Cogut Center for the Humanities

Brown University has long offered a unique focus and quality in the humanities, combining the preservation of knowledge with a spirit of innovation and adventure. The humanities today include ever–vital traditional disciplines such as history, philosophy, language and literary studies, and religious studies. They also include the newer disciplines of art history, musicology, the interpretive dimensions of social sciences such as anthropology and political science, and more recently, interdisciplinary initiatives such as media studies and gender and sexuality studies.

Named for Craig M. Cogut ‘75 and Deborah Cogut in recognition of their generous support, the Cogut Center for the Humanities was launched in the fall of 2003 as the Brown Humanities Center to support collaborative research among scholars in the humanities. Today, through its fellowship, grant, and distinguished visitors programs, and regularly scheduled events, the Cogut Center strives to:

  • Foster innovative work in the humanities and related disciplines
  •  Sustain and nurture international perspectives at Brown in an era of increasing globalization
  • Explore the history and effects of the rapid growth of technologies of information and visualization
  • Examine the public role of the humanities in the context of recent challenges and pressures
  • Enrich relations between the humanities and the studio and performing arts
  • Investigate the re–emergence of pressing issues of ethics and aesthetics
  • Reinvigorate the concept of critique and the role of critical theory in the humanities

The Cogut Center is poised to build on the strengths of Brown University at a moment of unique institutional distinction and growth, and at a time of particular national and global urgency. The Cogut Center is providing multiple programs to bring Brown faculty and students into regular and innovative contact with each other, as well as with national and international scholars and scholarship. In fulfilling its mission to the University and to the field of humanities, the Cogut Center supports and enhances Brown’s stellar reputation in the humanities.

For additional information please visit the Center’s website at:

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HMAN 1200. Making Choices: Ethics at the Frontier of Global Science (UNIV 1200).

Interested students must register for UNIV 1200.

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HMAN 1305. Medical Humanities: Critical Perspectives on Illness, Healing, and Culture (ANTH 1305).

Interested students must register for ANTH 1305.

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HMAN 1970A. Religion, Secularization, and the International.

For the past several decades (but especially since 2001), internationalists have been increasingly preoccupied by the perceived "return of religion." Religion is often proclaimed to pose the single greatest threat to a liberal legal/political order and, less often, to be the greatest hope for that order. We will explore genealogies of the three key terms at stake in this conundrum – "religion," "secularization," and "the international." We begin from the proposition that none of these terms refer to ahistorical essences, but have been subject to continual theoretical/practical contestation/reconfiguration. We focus on that contestation as it has emerged in "modernity." Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

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HMAN 1970B. The Question of the Animal.

This course is built around the question of the animal as a difficulty posed to representation and thought at a time when animals have largely disappeared from humans' living environment, but proliferate as strange protagonists, specters or figures of ambiguity in literature and philosophy. We will consider a range of texts and films that "cast" the animal critically, that is, as a body that strains or scrambles meaning (interruption, irony, illegibility, haunting) and forces us to reconsider the work of language and narrative (indeed, of the "human"). Authors include Kafka, Coetzee, Hofmannsthal, Kofman, Chevillard, Darrieussecq, Derrida, Agamben, de Fontenay, Herzog. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970C. Modern Arab Thought: The Arab Renaissance.

This course introduces students to the 19th/early 20th century Arab thought - the "Nahda" (Arab Renaissance). Through primary and secondary English texts, we will explore questions raised by thinkers of this epoch pertaining to perceived civilizational crisis, and examine the diagnoses/proposals offered by them. The course underlines the changes and continuities in these concerns under the impact of dramatic socio-political events of the epoch. We will discuss the strengths/weaknesses of "Nahda" thought that continues to inform/preoccupy contemporary Arab debates on culture, democracy, gender and Islam. We will examine the significance of this legacy in today's Arab world. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970D. Places of Healing: Memory, Miracle, and Storytelling.

From antiquity to our day, therapeutic landscapes such as: minerai and thermal springs; shrines and churches built at sacred springs; volcanic ash mud baths; rocky landscapes emitting odorous gasses; and ponds filled with medicinal leeches, attract health pilgrims who search for healing. Storytelling transformed these into places of memory and pilgrimage. This seminar investigates places of bodily healing and miracle from a cultural studies perspective. The case studies will be drawn from the Mediterranean world and Western Asia (including Lourdes in France, Hlerapolis in Southeastern Turkey and the Agiasma churches of Byzantine Istanbul). Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970E. The Precarious University.

