Related Courses, Spring 2023
Advanced Manuscript Studies
This course builds on the foundation provided by MDVL 620 by focusing on both regional Latin hands and the vernacular hands that grew from the Latin tradition. The backbone of the course is Middle English paleography (no prior experience needed), but the course surveys French, Italian, Hebrew, and German hands as well.
Ancient Civilizations of the Eurasian Steppes
Examination of peoples of the steppe zone that stretches from Eastern Europe to Mongolia. Overview of what archaeologists know about Eurasian steppe societies, with emphasis on the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron, and medieval ages. Attention both to material culture and to historical sources. Topics range from the domestication of the horse to Genghis Khan’s world empire, including the impact these events had on neighboring civilizations in Europe and Asia.
This is the second course of a yearlong sequence for doctoral students in Anthropology and combined programs. The seminar explores anthropological imaginations as modes of experience, perception, and writing. Anthropology as a discipline has transformed from the frontline of colonial projects to critical reflections on power dynamics that produce and reproduce systems of oppression, injustice, and violence. Yet knowing and representing are never external to these power dynamics, and there is simply a vast unknowability of human and non-human experiences. How do we as anthropologists give meanings to the world out there that is so intertwined and complex beneath what we see and hear? How do we see what seems invisible and how to listen to silence? How do we account for our own implication in the encounters through which we experience and learn, and reflect upon? How do we weave stories through writing? While there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, in this seminar we explore how different imaginaries open up new possibilities as we embark on our ethnographic research.
Art and Race in Medieval Europe
This course explores the ever-present yet shifting and malleable constructions of race that circulated through visual media in medieval Christian Europe. This field of inquiry has been richly cultivated in recent years by scholars of literature, but the distinctive power of visual and material images in shaping conceptions of human difference calls for deeper interventions from the art historical side, interventions that move beyond the strictly iconographical. Centering on the non-textual arts of sculpture, stained glass, textiles, and manuscript illuminations, and attentive to the varied audiences at which they were aimed, this seminar seeks to enhance and enrich our understanding of medieval race-thinking while reflecting on the distinctive contributions art history can make to urgent contemporary questions. Topics include: the representational and symbolic values of color and other bodily features; the racialization of religious identities in European towns; geographical distance as difference; the question of art as evidence for real social interactions; and animals and the definition of the human.
Art and Ritual in Greek Antiquity
The relationship between art and ritual has received much scholarly attention in various fields, particularly classics, history of art, religious studies, and anthropology. Greek antiquity offers an ideal context for considering the intricate ties between visual culture and religious practices, for much of what is known today as ancient Greek art and architecture was originally related to rituals; artifacts and architectural monuments such as painted pottery, sculptural reliefs, and temples served as settings for worship and ceremonial events and featured representations of activities such as libations and sacrifices. The seminar explores how works of art and architecture shaped ancient practices and theologies. While examining closely ancient artifacts and monuments, students consider the most recent theoretical frames related to the subject from various schools of thought such as the Paris school, British anthropology, and Bildwissenschaft.
Bodies in Cinema, Cinematic Bodies
Film offers unique ways to approach the human body. Film makes bodies visible, it helps to explore and understand them, and it has effects on the bodies of the spectator. In this course, we look at a selection of European and German films and trace their particular employment and engagement of the human body. Spanning a period of almost a century (1929–2019), the material assembles cinematic traditions across epochs: from Weimar cinema’s last years of silent film, via post war Austrian filmic activism, various cinematic traditions from East and West Germany, all the way up to the present, the Berlin School and transnational European Cinema. Structured in four larger segments, the course approaches bodies on film by means of thematic vectors. We take a look at the body’s depiction, at its disciplining, at cinema’s role in terms of the body’s representation, as well as its commodification. Each thematic session is paired with a critical readings on the topic and the cinematic body in question, which helps trace to the cultural contexts they emerge from, without adhering to a strict chronology. Exploring the cinematic bodies created over the past century in their astonishing variety—acting bodies and bodies filmed by accident, idealized bodies and those celebrating imperfection, absent and elusive bodies, all the way up to the human’s replacement by animation—allows the class to explore important milestones in the history of German and European cinema, while also learning about different ways of representing, engaging with, and creating cinematic bodies. These “cinematic bodies”, the course hopes to show, signify different things for different films. They become significant by means of their actions (dance, gymnastics, sports, sex), they take shape in the disciplining of their representation (queerness, femininities & masculinities, abled-ness, ethnicity), and fulfill different functions for the genres they cite (actionist cinema, pornography, documentation, narrative film). The unsettling effect cinematic bodies have on filmic genre distinctions—such as those between fiction and report, between pornography and its documentation, between scripted narrative and spontaneous improvisation—are of particular interest. Assembling a number of filmmakers with an emphasis on German/European traditions, the course revisits the filmic canon and introduces filmmakers from outside film studies’ canonical scope. Established auteurs such as G.W. Pabst, Werner Herzog, R. W. Fassbinder, Michael Haneke and VALIE EXPORT will be juxtaposed and paired with lesser known artists such as Heiner Carow or Mara Mattuschka, and newcomers such as Jan Soldat or Pia Hellenthal, to convey the diversity within film’s and filmmakers’ exploration of the human body. As the thematic vector brings together auteurs of entirely different traditions, it also draws attention to filmic genres often neglected by academics, such as anime, music videos, pornography or short films.
