Brown University has long played a distinctive role advancing innovation and excellence in the humanities. The humanities speak to some of our most basic human activities — creative expression, interpretation, and critical reflection — and participate in the vitally important advancement and transmission of knowledge about art, culture, history, and values. The humanities at Brown today encompass specific disciplines such as history of art and architecture, languages, literature, music, philosophy, religious studies, and visual art. They also include the interpretive dimensions of social sciences such as anthropology, history, and political science and interdisciplinary initiatives such as gender and sexuality studies, media studies, and the study of race and ethnicity.
Named for Craig M. Cogut ‘75 and Deborah Cogut in recognition of their generous support, the Cogut Institute 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 Institute strives to:
- Foster innovative and collaborative 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 Institute 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 Institute 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 Institute supports and enhances Brown’s stellar reputation in the humanities.
The Cogut Institute for the Humanities announced in 2016 a new Graduate Certificate in Collaborative Humanities, available to students pursuing doctorates in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences. This unique and intensive program promotes interactive forms of cross-disciplinary work oriented toward the most challenging questions facing humanities research today. Collaboration is built into the teaching model as well as the requirements for students.
This program provides:
- An expanded sense of intellectual community for doctoral students in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences
- An intensive, unique form of interdisciplinary training, with emphasis on collaborative research, critical reflection on humanistic methods, and the development of collaborative skills
- A valuable and distinctive credential that will help position PhDs advantageously on the job market
For further information about the Graduate Certificate in Collaborative Humanities visit: https://www.brown.edu/academics/humanities/graduate-certificate-collaborative-humanities
For additional information about fellowships, initiatives, grants and scholastic opportunities available at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities visit: https://www.brown.edu/academics/humanities/
HMAN 0800A. The Humanities in Context: Literature, Media, Critique.
The humanities attend to questions that shape individual and collective life. Literatures, media, music, and performing arts inform reflections on issues that are either pressing (justice, the environment) or constitutive of an experience (of art or medicine, for example). Does humanity have a shared heritage? Should we feel alike in the face of art? Does one have obligations toward strangers? Does history compel us to act a certain way? Whose responsibility is the planet? What identities can one choose? Should one aspire to posthuman life? Drawing from various disciplines, this seminar pursues not one, but multiple takes on these questions. WRIT
HMAN 0900B. Fake: A History of the Inauthentic.
What is a fake? Are “fake” and “authentic” absolute and antithetical categories? Who gets to decide what is authentic? Greek statues, Chinese bronzes, Maya glyphs—what gets faked and why? Have fakes always existed? Galileo’s moons, a centaur’s skeleton, Buddhas bearing swastikas—are all fakes the same? If not, how are they different? Why do people make fakes? Who wins? Who loses? This course revolves around the history of the inauthentic through a diachronic exploration of art objects and other forms of material culture. We will range widely in time and space, focusing primarily on the pre-modern.
HMAN 1200. Making Choices: Ethics at the Frontier of Global Science (UNIV 1200).
Interested students must register for UNIV 1200.
HMAN 1305. Medical Humanities: Critical Perspectives on Illness, Healing, and Culture (ANTH 1305).
Interested students must register for ANTH 1305.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HMAN 1971K. Varieties of Secularism (RELS 1746).
Interested students must register for RELS 1746.
HMAN 1971R. The First Scientific Americans: Exploring Nature in Latin America, 1500-1800 (STS 1701C).
Interested students must register for STS 1701C.
HMAN 1971S. Introduction to iPhone/iPad Moviemaking Using 3-D and 360 VR 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.
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
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
HMAN 1971W. Decolonizing African Education: Student Activism and Social Change, 1960-present (EDUC 1035).
Interested students must register for EDUC 1035.
HMAN 1971X. The Southern Question and the Colonial Mediterranean (ITAL 1400P).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1400P.
HMAN 1971Y. Visions of Liberation: African Decolonization Now? (COLT 1610R).
Interested students must register for COLT 1610R.
HMAN 1971Z. Cannibalism, Inversion, and Hybridity: Creative Disobedience in the Americas (HIAA 1870).
Interested students must register for HIAA 1870.
HMAN 1972A. Landscape and Japanese Cinema (MCM 1504X).
Interested students must register for MCM 1504X.
HMAN 1972B. Environmentalism and the Politics of Nature (ANTH 1556).
Interested students must register for ANTH 1556.
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
HMAN 1972D. Art of Criticism (ENGL 1901F).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1901F.
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.
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.
HMAN 1972J. Urban History of Latin America (HIST 1979L).
Interested students must register for HIST 1979L.
