciardini, French authors such as Jean Bodin and Philippe Desportes, Turkish writers such as Mustafa Ali and Evilya Celabi, Venetian poets such as Gaspara Stampa and Veronica Franco, and English commentators such as William Shakespeare and Henry Blount, with consideration of paintings by Giovanni Bellini, Titian, and Tintoretto, and music by Adrian Willaert, Cipriano de Rore, and Claudio Monteverdi.

William J. Kennedy is Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. He is the author of Rhetorical Norms in Renaissance Literature; Jacopo Sannazaro and the Uses of Pastoral; Authorizing Petrarch; The Site of Petrarchism: Early Modern National Sentiment in Italy, France, and England ; and co-editor of Writing in the Disciplines. He is currently working on a book about figurations of economic transactions and exchanges in the literature of Renaissance Europe.

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SHUM 4924 The Intertidal Zone
(also COML 4115, FREN 4924)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
F. Neyrat. 
R 2:30 - 4:25.

The purpose of this seminar consists in testing the concept of liquidation, in order to describe contemporary phenomena of transformation and destruction. We want to analyze the way in which an imaginary of liquids inhabits our representations, and to show the limits of these images by locating the existence of unscathed spaces and ontological cleavages which were not destroyed by the large modern process of destabilization of the world. We’ll propose an aesthetics of space that would make it possible to avoid the pitfall of solidity-without-fault and flat liquidity. We will insist on the concepts of limits, transitions and shorelines, in order to answer this ecological question: how to live in an intertidal zone? Course readings will include works of Bauman, Deleuze, Nancy, Heidegger, Sloterdijk, Serres, and others.

Frederic Neyrat is a French philosopher, former Program Director at the College International de Philosophie (2001-2007). He has published books on political imaginary (Fantasme de la communauté absolue, 2002), the function of the images (L’image hors-l’image, 2003), the globalization and the postmodern condition (Surexposés, 2005), Heidegger (L’indemne. Heidegger et la destruction du monde, 2008), ecopolitics (Biopolitique des catastrophes, 2008).

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SHUM 4925 Rivers in Human Life and Death  (also HIST 4925)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
E. Baptist.  
M 2:30 - 4:25 ADW 110.

Throughout human history, rivers have served as both routes and markers, sources of both life and death, the valleys of civilization and the pathways of destruction, boundaries and pathways that break barriers. Novelists and historians have tried to probe their meanings, to search out the pathways by which they travel down to the sea, or to evoke the foreboding with which moderns traveled up their pathways into terras incognitas. Moving both chronologically and thematically, focusing on histories and novels, this course aims to explore the various ways in which rivers have shaped human life, society, and culture. We will also discuss the place of rivers in environmental history, looking at how they have fared in modernity—the Rhine, the Congo, and the Mississippi will be our major foci here.

Edward E. Baptist is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Cornell. He has published two books [Creating an Old South: Middle Florida’s Plantation Frontier Before the Civil War (Chapel Hill, 2002); and New Studies in the History of American Slavery (Athens, 2006), co-edited with Stephanie M. H. Camp] and various articles. He is currently writing a history of the expansion of slavery in the United States from the Constitution to the end of the U.S. Civil War.

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SHUM 4926 Cross-Cultural Approaches to the Environment and the Animal
(also COML 4114.101, ASIAN 4488)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
C. Marran. 
R 12:20 - 2:15 ADW 110.

In this course we will explore the concept of “posthumanism,” asking along the way some fundamental questions about the role of culture in depicting a non-anthropocentric vision of the world. How have philosophers, novelists and filmmakers engaged the land, seas and animal in offering a “posthumanist” vision? What is the role that cultural difference plays in considerations and representations of the anthro/non-anthropocentric? What is the relevance of posthumanist thought to ecology? In pursuing these questions we will engage a variety of theoretical, literary, and film texts primarily from Japan, U.S and western Europe. They will include works by novelists Michiko Ishimure, Haruki Murakami, Miyazawa Kenji, and Rachel Carson; poets Kotaro Takamura and Denise Levertov; filmmakers Shohei Imamura, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and Werner Herzog; and theorists Cary Wolfe, Derrida, and Akira Mizuta Lippit among others.

