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Found 236 courses
IDSEM-UG1740 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2013

Bridging Culture and Nature: An Introduction to Conservation Science

4 units Mon
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Jim Tolisano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1740

Description

This course brings together leading thinking from literature, anthropology, archeology, social psychology, economics, and biology to explore the art and science of applied conservation biology. The goal of conservation biology is to conserve the incredible diversity of life found on our planet, and, in the process, protect our rich cultural diversity, and ourselves. We discover how business entrepreneurs, social scientists, wildlife biologists, and artists all play an integral role in achieving practical conservation solutions. We begin with an exploration of our own relationship to the natural world. We examine what biological diversity is, the principal threats to biological systems, and specific actions that are being taken to reverse these threats and protect life on earth. We also explore the premise that managing the biological wealth of the planet really requires us to manage ourselves and the human cultures we have created. The fieldwork of the physical and biological sciences provide the foundation from which our work as conservation biologists proceeds. However, the applied work of the social sciences, education, business, humanities and arts then serve as the tools we need to manage ourselves and create a relationship with nature that is mutually supportive. Readings include reserved selections from textbooks, including Richard Primack’s Primer of Conservation Biology and Sarah Pilgrim’s Nature and Culture , along with others from popular non-fiction authors including Bill McKibben, Gary Snyder, Terry Tempest Williams and others. At the course conclusion students from all disciplines should see a role for themselves in the conservation work that is an essential part of our next century.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1658 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2013

Spies Like Us? Cold War Science as the Ultimate National Security Threat

4 units Mon Wed
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Jose Perillan

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1658

Description

On Friday June 19th, 1953 just before the sun set on Sing-Sing prison, Ethyl and Julius Rosenberg were executed by electrocution for their part in an espionage network that transferred classified information associated with top secret U.S. atomic research to the Soviet Union. This case was a landmark at the height of tensions associated with the second Red Scare of the 1940s and 50s, but the almost half-century of Cold War tensions, teetering on the brink of global annihilation, brought out the devastating threats of societal paranoia and political persecution. Throughout the Cold War period science was wielded by both the United States and the Soviet Union with alarming efficacy. As big science began to dominate international and domestic policy, the two superpowers played ‘chicken’ with an atomic arms race and ‘catch me if you can’ with a space race that seemed to fuel animosity and bring us ever closer to the brink of world catastrophe. In this seminar we use primary and secondary sources to examine the complex role of science during the Cold War, as weapon, threat, and salvation. Readings may include works by J.R. Oppenheimer, Deborah Cadbury, Albert Einstein, John Lewis Gaddis, John Earl Hayes, Harvey Klehr, and Jessica Wang among others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1059 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2013

Disease and Civilization

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1059

Description

This course explores the cultural, social, scientific, and political dimensions of epidemic disease through an examination of selected episodes from plagues in antiquity to AIDS, Ebola, avian flu, and bioterrorism in our time. We approach the problem of understanding the role of disease in human history from two different, but interrelated, perspectives: an ecological perspective, making use of a combination of environmental, biological, and cultural factors to help explain the origin and spread of epidemics, and a cultural/social history perspective, emphasizing the interaction of cultural values, religious beliefs, scientific knowledge, medical practice, economics, and politics in shaping perceptions of the nature, causes, cures, and significance of various diseases. Readings range from Thucydides and the Hippocratic writings to Boccaccio, Defoe, and Orwell, including, where possible, nonwestern sources, along with a variety of recent works that discuss the historical, social, and biological aspects of epidemic disease in different cultural and geographical settings.

Notes

Section 3 for Environmental Studies majors only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1451 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Ancient Reflections in a Time of Modern War

2 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1451

Description

In this class we explore ancient Greek attitudes toward war, as represented in epic, drama, and historiography. Among the topics we consider are: rhetoric and rationales for and against war; war and social cohesion; war and empire; the stakes of civil war; war and gender; the social costs of war; the implications for our contemporary situation. Readings may include, Homer, Iliad ; Sophocles, Ajax ; Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes ; Euripides, Iphigeneia in Aulis and Trojan Women ; Aristophanes, Peace ; Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War ; and twentieth century mediations on the problematic of war, such as Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain ; Jonathan Shay, Achilles in Vietnam ; Simone Weil, The Iliad, or the poem of force .

Notes

Course meets 1/29- 3/12 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1734 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Renaissance and Renewal in the 9th Century

2 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

The European Early Middle Ages may seem an unlikely place to find a renaissance. In our popular imagination, the era remains a foreign and backward place, a “Dark Age”: its systemic violence, its brutal social injustices, and its intellectual and artistic poverty. In fact, however, the Early Middle Ages of Europe was far more diverse and vibrant than our common narratives of the “brutish” medieval past suggest. In this course, we focus on the long 9th century, which saw a proliferation of scholarship and art under the patronage of Charlemagne and his heirs that in some ways harkened back to artistic world of imperial Rome. Carolingian courts became centers of learning, bringing the finest thinkers of Europe together in conversation, and recalling the aesthetics of the ancient world while also forging new styles and forms of scientific thought and artistic creation. Carolingian rulers engaged diplomatically with the world beyond—not just England and Scandinavia beyond the North Sea, but Muslim Spain and Baghdad, Jerusalem, and North Africa. In important ways, the Carolingian renaissance paved the way for the inventions and revolutions of the later Middle Ages and beyond. It thus provides a key early comparative example for the study of “renaissances” in all eras. No previous coursework required. Texts may include Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne , the “Coronation Gospels,” The Utrecht Psalter, the Heliand , and the Waltharius .

Notes

Course meets 1/28- 3/11 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1720 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2013

The Artificial and the Natural

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Myles Jackson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1720

Description

When we hear the story about molecular biologists inserting a gene responsible for luminosity taken from a lightning bug into a tobacco or strawberry plant, we tend to be repulsed, declaring that such a move is ‘unnatural.’ Yet when we see cows grazing on the Great Plains, or a beautiful array of flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, we praise the beauty of nature. However, flowers and cattle are just as ‘artificial’ as the genetically modified tobacco or strawberry plant. After all, they are the products of centuries of breeding, artificially selecting for traits, which nature itself did not. Likewise, why should a chemical polymer or dye derived from a natural substance, such as carbon, be any more (or less) artificial than a genetically modified mouse programmed to succumb to cancer? Finally, why are we awestruck when we hear about IBM’s Big Blue defeating one of the greatest chess player of the century, Gary Kasparov, yet we are deeply concerned with and troubled by the attempts of scientists and engineers to devise computers, which may one day mimic human attributes, such as consciousness? The goal of this course is to study the debate in the West from Aristotle to the present and explore its socio-political, philosophical, economic and scientific ramifications. This course may be counted toward the science requirement. Readings include Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Meteorology , Essays by Grafton, Newman, and Bensaude-Vincent in The Natural and the Artificial ; Shapin, The Scientific Revolution , Riskin on automata, Goethe, N. Hawthorne, E. A. Poe, Freud, Turing, Fullwiley (race and genes) and Jackson (gene patenting).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

SASEM-UG9550 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2013

TEL AVIV: The Present Past: Archaeology and History of the Land of Israel and its Relevance for Today

4 units

Description

THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-TEL AVIV. The course examines the archaeological findings, the biblical text and ancient Near Eastern records in an attempt to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel in the first Millennium BCE. The study of ancient Israel in biblical times attracts the imagination of millions around the world. Biblical accounts on kings such as David and Solomon are at the heart of most cultures today and it is no wonder that pure academic debates about the historicity of these biblical accounts echoes into public realm. Can we use archaeology and biblical scholarship in order to reconstruct a better image of these decisive events? Five currently hotly debated subjects in biblical history will be discussed with the students in class meetings, in field trips and with the help of guest speakers who will present their side of the argument.

Type

Global Programs (SASEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey , Aeneid , and Divine Comedy , as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics , Cicero's De Fato , Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy , and Fromm's Escape From Freedom .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1633 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2013

Ecological Transport, Infrastructure and Building Design

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Mitchell Joachim

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1633

Description

The current environmental decline is a multifaceted predicament for our civilization. Previously, utopian projects have failed to reverse this ecological decay. This crisis demands robust solutions on a massive scale to deal with an immanent mega-urbanity. We attempt to re-envision vehicles, infrastructure, and buildings to meet the ecological needs of the future. Students consider questions such as: what is wrong with city systems today and what are the key environmental forces that shape them? Each student individually critiques and evaluates multiple engineered urban entities and subsequently prescribe new innovations. The objective is to establish the most scientifically plausible designs for a new socio-ecological world. Readings, historical figures, and works for the course include Janine M. Benyus, Ian McHarg, Richard T.T. Forman, John Todd, Anne Spirn, Geoffery Jellicoe, Jane Jacobs, Annie Leonard, Buckminster Fuller, William J. Mitchell, Mohsen Mostafavi, Ken Yeang, and others.

Notes

Same as ENVST-UA 450.005.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1737 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2013

Science and Culture

2 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Myles Jackson

Description

This course examines various examples of how the conduct and context of science are framed by culture, and conversely, how science shapes culture. Which models proffered by various historians, philosophers, cultural anthropologists, and sociologists can begin to explain this relationship? The first portion of this course addresses how scientific knowledge was intricately intertwined with religious and political knowledge during the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. The next section illustrates how important developments in thermodynamics (or the physics of work and waste) led to improvements in nineteenth-century musical instrument design and a change in musical aesthetics. Similarly, we shall discuss how twentieth-century technological and scientific developments in fin-de-siècle Europe and the U.S. directly led to new artistic expressions and aesthetics. The final third of the course looks at how the content of scientific and technological knowledge associated with “Big Science” from World War II to the present owes much to the development of national defense in the case of physics and to venture-corporate capitalism in the case of molecular biology. Rather than simply stay at the level of case studies, we shall continually test the various models, which attempt to explain the complex and historically contingent relationship between science and culture Finally, the course will force students to think about related issues, such as the history of objectivity and the differences and similarities between science on the one hand, and the social sciences and humanities on the other. Readings include: Newton, Jackson, Kursell, Riskin, Brain, Kevles, and Weinberg. This interdisciplinary seminar may be used to fulfill the science requirement.

Notes

Prerequisite IDSEM-UG 1519 or permission of the instructor. Course meets 1/29- 3/14 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1294 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2013

Philosophy of Medicine

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Bradley Lewis

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1294

Description

Most medical inquiry focuses on narrow issues of disease from within a biomedical framework. It rarely steps back from the particulars to ask larger philosophic questions regarding the goals of medicine and healthcare. In this class we take the opposite strategy to focus on the larger theoretical and philosophical issues in U.S. healthcare. We unpack the underlying concepts and principles that organize contemporary medical research, practice, and education. We look at the strengths and weaknesses of today’s dominant models of medicine and we consider the possibilities of alternative conceptual frames. Plus, we consider how much of the administrative and financial problems of today’s healthcare crisis can be explained by conceptual and philosophical issues. Our inquiry will be an interdisciplinary approach that draws from medicine, philosophy, history, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, disability studies, cultural studies, poetry, drama, and documentary.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1695 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2013

Competing Images of the Sage: Confucius and Lao Tzu

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1695

Description

Among the early Chinese philosophers whose ideas have framed moral, social and political discourse in East Asia, the figures of Confucius and Lao Tzu stand out, not only as thinkers of towering influence, but also as diametrically opposed archetypes of wisdom. In this seminar, we begin by reading the works attributed to each man, and then we proceed to examine the ways in which their legacies have been and continue to be appropriated by others. Toward this end we explore competing manifestations of Confucius and Lao Tzu in Chinese religion, in popular culture, and in the marketplace of ideas. Themes include the opposing impulses of idolization and iconoclasm, censorship and propaganda, and the sacralization and commercialization of traditional values. Apart from Confucius’ Analects and Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching , assignments may include Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching edited by Livia Kohn and Michael LaFargue, selections from Early Daoist Scriptures by Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Confucius from the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World by Yu Dan, and the controversial 2010 Hong Kong film Confucius starring Yun-fat Chow.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1514 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
EARLY
SP 2013

Science and Religion

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Matthew Stanley

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1514

Description

In this course we examine the complex interactions between science and religion through history. While most popular presentations of science and religion often descend into simplistic models of conflict (the secular nature of modern science and its repeated conflicts with religion) or cooperation/co-existence (science and religion each have clearly defined domains), we explore a wider variety of relationships between the two. Moving beyond claims of superiority or mutual isolation, we consider the complicated negotiation of boundaries and proper authority between science and religion. We mainly focus on the relationship of science and Christianity, but we also discuss Buddhism, Judaism, and atheism. Topics include: religion and the laws of nature; how scientists can be religious; natural theology; evolution and religion; miracles and medicine; the social role of science and religion; and the nature of life. Readings may include: Augustine, Galileo, Hume, Darwin, Einstein, Dawkins.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

K20.1298 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2008

Ecology and Environmental Thought

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Description

Ecological science and environmentalism appear to be relatively recent developments, but they have long and deep roots in our culture. Their interrelated histories, their connections to broader intellectual, cultural, social and political trends, their sometimes tenuous relationship to one another over the past century, and their continuing interactions in the discourse over the fate of nature constitute the subject of this course. Topics include the Protestant roots of both ecology and environmentalism, myths of the primitive (biological, anthropological, etc.), the transfer of metaphors between social theory and ecology, changing views of equilibrium and balance in nature, conservative and postmodern critiques of ecology, and recent debates over biodiversity, global warming, and environmental justice. Readings may include Paul Colinvaux, Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, Michael Lewis, Inventing Global Ecology, Vandermeer and Perfecto, Breakfast of Biodiversity, and DiMento and Doughman, Climate Change, as well as selections from Linnaeus, Darwin, Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and a variety of contemporary ecologists and environmentalists.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1780 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SU 2014

Carl Sagan: From Cosmos to Nuclear Winter

4 units Mon Wed
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Matthew Stanley

Description

This course uses Carl Sagan as a frame through which to examine the complicated relationship between professional science and the public, the place of humans in the universe, the tensions between science and pseudoscience, and the role of science in political activism. Sagan introduced a generation of readers and television viewers to a romantic, awe-filled vision of the universe. He explained that we were literally stardust, and let ordinary people inhabit the excitement of the exploration of space. Through The Tonight Show and Cosmos , he became a fixture of the American home. But Sagan was also censured by his colleagues for his work to popularize science, even as he vigorously patrolled the borders of science against those who fell short of professional stature. And while he gained fame by trying to communicate with aliens, he used that fame to warn against the dangers of nuclear war and environmental destruction. We will read works by Sagan, including Cosmos and its companion television program, Dragons of Eden ,  Murmurs of Earth , The Demon Haunted World , and The Cold and the Dark . These sources will be supplemented with theoretical work on the rhetoric and philosophy of science.

Notes

Session I: May 27 - July 3

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1751 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
WI 2014

Biology and Society

4 units Mon Tue Wed Thu
2:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Myles Jackson

Description

Perhaps the most recent ethical challenge faced by all of us is biotechnology. This seminar explores the relationship between the biological sciences and society in the U.S. throughout the twentieth century. We will examine how debates concerning "nature versus nurture" have been framed historically. We shall discuss the history of eugenics and investigate how the U.S. government saw eugenics as proffering an objective tool for testing immigration and sterilization policies. We shall ask if there is a link between eugenics and the Human Genome Project. How has the patenting of human and plant genes reshaped the conduct of scientific research? How are molecular biology and pharmaceutical and biotech firms simultaneously challenging and reifying notions of race in the age of biocapitalism? How much of human behavior is shaped by genes, and how does that affect issues concerning free will and culpability? Is it ethical for developing countries to use genetically modified crops rather than their own sustainable practices? How has the HIV/AIDS epidemic reshaped the historical notions of the doctor-patient relationship and objectivity of drug testing? This course aims at drawing attention to the ethical, legal, and social issues generated by biology over the past century. Readings will include works from twentieth-century politicians such as Teddy Roosevelt; eugenicists, including Charles Davenport; the historian of science Dan Kevles; the philosopher of science Michael Ruse; the sociologist and historian of medicine Steven Epstein; the sociologist of race Troy Duster; and intellectual property lawyers such as Rebecca Eisenberg, as well as recent works by molecular biologists and geneticists on the definition of race, the role of patenting in biotechnology, and how commercial interests are driving scientific research.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

K20.1298 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2006

Ecology and Environmental Thought

4 units

Description

Ecological science and environmentalism appear to be relatively recent developments, but they have long and deep roots in our culture. Their interrelated histories, their connections to broader intellectual, cultural, social and political trends, their sometimes tenuous relationship to one another over the past century, and their continuing interactions in the discourse over the fate of nature constitute the subject of this course. Topics include the Protestant roots of both ecology and environmentalism, myths of the primitive (biological, anthropological, etc.), the transfer of metaphors between social theory and ecology, changing views of equilibrium and balance in nature, conservative and postmodern critiques of ecology, and recent debates over biodiversity, global warming, and environmental justice. Readings may include Paul Colinvaux, Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, Michael Lewis, Inventing Global Ecology, Vandermeer and Perfecto, Breakfast of Biodiversity, and DiMento and Doughman, Climate Change, as well as selections from Linnaeus, Darwin, Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and a variety of contemporary ecologists and environmentalists.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

K20.1298 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2003

Ecology and Environmental Thought

4 units

Description

Ecological science and environmentalism appear to be relatively recent developments, but they have long and deep roots in our culture. Their interrelated histories, their connections to broader intellectual, cultural, social and political trends, their sometimes tenuous relationship to one another over the past century, and their continuing interactions in the discourse over the fate of nature constitute the subject of this course. Topics include the Protestant roots of both ecology and environmentalism, myths of the primitive (biological, anthropological, etc.), the transfer of metaphors between social theory and ecology, changing views of equilibrium and balance in nature, conservative and postmodern critiques of ecology, and recent debates over biodiversity, global warming, and environmental justice. Readings may include Paul Colinvaux, Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, Michael Lewis, Inventing Global Ecology, Vandermeer and Perfecto, Breakfast of Biodiversity, and DiMento and Doughman, Climate Change, as well as selections from Linnaeus, Darwin, Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and a variety of contemporary ecologists and environmentalists.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1593 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2010

Barbarians: Ancient Conceptions of the Outsider

4 units Mon Wed
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Hallie Franks

Description

The conceptions of people outside of one's own culture are complex and multi-layered, and this was as true in the ancient world as it is today. From the conquered Elamites that were depicted on the palace walls of the Neo-Assyrian Assurbanipal, to the mythical Ethiopians of Homer's epics, or to the Gauls with whom Julius Caesar did battle, representations of other kinds of people serve as a backdrop against which a distinctive sense of cultural identity is clarified or reinforced. This seminar explores the representation of "foreign" peoples in the visual arts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman worlds. Using visual (reliefs, vase-painting, sculpture, mosaics, and wall-painting) and written (inscriptions, epic poetry, drama, histories, novels) sources, we pursue the following questions: What role do local ideals play in the construction and definition of another culture? What are the political or social motivations for the representations of foreigners in ancient art and literature? To what extent does the definition of an "other" reflect an already defined identity, and to what extent is identity constituted by imagining difference? Readings may include Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jean-Paul Sartre, Aeschylus The Persians, Herodotus, Caesar The Gallic Wars, Heliodorus Aethiopika (The Ethiopian Romance).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2010

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights) is one of the most fascinating "world" texts. Since its translation to and publication in European languages it has captivated the imagination of countless writers and artists such as Poe, Joyce, Borges, Mahfouz, Rushdie, and Pasolini. It continues to plays a disproportionate role in constructing and perpetuating an essentialized and imaginary East, populated by violent and hypersexual beings. The narratives of the Nights and the cultural archive they have spawned have had a fascinating influence on literary and artistic production, popular culture and political imagination. The course introduces students to this important world masterpiece and the debates surrounding it. We will start out by briefly tracing the genealogy of this collectively authored and anonymous text, its collection and versions and the cultural context of its translation and popularity in the west. We will then explore the literary structure and narrative strategies and dynamics of the Nights, read some of its most famous cycles and discuss how they have been read from a variety of perspectives, focusing primarily gender and sexuality, power and politics, and otherness and boundaries. In the last part of the course we will read some of the modern literary works inspired by the Nights (Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie) and will watch how the Nights fared in adaptations in Hollywood, Bollywood, and elsewhere and will end with a film by the Italian director Pasolini. All readings will be in English. In addition to the Nights, readings may include Said, Mahfouz, Borges, Rushdie and others.

