Seminars for the Fall Term 2014
America's healthcare system is sick — physically, socially, and economically. We pay far too much for far too little, compared to other developed countries. We have millions amidst us who still lack access to basic healthcare services. And many of us lead noticeably unhealthy lifestyles, from the food we eat and the beverages we drink, to the drugs we use and the exercise we don't do (the sedentary lives we lead). Our society is getting older, which promises to further stress our so-called "system" of healthcare.
We've tried many different cures over recent years, from managed care to Obamacare. But we still have more challenges than solutions, whether you prefer market-based or government-based remedies, or something in between. And that sets the stage for this seminar, which will explore whether entrepreneurial innovation might be an answer to what ails us. We will look across the landscape of entrepreneurial ventures, from efforts motivated primarily by community benefit to those focused more on private gain. We will consider ventures that address a wide variety of health needs and opportunities, from wearable computing devices to monitor health status or exercise results to biotech innovations that change treatment protocols. We'll also consider the healthcare maze itself and where there may be opportunities for entrepreneurial solutions that serve specific consumers.
Participants should leave this seminar with a deeper understanding of the structure and complexity of our healthcare "system"; a solid grounding in the nature and principles of entrepreneurship; and an appreciation for whether, where, and how entrepreneurs can complement public policy to improve healthcare in the United States.
The course materials will be drawn from a variety of sources: background texts on healthcare; articles and studies on strategic issues; a sampling of case studies and business plans; and interviews with entrepreneurs, patients, investors, and others involved in our exploration. Along the way, students will also have an opportunity to develop their own ideas for ventures, and test their own notions about what "health" means and is worth in our society. Finally, participants will meet face-to-face with individuals and teams working on innovations and ventures in the health and healthcare marketplace, to see how they balance risk and reward, failure and success. (Monday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 103 Architecture and the American College Campus LA
As freshmen you have just completed a year, likely more, of campus visits, learning about the amazing academic opportunities of each and envisioning the life you will create over the next four years. At each campus you probably experienced something unique. At other times you noticed remarkable similarities in the way institutions presented themselves, including the character of the campus and the styles of architecture. You may have seen things that were ugly and boring. Hopefully, you experienced things that were beautiful and inspiring.
In this class, we will explore the history of ideas and forces that have shaped the planning and architecture of these ideal communities. You will be asked to continue thinking about the very nature of college: What is it for? How did it come to be? How is it flawed? Will it survive?
The course will focus on the nature and history of the American college and the physical design of the college campus. We will also consider issues of economics, competition, sustainability, and the ethical responsibilities of colleges and universities. We will pay particular attention to the context of the campus and the relationship between the college and its neighboring, host community. Many in society expect universities, as leaders of the knowledge economy, to generate economic development and jobs. Others assert that colleges have become the worst examples of real estate developers because they focus on selfish goals over public needs, destroying neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal. As your primary course assignment, you will work in teams to visit campuses, preparing case studies that analyze these ideal communities in the context of lessons learned through our readings and discussions. (Tuesday 7:30-10:20 p.m.)
Currently, urban education reform is one of the most heated and divisive issues in the United States. Debates center on issues such as how to close the so-called racial achievement gap, the efficacy of neoliberal education reforms, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and teacher evaluation. The debates also bring attention to urban poverty and social inequality and illuminate the impact of macro-structural forces on classroom life.
In the midst of the maelstrom of political rhetoric, we find the "Dreamkeepers" (borrowed from leading educational scholar Gloria Ladson-Billings) — hardworking urban public school teachers who are often left feeling discouraged and unsupported. Yet, some have provided inspiring examples of what works in the classroom. And still others have emerged as dynamic and innovative school leaders and beacons of hope.
With a critically analytical and empathetic eye on the dreamkeeper, or the urban teacher, this seminar will explore the daunting challenges and possibilities of urban teaching in the current policy context, placing the experience of the urban classroom teacher at the center of our inquiry into the problem of urban education. Some of the central questions students will explore are: What is it really like to work in an urban public school? How do the political economy and current educational policies shape those experiences? What key policy initiatives appear to be most promising, and what makes for a successful teacher in an urban school? Readings will include an overview of several of the most important trends in urban education; foundational studies exploring the tensions between teacher autonomy and social and institutional constraints; current research documenting the perspectives, attitudes, and experiences of teachers working in low-income urban schools; and research on effective urban teachers.