British and Iberian Atlantic
This reading course investigates the burgeoning literature on the emergence of the Atlantic world in the early modern period. The course takes an explicitly comparative approach by examining the British and Iberian Atlantic worlds side by side, with occasional glances at French, Portuguese, and Dutch developments. Themes to be investigated include movements of goods, ideas, peoples, and cultures across the Atlantic. We also consider the independence movements of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Cervantes and Don Quijote
This course dedicates an entire term to a close reading of the two parts of Miguel de Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote de la Mancha. Announcing itself as a “true history,” yet, whose fictional devices clearly shine through, Don Quixote occupies the privileged space of first modern novel where, within its literary fabric(ations), a theory of the novel is devised. Our readings of Don Quixote examine how the classic novel inserts, parodies, and transforms all previous literary and non-literary discourses to ingeniously invent a new narrative form. To contextualize Cervantes and his literary-historic tradition, this seminar also explores questions of erotic and literary desire, the role of madness and mental health, empire and the circulation of material culture and material wealth, the Edenic narrative and ecologies of the natural world, censorship and the Inquisition, the status of representation and performance, translation, as well as the constructions of class, gender, race, and nation. We also study the legacy of Don Quixote and its quixotic narratives through contemporary art, essays, films, novels, science fiction, and television. Taught in Spanish.
Close Analysis of Film
Close study of a range of major films from a variety of periods and places. Apart from developing tools for the close analysis of film, we consider such topics as genre and mode; the role of sound; cinema as a structure of gazes; remakes and adaptations; approaches to realism; narration and resistance to narration; film in relation to other moving image media; and the relationship of close analysis to historical contextualization and interpretation more generally.
Prerequisite: FILM 150.
Contemporary French Literature in the Making
A survey of landmark contemporary novels coupled with a workshop. We read, debate, and rank the finalists of the Goncourt Choix US, a literary prize organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. At the end of the term, one or two students are elected by their peers to travel to the Albertine Bookstore in New York, deliberate with fellow graduate students from other institutions, and elect their own recipient. In combination with this shortlist, we also read canonical twenty-first-century novels and narratives, discuss literary movements, genres, and trends, and explore the contemporary literary life in France (media, prizes, publishing houses, literary quarrels, digitalization). Students thus have the opportunity to practice and compare different types of literary criticism—academic and journalistic—so as to acquire the tools to examine contemporary literature in the making.
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.
Cybersecurity, Cyberwar, and International Relations
Today’s Internet is far more than a system for sending mail or compiling information. Cyberspace is the backbone of our global commerce, communication and defense systems, and the critical infrastructure that powers our modern civilization. Yet despite the immense benefits that have resulted from this global connectivity, significant vulnerabilities persist, and threats are on the rise, especially from the standpoint of American national security interests. Drawing from a variety of academic and government sources in the fields of history, law, political science, and computer science, this course analyzes the rapidly evolving realm of international cyber relations. Topics include cybercrime, cyberespionage, cyberterrorism, cyberwarfare, and cyber governance. Particular attention will be paid to whether any existing policy frameworks provide a basis for strengthening U.S. cybersecurity, fostering greater international understanding, and developing common cyber norms of behavior. This seminar also will reflect on the legal and ethical dimensions of cybersecurity; the unique challenges of attribution and deterrence in cyberspace; the proper role of national and international government oversight; the relationship between the public and private sectors; and the enduring tensions between privacy, transparency, freedom, and national security on the Internet.
Dante and the Revolution of Poverty
Why do we still read Dante? Is a poet like him still relevant for us twenty-first-century scholars? Is Dante still relevant for our students? Does a poem like the Comedy, which is all structured on punishment and reward in the afterlife, still make any sense for us? Is a system of thought heavily constructed on Christian doctrine still appealing to us living in a post-Christian world or even in a post-religious society? These are some of the questions and issues we deal with in this course. A switch in perspective reveals a fresh interpretation of the poeta sacro as a political activist who fights corruption, a rebellious author who chooses the vernacular (the language of the masses) over Latin (the language of intellectuals), a social dissident who condemns capitalism and the greedy culture of money, and proposes poverty as a solution to social tensions.
