This interdisciplinary seminar for incoming M.A. students introduces a series of key twentieth and twenty-first century theoretical debates about the subject and object of interpretation in the modern humanities. The course begins with discussions concerning author, text, and context that took place within the British and American literary circles of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s – clashes over the origin and location of meaning that challenged the ways in which artists and critics had traditionally conceived of their work. These debates led to broad reevaluations – sometimes quite radical – of the interpretive act itself within both the academic and public spheres. The course continues with close analysis of the so-called “Linguistic Turn” of the 1970s and early ’80s, which both reflected and fomented broader shifts and revolutions of thought within the contemporary western world. The final weeks of the semester culminate with an exploration of critical interpretive trends today: theories of culture, narrative, memory, representation, power, disciplinarity, and interdisciplinarity. Students will emerge from the course with a stronger historical grasp of the interpretive theory of the past century, and will be challenged to use the course’s introductory framework to identify and to develop further the theoretical underpinnings of their own individual graduate work. Readings will be applicable to all humanities fields and shall include cultural critics such as Bhabha, Butler, and Fish, as well as more philosophical voices such as Barthes, Derrida, Spivak, and Zizek. Guest appearances by Gallatin faculty will facilitate a broad interdisciplinary discussion of not only the theory, but its application in research and practice.
Graduate Core (CORE-GG)