HMAN 1972K. Anthropology of Climate Change (ANTH 1112).
Interested students must register for ANTH 1112.
HMAN 1972M. Environmental Political Thought (POLS 1185).
Interested students must register for POLS 1185.
HMAN 1972N. The Indian Ocean World (HIST 1979K).
Interested students must register for HIST 1979K.
HMAN 1972Q. The Nature of Conquest: Scientific Literatures of the Americas (HISP 1330X).
Interested students must register for HISP 1330X.
HMAN 1972R. Transnational Hispaniola: Haiti and the Dominican Republic (AFRI 1050W).
Interested students must register for AFRI 1050W.
HMAN 1972S. Comparative Education: International Trends and Local Perspectives (EDUC 1030).
Interested students must register for EDUC 1030.
HMAN 1972T. Apartheid in Post-Apartheid South African Literature (COLT 1814L).
Interested students must register for COLT 1814L.
HMAN 1972U. Feminist Thoughts for a Heated Climate (POLS 1180).
Interested students must register for POLS 1180.
HMAN 1972V. Sex, Gender, Empire (HIST 1979F).
Interested students must register for HIST 1979F.
HMAN 1972W. Rhythm and Resistance (AFRI 1050V).
Interested students must register for AFRI 1050V.
HMAN 1972Y. Indigenous Peoples and American Law.
The European colonial empires and their successor states in the Americas all developed bodies of law concerned with the indigenous peoples who preceded them. In the United States, this body of law is generally still known as “American Indian Law” or, more recently, “Federal Indian Law.” It emerged out of colonial-era juristic thinking and was adapted and transformed after the U.S. gained independence from Britain. This seminar will study both the history and structure of this body of law. It will also seek to uncover the ways the technical legal materials embody deep-rooted cultural presuppositions about indigenous peoples. WRIT
HMAN 1973A. Race, Sexuality, and Mental Disability History (AFRI 1060Z).
Interested students must register for AFRI 1060Z.
HMAN 1973B. Feminist Theory for a Heated Planet (POLS 1824N).
Interested students must register for POLS 1824N.
HMAN 1973C. East Asian Cinemas in a Global Frame (MCM 1203U).
Interested students must register for MCM 1203U.
HMAN 1973D. Sports and Culture in Latin America (HISP 1371B).
Interested students must register for HISP 1371B.
HMAN 1973E. The Age of Constantine: The Roman Empire in Transition (CLAS 1120V).
Interested students must register for CLAS 1120V.
HMAN 1973F. Ruined History: Visual and Material Culture in South Asia (HIST 1979D).
Interested students must register for HIST 1979D.
HMAN 1973G. Writing Animals in the Iberian Atlantic (HISP 1331A).
Interested students must register for HISP 1331A.
HMAN 1973H. Water is Life/New Currents in the Study of Land, Water and Indigeneity (ETHN 1750H).
Interested students must register for ETHN 1750H.
HMAN 1973I. Oppositional Cinemas (MCM 1505J).
Interested students must register for MCM 1505J.
HMAN 1973J. Deep Displacement: Migration, Resettlement, and Citizenship in Historical Perspective.
The number of migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people is greater now than at any previous point in world history, and migration lies at the heart of populist, humanitarian, and progressive political discourse. This course offers a critical examination of the current politics of migration by examining its terms and conditions in historical perspective. Drawing on interdisciplinary readings in political philosophy, cultural anthropology, history, and archaeology, we examine the relationship between sovereign power and mobility, scrutinize current discourses surrounding migration, and attempt to envision alternative futures.
HMAN 1973K. Bureaucracy: A Modern History.
How did the office emerge as the quintessentially modern workspace? This seminar will explore the material history of the office, especially paperwork and other information technologies, as well as office management and design. We will also examine how bureaucratic forms of authority were enacted and put into practice, using the material history of the office as a means to ask broader questions about managerial oversight, governmentality, and institutional control, all in an attempt to understand how modern ideas about rationality and efficiency were leveraged to govern what seemed like an unruly world.
HMAN 1973L. After Blackness: Framing Contemporary African American Literature.
It is no exaggeration to say that there has been a renaissance in African American literary art since the 1980s. This seminar assesses the remarkable range of black writing during this era in relation to influential theoretical and historical accounts that address such frameworks as postnationalism, postmodernism, post-segregation, and post-soul. By staging the interplay between these scholarly accounts and literature the course offers a broad overview of thought about contemporary black culture. Includes literary works by Colson Whitehead, Paul Beatty, Suzan-Lori-Parks, and Claudia Rankine.
HMAN 1973M. Art, Secrecy, and Invisibility in Ancient Egypt.