Decolonial theory imagines a world different from the one created by the dominance of Western modernity. However, it is not necessarily obvious what Europe can contribute to this process, as the decentering of Europe and its intellectual traditions are tenets of decolonial theory; the continent is arguably the only one in which Europeans do not appear as colonizers. In this class, following authors such as Aimé Césaire, Stuart Hall, and Houria Bouteldja, we approach Europe as a space that is key to the global process of decolonization. A return of land in the former colonies that includes actual sovereignty instead of exploitative postcolonial relationships would fundamentally change the European economy, which is built on a model of prosperity at the expense of non-Europeans, justified through a model of meritocracy that makes invisible the violence of the colonial project. But beyond that, Europe as a concept collapses without a colonial framework—what Europe stands for today (and has since early modernity) would be meaningless without the Western knowledge model that decoloniality aims to dismantle. So, what would a different, decolonized Europe look like? For potential answers, we turn to the practices of European activists and artists of color such as the French Indigènes de la République, the German Romani Phen, Spain’s Diásporas Críticas, and others. Among our themes are Europe’s investment in whiteness, museums and the question of repatriation of artifacts and human remains, queer Roma artists in Eastern Europe and the postsocialist legacy, and the so-called refugee crisis and reparations.
This seminar introduces students to theories of memory, testimony, and trauma by bringing key works on these topics into dialogue with literary texts by writers of the former French and British empires in Africa. Literary readings may include works by Djebar, Ouologuem, Farès, Salih, Head, Aidoo. Theoretical readings by Arendt, Adorno and Horkheimer, Agamben, Césaire, Derrida, Fanon, Foucault, Mbembe, Spivak.
This seminar and workshop brings together scholarship in postcolonial theory, decolonial thought, Latin American and South Asian subaltern Studies, Black Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and feminist postcolonial science and technology studies to survey critiques of reason, rationality, the post-Enlightenment liberal subject, and the formation of knowledge. We explore the active eradication of other forms of knowledge and subjects through genocide and cultural assimilation, education, and the disciplining of knowledge. In concert with scholarship that provincializes post-Enlightenment reason, we read work that explores other forms of thinking/knowing. During the second half of the seminar, there is an added workshop component in which participants experiment with decolonizing approaches to their own research.
Diggin’ in the Historical Crates: Breathing Poetry into the Archives
This course explores the nexus between poetry and history and unearths the abundant creative opportunities of extensive historical research wed to flights of imagination. Students develop their own historical topics and map their path toward a series of poems that interrogate, speculate, and illustrate. Along the way we explore the ethical and aesthetic challenges involved in reimagining history while creating pathways toward understanding the present.
This is an intermediate-level course for the purpose of the Writing Concentration.
Early Modern Ecologies: Representing Peasants, Animals, Labor, Land
To what extent does writing about the land and depicting landscapes in early modern Europe reflect a new interest in engaging the boundaries between the human and nonhuman? What does it show about the commitment of artists and intellectuals to representing cultures and environments not necessarily their own? And how did writers and artists seek to legitimize their intellectual labors by invoking images of agricultural work? Since antiquity, artists have often chosen to make the countryside and its human and nonhuman denizens symbols of other things: leisure, song, exile, patriotism, erotic sensibilities, anti-urbanism. Early Christianity in turn embraced the desert—and the countryside—as a space for spirituality. We explore these origins and turn to the early modern period, when such interests exploded into poems, novels, plays, and paintings—a period that coincided with new world discoveries and new possibilities for “golden ages” abroad. We read works by Virgil, St. Jerome, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Tasso, Seamus Heaney, and others, and take at least one trip to a local gallery (in New Haven or New York). Finally, we explore recent work in ecocriticism and environmental studies in order to grapple with ancient and early modern understandings of the natural world.
Early Modern England
This seminar examines anew the visual and material culture of early modern England from the accession of Henry VIII in 1509 to the death of Queen Anne in 1714. These two centuries saw the transformation of England from an insular late-medieval nation to a global mercantile empire on the threshold of industrialization. It witnessed periods of magnificent royal patronage of the visual arts; revolution and civil war; the emergence of the country houses and London homes of the aristocracy of as sites of political power and artistic innovation, and the inexorable rise of a mercantile middle class, who produced, consumed, and imported luxury goods. We examine items ranging from miniatures to monumental tombs, prints to paintings, architecture to furniture, and textiles to ceramics, glass, and other forms of material culture as we pursue an inclusive understanding of art in early modern England with attention to questions of religion, iconoclasm, emigration, empire, colonialism, gender, and class. Research papers are based on materials in Yale collections, or those seen in person in other collections visited during the term, with an emphasis on works little examined in the existing historiographies.
Eastern Europe since 1914
Eastern Europe from the collapse of the old imperial order to the enlargement of the European Union. Main themes include world war, nationalism, fascism, and communism. Special attention to the structural weaknesses of interwar nation-states and postwar communist regimes. Nazi and Soviet occupation as an age of extremes. The collapse of communism. Communism after 1989 and the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s as parallel European trajectories.