Christine Marran is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Minnesota. She has most recently published a book on images of criminality and sexuality in modern Japanese culture (Poison Woman: Figuring Female Transgression in Modern Japanese Culture, Univ of Minnesota Press, 2007), and various articles on Japanese film and literature. She is currently writing a book on aesthetics and ecology in postwar Japanese literature and film.

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SHUM 4927 The Amistad Rebellion
(also ASRC 4927, AMST 4927, HIST 4927)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
M. Rediker.
T 10:10 - 12:05 ADW 110.

This course explores a famous event in American and Atlantic maritime history: a successful rebellion waged by fifty-three enslaved Africans on a Spanish schooner called the Amistad that took place in 1839 and became, after a series of legal battles in Connecticut, a major event in the Atlantic-wide struggle against slavery. We will use primary sources to reconstruct the uprising at sea and to probe its causes and consequences, all set against a fiery backdrop of Atlantic slave revolt in the 1830s. We will use secondary sources to study the representations and interpretations of the event in both scholarship and popular culture, giving special attention to Steven Spielberg’s 1997 film, Amistad.

Marcus Rediker is Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh. He is author of five books including (with Peter Linebaugh) The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Beacon, 2000) and The Slave Ship: A Human History (Viking, 2007)

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SHUM 6791 Acoustic Horizons
(also ENGL 6791, VISST 6791, COML 6791)

Spring. 4 credits.
T, Murray,
T 1:25 - 3:20 ADW 201.

The course will explore the aesthetics and politics of sound along the artistic interface of cinema, video, installation, and new media art. From analysis of synchronization of sound and image in the talking movie to its disruption in experimental film, video, and narrative sound art, we will consider the prominence of sound as a carrier of gender, ethnic and cultural difference. We also will explore the theory of sound, from tracts on futurism, feminism, new music, and glitch, to more recent acoustic applications of eco-theory in which sound merges with discourses of water, air, wind and fire. In addition to studying a wide range of artistic production in audio, sound, new media and screen arts (Duras, Marker, Akerman, Cage, Cardiff, Jones, Viola, Out-of-Sync, Eno, Ikeda, Migone) and the corollary relation of the phenomenal growth of digital acoustic horizon in the Pacific Rim (Australia, Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea). We will discuss the dialogical impact of theoretical discussions of sound in psychoanalysis and aesthetics (Freud, Laplanche, Doane, Kristeva, Bonitzer, Barthes, Deleuze, DJ Spooky, Kahn).

Tim Murray is Director of The Society for the Humanities and Professor of Comparative Literature and English. His areas of research include new media, film and video, and visual studies, as well as seventeenth-century studies and literary theory, with strong interests in philosophy and psychoanalysis. He is the founding Curator of The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art in the Cornell Library, the Co-Curator of CTHEORY Multimedia, and curated the traveling exhibition, "Contact Zones: The Art of CD-Rom." He is the author of Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic Folds (2008); Zonas de Contacto: el arte en CD-Rom (1999); Drama Trauma: Specters of Race and Sexuality in Performance, Video, Art (1997); Like a Film: Ideological Fantasy on Screen, Camera, and Canvas (1993); Theatrical Legitimation: Allegories of Genius In XVIIth-Century England and France (1987). He is editor of Mimesis, Masochism & Mime: The Politics of Theatricality in Contemporary French Thought (1997) and, with Alan Smith, Repossessions: Psychoanalysis and the Phantasms of Early-Modern Culture (1997).
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FALL 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 4811 Confluence: Env Hist and STS
(also HIST 4811, STS 4181/6181)
SHUM 4813 Environments & Waterscapes
(also HIST 4813, AMST 4813, STS 4381)
SHUM 4814 Liminality in Maritime Archaeology  
(also NES 4914, HIST 4814)
SHUM 4815 Histories of Maritime Asia
(also HIST 4815)
SHUM 4816 Crossing Oceans of Time: Depth, Flow, Fluency and the Turkish Atlantis 
(also HIST 4816)
SHUM 4817 Elements, Atlanticisms, Ecologies
(also ENGL 4070)
SHUM 4818 Literature of Maritime Empire
(also ENGL 4071)
SHUM 4819 Water Concepts
(also COML 4064 and FRLIT 4819)