The intensification of student protest-occupy movements across the country particularly in California, and the proliferation the OWS movements across the world have rejuvenated social movements against cutbacks for the people and kickbacks for the wealthy. In this seminar, we will address the epistemic shifts and intellectual costs of these ongoing upheavals, particularly the fight against the U.S. university’s neoliberalization. We will imagine the kind of progressive university that is sustainable for the arts and humanities, and how the precarious work of artists and humanists are fundamental to 21st century global universities. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970F. Pain in Polish and Russian Twentieth-Century Literature.

Does pain and reflection on pain teach us something about ourselves, the world, our relation to it? This seminar approaches the question by examining the meaning of pain in Russian/Polish literature/literary theory of the 20th century. Our concern is with pain's resistance to language and representation. The works analyzed offer a variety of responses to problem of pain as it appears in theology, experimental medicine, discussions of materialism, the philosophy of Schopenhauer, and above all, the giants of Russian literature, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, in whom these debates are dramatized; they also form the ground on which Russian and Polish literature meet. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970G. International Perspectives on NGOs, Public Health, and Health Care Inequalities.

Non-governmental and other non-state organizations play an expanding role in the provision of health care across much of the globe. Growth and internationalization of the non-governmental sector, contraction of post-socialist and advanced industrial welfare states, and sub-contracting of state-funded services have all contributed. The seminar focuses on this expansion, critically assessing texts on NGOs and health and drawing comprehensively from sources across disciplinary and interdisciplinary boundaries. We will address issues of human welfare, political citizenship and identity, replacement and displacement of states, new forms of health care inequalities, and the self-concepts, missions, and roles of non-profit sector workers around the globe. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970H. Specters of Comparison.

Comparison, which posits a likeness between the dissimilar, is always profoundly haunted by the question of its ground and judgment. This seminar will examine the comparative logic of capitalist modernity in the works of Marx, Weber, Adorno and Horkheimer, Foucault, Heidegger, and Benjamin. We will ask the following questions: How is equivalence established between nonequivalent objects? How are actual social relations quantified and measured, and is there an ethics to modern forms of comparability? How does language reflect and produce these operations? Or, to put it differently: What are the forms through which difference "haunts" us? We will pay special attention to figures of the double and the ghost in Hoffmann and Freud. Other topics to be covered include rationalization and the disenchantment of the world, the modern uncanny, "mediauras," colonial comparison, and the ethics of incommensurability.

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HMAN 1970I. Imposing Orthodoxy: "Jews," "Pagans" and "Heretics" when Constantinian Christianity Won.

What happens when a particular 'orthodoxy' becomes able to impose itself on others? This course examines the imposition of post-Constantinian catholicism on Jews, Samaritans, other Christians (Arians, Miaphysites, etc.) and the remaining ancient Mediterranean populace (4th-7th centuries) to consider a larger cultural phenomenon. We'll draw on ancient authors and legal sources (in translation), archaeological data, and contemporary studies. Half the course entails communal exploration of the late antique Mediterranean. Student research presentations, including studies of comparable situations from other cultural and historical contexts, comprise the second half. Useful prior coursework includes: RELS 400, RELS 410, CLAS 600, CLAS 660, CLAS 1320. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970J. Miniature: An Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies.

Why do we take pleasure in small-scale objects? What is their history and what purposes do they serve? How do the technology and the aesthetics of the small contribute to human cognition? To find answers to these and other questions, the seminar explores the cultural, literary and cognitive significance of miniatures. We will explore productive relationships between three areas of research: imaginative texts produced during the eighteenth century, the period's prolific but insufficiently studied production of small-scale versions of everyday objects, and recent developments in cognitive theory about the role of size-perception in the developing brain. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970K. Law and Religion.

In an arguably "post-secular" age, conflicts over the relationship between religion and law have moved to the forefront of international debate. In our multicultural/globalized world, such conflicts often provoke contestation over the very possibility of universal definitions of either "religion" or "law," let alone their proper relationship. Our interdisciplinary inquiries on these questions will include concrete legal disputes in domestic/international courts; theoretical debates over the construction of "religion" in fields such as anthropology, religious studies, and philosophy; historiographical controversies about the relationship between "secularization" and sovereignty, particularly in light of the legacy of colonialism. Limited to juniors, seniors, and graduate students. WRIT

Spr HMAN1970K S01 25744 Th 10:00-12:30(10) (N. Berman)
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HMAN 1970L. Topics in the History of Aesthetics: Eighteenth Century.

