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Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number IDSEM-UG1869
Section 001
Instructor Todd Porterfield
Days W
Time 9:30 AM - 12:15 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



How might we examine the myth of Babel to test assumptions about belonging and separateness? The construction of the Tower and its destruction by God, who then covered the earth with uncomprehending multitudes, would seem to be a story of uniformity, ambition, and then essential difference, of architecture, power, identity, language, and geographic spread. For thousands of years and from the Bible to the Early Modern to today, it seems to haunts us in architectural and imperial ambitions, in film and mass media, in high and contemporary art, in dystopian nightmares about globalization, in novels of authoritarian repression and novellas of spell-binding imaginings of freedom and connectedness. In this seminar we will analyze many of its figurations in Biblical and archaeological scholarship, literature, art and architectural history, film and visual studies, linguistics, philosophy, politics, and history. The subject leaves few alternatives but to broach the culture, politics, and philosophy of living together, and so we will explore some possible alternatives in peace and hospitality, in translation and in embracing the incompetence of language. Amongst the authors encountered, there will be Borges, Derrida, Gideon, Goethe, Huntington, Kafka, Kant, Mirzoeff, and Wordsworth.


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)