Related Courses, Fall 2023
Agrarian Societies: Culture, Society, History, and Development
An interdisciplinary examination of agrarian societies, contemporary and historical, Western and non-Western. Major analytical perspectives from anthropology, economics, history, political science, and environmental studies are used to develop a meaning-centered and historically grounded account of the transformations of rural society. Team-taught.
Analysis of Social Structure
Emphasizing analytically integrated viewpoints, the course develops a variety of major contemporary approaches to the study of social structure and social organization. Building in part on research viewpoints articulated by Kenneth J. Arrow in The Limits of Organization (1974), by János Kornai in an address at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences published in 1984, and by Harrison C. White in Identity and Control (2nd ed., 2008), four major species of social organization are identified as focal: (1) social networks, (2) competitive markets, (3) hierarchies/bureaucracy, and (4) collective choice/legislation. This lecture course uses mathematical and computational models—and comparisons of their scientific styles and contributions—as analytical vehicles in coordinated development of the four species.
Anthropological Theory and the Post Colonial Encounter
Key texts in the theoretical development of sociocultural anthropology. Theorists include Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Franz Boas, Zora Neale Hurston, Sidney Mintz, Bernard Cohn, Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Antonio Gramsci, Sherry Ortner, and Joan Scott.
Applied Methods of Analysis
This course is an introduction to statistics and their application in public policy and global affairs research. It consists of two weekly class sessions in addition to a discussion section. The discussion section is used to cover problems encountered in the lectures and written assignments, as well as to develop statistical computing skills. Throughout the term we cover issues related to data collection (including surveys, sampling, and weighted data), data description (graphical and numerical techniques for summarizing data), probability and probability distributions, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, measures of association, and regression analysis. The course assumes no prior knowledge of statistics and no mathematical knowledge beyond calculus. Graded only, sat/unsat option is not permissible.
Art and Resistance in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine
This interdisciplinary seminar is devoted to the study of protest art as part of the struggle of society against authoritarianism and totalitarianism. It focuses on the example of the Soviet and post-Soviet transformation of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. The period under discussion begins after the death of Stalin in 1953 and ends with the art of protest against the modern post-Soviet dictatorships of Alexander Lukashenka in Belarus and Vladimir Putin in Russia, the protest art of the Ukrainian Maidan, and the anti-war movement of artists against the Russian-Ukrainian war. The course begins by looking at the influence of the “Khrushchev Thaw” on literature and cinema, which opened the way for protest art to a wide Soviet audience. We explore different approaches to protest art in conditions of political unfreedom: “nonconformism,” “dissidence,” “mimicry,” “rebellion.” The course investigates the existential conflict of artistic freedom and the political machine of authoritarianism. These themes are explored at different levels through specific examples from the works and biographies of artists. Students immerse themselves in works of different genres: films, songs, performances, plays, and literary works.
Black Iberia: Then and Now
This graduate seminar examines the variety of artistic, cultural, historical, and literary representations of black Africans and their descendants—both enslaved and free—across the vast stretches of the Luso-Hispanic world and the United States. Taking a chronological frame, the course begins its study of Blackness in medieval and early modern Iberia and its colonial kingdoms. From there, we examine the status of Blackness conceptually and ideologically in Asia, the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. Toward the end of the semester, we concentrate on black Africans by focusing on Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan African immigration in present-day Portugal and Spain, and the politics of Afro-Latinx culture and its identity politics in the United States. Throughout the term, we interrogate the following topics in order to guide our class discussions and readings: bondage and enslavement, fugitivity and maroonage, animal imageries and human-animal studies, geography and maps, Black Feminism and Black Queer Studies, material and visual cultures (e.g., beauty ads, clothing, cosmetics, food, Blackface performance, royal portraiture, reality TV, and music videos), the Inquisition and African diasporic religions, and dispossession and immigration. Our challenging task remains the following: to see how Blackness conceptually and experientially is subversively fluid and performative, yet deceptive and paradoxical. This course will be taught in English, with all materials available in the original (English, Portuguese, Spanish) and in English translation.
Byzantine Art and Architecture
This lecture course explores the art, architecture, and material culture of the Byzantine Empire from the foundation of its capital, Constantinople, in the fourth century to the fifteenth century. Centered around the Eastern Mediterranean, Byzantium was a dominant political power in Europe for several centuries and fostered a highly sophisticated artistic culture. This course aims to familiarize students with key objects and monuments from various media—mosaic, frescoes, wooden panels, metalwork, ivory carvings—and from a variety of contexts—public and private, lay and monastic, imperial and political. We give special attention to issues of patronage, propaganda, reception, and theological milieux, as well as the interaction of architecture and ritual. More generally, students become acquainted with the methodological tools and vocabulary that art historians employ to describe, understand, and interpret works of art.
Cultural sociology studies “irrational” meanings in supposedly rational, modern societies. Social meanings are symbolic, but also sensual, emotional, and moral. They can deeply divide nations but also powerfully unite them. They affect every dimension of social life, from politics and markets to race and gender relations, class, conflict, and war. We look at how this cultural approach developed, from counterintuitive writings of Durkheim and Weber a century ago, to the breakthroughs of semiotics and anthropology in midcentury, the creation of modern cultural sociology in the 1980s, and new thinking about social performance and material icons today. As we trace this historical arc, we examine ancient and modern religion, contemporary capitalism, the coronation of Elizabeth II, professional wrestling, Americans not eating horses, the Iraq War, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, and the new cult of vinyl records.
