Related Courses, Spring 2020
Big Data, AI, and Political Science: Applications to Russian Politics
This cross-disciplinary course focuses on two broad questions. First: how do politicians use new technologies to influence politics? Second: how do scholars use new technologies to study politics? It uses Russia as a laboratory to explore these questions. The course consists of four parts. It starts with a review of contemporary Russia and pays attention to the quantitative studies of its economy and politics. Next, the course provides a non-technical introduction to Big Data and AI algorithms. Finally, it outlines the applications of the new technologies to the study of Russian politics.
Bodies, Science, and Goods: Exchanges in the Early Modern Mediterranean
Challenges to Security and Stability in Central and Eastern Europe
This course examines the geopolitical, political, military, socioeconomic, and ideological factors that are challenging security and stability in the region of Central and Eastern Europe after collapse of the USSR. The goal is to give students a broad understanding of the reasons for the worsening security and stability in the region, particularly the Baltic states, Visegrad states, and GUAM member states, and to model further potential developments. The influence of the global players—United States, European Union, Russia—on the security situation in the region is considered.
Climate Change, Societal Collapse, and Resilience
ANTH 773 / F&ES 793 / EVST 473 / ANTH 473 / ARCG 473 / NELC 473 / ARCG 773 / NELC 588
Collapse documented in the archaeological and early historical records of the Old and New Worlds, including Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, the Andes, and Europe. Analysis of politicoeconomic vulnerabilities, resiliencies, and adaptations in the face of abrupt climate change, anthropogenic environmental degradation, resource depletion, “barbarian” incursions, or class conflict.
Comparative New Wave Studies
Instructor: Farbod Honarpisheh
Office Location: Rosenkranz Hall Room 345
Office Hours: W 4-6pm (or by appointment)
From the late1950s, demands for “new cinemas” were being raised in different parts of the world. What was soon to come forth changed the practice and understanding of film until our time. While open to diverse intellectual approaches, this course will investigate the emergence of various “new wave cinemas” by placing them not only in their national contexts but also within a global frame. Our comparative critical approach focuses on the cinematic, with a constant sideway gaze towards the visual and literary, modernism of Brazil (Cinema Novo), France (Nouvelle Vague with an eye for Nouveau Roman), Iran (Moj-e Now, often juxtaposed and analyzed with the “New Poetry” ), and Yugoslavia (The Black Wave).
Authoritative historiographies of these new wave cinemas have repeatedly underappreciated documentary films, often placing them into the evolutionary narrative of a “national cinema” or that of an auteur. This course, in reverse, foregrounds the transnational and the nonfiction. The documentaries produced in the formative years, the moment of emergence, of these new waves are established as a kind of “pre-history” that impacted how these cinematic modernisms developed in time. As the class moves forward, two major sub-themes will emerge: the body and the city. We will consider these questions: Do films brought under the designation new wave have a different relationship to the materiality of the profilmic world? In what ways the bodies and urban environments they film affect them? Can one speak positively of a global new wave style? And, if the answer to that question is yes, what were the conditions of its border crossings?
No previous training in cinema and media studies is required for this course. The students may choose to write on other new waves of the era (for instance, Germany’s Das Neue Kino, the New Hollywood, the Hungarian New Wave, the Indian New Wave, and the Turkish Yeni Sinema) or on the more contemporary cinematic manifestations of the “new” (the New Korean Cinema, the Post-revolutionary Iranian cinema, the Romanian New Wave).
Contentious Politics and Political Mobilization in Post-Soviet Russia
RSEE 385, PLSC 385, SOCY 349
This course aims at exploring and discussing the patterns and trends in collective actions in post-Soviet Russia; it also aims at unraveling the interplay between contention and regime dynamics. Students examine the ebbs and flows of mobilization, its cross-temporal and cross-regional specifics, and its impact on the political processes. Russian language proficiency not required.
