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Spring 2017   Fall 2016  

Spring 2017

PHIL 300-01

20th Century Contintental Philosophy

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 02:20 pm-03:20 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Diane Michelfelder

Notes: Close reading, reflection, and analysis of a work or works associated with a major figure or movement within the tradition of twentieth-century Continental philosophy. (4 credits)

POLI 160-01

Foundations of Political Theory

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-10:40 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Charmaine Chua

Notes: An examination of the evolution of fundamental western political ideas from the Greeks to the present. (4 credits)

Foundations Courses: Courses numbered in the 100s are Foundations courses. These courses are designed principally for beginning political science majors, as well as non-majors seeking an introduction to the discipline's various sub-fields. The purpose of these courses is threefold: To provide foundational knowledge of the key actors, structures, institutions and/or historical dynamics relevant to the respective sub-fields; to introduce the major theoretical trends, perspectives and debates that have shaped the evolution of the respective sub-fields; and to begin to develop a range of practical competencies (esp. research/writing skills) essential to further scholarly inquiry within the discipline of political science.


SOCI 272-01

Social Theories

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Khaldoun Samman

Notes: This course is designed to engage students with the most sophisticated and useful schools of thought available in the social science disciplines. The course raises a number of questions: How can we best understand the complexities of self and society? Are these units of analysis useful in and of themselves? Are they contained in an essential body or polity that we can identify as some unitary entity

called Jenny and John Doe, American, French, Arab/Jew, black/white, modern/primitive, developed/underdeveloped, Oriental/ Occidental, homo/heterosexual, male/female? Or are they socially produced units that have no essence in-of-themselves, produced and made real only through performance with the "Other"? Furthermore, is there something unique about modernity that has fundamentally transformed the notions of our selves, bodies, polities, races, and civilizations? If the answer to the last question is in the affirmative, how and why did this come to be the case, and what consequences does it hold for our

understanding of the past and of the future? These are the kinds of questions that great figures in sociology have been asking since the nineteenth-century, including classic theorists like Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, as well as more recent writers such as Ervin Goffman, Michel Foucault, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Edward Said.

SOCI 290-01

Colonialism, Modernity, and Identities in the Middle East

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Khaldoun Samman

Notes: How can we best understand the complexities of the present U.S. "War on Terrorism"? Should it be understood as a clash between two different cultural systems, one modern and democratic and the other feudal and fanatic? Or, is the violence systemic, taking a variety of forms in different parts of the globe? What role does power and inequality on a global scale have to do with it? These and many other questions will be dealt with in this course. We will trace the conflict historically to assess moments of violence and tensions and other periods of calm and symbioses. Finally, we will analyze how modernity transformed the relationship between Islam and the West, Jew and Arab, male and female, and nation/race and identity. (4 credits)


WGSS 240-01

Comparative Feminisms: Whiteness and Postcolonialisms

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Sonita Sarker

Notes: This course brings together discourses that have remained somewhat parallel and unrelated--Whiteness Studies and Postcolonial Studies. It is based on the premise that 'whiteness' as an academic/social framework stems from and is intertwined with social and political identity-based movements (feminist, critical race, etc.). In other words, studies of the intersection of gender, race, class, and nation initiated in the post-colonizing imagination seeks to shake up paradigms of power, and whiteness studies shares in this effort. This course explores where and how the notion of 'whiteness' converges and diverges from post-colonialism. (4 credits)

WGSS 300-01

Advanced Feminist/Queer Theories and Methodologies

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Sonita Sarker

Notes: *Cross-listed with INTL 300-01*

This course is an in-depth study of some specific theories and methodologies on which contemporary feminist and queer thinkers have based their analysis, critique, and reconstruction of men's and women's roles. Some guiding questions are: What is a Nation? Who are its citizens? How do language and gender roles shape the ways we imagine our roles as men and women? Do sexuality or economy affect how we subscribe to or resist political ideologies? In previous offerings, the course has explored the intersection of Postcolonialism (gendered critiques of colonizing sociopolitical and economic structures) with Postmodernism (gendered critiques of language, sexuality, culture, and nation). The course will include film, photography, music, and the writings of Butler, Foucault, Chodorow, Kristeva, hooks, Spivak, and Trinh, among others. It offers ways to create links with local community and social-work organizations. Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 200 highly recommended as prerequisite. (4 credits)