Notes

sophomores only

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1571 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2010

Humans, Machines, and Aesthetics

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Myles Jackson

Description

This seminar proffers a glimpse into the historically contingent relationships between machines and humans from the Enlightenment through the Industrial Revolution to the twentieth century. We shall underscore the ways in which those interactions helped define aesthetics, particularly but not exclusively in music. In essence we hope to use machines and music to trace the history of creativity over the past three centuries. Immanuel Kant famously defined "genius" in his Third Critique as "a talent for producing something for which no determinate rule can be given, not a predisposition consisting of a skill for something that can be learned by following some rule or other; hence the foremost property of genius must be creativity." By this definition mimicry and imitation are the antitheses of the creative genius, while mechanical skill and machines were deemed inferior to it. During the later stages of the Industrial Revolution, however, there arose an aesthetic of mass production. Quantity—as Lenin would famously remark a century later—had a quality all its own, and a new aesthetics celebrated how an artifact could be perfectly copied thousands of times over, with unprecedented speed, precision, and efficiency. Central questions and debates follow from this development: How "creative," if at all, are machines? Are mechanical musical instruments superior to performers? How are humans different, if at all, from machines? Readings include Kant's Third Critique, Jackson's Harmonious Triads, Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Essinger's Jacquard's Web, Standage's The Turk, Riskin's (ed.), Genesis Redux, Katz's Capturing Sound, and Théberge's Any Sound You Can Imagine.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1298 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2010

Ecology and Environmental Thought

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Description

Ecological science and environmentalism appear to be relatively recent developments, but they have long and deep roots in our culture. Their interrelated histories, their connections to broader intellectual, cultural, social and political trends, their sometimes tenuous relationship to one another over the past century, and their continuing interactions in the discourse over the fate of nature constitute the subject of this course. Topics include the Protestant roots of both ecology and environmentalism, myths of the primitive (biological, anthropological, etc.), the transfer of metaphors between social theory and ecology, changing views of equilibrium and balance in nature, conservative and postmodern critiques of ecology, and recent debates over biodiversity, global warming, and environmental justice. Readings may include Paul Colinvaux, Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, Michael Lewis, Inventing Global Ecology, Vandermeer and Perfecto, Breakfast of Biodiversity, and DiMento and Doughman, Climate Change, as well as selections from Linnaeus, Darwin, Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and a variety of contemporary ecologists and environmentalists.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1584 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2010

Shakespeare's Mediterranean

4 units Mon
2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Susanne Wofford

Description

This course examines Shakespeare's Mediterranean plays in relation to the cultural geography of the early modern period. It also provides a brief introduction to the new field of "ocean studies" and includes readings in marine environmental studies. We focus on the ways in which the various cultures around the Mediterranean opened emotional, physical, imaginative and political possibilities for English subjects, as exemplified in Shakespeare's plays and other contemporary readings. But that also means considering the sea as a space of economic and political possibility and threat; exploring the differences created by intermingling gender, genre and diverse geographies; analyzing romance and comedy and their relation to travel writing; tracing how early map making relates to other kinds of representation; examining the attraction, fear, and representation of what is considered exotic or foreign. Our work will link this past to our present in two ways especially: how do early modern travel accounts and literary art, as well as maps and prints, represent divisions between the Christian and Muslim worlds in ways that remain powerful? How does this maritine past create an environmental history that continues to affect us? Our readings begin with Mediterranean comedies by the classical Greek playwright Plautus, as well as classical geographies and selections from Vergil's Aeneid. We then turn to late medieval/early modern fictional accounts of the Mediterranean, such as Boccaccio's Decameron, and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Othello and other plays. Lastly, we read "the captive's tale" in Don Quixote, historical accounts of captivity including pirate narratives, and texts by Arab travelers about Europe in this period.

Notes

Same as V65.0986001.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1122 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2010

Discourses of Love: Antiquity to the Renaissance

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Bella Mirabella

Description

This course explores the impulse to define, understand, contain, praise, analyze, lament, restrain, and express love. Through a study of philosophy, poetry, drama, religion, art, and music we will endeavor to discourse on the meaning of this profound emotion. However, in order to understand the place of love within the lives of humans, we need to look at love in its historic, cultural, social, and political contexts. We want to consider its multiple roles with regard to desire, seduction, betrothal, marriage, manners, morals, political power, and the pursuit of wisdom, as well as its role in class, gender, and race. Possible readings will include Plato’s Symposium , mystical, and philosophical writings, the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, the female troubadours, and Dante, as well as selected plays of Shakespeare.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2010

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead) , The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu, Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions , and Mda’s Ways of Dying , and films like Lumumba, Mandabi, and Hyenas .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1298 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2012

Ecology and Environmental Thought

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Gene Cittadino

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1298

Description

Ecological science and environmentalism appear to be relatively recent developments, but they have long and deep roots in our culture. Their interrelated histories, their connections to broader intellectual, cultural, social and political trends, their sometimes tenuous relationship to one another over the past century, and their continuing interactions in the discourse over the fate of nature constitute the subject of this course. Topics include the Protestant roots of both ecology and environmentalism, myths of the primitive (pristine nature, the ecologically noble savage, etc.), the transfer of metaphors between social theory and ecology, changing views of equilibrium and balance in nature, conservative and postmodern critiques of ecology, and recent debates over biodiversity, global warming, and environmental justice. Readings will likely include Paul Colinvaux, Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare , Rachel Carson, Silent Spring , Michael Lewis, Inventing Global Ecology , selections from Linnaeus, Darwin, Thoreau, and Aldo Leopold, and a variety of works by contemporary ecologists and environmentalists.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1294 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2012

Philosophy of Medicine

4 units Tue
9:30 AM - 12:15 PM
Bradley Lewis

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1294

Description

Most medical inquiry focuses on narrow issues of disease from within a biomedical framework. It rarely steps back from the particulars to ask larger philosophic questions regarding the goals of medicine and healthcare. In this class we take the opposite strategy to focus on the larger theoretical and philosophical issues in U.S. healthcare. We unpack the underlying concepts and principles that organize contemporary medical research, practice, and education. We look at the strengths and weaknesses of today’s dominant models of medicine and we consider the possibilities of alternative conceptual frames. Plus, we consider how much of the administrative and financial problems of today’s healthcare crisis can be explained by conceptual and philosophical issues. Our inquiry will be an interdisciplinary approach that draws from medicine, philosophy, history, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, disability studies, cultural studies, poetry, drama, and documentary.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1457 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

The Odyssey: Estrangement and Homecoming

2 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1457

Description

One of the two foundational epics of so-called Western Culture, the Odyssey features a wily hero whose journeys are extraordinary and whose longing for home is unbounded. The Odyssey offers a complex meditation on brotherhood, bestiality, sexuality, kinship, and power; it is the great epic of cross-cultural encounter, in all its seductive and violent aspects, as well as the great poem of marriage. An adventure in nostos (homecoming), the Odyssey shows us the pleasures and dangers of voyaging among strangers. Constantly exploring the boundaries between the civilized and the savage, the poem offers as well a political critique of many ancient institutions, not least the family, patriarchy, hospitality customs, and the band-of-brothers so central to epic ideology. And as a masterwork of narrative art, the Odyssey asks us to consider the relation of fiction to “truth.” We will explore these and other matters in the Odyssey , and may make some concluding forays into contemporary re-workings of Odyssean themes and characters.

Notes

Course meets 1/24- 3/6 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1448 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

Herodotus

2 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1448

Description

Referred to both as “the father of lies” and as the founder of the discipline of history, Herodotus (5th cent. B.C.E.) stands at the threshold of historical and ethnographic discourse in the West. Through its primary topic, the wars between Greece and Persia, Herodotus’ Histories examines the distinctive social, political, and religious characters of the major cultures of the ancient mediterranean world. In this class, our reading of the Histories will include a consideration of the following questions: how does the perspective of the Histories contribute to, and complicate, contemporary notions of exoticism and “otherness”; what is the relation of the Histories (with its recognition of cultural pluralism) to the themes and structure of Athenian tragedy? How does Herodotus construct a history out of travel, hearsay, participant-observation? What can we learn from Herodotus about historical method? Our readings will include (in addition to the primary text) selections from: Michel De Certeau, The Writing of History ; Carlo Ginzburg, Clues, Myths and Historical Method ; Leslie Kurke, Coins, Bodies, Games, and Gold: The Politics of Meaning in Archaic Greece .

Notes

Course meets 1/25- 3/7 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics, Cicero's De Fato, Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and Fromm's Escape From Freedom.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2010

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics, Cicero's De Fato, Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and Fromm's Escape From Freedom.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1602 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2010

Nature, Resources, and the Human Condition: Perspectives on Environmental History

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Gene Cittadino

Description

The natural environment has been a major player in human history both in its real physical manifestations and in the perceptions that it evokes in the imaginations of all cultures in all periods. This course will explore this dual aspect of the role of nature in history through works that provide a long historical narrative and works that focus on particular episodes and themes. Much of the focus of the latter will be on the nature of resources and resource use. The course is not about hand-wringing or finger-pointing. Its purpose is neither to document environmental gloom and doom nor to cast particular peoples or practices as good or evil on the basis of their conformance with currently acceptable standards of stewardship or sustainability. Rather, it is about understanding the role that the natural environment has played in human history and about how changing perceptions of nature have shaped human institutions and practices even as they have altered and shaped “natural” environments. Topics will include the origins of agriculture and the rise of hydraulic civilizations; forestry and land tenure in Asia and Europe; Western exploration, expansion, and colonialism; the whaling industry as a precursor of our currrent obsession with fossil fuels; the concept of wilderness and the valuing of pristine nature; the environmental history of New York City; and selected current issues involving biodiversity, water resources, and energy alternatives. Readings may include books by Alfred Crosby, Caroline Merchant, Joachim Radkau, and William Cronon, along with a selection of historical and recent articles.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1156 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2010

The Darwinian Revolution

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Description

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection may be the single most influential, and controversial, scientific theory ever proposed. This course will examine the origin, nature, and consequences of Darwin’s theory, with an emphasis on interrelationships among the social, cultural, and intellectual dimensions of the scientific enterprise. Topics include the connections between Darwinian theory and social, political, and moral discourse in Victorian Britain; initial and more recent scientific and public controversies; resistance to the theory by conservative Christians; applications and misapplications of the theory, such as Social Darwinism, eugenics, and sociobiology; and the influence of Darwinian thought on literature and the arts. In addition to Darwin’s Origin of Species and excerpts from Voyage of the Beagle and Descent of Man , readings will likely include Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos , selections from Malthus, Spencer, and Huxley, and recent works by Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, among others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1640 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2010

The History of Kindness

4 units
Section 017
Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

Does kindness have a history? How have human beings conceived of benevolent behavior toward others differently across time and place? The so- called “Golden Rule” of treating others as one would be treated is present in the ethical philosophies of all of the world’s major religions. Yet humans have found it perpetually difficult to live together in peace, to tolerate cultural difference, and to provide for public welfare. In this course, we will explore the history of thought about benevolent behavior from the ancient world, through the Middle Ages, and into the present. We will read recent studies concerning the evolutionary biology of altruism (is there a “kindness gene”?), sociological studies of gender difference (is hostility a male trait?), and anthropological studies of how culture regulates conduct. We will study the rise of the state and the ways in which ideals of social welfare have changed over time. Key texts will include Plato’s Republic, The Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Augustine’s City of God, Alcuin of York’s On the Virtues and Vices, Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee, Hobbes’ Leviathan, Voltaire’s Treatise on Tolerance, Ghandi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth, and the Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium. As part of the course, students will also conduct individual studies of how “kindness” is enacted and organized throughout the New York metropolitan area today, with the opportunity to combine research with internship work.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1534 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2010

The Seen and Unseen in Science

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Matthew Stanley

Description

This class explores how science and scientists work with the invisible, unseen, or unseeable elements of our world. We will examine how scientists convince themselves that these unseen things, such as atoms and molecules, are real. We ask probing questions about what it means to “see” or “observe” the world around us, and grapple with the basic question of how we gain scientific knowledge at all. Topics include the atomic theory, energy, quantum physics, the unconscious and psychoanalysis, human consciousness and intelligence, dark matter, and the nature of objectivity. None of these can be seen or held in one’s hand, but scientists claim to have detected and to understand them. We will pay special attention to how scientists are trained to see in particular ways, and how culture and worldview can shape, restrict, or enhance the way we observe. Readings: Galileo, Ernst Mach, Henry Adams, Stephen J. Gould, Peter Galison, T.S. Kuhn, Freud, Edward Tufte.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2010

The Qur'an

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its culture s and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic. In addition to the Qur’an and its exegesis (in translation), secondary sources may include Marx, Said, Bell, Sells, Bouhdiba and Ahmed.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2010

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia . As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SU 2012

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon Tue Wed Thu
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights) is one of the most fascinating "world" texts. Since its translation and publication in European languages it has captivated the imagination of countless writers and artists such as Poe, Joyce, Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie. It continues to play a disproportionate role in constructing and perpetuating an essentialized and imaginary East, populated by violent and hypersexual beings. The narratives of the Nights and the cultural archive they have spawned have had a fascinating influence on literary and artistic production, popular culture and political imagination. The course introduces students to this important world masterpiece and the debates surrounding it. We will start out by briefly tracing the genealogy of this collectively authored and anonymous text, its collection and versions and the cultural context of its translation and popularity in the west. We will then explore the literary structure and narrative strategies an d dynamics of the Nights, read some of its most famous cycles and discuss how they have been read from a variety of perspectives, focusing primarily on gender and sexuality, power and politics, and otherness and boundaries. In the last part of the course we will read some of the modern literary works inspired by the Nights (Borges, Mahfouz, Rushdie, Irwin) and will end by watching and exploring how the Nights fared in adaptations in popular culture, especially in the US.

Notes

Three-week Intensive: May 21-June 8.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2012

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1239

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 21-June 29.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1574 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2010

Christian Heresy and the Western Imagination

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Gregory Erickson

Description

In the development of Christianity the definition of "heresy" was crucial to defining "orthodox" belief and worship. Indeed, every faith seems to struggle over what is deemed heretical as part of defining what is deemed normative, and it is hard to imagine any ideology (even an anti-ideology ideology) that does not draw a boundary to mark what is subversive or unacceptable to it. This course pursues these ideas by asking two central questions: Can there be any form of (religious or secular) faith without such boundaries? What does the study of these boundaries reveal about some of the basic assumptions that have formed (and still form) our society? In the first part of this course we use primary texts to study several of the most divisive theological moments in Christian history: debates over the nature of Christ and God in the fourth century, the reemergence of arguments over heresy in the twelfth century, the Protestant Reformation, and several nineteenth century American sects. In the second part we read literary art that uses and wrestles with the idea and ideas of heresy. We conclude by considering how theological arguments over orthodoxy and heresy are rescripted and reenacted in current debates about censorship, education, constitutional interpretation, the environment, crime and punishment, and torture. Readings will include letters and sermons by Athanasius, Arius, Eusebius, and Augustine, Luther's 95 Theses, the Book of Mormon, poems by William Blake, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Milton's Paradise Lost, Dostoevsky's 'Grand Inquisitor' Parable, and sections from Ulysses, Moby Dick, Doctor Faustus, and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Contemporary theorists will include Mark Taylor, Harold Bloom, and Slovoj Zizek.