This seminar is designed for any student considering making a short- or long-term commitment to urban teaching and/or students interested in the study of urban inequality and urban schooling as a major contemporary social problem. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
Alchemy provides a core theme in medieval and early modern European culture. From transmuting base metals into gold and silver, to healing sickness and prolonging human life, the art of alchemy offered seemingly fabulous rewards to its adherents. Alchemical books were studied by princes, physicians, clerics, natural philosophers, and entrepreneurs: men and women who sought experimental instructions, medical remedies, and political influence. Their investigations and obsessions often challenge modern perceptions of the relationship between art and nature, science and religion, and learned and craft knowledge.
This seminar takes alchemy as a starting point for exploring issues central to the history of science and medicine. Tracing alchemical ideas and practices from Greco-Roman Egypt and the Islamic lands to Western Europe and the New World, we will explore how alchemy's practitioners contributed to new technologies and explanations of natural phenomena. Our sources will include early-modern books, manuscripts, paintings, and material objects, culminating in an attempt to recreate some alchemical experiments in a modern laboratory. In the process, we will learn the skills necessary to decode early experimental instructions: an interdisciplinary enterprise that itself raises questions about the validity of historical re-enactment as a method for understanding past science. (Wednesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
This seminar focuses on the work of four major 20th-century poets, placing them in the context of their different eras: W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, and Wallace Stevens. There will be weekly background readings that will suggest some of the ways in which the experience of political divisiveness, or war, or impassioned love, or religious and spiritual values, had a powerful effect on the writers we will be studying.
We will spend three weeks on each of the four writers, reading a limited number of poems in depth in order to see how meaning is expressed through, for example, tone, uses of metaphor, and poetic form. In the process, we will trace how the work of each poet developed over time.
The seminar will be run as an active discussion group. Writing: one modest-size paper on each poet. (Monday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
This course will investigate the implications of the role of the amateur in recent visual art. Weekly readings, discussions, and presentations on the topic will be punctuated by studio projects designed to engage the class in several amateur methods of art making — from drawing and performance art to learning a new skill or conducting amateur research.
The seminar will look at how this noble personage, the "amateur" or "lover of things," has exerted influence on and been contested by contemporary art. At various moments over the past 50 years, the amateur has embodied social ambition, democratic freedom, critical rebellion, and cathartic degradation. Over the same period of time, the term has come to be less about love and more about inferiority. What issues, what social pressures, have brought about this transformation? Are we no longer capable of — or in need of — lovers of things? Or do we perceive anyone who acts on their amateur impulses — regardless of their ability (or lack thereof) to realize them — as somehow irrational or deficient?
It would seem that a general (over)professionalization of all aspects of society bears on the shifting status and appeal of the amateur. If we accept that visual art is always a mirror and proxy for the social conditions of its making, then the celebrated status of the amateur in contemporary art can come to question the very idea of professional training.
As the culminating experience of this seminar, the hope is that our critical discussions of the amateur and the studied achievements of untrained artists (including those enrolled in the class) might affect how we go about our primary pursuits. As French philosopher Jacques Rancière would implore us, knowledge and beauty are not only achieved by whoever has the best, or the most, training. Inherent in the ideal of the amateur is the possibility that "love" and "not knowing" can lead to revelations that reason and knowledge cannot. (Monday, Wednesday 1:30-2:50 p.m.)
FRS 115 What Makes a Poem Endure? 24 Lyric Masterpieces LA
"What makes a poem endure?" Perhaps most obviously, the force at work is the will of each generation of poetry readers, reciters, and writers resolving to keep poems alive. To this extent, the task of our seminar will be to take part in this generational process. We will be choosing, praising, criticizing, analyzing, memorizing, and otherwise coming to know well 24 important poems, or poetic sequences, from the past. The works we will discuss will be rooted in periods ranging from antiquity to the early 20th century.
As we pursue the question of how masterpieces are made and received, we will study the authors and historical circumstances that gave birth to these particular works. We will focus upon the afterlife of the poems as well, thinking about how they came to prominence, and, as often as not, how they entered into periods of obscurity and re-evaluation. At the same time, we will keep an ongoing record of the most important modes and forms of poetry, of meters, rhymes, and voices, as we consider the relation these works bear to the traditions from which they descend and those to which they contribute. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
Citizenship is the bond that ties an individual to a political community through law. But how is that bond constituted and what role does law play in that process? In this seminar, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to the relationship between legal systems on one hand and societal practices and beliefs on the other.
