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FALL 2014 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.

Download a .pdf of the 2014-15 course catalog.

COURSE LIST QUICK JUMP
(or you can scroll down the page):
SHUM 4990 Sense and Citizenship: Aesthetics in Political Theory
(also COMPL, GOVT)
SHUM 4994 Archiving Sensation
(also COMPL, ENGL, FGSS, LGBT)
SHUM 4876 Humanitarian Affects
(also ANTHR, FGSS, GOVT)
SHUM 4992 Affective Ecologies
(also COMPL, ENGL, FGSS, LGBT)
SHUM 4996 Perfection, Objectivity and Sensation in Philosophy of Art
(also CLASS, GERMST, PHIL, VISST)
SHUM 4999 Transformations of Sense and Early Modern Thought
(also CLASS, COMPL, ENGL)
SHUM 6308 Flux Navigations: Biopolitics & Urban Aesthetics In The Contemporary SE Asian City
(also ARCH 6308, ASIAN 6682)

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SHUM 4990 Sense and Citizenship: Aesthetics in Political Theory

(also COMPL, GOVT)
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
M. Bhaumik
T 10:10 – 12:05

In this seminar, we will inquire into how questions of sensation cross between literature, aesthetics and political theory. Drawing from writings in continental philosophy and phenomenology, the challenge of the class will be to inquire into how sensation in particular broadens notions of citizenship and politics. How do accounts of sensation in political theory reconceive citizenship? What are possible conceptual practices for unraveling normative, colonial, and authoritarian definitions of the political subject? What is the place of sensation in theories of relationality? Students will also be asked to critique the terms under which citizenship is constrained, defined, and regulated. In addition, the course will examine how accounts of sensation delineate traces and figures excluded from the rights conferred by organized polities.

In order to account for those excluded from citizenship, the seminar will also consider the role of sight, touch, and imagination in the public realm or, as Hannah Arendt writes, “namely...the faculty of seeing things not only from one’s own perspective but from that of all others who are present.” Facing the challenge of Arendt’s words, the course will reflect on the implications

of critique, judgment, and phenomenology for democratic theory in general. Discussions may, for example, seek to uncouple the rhetoric of sovereignty and law from citizenship. Finally, we will ask what a study of sensation pro- vides for redressing and/or accounting for dispossession. As students will be encouraged to integrate their research interests with course reading, topics may include questions of how philosophies of anarchism, civil disobedience, feminism, queer theory, and decolonization broaden ideas of citizenship and political ethics.   

Munia Bhaumik is currently Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Emory University where she is also affiliated with the Department of Philoso- phy and Studies in Sexuality Program. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley and M.A. from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She has also been a Fellow of the Melville Society and of the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities at Berkeley. Focusing on writing in English, Spanish, French, and Bengali, her research interests include nineteenth-century literature and philosophy, political theory, phenomenology, as well as postcolonial and queer feminisms. Currently, she is at work on a book entitled Democracy and Dramatic Form: The Figure of the Non-Citizen in the American Renaissance.

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SHUM 4994 Archiving Sensation

(also COMPL, ENGL, FGSS, LGBT)
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
A. Cvetkovich
T 12:20 – 2:15

This course will approach the theme of “sensation” through questions of method, focusing in particular on the interdisciplinary challenges of documenting and archiving sensation. Foundational for this inquiry will be theo- ries of the archive from both queer studies and postcolonial studies, including critiques of the archive as impossible or politically suspect, as well as efforts to transform archival and documentary practice in order to represent feeling and sensation. We will explore the challenges presented by “extreme” states, such as trauma, and ordinary or everyday experience, both of which inspire critiques of affective modes such as sentimentality and melodrama as well as traditional modes of realism.

Central to the course will be the intersections of queer theory and affect theory that explore non-normative experiences of sensation, attachment, and intimacy. We will read in related areas of the “affective turn,” including queer phenomenology, new materialisms, and object-oriented ontologies that seek

to redefine the human and its relation to objects and environments. In connection with my research project on “the sovereignty of the senses” and the feeling of radical democracy, the course will consider what kinds of radical practice, both creative and scholarly, might cultivate new forms of sensory experience as the foundation for new public cultures.