Notes

SNY

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1202 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2010

Tragic Visions

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Bella Mirabella

Description

This course studies the nature of the tragic form in dramatic literature and performance, as well as its role in human existence. Focusing on the two great periods of tragedy in Western literature and culture­—ancient Greece and Renaissance England—we read selected tragedies by Aeschuylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare. We examine these works in their social, political, and cultural contexts, while considering questions such as gender, the role of women, and the origins and evolution of tragedy as a literary and political genre. Readings might include Agamemnon and Medea , as well as Hamlet and Macbeth. Special attention is paid to performance.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1566 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2010

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Peder Anker

Description

This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental science from early to current times. We will explore ways in which scientists came know the natural world and in what ways they mobilized their social authority. With a focus on the history of the environmental and medical sciences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and post-colonial experiences. Where did the idea of nature as "designed" come from? How did people over time experience the "influence" of nature? And in what ways has our human agency changed the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of both primary and secondary sources, including Plato, Hippocrates, St. Francis, Bacon, and Voltaire, as well as more recent writings on the moral authority of nature such as Darwin and Huxley.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1122 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2012

Discourses of Love: Antiquity to the Renaissance

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Bella Mirabella

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1122

Description

This course explores the impulse to define, understand, contain, praise, analyze, lament, restrain, and express love. Through a study of philosophy, poetry, drama, religion, art, and music we will endeavor to discourse on the meaning of this profound emotion. However, in order to understand the place of love within the lives of humans, we need to look at love in its historic, cultural, social, and political contexts from Sappho and Plato to Shakespeare. We want to consider Love's multiple roles with regard to desire, seduction, betrothal, marriage, manners, morals, political power, and the pursuit of wisdom, as well as its role in class, gender, and race. Possible readings could include Plato’s Symposium , mystical writings, the poetry of Sappho, the stories of Marie de France, selections from Dante, as well as two plays of Shakespeare.

Notes

Open to sophomores only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2012

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1197

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead), The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, and films like Keita, Finzan and Ceddo. Using ideas both ancient (African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Fu-Kiau) and contemporary (In Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara), African civilizations will speak through their own words.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1736 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2012

Making a Scientific Revolution: Medieval Christendom and Islam

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Daniel Newsome

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1736

Description

The roots of the "Scientific Revolution" were formed in the Middle Ages - both in Christian and Muslim lands. Science co-developed alongside monothesitic religions in this period of vibrant trade, scholarship, and intellectual development. This course focuses on how the sciences examined the relationships between the human being, nature and the divine. We will read original primary sources (in English) and use period tools and techniques to further our study. We will follow several of these sciences into the "Scientific Revolution" and discuss how they relate to the standard narrative of a revolution in science. Scientific themes will include mathematics, music theory, astronomy/astrology, perspective/optics, alchemy/chemistry, atomism, medicine/physiology, and physics. Readings may include Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Ptolemy, Galen, Plotinus, Boethius, Al-kindi, Alhazen, Avicenna, Ibn Tufayl, Averroes, Thomas Aquinas, Buridan, Oresme, Vesalius, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Leibniz.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1539 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2011

Travel Classics

2 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Steve Hutkins

Description

Modern tourism begins in the eighteenth century with the Grand Tour---the rite-of-passage, "study abroad" experience of young aristocrats. This course focuses on the literature of travel before tourism, from the ancient world of Homer and Herodotus to the Renaissance explorations of the New World. We focus on several classics of travel writing, with attention to the conventions of the genre, the influence of myth and hero literature on the traveler’s tale, the Old World’s encounter with the New, and the many social and political questions raised by travel. Readings may include selections from Homer’s Odyssey , Herodotus’ History of the Persian Wars , Travels of Marco Polo, The Travels of Ibn Battuta , Sir John Mandeville’s Travels , The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus, The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca , and Shakespeare’s The Tempest .

Notes

Course meets 1/25 - 3/10 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
WI 2011

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon Tue Wed Thu
10:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights) is one of the most fascinating "world" texts. Since its translation to and publication in European languages it has captivated the imagination of countless writers and artists such as Poe, Joyce, Borges, Mahfouz, Rushdie, and Pasolini. It continues to plays a disproportionate role in constructing and perpetuating an essentialized and imaginary East, populated by violent and hypersexual beings. The narratives of the Nights and the cultural archive they have spawned have had a fascinating influence on literary and artistic production, popular culture and political imagination. The course introduces students to this important world masterpiece and the debates surrounding it. We will start out by briefly tracing the genealogy of this collectively authored and anonymous text, its collection and versions and the cultural context of its translation and popularity in the west. We will then explore the literary structure and narrative strategies and dynamics of the Nights, read some of its most famous cycles and discuss how they have been read from a variety of perspectives, focusing primarily on gender and sexuality, power and politics, and otherness and boundaries. In the last part of the course we will read some of the modern literary works inspired by the Nights (Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie) and will watch how the Nights fared in adaptations in Hollywood, Bollywood, and elsewhere and will end with a film by the Italian director Pasolini. All readings will be in English. In addition to the Nights, readings may include Said, Mahfouz, Borges, Rushdie and others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1670 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2012

Black Holes, Human Clones and Nanobots: The Edge of Science Becomes Reality

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Jose Perillan

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1670

Description

Will the newest version of the CERN accelerator in Europe create a mini black hole on earth? What are the implications of our advances in genetic engineering and nanotechnology? Twentieth-century science gave us revolutions in many diverse fields, but three of the most important and pervasive innovations were relativity, quantum theory, and the mapping of the human genome. The effects of these advances on human knowledge have begun to ripple through our society but they are far from having realized their full potential. Where do we stand now and where are we headed? These are the fundamental questions we will grapple with in this seminar. The implications of understanding nature, and by extension learning to manipulate nature, straddle multiple disciplines. We will be exploring topics in the conceptual understanding of modern science and its relationship to religion, politics, economics, and philosophy. No mathematical background is necessary; a sincere interest in the subject matter is the only pre-requisite for this seminar. Consider this a ‘science for poets’ course. Readings may include works by authors such as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, James Watson, Justine Burley, Thomas Kuhn, Hilary Putnam, Arthur C. Clarke, Richard Dawkins, and Brian Greene among others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1059 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2012

Disease and Civilization

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1059

Description

This course explores the cultural, social, scientific, and political dimensions of epidemic disease through an examination of selected episodes from plagues in antiquity to AIDS, Ebola, avian flu, and bioterrorism in our time. We will approach the problem of understanding the role of disease in human history from two different, but interrelated, perspectives: an ecological perspective, making use of a combination of environmental, biological, and cultural factors to help explain the origin and spread of epidemics, and a cultural/social history perspective, emphasizing the interaction of cultural values, religious beliefs, scientific knowledge, medical practice, economics, and politics in shaping perceptions of the nature, causes, cures, and significance of various diseases. Readings will range from Thucydides and the Hippocratic writings to Boccaccio, Defoe, and Orwell, including, where possible, nonwestern sources, along with a variety of recent works that discuss the historical, social, and biological aspects of epidemic disease in different cultural and geographical settings.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1593 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

Barbarians: Ancient Conceptions of the Outsider

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1593

Description

The conceptions of people outside of one's own culture are complex and multi-layered, and this was as true in the ancient world as it is today. From the conquered Elamites that were depicted on the palace walls of the Neo-Assyrian Assurbanipal, to the mythical Ethiopians of Homer's epics, or to the Gauls with whom Julius Caesar did battle, representations of other kinds of people serve as a backdrop against which a distinctive sense of cultural identity is clarified or reinforced. This seminar explores the representation of "foreign" peoples in the visual arts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman worlds. Using visual (reliefs, vase-painting, sculpture, mosaics, and wall-painting) and written (inscriptions, epic poetry, drama, histories, novels) sources, we pursue the following questions: What role do local ideals play in the construction and definition of another culture? What are the political or social motivations for the representations of foreigners in ancient art and literature? To what extent does the definition of an "other" reflect an already defined identity, and to what extent is identity constituted by imagining difference? Readings may include Simone de Beauvoir, Clifford Geertz, Euripides Medea, Aeschylus The Persians, Herodotus, Caesar The Gallic Wars, Heliodorus Aethiopika (The Ethiopian Romance).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1633 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2012

Ecological Transport, Infrastructure and Building Design

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Mitchell Joachim

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1633

Description

The current environmental decline is a multifaceted predicament for our civilization. Previously, utopian projects have failed to reverse this ecological decay. This crisis demands robust solutions on a massive scale to deal with an immanent mega-urbanity. We will attempt to re-envision vehicles, infrastructure, and buildings to meet the ecological needs of the future. Students will consider questions such as: what is wrong with city systems today and what are the key environmental forces that shape them? Each student will individually critique and evaluate multiple engineered urban entities and subsequently prescribe new innovations. The objective will be to establish the most scientifically plausible designs for a new socio-ecological world. Readings, historical figures, and works for the course will include Janine M. Benyus, Ian McHarg, Richard T.T. Forman, John Todd, Anne Spirn, Geoffery Jellicoe, Jane Jacobs, Annie Leonard, Buckminster Fuller, William J. Mitchell, Mohsen Mostafavi, Ken Yeang, and others.

Notes

Same as ENVST-UA 450 003.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1671 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2012

Debating Science: Great Scientific Controversies in Context

4 units Mon Wed
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Jose Perillan

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1671

Description

Is light a wave or a particle? Were the ‘Bone Wars’ of the late 19th Century good for the study of paleontology? Is the atomic world deterministic or not? In the study of animal morphology does function dictate form or is it form that dictates function? What is the scale of our universe? These are some of the greatest debates that have gripped the scientific community over the past 350 years. Many of these debates have been restricted to a healthy dialog within the scientific community but on occasion they have sparked lively and even ad homonym exchanges between scientists. In this seminar we will explore the nature of these debates within their appropriate contexts. To grapple with these debates effectively we will need to examine primary and secondary source materials relating to the particular controversy, including biographical materials on their corresponding protagonists. As such, we will be studying works by scientists like: Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, Georges Cuvier, Geoffroy St. Hilaire, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Thomas Henry Huxley, Samuel Wilberforce, Harlow Shapely, Heber Curtis, Othniel Marsh, and Edward Cope. Readings will include works by these protagonists as well as supporting secondary source material.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1695 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2012

Competing Images of the Sage: Confucius and Lao Tzu

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1695

Description

Among the early Chinese philosophers whose ideas have framed moral, social and political discourse in East Asia, the figures of Confucius and Lao Tzu stand out, not only as thinkers of towering influence, but also as diametrically opposed archetypes of wisdom. In this seminar, we will begin by reading the works attributed to each man, and then we will proceed to examine the ways in which their legacies have been and continue to be appropriated by others. Toward this end we will explore manifold competing manifestations of Confucius and Lao Tzu in Chinese religion, in popular culture, and in the marketplace of ideas. Themes will include the opposing impulses of idolization and iconoclasm, censorship and propaganda, and the sacralization and commercialization of traditional values. Apart from Confucius’ Analects and Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching , assignments may include Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching edited by Livia Kohn and Michael LaFargue, selections from Early Daoist Scriptures by Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Confucius from the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World by Yu Dan, and the 2010 Hong Kong blockbuster movie Confucius starring Yun-fat Chow.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1681 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

Wandering Knights, Errant Detectives

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Matthew Vernon

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1681

Description

This class will explore the medieval roots and later reinterpretations of the ideas of wandering and error, primarily through the figure of the “errant knight.” The image of the gallant hero who becomes lost within his systems of morality and chivalry persists in English fiction from accounts of the Knights of the Round Table to Batman, the Dark Knight. The course will examine the evolution of this figure and the multiple uses to which he has been put as an avatar of the desire to correct social disorder. These themes will also be discussed in medieval mystical texts and migration narratives that construct a framework around which notions of race and national identity are still constructed. This course will begin with the most robust instances of wandering that the Middle Ages offer – Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur , Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain , Guy of Warwick , Njal’s Saga and Mandeville’s Travels . Readings will also include texts about metaphorical wandering in Julian of Norwich’s Showings , Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales , the Old English Exodus , Spenser’s Faerie Queene , Shakespeare’s Macbeth , Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and McCarthy’s Blood Meridian . There may also be screenings of Huston’s Maltese Falcon , Ford’s The Searchers and Batman: The Dark Knight .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1574 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2012

Christian Heresy and the Western Imagination

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Gregory Erickson

Description

In the development of Christianity the definition of “heresy” was crucial to defining “orthodox” belief and worship. Indeed, every faith seems to struggle over what is deemed heretical as part of defining what is deemed normative, and it is hard to imagine any ideology (even an anti-ideology ideology) that does not draw a boundary to mark what is subversive or unacceptable to it. This course pursues these ideas by asking two central questions: Can there be any form of (religious or secular) faith without such boundaries? What does the study of these boundaries reveal about some of the basic assumptions that have formed (and still form) our society? In the first part of this course we use primary texts to study several of the most divisive theological moments in Christian history: debates over the nature of Christ and God in the fourth century, the reemergence of arguments over heresy in the twelfth century, the Protestant Reformation, and several nineteenth century American sects. In the second part we read literary art that uses and wrestles with the idea and ideas of heresy. We conclude by considering how theological arguments over orthodoxy and heresy are rescripted and reenacted in current debates about censorship, education, constitutional interpretation, the environment, crime and punishment, and torture. Readings will include letters and sermons by Athanasius, Arius, Eusebius, and Augustine, Luther’s 95 Theses, the Book of Mormon, poems by William Blake, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Milton’s Paradise Lost , Dostoevsky’s ‘Grand Inquisitor’ Parable, and sections from Ulysses, Moby Dick, Doctor Faustus, and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose . Contemporary theorists will include Mark Taylor, Harold Bloom, and Slovoj Zizek.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1311 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2012

Mad Science/Mad Pride

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Bradley Lewis

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1311

Description

In recent years, questions of madness, psychiatry, and psychopharmaceuticals have been the subject of considerable strife and controversy. This class uses narrative theory to map out the terrain of these conflicts and explore competing approaches to psychiatric concerns. We start with an overview of narrative theory as relevant to issues of mental difference and suffering. Key narrative topics we discuss include plot, metaphor, character, and point of view. With this theory as our guide, the alternative approaches we consider include biopsychiatry, psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, family therapy, feminist therapy, spiritual approaches, and creative approaches. We conclude with a consideration of the Icarus Project idea that sometimes madness is best seen as a “dangerous gift.”

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1207 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2012

Origins of the Atomic Age

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1207

Description

The uranium and plutonium nuclear fission bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 permanently altered the world we live in. Fear of nuclear annihilation became a fact of life. Although the end of the Cold War relaxed the tensions somewhat, the combined arsenals of existing nuclear powers are still sufficient to destroy most of life on this planet many times over, and controversies continue over nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea. How did this extraordinary state of affairs come about? Why were the bombs made when and where they were made? Why were they used? Did the individuals involved understand the destructive potential of these new weapons and ponder moral questions involving their manufacture and use? Did they anticipate the nuclear arms race that has resulted. How does this episode fit into the longer history of the relationship between science and warfare? How were both hopes and fears transferred to the debates over nuclear power? Readings will likely include Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb , Hachiya, Hiroshima Diary , Gordin, Red Cloud at Dawn , and a variety of selections concerning nuclear proliferation, the disarmament movement, and nuclear power.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1705 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

Antigone(s): Ancient Greece/Performance Now

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Kristin Horton, Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1705

Description

A production of Antigone is taking place somewhere in the world every day—right now, as you are reading this. What was Antigone ? What is Antigone ? What might Antigone yet be? Our course—a collaboration between a stage director and a classicist—begins with an immersion in Sophocles' prize-winning play (441 BCE), with close attention to the history, politics, aesthetics, performance conditions, and production features of ancient Athenian drama more generally. The second half of our course turns to contemporary renditions of Antigone and will consider the dramatic and cultural configurations each new production activates. Antigone's exploration of the complexities of gender, kinship, citizenship, law, resistance to authority, family vs. the state, and religion (among other issues) has been compelling for modern thought, and especially galvanizing to theaters of resistance and dissent. Our classes will combine critical inquiry into the plays and surrounding discourse as well as experiments in interpretation—including acting workshops and staging exercises. Students need no background in acting, theater, or ancient literature, but do need critical energy and discipline. Among the modern plays we might address, in the second half of the semester, are reimaginings of Antigone by Brecht, Fugard, McLaughlin, and Miyagawa. To help us place antiquity and modernity in a productive conversation, we will also read secondary literature from several fields (classics, political theory, anthropology, theory of sexuality/gender).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1454 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

The Iliad and its Legacies in Drama

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1454

Description

"The poem of force," according to Simone Weil, the Iliad is also a poem of forceful influence. In this course we will read the Iliad intensively, followed by an examination of its heritage on the dramatic stage. In the first half of the semester we will primarily explore the Iliad in terms of the poetics of traditionality; the political economy of epic; the ideologics of the  Männerbund (the "band of fighting brothers"); the Iliad 's uses of reciprocity; its construction of gender; its intimations of tragedy. In the second half of the course, informed by a reading of Aristotle's Poetics , we will focus on responses to the Iliad in dramatic form; possible readings will include Sophocles' Ajax ; Euripides' Iphigeneia in Aulis ; Shakespeare's  Troilus and Cressida ; Racine's  Andromaque ; Giraudoux's La guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu; Ellen McLaughlin's  Iphigenia and Other Daughters. Students will give presentations on an Iliadic intertext of their own choosing.

Notes

Same as COLIT-UA 104.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1584 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2012

Shakespeare's Mediterranean

4 units Mon
2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Susanne Wofford

Description

This course examines Shakespeare’s Mediterranean plays in relation to the cultural and imaginative geography established for this region in the classical, medieval and early Renaissance periods. It also provides a brief introduction to the new field of "ocean studies" and will include some readings in marine environmental studies. We will spend about one third of the class on the Ancient Mediterranean, seen through the lens of comedies by Plautus, Virgil’s Aeneid , and writings by Plutarch, among others. We will consider how the various cultures around the Mediterranean opened emotional, physical, imaginative and political possibilities for Renaissance writers and thinkers, particularly as exemplified in Shakespeare’s plays. Topics for study will include the sea as a space of economic and political possibility and threat, including piracy; the differences created by intermingling gender, genre and diverse geographies; romance and comedy and their relation to travel writing; early map making in relation to other kinds of representation; questions of exoticism, orientalism, and the attraction and fear of the foreign. Along with studying how classical and renaissance writers may imagine the Mediterranean differently, we will consider some representations of religious and cultural divides between the Christian and the Muslim worlds in traveler’s accounts and in literature. Readings will include plays by Plautus, Cervantes and Shakespeare, Vergil’s Aeneid , selections from Boccaccio, Ibn Khaldûn, and Don Quixote.