Culture, History, Power, and Representation
This seminar critically explores how anthropologists use contemporary social theories to formulate the junctures of meaning, interest, and power. It thus aims to integrate symbolic, economic, and political perspectives on culture and social process. If culture refers to the understandings and meanings by which people live, then it constitutes the conventions of social life that are themselves produced in the flux of social life, invented by human activity. Theories of culture must therefore illuminate this problematic of agency and structure. They must show how social action can both reproduce and transform the structures of meaning, the conventions of social life. Even as such a position becomes orthodox in anthropology, it raises serious questions about the possibilities for ethnographic practice and theoretical analysis. How, for example, are such conventions generated and transformed where there are wide differentials of power and unequal access to resources? What becomes of our notions of humans as active agents of culture when the possibilities for maneuver and the margin of action for many are overwhelmed by the constraints of a few? How do elites—ritual elders, Brahmanic priests, manorial lords, factory-managers—secure compliance to a normative order? How are expressions of submission and resistance woven together in a fabric of cultural understandings? How does a theory of culture enhance our analyses of the reconstitution of political authority from traditional kingship to modern nation-state, the encapsulation of pre-capitalist modes of production, and the attempts to convert “primordial sentiments” to “civic loyalties”? How do transnational fluidities and diasporic connections make instruments of nation-states contingent? These questions are some of the questions we immediately face when probing the intersections of culture, politics and representation, and they are the issues that lie behind this seminar.
This class examines the process of democratic backsliding, including its causes and consequences. Our analysis builds on prominent contemporary and historical cases of democratic backsliding, especially Hungary, India, Poland, Russia, and Venezuela. Implications for democratic stability in the United States are considered.
Empire in Russian Culture
Interdisciplinary exploration of Russia’s modern imperial culture, especially of the nineteenth century. How did this culture reflect, shape, and challenge imperial reality? How did the multiethnic and multiconfessional empire figure in negotiations of Russian national identity? Other topics include versions of Russian and Soviet Orientalism and colonialism, representations of peripheral regions, relations between ethnic groups, and the role of gender and race in Russia’s imperial imagination. Materials combine fiction, poetry, travel writing, painting, and film, with readings in postcolonial studies, history, political science, and anthropology. Most readings are assigned in translation, although students with a knowledge of Russian are encouraged to read the primary texts in the original; the language of seminar discussions will be English. Students with an interest in comparative studies of empire are welcome.
This is a core anthropology graduate program course; others admitted only by permission of the instructor.
This course explores the practice of ethnographic analysis, writing, and representation. Through our reading of contemporary ethnographies and theoretical work on ethnographic fieldwork in anthropological and interdisciplinary research, we explore key approaches to intersubjective encounters, including phenomenological anthropology, relational psychoanalysis, affect studies, and the new materialisms. Our inquiries coalesce around the poetics and politics of what it means to sense and sensationalize co-present subjectivities, temporalities, and ontologies in multispecies worlds and global economies.
European Empires and Law
Empires used law to structure conquest, establish the legitimacy of rule, justify violence, and absorb new populations and territories. Imperial interactions with conquered populations developed in important ways through the medium of law. The conflicts in and among empires helped to shape the global legal order and to mold the contents of international law. This course considers these and other topics and problems. Readings include selections from the works of key European jurists but focus mainly on providing students with a firm grasp of trends in the secondary literature on empire and law. The emphasis is on the legal history of European empires between 1500 and 1900, but students are encouraged to explore topics and interests in other imperial historiographies.
Foundations of Film and Media
The course sets in place some undergirding for students who want to anchor their film interest to the professional discourse of this field. A coordinated set of topics in film theory is interrupted first by the often discordant voice of history and second by the obtuseness of the films examined each week. Films themselves take the lead in our discussions.
Foundations of Statistical Inference
This course provides an intensive introduction to statistical theory for quantitative empirical inquiry in the social sciences. Topics include foundations of probability theory, statistical inference from random samples, estimation theory, linear regression, maximum likelihood estimation, and a brief introduction to identification.
German Film from 1945 to the Present
We look at a variety of German-language feature films from 1945 to the present in order to focus on issues of trauma, guilt, remembrance (and its counterpart: amnesia), gender, Heimat or “homeland,” national and transnational self-fashioning, terrorism, and ethics. How do the Second World War and its legacy inflect these films? What sociopolitical and economic factors influence the individual and collective identities that these films articulate? How do the predominant concerns shift with the passage of time and with changing media? How is the category of nation constructed and contested within the narratives themselves? Close attention is paid to the aesthetic issues and the concept of authorship. Films by Staudte, Wolf, Kluge, Radax, Wenders, Fassbinder, Schroeter, Farocki, Haneke, Petzold, Schanelec, Seidl, Hausner, and Geyrhalter, among others. This class has an optional German section (fifty minutes a week) for students interested in counting this class for the Advanced Language Certificate. A minimum of three students is required for the section to run.
Global and International History Workshop
This workshop offers graduate students opportunities for guided interactions with a community of scholars in global and international history. Students comment on the research of leading scholars and refine their abilities in historical analysis and research presentation. The seminar runs in conjunction with the Global and International History Workshop (GIHW), which brings between six and eight scholars to present their work each year. Presenters represent different temporal and geographical specializations but share an international orientation and methodology in their work. The workshop is open to any student whose research is, broadly speaking, situated within global and international history.
Global Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Early Modern Era
An examination of the encounters between Europeans and other peoples of the world, c. 1450–1850, with attention to the role of perception, preconceptions, and events on both sides of such meetings. Both the history of such encounters as well as the historical methods best used for the study of a global history of alterity and cultural perceptions are discussed.
Global History of Eastern Europe
A thematic survey of major issues in modern east European history, with emphasis on recent historiography. A reading course with multiple brief writing assignments.
History of British Empire
This reading and discussion seminar focuses on the history of British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We explore recently published works and older texts that have significantly shaped the field. Major themes include law, mobility, race, labor, and gender across time and space.