Culture, Power, Oil
ANTH 438, ANTH 638
The course analyzes the production, circulation, and consumption of petroleum in order to explore key topics in recent social and cultural theory, including globalization, empire, cultural performance, natural resource extraction, and the nature of the state. Case studies from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and the former Soviet Union, among others.
Cultures of Western Medicine
Exploring Russian Utilization of Private Military Companies
Open to graduate students only.
Extreme and Radical Right Movements
French Film through the New Wave
This seminar uses a sample of twenty films (with clips from many others) to survey four decades of the tradition of French cinema crowned by the privileged moment of the New Wave. Graduate students are asked to challenge the idea of “national cinema” by reporting on some non-canonical or marginal film before midterm. Keeping the culture industry in view, we question the extent to which such a consistently robust cinema has been bound to—or remained partly independent of—a nation that from 1930 to 1970 underwent a depression, a socialist experiment, an occupation, a liberation, and the humiliations of decolonization abroad and social unrest (May ’68) at home. In addition to the midterm contribution, graduate students write a substantial term paper.
Gender and Politics after Socialism
RSEE 336, ANTH 338, WGSS 738
Gender is an intensely politicized fault line that runs through post-Soviet society. In Russia, both political protest and political reaction are played out in overtly gendered terms (from Pussy Riot’s punk prayer to Putin’s bare-chested machismo). This seminar considers, from an ethnographic perspective, how gender has become a site of explicit politicization and contestation in post-Soviet societies. The first half of the course examines the changing circumstances of women and men in the post-Soviet economy; the post-Soviet crises and reformulations of femininity and masculinity; and the social effects provoked thereby, such as violence, homophobia, and new activism. The second half examines the various intersections of gender with other domains of social difference including class, age, race, religion, nationality. How gender is problematized in certain sites, workplaces, the home, and family is a topic of discussion, as is how certain ways of inhabiting gendered norms might give rise to forms of self and person, to modes of agency and freedom. Each post-Soviet case study is juxtaposed with comparative ethnographic examples in order to discern whether the post-Soviet region has its own gender dynamic, or instead partakes in broader global trends. These ethnographic cases are read alongside texts in feminist, gender, queer, and postcolonial theory to think across empirical examples in creative ways.
Global Film and Media Concepts
This workshop course is inspired by the great Dictionary of Untranslatables (in French in 2004; English translation 2014), edited by Barbara Cassin and involving scholars such as Étienne Balibar, Jacques Lezra and Emily Apter. Cassin’s dictionary is devoted to terms crucial to philosophical thought, but rather than offer a handbook of reified definitions, it (to quote the introduction) “explores the networks to which [a given] word belongs, and seeks to understand how a network [of philosophical concepts] functions in one language by relating it to the networks of other languages.” The result is an extraordinary investigation - historical, philological and theoretical all at once - of the interdependence of translation, philosophical speculation, and cultural setting.
In this workshop, we will do something similar for key terms in film and media studies. As scholars of film and media, we continually encounter cruxes of translation not as obstacles, but as provocations to new thinking, not least about the very contours of our field globally considered. Our meetings will involve presentations by two, perhaps three participants, who will come prepared to discuss the ins-and-outs of a specific term we have decided upon (and about which the rest of the group will also have thought). If possible, we want the presenters to offer ideas on terms they are dealing with in their current work.
Questions that might be asked of each term or concept could include: which problems does a term solve in a given language, and which problems might it create? What kind of work on language is performed in each instance (e.g., the use of calques; inventing neologisms; incorporating explanatory passages or notes to explain or specify the use of a given term)? How do film and media terminological “networks” relate to other networks both within a specific language and across languages (e.g., the vocabularies of literary or art criticism, of communications technologies, of other disciplines such as history, sociology, or psychology)? How do the linguistic features of specific languages inflect these migrating terms?