Modern aesthetics emerged in the eighteenth century at the intersection of different disciplines, discourses, cultures, and European nations. Contributors to the new field came not only from academic philosophy but also from the arts, literature, history, theology, and other fields. Aesthetics was thus and remains primary among interdisciplinary disciplines. Readings for this course will be drawn from British, German, and French authors such as Shaftesbury, Du Bos, Addison, Hutcheson, Hume, Burke, Kames, Diderot, Mendelssohn, Lessing, Kant, Schiller, and Herder. Enrollment limited to 25 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970M. Living in End Times.

Doomsday predictions/apocalyptic themes have become commonplace. Between "End of History" theses/Mayan Calendar predictions/posthumanist theories/the Rapture, and environmental/financial collapse, it seems we are living in what many believe to be End Times. This course will examine some principal clusters of ideas around finality: posthumanism/singularity, environmental collapse, patriot survivalism, and post-politics. We will look at a number of cultural products: traditional fiction/non-fiction, blogs/podcasts/films. It will be less important to establish whether the Mayan calendar calculations are accurate than seeing the connections between those claims and the claims of survivalists/Rapture theorists. Taken together, what do all these claims say about this moment in history? Enrollment limited to 25.

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HMAN 1970N. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the Global Scene.

Dominant narratives of Israeli/Palestinian conflict obscure influential forces taking place outside the boundaries of Israel/Palestine, stories we believe are unique/historically peculiar. We will see how groups have been inspired by/have inspired both peoples' struggles for survival/self-determination. We examine case studies revealing connectivity/reciprocity: Zionism's inspiration for Garvey's-U.S.-back-to-Africa movement; adoption of Fanonian/Maoist/Guevarian thought in Middle East; Black Panther Party's support for Palestinians/their endorsement of an Israeli Black Panther Party in the 1970s; South Africa/Latin America's economic/military ties to Israel; Palestinian call for international Boycott Divestment Sanctions; and examine how struggles for self-determination negotiate between seeking territorially bounded independence/globally networked liberation, in the region/beyond. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970O. Autonomy and Globalization.

Many of today's dissident movements adopt leaderless/self-managed practices presenting us with radically different notions of what it means to self-determine. We will situate these movements within historical struggles for autonomy. By "autonomy" we understand the quality or state of being self-governing/self-determining. By "self," we understand not the self-originating/self-determining/rational individual constructed by Enlightenment liberal humanism, but rather, a diversity of self-defined collectivities made up of social individuals. We will consider runaway slave societies (Western Hemisphere), Operaismo (Italy), Zapatistas (Mexico), Tahrir Square's protesters (Egypt), Occupy Movement (US), Shackdwellers (South Africa), refugee/migrant movements. Readings include Marx/ Cleaver/Linebaugh/Rediker/Negri/Tronti/Virno/Berardi/Holloway/others, and documents from movements we engage. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970P. Pragmatism, Religion, and Politics.

Pragmatism is a distinctive American school of thought that sees the goal of philosophy not as the apprehension of timeless truths but as a practical project of bettering individual lives and society as a whole. Pragmatists such as William James and John Dewey were devoted to deepening America's commitment to democracy. Both saw an important place for an unconventional sort of religion in democratic life. This course explores the pragmatist thought of James, Dewey, and others, looking especially at their views on religion and politics. We also will explore the influence of pragmatism on Barack Obama. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1970Q. Working (on) Concepts in the Humanities.

Concepts are usually thought of as cognitive tools, constituents of thought used for categorization/inference/memory/learning/decision-making. We shall think about them as effects of a language game whose rules change across genres, media, and discursive regimes. Looking for these rules and analyzing them comparatively, we shall ask how concepts are formed/displayed/performed, when do we need them/can we do without them. We shall read philosophers (Plato, Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Foucault, Derrida, and Deleuze), intellectual historians (Koselleck, Skinner), literary works (Kleist, Kafka, Musil), and look at some conceptual art. Advanced juniors, seniors and graduate students welcome. Enrollment limited to 20.

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HMAN 1970R. Literature and the Arts in Today's Cuba.

Cuba today is home to writers, musicians and artists who engage with new media and a global audience against the backdrop of a socialist revolution. This seminar will explore esthetic and political dimensions of contemporary Cuban culture with authors who will speak to us directly through a video link with Casa de las Américas in Havana. Knowledge of Spanish required.