Ancient Egypt is well known for having produced large and eminently visible art and architecture. But a persistent theme in Egyptian visual culture is that of invisibility, of art made and then deliberately hidden or destroyed. The range of examples is vast and varied, suggesting a complex relationship between visibility and meaning. This seminar will explore how unseeable art intersects with themes of audience, agency, and time in ancient Egypt, utilizing examples from other cultures - including our own - to examine the meanings of the invisible.
HMAN 1973N. Islam in America: A Global History.
This course explores the history of Muslims in the United States—and American discourses about Islam—from colonial times to the present. Organized chronologically and thematically, we follow major questions and debates in American relations with the so-called “Muslim world”—from Columbus’s fateful 1492 voyage to Morocco’s recognition of the United States in 1777; and Muslim slaves and migrants in the Antebellum South to President Obama’s historic Cairo speech. As a broadly conceived transregional history, the seminar explores the diverse social, political, and economic processes connecting Africa, the Mideast, South Asia, and North America from the fifteenth to twenty-first centuries.
HMAN 1973P. Neurodiversity: Science, Politics, Culture.
This interdisciplinary seminar will investigate the emerging concepts of neurodiversity and neurodivergence—terms originally developed by autistic activists and self-advocates seeking to depathologize autism and other forms of neurological, mental, and cognitive difference. Course materials will incorporate perspectives from disability studies, the history of science, cultural studies, and feminist and queer theory. We will consider how neurodivergence enters aesthetic representation by examining cultural texts including novels, memoirs, films, and performance and visual art. We will also ask how social movements such as neurodiversity and mad pride have contested and reformulated dominant representations of mental disability and difference.
HMAN 1973Q. Geoaesthetics and the Environmental Humanities.
This seminar critically examines the ecological turn in the humanities. Proceeding from close examination of historically-specific artistic practices, it excavates the predispositions and assumptions embodied in particular “geoaesthetics,” and situates these aesthetics in the long history of human efforts to make sense of the earth. Moving from the immanent rocks of Tiantai Buddhism and the thinking forests of the Amazonian Runa to the nature writing of Emerson and the formation of modern geological science, it considers the challenge of a deep history of geo-thinking to recent theorizations of hyperobjects, Gaia, and the Anthropocene.
HMAN 1973R. Is That A Fact? On the Function of Interpretation at the Present Time.
The status of the fact seems threatened. We argue: “you are entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts” to distinguish facts from merely personal, subjective or partisan views. Yet debates rage over the "factuality" of deficit projections, scientific observations, and historical legacies. In the university, questions of academic freedom, First Amendment rights, constructing canons, and the fact’s relation to belief are increasingly fraught. This course examines theories of interpretation and critique alongside popular accounts of reading, interpretative authority, and spin, to illuminate the processes of mediation that establish, confirm, dispute, and constitute facts.
HMAN 1990. Independent Study.
HMAN 2400G. It’s About Time: Temporalities of Waiting in Theory, Literature, and Film.
This is a seminar on four forms of temporality: suspension, rupture, heterochronia, and coming to an end. These forms will be explored as pertaining to politics, theology, and experience. Agamben’s reading of Paul (The Time That Remains) provides us with a conceptual grid, and “waiting for the Messiah” will be one of the modes of temporalization examined. Kafka’s staging of delay in The Castle, Fritz Lang’s invention of the filmic countdown, and the “checkpoint” in occupied Palestine will constitute major counterpoints. Students will work on collaborative assignments defined collectively and focusing on a specific event, text, or film.
HMAN 2400H. Art History from the South: Circulations, Simulations, Transfigurations.
Addressing history and art history, this collaborative seminar will look at the colonial and postcolonial circuits of movement, transaction and replication that have shaped not just the destinies of art, archaeological and architectural objects but equally the structures of institutions and disciplines that govern these object-worlds. This will involve thinking through critiques of a Eurocentric aesthetics and art history and engaging with practices such as theft, fugitivity, replication, mimicry, and free adaptations. While drawing on South Asia for its primary lines of enquiry, the "south" of South Asia in this seminar will serve more broadly as an epistemic pull.
HMAN 2400I. Environmental Humanities.
We live in an age of immense, intersecting environmental problems that pose deep challenges to democratic life. How are we to respond to ecological crises that interweave race, class, ethnicity, and gender/sexuality; humans and the non-human; and politics, economy, religion, and culture? This collaborative seminar explores a range of contemporary and historical work in environmental humanities, with a focus on radical imaginaries of ecological democracy. The readings reflect a diversity of normative commitments and methodological approaches, and include such authors as Wollstencraft, Emerson, Thoreau, Du Bois, Silko, Wendell Berry, Jane Bennett, Donna Haraway, Jacques Derrida, Rob Nixon, and Glenn Coulthard.