Another key focus will be questions of genre and media, with particular emphasis on the limits and possibilities of “writing” sensation as opposed to representing it in other media, especially experimental and new media practices such as performance and art installation that are more explicitly embodied and/or material. We will consider how to use writing to produce an ethnography of the senses and to grapple with both the material and ephemeral aspects of sensation. We will also explore the tensions between realism and melodrama as modes of sensational representation. Of particular concern will be how artists have forged creative practices of documentation that can inform scholarly practice.

In addition to providing conceptual resources that will help students to workshop their own research projects, the course will encourage them to experiment with their research and writing practices. In addition to a longer final seminar paper, there will be a number of short assignments or “exercises,” including a personal essay, archival research, ethnographic observation, and experimental writing. We will make use of the Cornell Libraries special collections, including the Human Sexuality Collection.

Ann Cvetkovich is Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor of English and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Mixed Feelings: Feminism, Mass Culture, and Victorian Sensationalism (Rutgers, 1992); An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Duke, 2003); and Depression: A Public Feeling (Duke, 2012). She co-edited (with Ann Pellegrini) “Public Sentiments,” a special issue of The Scholar and Feminist Online, and (with Janet Staiger and Ann Reynolds) Political Emotions (Routledge, 2010). She has been coeditor, with Annamarie Jagose, of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies.

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SHUM 4876 Humanitarian Affects
(also ANTHR, FGSS, GOVT)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.
S. Hodzic
R 12:20 – 2:15

Liberal feminists and political theorists argue that sentiments such as compassion and empathy have the capacity to alert us to suffering, injustice, and oppression, and thus incite transformative political action. This interdisciplinary seminar explores the challenges to this theory by staging a conversation between postcolonial, feminist, and queer theories of affect, and anthropological critiques of humanitarian projects. We will focus on texts that show that sentiments have become an essential force in national and global politics: public sentiments are mobilized to defend borders, wage wars, grant asylum to refugees, provide medical care and disaster relief, inspire feminist humanitarianism, and galvanize oppositional activist movements and counterpublics. But how are these ethical projects and political regimes gendered, sexualized, and racialized? What kinds of power relations do they instantiate? How are militarization, violence, humanitarianism, and feminism co-constituted? We will use sentiment and affect as lenses for analyzing the intersections between post-colonial, neoliberal, and humanitarian regimes of governance, as theorized and critiqued by feminist scholars, and as explored in ethnographic and historical texts. We shall see that sentiments mediate access to resources and survival, as well as political agency, subjectivity, citizenship, and national belonging.

Saida Hodzic is a sociocultural and medical anthropologist with research and teaching interests that span several fields. Her research addresses the relationship between activism and governmentality in contemporary movements that take gender and violence as sites of intervention, focusing on mutual entailments of Ghanaian NGOs, global political economy, and humanitarian politics of knowledge and regimes of power. She is particularly interested in productive aspects of political formations whose effects are not simply salutary, the contingencies of governmental regimes, and the unintended consequences of NGOs’ tenuous successes. Regionally, she focuses on global connections and mutual entanglements of Africa, especially Ghana, with Europe and the United States.

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SHUM 4992 Affective Ecologies
(also COMPL, ENGL, FGSS, LGBT)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
D. Luciano
W 2:30 – 4:25

“Nature is a setting that equally well befits a comic or a mourning piece.”
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836)

In what mood do we encounter “nature”? This seminar inflects this question in two ways, asking both how “we” feel in relation to non-human environments, and whether, and how, the non-human can be said to feel. We will consider the productive points of intersection between theories of affect, emotion, and sexuality, especially as they have been taken up in recent queer and feminist thought, and the diffuse wave of critical and cultural developments that has come to be called the “nonhuman turn.” We will examine the divergent threads contributing to the contemporary critical focus on the nonhuman, exploring their attention to the agential, sensory and cognitive capacities of the non-human, their reconfiguration of the relations between human and nonhuman worlds, and the more flexible and nuanced accounts of “nature” and “environments” that they make possible. We will critically examine the relationship between this body of thought and the emphasis on embodiment, feeling, and sensation in recent feminist and queer thought. At the same time, we will examine how the radically expanded ethos of being-in-common proposed by the non-human turn operates alongside the structures and histories of dehumanization to which and feminist, queer and critical race theory have drawn our attention. Readings will include work by Jane Bennett, Mel Y. Chen, Rob Nixon, Eduardo Kohn, Jasbir K. Puar. Timothy Morton, Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, Heather Love; Sianne Ngai, and others.