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HMAN 1970S. Ethics and the Humanities.

This seminar will engage with ethical issues in a broad range of humanities disciplines. We will survey historical and thematic perspectives on ethics, and will consider the ethical implications of authorship and possession of texts and objects; translation as an ethical problem; data and open access; the perspective of the human subject; public humanities, public intellectuals and community-based research; and ethical issues in popular culture. Enrollment limited to 20. Not open to first year students or sophomores.

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HMAN 1970T. Music, New Media, and Virtual Performance.

We'll investigate how new media technologies shape musical practices (and vice versa). Topics will include DJ cultures, digital music distribution and related intellectual property issues, digital gameplay, music videos, popular music reception, online music lessons, and virtual communities. We'll give equal attention to production, circulation, and reception practices, as well as to thier increasing convergence. Readings will include both contemporary and historical studies. The course will require critical engagement with a diverse range of media, genres, and cultural contexts, encouraging students to examine their own media production and consumption practices. Enrollment limited to 20. Not open to first year students or sophomores.

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HMAN 1970V. Pragmatic Medical Humanities.

The question, "What is medical humanities?" has flummoxed the very experts who ardently argue for its importance to medical education and the professional and personal growth of health care providers. The interdisciplinary nature of medical humanities, engaging in conversations with persons who possess different expertise, knowledge and approaches, provides opportunities for insight unavailable elsewhere. Students will investigate alternative meanings, interpretations and purposes embedded in the term "medical humanities." They will develop their own personal relationship to this term/field of study, and its utility as a tool for understanding and responding to the profound experiences of clinical medicine, illness and health. Enrollment limited to 20. Not open to first year students or sophomores. This is a half-credit course.

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HMAN 1970W. Medicine and Colonialism in the Atlantic World: A View from the South.

This seminar examines the role of disease, medicine, and health in the history of the Atlantic World. Our analysis will be centered on events that took place in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa, during the era of European colonial expansion (1490-1940). In these four and a half centuries, the West became the dominant force in global geopolitics and Western medicine emerged as the hegemonic form of healing worldwide. This seminar explores the complex relationship between these two historical developments. Enrollment limited to 20. Not open to first year students or sophomores.

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HMAN 1970Y. Politics and Authority in Islamic Law and Society.

Few courses offer insight into the genesis of Islamic political theory in light of the social and historical circumstances of the medieval period. This seminar seeks to address major trends in political thought of classical Islam. In addition to reading secondary scholarship on social and political aspects of early Muslim society, we will also examine primary sources in translation (Prolegomenon, Book of Ordinances); literary genres, including official state epistles from the medieval period; and the work of Ibn Taymiyya. Finally we will address issues of authority, ethics and gender in contemporary analyses. Enrollment limited to 20. Not open to first year students or sophomores.

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HMAN 1970Z. Knowledge Networks and Information Economies in the Early Modern Period.

This course is designed to introduce students to major topics in the developing historical literature on the relationships between intellectual and economic history, and their implications for European culture, mainly in the first two centuries after Columbus and Da Gama. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

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HMAN 1971B. Paris Archive: The Capital of the Nineteenth Century, 1848-1871.

We will take as our starting-point Walter Benjamin's notes for his unfinished masterwork "The Arcades Project." The Passagenwerke comprise a massive index of citations/observations on the nature/form of the city of Paris in every aspect of its cultural/political life in the 19th/20th centuries. We will read works from which he culled his aphorisms/investigate the present status of each of his assertions/citations, with historical/contemporary readings. We will discuss the nature of historical/archival interpretation and try to bring together artifacts – textual/visual/sensorial - that might constitute a "Museum" of 19th Century Paris. Taught by Prof. Anthony Vidler. Graduate students encouraged to register. Enrollment limited to 20.

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HMAN 1971C. History, Theory and Practice of Storytelling Using Stereoscopic (“3D”) Motion Pictures.

This course will support/enhance Brown’s tradition in the Humanities by sharpening the focus on interdisciplinary/comparative work across cultural/linguistic boundaries. Can science/technology/medicine foster the presentation of innovative work in humanities by bringing 3D to New Media? Why do some cultural values dictate genres typically produced in 3D? What were the origins of 3D motion pictures/how might new technologies affect the distribution/visualization of 3D projects? How can 3D enrich relations between humanities and studio/performing arts? We provide Brown students with an opportunity to establish a foundation for analyzing/telling stories using stereoscopic tools, and receive basic technical experience using 3D small-format video equipment.