Notes

Open to freshmen, sophomores and juniors only. Same as ENGL-UA 800.004 and MEDI-UA 996 002.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1519 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2012

Biology and Society

4 units Mon Wed
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Myles Jackson

Description

Perhaps the most recent ethical challenge faced by all of us is biotechnology. This seminar explores the relationship between the biological sciences and society in the U.S. throughout the twentieth century. We will examine how debates concerning "nature versus nurture" have been framed historically. We shall discuss the history of eugenics and investigate how the U.S. government saw eugenics as proffering an objective tool for testing immigration and sterilization policies. We shall ask if there is a link between eugenics and the Human Genome Project. How has the patenting of human and plant genes reshaped the conduct of scientific research? How are molecular biology and pharmaceutical and biotech firms simultaneously challenging and reifying notions of race in the age of biocapitalism? How much of human behavior is shaped by genes, and how does that affect issues concerning free will and culpability? Is it ethical for developing countries to use genetically modified crops rather than their own sustainable practices? How has the HIV/AIDS epidemic reshaped the historical notions of the doctor-patient relationship and objectivity of drug testing? This course aims at drawing attention to the ethical, legal, and social issues generated by biology over the past century. Readings will include works from twentieth-century politicians such as Teddy Roosevelt, eugenicists, including Charles Davenport, the historian of science Dan Kevles, the philosopher of science Michael Ruse, the sociologist and historian of medicine Steven Epstein, the sociologist of race Troy Duster, and intellectual property lawyers such as Rebecca Eisenberg, as well as recent works by molecular biologists and geneticists on the definition of race, the role of patenting in biotechnology, and how commercial interests are driving scientific research.

Notes

Course meets during the last seven weeks only, October 24–December 13.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1708 Lib Arts
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

Visions of the Good Life in Ancient Greece

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
James Bourke

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1708

Description

How should one live? What is the best life? The thinkers of Ancient Greece contemplated these questions in different ways, and their responses have powerfully influenced subsequent political and social philosophies. In this course, we will examine four ways in which the Greeks thought about and articulated the idea of the good life—the heroic, which understands the good life as striving for distinction and lasting fame through great deeds; the tragic, which sees the pursuit of happiness as fraught with conflict, ambiguity, and finitude; the philosophical, which prizes contemplation and the quest for truth; and the political, which emphasizes the contribution of collective life to individual happiness. Texts will include Homer’s Iliad , selected plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, Plato’s Republic , and Aristotle’s Politics . We will explore the visions of the good life these texts present, their possible points of overlap, the internal tensions that complicate them, and their continuing relevance and impact on modern ethical and political ideals.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1202 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2012

Tragic Visions

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Bella Mirabella

Description

This course studies the nature of the tragic form in dramatic literature and performance, as well as its role in human existence. Focusing on two of the great periods of tragedy in Western literature and culture­—ancient Greece and Renaissance England—we read selected tragedies by Aeschuylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare as well philosophical considerations of the tragic by, for example, Aristotle and Nietzsche. We examine these works in their social, political, and cultural contexts, while considering questions such as gender, power, fate, free will, and the origins and evolution of tragedy as a literary and political genre. Readings might include Sophocles' Oedipus, and Euripides' Medea , as well as Shakespeare's Macbeth, or King Lear . Special attention is paid to performance.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1639 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2012

Witch, Heroine, Saint: Joan of Arc and Her World

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1639

Description

In May 1431, Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orléans, was burned at the stake as a heretic and a witch by an English partisan court after the French nobility had betrayed her. An illiterate peasant girl just sixteen years of age, she had led the French back from the brink of defeat and saved the French monarchy from ruin. Yet in death, she would gain further power still as a martyr and symbol of indomitable French will and resistance. In this seminar, we will study Joan’s complex historical moment and her place within the long history of medieval women, Christian mysticism, and religious fanaticism. We will trace the stories of her appearance and military success, attempt to hear her voice in the extant transcript of her heresy trial, analyze contrasting French and English narratives about her life, and explore how she became the national heroine, patron saint, and political symbol that she is today. Texts will include Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies, Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues and Letters, Thomas of Cantimpré’s Life of Christina the Astonishing, and Shakespeare’s I Henry VI. We will also analyze and discuss modern renditions of the Joan of Arc story by such diverse artists as Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Luc Besson.

Notes

Same as MEDI-UA 984 002.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2012

The Qur'an

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its cultures and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1640 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2012

The History of Kindness

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Andrew Romig

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1640

Description

Does kindness have a history? How have human beings conceived of benevolent behavior toward others differently across time and place? The so- called “Golden Rule” of treating others as one would be treated is present in the ethical philosophies of all of the world’s major religions. Yet humans have found it perpetually difficult to live together in peace, to tolerate cultural difference, and to provide for public welfare. In this course, we will explore the history of thought about benevolent behavior from the ancient world, through the Middle Ages, and into the present. We will read recent studies concerning the evolutionary biology of altruism (is there a “kindness gene”?), sociological studies of gender difference (is hostility a male trait?), and anthropological studies of how culture regulates conduct. We will study the rise of the state and the ways in which ideals of social welfare have changed over time. Key texts will include Plato’s Republic, The Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Augustine’s City of God, Dhuoda’s Handbook for her son, Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee, Hobbes’ Leviathan, Voltaire’s Treatise on Tolerance, Ghandi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth, and the Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium. As part of the course, students will also conduct individual studies of how “kindness” is enacted and organized throughout the New York metropolitan area today, with the opportunity to combine research with internship work.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1651 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

From Memory to Myth: The Mighty Charlemagne

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1651

Description

In this course students will explore historical memory, mythmaking, and the myriad ways in which human beings construct and reconstruct the past to address present hopes, dreams, and fears. Our case study will be the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne (d. 814), who in life helped to lay the foundations of modern European society, and in death would continue to represent an imagined pan-European unity that predated factionalism, regionalism, and nationalism. The seminar will begin in the ninth century with Charlemagne in memory before moving briskly forward in time to study Charlemagne in legend and myth. Along the way, we will discuss themes and problems of particular relevance, including the birth of “Europe,” the advent of “the state,” Christianity and Crusade, the rise of vernacular literature, and early colonialism. In addition to theoretical works on memory, myth, and history-writing, texts for discussion will include a vibrant mix of canonical and lesser-known gems: Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, The Song of Roland , and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso ; but also the Astronomer’s Life of Louis the Pious , The Voyage of Charlemagne to Jerusalem and Constantinople , and the anonymous Charlemagne play from the London of Shakespeare and Marlowe.

Notes

Same as HIST-UA 245.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1566 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2012

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Peder Anker

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1566

Description

This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental sciences from ancient times to Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species . We will explore ways in which naturalists and lay people came to know the environment and in what ways nature could mobilize social and moral author­ity. With a focus on the history of the European environmental problems from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and Modern experiences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature. Where did the idea of nature as "designed" come from? How did natural philosophers (i.e. magicians) unveil nature’s secrets? What role did scientists play in the colonial experiences? How could Modern scholars imagine “improving” the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of a series of primary sources, including great and not-so-great books by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pseudo-Aristotle, Pliny, St. Francis, Evelyn, Grew, Bacon, Rousseau, Voltaire, Linnaeus, Malthus and Darwin, as well as largely forgotten texts by anonymous authors and colonial explorers.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1539 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2012

Travel Classics

2 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Steve Hutkins

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1539

Description

This course focuses on the literature of travel, from the ancient world of Homer and Herodotus to the Renaissance explorations of the New World. We focus on the conventions of the genre and how they evolved, the influence of myth and hero literature on the traveler’s tale, the construction of the Other and manifestations of Orientalism, the rhetorical implications of the writer’s motives and audience, the Old World’s encounter with the New, and the many social and political questions raised by travel. Readings may include selections from Homer’s Odyssey , Herodotus’ History of the Persian Wars , Travels of Marco Polo, The Travels of Ibn Battuta , The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus , The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca , and Shakespeare’s The Tempest .

Notes

Course meets during the first seven weeks only, September 4–October 18.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1156 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2012

The Darwinian Revolution

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1156

Description

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection may be the single most influential, and controversial, scientific theory ever proposed. This course will examine the origin, nature, and consequences of Darwin’s theory, with an emphasis on interrelationships among the social, cultural, and intellectual dimensions of the scientific enterprise. Topics include the connections between Darwinian theory and social, political, and moral discourse in Victorian Britain; initial and more recent scientific and public controversies; resistance to the theory by conservative Christians; applications and misapplications of the theory, such as Social Darwinism, eugenics, and sociobiology; and the influence of Darwinian thought on literature and the arts. In addition to the Origin of Species and excerpts from Voyage of the Beagle , Descent of Man , and other Darwin writings, readings will likely include Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos , selections from Malthus, Spencer, and Huxley, and recent works by Richard Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, Stephen Gould, Marlene Zuk, and Sarah Hrdy, among others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia . As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1059 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2009

Disease and Civilization

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Gene Cittadino

Description

This course explores the cultural, social, scientific, and political dimensions of epidemic disease through an examination of selected episodes from plagues in antiquity to AIDS, Ebola, avian flu, and bioterrorism in our time. We will approach the problem of understanding the role of disease in human history from two different, but interrelated, perspectives: an ecological perspective, making use of a combination of environmental, biological, and cultural factors to help explain the origin and spread of epidemics, and a cultural/social history perspective, emphasizing the interaction of cultural values, religious beliefs, scientific knowledge, medical practice, economics, and politics in shaping perceptions of the nature, causes, cures, and significance of various diseases. Readings will range from Thucydides and the Hippocratic writings to Boccaccio, Defoe, Orwell, and such current works as Hays, The Burdens of Disease , Wills, Yellow Fever , Black Goddess , and Preston, The Cobra Event .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1417 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2009

Politics and the Gods

4 units Thu
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Aaron Tugendhaft

Description

How is political life related to the divine? In this course, students will explore this question through close readings of classic texts from the ancient world. We shall tackle the question from both ends, asking both what it might mean to have a political life founded theologically and what the possibilities are for a politics that does not orient itself with respect to the divine. We will investigate the political roles of piety, revelation, and divine law, comparing these to notions of a politics rooted in unaided human reason. Additional themes will include: the relationship between poetry and prophecy, the tension between cultural particularity and universal humanity, and the political function of myth. Throughout, emphasis will be on close readings of primary texts. Readings are likely to include the Sumerian King List, the Hebrew Bible, Herodotus' Histories , and Plato's Republic . Occasional secondary-source readings may also be assigned.

Notes

sophomore only

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1316 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2009

Rethinking the Biological Sciences: Haraway, Theory and Culture

4 units Tue
9:30 AM - 12:15 PM
Bradley Lewis

Description

Today’s biology has moved out of the lab and into our biofutures. Genetically modified foods, in vitro fertilization, cloning, the biomedical enhancement debates, neurochemical psychic manipulation, and even the possibility of a posthuman culture all loom on the immediate horizon. These biological developments challenge our familiar ways of thinking, and they upset many of our most cherished categories and priorities. As a result, new ways of thinking must emerge to understand and cope with today’s biological sciences. One of the most important scholars to respond to this challenge is feminist historian of science, Donna Haraway. Haraway is unique because, more than anyone else, she uses recent theoretical work from humanities and cultural studies to think again about biology. We devote this class to a close study of her work. We consider the intellectual context of Haraway’s work in both theoretical humanities and the biosciences, and we do careful readings of her key texts on the cultural history of biology.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1258 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2009

Ancient Theatre and Its Influences

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Description

What role did the theater play in the civic life of ancient Greece? How did Greek drama address vital social and political issues? Does Greek drama serve as a useful paradigm for exploring Roman drama? For contemporary theater? Through our readings of tragedy and comedy, we will explore Greek theater as a live space of social action, representing conflicts between the claims of family and state, between male and female, between traditional values and emergent democratic concerns. Drawing on the work of anthropologists and historians of antiquity, we will examine Greek drama’s relation to religion (e.g. sacrifice, lament, festival), to law (e.g. courtroom proceedings, punishment), and to civic debate. We will discuss both how plays were produced and the theories of drama they inspired. Building on our investigation of the Greek ‘case’, we will turn our attention to Roman tragedy and comedy and to selected works of the modern theater. Readings may include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander; Plato, Aristotle; Plautus, Seneca; Racine, Sartre, Fugard, Soyinka.

Notes

crosslisted with V29.0104

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1772 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2015

Music and Civic Culture: Ancient and Modern

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Description

This course examines the role of music theory and musical performance in the formation of community, actual and utopic. We will begin our study with the musical, mathematical, and mystical thought of Pythagoras and his followers in the short-lived utopian community of Croton: How is “the Music of the Spheres” a paradigm both for ethical action within the community and for the progress of the soul within the cosmos? From Croton, we will turn to debates about music and civic culture in fifth-century democratic Athens: What forms of music and poetry sustain and subvert citizens and states? Is there a particularly “democratic” form of music? (Readings from Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato, and Aristotle.) From ancient Greece, we will then turn to the late-nineteenth century efforts of Wagner, partially inspired by Athenian tragedy, to create the “Total Work of Art” in his operas (especially Das Rheingold and Die Walküre) and in the festival at Bayreuth; we will also read Nietzsche’s (and Adorno’s) responses to Greek tragedy and to Wagner. Finally, we will consider some twentieth-century experiments in music and art, especially those associated with Fluxus (e.g. John Cage, Stockhausen, La Monte Young), in dialogue with our earlier readings.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2010

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course examines several "classic" texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life's dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus' The Oresteia, Sappho's Poems, Plato's Republic, Lucretius' On the Nature of the Universe, Ovid's Metamorphoses or Cicero's On the Laws, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes's Don Quixote.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

K20.1298 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2007

Ecology and Environmental Thought

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Description

Ecological science and environmentalism appear to be relatively recent developments, but they have long and deep roots in our culture. Their interrelated histories, their connections to broader intellectual, cultural, social and political trends, their sometimes tenuous relationship to one another over the past century, and their continuing interactions in the discourse over the fate of nature constitute the subject of this course. Topics include the Protestant roots of both ecology and environmentalism, myths of the primitive (biological, anthropological, etc.), the transfer of metaphors between social theory and ecology, changing views of equilibrium and balance in nature, conservative and postmodern critiques of ecology, and recent debates over biodiversity, global warming, and environmental justice. Readings may include Paul Colinvaux, Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, Michael Lewis, Inventing Global Ecology, Vandermeer and Perfecto, Breakfast of Biodiversity, and DiMento and Doughman, Climate Change, as well as selections from Linnaeus, Darwin, Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and a variety of contemporary ecologists and environmentalists.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1739 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Kinship and Community: Ancient Texts and Modern Theories

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1739

Description

What is the relation of the family to larger structures of community and of state? Do kinship bonds provide a model for those of community or must they be superseded in the interest of a more enlightened state? To what degree do contemporary aspirations for gender equality entail a radical renovation of our understanding of the family? We consider these questions through a close reading of ancient texts, from the Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, which we read in conjunction with some contemporary thinkers on kinship and the state. Primary readings include: Aeschylus Oresteia , Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone , Euripides Ion , Plato Republic 5 , Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae , Longus Daphnis and Chloe , Genesis and Exodus , Paul Letter to the Galatians , Martyrdom of Perpetua , Shakespeare Measure for Measure , John Henry Noyes Bible Communism ; theoretical texts include: Freud Totem and Taboo , and selections from Engels, Lévi-Strauss, G. Rubin, P. Clastres, and J. Butler.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1783 Lib Arts
SOC
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2014

Theories of Justice

4 units Mon Wed
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Peter Rajsingh

Description

Ideas of justice are central to discussions of morality, rule of law, politics and the good life in both the ancient and modern worlds. For instance, the concept of “liberty and justice for all” has potent normative force—undergirding narratives about legitimacy in liberal legalism, as well deployed to defend acts of civil disobedience. Justice has been invoked throughout history as belonging to a higher order moral scheme that supervenes over positive law and politics, serving as a way to endorse or critique social and political arrangements. But, while there tends to be broad acceptance of the general concept of justice, particular conceptions that instantiate the term continue to be matters of controversy and debate. This course explores ways in which conceptions of justice play out in politics, law and morality. We will examine particular forms of justice—distributive, retributive, procedural, substantive, restorative, constitutive etc., reading classic texts, legal opinions and journal articles. And we will discuss how accounts of justice are predicated on various kinds of arguments, such as naturalist claims concerning antecedent facts about the world, etc. We will also look at justice used in novel locutions, such as the term “environmental justice.” The approach will be interdisciplinary, drawing upon a variety of source texts ranging from Socratic propositions about justice (δικαιοσύνη) and virtue (ἀρετή) in Plato’s Republic and Crito to John Rawls’ Theory of Justice , landmark US Supreme Court cases and Albert Camus’ L’Etranger . Course objectives are to develop proficiency in moral theory, political philosophy, law and jurisprudential theory, using the concept of justice as the analytical window to highlight key moments in legal and political philosophy, and as a mechanism to understand conceptions of the good life from the ancient world into modernity. No prior knowledge of social and political philosophy is required or assumed.