History of Early Christianity: Origins and Growth
This course introduces students to early Christianity from apostolic times through the eighth century. It examines the social, political, and religious context of early Christianity; its expansion and Imperial adoption; the character of its life, worship, and mission; the formation of the Christian scriptures; the articulation and defense of a central body of doctrine; church councils and creeds; the monastic movement; and early Christian art. In conversation with influential theologians of the period, we ask questions about ways in which early Christian identities are formed and explore how power is used and distributed in this process. Students are exposed to a range of primary sources and modes of historical study. This course serves as essential preparation for the study of Christian history and theology in later historical periods. Above all, it provides an opportunity to consider early Christianity on its own terms and to discover how it continues to shape the lives of Christian communities today.
History of Early Modern Christianity: Reformation to Enlightenment
This course introduces students to the rapidly changing world of early modern Christianity, a period that ranges from the Reformation to the Enlightenment and the transatlantic worlds of the eighteenth century. This age saw the dramatic expansion of Christianity beyond Europe to Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and the course explores the global nature of the early modern world. Themes such as colonization, slavery, and the diversities of religious experience are examined. Students are exposed to a range of primary sources and historical methods to examine rival interpretations and perspectives. The course focuses on the reading of a wide variety of primary sources from the period. Above all, it challenges students to consider the past both on its own terms and how it continues to shape our present.
Introduction to Digital Humanities I: Architectures of Knowledge
The cultural record of humanity is undergoing a massive and epochal transformation into shared analog and digital realities. While we are vaguely familiar with the history and realities of the analog record—libraries, archives, historical artifacts—the digital cultural record remains largely unexamined and relatively mysterious to humanities scholars. In this course students are introduced to the broad field of digital humanities, theory and practice, through a stepwise exploration of the new architectures and genres of scholarly and humanistic production and reproduction in the twenty-first century. The course combines a seminar, preceded by a brief lecture, and a digital studio. Every week we move through our discussions in tandem with hands-on exercises that serve to illuminate our readings and help students gain a measure of computational proficiency useful in humanities scholarship. Students learn about the basics of plain text, file and operating systems, data structures and internet infrastructure. Students also learn to understand, produce, and evaluate a few popular genres of digital humanities, including, digital editions of literary or historical texts, collections and exhibits of primary sources and interactive maps. Finally, and perhaps the most important lesson of the term, students learn to collaborate with each other on a common research project. No prior experience is required.
Introduction to Methods in Quantitative Sociology
Introduction to methods in quantitative sociological research. Covers data description; graphical approaches; elementary probability theory; bivariate and multivariate linear regression; regression diagnostics. Includes hands-on data analysis using Stata.
Introduction to Public Humanities
What is the relationship between knowledge produced in the university and the circulation of ideas among a broader public, between academic expertise on the one hand and nonprofessionalized ways of knowing and thinking on the other? What is possible? This seminar provides an introduction to various institutional relations and to the modes of inquiry, interpretation, and presentation by which practitioners in the humanities seek to invigorate the flow of information and ideas among a public more broadly conceived than the academy, its classrooms, and its exclusive readership of specialists. Topics include public history, museum studies, oral and community history, public art, documentary film and photography, public writing and educational outreach, the socially conscious performing arts, and fundraising. In addition to core readings and discussions, the seminar includes presentations by several practitioners who are currently engaged in different aspects of the Public Humanities. With the help of Yale faculty and affiliated institutions, participants collaborate in developing and executing a Public Humanities project of their own definition and design. Possibilities might include, but are not limited to, an exhibit or installation, a documentary, a set of walking tours, a website, a documents collection for use in public schools.
Introduction to the Study of Politics
The course introduces students to some of the major controversies in political science. We focus on the five substantive themes that make up the Yale Initiative: Order, Conflict, and Violence; Representation and Popular Rule; Crafting and Operating Institutions; Identities, Affiliations, and Allegiances; and Distributive Politics. We divide our time between discussing readings on these subjects and conversations with different members of the faculty who specialize in them. There is also some attention to methodological controversies within the discipline. Requirements: an annotated bibliography of one of the substantive themes and a take-home final exam.
Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Introduction to women’s, gender, and sexuality studies as a field of knowledge and to the interdiscipline’s structuring questions and tensions. The course genealogizes feminist and queer knowledge production, and the institutionalization of WGSS, by examining several of our key terms.
Italian Lyric Poetry from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance
An exploration of Italy’s vernacular lyric tradition from its emergence in the thirteenth century through its flowerings in the sixteenth, with special attention to the emergence of the genre of the autobiographical Canzoniere and to the ascendance of the modern authorial self. Poets studied may include those of the Scuola Siciliana and Dolce stil novo, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Poliziano, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Sannazaro, Boiardo, Bembo, Vittoria Colonna, Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Franca, and Michelangelo.
Jews and the World
A broad introduction to the history of the Jews from biblical beginnings until the European Reformation and the Ottoman Empire. Focus on the formative period of classical rabbinic Judaism and on the symbiotic relationships among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Jewish society and culture in its biblical, rabbinic, and medieval settings.
Law and Society in Comparative Perspective
This advanced seminar is about the functions of law across historical, political, and cultural contexts. We discuss what is law, why people obey the law, and how societies govern themselves in the absence of strong state legal institutions. The class explores the relationship between law and colonialism as well as the functioning of law under authoritarianism and democracy, and in conflict-ridden societies.
Le poème en prose
This seminar looks at the development of the poème en prose, from its beginnings as a response to the inadequacy of French verse forms, which were said to lend themselves poorly to the translation of ancient epic, to its emergence as an independent genre. What constitutes a prose poem, and why do we need to distinguish it from prose, poetry, and even poetic prose? Readings include work by Fénelon, Parny, Baudelaire, Bertrand, Rimbaud, Laforgue, Nerval, Mallarmé, Jacob, Michaux, Ponge, and Char, as well as Hölderlin, Poe, and Rilke.