The course will be grounded in collective work and presentations, and will culminate in a collectively-authored set of short pieces, and hopefully to be published in the online section of the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. Each will focus on a single term of importance within critical film and media studies, considered within some of the different language and disciplinary contexts within which they operate and between which they migrate.
History of Landscape in Western Europe and the United States: Antiquity to 1950
ARCH 314 / URBN 314
This course is designed as an introductory survey of the history of landscape architecture and the wider, cultivated landscape in Western Europe and the United States from the Ancient Roman period to mid-twentieth century America. Included in the lectures, presented chronologically, are the gardens of Ancient Rome, medieval Europe, the early and late Italian Renaissance, 17th century France, 18th century Britain, 19th century Britain and America with its public and national parks, and mid-twentieth century America. The course focuses each week on one of these periods, analyzes in detail iconic gardens of the period, and placse them within their historical and theoretical context.
History of Medieval Christianity: Learning, Faith, and Conflict
This course explores the diversity of Western Christianity from the end of antiquity to the start of the early modern period. Central themes include the development of theology, concepts of reform, mysticism, gender, and relations between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In lectures and sections the class investigates a broad range of primary sources, including written texts, visual images, architecture, and music. The medieval age witnessed constant change and innovation in church and society and was transformed by its encounters with religions and cultures beyond Europe.
History of Modern Greece
This seminar studies the history of modern Greece since the early 19th century. Greece’s contested position between East and West, both geopolitically and symbolically, functions as the ideational backdrop for the study of the country’s historical trajectory and the development of its main institutions. Discussion of the future of the Greek state vis-à-vis the ongoing sociopolitical crisis it has been facing since its near bankruptcy in 2010 is also considered.
Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present
Media and Conflict
Memory and History in Modern Europe
An interdisciplinary study of memory as both a tool in and an agent of modern European history. Collective memory; the media of memory; the organization and punctuation of time through commemorative practices. Specific themes vary but may include memory of the French Revolution, the rise of nationalism, World Wars I and II, the Holocaust, decolonization, the revolution of 1968, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War.
Modernism in Europe, 1860-1960: Influences, Conflicts, and Legacies
White squares, minimalist chairs, a poem written without punctuation, or even a shovel hanging from a museum ceiling: often abstract and inscrutable by design, modernist art, literature, music and film are primarily studied by art historians and scholars of literature. Spanning a century, however, modernism also traces the ever-changing experience of European modernity. When approached from the perspective of a cultural history, modernist works can offer insight not only into the politics and philosophies of a talented few, but into prevalent anxieties, beliefs, concerns, and patterns of thinking that, from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, developed in response to Europe’s radical social, physical, and cultural transformations. By considering broad survey of modernist works spanning medium and nationality alongside primary and secondary historical sources, this course aims to offer students interested in modern European cultural and intellectual history a means to study those large-scale transformations through material objects and published literature. It also aims to teach students studying modern European history how to approach art, literature, and similar objects as historical sources; as well as how to incorporate interdisciplinary scholarship into their own.
Music of the Balkans and the Middle East
This course takes as its primary objective the understanding of music’s role in the religious, social, ethnic, gendered, and political lives of people in Southeast Europe (“The Balkans”) and The Middle East (including much of Western Asia and parts of South and Central Asia and North Africa). Students learn how religious devotion and conflict, ethnic diversity, and responses to capitalist/democratic transition have utilized and impacted practices such as Qur’anic recitation and Sufi chanting in Afghanistan, Bulgarian women’s choirs, Romani wedding bands, Turkish and Arabic classical music, Iranian musiqi-ye pop, and Israeli cantillation. Students have the chance to learn multiple dance and music traditions in class (although musical training is not a prerequisite) and conduct a class fieldwork project with a diaspora community and institution of faith, building to a final ethnographic podcast assignment.