Notes

Session II: July 7 - August 15

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2014

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 27 - July 3

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1797 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Rome: A Visual and Virtual Empire

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Sebastian Heath

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1797

Description

In this course we will use modern tools to study an ancient empire. Rome was at the height of its power in the late first century BC through the 4th century AD, during which time it was a multi-cultural and complex political system. In the 21st century, Rome’s visual and material record is increasingly being studied with digital techniques. Over the course of the semester, students will gain hands-on skills with a variety of digital resources and tools; skills that will be useful in the study of any culture, including our own. We will look at the development of public entertainment as seen in amphitheaters around the empire. Students will learn to map the spread of these great structures so as to identify both imperial control and common identity as well as local initiative in the Roman Empire. Pompeii, the city famously destroyed in 79 AD, provides rich opportunities to think about daily life in ancient times. Modern technologies—including Google Street View and 3D reconstructions—are facilitating new approaches to our understanding of how women and men—both rich and poor—interacted, made a living, and died in this complex urban environment. Students will also make their own 3D models of imperial and private portraits in the Metropolitan and Brooklyn Museums.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1760 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2014

Quantification and Social Thought

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Christopher Phillips

Description

In an age of “big data,” “sabermetrics,” and “evidence-based medicine,” statistical concepts and mathematical models for decision-making have become ever more common. Although proponents would argue that these new methods are increasingly powerful, their use raises complicated questions about how decisions can and should be made, in realms from drafting a baseball player to measuring the effectiveness of a federal program. This course examines the history of quantification from the early modern period to the present, with special attention to the ways new technologies and methodologies intersect with changing notions of rationality and causality. Topics include medicine, population statistics, philosophy, professional sports and gambling. Readings may include Laplace, Quetelet, Durkheim, Gould, and Hacking.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1740 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2014

Bridging Culture and Nature: An Introduction to Conservation Science

4 units Mon
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Jim Tolisano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1740

Description

This course is designed for those who wish to deepen our relationship to nature and then learn how to apply this understanding to the challenging work of applied conservation biology. The art and science of conservation biology brings together leading thinking from literature, art, communications, anthropology, archeology, social psychology, economics, and biology to conserve the incredible diversity of life found on our planet. In this class we will discover how business entrepreneurs, social scientists, wildlife biologists, and artists all play an integral role in creating and delivering practical conservation solutions. We will begin with an exploration of our own relationship to the natural world. We examine what biological diversity is, the principal threats to biological systems, and specific actions that are being taken to reverse these threats and protect life on earth. We also explore the premise that “managing” the ecology of the planet really requires us to manage ourselves and the human cultures we have created. The fieldwork of the physical and biological sciences provides the foundation from which our work as conservation biologists proceeds. However, the applied work of the social sciences, education, business, humanities and arts then serve as the tools we need to manage ourselves and create a relationship with nature that is mutually supportive. At the course conclusion students from all disciplines should see a role for themselves in the conservation work that is an essential part of our next century. Readings will include Sodhi and Erlich’s Conservation Biology for All, as well as selected readings from Nabhan, Snyder, Goodall, Tempest Williams, Kolbert, Margulis, and others.

Notes

Section 2 for Environmental Studies majors only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1562 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Reading the Faces of Ancient Cultures

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1562

Description

In this class, we will investigate the form, development, and role of images of people in ancient Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. Using visual and literary sources, we will focus on how we define a portrait and will confront the variety of problems that the representation of the individual in the ancient world entails. How essential are the concepts of “likeness” and “realism” to the definition of a portrait, and to its function? How are ancient portraits manipulated to serve specific public or private roles? Who does the manipulating, and who is the audience? Does there exist, in pre-modern cultures, a correlation between the portrait of an individual and that individual’s character? We will address these questions and others, concentrating on the use of portraiture in shaping personal, political, and cultural identities. Texts may include the Stele of Naram-Sin; Aristophanes, Clouds; Pseudo-Aristotle, Physiognomics; images of Alexander the Great and his Successors; the Prima Porta Augustus; and Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. We will make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2014

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead ), The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions , and films like Keita, Finzan and Ceddo . Using ideas both ancient (African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Fu-Kiau) and contemporary (I n Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara), African civilizations will speak through their own words.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1787 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Iphigenia(s): War, Sacrifice, and Politics in Performance

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Kristin Horton, Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1787

Description

A war must be fought: or must it? The Greek army must sail: or must it? A daughter's sacrifice is required: or is it? Patriotism motivates war: or does it? Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis is a brilliant, vertiginous investigation into the intersection of war, sacrifice, politics, and kinship. Through Euripides, we see how a marriage might become a sacrifice; how motives shift over time; how conflicts in one moment are reframed in another —this play is a stunning inquiry into the tricky ways of reason and passion. We will begin with Iphigenia in Aulis and the tradition it mobilizes—that Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks, is compelled to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia in order to ensure a fair wind for the sailing of the Greek expedition against Troy. Behind this play are centuries of profound, complex thinking about reasons for war, the nature of heroism, the rhetorics of patriotism, the obligations of kinship, the logic of marriage. From the Iliad through the efllorescence of tragedy in Athenian state theater, to early modern and 21st century adaptations and transformations, poets and playwrights have found Iphigenia "good to think with." Our classes will combine critical inquiry into Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis and other ancient and modern treatments of the Iphigenia myth, together with experiments in interpretation—including acting workshops and staging exercises. Students need no background in acting, theater, or ancient literature, but do need critical energy and discipline. Authors we will read, in addition to Euripides, will include Homer, Aeschylus, Thucydides,and Aristotle; in the second half of the semester, we will explore modern re-imaginings of Iphigenia (e.g. Racine's Iphigénie ) and those by contemporary playwrights (among them: Ellen McLaughlin, Caridad Svich, Charles Mee).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1514 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
EARLY
FA 2014

Science and Religion

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Matthew Stanley

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1514

Description

In this course we examine the complex interactions between science and religion through history. While most popular presentations of science and religion often descend into simplistic models of conflict (the secular nature of modern science and its repeated conflicts with religion) or cooperation/co-existence (science and religion each have clearly defined domains), we explore a wider variety of relationships between the two. Moving beyond claims of superiority or mutual isolation, we consider the complicated negotiation of boundaries and proper authority between science and religion. We mainly focus on the relationship of science and various forms of Christianity, but we also discuss Buddhism, Hinduism, agnosticism, and atheism. Topics include: religion and the laws of nature; how scientists can be religious; natural theology; evolution and religion; miracles and medicine; the social role of science and religion; and the nature of life. Readings include Augustine, Galileo, Newton, Hume, Darwin, and Einstein.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2014

The Qur'an

4 units Tue
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its cultures and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1801 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2014

Mind and Bodies: A History of Neuroscience

4 units Fri
11:00 AM - 1:45 PM
Brendan Matz

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1801

Description

This course examines the history of the sciences of the mind and brain from the end of the eighteenth century to the present. Ranging from mesmerism and phrenology to physiology, genetics, and neuroscience, it will consider the development over time of knowledge about the brain and its relationship to the body. The course will also analyze the ways in which this knowledge has been applied in medicine, law, economics, government policy, and religion. Some of the topics we will look at include the following: mind-body dualism, neuron theory, psychoanalysis and biology, brain imaging, the molecular and plastic brain, and psychotropic drugs. The course takes a primarily historical approach to this topic, but work from other academic disciplines that engage with related questions will also be addressed. The last third of the course will focus on recent history and contemporary issues surrounding the “century of the brain.” One of our challenges will be to examine what history and science and technology studies more broadly might contribute to ongoing conversations about minds and bodies.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1602 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2011

Nature, Resources, and the Human Condition: Perspectives on Environmental History

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1602

Description

The natural environment has been a major player in human history both in its real physical manifestations and in the perceptions that it evokes in the imaginations of all cultures in all periods. This course will explore this dual aspect of the role of nature in history through works that provide a long historical narrative and works that focus on particular episodes and themes. Much of the focus of the latter will be on the nature of resources and resource use. The course is not about hand-wringing or finger-pointing. Its purpose is neither to document environmental gloom and doom nor to cast particular peoples or practices as good or evil on the basis of their conformance with currently acceptable standards of stewardship or sustainability. Rather, it is about understanding the role that the natural environment has played in human history and about how changing perceptions of nature have shaped human institutions and practices even as they have altered and shaped “natural” environments. Topics will include the origins of agriculture and the rise of hydraulic civilizations; forestry and land tenure in Asia and Europe; Western exploration, expansion, and colonialism; the whaling industry as a precursor of our currrent obsession with fossil fuels; the concept of wilderness and the valuing of pristine nature; the environmental history of New York City; and selected current issues involving biodiversity, water resources, and energy alternatives. Readings may include books by Alfred Crosby, Caroline Merchant, Joachim Radkau, and William Cronon, along with a selection of historical and recent articles.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1156 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2011

The Darwinian Revolution

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1156

Description

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection may be the single most influential, and controversial, scientific theory ever proposed. This course will examine the origin, nature, and consequences of Darwin’s theory, with an emphasis on interrelationships among the social, cultural, and intellectual dimensions of the scientific enterprise. Topics include the connections between Darwinian theory and social, political, and moral discourse in Victorian Britain; initial and more recent scientific and public controversies; resistance to the theory by conservative Christians; applications and misapplications of the theory, such as Social Darwinism, eugenics, and sociobiology; and the influence of Darwinian thought on literature and the arts. In addition to Darwin’s Origin of Species and excerpts from Voyage of the Beagle and Descent of Man , readings will likely include Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos , selections from Malthus, Spencer, and Huxley, and recent works by Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, among others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1541 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

Divine Indifference

4 units Tue
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Aaron Tugendhaft

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1541

Description

Do the gods care about human beings? Is history providentially guided? Is there divine retribution after death? Or is god indifferent to human well-being? In this course we explore how different views of the divine are related to such themes as human freedom, happiness, despair, justice, and nihilism. We begin with works by Solon and Sophocles to set forth the traditional view of Greek piety and observe how it begins to be questioned. We then turn to the Epicurean tradition, to assess the impact of its view of god's indifference. We will conclude by considering two questions: What is at stake in the contrast between Epicurean theology and the Christian teaching of a philanthropic god who dies for human sins? To what degree does ancient Epicureanism serve as the foundation for the modern critique of Christianity? The key texts will be Sophocles' Oedipus Rex , Lucretius' On the Nature of Things , Spinoza's Ethics , and Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1316 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2011

Rethinking the Biological Sciences: Haraway, Theory and Culture

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Bradley Lewis

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1316

Description

Rethinking the Biological Sciences: Haraway, Theory and Culture Today’s biology has moved out of the lab and into our biofutures. Genetically modified foods, in vitro fertilization, cloning, the biomedical enhancement debates, neurochemical psychic manipulation, and even the possibility of a posthuman culture all loom on the immediate horizon. These biological developments challenge our familiar ways of thinking, and they upset many of our most cherished categories and priorities. As a result, new ways of thinking must emerge to understand and cope with today’s biological sciences. One of the most important scholars to respond to this challenge is feminist historian of science, Donna Haraway. Haraway is unique because of her extensive use of recent theoretical work from humanities and cultural studies to think again about biology. We devote this class to a close study of her work, and we consider the intellectual context of Haraway’s writing in feminist theory, science fiction, and the biosciences.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia . As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1311 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2011

Mad Science/Mad Pride

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Bradley Lewis

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1311

Description

In recent years, questions of madness, psychiatry, and psychopharmaceuticals have been the subject of considerable strife and controversy. This class uses narrative theory to map out the terrain of these conflicts and explore competing approaches to psychiatric concerns. We start with an overview of narrative theory as relevant to issues of mental difference and suffering. Key narrative topics we discuss include plot, metaphor, character, and point of view. With this theory as our guide, the alternative approaches we consider include biopsychiatry, psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, family therapy, feminist therapy, spiritual approaches, and creative approaches. We conclude with a consideration of the Icarus Project idea that sometimes madness is best seen as a “dangerous gift.”

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1611 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2011

Past As Prelude: Thinking Historically

4 units Wed
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Alejandro Velasco

Description

In a much-remarked campaign speech on race relations, then-candidate Barack Obama drew on Faulkner to remind Americans of the continuing legacies of racism in the US: “the past is never dead,” he noted, “it’s not even past.” In doing so Obama called upon a familiar trope in critical thought, that history is just as dynamic and elusive as the present, each one (past and present) continuously shaping and informing the other. This begs the question: what is history? What does it mean to think historically, to understand history not as an array of facts but as process, not as a field of study but as a sensibility, as a way to analyze the world around us? This course is designed for students seeking to add meaningful historical dimensions to their concentrations. We begin by surveying conventional approaches to historical analysis, from Herodotus to Hegel to Marx to Benjamin. Then we draw from Nietzsche, Foucault, Hayden White, and Michel-Rolph Trouillot to consider how history is constructed, used, and misused. We will then examine how jurists, anthropologists, novelists, sociologists, and human rights activists think historically to inform and deepen their craft, reading from Tolstoy, Justices Breyer and Scalia, Eric Wolf, Charles Payne, and Daniel Wilkinson. We end with workshops that consider what it would mean to think historically about your own concentrations. What kinds of questions and materials would you include as you prepare for your rationale, booklist, colloquium, and ultimately, life after NYU, armed with a sense of history?

Notes

Same as HIST-UA 275 001.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1519 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2011

Biology and Society

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Myles Jackson

Description

Perhaps the most recent ethical challenge faced by all of us is biotechnology. This seminar explores the relationship between the biological sciences and society in the U.S. throughout the twentieth century. We will examine how debates concerning "nature versus nurture" have been framed historically. We shall discuss the history of eugenics and investigate how the U.S. government saw eugenics as proffering an objective tool for testing immigration and sterilization policies. We shall ask if there is a link between eugenics and the Human Genome Project. How has the patenting of human and plant genes reshaped the conduct of scientific research? How is molecular biology challenging notions of race? How much of human behavior is shaped by genes, and how does that affect issues concerning free will and culpability? Is it ethical for developing countries to use genetically modified crops rather than their own sustainable practices? How has the HIV/AIDS epidemic reshaped the historical notions of the doctor-patient relationship and objectivity of drug testing? This course aims at drawing attention to the ethical, legal, and social issues generated by biology over the past century. Readings will include works from twentieth-century politicians such as Teddy Roosevelt, eugenicists, including Charles Davenport, the historian of science Dan Kevles, the philosopher of science Michael Ruse, the sociologist and historian of medicine Steven Epstein, the sociologist of race Troy Duster, and intellectual property lawyers such as Rebecca Eisenberg, as well as recent works by molecular biologists and geneticists on the definition of race, the role of patenting in biotechnology, and how commercial interests are driving scientific research.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1593 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2011

Barbarians: Ancient Conceptions of the Outsider

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Hallie Franks

Description

The conceptions of people outside of one's own culture are complex and multi-layered, and this was as true in the ancient world as it is today. From the conquered Elamites that were depicted on the palace walls of the Neo-Assyrian Assurbanipal, to the mythical Ethiopians of Homer's epics, or to the Gauls with whom Julius Caesar did battle, representations of other kinds of people serve as a backdrop against which a distinctive sense of cultural identity is clarified or reinforced. This seminar explores the representation of "foreign" peoples in the visual arts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman worlds. Using visual (reliefs, vase-painting, sculpture, mosaics, and wall-painting) and written (inscriptions, epic poetry, drama, histories, novels) sources, we pursue the following questions: What role do local ideals play in the construction and definition of another culture? What are the political or social motivations for the representations of foreigners in ancient art and literature? To what extent does the definition of an "other" reflect an already defined identity, and to what extent is identity constituted by imagining difference? Readings may include Simone de Beauvoir, Clifford Geertz, Euripides Medea, Aeschylus The Persians, Herodotus, Caesar The Gallic Wars, Heliodorus Aethiopika (The Ethiopian Romance).

Notes

Formerly titled "Cultural Others in the Ancient World."

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1633 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2011

Ecological Transport, Infrastructure and Building Design

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Mitchell Joachim

Description

The current environmental decline is a multifaceted predicament for our civilization. Previously, utopian projects have failed to reverse this ecological decay. This crisis demands robust solutions on a massive scale to deal with an immanent mega-urbanity. We will attempt to re-envision vehicles, infrastructure, and buildings to meet the ecological needs of the future. Students will consider questions such as: what is wrong with city systems today and what are the key environmental forces that shape them? Each student will individually critique and evaluate multiple engineered urban entities and subsequently prescribe new innovations. The objective will be to establish the most scientifically plausible designs for a new socio-ecological world. Readings, historical figures, and works for the course will include Janine M. Benyus, Ian McHarg, Richard T.T. Forman, John Todd, Anne Spirn, Geoffery Jellicoe, Jane Jacobs, Annie Leonard, Buckminster Fuller, William J. Mitchell, Mohsen Mostafavi, Ken Yeang, and others.

Notes

Same as V36.0300. Prerequisite V36.0100.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1294 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2011

Philosophy of Medicine

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Bradley Lewis

Description

Most medical inquiry focuses on narrow issues of disease from within a biomedical framework. It rarely steps back from the particulars to ask larger philosophic questions regarding the goals of medicine and healthcare. In this class we take the opposite strategy to focus on the larger theoretical and philosophical issues in U.S. healthcare. We unpack the underlying concepts and principles that organize contemporary medical research, practice, and education. We look at the strengths and weaknesses of today’s dominant models of medicine and we consider the possibilities of alternative conceptual frames. Plus, we consider how much of the administrative and financial problems of today’s healthcare crisis can be explained by conceptual and philosophical issues. Our inquiry will be an interdisciplinary approach that draws from medicine, philosophy, history, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, disability studies, cultural studies, poetry, drama, and documentary.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1639 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2011

Witch, Heroine, Saint: Joan of Arc and Her World

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

In May, 1431, Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orléans, was burned at the stake as a heretic and a witch by an English partisan court after the French nobility had betrayed her. An illiterate peasant girl just sixteen years of age, she had led the French back from the brink of defeat and saved the French monarchy from ruin. Yet in death, she would gain further power still as a martyr and symbol of indomitable French will and resistance. In this seminar, we will study Joan’s complex historical moment and her place within the long history of medieval women, Christian mysticism, and religious fanaticism. We will trace the stories of her appearance and military success, attempt to hear her voice in the extant transcript of her heresy trial, analyze contrasting French and English narratives about her life, and explore how she became the national heroine, patron saint, and political symbol that she is today. Texts will include Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies , Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues and Letters , Thomas of Cantimpré’s Life of Christina the Astonishing , Shakespeare’s I Henry VI , and Voltaire’s Maiden of Orléans . We will also analyze and discuss modern renditions of the Joan of Arc story by such diverse artists as Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Luc Besson.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1258 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

Ancient Theatre and Its Influences

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1258

Description

What role did the theater play in the civic life of ancient Greece? How did Greek drama address vital social and political issues? Does Greek drama serve as a useful paradigm for exploring contemporary theater? Through our readings, we will explore Greek theater as a live space of social action, representing conflicts between the claims of family and state, between male and female, between traditional values and emergent democratic concerns. We will examine Greek drama's relation to religion (e.g. sacrifice, lament, festival), to law (e.g. courtroom proceedings, punishment), and to civic debate. We will discuss both how plays were produced and the theories of drama they inspired. Building on our investigation of the Greek 'case', we will turn our attention to Roman drama and to selected works of the modern theater. Readings may include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander; Plautus, Seneca; Racine, Sartre, Fugard.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1658 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2011