Ecology and Nature in Russian Culture
This course explores the relationship between nature and culture, while further advancing communicative competence in the Russian language. It focuses on how Russian and Soviet society adapted to or transformed the country’s space and environment and how human-nature interactions informed Russophone literature, film, and other art forms. Among its topics are: Russia’s position between Europe and Asia and the impact of this location on the debates about Russian identity; the variety of landscapes and visions of homeland; urban and rural spaces, either in conflict or at peace with the environment; and the connections between ecology, science, and politics, especially in the face of ecological disasters, such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, or in extreme climactic conditions, such as the Gulag. Conducted in Russian.
Ecology, Ecocriticism, and Narration
This course sets out to investigate the literary techniques of description and narration and their political stakes in the context of climate politics, primarily focusing on, but by no means limited to, the German-speaking world. Taking the notoriously descriptive prose of Adalbert Stifter and its harsh criticism from the left as a point of departure and considering theoretical texts by György Lukács, Amitav Ghosh, Eva Horn, and Donna Haraway, we look at the interrelated functions of description, science, and narration in literary and non-literary forms of expressing urgency today—from viral tweets to politically engaged novels—and we discuss the often-articulated accusation that literature is conspicuously silent when it comes to expressing the pressing matter of our ecological crisis. Authors include Stifter, Ghosh, W.G. Sebald, Ian McEwan, Judith Hermann, Ilija Trojanow, and Kim Stanley Robinson.
Europe and Difference
This graduate reading seminar examines the construction of notions of “Europeanness” during the twentieth century by exploring the histories of various communities that European society has marked as “other” in some way. We will consider the shifting places that Jewish, Muslim, Black, Queer, migrant, refugee, and guest worker communities have occupied in Europe over the past century and a half; the ways they have been denied full membership in legal and civil society; how they have battled those exclusions; and the contributions these communities have made to modern European society.
European Union Law
This interdisciplinary course analyses the European Union and its legal order from legal and political perspectives. The time required for reading is similar to an average law class, but the seminars explore the leading case law with more time and depth, from a comparative policy perspective. Some of the seminars are also dedicated to key questions related to the EU legal regime. Finally, time is provided for presentations from participants (further explanations of these aspects in Week 1). The course focuses on the following questions: What makes the EU different from the average international organization? Can we call the current state of this polity as a constitutional entity? What is the role of law in the political and economic integration of Europe? What role do the European Institutions play? What are the functions of the Commission and which cases does the European Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) hear? What is the role of the private litigant? What are the fundamental legal values and principles of this new legal order? What are the fundamental economic freedoms in the Union and why is the free movement of goods and persons key to integration? What is the Union’s foreign policy? What are the rules for implementing the goal of sustainable development? What is the EU’s competition regime? Is the Lisbon Treaty really a constitution in all but in a name?
Family in Greek Literature and Film
The structure and multiple appropriations of the family unit, with a focus on the Greek tradition. The influence of aesthetic forms, including folk literature, short stories, novels, and film, and of political ideologies such as nationalism, Marxism, and totalitarianism. Issues related to gender, sibling rivalry, dowries and other economic factors, political allegories, feminism, and sexual and social violence both within and beyond the family.
French and Francophone Cinema through the New Wave
Cinema is uniquely prominent in French culture. Painters, writers, philosophers engage it. Its ambitions took off after WWII, when teen-age film fanatics Truffaut, Godard, and Rohmer, developed into feared critics at Cahiers du Cinema, then began making world famous New Wave films in 1959. This seminar examines the directors they admired (Renoir, Bresson) or eviscerated in order to capture the “idea of cinema” they injected into their own productions—romantic, existentialist, finally political—right up through the events of May ’68 in which cinema played a key role. The feminism of the 70s, (Varda, Duras, Akerman), challenged and expanded the New Wave idea which has been carried into the 21st c. by actors like Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Juliet Binoche and Isabel Huppert and by passionate philosophical directors like Claire Denis and Olivier Assayas. We study the politics of culture that fosters such ambitious cinema, while each participant explores one director or trend in depth.
Geography and History
A research seminar focused on methodological questions of geography and geographic analysis in historical scholarship. We consider approaches ranging from the Annales School of the early twentieth century to contemporary research in environmental history, history of science, urban history, and more. We also explore interdisciplinary work in social theory, historical geography, and anthropology and grapple with the promise (and drawbacks) of GIS. Students may write their research papers on any time period or geographic region, and no previous experience with geography or GIS is necessary.
Global Economies: Readings in Economic History
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.
History beyond the Archive
This course focuses on three broad themes. First, we examine the social construction of “the archive.” What forms of knowledge accumulation constitute a historical repository? Second, we examine the role of the archive in the interplay of ethnography and historiography. How do ethnographic history, historical ethnography, and history of the present differ? Lastly, we examine the necessity of the archive and consider various alternative grounds upon which history can be constructed. What might it mean to imagine a history (or a history of science, medicine, and technology) beyond the archive?