It is easy to take for granted concepts such as citizen/non-citizen, rights/duties and justice/injustice. But where do these concepts come from? How do they change over time? What processes of resistance, deliberation, and negotiation have accompanied these changes? We will use insights from the disciplines of anthropology, history, politics, sociology, and geography to study the way in which the American legal order has constituted citizenship. Students will be encouraged to scrutinize their ideas about culture, religion, "race," and sexuality, and the ways that the law of citizenship has grown up around these categories. We will think about the cultural dimensions of law in relationship to forms of power and governance. We will also think about the ways that legal processes are involved in social control and social change. A focus on citizenship will allow us to see the way that law embeds social history and constitutes the social world. (Tuesday, Thursday 1:30-2:50 p.m.)
Socrates, who lived in the second half of the fourth century B.C.E, is often regarded as the first philosopher to devote his attention to any of the main questions that we now are familiar with as the subject matter of moral philosophy or ethics: the human good, moral obligation, social and political justice, and the life of virtue and its value for the individual virtuous person. He famously devoted himself to discussing and thinking about these questions entirely through oral discussion in his home city of Athens during the peak of its military and cultural hegemony. He did not write any philosophical works; we know of his philosophical ideas only through the writings of those who engaged with him as devoted students in his discussions — the famous philosopher Plato primary among them. In Plato's dialogues Socrates also famously insisted that philosophy should not be merely a theoretical study of such issues, but that one ought to live one's philosophy, that philosophy should become one's whole way of life.
This seminar offers a concentrated study of the life of philosophy as Socrates proposed and lived it, together with the philosophical ideas about morality that lie behind the life he led, through a close reading of some of Plato's perennially most engaging works, his so-called Apology of Socrates, and the dialogues Protagoras and Crito, as well as a related excerpt from another dialogue, Euthydemus. (Monday, Wednesday 1:30-2:50 p.m.)
We live our lives in connection to — in association with — other human beings. This is a fundamental part of human existence and an essential component of human flourishing. We cultivate friendships, we grow up in families, we join social groups and sports clubs, we work for nonprofit associations or businesses, and we participate in political associations with our fellow citizens. This seminar explores the ethical dimensions of association, as well as some of the fundamental moral and political questions that surround the sphere of interpersonal relationships and associational life.
How might we defend a right to freedom of association? How are the obligations we have to our associates — our family, friends, and fellow citizens — balanced against the obligations we have to strangers? To what extent is it legitimate for us to favor our kin and friends over strangers? Should private associations, such as eating clubs and religious groups, be left free to exclude whomever they want from their membership or should their right to exclude be limited in significant ways? Should the members of religious and cultural groups be exempted from general laws that happen to conflict with their religious beliefs? Is the state an association? Can a state exclude non-citizens, such as immigrants, in the same way in which a private club excludes non-members? These questions have wide-ranging implications for contemporary political and legal debates, including multicultural policies, educational policies, immigration policies, and foreign aid. We will address these and other questions by reading and critically assessing important texts written within the field of political and moral philosophy. Readings will include Robert Goodin's Protecting the Vulnerable: A Reanalysis of Our Social Responsibilities; Freedom of Association, Amy Gutmann ed.; Will Kymlicka's Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights; and David Miller's On Nationality. We also will read famous legal cases concerning freedom of association such as Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale (2000). The seminar requires no prior background and will introduce basic concepts from the relevant disciplines. (Wednesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
American Jewish writing has been shaped as much by social, cultural, and political considerations as by literary ones. In this course, we will consider the Jewish American experience in American literature by focusing on Jewish American texts and media — fiction, essays, film, and television — that define, revise, and critique "American identity." What is the role of national, personal, and cultural histories, of language and gender, in Americans' self-definitions? What is the relationship of "Jewish American" literature to the American literary canon? How is it shaped by questions of what constitutes ethnicity and how does that reveal itself in these works?
As we examine these multilayered concerns, we will also look at the stereotypes that are confronted and upheld in these texts. We will explore the various ways the Jewish American experience has been defined and examine its connection to immigration, acculturation, alienation, and the rise of material wealth. And we will investigate a fundamental question: Is there such a thing as "Jewish fiction" and if so, will it continue to evolve?