Spies Like Us? Cold War Science as the Ultimate National Security Threat

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Jose Perillan

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1658

Description

On Friday June 19th, 1953 just before the sun set on Sing-Sing prison, Ethyl and Julius Rosenberg were executed by electrocution for their part in an espionage network that transferred classified information associated with top secret U.S. atomic research to the Soviet Union. This case was a landmark at the height of tensions associated with the second Red Scare of the 1940s and 50s, but the almost half-century of Cold War tensions, teetering on the brink of global annihilation, brought out the devastating threats of societal paranoia and political persecution. Throughout the Cold War period science was wielded by both the United States and the Soviet Union with alarming efficacy. As big science began to dominate international and domestic policy, the two superpowers played ‘chicken’ with an atomic arms race and ‘catch me if you can’ with a space race that seemed to fuel animosity and bring us ever closer to the brink of world catastrophe. In this seminar we will use primary and secondary sources to examine the complex role of science during the Cold War, as weapon, threat, and salvation. Readings may include works by J.R. Oppenheimer, Deborah Cadbury, Albert Einstein, John Lewis Gaddis, John Earl Hayes & Harvey Klehr, and Jessica Wang among others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1647 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

Visual Narrative: Reading Ancient Art

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1647

Description

Using the foundation of ancient imagery from the Ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome, this course will examine that process of visual communication with special attention to the question: How is time represented? While the reading of imagery often seems a natural one to us, the ancient world offers a moment in the history of art when artists were wrestling with—and innovating—ways of telling a narrative that unfolds at different moments over time. We will look, for instance, at narrative programs like the ones displayed on the walls in Neo-Assyrian palaces (which both serve as a record of the king’s accomplishments and symbolically reflect the Empire’s geography) and the victory columns of Rome. We will look at single images that conflate pivotal moments of ritual movement or mythological episodes, and at images that juxtapose moments that seem to have no direct sequential relationship. The following questions, among others, will guide our investigation: How do audiences learn to recognize an abstract concept like “time”? How does narrative imagery in architectural settings shape the audience’s movement through and relationship to space? To what extent do the “reading” of text and image correspond? How does the study of narrative intersect with and impact other concerns in the study of ancient imagery, including political and social functions and cross-cultural exchange? We will make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Readings may include K. Weitzmann, Illustrations in Roll and Codex ; T. Todorov, Grammar of Narrative; R. Barthes, “An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative”; G. Genette, Narrative Discourse ; Homer, Odyssey ; Virgil, Aeneid ; Theocritus; Aristotle, Poetics; and Res Gestae Divi Augustus.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1665 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

From Medieval Manuscripts to Graphic Novels

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Matthew Vernon

Description

International, innovative and cool are terms rarely associated with medieval texts. These adjectives more usually describe the domain of contemporary forms, particularly the graphic novel or avant-garde literature. This course will complicate the relationship we assume between medieval and contemporary texts by reading them in tandem with an eye to their many commonalities. The goal of this course is to consider the way texts - both medieval and modern - challenge how we read and how older literary styles inform current works. We will be reading medieval manuscripts and graphic novels as complex forms which allow us to interrogate the relationship between high and low art; the connections between books as physical objects and as vehicles for narrative; and the workings of non-linear plot structures. Readings may include Beowulf, Le Morte d’Arthur , Mandeville’s Travels , Dave Eggers’ McSweeney’s project, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home , Art Speigelman’s Maus and W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1659 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2011

Exploring Frontiers and Fictions of Science

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Jose Perillan

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1659

Description

To many people the latest theories in science may seem distant and otherworldly. Math, logical reasoning, and subject specific technical jargon can form intimidating barriers to modern scientific understanding. Why then are big science fiction movies like Star Wars and Avatar so successful at the box office? Is the sci-fi genre simply a social lubricant for the acceptance of science? Do these fictional narratives prophetically predict innovations within the sciences or do they actually serve to inspire these innovations? At its core, the sci-fi genre emerges from the interlacing of scientific rationality and the escapism of story-telling, extrapolating current scientific knowledge into alternate realities. In this seminar we will explore the genre of science fiction and its underlying literary and scientific elements. Readings may include works by: Isaac Asimov,Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke, Leon Lederman,Orson Scott Card, Alice Sheldon, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Dawkins, H.G. Wells, Octavia Butler, Robert A. Heinlein, John Gribbin, Philip K. Dick, and Jules Verne.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1419 Lib Arts
SOC
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2011

Primary Texts: Plato and Machiavelli on Philosophy and Politics

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
George Shulman

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1419

Description

This course compares Plato’s Republic to Machiavelli’s two great texts, The Prince and The Discourses. Our goal is two-fold. On the one hand we learn the art of close reading to reveal the complex and contradictory layers of meaning in a text. On the other hand, we introduce the enterprise of political theory by exploring two of the greatest (and apparently antithetical) thinkers about politics. For Plato, philosophy seems to provide standards of judgment and order in politics: human life can flourish only if rulers gain philosophic knowledge of justice. He thus consigns political life, and the “mere” opinions of those who inhabit it to a “cave” which can be escape (and ruled) only by those who pursue philosophy. In contrast, Machiavelli denies that philosophic truth is relevant to politics: we do not need to leave “the cave” of the political world, for we can produce forms of order and standards of justice through political life itself. If he seems to embrace the moral dilemmas, contingency, and risk that Plato seems to avoid by turning to philosophy, it is no wonder he has been cast as a corrupt even “evil” figure! To stage a conversation between Plato and Machiavelli, therefore, is to confront the fundamental questions about politics: what is the nature of power? What is justice? What is the best form of regime? How is myth and art related to political life? Is force or fraud ever justified? What characterizes human excellence? In what consists human freedom? We pursue these questions by focusing on primary texts, but also by reading essays about the contemporary stakes of their arguments. This class is limited in enrollment to sophomores.

Notes

Open to sophomores only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1664 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2011

Omens and Oracles: Reading the Future and Retaining the Past in Early China

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1664

Description

When ancient Chinese kings seared sacred bones with elemental fire, reading the future from the resulting cracks went hand in hand with creating archival records to preserve the past. In this class, we will explore several interrelated early Chinese divination traditions through classical texts, archaeology, and recently excavated manuscripts. In all cases we will pay attention to the complex interplay between past, present, and future, including aspects of the history of writing, the history of the book, and the interwoven histories of science and religion. After starting with a discussion of the above-mentioned oracle bones, we will proceed to examine the enigmatic Yijing ( Book of Changes ), the earliest and most revered of all the Chinese classics. Then we will consider a popularization of divination practices in the form of almanacs that circulated widely in ancient China. Students can expect to try their hands at the actual practice of the various divination techniques covered, but most class time will be used to engage important themes arising from our investigations, Readings may include: The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (Ca. 1200-1045 B.C.) by David Keightley, Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler, the Yijing ( Book of Changes ), selections from The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C ., and select scholarly articles.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1351 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
FA 2011

Passion and Poetics in Early Japan

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Nina Cornyetz

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1351

Description

It can be argued that until the 1880s one thing was absent in Japanese literary and performing arts: the notion of an interiorized subject. In fact, the premodern Japanese arts are examples of extreme "exteriority," that privilege form, word play and intertextuality and enfold the human being and human erotic passions within rituals for purity, and harmony with a cosmology of the heavens. This course will explore premodern Japanese poetics and prose, performing and visual arts, from the very first writings through the nineteenth century, in relation to history and religious and philosophic belief systems such as Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism. Texts will include: selections of poetry, emaki (picture scrolls), noh and puppet plays, selections from The Tale of Genji, The Pillow Book, Essays in Idleness .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1652 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2011

Science and Culture

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Myles Jackson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1652

Description

This course, which spans from the Scientific Revolution to the present, examines various examples of how the conduct and context of science are framed by culture, and conversely, how science shapes culture. Which models proffered by various historians, philosophers, cultural anthropologists, and sociologists can begin to explain this relationship? The first portion of this course addresses how scientific knowledge was intricately intertwined with religious and political knowledge during the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. The next section illustrates how important developments in thermodynamics (or the physics of work and waste) led to improvements in nineteenth-century musical instrument design and a change in musical aesthetics. Similarly, we shall discuss how twentieth-century technological and scientific developments in fin-de-siècle Europe and the U.S. directly led to new artistic expressions and aesthetics. The final third of the course looks at how the content of scientific and technological knowledge associated with “Big Science” from World War II to the present owes much to the development of national defense in the case of physics and to venture-corporate capitalism in the case of molecular biology. Rather than simply stay at the level of case studies, we shall continually test the various models, which attempt to explain the complex and historically contingent relationship between science and culture, including Marx’s theory of base-superstructure, Kuhn’s paradigm, Latour’s social constructivism, Shapin and Schaffer’s historical social constructivism, and Galison’s bricolage model and trading zones. Finally, the course will force students to think about related issues, such as the history of objectivity and the differences and similarities between science on the one hand, and the social sciences and humanities on the other. Readings include: Shapin and Schaffer, Galison, Jackson, Latour, Marx, and Kuhn. This interdisciplinary seminar may be used to fulfill the science requirement.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1207 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2011

Origins of the Atomic Age

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Gene Cittadino

Description

The uranium and plutonium nuclear fission bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 permanently altered the world we live in. Fear of nuclear annihilation became a fact of life. Although the end of the Cold War relaxed the tensions somewhat, the combined arsenals of existing nuclear powers are still sufficient to destroy most of life on this planet many times over, and controversies continue over nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea. How did this extraordinary state of affairs come about? Why were the bombs made when and where they were made? Why were they used? Did the individuals involved understand the destructive potential of these new weapons and ponder moral questions involving their manufacture and use? Did they anticipate the nuclear arms race that has resulted. How does this episode fit into the longer history of the relationship between science and warfare? How were both hopes and fears transferred to the debates over nuclear power? Readings will likely include Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb , Hachiya, Hiroshima Diary , Gordin, Red Cloud at Dawn , and a variety of selections concerning nuclear proliferation, the disarmament movement, and nuclear power.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1571 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2011

Humans, Machines, and Aesthetics

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Myles Jackson

Description

This seminar proffers a glimpse into the historically contingent relationships between machines and humans from the Enlightenment through the Industrial Revolution to the twentieth century. We shall underscore the ways in which those interactions helped define aesthetics, particularly but not exclusively in music. In essence we hope to use machines and music to trace the history of creativity over the past three centuries. Immanuel Kant famously defined "genius" in his Third Critique as "a talent for producing something for which no determinate rule can be given, not a predisposition consisting of a skill for something that can be learned by following some rule or other; hence the foremost property of genius must be creativity." By this definition mimicry and imitation are the antitheses of the creative genius, while mechanical skill and machines were deemed inferior to it. During the later stages of the Industrial Revolution, however, there arose an aesthetic of mass production. Quantity—as Lenin would famously remark a century later—had a quality all its own, and a new aesthetics celebrated how an artifact could be perfectly copied thousands of times over, with unprecedented speed, precision, and efficiency. Central questions and debates follow from this development: How "creative," if at all, are machines? Are mechanical musical instruments superior to performers? How are humans different, if at all, from machines? Readings include Kant's Third Critique, Jackson's Harmonious Triads, Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Essinger's Jacquard's Web, Standage's The Turk, Riskin's (ed.), Genesis Redux, Katz's Capturing Sound, and Théberge's Any Sound You Can Imagine.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1516 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2011

Understanding the Universe

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Matthew Stanley

Description

This class is an interdisciplinary exploration of how humans have tried to understand the universe. We begin with the first Greek attempts to make sense of the universe, discuss the “Scientific Revolution,” through to modern Big Bang theory. Themes include the interaction of astronomy, physics, and philosophy necessary for talking about the cosmos, and how scientists came to accept that the universe changes and develops over time. We discuss the history of how scientists came to understand the nature of stars, galaxies, black holes, extra-terrestrial life, and the apparent “fine tuning” of the laws of nature. Special attention is paid to the problem of how we can talk scientifically about things we can never experiment on or reproduce. We will examine not just ideas about the universe (what is it? where did it come from? and so on), but also the methods used to arrive at those conclusions (observations and theories), literary and visual representations of the universe, and larger philosophical issues (why are we here?). Readings may include: Aristotle, Copernicus, Newton, Kant, Einstein.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1298 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2011

Ecology and Environmental Thought

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Description

Ecological science and environmentalism appear to be relatively recent developments, but they have long and deep roots in our culture. Their interrelated histories, their connections to broader intellectual, cultural, social and political trends, their sometimes tenuous relationship to one another over the past century, and their continuing interactions in the discourse over the fate of nature constitute the subject of this course. Topics include the Protestant roots of both ecology and environmentalism, myths of the primitive (pristine nature, the ecologically noble savage, etc.), the transfer of metaphors between social theory and ecology, changing views of equilibrium and balance in nature, conservative and postmodern critiques of ecology, and recent debates over biodiversity, global warming, and environmental justice. Readings will likely include Paul Colinvaux, Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare , Rachel Carson, Silent Spring , Michael Lewis, Inventing Global Ecology , selections from Linnaeus, Darwin, Thoreau, and Aldo Leopold, and a variety of works by contemporary ecologists and environmentalists.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1566 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2011

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Peder Anker

Description

This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental sciences from ancient times to Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. We will explore ways in which naturalists and lay people came to know the environment and in what ways nature could mobilize social and moral author­ity. With a focus on the history of the European environmental problems from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and Modern experiences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature. Where did the idea of nature as "designed" come from? How did natural philosophers (i.e. magicians) unveil nature’s secrets? What role did scientists play in the colonial experiences? How could Modern scholars imagine “improving” the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of a series of primary sources, including great and not-so-great books by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pseudo-Aristotle, Pliny, St. Francis, Evelyn, Grew, Bacon, Rousseau, Voltaire, Linnaeus, Malthus and Darwin, as well as largely forgotten texts by anonymous authors and colonial explorers.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2011

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics, Cicero's De Fato, Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and Fromm's Escape From Freedom.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1651 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

From Memory to Myth: The Mighty Charlemagne

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1651

Description

In this course students will explore historical memory, mythmaking, and the myriad ways in which human beings construct and reconstruct the past to address present hopes, dreams, and fears. Our case study will be the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne (d. 814), who in life helped to lay the foundations of modern European society, and in death would continue to represent an imagined pan-European unity that predated factionalism, regionalism, and nationalism. The seminar will begin in the ninth century with Charlemagne in memory before moving briskly forward in time to study Charlemagne in legend and myth. Along the way, we will discuss themes and problems of particular relevance, including the birth of “Europe,” the advent of “the state,” Christianity and Crusade, the rise of vernacular literature, and early colonialism. In addition to theoretical works on memory, myth, and history-writing, texts for discussion will include a vibrant mix of canonical and lesser-known gems: Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, The Song of Roland , and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso ; but also the Astronomer’s Life of Louis the Pious , The Voyage of Charlemagne to Jerusalem and Constantinople , and the anonymous Charlemagne play from the London of Shakespeare and Marlowe.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1519 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2011

Biology and Society

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Myles Jackson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1519

Description

Perhaps the most recent ethical challenge faced by all of us is biotechnology. This seminar explores the relationship between the biological sciences and society in the U.S. throughout the twentieth century. We will examine how debates concerning "nature versus nurture" have been framed historically. We shall discuss the history of eugenics and investigate how the U.S. government saw eugenics as proffering an objective tool for testing immigration and sterilization policies. We shall ask if there is a link between eugenics and the Human Genome Project. How has the patenting of human and plant genes reshaped the conduct of scientific research? How are molecular biology and pharmaceutical and biotech firms simultaneously challenging and reifying notions of race in the age of biocapitalism? How much of human behavior is shaped by genes, and how does that affect issues concerning free will and culpability? Is it ethical for developing countries to use genetically modified crops rather than their own sustainable practices? How has the HIV/AIDS epidemic reshaped the historical notions of the doctor-patient relationship and objectivity of drug testing? This course aims at drawing attention to the ethical, legal, and social issues generated by biology over the past century. Readings will include works from twentieth-century politicians such as Teddy Roosevelt, eugenicists, including Charles Davenport, the historian of science Dan Kevles, the philosopher of science Michael Ruse, the sociologist and historian of medicine Steven Epstein, the sociologist of race Troy Duster, and intellectual property lawyers such as Rebecca Eisenberg, as well as recent works by molecular biologists and geneticists on the definition of race, the role of patenting in biotechnology, and how commercial interests are driving scientific research.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2011

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1197

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead), The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, and films like Keita, Finzan and Ceddo. Using ideas both ancient (African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Fu-Kiau) and contemporary (In Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara), African civilizations will speak through their own words.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1374 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

The Birth of the World: The Cosmological Tradition

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Katharina Piechocki

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1374

Description

"How did the world begin?" and "why is there anything rather than nothing?" and "Who made the starts?" These are primary questions: the kind children like to ask, and philosophers, and theologians, and scientists. In this course we'll read and discuss the various classic accounts of Creation. We will anchor the course in the Hebrew tradition (Genesis) and the Greek tradition (both mythic and philosophical: Hesiod, and the Presocratics), and from there examine sources and analogs in Babylon, Sumer, Egypt; their counterparts in Japanese, African, and other global mythologies and religions; the story of their interpretation (especially in the Talmudic and Patristic traditions); and, finally, their relation to the paradigms of modern astronomy and philosophy. Texts will include Genesis; the Theogony; the fragments of the Presocratics; selections from Plato's Timaeus and other dialogues; Midrash on Genesis; Commentaries by Church Fathers such as Augustine and Gregory on the Creation story; and selections from ancient Middle Eastern, Hindu. Buddhist, Taoist, and Muslim scriptures and myths.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1760 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2013

Quantification and Social Thought

4 units Wed
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Christopher Phillips

Description

In an age of “big data,” “sabermetrics,” and “evidence-based medicine,” statistical concepts and mathematical models for decision-making have become ever more common in the modern world. Although proponents would argue that these new methods are increasingly powerful, their use raises complicated questions about how decisions can and should be made, in realms from drafting a baseball player to measuring the effectiveness of a federal program. This course examines the history of quantification from the Renaissance to the present, with special attention to the ways new technologies and methodologies intersect with changing notions of rationality and causality. Topics include medicine, population statistics, legal contracts, philosophy, professional sports and gambling. Readings may include Bernoulli, Quetelet, Durkheim, Hacking, Porter.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1534 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2013