History of Medieval Christianity: Learning, Faith, and Conflict
The Middle Ages have been defined by European culture as the period between 500 CE and 1500 CE. It is a period that witnesses the transformation of European Christianity into a Latin-speaking religious community under the Pope. It became increasingly separate from the developments in the Near East and Asia. All too long this epoch has served in legitimating discourses of confessions, nations and ethnic groups, such as in the nationalistic construction of the Germanic tribes. The course aims to draw a new image of these thousand years in terms of time, geography, ethnicity, gender, and culture. Medieval Christianity offers multiple possibilities for understanding both the perils and development of Christianity in an age of rapid change. On the one hand, the course examines processes of establishing power by exclusion, mainly of Jewish and Muslim believers, and of building strong hierarchies almost exclusively male. On the other hand, we find fascinating debates within Scholasticism about how to combine philosophical reason with Christian faith. Further, we explore the evolving of deep, inner spiritual practices among mystics, with special regard to female nuns, who were prolific writers. From this perspective we see how medieval Christianity is part of what we now experience as global Christianity, making a distinctive contribution to the emergence of a widely shared faith.
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 Digital Humanities for the Premodern World
Italian Film from Postwar to Postmodern
A study of important Italian films from World War II to the present. Consideration of works that typify major directors and trends. Topics include neorealism, self-reflexivity and metacinema, fascism and war, and postmodernism. Films by Fellini, Antonioni, Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Wertmuller, Tornatore, and Moretti. Films in Italian with English subtitles.
Jews and Christians in the Formation of Europe, 500–1500
This seminar explores how medieval Jews and Christians interacted as religious societies between 500 and 1500.
Margins of the Enlightenment
This course proposes a critical examination of the French Enlightenment, with a focus on issues of progress, universalism, empire, and race. We confront these notions with approaches that have emerged in the postcolonial field of studies as well as gender and sexuality studies. Canonical authors are reinterpreted in that light along with lesser-known works. We are assisted by contemporary historians and critics of the Enlightenment, principally Michel Foucault, Lynn Hunt, and Robert Darnton. Readings by Mme. de Graffigny, Mme. de Stael, Mme. de Duras, Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau, Raynal and Cugoano. Conducted in French.
Mass Atrocities in Global Politics
Examination of the impact of global politics and institutions on the commission, execution, prevention, and aftermath of mass atrocities.
Mass Incarceration in the Soviet Union and the United States
An investigation of the experience and purposes of mass incarceration in the Soviet Union and the United States in the twentieth century. Incarceration is central to the understanding, if not usually to the self-understanding, of a society. It is thus a crucial aperture into basic questions of values and practices. This course proposes a frontal approach to the subject, by investigating two of the major carceral systems of the twentieth century, the Soviet and the American. Intensive reading includes first-person accounts of the Gulag and American prison as well as scholarly monographs on the causes of mass incarceration in different contexts. Brief account is taken of important comparative cases, such as Nazi Germany and communist China. Guest lectures and guest appearances are an important element of our teaching.
Methods in Gender and Sexuality Studies
This seminar is designed for graduate students developing research projects that center feminist, queer, decolonial/postcolonial, and critical race methodologies. Taking an epistemological approach that centers “encounter” in its multiple scales and fronts, the course is designed to bridge the disciplinary divides across the humanities and social sciences. As such, it begins with the interdisciplinary insight that any research method can be used in a feminist, queer, decolonial/postcolonial, and critical race manner—and maybe can even be used to counter-disciplinary ends. While the course engages a wide variety of methods—from ethnographic, historiographic/archival, and geographic, to literary, media, textual analysis, and cultural studies, and to political theory—this does not unfold as part of a practicum. Students do not experiment with a ready-made “toolkit.” For the most part, we critically engage book-length projects that exemplify counter-disciplinary methodologies. Ultimately, students reflect hermeneutically on how method and theory relate in these texts. Foucault has theorized these kinds of reflections as a practice of “the archaeology of knowledge,” and the seminar channels it for its potential to lay bare the discursive formations that have rendered only certain Eurocentric, supremacist, and patriarchal preoccupations as legitimate objects of inquiry as well as for its potential to explore the relationship of power to knowledge, the ethics of representation, questions of accountability, and the relationship between disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity.
Although the course is open to all graduate students at Yale, it is designed to train graduate students in the WGSS combined Ph.D. and certificate programs in particular.
Modern French Poetry in the Maghreb
A survey of nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century poetry written in French by authors from North Africa, including works by Si Mohand, Amrouche, Kateb, Khaïr-Eddine, Sénac, Laâbi, Khatibi, Farès, Djaout, Dib, Ben Jelloun, Meddeb, Labbize, and Acherchour. Includes close readings set in literary, artistic, linguistic, aesthetic, historical, political, religious, and philosophical contexts. This iteration of the course coincides with the publication of a new double issue of Yale French Studies entitled “North African Poetry in French” (2020). Includes invited specialists. Readings in French, discussion in English.