Students will read texts and watch films and television programs by writers including Saul Bellow, Grace Paley, Allen Ginsberg, Art Spiegelman, Woody Allen, and Lena Dunham to explore these and other concerns as they gain fluency in thinking and writing about contemporary literature through discussion, weekly essay responses, and class presentations. A midterm paper and a final assignment are also required. (Wednesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 125 The Science and Art of Mapping the World STN
From the navigation apps on your cellphone to ancient drawings of an Earth not yet fully explored, maps demonstrate the fundamental ways in which we understand and interact with our world. They can be beautiful pieces of art, but they also represent the collection, analysis, and presentation of rich data sets related to politics, populations, commerce, ecosystems, and the environment. Almost every discipline deals with geographic information, including sociologists who may track demographic patterns, economists who may map the flow of goods and services from one place to another, ecologists who may document the distribution of species, and landscape designers who may create new spaces that foster community building.
This seminar is designed to bring together students with a wide range of interests to learn practical skills of modern, digital geographic analysis and graphic design — skills that will be applied in diverse ways to the big problems of many fields — and to discuss the advances and challenges of mapping in the 21st century. How do maps help and hinder our understanding of the world? How do free and widely available tools like Google Maps change our interactions with geographic data? How can mapping skills transform your education and future career path? Weekly assignments, readings, and discussions will prepare students to contribute original research in their field of interest by the end of the semester. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 127 The Smart Band-Aid STN
At some time in our lives we will all sustain a soft tissue injury. Whether it's a simple cut, a torn ligament that requires surgery, or damage to heart muscle, wound healing most often results in a scar, which compromises the function of the native tissue. A common example is that surgical repair of a torn ligament often does not restore its mechanical strength. How can we address the challenge of fostering wound healing with minimal scarring to enable recapitulation of native tissue function?
The literature is replete with examples of synthetic "scaffold" materials that promote cell growth, but to create a "smart Band-aid" that will guide cell repair of the wounded tissue requires something more: spatial organization of cell growth.
This seminar will introduce basic concepts of surface chemistry and cell biology that aim to control cell growth on a synthetic material. It is intended to energize students who are considering careers in medical research to understand how to approach problems of materials design from a scientific perspective. It is also intended to show students who are contemplating careers in materials, chemistry, or biology that interdisciplinary research is an effective way to address major problems in human health: Often, expertise from a single perspective is inadequate. (Monday, Wednesday 1:30-2:50 p.m.)
FRS 129 Vaccination and Society: Ethics, Politics, and Public Health EM
Vaccination is routinely described as one of the foremost achievements in the history of public health. Vaccines are credited with myriad achievements in efforts against infectious diseases in the 20th and 21st centuries, and they are viewed as powerful potential tools against a growing list of novel disease targets.
Despite this record of success, vaccines are also a frequent source of controversy, with critics in the United States and worldwide questioning their safety, effectiveness, and necessity. Persistent allegations of a link between childhood vaccines and autism, vocal opposition to U.S. state laws that mandate vaccination in order to attend school, and debates over the appropriate distribution of vaccines during public health emergencies are three of the most visible examples of the often contentious atmosphere surrounding vaccination programs and policy in 2014.
In this course, we will examine how ethical considerations inform and influence contemporary discussions of vaccination among government health officials, the scientific and medical communities, patients, parents, and the media. We will explore a variety of topics in vaccine policy in the United States and internationally, considering the interconnected ethical, social, cultural, legal, political, economic, and historical issues that contribute to ongoing debates about the proper role of vaccines and vaccination programs in public health and global health activities. We will read papers, book chapters, government reports, and other materials that offer insights and evidence on these topics from numerous disciplinary perspectives, including public health, medicine, health policy, history, ethics, and the social sciences.
Students will gain a thorough understanding of the scope and design of contemporary vaccination efforts in the United States and worldwide, the major concerns of vaccine proponents and critics alike, and the contributions of principles and concepts from bioethics and public health ethics to the promotion of individual and population health through vaccination. (Tuesday 7:30-10:20 p.m.)
FRS 131 Child Language Acquisition EC
Language is a highly impressive, uniquely human ability that involves learning a massive number of subtle restrictions on sounds, forms, and meanings. This knowledge is used to appropriately produce and comprehend new utterances in new contexts on a time scale of milliseconds. And yet this complex knowledge is mastered by all typically developing children and even by most children who develop atypically. Until recently, the dominant view had been that our linguistic ability is so complex and impressive that it is essentially unlearnable; it was thought that children must bring to the task at least some unlearned ("innate") knowledge that was applicable to all languages. This view is less persuasive today, because we have learned a great deal about the nature of the language input that children receive, the rampant diversity that exists across languages, and the cognitive mechanisms that play a role in learning.