The Seen and Unseen in Science

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Matthew Stanley

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1534

Description

This class explores how science and scientists work with the invisible, unseen, or unseeable elements of our world. We will examine how scientists convince themselves that these unseen things, such as atoms and molecules, are real. Many things cannot be seen or held in one’s hand, but scientists claim to have detected and to understand them. We ask probing questions about what it means to “see” or “observe” the world around us, and grapple with the basic question of how we gain scientific knowledge at all. Topics include telescopes and microscopes, atomic theory, quantum physics, the unconscious and psychoanalysis, human consciousness and intelligence, dark matter, and the nature of objectivity. We will pay special attention to how scientists are trained to see in particular ways, and how culture and worldview can shape, restrict, or enhance the way we observe. Readings include Galileo, Ernst Mach, Henry Adams, Stephen J. Gould, Peter Galison, T.S. Kuhn, Freud, Edward Tufte.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1562 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Reading the Faces of Ancient Cultures

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1562

Description

In this class, we will investigate the form, development, and role of images of people in ancient Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. Using visual and literary sources, we will focus on how we define a portrait and will confront the variety of problems that the representation of the individual in the ancient world entails. How essential are the concepts of “likeness” and “realism” to the definition of a portrait, and to its function? How are ancient portraits manipulated to serve specific public or private roles? Who does the manipulating, and who is the audience? Does there exist, in pre-modern cultures, a correlation between the portrait of an individual and that individual’s character? We will address these questions and others, concentrating on the use of portraiture in shaping personal, political, and cultural identities. Readings may include Plato, Apology ; Aristophanes, Clouds ; Pseudo-Aristotle, Physiognomics ; Plutarch, Life of Alexander ; Vasari, Life of Leonardo ; and Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray . We will make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1720 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2013

The Artificial and the Natural

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Myles Jackson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1720

Description

When we hear the story about molecular biologists inserting a gene responsible for luminosity taken from a lightning bug into a tobacco or strawberry plant, we tend to be repulsed, declaring that such a move is ‘unnatural.’ Yet when we see cows grazing on the Great Plains, or a beautiful array of flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, we praise the beauty of nature. However, flowers and cattle are just as ‘artificial’ as the genetically modified tobacco or strawberry plant. After all, they are the products of centuries of breeding, artificially selecting for traits, which nature itself did not. Likewise, why should a chemical polymer or dye derived from a natural substance, such as carbon, be any more (or less) artificial than a genetically modified mouse programmed to succumb to cancer? Finally, why are we awestruck when we hear about IBM’s Big Blue defeating one of the greatest chess player of the century, Gary Kasparov, yet we are deeply concerned with and troubled by the attempts of scientists and engineers to devise computers, which may one day mimic human attributes, such as consciousness? The goal of this course is to study the debate in the West from Aristotle to the present and explore its socio-political, philosophical, economic and scientific ramifications. This course may be counted toward the science requirement. Readings include Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Meteorology , Essays by Grafton, Newman, and Bensaude-Vincent in The Natural and the Artificial ; Shapin, The Scientific Revolution , Riskin on automata, Goethe, N. Hawthorne, E. A. Poe, Freud, Turing, Fullwiley (race and genes) and Jackson (gene patenting).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2013

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1239

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 28 - July 5

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1425 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

The Philosophic Dialogue

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Stacy Pies

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1425

Description

In this course, we read philosophical dialogues and their modern successors, poetic prose pieces and a play whose subjects are art and rhetoric. Ancient to modern writers have been fascinated with the power of art, and for each, ideas about art are connected to those about language and society. In our reading of Ion and Gorgias we look at Plato’s ideas on art, rhetoric (oratory), and power before his Republic. Phaedrus, written later, complements the discussion in earlier texts, developing Plato’s ideas about the relation of the intellect, the emotions, and the appetites. We then discuss Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, which revisits some of Plato’s themes from the perspective of the eighteenth century and the changing world of the Enlightenment. Finally, we explore the dialogue form in the twentieth century through Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia and excerpts from works of modern writers. In our dialogue, we explore not only what these writers say, but how they say it, and speculate on how and why conversation, rather than monologue, can give rise to knowledge. Among the questions I hope we consider are the following: How are ideas born from conversation (and, I hope, our conversations)? What is the importance of human relationship in intellectual inquiry? How does the dialogue imply, and necessitate, our participation as readers? Readings may include works by Plato, Diderot, Stoppard and selected excerpts from Bakhtin and Mallarmé.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1727 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Plato's Apology

2 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1727

Description

‘Corrupting the youth’ of Athens? Virtue in action? Threat to the body politic? Model citizen? Plato’s Socrates presents a conundrum for ancient and modern thought. In his brilliant dialogue, the Apology , Plato recreates Socrates’ defense of himself at his trial in 399 BCE for (among other things) ‘corrupting the youth’ of his city. The Apology sits at the intersection of law, politics, philosophy, religion, erotics, and pedagogy. In this course, we read the Apology closely, exploring it as philosophical reflection, courtroom oratory, literary text—and as gripping drama. Supplementary readings address: intellectual milieu, historical and political context, questions of genre.

Notes

Course meets 1/30- 3/13 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1739 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Kinship and Community: Ancient Texts and Modern Theories

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Description

What is the relation of the family to larger structures of community and of state? Do kinship bonds provide a model for those of community or must they be superseded in the interest of a more enlightened state? To what degree do contemporary aspirations for gender equality entail a radical renovation of our understanding of the family? We consider these questions through a close reading of ancient texts, from the Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, which we read in conjunction with some contemporary thinkers on kinship and the state. Primary readings include: Aeschylus Oresteia , Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone , Euripides Ion , Plato Republic 5 , Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae , Longus Daphnis and Chloe , Genesis and Exodus , Paul Letter to the Galatians , Martyrdom of Perpetua , Shakespeare Measure for Measure , John Henry Noyes Bible Communism ; theoretical texts include: Freud Totem and Taboo , and selections from Engels, Lévi-Strauss, G. Rubin, P. Clastres, and J. Butler.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1611 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2013

Past As Prelude: Thinking Historically

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Alejandro Velasco

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1611

Description

In 2008 then-candidate Barack Obama drew on Faulkner to remind Americans of the continuing legacies of racism in the US: “the past is never dead,” he noted, “it’s not even past.” In doing so Obama called upon a familiar trope in critical thought, that history is just as dynamic and elusive as the present, each one (past and present) continuously shaping and informing the other. This begs the question: what is history? What does it mean to think historically, to understand history not as an array of facts but as process, not as a field of study but as a sensibility, as a way to analyze the world around us? This course is designed for students seeking to add meaningful historical dimensions to their concentrations. We begin by surveying conventional approaches to historical analysis, from Herodotus to Hegel to Marx to Benjamin. Then we draw from Nietzsche, Foucault, Hayden White, and Michel-Rolph Trouillot to consider how history is constructed, used, and misused. We then examine how jurists, anthropologists, novelists, sociologists, and human rights activists think historically to inform and deepen their craft, reading from Tolstoy, Justices Breyer and Scalia, Eric Wolf, Charles Payne, and Daniel Wilkinson. We end with workshops that consider what it would mean to think historically about your own concentrations. What kinds of questions and materials would you include as you prepare for your rationale, booklist, colloquium, and ultimately, life after NYU, armed with a sense of history?

Notes

Open to sophomores only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2013

The Qur'an

4 units Tue
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its cultures and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1311 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2013

Mad Science/Mad Pride

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Bradley Lewis

Description

In recent years, questions of madness, psychiatry, and psychopharmaceuticals have been the subject of considerable strife and controversy. This class uses narrative theory to map out the terrain of these conflicts and explore competing approaches to psychiatric concerns. We start with an overview of narrative theory as relevant to issues of mental difference and suffering. Key narrative topics we discuss include plot, metaphor, character, and point of view. With this theory as our guide, the alternative approaches we consider include biopsychiatry, psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, family therapy, feminist therapy, spiritual approaches, and creative approaches. We conclude with a consideration of the Icarus Project idea that sometimes madness is best seen as a “dangerous gift.”

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1751 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SU 2013

Biology and Society

4 units Mon Tue Wed Thu
11:30 AM - 3:00 PM
Myles Jackson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1751

Description

Perhaps the most recent ethical challenge faced by all of us is biotechnology. This seminar explores the relationship between the biological sciences and society in the U.S. throughout the twentieth century. We will examine how debates concerning "nature versus nurture" have been framed historically. We shall discuss the history of eugenics and investigate how the U.S. government saw eugenics as proffering an objective tool for testing immigration and sterilization policies. We shall ask if there is a link between eugenics and the Human Genome Project. How has the patenting of human and plant genes reshaped the conduct of scientific research? How are molecular biology and pharmaceutical and biotech firms simultaneously challenging and reifying notions of race in the age of biocapitalism? How much of human behavior is shaped by genes, and how does that affect issues concerning free will and culpability? Is it ethical for developing countries to use genetically modified crops rather than their own sustainable practices? How has the HIV/AIDS epidemic reshaped the historical notions of the doctor-patient relationship and objectivity of drug testing? This course aims at drawing attention to the ethical, legal, and social issues generated by biology over the past century. Readings will include works from twentieth-century politicians such as Teddy Roosevelt, eugenicists, including Charles Davenport, the historian of science Dan Kevles, the philosopher of science Michael Ruse, the sociologist and historian of medicine Steven Epstein, the sociologist of race Troy Duster, and intellectual property lawyers such as Rebecca Eisenberg, as well as recent works by molecular biologists and geneticists on the definition of race, the role of patenting in biotechnology, and how commercial interests are driving scientific research.

Notes

Three-week Intensive: May 28 - June 14

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2011

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1239

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 23-July 1.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia. As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1122 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2013

Discourses of Love: Antiquity to the Renaissance

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Bella Mirabella

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1122

Description

This course explores the impulse to define, understand, contain, praise, analyze, lament, restrain, and express love. Through a study of philosophy, poetry, drama, religion, art, and music we will endeavor to discourse on the meaning of this profound emotion. However, in order to understand the place of love within the lives of humans, we need to look at love in its historic, cultural, social, and political contexts from Sappho and Plato to Shakespeare. We want to consider Love's multiple roles with regard to desire, seduction, betrothal, marriage, manners, morals, political power, and the pursuit of wisdom, as well as its role in class, gender, and race. Possible readings could include Plato’s Symposium, the poetry of Sappho, the stories of Marie de France, selections from Dante, the Italian comic play, The Deceived , as well as two plays of Shakespeare.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1566 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2013

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Peder Anker

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1566

Description

This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental sciences from ancient times to Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species . We will explore ways in which naturalists and lay people came to know the environment and in what ways nature could mobilize social and moral author­ity. With a focus on the history of the European environmental problems from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and Modern experiences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature. Where did the idea of nature as "designed" come from? How did natural philosophers (i.e. magicians) unveil nature’s secrets? What role did scientists play in the colonial experiences? How could Modern scholars imagine “improving” the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of a series of primary sources, including great and not-so-great books by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pseudo-Aristotle, Pliny, St. Francis, Evelyn, Grew, Bacon, Rousseau, Voltaire, Linnaeus, Malthus and Darwin, as well as largely forgotten texts by anonymous authors and colonial explorers.

Notes

Sect 002 for Environmental Studies majors.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1258 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Ancient Theatre and Its Influences

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Description

What role did the theater play in the civic life of ancient Greece? How did Greek drama address vital social and political issues? Does Greek drama serve as a useful paradigm for exploring contemporary theater? Through our readings, we will explore Greek theater as a live space of social action, representing conflicts between the claims of family and state, between male and female, between traditional values and emergent democratic concerns. We will examine Greek drama's relation to religion (e.g. sacrifice, lament, festival), to law (e.g. courtroom proceedings, punishment), and to civic debate. We will discuss both how plays were produced and the theories of drama they inspired. Building on our investigation of the Greek 'case', we will turn our attention to Roman drama and to selected works of the modern theater. Readings may include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander; Plautus, Seneca; Racine, Sartre, Fugard.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1593 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Barbarians: Ancient Conceptions of the Outsider

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1593

Description

The conceptions of people outside of one's own culture are complex and multi-layered, and this was as true in the ancient world as it is today. From the conquered Elamites that were depicted on the palace walls of the Neo-Assyrian Assurbanipal, to the exotic Dionysus of Euripides' tragedy, or to the Gauls with whom Julius Caesar did battle, representations of other kinds of people serve as a backdrop against which a distinctive sense of cultural identity can be clarified, rethought, or complicated. This seminar explores the representation of "foreign" peoples in the visual arts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman worlds. Using visual (reliefs, vase-painting, sculpture, mosaics, and wall-painting) and written (inscriptions, epic poetry, drama, histories, novels) sources, we pursue the following questions: What are the political or social motivations for the representations of foreigners in ancient art and literature? To what extent does the definition of an "other" reflect an already defined identity, and to what extent is identity constituted by imagining difference? How does the representation of difference problematize one's own values or traditions? Readings may include Simone de Beauvoir, Clifford Geertz, Euripides Bacchae , Aeschylus The Persians , Herodotus, Caesar The Gallic Wars , Heliodorus Aethiopika ( The Ethiopian Romance ).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1515 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Homer/Ellison: The Odyssey and Invisible Man

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
E. Frances White, Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1515

Description

Who is the “man of many ways”? Who is it who declares “I am nobody but myself”? This course creates a dialogue between Homer's Odyssey and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man , the masterwork that evokes the Odyssey even as it reimagines the scope of the twentieth century novel. We will focus on the historical and cultural specificities of each text but will also pursue the synergies and energies promoted by reading them together. We will thus consider what the ancient world has to say to the modern novel, and how modernity might reanimate a key text of antiquity. Among the topics we will consider: formations and representations of subjectivity in antiquity and modernity; the status of race and ethnicity; the structuring effects of kinship, marriage, institutions, the state, and the law; the cultural poetics and politics of narrative. What stories are we telling about “ourselves,” and/or about “others,” and to what ends? We will draw upon secondary readings in literary theory, gender studies, critical race studies, and other social sciences. Students need no background in these materials but do need critical energy and discipline.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2013

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1197

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead ), The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions , and films like Keita, Finzan and Ceddo . Using ideas both ancient (African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Fu-Kiau) and contemporary (I n Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara), African civilizations will speak through their own words.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1519 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2013

Biology and Society

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Myles Jackson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1519

Description

Perhaps the most recent ethical challenge faced by all of us is biotechnology. This seminar explores the relationship between the biological sciences and society in the U.S. throughout the twentieth century. We will examine how debates concerning "nature versus nurture" have been framed historically. We shall discuss the history of eugenics and investigate how the U.S. government saw eugenics as proffering an objective tool for testing immigration and sterilization policies. We shall ask if there is a link between eugenics and the Human Genome Project. How has the patenting of human and plant genes reshaped the conduct of scientific research? How are molecular biology and pharmaceutical and biotech firms simultaneously challenging and reifying notions of race in the age of biocapitalism? How much of human behavior is shaped by genes, and how does that affect issues concerning free will and culpability? Is it ethical for developing countries to use genetically modified crops rather than their own sustainable practices? How has the HIV/AIDS epidemic reshaped the historical notions of the doctor-patient relationship and objectivity of drug testing? This course aims at drawing attention to the ethical, legal, and social issues generated by biology over the past century. Readings will include works from twentieth-century politicians such as Teddy Roosevelt, eugenicists, including Charles Davenport, the historian of science Dan Kevles, the philosopher of science Michael Ruse, the sociologist and historian of medicine Steven Epstein, the sociologist of race Troy Duster, and intellectual property lawyers such as Rebecca Eisenberg, as well as recent works by molecular biologists and geneticists on the definition of race, the role of patenting in biotechnology, and how commercial interests are driving scientific research.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1575 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2014

Energy

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Matthew Stanley

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1575

Description

Energy makes the world work. Originally an obscure concept of natural philosophy, energy has become the foundation for our international economy, social structures, political policy, and everyday life. Energy explains how cars run, the sun shines, and our cell phones ring, but also why Saudi princes are wealthy and Iowa corn farmers receive massive government subsidies. This course examines the gradual realization of energy as a physical concept, its materialization in the engines of the industrial revolution, the construction of an energy infrastructure for electricity and oil, and the emergence of energy as the focus of economic and political conversation. We will use simple equations and math to learn what energy is and the laws that govern it, and how those simple equations help us understand the amazingly complex industrialized world in which we live. We will discuss energy production, transmission and use, and grapple with the problem of alternative energy in technical, social, and political detail.

Notes

Section 2 for Environmental Studies majors only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1351 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2014

Passion and Poetics in Early Japan

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Nina Cornyetz

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1351

Description

It can be argued that until the 1880s one thing was absent in Japanese literary and performing arts: the notion of an interiorized subject. In fact, the premodern Japanese arts are examples of extreme "exteriority" that privilege form, word play and intertextuality and enfold the human being and human erotic passions within rituals for purity, and harmony with a cosmology of the heavens. This course will explore premodern Japanese poetics and prose, performing and visual arts, from the very first writings through the nineteenth century, in relation to history and religious and philosophic belief systems such as Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism. Texts will include: selections of poetry, emaki (picture scrolls), noh and puppet plays, selections from The Tale of Genji , The Pillow Book, Essays in Idleness .