Prerequisite: reading knowledge of French.
Philosophy of Dissent in Central and Eastern Europe
This is a seminar in the field of European intellectual history, based on primary sources. It focuses on how philosophers, novelists, sociologists, and other thinkers developed and articulated a philosophy of dissent under communism. More specific topics include the relationships between temporality and subjectivity and between truth and lies, and the role that existentialism played in formulating philosophical critiques of repression. Readings consist of a mixture of philosophical and literary works from the Soviet Union, East Germany and the lands in-between. Potential authors include Merab Mamardashvili, Danilo Kiš, Józef Tischner, Adam Michnik, Jacek Kuroń, Ladislav Hejdanek, Václav Havel, Jan Patočka, Leszek Kołakowski, Gajo Petrović, Norman Manea, Lev Kopelev, Igor Pomerantsev, Tomas Venclova.
Polish Communism and Postcommunism in Film
The Polish film school of the 1950s and the Polish New Wave of the 1960s. Pressures of politics, ideology, and censorship on cinema. Topics include gender roles in historical and contemporary narratives, identity, ethos of struggle, ethical dilemmas, and issues of power, status, and idealism. Films by Wajda, Munk, Polanski, Skolimowski, Kieslowski, Holland, and Kedzierzawska, as well as selected documentaries. Readings by Milosz, Andrzejewski, Mickiewicz, Maslowska, Haltoff, and others.
This course examines core theoretical problems that institutions address and substantive illustrations of those problems and solutions from across the various subfields in political science. The course also covers the challenges of developing theories related to institutional change and of empirically assessing the impact of institutions.
Postcolonial Theory and Literature
A survey of the principal modes of thought that have animated decolonization and life after colonialism, as seen in both theoretical and literary texts. Concentration on the British and French imperial and postcolonial contexts. Readings in negritude, orientalism, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and novels.
Lectures in English; readings available both in French and in English translation.
Problems in Church History, 800–1500
The course runs chronologically from the Carolingian Empire and its form of imperial church governance through the ecclesiastical reform of the eleventh century, monastic orders and their proliferation in the twelfth century, the emergence of the papal monarchy, and challenges to church authority from secular rulers and popular, sometimes heretical, movements. It ends with the upheavals of the late Middle Ages, specifically the Great Schism of 1378–1417 and the failed conciliar movement of the fifteenth century. Among the sources to be considered are cathedral and monastic cartularies, archival documents, saints’ lives and other biographies of church figures, and records indicating the position of the church in the secular world, including education, commerce, city planning, and jurisdictional conflicts.
Putin's Russia and Protest Culture
Survey of Russian literature and culture since the fall of communism. The chaos of the 1990s; the solidification of power in Putin’s Russia; the recent rise of protest culture. Sources include literature, film, and performances by art collectives. Readings and discussion in English; texts available in Russian.
Qualitative Research Methods
The goal of this course is to introduce graduate students in the social sciences to qualitative research methods. The course is designed to walk students through the process of conducting qualitative research, from the initial steps of deciding on a topic and developing research questions to collecting and analyzing data. To learn how qualitative researchers write books and articles, we examine the relationship between theory, method, and data in four award-winning books based on dissertations and journal articles published in top journals. Throughout the term, students also gain practical experience with typical qualitative methods, learning how to do observations, content analysis, and open-ended interviews. All students do the same observation exercise (going to a grocery store), whereas content analysis and interviews are shaped by each student’s research interests. The course culminates in a final paper, which can either be an analysis of the student’s qualitative data or a proposal for a qualitative research project.
Permission of the instructor is required for all students. This course involves intensive reading and writing throughout the term. A few undergraduate juniors majoring in Sociology and intending to use qualitative methods in a yearlong senior thesis may be admitted. No auditors are allowed.
Readings in the History of Sexuality
Research in Modern International/Global History
This seminar provides an opportunity for graduate students to write a research paper on international/global history, broadly defined to include diplomacy, economic relations, social movements, cultural and intellectual connections, and other topics. The first part of the seminar includes readings and class discussions that focus on hands-on strategies and tactics for historical research and academic writing. Later seminar meetings are oriented toward benchmarks and workshops on students’ own research projects.
Rockin' the Revolution: The Politics of Rock in Communist Europe and Eurasia
Fans have long celebrated rock’s revolutionary politics, but what role did it play in countries where people believed that the final revolution, ‘the Communist Revolution,’ had already happened? Officially panned and sometimes banned in many socialist states, rock ‘n’ roll nevertheless enjoyed a strong base of fans and practitioners in Eastern Europe and Eurasia throughout the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. The role of rock in these countries, however, was more complex than celebratory stories of resistance and Western consumption in the face of Communist “oppression” might have us believe. In this seminar, we examine original (translated) songs and reviews from Communist Europe and the Soviet Union and more recent critical essays, plays, (auto)biographies, films, and performances commenting on rock in the late-Socialist period to frame larger questions of political voice, censorship, cooptation, counterculture, and (counter)revolution. The seminar introduces students to accessible music terminology, but no musical background is required for the course.