Fall 2016

ENGL 394-02

Dead White Men: Time & Truth in Era of Ideology & Biopower (Crit Thought from Descartes to Zizek)

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 03:30 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: NEILL 213
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Cross-listed with GERM 337-01 and MCST 337-01*


GERM 337-01

Dead White Men: Time & Truth in Era of Ideology & Biopower (Crit Thought from Descartes to Zizek)

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 03:30 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: NEILL 213
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Cross-listed with ENGL 394-02 and MCST 337-01*

Today we often hear people dismiss the Western (mostly European) philosophical tradition as a bunch of “dead white men.” In other words, the argument goes, these thinkers harbored such passe notions as universal truths, a universal subject, and an individual in total control of itself and endowed with a pure reason unadulterated by rhetoric, imagination, fiction, and politics. Why should we bother with “dead white men” now that we understand that truth depends on historical context, that the self is decentered by the unconscious, that identity is constituted by gender, race, class, and other cultural factors, that truth is linked to power, and that ideology is omnipresent? Unfortunately, this all-too-familiar attitude overlooks its own faulty presupposition: it presumes a clear-cut break between philosophical tradition and contemporary thought, as if contemporary thought had no tradition out of which it emerged and could, therefore, merely discard what preceded it. Hence the popularity of phrases like “philosophy is dead.” It is all the more ironic to see this attitude prevail in the West at the very moment that multiculturalism has become our cause celebre : all cultural traditions are supposed to be “respected,” except the West’s own tradition. (Perhaps as a new way for the West to reinstate surreptitiously its superiority as the sole culture with no tradition?) This course pursues a close reading of texts by various “dead white men” as the unconscious (i.e., repressed and, for that matter, all the more powerful) undercurrent of contemporary thought. Assigned texts will include: Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Marx, as well as texts by twentieth-century thinkers that stress the dependence of contemporary thought on philosophy. No pre-knowledge required; all readings in English. With different reading lists this course may be taken more than once for credit. Cross-listed with Media and Cultural Studies 337. Alternate years. (4 credits)

GERM 394-02

From Kant to Hegel

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: NEILL 212
  • Instructor: David Martyn

Notes: *Taught in English; cross-listed with PHIL 294-01; not open to incoming FY students* "Spirit is a bone," wrote Hegel, exploding traditional logic and by extension the way we think about ethics, politics, and society. Hegel's discovery that consciousness is an historical artifact cleared the way for neo-Marxist social theory (Adorno), feminism (Beauvoir, Irigaray), constructivist gender theory (Butler), to mention just a few who moved in the "wake of Hegel." In this course, after familiarizing ourselves with relevant issues in Kant (Hegel's main foil), we will work through Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit with an eye to its significance for issues of critical and social theory. Discussion topics include: "human nature" as a product of history; narrative as a way of "doing" philosophy; the master-slave dialectic; how an historical event like the French Revolution is part of "philosophy"; gender theory and Hegel's reading of Sophocles' "Antigone." No prerequisites except a willingness to work through densely argued texts. Weekly reading responses, 3 mid-length papers.

MCST 337-01

Dead White Men: Time & Truth in Era of Ideology & Biopower (Crit Thought from Descartes to Zizek)

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 03:30 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: NEILL 213
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Cross-listed with ENGL 394-02 and GERM 337-01*

Today we often hear people dismiss the Western (mostly European) philosophical tradition as a bunch of “dead white men.” In other words, the argument goes, these thinkers harbored such passe notions as universal truths, a universal subject, and an individual in total control of itself and endowed with a pure reason unadulterated by rhetoric, imagination, fiction, and politics. Why should we bother with “dead white men” now that we understand that truth depends on historical context, that the self is decentered by the unconscious, that identity is constituted by gender, race, class, and other cultural factors, that truth is linked to power, and that ideology is omnipresent? Unfortunately, this all-too-familiar attitude overlooks its own faulty presupposition: it presumes a clear-cut break between philosophical tradition and contemporary thought, as if contemporary thought had no tradition out of which it emerged and could, therefore, merely discard what preceded it. Hence the popularity of phrases like “philosophy is dead.” It is all the more ironic to see this attitude prevail in the West at the very moment that multiculturalism has become our cause celebre : all cultural traditions are supposed to be “respected,” except the West’s own tradition. (Perhaps as a new way for the West to reinstate surreptitiously its superiority as the sole culture with no tradition?) This course pursues a close reading of texts by various “dead white men” as the unconscious (i.e., repressed and, for that matter, all the more powerful) undercurrent of contemporary thought. Assigned texts will include: Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Marx, as well as texts by twentieth-century thinkers that stress the dependence of contemporary thought on philosophy. No pre-knowledge required; all readings in English. With different reading lists this course may be taken more than once for credit . Alternate years. Cross-listed with German Studies 337. (4 credits)