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HMAN 1971E. Cross-Cultural Approaches to Death and Dying.

Despite the universality of death, human responses are incredibly varied. This course situates biological, medical, and psychological conceptions of death and dying in conversation with the religious and ethical perspectives that have also informed human responses to death and dying in cultural contexts. This course—team-taught by a psychologist, a scholar of religion, and two end-of-life care physicians—facilitates a more informed understanding of death-related cultural practices and a more skilled response to death-related decisions arising in the practice of medicine and in life. Limited to 20 students in Medical Humanities and graduate Humanities fields. Honors undergraduates and PLMEs may enroll with permission.

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HMAN 1971K. Varieties of Secularism (RELS 1746).

Interested students must register for RELS 1746.

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HMAN 1971R. The First Scientific Americans: Exploring Nature in Latin America, 1500-1800 (SCSO 1701C).

Interested students must register for SCSO 1701C.

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HMAN 1971S. Introduction to iPhone/iPad Moviemaking Using 3-D and 4K Comparisons.

Mobile Devices are democratizing movie-making by lowering barriers to entry, enabling students to become full-fledged members of the film industry virtually overnight. This pioneering course provides the basic tools for students to create and distribute no- and low-budget live-action motion pictures with professional production values utilizing only their personal smartphones. Students will acquire the skills to plan, capture and edit short motion pictures through hands-on instruction and experimentation with low-cost accessories, including selfie-sticks, lens adapters, directional microphones and iPhone apps like Filmic Pro, Vizzywig and iMovie. Limited to junior, senior and graduate students.

Fall HMAN1971S S01 16789 T 4:00-6:30(09) (T. Bogosian)
Spr HMAN1971S S01 25614 T 4:00-6:30(16) (T. Bogosian)
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HMAN 1971T. Law, Nationalism, and Colonialism.

This seminar explores the internationalism of the past century in terms of its relationship to separatist nationalism, anti-colonialism, and religious radicalism. It takes as its point of departure the dramatic political, cultural, and intellectual transformations that followed in the wake of World War I. A guiding hypothesis of the seminar is that internationalism cannot be understood apart from its complex relationship to "identity" broadly conceived – identity of local/transnational groups as well as the identity of internationalists themselves. Readings will be drawn from law/cultural studies/politics/postcolonial theory. Enrollment limited to 20. WRIT

Fall HMAN1971T S02 17382 W 3:00-5:30(17) (N. Berman)
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HMAN 1971U. Kabbalah: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, new ways of approaching Judaism sprung up in France and Spain that would come to be known as “kabbalah.” New approaches included aspirations for mystical illumination, elaborate mythological narratives, and human history. Kabbalists radically and self-consciously departed from conventional understandings of Judaism, particularly those of medieval Aristotelian philosophers like Maimonides. They claimed to find their mythological, mystical worldviews in traditional texts, from the Bible through rabbinic writings. This course introduces students to kabbalah’s founding period, focuses on primary texts in translation, especially the Zohar, the magnum opus of classical kabbalah. No prior background necessary. WRIT

Spr HMAN1971U S01 25958 W 3:00-5:30(14) (N. Berman)
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HMAN 1971W. Decolonizing African Education: Student Activism and Social Change, 1960-present (EDUC 1035).

Interested students must register for EDUC 1035.

Fall HMAN1971W S01 16904 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
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HMAN 1971X. The Southern Question and the Colonial Mediterranean (ITAL 1400P).

Interested students must register for ITAL 1400P.

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HMAN 1971Y. Visions of Liberation: African Decolonization Now? (COLT 1610R).

Interested students must register for COLT 1610R.

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HMAN 1971Z. Cannibalism, Inversion, and Hybridity: Creative Disobedience in the Americas (HIAA 1870).

Interested students must register for HIAA 1870.

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HMAN 1972A. Landscape and Japanese Cinema (MCM 1504X).

Interested students must register for MCM 1504X.

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HMAN 1972B. Environmentalism and the Politics of Nature (ANTH 1556).

Interested students must register for ANTH 1556.

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HMAN 1972C. Picturing Paradise: Art and Science in the Americas.

The study of nature has developed together with the representation of flora and fauna in Europe and the Americas. After the encounter, visual thinking remained an integral part of how knowledge was negotiated between different communities on both sides of the Atlantic—as several scientific expeditions involving artists confirm. This course, which includes field trips to museums and collections, examines connections between knowing and making, ranging from the tradition of pre-Columbian writer-painters to contemporary Latin American artist collectives. We will investigate the entangled histories of art and science as seen through the artistic productions inspired by the exuberant American land. DPLL

Fall HMAN1972C S01 16540 TTh 2:30-3:50(03) (I. Montero)
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HMAN 1972D. Art of Criticism (ENGL 1901F).