The primary goal of this course is to investigate how it is that children come to know their first language. Second-language learning and bilingualism will also be discussed. Experimental techniques, major findings, and ongoing controversies will be discussed. (Monday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
Materials surround and constitute us. Materials produced by natural geological and biological processes find common use in our daily activities. We add to these by synthesizing materials not usually found in nature. Civilizations evolve with advances in materials, and materials are identified by the ages of humankind: stone, bronze, iron, and, most recently, silicon. Materials: what are they, how are they made, and how are they used? What materials are in our future? This seminar will address these questions both in class and in the laboratory.
Aggregates of atoms, through specific atomic or molecular interactions that define their structure, evolve into materials of the various forms we know as metals, polymers, and ceramics. A material's properties are determined by the nature of these atomic interactions and structural features. We will begin by examining this interplay among the nature of the atomic interactions, the structures that form as a consequence, and the consequent properties of materials. We will continue with a study of the processes used to synthesize and produce materials, as different methods are used depending on the type of material, contrasting human and natural syntheses. Man-made materials are typically produced by high-temperature methods whereas biologically produced ones follow a low-temperature approach. Synthetic materials are designed to satisfy only one or two functions, but biologically produced ones are typically multifunctional and have properties (e.g., self-replicating, self-healing) that have yet to be introduced into man-made ones.
The overall objective of this course is to attain an understanding of the important processes for controlling materials properties through nano- and microstructural design and processing. A specific objective of the course is an evaluation of the possible use of bio-inspired methods in technological applications.
Most of the seminar will be spent in a classroom setting, involving the students in discussions that address the background information essential to understanding the history of materials, whether produced by humans or biological systems. In addition to the time spent in class, students will conduct five laboratory-based experiments on materials processing and characterization, guided by University researchers. The experiments will range from the first materials produced by humans (clay-based), on to metals, polymers, and ending with materials currently being developed for applications such as lithium-sulfur batteries and conducting polymers. In addition to the time in discussion and laboratory, students will be expected to analyze their experimental data and to organize their information in written reports. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
The Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) famously claimed that "there are two types of football, prose and poetry. European teams are prose, tough, premeditated, systematic, collective. Latin American ones are poetry, ductile, spontaneous, individual, erotic." Latin Americans have sometimes been defined by others — and represented themselves — in terms of the performance of their soccer teams. In this course, we will explore several facets of the game's role in the region, approaching them from a historical, cultural, and aesthetic perspective. Literary texts will range from short stories and poetry centered on the sport, to the narratives of prominent chroniclers who elevated soccer to "epic" status, projecting national teams as the embodiment of collective identities. Other sources including essays, film, and photography will complement our approach.
In the process of engaging this material, we will investigate interplays between soccer and politics, including uses of the sport during dictatorial regimes of the 1960s and '70s, as well in different countries' assertions on the world stage. Reflections over the place of soccer in a changing social landscape are bound to invite questions of how, in a region of deep economic inequalities, the sport can function as a congregator, as the proverbial "opium of the masses," or as a target of political protests.
We will attempt to understand how soccer captivates the imagination of so many, viewing its popularization in the context of wider developments like radio, technology to build massive stadiums, European immigration, and globalization. Throughout the semester, the sport will provide us with a window onto the study of Latin America and beyond, but our discussions will also account for cultural relationships, including intersections between soccer, dance, and theater.
Although the course is structured comparatively, it focuses primarily on Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 137 What Makes for a Meaningful Life? A Search EM
With the pressures and frenzied pace of contemporary American life, it might sometimes feel as if there is little time to contemplate the question of what makes for a meaningful life. How does each individual find deeper meaning for him/herself? What is the purpose of my life? What is the relationship of the meaning of my life to some kind of larger purpose? How do our lives fit into the larger world around us? Throughout the ages, writers, thinkers, and religious figures; as well as wise ordinary folks — the person next door, one's parents and grandparents — have grappled with these questions. The course explores, from a variety of perspectives, some of the responses to the "big questions" of life. The readings and films are taken from different cultures, different time periods, and different spheres of human endeavor and experience — for example, from Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov to Kurosawa's Ikiru (To Live); from The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi to Forrest Gump; from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations to A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh; from Taoism to Tolstoy; from Martin Luther King to Anna Karenina; from Pablo Casals to Casablanca; from Martin Buber's I and Thou to Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus to Albert Schweitzer's "reverence for life." The goals of the seminar will be: (1) to investigate the thoughts that others have had; and (2) to examine the students' own questions and responses to the issues raised. (Monday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
"Blessed are the young," Herbert Hoover remarked in 1936, "for they shall inherit the national debt." The young are also bequeathed all of the other economic problems and advances achieved and left behind by past generations.