A study of the historiographical narratives of Roman history, prose and poetry, of the ancient Latin literary tradition. Readings in Latin from Ennius, Cato and other fragmentary historians, Livy, Vergil, Lucan, Tacitus, and Silius Italicus.
Prerequisite: Graduate-level reading ability in Latin.
Russia Between Empire & Nation
Throughout its modern history, Russia has been an imperial state. Like the United States, Russia expanded across a continent inhabited by various ethnic groups. Russians developed their own versions of Manifest Destiny, Orientalism, and colonialism. As a result of imperial expansion, the Russian Federation to this day remains a multiethnic state and, territorially, the biggest country on Earth. This interdisciplinary course explores Russia’s imperial culture, history, and politics from the nineteenth century to the present day. The course focuses on how modern Russian culture represented empire and how imperial subjects responded to these representations. It also asks how nationalism and racialization figured in these negotiations. Cultural materials include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, travel writing, painting, monuments, and films. Secondary readings draw on history, political science, anthropology, and contemporary journalism.
All readings, films, and class discussions in English; no prerequisites.
Russia from the Ninth Century to 1801
The mainstream of Russian history from the Kievan state to 1801. Political, social, and economic institutions and the transition from Eastern Orthodoxy to the Enlightenment.
Russian History to 1725
The major phases of Russian history from the tenth century, covering the major historiographical controversies and sources.
Russian or German helpful but not required.
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.
Russian Symbolist Poetry
This graduate seminar explores Russian Symbolist poetry in cultural and international contexts. We study the philosophical foundations (Nietzsche, Solovyov); the preoccupation with various temporalities (modernity); the longing for total art (Wagner) bounded by lyric form; aestheticism; utopianism; decadence; and other topics. Our readings include the works of Vladimir Solovyov, Valery Bryusov, Konstantin Balmont, Fedor Sologub, Zinaida Gippius, Mikhail Kuzmin, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Andrei Bely, and Aleksandr Blok—as well as of “post-Symbolists” Nikolai Gumilyov, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and Marina Tsvetaeva. Our approach emphasizes prosody, genre, and medium as well as the dissemination of ideas across media and cultures. Weekly practices involve close reading, research, theoretical reframing, and ongoing collaborative participation and presentations.
Science and Literature in Russia
We often view science and the humanities as incompatible and even hostile fields. But are they actually as distinct as we think they are? Would it be possible to study science through literature and literature through science? What happens when artists think about science and technology in a country and age that reveres empirical knowledge? This course dives deep into these questions, interrogating how different scientific disciplines were represented in and enriched by Russian and Slavic culture. We look at various fields of scientific knowledge, such as medicine, engineering, physics, and chemistry, in connection to great works of literature, asking what role Russian writers played in shaping them and, conversely, in what ways science affected these fictional pieces. Through science and Russian literature of the 19th to the 20th century, we examine the profound impact of artistic production on different modes of knowledge production and circulation, and trace its resonance in our perceptions of the physical world to this day.
Second Sex after the Second World
This graduate seminar offers a comparative study of literature, art, and critical theory across (post-)state socialist countries, highlighting the region’s intertwining stories of socialist and feminist thought. We combine an examination of international feminist theory’s complex engagements with Second World legacies and detailed studies of political emancipatory aesthetic strategies in Russia and Eastern Europe up to the present. We will review the intertwining histories of socialist and feminist thought—their clashes and collusions; trajectories and politically fraught, ever-changing legacies. How did feminism inform, emerge from, betray and be betrayed by economic and class-based critique? How can we reconsider these legacies, after the long shadow of Cold War? We study the work and the narratives constructed around figures such as Alexandra Kollontai and Rosa Luxemburg; consider translation and dissemination histories; and interrogate international feminist theory’s complicated engagement with state socialist culture in the 1970s and 1980s. How do we read Hélène Cixous and Julia Kristeva, reading the “East,” from a perspective no longer dichotomized by Cold War intellectual stilos? We end with the return of the radical repressed across artistic, theoretical, and activist socialist feminist strategies in post-socialist Russia and Eastern Europe.