Interested students must register for ENGL 1901F.

Spr HMAN1972D S01 25604 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
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HMAN 1972E. Designers as Transnational Experts.

Recent global humanitarian design initiatives like Brown and RISD’s own “Design for a Better World” have roots in 20th and 19th–century transformations in the scope of design practice and in the global political and economic landscape. It was during this period that architects like Jane Drew and Constantinos Doxiadis, funded by institutions like the UN and Ford Foundation, became international consultants moving from place to place through a variety of networks. This shift rescued design by re-establishing its social project. This seminar places such design practices in historical context and follows this shift to the present. Juniors, seniors, graduate students only.

Spr HMAN1972E S01 24873 M 3:00-5:30(13) (I. Osayimwese)
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HMAN 1972F. Feathery Things: An Avian Introduction to Animal Studies.

Inspiring science, art, and conservation, traded as resources, kept as hunters or pets, and eaten as meat, birds provide an excellent avenue into animal studies. This course will provide grounding in the emerging field of critical animal studies by surveying how we know and interact with one diverse and charismatic class of animals: the Aves. We will explore birds channeled through literature, visual arts, ornithology, behavioral sciences, musicology, history, ethnography, and the history of science. In addition to reading and discussion, we also will experience the birds around us through a five-part indoor and outdoor ‘”laboratory” dedicated to bird-watching skills.

Fall HMAN1972F S01 16466 F 3:00-5:30(11) (N. Jacobs)
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HMAN 1972G. Eternal Returns: Poetry and Politics in Modernity.

The title of this course alludes to Friedrich Nietzsche’s “eternal return of the same,” which he famously called “the highest formula of affirmation,” and which later philosophers and thinkers, such as Pierre Klossowski and Martin Heidegger, would repeatedly return to. Yet Nietzsche’s discovery is not new, for it inflects, too, the thinking of the professional revolutionary, Louis-Auguste Blanqui, the returns of commodity production in high capitalism, and the poetic figurations of the big city found in nineteenth-century writers such as Charles Baudelaire. In this course, we will examine the problem of returns—temporal, political, economic, and poetic—in modernity.

Fall HMAN1972G S01 16736 W 3:00-5:30(17) (K. Mendicino)
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HMAN 1972H. Old News: Antiquity and Current Events.

Antiquity is often invoked to manipulate how we view current events. This course will investigate examples of this phenomenon, including the ‘spectacles of destruction’ of antiquities in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the couching of the Greek economic crisis in references to Greece’s classical past. We will interrogate questions of “who owns the past?,” and of how we reckon antiquity’s value; we will also investigate how scholars (archaeologists, classicists, et al.) have reacted to these contemporary events. Their stances raise important questions about the past’s ‘relevance’ in the present, but also about the intersections between humanities and the social sciences.

Spr HMAN1972H S01 25743 W 3:00-5:30(14) (J. Hanink)
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HMAN 1972I. Me, Myself, and I: Exploring Senses of Self from a Multidisciplinary Perspective.

Human beings have long puzzled over how precisely to conceptualize and understand what it is we are. Questions about the nature of the self have informed the speculations of philosophy, the soteriologies of religion, the trajectories of self-cultivation in contemplative traditions, and the therapeutics of psychology. Recently, cognitive science and phenomenology have attempted to correlate abstract concepts about the self with lived experience, emphasizing how various senses of self give rise to our self-concepts. Through this course, students will engage with conceptions of self that we often take for granted by studying senses of self from multidisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives.

Fall HMAN1972I S01 16738 M 3:00-5:30(15) (J. Lindahl)
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HMAN 1972J. Urban History of Latin America (HIST 1979L).

Interested students must register for HIST 1979L.

Fall HMAN1972J S01 16905 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
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HMAN 1972K. Anthropology of Climate Change (ANTH 1112).

Interested students must register for ANTH 1112.

Fall HMAN1972K S01 16906 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
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HMAN 1972L. Reading Humanist Latin Texts (LATN 1120G).

Interested students must register for LATN 1120G.

Fall HMAN1972L S01 17363 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
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HMAN 1972M. Environmental Political Thought (POLS 1824L).