Literary Criticism Now
This course examines and takes the temperature of the current state of literary studies. It asks, what is at stake in the practice of literary criticism today and what shapes does contemporary criticism take? We look at some recent attempts at synthesis and polemical intervention. We then organize our discussion
Literature and Film of World War II: Homefront Narratives
Taking a pan-European perspective, this course examines quotidian, civilian experiences of war, during a conflict of unusual scope and duration. Considering key works of wartime and postwar fiction and film alongside verbal and visual diaries, memoirs, documentaries, and video testimonies, we will explore the kinds of literary and filmic reflection war occasioned, how civilians experienced the relationship between history and everyday life (both during and after the war), women’s and children’s experience of war, and the ways that home front, occupation and Holocaust memories shaped postwar avant-garde aesthetics.
Making Monsters in the Atlantic World
This seminar introduces students to art historical methodologies through the charged site of the “monster” in the Atlantic World. How and why are monsters made? What can visualizations of monsters tell us about how Otherness is constructed, contested, and critiqued? What do monsters tell us about human oppression, agency, and cultural encounters? Analyzing visual and textual primary sources as well as different theoretical approaches, students leave the course with sharper visual analysis skills, a critical awareness of the many-sided discourses on monstrosity, and a deeper understanding of Atlantic history.
Material Culture and the Iconic Consciousness
How and why do contemporary societies continue to symbolize sacred and profane meanings, investing these meanings with materiality and shaping them aesthetically? Initially exploring such “iconic consciousness” in theoretical terms (philosophy, sociology, semiotics), the course then takes up a series of compelling empirical studies about food and bodies, nature, fashion, celebrities, popular culture, art, architecture, branding, and politics.
Meaning and Materiality
This course is about the relation between meaning and materiality. We read classic work at the intersection of biosemiosis, technocognition, and sociogenesis. And we use these readings to understand the relation between significance, selection, sieving, and serendipity.
Memory and Memoir in Russian Culture
How do we remember and forget? How does memory transform into narrative? Why do we read and write memoirs and autobiography? What can they tell us about the past? How do we analyze the roles of the narrator, the author, and the protagonist? How should we understand the ideological tensions between official historiography and personal reminiscences, especially in twentieth-century Russia? This course aims to answer these questions through close readings of a few cultural celebrities’ memoirs and autobiographical writings that are also widely acknowledged as the best representatives of twentieth-century Russian prose. Along the way, we read literary texts in dialogue with theories of memory, historiography, and narratology. Students acquire the theoretical apparatus that will enable them to analyze the complex ideas, e.g., cultural memory and trauma, historicity and narrativity, and fiction and nonfiction. Students acquire an in-depth knowledge of the major themes of twentieth-century Russian history—e.g., empire, revolution, war, Stalinism, and exilic experience—as well as increased skills in the analysis of literary texts. Students with knowledge of Russian are encouraged to read in the original. All readings are available in English.
Methods and Sources of Religious History
This course introduces students to the historiography of religious history; to the history of methods, approaches, and problems in the field; and to techniques for using and citing primary and secondary sources in the study of religion. Seminars include lectures, common readings, writing exercises, and presentations by students and visiting scholars. Students develop research proposals related to their specific areas of interest.
New Approaches to Russian and Eurasian History: The Archival Revolution
A reading seminar addressing recent work on Russian and Soviet history grounded in the ongoing “archival revolution” that began in the late 1980s. After reviewing the major earlier paradigms, we examine how they were overturned or significantly modified by archival-based evidence. Topics include the development of government and the law; historical actors and places marginalized by the earlier historiography, such as non-capital regions, the middle classes, conservatism, religion, and (more generally) non-state structures; and Russia’s position in the imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet periods as a vast and complex multiethnic political entity. Class discussions in English. Readings in English with Russian options available.
Plant, Animal, Man: The Necessary “Art of Conference”
This seminar examines the relationships between three terms: man, animal, and plant. Cultural history has long privileged the man-animal dyad. We try to understand how in early modern Europe discursive representations, sensitive to the dynamic interactions between these three communities, have built a shared history. We are brought back to the etymology of the term “ecology”: these three areas of life interact in the same medium, oikos, that can be physical as well as textual. Our investigation thus attempts to sketch an archaeology of Western thought on life, the challenge being to reconstitute a forgotten model of reflection on the community between humanity and other forms of life. Readings in a multidisciplinary corpus that includes medical, legal, and theological productions; agronomic and hunting literature; herbaria; natural history books (Belon, Rondelet, Aldrovandi); travel accounts (Jean de Léry, Thevet); poetry (Ronsard, Baïf, Madeleine and Catherine des Roches); fiction (Alberti, Rostand, Sorel); autobiographical texts (Montaigne, Agrippa d’Aubigné); treatises (Du Bellay, Henri Estienne).
Conducted in French.
Politics of Memory
This course explores the role of memory as a social, cultural, and political force in contemporary society. How societies remember difficult pasts has become a contested site for negotiating the present. Through the lens of memory, we examine complex roles that our relationships to difficult pasts play in navigating issues we face today. The course explores the politics of memory that takes place in the realm of popular culture and public space. It asks such questions as: How do you represent difficult and contested pasts? What does it mean to enable long-silenced victims’ voices to be heard? What are the consequences of re-narrating the past by highlighting past injuries and trauma? Does memory work heal or open wounds of a society and a nation? Through examples drawn from the Holocaust, the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, the Vietnam War, genocide in Indonesia, and massacres in Lebanon, to debates on confederacy statues, slavery, and lynching in the United States, the course approaches these questions through an anthropological exploration of concepts such as memory, trauma, mourning, silence, voice, testimony, and victimhood.