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SHUM 4811 Confluence: Env Hist and STS
(also HIST 4811, STS 4181/ 6181)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
S. Pritchard. 
M 10:10-12:05.

This course uses water to examine the confluence of two fields: environmental history and the social and historical studies of science and technology (STS).  Although early scholarship has demonstrated the fruitful integration of these fields, a number of historiographical, methodological, and theoretical tensions remain.  These tensions include nature as a historical actor, the social construction of “nature,” constructivist models of science and technology, the emergence of “environmental” “problems,” the management of water through technoscience, and scholars’ use of scientific and technical sources to assess environmental change.  This class pairs readings that highlight some of these conceptual issues with specific case studies, including scientific investigation of the deep ocean, European river management, flood control in the Netherlands and United States, and the politics of water development in colonial and postcolonial societies.

Sara Pritchard is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell who specializes in the history of technology, environmental history, and their intersection.
Her research focuses on twentieth-century France and French empire.  Her first book examines the history of the development of France’s Rhône River since 1945.  She is beginning a new project on water management across the French Mediterranean, tentatively entitled Fluid Empires.

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SHUM 4813 Environments & Waterscapes
(also HIST 4813, AMST 4813, STS 4381)
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
A. Sachs. 
T 10:10-12:05

This seminar delves into the humanistic study of the environment. About half of the readings will explore different ways of examining environmental issues in a broad, theoretical framework. The other half will focus on water as a case study, illuminating the ways in which different societies and social groups have both argued about water and found meaning and even inspiration in it. Is the ocean overwhelming or connective? Is a waterfall in a gorge worth more as scenery or as hydro power? To what extent is our spatial reality determined by river systems? This is meant as a comparative, interdisciplinary course, ranging across time and space, and drawing on work in history, science and technology studies, landscape studies, literary criticism, cultural theory, geography, and public policy.

Aaron Sachs is an assistant professor of history who received his Ph.D, in American Studies and was formerly an environmental journalist.  His teaching and research tend to be interdisciplinary and generally focus on the overlaps between cultural, intellectual, and environmental history.  His book, The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth-Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism (2006), was intended for anyone interested in history, the environment, or the genre of creative nonfiction.  The working title of his current project is "Death and Life in the American Environment: Radical Arcadias of the Nineteenth Century."

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SHUM 4814 Liminality in Maritime Archaeology  
(also NES 4914, HIST 4814)
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
C. Monroe. 
T 2:30-4:25.

In this seminar we will investigate the relationship of human beings to bodies of water, as represented through artifacts, art objects, and literature. As a class we will test the notion that bodies of water have, cross-culturally and throughout history, presented opportunities, risks, and unknowns that closely conform to what is known in various humanistic fields as liminality, a phenomenon of transformative thresholds in physical and social space. How different cultures engage transformative maritime thresholds will be studied in a number of cases found in ancient Near Eastern and Classical texts, various archaeological cultures, Medieval history, and even modern art forms. While noting transformative and destructive aspects of past attitudes toward water, we will be building a model to help maritime archaeologists better frame discussions of shipwrecks and other maritime culture objects. We will also consider how present and future cultures might embrace the liminal properties of water in a more globally cooperative spirit.

Christopher Monroe is a Senior Lecturer in Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. He studied nautical archaeology under George Bass and participated in the excavation of the Bronze Age shipwreck at Uluburun, Turkey. Monroe wrote a dissertation investigating the socioeconomic role of Bronze Age traders and has published articles on seafaring and early economy that interpret the textual and archaeological sources from the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East.