Dana Luciano is an expert on nineteenth century American literature and culture, history of sexuality, LGBT and feminist studies and politics, queer theory and LGBT film and culture.

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SHUM 4996
Perfection, Objectivity and Sensation in Philosophy of Art
(also CLASS, GERMST, PHIL, VISST)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
A. McGonigal
R 2:30 – 4:25

This course will be devoted to discussion of the relationships between objectivity, perfection and sensation in the philosophy of art. We’ll focus on three central questions. Can we make sense of objective properties that are constitutively related to merited aesthetic pleasure, and yet part of the culture-independent structure of the world? Might interpretative and artistic skill comprise a form of objective knowledge? Might reality itself objectively merit a distinctive kind of aesthetic response? We’ll discuss influential historical treatments of these topics within philosophy of art (including readings from Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche and Heidegger) in the light of important contemporary discussion in metaphysics, theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind. (We’ll draw on material from Kwame Anthony Appiah, David Chalmers, Maudemarie Clark, Gilles Deleuze, Gail Fine, Sally Haslanger, Barbara Herman, David Lewis, Heather Logue, Susannah Siegel and Timothy Williamson).

Andrew McGonigal is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Leeds. His current book project is entitled Duties to Art, and recent articles have appeared in The Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, New Waves in Aesthetics and The British Journal of Aesthetics. McGonigal is a co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Metaphysics, and was subject editor for the philosophy of mind at Thought. He has held visiting positions at the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell, and the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University.

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SHUM 4999 Transformations of Sense and Early Modern Thought
(also CLASS, COMPL, ENGL)  

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
B. Parris
R 10:10 – 12:05

Do principles of artistic production or theories of the aesthetic encounter suggest a trans-historical facet to literature, or even to the experience of reading it? This seminar responds to these questions through a study of sensation in classical and early modern literature and philosophy. Diverse and influential thinkers have found value in historicizing the early modern human and its capacities – from Karl Marx’s theory of primitive accumulation, to Jacob Burckhardt’s Renaissance individual, to A.O. Hirschman’s account of passions and interests, to Michel Foucault’s notion of a Cartesian ‘event in thought.’ Meanwhile, T.S. Eliot held that poetry of the 17th century reflects the “dissociation of sensibility,” or a historical division of thinking from feeling that fundamentally altered English poetics. But how might we engage early modern literature and philosophy in ways that suspend or defamiliarize such historicist accounts of human embodiment, activity and sensation? On the one hand, changing ideas of sensation may reflect significant shifts in western histories of physiology and selfhood, and the seminar will attend to these familiar themes. But on the other hand, the topic of sensation suggests ways of reading classical and early modern literature as works of art, following Deleuze and Guattari’s claim that “Art thinks no less than philosophy, but it thinks through affects and percepts” that form “compounds of sensations.” Deleuze and Guattari’s theory will thus steer our approach to works of literature as aesthetic, trans-historical compounds linking classical, early modern, and modern worlds of sensation.

We begin with selections from classical texts that theorize sensation, embodiment and selfhood – Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s De Sensu and Nicomachean Ethics, Seneca’s On Anger and his tragedy, Hercules Furens, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. For a modern theoretical orientation, we’ll read Deleuze’s responses to these philosophers and some of their problems in selections from The Logic of Sense and What is Philosophy? Meanwhile, Seneca’s drama and Ovid’s epic poem are key hinges between classical and early modern worlds of poetic representation – as well as sites of shared affective and perceptive energies among the early modern writers and works of literature we shall read. After readings in the classical tradition we turn to works of poetry, prose, and drama by Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Thomas Nashe. We will also examine targeted selections from 17th century philosophical texts on sensation by Rene Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, and G.W.F. Leibniz. How and why do these philosophers appeal to concepts of sensation or ‘sense’ to establish anthropological, epistemological, or metaphysical grounds of investigation? As the class proceeds, supplemental readings on sensation in 20th century philosophy and theory by Martin Heidegger, Ernst Cassirer, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault will help to conceptualize relevant transformations in western thought and material practices from the classical to the early modern to the modern.

Benjamin Parris earned his Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins University, where he has taught courses in Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, philosophy and critical theory. His research interests include the history of the passions and the care of the self, Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Aesthetics, and philosophy and literature. His essays have been published or are forthcoming in Shakespeare Studies and Modern Philology. Parris is currently at work on a book project titled ‘Workes of Darkenes’: Sleep, Insomnia, and Early Modern Sensation. It traces a contradictory logic of care that emerges alongside images of sleep and sleeplessness in literature of the early modern period.