Postcolonial Middle Ages
This course explores the intersections and points of friction between postcolonial studies and medieval studies. We discuss key debates in postcolonialism and medievalists’ contributions to those debates. We also consider postcolonial scholarship that has remained outside the purview of medieval studies. The overall aim is for students, in their written and oral contributions, to expand the parameters of medieval postcolonialism. Works by critics including Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Leela Gandhi, Lisa Lowe, Robert Young, and Priyamvada Gopal are read alongside medieval romances, crusade and jihād poetry, travel literature, and chronicles.
Proseminar in Translation Studies
This graduate proseminar combines a historically minded introduction to Translation Studies as a field with a survey of its interdisciplinary possibilities. The proseminar is composed of several units (Histories of Translation; Geographies of Translation; Scandals of Translation), each with a different approach or set of concerns, affording the students multiple points of entry to the field. The Translation Studies coordinator provides the intellectual through-line from week to week, while incorporating a number of guest lectures by Yale faculty and other invited speakers to expose students to current research and practice in different disciplines. The capstone project is a conference paper-length contribution of original academic research. Additional assignments throughout the term include active participation in and contributions to intellectual programming in the Translation Initiative.
Psychoanalysis: Key Conceptual Differences between Freud and Lacan
This is the first section of a year-long seminar (second section: CPLT 914) designed to introduce the discipline of psychoanalysis through primary sources, mainly from the Freudian and Lacanian corpuses but including late twentieth-century commentators and contemporary interdisciplinary conversations. We rigorously examine key psychoanalytic concepts that students have heard about but never had the chance to study. Students gain proficiency in what has been called “the language of psychoanalysis,” as well as tools for critical practice in disciplines such as literary criticism, political theory, film studies, gender studies, theory of ideology, psychology medical humanities, etc. We study concepts such as the unconscious, identification, the drive, repetition, the imaginary, fantasy, the symbolic, the real, and jouissance. A central goal of the seminar is to disambiguate Freud’s corpus from Lacan’s reinvention of it. We do not come to the “rescue” of Freud. We revisit essays that are relevant for contemporary conversations within the international psychoanalytic community. We include only a handful of materials from the Anglophone schools of psychoanalysis developed in England and the US. This section pays special attention to Freud’s “three” (the ego, superego, and id) in comparison to Lacan’s “three” (the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real). CPLT 914 devotes, depending on the interests expressed by the group, the last six weeks to special psychoanalytic topics such as sexuation, perversion, psychosis, anti-asylum movements, conversations between psychoanalysis and neurosciences and artificial intelligence, the current pharmacological model of mental health, and/or to specific uses of psychoanalysis in disciplines such as film theory, political philosophy, and the critique of ideology. Apart from Freud and Lacan, we will read work by Georges Canguilhem, Roman Jakobson, Victor Tausk, Émile Benveniste, Valentin Volosinov, Guy Le Gaufey, Jean Laplanche, Étienne Balibar, Roberto Esposito, Wilfred Bion, Félix Guattari, Markos Zafiropoulos, Franco Bifo Berardi, Barbara Cassin, Renata Salecl, Maurice Godelier, Alenka Zupančič, Juliet Mitchell, Jacqueline Rose, Norbert Wiener, Alan Turing, Eric Kandel, and Lera Boroditsky among others. No previous knowledge of psychoanalysis is needed. Starting out from basic questions, we study how psychoanalysis, arguably, changed the way we think of human subjectivity. Graduate students from all departments and schools on campus are welcome. The final assignment is due by the end of the spring term and need not necessarily take the form of a twenty-page paper. Taught in English. Materials can be provided to cover the linguistic range of the group.
Race, Migration, and Coloniality in Europe
Europe’s rise to global dominance is inseparable from the invention of race as a key structuring principle of modernity. Yet, despite the geographic and intellectual origin of this concept in Europe and the explicitly race-based policies of both its fascist regimes and its colonial empires, the continent often is marginal at best in discourses on race. This is particularly true for contemporary configurations, which are often closely identified with the United States as center of both structural racism and of resistance to it. Europe diverges from the US model of racialization in ways that tend to be misread, especially on the continent itself, as the absence of race as a relevant social and political category. Accordingly, most Europeans continue to believe that racial thinking has had no lasting impact on the continent, that race matters everywhere but in Europe and is brought there exclusively through non-white others, whose presence is perpetually perceived as recent, temporary, and problematically upsetting a prior non-racial normalcy. Contrary to this perception, while racial slavery and native dispossession and genocide were foundational to the United States, in Europe, the racializing of religion and colonialism fundamentally shaped and continue to shape the continental identity. Until recently, however, this history was virtually absent from public debates, official commemorations, and policy decisions. This course is devoted to exploring the numerous counter-histories challenging the dominant narrative of European “colorblindness,” among them the long history of European Roma and Sinti, the racialization of Muslims, the mainstreaming of white supremacy and the ongoing “refugee crisis,” European economic neocolonialism in Africa, anti-Blackness and the legacies of slavery and colonialism, the relationship between racism and anti-Semitism, and strategies of resistance by racialized communities.
Readings in Art and Empire
This course encourages students to engage with recent thinking on questions of art and empire and to mobilize decolonial methodologies in a research project relating to a specific object in Yale’s collections. The first half of the term is spent discussing key texts, beginning with Ariella Aïsha Azoulay’s Potential History (2019), John Giblin et al “Dismantling the Master’s House” (2019), and “Decolonizing Art and Empire” by Charlene Villaseñor Black and Tim Barringer (2022). It looks at the possibilities for new studies of art and empire that undermine, rather than replicating imperial structures of power and knowledge. Issues under discussion include slavery and representation, indigeneity and art history, orientalism, theories of hybridity, the colonial uncanny, the representation of landscape and the body in the colony, and science and visual representation. Particular attention is paid to recent work on the British Empire as manifest in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art. The curriculum is shaped to accommodate the research interests of the seminar’s members (to include any and all empires across space and time); in the second half of the term students develop a research paper, generating a methodological approach for the analysis of a single object in Yale’s collections.