HMAN 2400J. Archives: Imperial and Non-Imperial Histories, Practices and Theories.
In the seminar we will explore theoretical, historical, material, practical, methodological and curatorial questions related to archives. Students will be asked to work in archives and will experiment with creating archives. We will read texts by Achille Mbembe, Okwui Enwezor, Ann L. Stoler, Saidiya Hartman, Tina Campt, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Jacques Derrida and Carolyn Kay Steedman and others. Several Brown/Yale faculty will be invited as guests to present their engagement with archives.
HMAN 2400K. Theories of Affect: Poetics of Expression Through and Beyond Identity (ENGL 2761N).
Interested students must register for ENGL 2761N.
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HMAN 2400L. Religion and Internationalism.
Scholarly debates across many disciplines and political upheavals around the globe demonstrate the continued urgency of the struggle between the “secular” and the “religious.” This collaborative seminar traces the intertwined genealogies of the three key terms in this conundrum: religion, secularity, and the international. These terms have been continually subject to theoretical and practical contestation and reconfiguration, from early modern Europe, through the histories of colonialism and anti-colonialism, to post-Cold War turmoil. Readings include judicial decisions from the United States, Europe, and India, as well as authors such as Saba Mahmood, Ashis Nandi, J.Z. Smith, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Winnifred Sullivan.
HMAN 2400M. Aesthetics and Architecture.
One of the most ancient human practices, answering to the need for shelter, architecture also counts as a fine art in modern times. Is there tension between the functionality of architecture and the disinterested contemplation seen as the hallmark of aesthetic experience? Taught by a philosopher and an architectural historian, the course is interdisciplinary and collaborative. Students work in multi-disciplinary teams to prepare seminar presentations and papers. Case studies will draw on texts and buildings from a diversity of sources, historical periods, and geographical regions.
HMAN 2400N. Care of the World, Between Politics and Theology.
Arendt’s “care for the world,” inspired by Augustine, resonates with Foucault’s "care for the self." Both are secularized versions of theological ideas. This seminar explores “care for the world,” at the intersection of politics and theology, in Arendt and Foucault, with texts from the Bible, Mishna, Marx, Fanon, Augustine, Winnicott, and Houria Bouteldja. Attending to genre — Arendt’s and Foucault's essays (on refugees) and journalism (the Eichmann trial and the Iranian revolution) — we will work collaboratively through a series of exemplary figures — the revolutionary, journalist, activist, environmentalist, therapist—to ask what care for the world means in theory and practice.
HMAN 2970C. Concepts of Space and Time in Media Discourses.
No description available. Enrollment limited to 20 graduate students.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HMAN 2970Q. Latin in America (LATN 2080F).
Interested students must register for LATN 2080F.
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.
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.
HMAN 2970U. Antiquity and Innovation in the Hispanic Renaissance (HISP 2160N).
Interested students must register for HISP 2160N.
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.
HMAN 2970Y. Race and Nation in the Spanish Caribbean (AFRI 2502).
Interested students must register for AFRI 2502.
HMAN 2970Z. Logos, tekhnē, philosophia.
Today, Western thinking forms the technoscientific apparatus of societies of hyper-control, built on the foundation of ubiquitous and reticular computing. This amounts to what Martin Heidegger called Gestell, which imposes itself as the digitalized merging of science and technology. We find ourselves confronted forcefully (as what the Greeks called ubris) with the question of the status of technics with respect to knowledge in all its forms. It has become crucial to understand how and why from its birth, with Plato, philosophy has made technics unthinkable thereby establishing the unthought that then comes to constitute the threat of the Anthropocene.
HMAN 2971C. Decolonial Methodology: Pedagogy for a New Era of Dissent and Resistance.
The seminar will focus on the ways to develop and nurture a decolonial methodology that is intersectional, anti-racist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. The aim is to produce a space of trust that allows debating hard questions and challenging our own assumptions, and encouraging collective thinking and cooperative learning.
HMAN 2971E. Kinds of Others.
Multiple "Others," from the ancient barbaria to the contemporary and queer, from the abnormal to the colonial subject, from the Jew to the black have been widely studied in the humanities and social sciences. The seminar addresses this proliferation of others and explores the role of the Other in the economy of the self, the religious community, or the nation. We will experiment with different principles for classifying this variety of kinds of others and modes of othering. The typological approach will guide a double survey: of philosophical conceptions of otherness, and of modes of constructing kinds of others.
Amanda S. Anderson
Amanda S. Anderson
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English