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SHUM 6308 Flux Navigations: Biopolitics & Urban Aesthetics In The Contemporary SE Asian City
(also ARCH 6308, ASIAN 6682)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to fellowship recipients. 
J. Foster, A. Fuhrmann
R 2:30 – 4:25

This course critically addresses accounts of Southeast Asia’s port and delta metropolises as sites of economic and cultural transformation as part of recent power shifts in the region. It focuses on the socio-spatial problematics associated with collision between old and new forms of labor, capital, and governance in urban environments where the impacts of climate change are increasingly evident.  The seminar will theoretically complement, and be pedagogically linked to, a parallel Expanded Practice Graduate Design Studio in Architecture whose goal is to explore meta-issues in global urbanism that challenge conventional modes of design practice.

To unpack the modes of sovereignty and personhood emerging in these globalized cityscapes, the seminar juxtaposes notions of bio-power (different forms of governmentality affecting both individual bodies and the social body) with notions of socio-nature (a hybrid of ‘nature,’ the cultural and the practiced). Socio-natures permeate cityscapes at multiple scales, but are especially present in their terrains vagues, peripheries, and interstices where the bio-power associated with conventional urban development weakens. They operate within as well as beyond the frameworks of Western historicism and capitalist modernity; their affective power can never be completely separated from indigenous ecologies and cosmologies, or the tendency for the innately undecidable rhythms of the bio-physical realm to serve as ‘alternatives to the present.’  This is heightened by the temporal logics and agencies at work amongst im/mobilized populations that seldom figure in official maps and records, but show up in the tactical ways urban actors engage the materialities of the cityscape to ‘make space’ for themselves.  This shifts geo-aesthetic ‘meaning’ away from historicist notions of belonging and symbolic representation, to more hermeneutic significations played out in terms of temporality, performativity, and spectrality.

Flux Navigations will draw on the new cinemas of the region to speculate about the ghostly as well as political and aesthetic effects engendered by emergent practices and interstitial spaces in these tropical cities.  The seminar will draw on literature in visual culture, cinema studies, and transnational Asian imaginaries, as well as urban studies and cultural geography, to understand how human/nonhuman relations are (or are not) being reconfigured by contemporary fluxes and unsettlings. In addition to participating in weekly discussions of readings and film screenings, students will develop a term project that brings the seminar’s theoretical and analytical tools to bear on a bio-social condition in one of the cities under investigation, using a combination of research and in situ observation. Articulation of seminar and studio will occur through discussions and critiques, and a funded, week-long travel program to Southeast Asia in late September, during which students will get to experience some of the urban settings under investigation, and meet with a variety of local informants and cultural producers.

Please see this page for the Mellon Graduate Fellowships in Urbanism call for applications.

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SPRING 2015 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.

Download a .pdf of the 2014-15 course catalog.

COURSE LIST QUICK JUMP
(or you can scroll down the page):
SHUM 4993 U.S. Pop Music & Racial Common Sense
(also AMST, MUSIC, PMA)
SHUM 4995 Sensory Power, Sensory Subjects

SHUM 4991 Romanticism And The Fate Of The Senses
(also COML, ENGL, STS)
SHUM 4997 Pygmalion: Aesthetics of Touch
(also ARTH, CLASS, VISST)
SHUM 4998 Feeling in Sound: Touch and the New Musical Body
(also COML, MUSIC)
Scattered Projections: Mobile Global Cinema
(also ARCH)

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SHUM 4993 U.S. Pop Music & Racial Common Sense
(also AMST, MUSIC, PMA)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
C. Balance
T 2:30 – 4:25

This course brings together the fields of sound, popular music, and performance studies in order to investigate how “racial common-sense”—a set of notions drawn from everyday experiences that naturalize race—has been constituted at various moments in U.S. history, from the mid-19th century to the present.