Nostalgia for Socialism in Postsocialist Societies
Nostalgia for socialism is one of the most unexpected social, cultural, and political phenomena that appeared in post-socialist societies. It acquires very different characteristics in different countries, for different groups of people and for different reasons. The course focuses on the question why nostalgia today appears in most different fields of social life of the post-socialist Eastern Europe: in popular and consumer culture, as part of personal and collective memory, in political life, among collectors of memorabilia, at different social events, in art, aesthetics and design. Particular emphasis on specific forms of nostalgic reminiscences common among very young generations without first-hand experiences of socialist decades. Taught in English.
Performances of Resistance
RSEE 381 / THST 342
Thirty years after the dictatorial regimes collapsed in Central and Eastern Europe, performances of resistance have recently gained a new momentum, both in artistic venues and at public spaces. In the now ‘illiberal democracies’ of the region, expressions of dissent and the mobilization of the suppressed opposition have become increasingly important to protect human rights, freedom rights, and the civil society. This course sets out to study the genealogy of artistic and political resistance in the region: first, we consider the many genres, including radical performance art, rock concerts, and banned theatre events, and themes through which Central Eastern European artists covertly, and later overtly, expressed their oppositional views during state socialism. Then, building on our analyses of these political performances of the past, we turn to the present and discuss recent and contemporary artworks and protest-movements that advocate for resistance in the ‘illiberal democracies’ of Hungary, Poland, Serbia, and Macedonia. To initiate a transnational and trans-continental discussion, some of the readings center on Latin American artists, whose underground artworks critiqued the dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s or challenges the authoritarian regimes of the present.
Politics on the Walls: Central-European Political Graffiti in Comparative Perspective
The course critically examines one of the most vibrant, controversial, and multi-sided urban cultures: political graffiti and street art. While focused on contemporary Central-Europe and the Balkans, the course positions this complex visual production in a global perspective, as part of wider political developments and cultural processes. Sprayed, written, glued on, painted, or scratched graffiti from post-socialist Central Europe and the Balkans is compared with that from other parts of the world. Students learn to use different methods of researching this particular visual creativity, such as compositional interpretation, content analysis, visual semiology, and audience studies. Taught in English.
Race, Space, Power: Mapping the Global Color Line
AFST 235 / ER&M 239 / GLBL 235
This seminar is an interdisciplinary, comparative exploration of how race makes space and how space makes race in US and global contexts. We explore these relationships through historical and contemporary case studies, with attention to how geographies of white supremacy and settler/colonial power seek to erase or subsume the spatial practices of certain groups of people. Because we take a comparative approach, the cases selected are sited in various locations in the Americas, Africa, and Europe, three regions among many we could have chosen. The goal is not to provide a comprehensive survey of all the places in which race is produced, lived, and reworked, but to identify some of the domains through which race and space are co-produced to shore up powerful groups’ dominance over disempowered groups. These domains include the colony, land, the city, the nation and the body—just a few of the many overlapping domains through which we could explore how relationships of power create uneven social and material terrains. Much of the critique we engage with emanates from Black geographic thought (which itself draws upon Black feminist theorizing), postcolonial theory, and settler colonial theory. Students are invited to use the analytical concepts and cases we discuss in class as a starting point for their own explorations of the “fatal couplings of power and difference”(Gilmore 2002) in sites connected to their own research, interests, and political commitments.
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.
The Birth of Europe, 1000-1500
Europe during the central and late Middle Ages, from the feudal revolution to the age of discoveries. Europe as it came to be defined in terms of national states and international empires. The rise and decline of papal power, church reform movements, the Crusades, contacts with Asia, the commercial revolution, and the culture of chivalry.
The City in Literature and Film
FILM 442 / RUSS 403 / LITR 403
Consideration of the architecture, town planning, and symbolic functions of various cities in Europe, Latin America, the United States, and East Asia. Discussion of the representation of these cities in literature and film. Works include older Soviet and Chinese films about Shanghai and contemporary films about Hong Kong and Beijing.