Interested students must register for POLS 1824L.

Fall HMAN1972M S01 17414 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
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HMAN 1972N. The Indian Ocean World (HIST 1979K).

Interested students must register for HIST 1979K.

Fall HMAN1972N S01 17415 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
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HMAN 2970A. Accounting for Silence: Anthropology of Law and Narrativity.

Explores the role of law in redressing the past, specifically in cases of postwar compensation for the Second World War. We look at the convergence of two processes, the breaking of long-held silence by victims through various forms of testimony inside and outside the courtroom, and the legal process of redress. Cases for this course arise primarily from the Japanese use of wartime slave labor in East Asia. Since the 1990s, large number of Chinese and Korean war victims, such as former forced laborers and the so-called "comfort women" to name but a few, have filed lawsuits against the Japanese government and corporations. In the process, they give voice to their long silenced, traumatic experiences. Through anthropological approaches to law and testimonial practices, we shall examine such questions as: what kind of legal space is created through compensation lawsuits; what kind of "performance" is produced both inside and outside the courtroom; what kinds of power dynamics underlie the recounting of testimony; and, what does it mean to account for silence in pursuit of the politics of redress? Even though the course draws examples primarily from East Asia, students are encouraged to pursue their own choice of cases elsewhere in their final paper project. Limited to 20 graduate students.

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HMAN 2970C. Concepts of Space and Time in Media Discourses.

No description available. Enrollment limited to 20 graduate students.

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HMAN 2970D. Biological Issues in Cultural Theory.

Contemporary culture is increasingly preoccupied by biological themes and issues—genomes, brain images, biotechnology, the natural environment, etc.—and, not unrelatedly, by a wave of new biological determinisms: "gay genes," "God genes," mental "hardwiring," etc. At the same time, ongoing work in fields such as developmental biology, ethology, neuroscience and science studies increasingly challenges classic dualisms of nature/culture and mind/body along with traditional assumptions about the nature of biological entities and the operations of scientific knowledge. The seminar will focus on a selection of these issues and developments especially relevant to the interests of humanities scholars and students of culture and cultural theory. Enrollment limited to 20 graduate students.

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HMAN 2970E. Pain, Medicine and Society.

We take on the big question of pain as an interdisciplinary enterprise, drawing on the rich and varied faculty of Brown University and Alpert Medical School. We will examine acute/chronic/physical/psychic pain, the nature of suffering, and why some might find value/solace in pain and suffering. We will examine representations of pain in literature, art and music; look at the shifting conceptions of pain and suffering across cultural/ethnic/religious communities, and the actual/perceived barriers to effective treatment of pain. Most importantly, we will foster sensitivity and impart tools that will improve our understanding and treatment of individuals suffering from pain. Enrollment limited to 20 students in Medical Humanities and graduate Humanities fields. Honors undergraduates and PLMEs may enroll with instructor permission.

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HMAN 2970F. Law, Nationalism, and Colonialism.

This seminar explores the internationalism of the past century in terms of its relationship to separatist nationalism, anti-colonialism, and religious radicalism. It takes as its point of departure the dramatic political, cultural, and intellectual transformations that followed in the wake of World War I. A guiding hypothesis of the seminar is that internationalism cannot be understood apart from its complex relationship to "identity" broadly conceived – identity of local/transnational groups as well as the identity of internationalists themselves. Readings will be drawn from law/cultural studies/politics/postcolonial theory. Enrollment limited to 20 graduate students. Advanced juniors/seniors by permission only.

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HMAN 2970G. Space and Capital.

This course examines various ways Western/non-Western societies have conceptualized space, with a specific focus on the tension between capitalist/common space. We adopt the map as a lens into this question, focusing on the cadastral survey's rise in the Modern era and on its role in parceling space into strictly bounded, individual property. Throughout the semester, we undergo an enquiry into the map's uncritical reception in the contemporary era, understanding this development as linked to the Scientific Revolution; the role of linear perspective; the Age of Discovery's world-as-picture; as well as to the processes of primitive accumulation, colonialism, and the nation-state. Enrollment limited to 20.

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HMAN 2970L. History and Theory of Catastrophes.