Historical events and cultural moments to be studied include:
• post-bellum era minstrel shows;
• late 19th century U.S. colonial & anthropological expeditions;
• early 20th century Tin Pan Alley;
• the Harlem Renaissance;
• post-World War II “teen culture”
• avant-garde poetry performances;
• civil rights movement & the Vietnam War;
• multiculturalism & music television;
• late 20th-century “digital revolution” and reality TV;
• rise of the “prosumer” (producer + consumer)

Through the central trope of the “sensing body,” this course draws from a diverse set of interdisciplinary analytics—listening, voice, audio-vision, accent, soundtrack, to name a few—to investigate the relationship between popular music and performance and U.S. racial common-sense. Likewise, this course pays attention to the relationship between live performances and the various recording and media technologies that have impacted a longer U.S. cultural history—the phonograph, radio, microphones, film soundtracks, TV shows, YouTube, critical and creative writing. Course assignments include: short reading and listening responses, album and performance reviews, annotated bibliography/discography, group blog project, and final research paper. Moving through these diverse writing styles and their concomitant audiences, this course requires students to continually reconsider and reflect upon the quality of and meanings produced by their own phonographies, or “sound writings.”

Christine Bacareza Balance is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she teaches courses on popular culture, performance/writing, and kinship & belonging in Asian America. She received her Ph.D. in Performance Studies at New York University (NYU) in 2007. Her articles and writing appear in Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, Journal of Asian American Studies (JAAS), Women’s Studies Quarterly (WSQ), BOOM: a journal of California Studies, and online at In Media Res. One-ninth of the indie rock/pop band The Jack Lords Orchestra, Balance continues to collaborate with Lucy San Pablo Burns (UCLA) on a project entitled California Dreaming: Production and Aesthetics in Asian American Art. She is currently finishing her book manuscript, Tropical Renditions: Popular Music and Performance in Filipino America (Duke University Press, forthcoming).

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SHUM 4995 Sensory Power, Sensory Subjects
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
I. Dominijanni
M 2:30 – 4:25

The seminar will be divided in two parts. The first part will deal with theory and will explore the relation between politics and the body drawing a comparison between the classical rationalist theories of modern politics and the foucauldian biopolitical paradigm. The aim will be to focus on the notions of sensory power and of politics of sensations through the analysis of contemporary power and its ways to make us feel, see, touch, taste and smell in certain ways, determining therefore what remains unfeelable, unseeable, untouchable, untasteable, unsmellable, and thus unthinkable. The seminar will involve the lecture of a list of texts by contemporary authors such as Foucault (The Birth of Biopolitics, The History of Sexuality), Butler (Precarious Life, Frames of War), Cavarero (Corpo in figure, Horrorism), Rancière (The Emancipated Spectator).
In the second part, the ethical-aesthetical governmental dispositif implemented in Italy in the last twenty years by Silvio Berlusconi’s mass-mediatic and sensationalist populism will be analyzed as a case study of the sensory biopower investigated in the first part of the seminar. Berlusconi’s sexual politics, as emerged in a sequence of sex scandals between 2009 and 2011, will be at the center of the analysis together with its consequences on the heteronormative redefinition of gender roles. To this end, the theoretic analysis will be supported by visual materials and in particular by the movies Il corpo delle donne, by Lorella Zanardo, and Draquila by Sabina Guzzanti. The anti-Berlusconi satire performed by comedians, actors and musicians will be analyzed, together with the aesthetically grounded feminist protest, as an example of parodic, deconstructive protest practices aimed at the contestation of biopower.

Ida Dominijanni is a member of Diotima, a comunity of feminist philosophers at the University of Verona, Italy. Both a journalist and a scholar, she worked for many years at the Italian daily ‘’il manifesto’’ and taught political theory as a visiting professor at the universities of Siena and Roma Tre. She is also a member of the Centre for the Reform of the State (Crs) in Rome. Her areas of research include feminist theory, political theory, media theory, psychoanalys. She is the editor of the volume Motivi della libertà (Reasons of Freedom) and the author of numerous essays published in Italian, English, French, German (the last ones: “Populism post-oedipien et démocratie neo-liberal”, in Actuel Marx; “Soggetto dell’inconscio, inconscio della politica”, in Filosofia politica; “Wounds of the Common”, in Diacritics; “Das Schielen der Venus. Die Krise der Politik aus der Sicht der Differenzpolitik”, in Inventionen). Her book on the sex-money-power nexus under neoliberalism (and specifically in Berlusconi’s Italy) is forthcoming this year.