Readings in Economic History, Capitalism, and Political Economy
In this graduate reading seminar, we explore different actors and institutions that shaped the formation of the global economy since the early modern period. The readings focus on a number of forces and their interplay with the economic lives of both ordinary men and women and more elite figures: states/political institutions, the environment, law, war, empire, companies, and capitalists. The seminar provides students with a solid knowledge of the questions currently discussed in the burgeoning subfield of the so-called “new history of capitalism.” We pay particular attention to the contours of these debates beyond the history of the United States, and to the international and global dimensions of economic history. No familiarity with economics or economic history required. While this is a reading seminar, students looking to write a research paper on related topics are welcome to pursue this option as part of the course. The course is designed for history Ph.D. students and others who have had previous exposure to history classes at the university level. Basic familiarity with broader historical developments since the eighteenth century is expected.
Readings in Modern European Cultural History
HIST 654 / FREN 700
Research in Sociocultural Anthropology: Design and Methods
The course offers critical evaluation of the nature of ethnographic research. Research design includes the rethinking of site, voice, and ethnographic authority.
Research Seminar in Intellectual History
Instructor Permission Required
The primary aim of this seminar is to provide a venue for writing research papers on individually chosen topics. While most of the term is devoted to the research and writing process, discussion of select readings will examine approaches to intellectual history methodologically but also historiographically, asking when and why inquiries into ways of thinking in the past have taken the forms they have. The seminar is intended not only for those with direct interests in early modern or modern intellectual history but also for those pursuing other areas of historical inquiry who would like to explore further conceptual resources for interpreting their sources.
Rise of the European Novel
This course requires instructor permission. Please state your motivation to take this course and relevant previous coursework.
A close reading of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s masterpiece, Emile. Though the book poses as a guide to education, it has much grander aspirations; it offers a whole vision of the human condition. Rousseau called it his “best and worthiest work” and said he believed it would spark a revolution in the way that human beings understand themselves. Many historians of thought believe that the book has done just that, and that we live in the world it helped to create—a claim we consider and evaluate. Presented as a private tutor’s account of how he would arrange the education of a boy named Emile from infancy through young adulthood, the book raises fundamental questions about human nature and malleability; how we learn to be free; whether we can view ourselves scientifically and still maintain a belief in free will; whether we are in need of some sort of religious faith to act morally; how adults and children, and men and women, ought to relate to one another; how the demands of social life and citizenship affect our happiness—and more. Ultimately the question at issue is whether human beings can find a way to live happily and flourish in modern societies.
Russia in the Age of Peter the Great
An introduction to the principal events and issues during the transformation of Russia in the years 1650 to 1725. Topics include political change and the court; Russia in Europe and Asia; religion and the revolution in Russian culture.
Russian Intelligence, Information Warfare, and Social Media
This course explores the evolution of information warfare as a national security threat to the United States and democratic countries around the world. Beginning with the KGB’s use of “active measures” during the Cold War, the course looks at how propaganda and disinformation campaigns became central to the Putin regime and how social media has facilitated their expansion. We examine the psychology of disinformation and how media “bubbles” and existing social fissures in the United States, such as racism and political polarization, provide ripe vulnerabilities for exploitation by foreign actors. Using Russia’s efforts in U.S. presidential elections, during COVID, and in Ukraine as examples of this new form of warfare, students explore potential policy solutions in the realm of Internet regulation, civic education, media literacy, and human “social capital” as defenses against this growing threat. Guest speakers with expertise in Russian intelligence, information warfare, psychology, and other disciplines complement the discussion.
Russian Realist Literature and Painting
An interdisciplinary examination of the development of nineteenth-century Russian realism in literature and the visual arts. Topics include the Natural School and the formulation of a realist aesthetic; the artistic strategies and polemics of critical realism; narrative, genre, and the rise of the novel; the Wanderers and the articulation of a Russian school of painting; realism, modernism, and the challenges of periodization. Readings include novels, short stories, and critical works by Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Goncharov, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and others. Painters of focus include Fedotov, Perov, Shishkin, Repin, and Kramskoy. Special attention is given to the particular methodological demands of interart analysis.
Digging into semiotics tradition, the seminar provides analytical tools for “close readings” of a vast array of objects and operations, from verbal texts to all sorts of images, from cultural practices to all sorts of manipulation. Semiotics’ foundational goal consisted in retracing how meaning emerges in these objects and operations, how it circulates within and between different cultural environments, and how it affects and is affected by the cultural contexts in which these objects and operations are embedded. To revamp semiotics’ main tasks, after an introduction about the idea of “making meaning,” the seminar engages students in a weekly discussion about situations, procedures, objects, and attributes that are “meaningful,” in the double sense that they have meaning and they arrange reality in a meaningful way. Objects of analysis are intentionally disparate; the constant application of a set of analytical tools provides the coherence of the seminar. Students are expected to regularly attend the seminar, actively participate in discussions, propose new objects of analysis, present a case study (fifteen–twenty minutes), and write a final paper (max. 5,000 words). Enrollment limited to fifteen.
Students from Film and Media Studies and the School of Architecture have priority: they are asked to express their choice by August 25. Students from other departments are asked to send the instructor up to ten lines with the reasons why they want to attend the seminar by August 26. The seminar is aimed at bolstering a dialogue that crosses cultures and disciplines.