Socialist Realism And Its Legacies
Socialist Realism was promulgated in the 1930s as the sole mode for cultural production in the Soviet Union. Since that time, it has been maligned as totalitarian, lauded as emancipatory, dismissed as hackish, and reappropriated in a variety of ways–from homage to parody. This course offers an introduction to Socialist Realism and its legacies, beginning with its prehistory in the early Soviet avant-garde and other cultural movements, tracing its official adoption under Stalin, its reassessment in the late Soviet period, and its legacies after the fall of the Soviet Union. Special attention is paid to the interpretations of Socialist Realism in the emerging national cultures beyond the Russian SFSR. The course also examines select examples of the impact of Socialist Realism beyond the Soviet Union, particularly in the “Third World” during the era of Cold War cultural diplomacy. Questions for discussion include: How did Socialist Realism imagine, enforce, and unsettle hierarchies of gender, race, and ethnicity? What did Socialist Realism look like beyond literature–in film, visual art, architecture, and music? How did the imperative to use Socialist Realism connect to the Soviet project to create minority cultures that would be “national in form, socialist in content”? How did people outside the Second World receive and appropriate Socialist Realism?
Staging Mysteries: The Legacy of Medieval Biblical Drama, Past and Present
While The Phantom of the Opera holds the honor of the longest-running production on Broadway at thirty-four years, medieval mystery cycles trump it in their annual performances from roughly the eleventh to sixteenth centuries throughout Western Europe. This course traces the development and history of the medieval mystery cycle tradition, in which the biblical narrative was staged for the purpose of the “augmentation of the Catholic faith” in order to lead “common people to devotion and sound doctrine” (Chester Cycle banns). We analyze key episodes from a variety of surviving mystery cycle manuscripts, exploring the devotional and doctrinal purposes of these plays as well as their civic, social, and, at times, subversively political valences. The second half of the course traces the legacy and afterlives of mystery cycle tradition in modern performance. We look at a range of adaptations of mystery cycles as well as modern drama that reinvents the mystery play genre for secular purposes, from the Soviet era Mystery Bouffe (1918) to Kanye West’s operas Mary and Nebuchadnezzar (2019). Through primary and secondary texts, this course explores the following questions: How did theatre emerge from liturgy and Christian ritual? How did medieval theatre embody an encounter with the divine for its audiences? What were the effects and affects that resulted from these religious performances? And how and why does the mystery cycle continue to be reinvented by new theatre practitioners for new audiences around the world?
The Catholic Reformation
Reading and discussion of scholarship on the Catholic Reformation and of key primary texts written between 1500 and 1600.
The Dutch in Japan (1600-1868)
After the elimination of Christianity from the permitted religious options in Japan and the simultaneous expulsion of the Portuguese from the country’s trading networks, the Dutch trade with Japan was transferred from Hirado to Nagasaki in 1641. In this way, Nagasaki was allowed to keep its function as an intermediary between Japan and the Western world. In contrast to its short-lived Christian identity, Nagasaki’s exclusive relationship with the Dutch lasted for more than two centuries. In this seminar, we explore this long standing relationship from a variety of viewpoints and epistemes: patterns of exchange, negotiation and diplomacy, objects and materials, language barriers and language learning, the use of Dutch sources to write Japanese history etc.
The European Union
Origins and development of the European Community and Union over the past fifty years; ways in which the often-conflicting ambitions of its member states have shaped the EU; relations between member states and the EU’s supranational institutions and politics; and economic, political, and geopolitical challenges.
The Master and Margarita: Money, Sex, and Power in Stalin's Russia
Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is the most popular Russian novel of the twentieth century. Its plot, which describes the Devil’s visit to Moscow in the 1930s, has no analogues in modern Russian literature: it mixes ingeniously the elements of adventure, romance, history, philosophy, fantasy, and satirical novels. Bulgakov worked on his magnum opus for twelve years, from 1928 and until his death in 1940. The novel, however, was not published until 1966, when the first section appeared in the magazine Moskva, which sold out within hours. For contemporary readers, Bulgakov’s text is a treasure trove of insight about society, culture, morality, economics, power, religion, entertainment, politics, police, and everyday life in the Stalin era. But Bulgakov also raises deep philosophical issues: the various chapters of The Master and Margarita are case studies dealing provocatively and in depth with the meaning of life and the fear of death, good and evil, love and loyalty, ethics and responsibility, and so much more. As a bonus, the final chapters offer us Bulgakov’s own recipe for happiness. During the semester, we dive into the intricacies of Bulgakov’s narrative, studying not only the structure, content, and characters of the novel, but also—through some visual sources and scholarly articles—the history of Stalinist Moscow, and the textual sources that permeate the book, from the Bible, Goethe’s Faust, and Dante’s The Divine Comedy, to Gogol and Pushkin, to Bulgakov’s fellow writers and philosophers.
Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
Close reading of major novels by two of Russia’s greatest authors. Focus on the interrelations of theme, form, and literary-cultural context. Readings and discussion in English.
U.S.-Russian Relations since the End of the Cold War
This course examines the factors—political, socioeconomic, and ideological—that have shaped U.S.-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War, as well as specific issues in bilateral relations, including arms control, counterterrorism, energy, and regional affairs. The goal is to understand the way each country constructs relations with the other to advance its own national interests and the implications of U.S.-Russian relations for global affairs.