Spring 2016 Course Offerings
PHI 303/ECS 306 Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz
Professor Daniel Garber
Reason over Sense, Mind over Matter: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz and others In this course, we will be studying two main themes in the history of early modern philosophy: the relation between reason and the senses as sources of knowledge, and the relation between mind and matter. The central figures discussed will be Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Other figures treated my include Hobbes, Pascal, More, Malebranche and Berkeley.
GER 324/ECS 332 Nietzsche and Modern European Literature
Professor Michael W. Jennings
The course examines the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche as an important progenitor of the European modernist culture that arose in the period of urban capitalist modernity, roughly 1870-1930. Particular emphasis will be placed on a series of textual encounters between Nietzsche and such authors as Gide, Mann, Lawrence, Rilke, Yeats, Musil, and Malraux; their readings and rewritings of Nietzsche lent decisive impulses to the formal and thematic concerns of modernism.
ECS 326/FRE 326 Versailles: Court and Culture from Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette
Three hundred and fifty years ago, the young king of France, Louis XIV, transformed the modest hunting lodge of Versailles into the site par excellence of absolute monarchy and court society. This course will study the making and meaning of the palace and its gardens, and analyze some of the manifold cultural artifacts associated with them. Readings, both literary and on-literary, will be complemented by various visual resources, ranging from original engravings to websites and films.
COM 341/ECS 341/HUM 341 What is Vernacular Filmmaking?
Erika A. Kiss
In this course we will study films that address global audiences yet ground themselves in particular,
local, vernacular sources of artistic creation. Our focus will be on three exciting postwar cinematic
movements (Italian Neorealism, Iranian New Wave, the Danish Dogma 95), but we will also discuss parallels in American filmmaking. Familiarity with Homer's Ulysses, Virgil's Aeneid and Shakespeare's Hamlet will be helpful since they serve as the frame of reference for many of the examined films.
ECS 350 Books and Their Readers in the West
This course will offer an intensive introduction to the history of the making, distribution, and reading of books in the West, from ancient Greece to modern America. By examining a series of case studies, we will see how writers, producers, and readers of books have interacted, and how the conditions of production and consumption have changed over time.
HIS 364/ECS 364/FRE364 France and its Empire, 1500-1815
Professor David A. Bell
A survey of France and its colonial empire during centuries in which this country dominated the Western world. Major topics include the sixteenth-century Wars of Religion, the absolute monarchy, colonization and slavery in North America and the Caribbean, the Enlightenment, eighteenth-century social and cultural change, the French Revolution and the Terror, the Haitian Revolution, and the Napoleonic Empire.
COM 374/HLS 374/ECS 374 Afterlives of the Iliad
This course examines the crisis of European subjectivity in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust. Such a crisis implicates not merely the concepts of “Europe” and “the subject,” but the very concept of the concept and thus entails nothing less than a transformation of thought itself. (“Critical theory” – or perhaps just “theory” – is one name for this historical shift.) We will thus be particularly attentive to the anti-systematic forms that thought takes in this period, emphasizing in particular the fragment, the aphorism, the essay, and the lecture. Thematically, we will be concerned with the reconceptualization of the subject and the human; the problem of technology, violence, and progress; the Franco-German relation; the specter of “American” and “Soviet” threats in the new Cold War atmosphere; decolonization as crisis of the European subject. We will do intensive readings of texts from seven authors: Theodor W. Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Maurice Blanchot, Paul Celan, Franz Fanon, Martin Heidegger, and Jacques Lacan.
COM 419/ECS 419 Conceptions of the Sensory
This seminar will discuss the ways in which seminal modern philosophers, authors, artists, theorists, and critics have engaged with and depended upon the sensory in their work – assumed, questioned, formed, deformed, represented, concealed, and revealed it – and have done so not merely in order to “conceptualize” it or take it into account, but because they understood that, just as no work of the mind or hand can originate in the sensory alone, no significant course of reflection can begin or proceed without it.
HIS 429/ECS 429 History of European Fascism
This seminar will survey interwar fascist movements and regimes with a special emphasis on Nazi Germany. Topics will include the genesis of fascism as a response to political and cultural crisis, the role of ideology and culture, and Nazi society in peace and war. The seminar will focus on past and present historical perspectives.
HIS 449/FRE 449/ECS 449 The French Enlightenment
David A. Bell
The French Enlightenment was one of the most intensely creative and significant episodes in the history of Western thought. This course will provide an introduction to its major works. Each class meeting will consist of a two-hour discussion, followed by a 45-minute background lecture for the subsequent week’s readings.