The Development of the Discipline: Contemporary Themes
Second term of yearlong core course on the major theoretical orientations in social and cultural anthropology (especially in the United States and Europe), their historical development and importance, their relation to one another and to other disciplines. Reserved for first-year doctoral students in Anthropology. Prerequisite: ANTH 500.
The Geopolitics of Democracy
The threats to liberal democracy are being widely debated, from the US and Europe to developing nations. In order for democracy to continue to thrive as the cornerstone of Western governance, it must adapt and be relevant to citizens of the 21st century. This course examines our appreciation of what constitutes democracy today and how to apply those understandings to the challenges of the 21st century. Our discussions look at the characteristics of democratic leaders and debate whether America, the bulwark of liberal democracy in the 20th century, is still an exporter of democracy and how that matters in today’s world. We then look at how to protect and adapt democratic institutions such as free elections, civil society, dissent, and the free press in the face of a rising wave of populism and nationalism. The course examines how refugee crises from conflict regions and immigration impact democracies and debate the accelerating paradigm shifts of income inequality and technology on democratic institutions. We conclude the course with a discussion of the forms of democratic governance that are meaningful in the 21st century and the practicalities of designing or reforming democratic institutions to confront current challenges.
The History of Food
The Jews in Medieval Europe, 1200–1500
The New Europe
The Olympic Games, Ancient and Modern
Introduction to the history of the Olympic Games from antiquity to the present. The mythology of athletic events in ancient Greece and the ritual, political, and social ramifications of the actual competitions. The revival of the modern Olympic movement in 1896, the political investment of the Greek state at the time, and specific games as they illustrate the convergence of athletic cultures and sociopolitical transformations in the twentieth century.
Tolstoy's War and Peace (TR)
RSEE 312, LITR 253, HIST 260, RUSS 312, HUMS 255
The course is a semester-long study of one big Russian novel–Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece War and Peace (1865-1869), about Napoleon’s failed 1812 campaign against Russia. War and Peace is a sweeping panorama of nineteenth-century Russian society, a novel of profound philosophical questions, and an unforgettable gallery of artfully drawn characters. Reading the novel closely, we pose the following questions: In what ways is it a national and an imperial novel? What myths does it destroy and construct? What is the relation of fiction to history? And what forces drive history, as it unfolds in the present? To what extent do individuals control their own lives and, if they’re emperors and generals, the lives of nations? Finally, how does one live a meaningful life as a private person and as a member of a society? We explore these questions while refining our tools of literary analysis and situating the novel in its historical context. Secondary materials include Tolstoy’s letters, contemporary reviews, maps, historical sources, political theory, and literary criticism. All readings and class discussions in English. No prerequisites.
Totalitarianism: An Intellectual History
GLBL 827, HIST 966
Fall 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, which ushered in the largest and most all-encompassing social engineering experiment in human history. For most of the past hundred years, historians, novelists, social scientists, and philosophers (many themselves victims, survivors, or disillusioned believers) have struggled to understand the twentieth-century experiences of Nazism, fascism, and Stalinism. Politics alone fails to explain what the Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev described as a “deep deformation of the structure of consciousness” prompting “individual conscience to flee from the world.” We discuss what we can learn about our present “post-factual” world where, as Peter Pomerantsev describes, “nothing is true and everything is possible,” by revisiting classic works like Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism. Other authors likely include Vasily Grossman, Eugen Ionescu, Tony Judt, Victor Klemperer, Leszek Kolakowski, Czeslaw Milosz, and George Orwell.
Truth and Post-Truth
This European intellectual history seminar explores the epistemological question in philosophy: does the world really exist? How do I know it’s really there and not just a projection of my consciousness? is there such a thing as truth? We begin with European philosophy, moving through Descartes, Kant and Husserl and through the role of ideology and lies in 20th century totalitarianism, then to dissident thought in Eastern Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, and finally to the emergence of “post-truth” in the 20th century and its implications in both philosophy and life. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.