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SHUM 4815 Histories of Maritime Asia (also HIST 4815)
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
J. Gaynor. 
M 12:20-2:15.

Work on the global maritime past has begun to look beyond particular imperial circuits to examine the cross-currents between them and the social formations that fell between their cracks. From an earlier focus on trade and on European expansion, the study of maritime worlds has also shifted increasingly toward an examination of the histories of non-European and non-elite actors. Much of this scholarship has been organized around the framework of ocean basins, a convenient alternative to more traditional area studies and one that fosters the research and analysis of cross-cultural interactions. Oddly, Southeast Asia has largely been overlooked as a focal zone for this reinvigorated maritime history, despite its fame as a maritime crossroads linking ocean basins.

This exploratory seminar will look at a range of works on maritime history in Asia and the Pacific, but will emphasize materials on Southeast Asia. We will ask, what, after all, constitutes the "maritime" in "maritime Southeast Asia"? Surely it is more than an agglomeration of island and peninsular nations not included in the region's mainland. We will use work on the surrounding areas of Asia to push our thinking about the variety of ways that histories of maritime Southeast Asia may be written. Readings will include fine-grained studies of European-Asian maritime interactions in the region, as well as work on how Asians from outside the region traveled to and operated in its watery worlds. Our main aim, however, will be to take analytical stock, not of what different "outsiders" were doing in the region, but of how work by historians has engaged the concerns, conditions and practices of Southeast Asians. To this end we will discuss recent, as well as some not so recent writing, on the seas and the entangled histories they mediate in coastal and maritime Southeast Asia

Jennifer Gaynor is Assistant Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Her research interests concern the history and ethnography of maritime worlds, particularly those in Southeast Asia.  She has published work on historical notions of maritime space in Southeast Asia, as well as on the new spatial division of labor in coastal Indonesia. Her current research examines how Europeans have viewed Southeast Asian sea people.

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SHUM 4816 Crossing Oceans of Time: Depth, Flow, Fluency and the Turkish Atlantis  (also HIST 4816)
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
M. Aymes.  
T 12:20-2:15.

Drawing on the variegated regimes of combined factuality and metaphoricity that the notion of water allows for, the course is intended as a multi-sited inquiry into Turkish history. The freeze of modern nation-state narratives notwithstanding, the geographical expression 'Turkey' here is to be considered as an enigmatic location, an abyssal venue immersed in many creeds and trades, states and fictions—in a nutshell: an historical Atlantis. While adopting a longue durée chronological span, from late Byzantium to the present, the course aims to unravel the wide spectrum of conundrums that call for examination: 1.The state, often described as a 'deep' structure of governmentality (derin devlet); 2.Territory, peninsula- or archipelago-like, with multiple flows and mobilities running through; 3.Language, as a 'purified' artifact or as a polyglot conflation of fluencies; 4.Religion, curdled by Holy War endeavours, but watered down by syncretistic ambiguities; 5.Europe, or how to be within (engulfed by 'Euro-speak') and without (kept at bay) all at once.

Marc Aymes has been studying (most notably in Paris and Aix-en-Provence, France) the history of the Mediterranean with a focus on the modern and Ottoman Turkish language-worlds, and a lasting interest in social anthropology. His first book, setting out a provincial approach to 19th-century administrative reforms in the Ottoman Empire, is due to come out in 2008 from Peeters Publishers (Paris & Leuven). Recently he was a postdoctoral fellow in Paris, at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (in 2006/07), then in Berlin, within the "Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Eurrope" Program, at the Zentrum Modern Orient (in 2007/08). He has been taking part in the editorial boards of the following journals: Labyrinthe (www.revuelabyrinthe.org), the European Journal of Turkish Studies (www.ejts.org), and sans papier, the electronic pre-prints series in the field of French and Francophone Studies published at Cornell University (www.einaudi.cornell.edu/frenchstudies/publications/index.asp). For further information, please see his personal website: http://marc.aymes.free.fr

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SHUM 4817 Elements, Atlanticisms, Ecologies
(also ENGL 4070)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
M. Allewaert. 
M 2:30-4:25.