Sexuality, Gender, Health, and Human Rights
This course explores the application of human rights perspectives and practices to issues in regard to sexuality, gender, and health. Through reading, interactive discussion, paper presentation, and occasional outside speakers, students learn the tools and implications of applying rights and law to a range of sexuality and health-related topics. The overall goal is twofold: to engage students in the world of global sexual health and rights policy making as a field of social justice and public health action; and to introduce them to conceptual tools that can inform advocacy and policy formation and evaluation. Class participation, a book review, an OpEd, and a final paper required. Enrollment is limited and permission of the instructor required. Also LAW 20568, course follows the Law School calendar.
Social Mobility and Migration
The seminar examines the representation of upward mobility, social demotion, and interclass encounters in contemporary French literature and cinema, with an emphasis on the interaction between social class and literary style. Topics include emancipation and determinism; inequality, precarity, and class struggle; social mobility and migration; the intersectionality of class, race, gender, and sexuality; labor and the workplace; homecomings; mixed couples; and adoption. Works by Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux and her peers (Éribon, Gay, Harchi, Linhart, Louis, NDiaye, Taïa). Films by Cantet, Chou, and Diop. Theoretical excerpts by Berlant, Bourdieu, and Rancière. Students have the option to put the French corpus in dialogue with the literature of other countries. Conducted in French.
Socialist '80s: Aesthetics of Reform in China and the Soviet Union
This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the study of the complex cultural and political paradigms of late socialism from a transnational perspective by focusing on the literature, cinema, and popular culture of the Soviet Union and China in 1980s. How were intellectual and everyday life in the Soviet Union and China distinct from and similar to that of the West of the same era? How do we parse “the cultural logic of late socialism?” What can today’s America learn from it? Examining two major socialist cultures together in a global context, this course queries the ethnographic, ideological, and socio-economic constituents of late socialism. Students analyze cultural materials in the context of Soviet and Chinese history. Along the way, we explore themes of identity, nationalism, globalization, capitalism, and the Cold War. Students with knowledge of Russian and Chinese are encouraged to read in original. All readings are available in English.
The course seeks to give students the conceptual tools for a constructive engagement with sociological theory and theorizing. We trace the genealogies of dominant theoretical approaches and explore the ways in which theorists contend with these approaches when confronting the central questions of both modernity and the discipline.
The Betrayal of the Intellectuals
The target of the seminar is to clarify the concept of the intellectual and its political and literary uses during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The point of departure is Julien Benda’s influential book, The Betrayal of the Intellectuals (1927). Benda defines two kinds of intellectuals: the particularists, who are specifically committed to country, party, and economic issues—later thought of as the arena of “identity politics”—and the universalists, committed to more general humanist values. What makes one an intellectual? Does becoming an intellectual depend on specific historical, social, cultural, literary, and political conditions? Is being an intellectual a matter of “talking truth to power” in accordance with universalist values? The course looks at a variety of definitions of what constitutes an intellectual, based on approaches such as Benda’s notion of the betrayal of the particularist intellectual, or postcolonial intellectualism. The course then looks at the specificity of intellectualism as it appears in certain contexts through readings from Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jean-Paul Sartre, George Orwell, Naguib Mahfouz, Frantz Fanon, Eleanor Roosevelt, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Martin Buber, Edward Said, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, and Toni Morrison.
The Historical Documentary
This course looks at the historical documentary as a method for carrying out historical work in the public humanities. It investigates the evolving discourse sand resonances within such topics as the Vietnam War, the Holocaust, and African American history. It is concerned with the relationship of documentary to traditional scholarly written histories as well as the history of the genre and what is often called the “archival turn.”
The Making of Modern Ukraine
Study of the Ukraine from the Cossack rebellions of 1648 to the democratic revolution of 2004. Topics include the decadence of the Polish-Lithuanian Republic, Russian and Austrian imperial rule, the collapse of traditional Jewish and Polish social life, the attraction of Russian culture, the emergence of a Ukrainian national movement, civil war, modernization, terror, the consequences of Nazi occupation (including genocide and ethnic cleansing), problems of democratic reform, and European integration since 1991.
The Mortality of the Soul: From Aristotle to Heidegger
This course explores fundamental philosophical questions of the relation between matter and form, life and spirit, necessity and freedom, by proceeding from Aristotle’s analysis of the soul in De Anima and his notion of practical agency in the Nicomachean Ethics. We study Aristotle in conjunction with seminal works by contemporary neo-Aristotelian philosophers (Korsgaard, Nussbaum, Brague, and McDowell). We in turn pursue the implications of Aristotle’s notion of life by engaging with contemporary philosophical discussions of death that take their point of departure in Epicurus (Nagel, Williams, Scheffler). We conclude by analyzing Heidegger’s notion of constitutive mortality, in order to make explicit what is implicit in the form of the soul in Aristotle.
The Short Spring of German Theory
Following Philipp Felsch’s The Summer of Theory (English 2022): Theory as hybrid and successor to philosophy and sociology. Theory as the genre of the philosophy of history and grand narratives (e.g. secularization). Theory as the basis of academic interdisciplinarity and cultural-political practice. The canonization and aging of theoretical classics. Critical reflection on academia now and then. Legacies of the inter-War period and the Nazi past: M. Weber, Heidegger, Husserl, Benjamin, Kracauer, Adorno, Jaspers. New voices of the 1950s and 1960s: Arendt, Blumenberg, Gadamer, Habermas, Jauss, Koselleck, Szondi, Taubes. German reading and some prior familiarity with European intellectual history will be helpful but not essential.