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SHUM 4991 Romanticism And The Fate Of The Senses
(also COML, ENGL, STS)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
A. Goldstein
R 12:20 – 2:15

What if, William Blake once asked, every bird that flies “is an immense world of delight, closed by your senses five?” Asking what real and possible worlds our habits of sensory perception exclude, Romantic poets criticized their culture’s increasing faith in sense-based, empirical knowledge – knowledge supposedly free from subjective bias, historical circumstance, national prejudice, and political complicity. This seminar will focus on poetry as a form of sensory re-training and on Romantic and post-Romantic claims to a politics of perception. Can artworks produce rival scientific knowledge, provide access to non-human modes of experience, register otherwise unthinkable histories – or sensually suspend the ethical pressures to do so? Since 19th Century conflicts over the right representation of empirical experience helped to forge the humanities and sciences as we still know them, the seminar will equip us to think differently about the organization of knowledge in the modern university and poetry’s place in contemporary culture. Readings from Blake, Keats, Dickinson, Goethe, Herder, Bacon, Locke, Foucault, Latour, Daston & Galison, Rancière, Bourdieu, Williams, Adorno, de Man, Terada, Hartman, and Stewart, among others – and one session in the Johnson Museum of Art.

Amanda Jo Goldstein is an Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University. Her teaching and research focus on Romantic poetry and the history and philosophy of science, with special interest in figuration, pre-Darwinian biology, and materialist philosophies of history, nature and poetry. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (English, German, French) from the University of California, Berkeley and was a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in Biopolitics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her book manuscript, Sweet Science: Romantic Materialism and the New Sciences of Life, shows how writers from Goethe and Percy Shelley to Karl Marx revived ancient atomist poetry as fit to connect two epochal problems: the biology of living form and the pressure of collective history. She is the author of essays in print or forthcoming in the European Romantic Review and Representations, as well as the volumes The Relevance of Romanticism (Oxford UP, 2014) and Marking Time: Romanticism and Evolution (U of Toronto).

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SHUM 4997 Pygmalion: Aesthetics of Touch
(also CLASS, VISST, ARTH)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
V. Platt
T 10:10 - 12:05

“Please Do Not Touch” is one of the signs we are most accustomed to seeing in museums and art galleries, yet the very need to make this request demonstrates how objects often invite, seek, even demand that we transgress the limits of vision and engage with them physically. They may have been designed to be handled (such as vessels or lamps), worn on the body (such as jewelry or clothing), touched in worship (such as certain cult statues) or even consumed (such as Byzantine ‘edible icons’); their textures and finishes may invite tactile exploration and evaluation (such as the smoothly polished finish of a marble sculpture, or the thickly caked layers of an oil painting); they may depict sensous forms that prompt desire and invite a stroke (or a kiss!); they may even prompt acts of violence that result in their own defacement or destruction. Indeed, it is the inviting tactility of the ivory girl he has created that prompts Pygmalion, in Ovid’s version of the myth, to caress the statue until it ‘grows soft ... and yields beneath his fingers,’ the girl’s veins ‘pulsating beneath his testing thumb’. In the Pygmalion myth, the artist’s creating hand and the viewer’s desire to touch come together in a fantasy of somatic union with the object that has been endlessly appropriated and reimagined in later Western culture, from Prosper Merimée’s The Venus of Ille to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Taking Pygmalion (and Greco-Roman sculpture) as our starting point, this course explores the role of touch and embodiment in the viewing and reception of art objects, including painting, mosaics, metalwork, and the glyptic arts (cameos and intaglios). We will focus in particular on the relationship between the visual and tactile senses, drawing on the distinction drawn between the ‘optic’ and ‘haptic’ by Aloïs Reigl in his influential 1901 essay on “The Late Roman Art Industry” and on Bernard Berenson’s concept of the “tactile consciousness” in art, and tracing the development of these ideas in the work of phenomenologists such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In concentrating on Greco-Roman art, we will also draw on ‘emic’ models of sense-perception found in ancient philosophy, in particular theories of vision that present sight as a haptic experience in which tactility is essential to visibility. Although Classical Idealism suggests an aesthetic that effectively dematerializes art objects through a form of abstracted and disembodied ocularity, we shall see that the relationship between matter and form, sight and touch, objects and bodies has been continually tested, examined, and reformulated by artists, viewers, and thinkers.

