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First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Boundaries and Transgressions

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG69
Section 001
Instructor Marie Cruz Soto
Days TR
Time 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


Boundaries, especially those thought to separate national communities, are powerful human inventions that can scar landscapes and bodies. The frontiers of the United States, for example, have been centuries in the making. Yet, these geographical imaginaries, however stable they may appear, depend on their continuous embracing, enforcement and redefinition. Indeed, the limits of the U.S. community (where the national ends and the foreign begins) are redefined on a daily basis along such sites as the Rio Grande, Guantánamo and others. These sites—porous and formidable—are the cause of much movement, anxiety and debate. This course takes boundaries as a lens through which to think about identity formation, community building and transgressions. It will begin with a broad exploration of boundary-making, subjectivities and imperial formations, and then address more specific dynamics of national demarcations (with special attention paid to U.S. and Haiti/Dominican Republic frontiers). The following questions guide the semester: How are boundaries imagined into existence and made to matter in the daily lives of different peoples? And, how can transgression and its consequences be understood? Readings might include Edwidge Danticat’s  The Farming of Bones , Frederick Jackson Turner’s  The Significance of the Frontier in American History , and texts by Sigmund Freud, Amy Kaplan, Gloria Anzaldúa and Julia Kristeva.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Interdisciplinary Seminars (FIRST-UG)