Theories of Freedom: Schelling and Hegel
In 1764 Immanuel Kant noted in the margin of one of his published books that evil was “the subjection of one being under the will of another,” a sign that good was coming to mean freedom. But what is freedom? Starting with early reference to Kant, we study two major texts on freedom in post-Kantian German Idealism, Schelling’s 1809 Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom and Related Objects and Hegel’s 1820 Elements of the Philosophy of Right.
Theorizing the Modern Subject
This class introduces graduate students in the Humanities and the Social Sciences to Italian critical theory from the 15th century to the present by focusing on different ways of thinking about the emergence of the modern subject, subjectivity and subjection. We read political thinkers and cultural critics like Machiavelli, Vico, Leopardi, Gramsci, Negri, Federici, Lazzarato, Agamben, Braidotti, and Eco. The theorists we read ask us to think about the multiple ways in which one becomes a modern subject by being hailed by particular ideas of what it means to be human, as well as by the State and by capitalism. Our journey into Italian thought is structured through four units: 1) Beyond the Modern Subject: Theorizing the Post-Human; 2) Subjectivity: Theorizing the Modern State; 3) Subjection: Theorizing Modern Economies; 4) The Modern Subject Before Modernity: Italian Renaissance Thought and the Human. During the course, students also draft, redraft, write, and edit a publishable article-length original piece of research working with one or more sources they have read in the class.
Working Group on Globalization and Culture
A continuing yearlong collective research project, a cultural studies “laboratory.” The group, drawing on several disciplines, meets regularly to discuss common readings, develop collective and individual research projects, and present that research publicly. The general theme for the working group is globalization and culture, with three principal aspects: (1) the globalization of cultural industries and goods, and its consequences for patterns of everyday life as well as for forms of fiction, film, broadcasting, and music; (2) the trajectories of social movements and their relation to patterns of migration, the rise of global cities, the transformation of labor processes, and forms of ethnic, class, and gender conflict; (3) the emergence of and debates within transnational social and cultural theory. The specific focus, projects, and directions of the working group are determined by the interests, expertise, and ambitions of the members of the group, and change as its members change.
The working group is open to doctoral students in their second year and beyond. Graduate students interested in participating should contact email@example.com.
Workshop in Early Modern Studies
What is the nature of the “early modern” as a temporal, conceptual, and socio-political category in humanistic study? How did it emerge as an interdisciplinary framework and how does it relate to concepts of the medieval, the Renaissance, classicism, and modernity? Can “early modern” be usefully deployed to speak of non-Western geographic and political formations, and if not, why? Broadly focused on the historical period between 1350 and 1800, this seminar considers the many transitions to modernity across the globe and explores how scholars across the disciplines have crafted narratives to highlight its significance. Taken over an entire academic year, as two half-credit courses, the workshop provides a historiographic, theoretical, and methodological introduction to key questions in the field through a dynamic engagement with a series of research presentations by scholars within and beyond Yale (must be taken concurrently with EMST 800a/801b). Required for students in the combined degree in Early Modern Studies and meets on alternating weeks.
Writing Political History
A graduate research seminar focused on the craft of writing political history (writ large—chronologically and otherwise), geared at producing an academic journal-friendly article. Early weeks focus on the ins and outs, inclusions and exclusions, challenges, cultures, styles, modes, and strengths of political history; later weeks center on workshopping student articles in process.
Zählen und Erzählen: On the Relation Between Mathematics and Literature
Mathematical and literary practices of signs have numerous connections, and despite current debates on digital humanities, algorithm and the “end of the book”, the relation between calculus and writing can be traced back to around 3000 BC, when the graphé was split up into figure and character. The seminar explores this relationship by focusing on four different fields, which can be discussed separately but do exhibit numerous overlappings: a) Leibniz’ invention of infinitesimal calculus and its relation to the idea of narration from the Baroque to romanticism through to the twentieth century novel, (b) the relation between probability calculus, statistics, and novel writing in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, (c) the role of cypher for aesthetic and poetic questions starting with Schiller’s Letters on the esthetic education of men, to Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, and Jenny Erpenpeck’s The old child, and (d) the economic impact of computation on poetic concepts, e.g. the role of double entry bookkeeping or models of circulation in romantic theories of money and signs. We discuss Leibniz’ Theodizee, texts on the infinitesimal calculus and his concept of an ars combinatoria, novels like The Fortunatus, Novalis’s Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Stifter’s “The gentle law”, Gustav Freiytag’s Debit and Credit, and Musil’s Man without content, Novalis’s notes on mathematical questions of his time, and economic texts such as Adam Müller’s Attempt on a theory of money.
“Sprachkrise”—Philosophies & Language Crises
The crisis of language predates the invention of ChatGPT (who may or may not have helped write this syllabus). This course delves into the concept of language crises and its long history from a philosophical and literary perspective, examining how crises of language are represented in literature and how they reflect broader philosophical questions about language, identity, and power. We explore different philosophical approaches to language, such as the history of language and philology (Herder, Humboldt, Nietzsche), structuralism and post-structuralism (Saussure), analytical and pragmatic philosophies (Wittgenstein), phenomenology and deconstruction (Heidegger), and analyze how these theories shape our understanding of language while simultaneously evoking its crisis. The course also examines how such language crises are represented and produced in literature and the arts, how authors and artists approach the complexities of language loss, and how crises help birth alternative systems of signification. Through close readings of literary texts by Hofmannsthal, Musil, Bachmann, et. al., we analyze the symbolic and metaphorical significance of language crises as well as the ethical and political implications of language loss for (cultural) identity. Experimental use of language such as DaDa artwork, performance cultures, and “Sprachspiel” poetry by the “Wiener Gruppe,” as well as contemporary KI/AI literature, further complement the theoretical readings. By exploring language crises through the lens of philosophy and literature, we gain a deeper understanding of the role of language—and its many crises—in shaping our understanding of ourselves and our communities.