This seminar proposes a philosophical history of catastrophes (large-scale disasters) and uses it as a vantage point for questioning contemporary critiques of modernity/secularization. Starting from Biblical narratives of God-made disasters, we will follow God's role in the way north-western societies interpret/cope with catastrophes. Reading/viewing documentation of catastrophes from Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year to Cooper's/Block's/Spike Lee's reports on Hurricane Katrina, we will examine the emergence of the state as a major actor responsible for preparing for catastrophes/mitigating their effects, but often also for their generation, and discuss the globalization of catastrophes and with catastrophes as special sites of globalization. Enrollment limited to 20.

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HMAN 2970M. Race, Space, and Struggle.

This seminar will examine the stark realities of spatial racialization: ghettos, slave plantations, prisons, refugee camps, and border walls, situating the creation of these spaces as violent responses to broader social/economic crises. At the same time, this course will highlight the the always already existing practices of resistance by exploring how inhabitants these spaces responded to their marginalization. Because these spaces are also lived, our understanding of anti-racist struggle will encompass a broad array of everyday practices, the appropriation of space, artistic expressions of resistance, and everyday forms of cooperation/creativity, alongside more traditional forms of organized interventions. (Course prerequisites: none) Enrollment limited to 20.

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HMAN 2970Q. Latin in America (LATN 2080F).

Interested students must register for LATN 2080F.

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HMAN 2970R. Political Foucault.

Michel Foucault was one of greatest political thinkers of the 20th century. He was not always recognized as such, but his work has shaped the field within which critical political theory is pursued today. The seminar will follow Foucault’s thinking on power and its subjects, the state, sovereignty, government, and the political, as these concepts were developed, articulated, and experimented with during one decade of intensive research and revisions -- the nineteen seventies. Our main primary texts will be the three series of lectures Foucault delivered at the Collège de France between 1975 and 1979.

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HMAN 2970T. And What About the Human? Black/Anti-Colonial Thought, Human Freedom and Emancipation?.

This course will examine the figure of the human posed in radical anti-colonial thought as a distinctive mode of thinking. Reviewing some major 20th century thinkers, Foucault, Derrida, Arendt alongside Fanon, Ceasire and Wynter, the course will also examine the complex relationships between the figure of the human, freedom and emancipation. Graduate or undergraduate senior students only. Enrollment limited to 20.

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HMAN 2970U. Antiquity and Innovation in the Hispanic Renaissance (HISP 2160N).

Interested students must register for HISP 2160N.

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HMAN 2970V. Aesthetics and Architecture.

Is art produced for disinterested contemplation? Then how can architecture, which fundamentally serves one of the most fundamental human interests, that for shelter from an adverse environment, count as art? This question has both motivated philosophical speculation and caused tension in architectural practice for centuries. We will approach it through texts by philosophers such as Kames, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Wittgenstein; architects such as Vitruvius, Alberti, Loos, Wright, Corbusier, and Venturi; and critics such as Ruskin, Watkins, Vidler, and Leatherbarrow. This course is a seminar requiring oral presentation and a term paper.

Fall HMAN2970V S01 15590 W 3:00-5:30(17) (P. Guyer)
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HMAN 2970W. Ethics/Politics.

This seminar is team-taught by Professors Amanda Anderson and Leela Gandhi. It examines the intersection of ethics and politics from the perspective of critical theory, comparative political and moral philosophy, and transnational intellectual history of the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries. We will examine antagonisms and hierarchies of ethics and politics, ethics as a political discipline, the tension between politics as an institution and as a way of life or ethos. Authors to include Arnold, Wilde, Nietzsche, Gandhi, Berlin, Arendt, Weil, Foucault, Rawls, Habermas, Shklar, Cavell, Butler.

Fall HMAN2970W S01 15820 W 3:00-5:30(17) (A. Anderson)
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HMAN 2970X. Political Concepts: The Balibar Edition.

The seminar is dedicated to the political philosophy/theory of Étienne Balibar, a contemporary post-Marxist and post-structuralist French philosopher. The seminar will focus on the conceptual dimension of Balibar’s work through a study a small cluster of concepts with which he has been especially engaged: ideology, city, citizen and citizenship, equa-liberty, violence, politics and the political. By explicating the meaning of these concepts in Balibar’s work and their role as theoretical-political interventions, we will open the question of the political and experiment with the intellectual and creative power of conceptual analysis and its possible contribution to political theory.

Fall HMAN2970X S01 16798 Th 4:00-6:30(04) (A. Ophir)
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HMAN 2970Y. Race and Nation in the Spanish Caribbean (AFRI 2502).

Interested students must register for AFRI 2502.

Fall HMAN2970Y S01 17416 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'


Amanda S. Anderson


Amanda S. Anderson
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English