PHIL 294-01

From Kant to Hegel

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: NEILL 212
  • Instructor: David Martyn

Notes: *Taught in English; cross-listed with GERM 394-02; not open to incoming FY students* "Spirit is a bone," wrote Hegel, exploding traditional logic and by extension the way we think about ethics, politics, and society. Hegel's discovery that consciousness is an historical artifact cleared the way for neo-Marxist social theory (Adorno), feminism (Beauvoir, Irigaray), constructivist gender theory (Butler), to mention just a few who moved in the "wake of Hegel." In this course, after familiarizing ourselves with relevant issues in Kant (Hegel's main foil), we will work through Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit with an eye to its significance for issues of critical and social theory. Discussion topics include: "human nature" as a product of history; narrative as a way of "doing" philosophy; the master-slave dialectic; how an historical event like the French Revolution is part of "philosophy"; gender theory and Hegel's reading of Sophocles' "Antigone." No prerequisites except a willingness to work through densely argued texts. Weekly reading responses, 3 mid-length papers.

RELI 235-01

Theorizing Religion

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: MAIN 111
  • Instructor: Erik Davis

Notes: The course is an introduction to some of the important theoretical and methodological work conducted by scholars in various disciplines who hope to better define and understand religious phenomena. This seminar begins with some of the early twentieth century texts that are often cited and discussed by contemporary scholars of religion (e.g., Durkheim, Weber, Freud) and then turns to a number of investigations stemming from engagement with earlier theorists or refracting new concerns. The course inquires into the problems of defining and analyzing religious cultures, and the researcher's position or positions in this analysis, as this has been approached from anthropological, sociological, and religious studies perspectives. (4 credits)


RELI 354-01

Human Sacrifice: Killing for God and State

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: MAIN 011
  • Instructor: William Hart

Notes: Though sacrifice is often viewed as the exclusive property of religion, this course is organized around the claim that religion and statecraft (the art of governing a nation well) are connected through practices of human sacrifice. Thus, in this course, we use "human sacrifice" as a comparative category to understand aspects of religion and statecraft, especially in war, capital punishment, torture, terrorism, and genocide. Though torture, terrorism, and genocide are important, our special focus is warfare and capital punishment, which encompass the other sites of human sacrifice. The central questions are the following: Why do gods and states demand blood; whence the impulse to human sacrifice? What are the relations between divine sovereignty, political sovereignty, and sacrifice? What are the modalities of human sacrifice? Is human sacrifice inevitable? (4 credits)

THDA 489-01

Performance Theory Seminar: Theorizing the Body/Embodying Theory

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: THEATR 205
  • Instructor: Malin Palani

Notes: *First day attendance required; course open to Juniors and Seniors of any discipline; all others contact instructor for approval.* Those who make performance—the practitioners—are often thought to be different and distinct from those who theorize performance—the academics. However, as this seminar suggests, well-thought theory is rooted in material practice inasmuch as performance practice is rooted in thinking and theorizing. The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to a wide array of critical theorists and theoretical approaches with a particular emphasis on how these approaches are bound to the study and practice of theatre and performance. The seminar is not a comprehensive course that investigates any one theoretical field in detail and to its fullest complexity. Rather, we will work to closely read texts from a broad range of critical approaches, to connect theoretical approaches to material practices, and to understand theory through our own embodiment. The readings are situated in fields such as Feminist/Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory, Critical Theory, and Eco-Criticism. The course is designed to encourage students to practically think through theory and to theoretically think through practice—questioning how the two are bound together in different ways.