Notes

Formerly titled Behind the Mask I: Exteriority.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1202 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2014

Tragic Visions

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Bella Mirabella

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1202

Description

This course studies the nature of the tragic form in dramatic literature and performance, as well as its role in human existence. Focusing on two of the great periods of tragedy in Western literature and culture­—ancient Greece and Renaissance England—we read selected tragedies by Aeschuylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare as well philosophical considerations of the tragic by, for example, Aristotle and Nietzsche. We examine these works in their social, political, and cultural contexts, while considering questions such as gender, power, fate, free will, and the origins and evolution of tragedy as a literary and political genre. Readings might include Sophocles' Oedipus , and Euripides' Medea , as well as Shakespeare's Othello, Macbeth, or King Lear. Special attention is paid to performance.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1806 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2015

Science, Race and Colonialism in Comparative Perspective

4 units Fri
11:00 AM - 1:45 PM
Brendan Matz

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1806

Description

This course examines the history of the concept of race as it relates to the development of both European colonialism and modern biological science. We will examine how and why popular notions and systematic theories of racial difference took shape and changed over time and how those ideas were put to use or expressed in various colonial contexts. The approach of the course is comparative, with a focus on Britain, France, Germany, and the Unites States, and the material is divided into three sections. In the first section, we will look at early European encounters with human difference in the New World, Asia, and Africa and trace how colonial exploration and exchange helped lay the foundations for race science.   The second section considers the development of scientific racism from the appearance of Darwin’s theory of evolution to World War II and the Holocaust. The final section examines postwar reappraisals of the race concept and the process of decolonization, as well as a series of unresolved questions about the meanings of race in our contemporary global culture. Primary readings in the course include Andrew Curran’s Anatomy of Blackness and Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1809 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2015

Achilles' Shield: Mapping the Ancient Cosmos

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Matthew Stanley, Hallie Franks

Description

In Book 18 of the Iliad , Homer describes the shield made for the hero Achilles. On the shield, the god Hephaestos represented the whole earth, the sun and moon, the constellations, the Ocean that encircles the world, the cities of men, and their farms, festivals, and wars. Achilles’ shield introduces questions about the ways in which the world and the cosmos were understood in the ancient world and the contexts that produced these understandings. How did different ancient sources represent the world and the relationship of the world to the heavenly bodies? What were the organizational principles and goals that governed these representations? As scientific knowledge expands, how do popular conceptions of the world adapt to this new information? And in the absence of maps, which have largely not survived from antiquity, how might other kinds of visual and textual evidence reveal how people thought about geographical relationships, as well as related relationships between centers and frontiers, peoples familiar and foreign, and the earth and heavens? This course investigates ancient scientific and mathematical theories on the extent and shape of the world alongside other kinds of representations—poetic, political, religious, material, and visual. Primary sources may include: Homer Iliad , Alcman, Plato Timaeus , Aristotle De Caelo , Herodotus, Hanno’s Periplous, Ptolemy, Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Gallileo.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1311 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2015

Mad Science/Mad Pride

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Bradley Lewis

Description

Despite extensive numbers of people diagnosed with mental illness, there remains considerable debate and controversy surrounding these diagnoses. This class uses narrative theory to map out the terrain of these conflicts and to explore competing approaches to madness from professionals (mad scientists) and activist (mad priders). We start with an overview of narrative theory as relevant to issues of mental difference and suffering. Key narrative topics we discuss include plot, metaphor, character, and point of view. With narrative theory as our guide, the many approaches we consider include biopsychiatry, psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, family therapy, feminist therapy, spiritual approaches, creative approaches, and disability studies approaches. We conclude with a consideration of the mad pride idea that sometimes madness is best seen as a “dangerous gift.”

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1740 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2014

Bridging Culture and Nature: An Introduction to Conservation Science

4 units Wed
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Jim Tolisano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1740

Description

This course is designed for those who wish to deepen our relationship to nature and then learn how to apply this understanding to the challenging work of applied conservation biology. The art and science of conservation biology brings together leading thinking from literature, art, communications, anthropology, archeology, social psychology, economics, and biology to conserve the incredible diversity of life found on our planet. In this class we will discover how business entrepreneurs, social scientists, wildlife biologists, and artists all play an integral role in creating and delivering practical conservation solutions. We will begin with an exploration of our own relationship to the natural world. We examine what biological diversity is, the principal threats to biological systems, and specific actions that are being taken to reverse these threats and protect life on earth. We also explore the premise that “managing” the ecology of the planet really requires us to manage ourselves and the human cultures we have created. The fieldwork of the physical and biological sciences provides the foundation from which our work as conservation biologists proceeds. However, the applied work of the social sciences, education, business, humanities and arts then serve as the tools we need to manage ourselves and create a relationship with nature that is mutually supportive. At the course conclusion students from all disciplines should see a role for themselves in the conservation work that is an essential part of our next century. Readings will include Sodhi and Erlich’s Conservation Biology for All, as well as selected readings from Nabhan, Snyder, Goodall, Tempest Williams, Kolbert, Margulis, and others.

Notes

Section 2 for Environmental Studies majors only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2014

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics , Cicero's De Fato , Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy , and Fromm's Escape From Freedom .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1761 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2014

Cold War, Hot Science

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Christopher Phillips

Description

The years following World War II witnessed unprecedented expansion in the cost and size of scientific activities in the United States. The expanding budget for military research played a central role, but the relevant developments were not limited to engineering and physics. From genetics and game theory to sociology and psychology, many fields developed in the shadow of the “Cold War.” Caught up in the “military-industrial-academic complex,” scientists and concerned citizens had to grapple with changing political dynamics. This course will approach the topic with a wide-angle lens, combining source material taken from academic scientists, political debates, novels, and popular films. Material may include works by J. Robert Oppenheimer, B.F. Skinner, Rachel Carson, Walter M. Miller, Jr., and Stanley Kubrick.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1664 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2014

Omens and Oracles: Reading the Future and Retaining the Past in Early China

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1664

Description

When ancient Chinese kings seared sacred bones with elemental fire, reading the future from the resulting cracks went hand in hand with creating archival records to preserve the past. In this class, we will explore several interrelated early Chinese divination traditions through classical texts, archaeology, and recently excavated manuscripts. In all cases we will pay attention to the complex interplay between past, present, and future, including aspects of the history of writing, the history of the book, and the interwoven histories of science and religion. After starting with a discussion of the above-mentioned oracle bones, we will proceed to examine the enigmatic Yijing ( Book of Changes ), the earliest and most revered of all the Chinese classics. Then we will consider a popularization of divination practices in the form of almanacs that circulated widely in ancient China. Students can expect to try their hands at the actual practice of the various divination techniques covered, but most class time will be used to engage important themes arising from our investigations, Readings may include: The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (Ca. 1200-1045 B.C.) by David Keightley; Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler; the Yijing ( Book of Changes ); selections from The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C. ; and select scholarly articles.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

SASEM-UG9550 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2014

TEL AVIV: The Present Past: Archaeology and History of the Land of Israel and its Relevance for Today

4 units

Description

THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-TEL AVIV. The course examines the archaeological findings, the biblical text and ancient Near Eastern records in an attempt to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel in the first Millennium BCE. The study of ancient Israel in biblical times attracts the imagination of millions around the world. Biblical accounts on kings such as David and Solomon are at the heart of most cultures today and it is no wonder that pure academic debates about the historicity of these biblical accounts echoes into public realm. Can we use archaeology and biblical scholarship in order to reconstruct a better image of these decisive events? Five currently hotly debated subjects in biblical history will be discussed with the students in class meetings, in field trips and with the help of guest speakers who will present their side of the argument.

Type

Global Programs (SASEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1207 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2015

Origins of the Atomic Age

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1207

Description

The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 permanently altered the world we live in. Fear of nuclear annihilation became a fact of life. Although the end of the Cold War relaxed the tensions somewhat, the combined arsenals of existing nuclear powers are still sufficient to destroy most of life on this planet many times over, and controversies continue over nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea. How did this extraordinary state of affairs come about? Why were the bombs made when and where they were made? Why were they used? Did the individuals involved understand the destructive potential of these new weapons and ponder moral questions involving their manufacture and use? Did they anticipate the nuclear arms race that has resulted. How does this episode fit into the longer history of the relationship between science and warfare? How were both hopes and fears transferred to the debates over nuclear power? Readings will likely include Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb , Hachiya, Hiroshima Diary , Gordin, Red Cloud at Dawn , and a variety of selections concerning nuclear proliferation, the disarmament movement, and nuclear power.

Notes

Section 2 for Environmental Studies majors only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1624 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2015

There and Back Again: Travelers and Traveling through the Middle Ages and Beyond

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

The image of the medieval world as dark, backward, and stagnant has for too long held sway over our modern popular conceptions of the era. In this course, we will investigate the ways in which the Middle Ages were actually a period of vast movement, migration, and pilgrimage. We will study the “discovery” of North America by Scandinavian sailors five centuries before Columbus. We will explore the colonization of the New World by European powers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. And throughout, we will ask how we can better understand the history of identity formation, orientalism, and imperialism in the pre-modern era. We will delve into the questions, the conflicts, and the painful changes that these travels and encounters fomented both within European society and without. Readings may include the Confession of St. Patrick , Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People , The Thousand and One Nights , the Saga of Eirik the Red , Marco Polo’s Division of the World , Mandeville’s Travels , Dante’s Divine Comedy , Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales , Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies , More’s Utopia , Bartolomé de las Casas’ Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies , and Françoise de Graffigny’s Letters from a Peruvian Woman .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1639 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2015

Witch, Heroine, Saint: Joan of Arc and Her World

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

In May 1431, Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orléans, was burned at the stake as a heretic and a witch by an English partisan court after the French nobility had betrayed her. An illiterate peasant girl just sixteen years of age, she had led the French back from the brink of defeat and saved the French monarchy from ruin. Yet in death, she would gain further power still as a martyr and symbol of indomitable French will and resistance. In this seminar, we will study Joan’s complex historical moment and her place within the long history of medieval women, Christian mysticism, and religious fanaticism. We will trace the stories of her appearance and military success, attempt to hear her voice in the extant transcript of her heresy trial, analyze contrasting French and English narratives about her life, and explore how she became the national heroine, patron saint, and political symbol that she is today. Texts will include Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies, Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues and Letters, Thomas of Cantimpré’s Life of Christina the Astonishing, and Shakespeare’s I Henry VI. We will also analyze and discuss modern renditions of the Joan of Arc story by such diverse artists as Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Luc Besson.

Notes

Same as HIST-UA 670

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1425 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2015

The Philosophic Dialogue

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Stacy Pies

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1425

Description

In this course, we read philosophical dialogues and their modern successors, poetic prose pieces and a play whose subjects are art and rhetoric. Ancient to modern writers have been fascinated with the power of art, and for each, ideas about art are connected to those about language and society. In our reading of Ion and Gorgias we look at Plato’s ideas on art, rhetoric (oratory), and power before his Republic. Phaedrus, written later, complements the discussion in earlier texts, developing Plato’s ideas about the relation of the intellect, the emotions, and the appetites. We then discuss Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, which revisits some of Plato’s themes from the perspective of the eighteenth century and the changing world of the Enlightenment. Finally, we explore the dialogue form in the twentieth century through Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia and excerpts from works of modern writers. In our dialogue, we explore not only what these writers say, but how they say it, and speculate on how and why conversation, rather than monologue, can give rise to knowledge. Among the questions I hope we consider are the following: How are ideas born from conversation (and, I hope, our conversations)? What is the importance of human relationship in intellectual inquiry? How does the dialogue imply, and necessitate, our participation as readers? Readings may include works by Plato, Diderot, Stoppard and selected excerpts from Bakhtin and Mallarmé.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2015

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics , Cicero's De Fato , Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy , and Fromm's Escape From Freedom .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2015

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon Wed
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The Arabian Nights ( The Thousand and One Nights ) is one of the most fascinating "world" texts. Since its translation and publication in European languages it has captivated the imagination of countless writers and artists such as Poe, Joyce, Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie. It continues to play a disproportionate role in constructing and perpetuating an essentialized and imaginary East, populated by violent and hypersexual beings. The narratives of the Nights and the cultural archive they have spawned have had a fascinating influence on literary and artistic production, popular culture, and political imagination. The course introduces students to this important world masterpiece and the debates surrounding it. We will start out by briefly tracing the genealogy of this collectively authored and anonymous text, its collection, and versions and the cultural context of its translation and popularity in the west. We will then explore the literary structure and narrative strategies and dynamics of the Nights , read some of its most famous cycles and discuss how they have been read from a variety of perspectives, focusing primarily on gender and sexuality, power and politics, and otherness and boundaries. In the last part of the course we will read some of the modern literary works inspired by the Nights (Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie) and will end by watching and exploring how the Nights fared in adaptations in popular culture, especially in the US. All readings in English.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2014

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The Arabian Nights ( The Thousand and One Nights ) is one of the most fascinating "world" texts. Since its translation and publication in European languages it has captivated the imagination of countless writers and artists such as Poe, Joyce, Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie. It continues to play a disproportionate role in constructing and perpetuating an essentialized and imaginary East, populated by violent and hypersexual beings. The narratives of the Nights and the cultural archive they have spawned have had a fascinating influence on literary and artistic production, popular culture, and political imagination. The course introduces students to this important world masterpiece and the debates surrounding it. We will start out by briefly tracing the genealogy of this collectively authored and anonymous text, its collection, and versions and the cultural context of its translation and popularity in the west. We will then explore the literary structure and narrative strategies and dynamics of the Nights , read some of its most famous cycles and discuss how they have been read from a variety of perspectives, focusing primarily on gender and sexuality, power and politics, and otherness and boundaries. In the last part of the course we will read some of the modern literary works inspired by the Nights (Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie) and will end by watching and exploring how the Nights fared in adaptations in popular culture, especially in the US. All readings in English.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1156 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
FA 2014

The Darwinian Revolution

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Description

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection may be the single most influential, and controversial, scientific theory ever proposed. This course will examine the origin, nature, and consequences of Darwin’s theory, with an emphasis on interrelationships among the social, cultural, and intellectual dimensions of the scientific enterprise. Topics include the connections between Darwinian theory and social, political, and moral discourse in Victorian Britain; initial and more recent scientific and public controversies; resistance to the theory by conservative Christians; applications and misapplications of the theory, such as Social Darwinism, eugenics, and sociobiology; and the influence of Darwinian thought on literature and the arts. In addition to the Origin of Species and excerpts from Voyage of the Beagle , Descent of Man , and other Darwin writings, readings may include Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos , selections from Malthus, Spencer, and Huxley, and recent works by Richard Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, Stephen Gould, Marlene Zuk, Jerry Coyne, and Sarah Hrdy, among others.

Notes

Sect 002 for Environmental Studies majors.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia. As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1790 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2014

The Scientific Revolution

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Matthew Stanley

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1790

Description

Science is today one of the most powerful ways to understand the world. But there was a time when all the foundations of modern science—experiments, theories, mathematics, scientific instruments—were considered radical, unreliable, and unjustified. The period when these foundations came to be accepted is known as the Scientific Revolution. This was the era of Copernicus, Newton, and Galileo pioneering dramatically new ways of thinking about the universe and humanity’s place in it, and this course explores how these new ways came to be accepted. We will look at not just the great achievements of the Scientific Revolution, but also how those achievements were crucially interdependent on the contemporary context of society, politics, religion, printing, and art. We will discuss why science appeared when and where it did, how science impacted society, and how we can retain the power of science while also acknowledging that it is fundamentally a human enterprise. Readings include works by Aristotle, Ibn Sina, Copernicus, Descartes, Vesalius, Francis Bacon, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, and Leibniz, as well as selections from Shapin and Schaffer’s Leviathan and the Air Pump , Daston and Park’s Wonders and the Order of Nature , and Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1640 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2014

The History of Kindness

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

How have human beings conceived and represented benevolent behavior toward others differently across time and place? In this course, we will explore the history of the concepts, ideals, and behaviors that we associate with the modern English word, "kindness" -- a story that begins in the classical world and unfolds slowly through two millennia into the present day. We will connect ancient debates about human nature, the practice of justice, and moral responsibility, to recent studies concerning the evolutionary biology of altruism (is there a "kindness gene"?), sociological studies of gender difference (is hostility a male trait?), and anthropological studies of how culture regulates conduct. We will study the rise of state-sponsored morality and the ways in which ideals of social welfare have changed over time. Key texts will include Plato's Republic, The Gospel of Matthew, Augustine's City of God, Dhuoda's Handbook for her son, Chaucer's Tale of Melibee, Voltaire's Treatise on Tolerance, and Ghandi's The Story of My Experiments with Truth. As part of the course, students will also conduct individual studies of how "kindness" is defined, enacted, and organized throughout the New York metropolitan area today, with the opportunity to combine research with internship work.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1298 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2014

Ecology and Environmental Thought

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Gene Cittadino

Description

Ecological science and environmentalism appear to be relatively recent developments, but they have long and deep roots in our culture. Their interrelated histories, their connections to broader intellectual, cultural, social and political trends, their sometimes tenuous relationship to one another over the past century, and their continuing interactions in the discourse over the fate of nature constitute the subject of this course. Considerable attention will be given to the science of ecology–its concepts, explanations, and methods—as well as to the broad cultural background in which it has developed. There will also be much emphasis on historical developments in the sciences and in environmental philosophy and policy. Topics include changing views of equilibrium and balance in nature, myths of the primitive (pristine nature,the ecologically noble savage, etc.), the transfer of metaphors between social theory and ecology, conservative and postmodern critiques of ecology, and recent debates over biodiversity, population, global warming, and environmental justice. Readings will include historical works by authors from Linnaeus, Malthus, and Darwin to Thoreau and George Perkins Marsh, environmental classics, such as works by Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Paul Ehrlich, and a variety of works by contemporary ecologists and environmentalists.

Notes

Section 2 for Environmental Studies majors only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1652 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
SP 2014

Science and Culture

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Myles Jackson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1652

Description

This course, which spans from the Scientific Revolution to the present, examines various examples of how the conduct and context of science are framed by culture, and conversely, how science shapes culture. Which models proffered by various historians, philosophers, cultural anthropologists, and sociologists can begin to explain this relationship? The first portion of this course addresses how scientific knowledge was intricately intertwined with religious and political knowledge during the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. The next section illustrates how important developments in thermodynamics (or the physics of work and waste) led to improvements in nineteenth-century musical instrument design and a change in musical aesthetics. Similarly, we shall discuss how twentieth-century technological and scientific developments in fin-de-siècle Europe and the U.S. directly led to new artistic expressions and aesthetics. The final third of the course looks at how the content of scientific and technological knowledge associated with “Big Science” from World War II to the present owes much to the development of national defense in the case of physics and to venture-corporate capitalism in the case of molecular biology. Rather than simply stay at the level of case studies, we shall continually test the various models, which attempt to explain the complex and historically contingent relationship between science and culture, including Marx’s theory of base-superstructure, Kuhn’s paradigm, Latour’s social constructivism, Shapin and Schaffer’s historical social constructivism, and Galison’s bricolage model and trading zones. Finally, the course will force students to think about related issues, such as the history of objectivity and the differences and similarities between science on the one hand, and the social sciences and humanities on the other. Readings include: Shapin and Schaffer, Galison, Jackson, Latour, Marx, and Kuhn.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1569 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2014

Myths as Images from the Ancient World to Shakespeare

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Hallie Franks