In this course, we will draw on philosophy, science studies, and critical theory to produce a dialogue between the related fields of Atlanticism and ecocriticism.  Our goal is to gain an understanding of the structuring assumptions of both of these fields, as well as to explore how each is transformed by being put into dialogue with the other.

Monique Allewaert is an assistant professor of English at Emory University.  Her recent article in PMLA focuses on political resistance in American plantation spaces and in a forthcoming article she considers the role of Haiti in Jeffersonian politics.  In her current research project, she explores how an ecological interpretation of plantation spaces changes how eighteenth-century scholars conceive agency, politics, and genre.

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SHUM 4818 Literature of Maritime Empire (also ENGL 4071)
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
S. Baker
W 2:30-4:25.

This course in the literature of the age of sail will introduce students to the difference that a marine perspective makes to our understanding of how modern aesthetics and geopolitics intersect. Texts will include classic literary works (e.g. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Felicia Hemans’s “Casabianca”), contemporary histories of the  British empire in the period (e.g. David Armitage’s The Ideological Origins of the British Empire and Linda Colley’s Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850), and shorter textual artifacts and scholarly articles arranged to expose students to the various zones and modes of British and subsequently American maritime imperial endeavor (including points of contact and comparison with the French and Spanish empires). Formal writing assignments will include a short book review and a seminar paper.

Samuel Baker teaches eighteenth and nineteenth century literature in the English Department at the University of Texas at Austin. His research to date has centered on the formal characteristics and historical entailments of British writing during the Age of Revolution; his first book, Written on the Water: British Romanticism and the Maritime Empire of Culture, will be published by the University of Virginia Press in the Spring of 2009.

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SHUM 4819 Water Concepts (also COML 4064 and FRLIT 4819)
Fall. 4 credits.
Limited to 15 students.
V. Conley.
R 2:30-4:25. ADW 110.

This course will focus on water as a concept of critical consequence. Just as spatial compression became a critical issue in the post-68 era, water is now of a similar order. Consumerism and electronic communication but also scarcity, new demographic shifts, uneven economic development and pollution made theorists become aware of unforeseen transformations of the nature and virtue of space. Henri Lefebvre’s Production of Space, appearing almost synchronously with Georges Perec’s Especes d’espace, bore impact on what geographer David Harvey famously called The Post-Modern Condition. So today with water: while space and time are the two coordinates with which every culture defines itself, with fire, air and earth, water remains one of the four grounding elements of our own. Water, sensed to be the element out of which all life emerges and into which it retreats, has haunted the imagination since time immemorial. Across cultures, it is seen as lifegiving, purifying, unifying but also as threatening and deadly. Values ascribed to water change from one culture to the next and also evolve over time. Today, in view of dilemmas created by scarcity, pollution, climate change and others such as privatization, water rights, the concept of water is hardly what it was forty years ago. Post-1968 theorists have written of the environment and the “ecoumene” that include water, but few have touched on it in a specifically critical way.
This seminar will inquire as to how can we use critical writings of the last four decades to consider water as a critical concept—as what can be studied through both theory and practice. We will examine some of the history of water in the human imagination and review several works that focus on how “water” can indeed be a constitutive element of theory itself. We will then look at the changing representation of water in fiction and film. In the context of current dilemmas about the nourishing condition of the planet we will also address the question of the limits of critical theory as well as literatures whose degrees of effective solvency allow them to pass through and about disciplinary boundaries.
Readings include, first, background (Rachel Carlson, Gaston Bachelard and Carolyn Merchant); then, materials touching on a politics of water (Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Michel Serres and Etienne Balibar); third, anthropological studies (Veronica Strang and Vandana Shiva); finally, creative works of the same period (Patrick Chamoiseau, Hélene Cixous and others).

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