Verity Platt is an Associate Professor in the departments of Classics and History of Art at Cornell, a member of the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS), and co-curator of the Cornell Cast Collection. She received her DPhil in Classics from Oxford University, and before her arrival in Ithaca in 2010, held appointments at Oxford and the University of Chicago. Verity works at the intersection of ancient literary and visual studies, with a special interest in the relationship between texts and objects in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Her research and publications focus on ancient theories of representation and sense-perception; the material and visual culture of religion; creative lives and the concept of the artist; Roman wall-painting and funerary art; Graeco-Roman seal-stones; and the historiography of ancient art. She is the author of Facing the Gods: Epiphany and Representation in Graeco-Roman Art, Literature and Religion (Cambridge, 2011) and co-editor (with M. Squire) of The Art of Art History in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (Arethusa, 2010).

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SHUM 4998 Feeling in Sound: Touch and the New Musical Body
(also COML, MUSIC)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
A. Richards
R 2:30 – 4:25

This seminar explores musical, aesthetic, physiological, and mythical concepts associated with ‘touch’ in music. Focusing on the relationship between the hand of the musician and musical sound, the course will trace an interdisciplinary history of musical touch, especially at the keyboard, from the late 18th century to the present. The four interrelated units of the seminar explore the following issues: 1) Why the clavichord became the soulmate of genius, whose improvising hand searched out the tactile revelations heard in the instrument’s unique capabilities for expression, most famously and mysteriously Bebung (vibrato): readings include C. P. E. Bach on keyboard practice, Denis Diderot on sympathetic vibration, German romantic fiction and poetry (especially Jean Paul), and the contemporary theory of sensibility; 2) the glass harmonica and physiology of the nervous system, including readings in 18th-century medicine (Mesmer), visual representations of the sensing body (the work of art historian Barbara Maria Stafford) and primary materials on the harmonica; 3) technologies of touch in the 19th century, with a focus on Schumann and Chopin, training manuals and the fetishization of the disciplined hand; and 4) the absent or fantastic touch—as in Canetti’s fear of being touched or Coleridge’s nightmarish ‘double touch’— and its relation to music-making at early 20th-century electronic instruments, especially the theremin and its newer counterparts, including the Buchla lightning and thunder rods; this latter unit would include consideration of what I call ‘hand-fetish’ films such as the 1924 expressionist classic The Hands of Orlac.

Annette Richards is Professor of Music at Cornell. Her work focuses on music aesthetics and criticism, as well as intersections between music and the visual arts. Current projects include a study of late 18th-century gothic entitled Music on the Dark Side of 1800 as well as a book on music, portraiture and the construction of history. She is the author of The Free Fantasia and the Musical Picturesque (Cambridge, 2001) and editor of C. P. E Bach Studies (Cambridge, 2006). She recently rediscovered and reconstructed C. P. E. Bach’s extraordinary collection of musical portraits (Packard Humanities Institute, 2012). She is the founding editor of Keyboard Perspectives, the executive director of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies and an active professional organist whose performing career has taken her across the United States and Europe. Honors and awards include a Mellon New Directions Fellowship and fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt foundation and the Getty Center.

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SHUM 6819 Scattered Projections: Mobile Global Cinema
(also ARCH 6819)

Spring 2015.  4 credits. 
Limited to fellowship recipients. 
Amy Villarejo (Performing and Media Arts and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies)
W 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

This cross-disciplinary seminar explores digital visual cultures and critical media practices in urban environments, understanding how aesthetics and politics interact in contexts of upheaval, striation, precarity, and inequality. We will be examining media infrastructures and networks with attention both to digital art and popular cinema/media, from German installation art to Nigerian videos and anything in between. Collaborative projects embrace multiple methodologies and genealogies, from critical theory to media stylos, from ethnography to digital mapping. The course will draw upon Cornell’s urbanism resources in its library and museum collections.

The aim of the course is to understand how cinema takes place (in locales, in built environments, in circuits of production/circulation/exhibition) but also how it makes places, both material and imagined. An historical overview of urban representation is therefore important as a starting point, so that we can raise questions of perception and scale within modern debates about aesthetics and politics (i.e., Soviet cinema, Weimar cinema, radio and television, avant garde art practices). So, too, do we begin with crucial theoretical formulations of the city, from Georg Simmel to Raymond Williams and onward.  The heart of the course, however, will consist in testing extant rubrics for investigating urban media cultures and forging new ones through shared research.

Please see this page for the Mellon Graduate Fellowships in Urbanism call for applications.

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