This seminar will explore the critical economic policy issues confronting the United States in 2014 and beyond. Topics will include the state of the labor market and macroeconomy, the federal budget, health care reform, human capital, inequality, immigration, housing markets, infrastructure investment, research and development, and the environment.
The seminar will begin with a lecture/discussion that considers ways to evaluate how an economy is performing. What do citizens expect of an economy? Concepts of efficiency, equity, and stability will be explained so that everyone has a common understanding of technical language. Starting with our second meeting, sessions will revert to a more purely seminar format where students share the responsibility for both leading and participating in the discussions. We will begin with a discussion of the economic crisis of 2008-09 and its lingering effects, focusing on jobs, financial markets, and housing markets.
We will also consider longer-term problems facing the United States, such as rising income inequality and low economic mobility. In some sessions, we will also consider economic methods, such as an introduction to program evaluation and issues concerning economic measurement (e.g., strengths and weaknesses of the gross domestic produce, or GDP, as a measure of economic performance and well-being). Students will be assigned to read and discuss important government reports, such as The Economic Report of the President and Congressional Budget Office projections of the deficit, as well as timely books and articles, such as Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The overall objective of this freshman seminar is to explore how economists approach some of the key issues confronting the economy and economic policymakers. (Wednesday 7:30-10:20 p.m.)
FRS 141 Japanese Monsters and Ghosts: A Social History HA
This seminar introduces students to the very rich tradition of monstrous imagination in Japanese history, from the earlier sacred texts of the eighth century to the most recent films and manga. Students will be exposed to a vast array of primary sources — from literary texts, scientific encyclopedias, religious treaties, and philosophical essays to paintings, prints, statues, dramas, comics, films, and video games depicting different ghostly and monstrous creatures. Monsters will function as literary and visual tropes through which students will form an understanding of different aspects of Japanese culture through 12 centuries of history. Far from being simply figures of imaginations, ghosts, goblins, spirits, and the vast coterie of monstrous creatures "interacted" in very concrete ways with people who believed in their existence, influencing their political, economic, and social life. As "social history," therefore, the goal of this seminar is to follow the social life of monsters in different centuries of Japanese history. (Monday, Wednesady 1:30-2:50 p.m.)
FRS 143 American Deception LA
This seminar will examine America as a realm of deception. In particular, we will study portrayals of swindlers, impostors, and hustlers who exploit the fluidity and mobility that have long defined this freewheeling land of opportunity. Particular attention will be given to the "frontier" settings in which these shape-shifters so frequently operate. We will investigate, for example, the figure of the "confidence man" as an emanation of the technological and economic forces driving westward expansion and urbanization during the 19th century. Indeed, as one con artist observed, "it is good to be shifty in a new country."
Our study will begin with Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, which became a leading template of self-invention in the new world. The principal business of the seminar will then consist of close readings in American literature from all periods, including selected tales of Poe and Hawthorne, Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Guare's Six Degrees of Separation. We will also study films such as Sturges' The Lady Eve and Welles' F for Fake, as well as a documentary chronicling the exploits of an impostor who attended Princeton.
Our approach to these works will be interdisciplinary as we draw upon studies of advertising, cosmetic surgery, gambling, trompe l’oeil, counterfeiting and forgery, cyberfraud, and other topics related to the art and culture of deception. (Monday 7:30-10:20 p.m.)
What are the most important signals, yardsticks, and tipping points for understanding the extent and impact of global warming? How can we measure and interpret the melting of continental ice caps and glaciers, the rising level of the sea, or the fluctuations in sea temperature and acidification? And how can we use this data to begin the process of solving the carbon and climate problem? In pursuing these questions, we will study fundamental principles of climate change, the potential risks of human-induced climate change, and potential environmental and biological impacts of global warming. Particular emphasis will be given to ocean life and systems and their connection to other environments. We will also examine the biological consequences of global warming: specifically, the limits of temperature tolerances and adaptations from single cells to whole organisms, including inter-relationships within complex ocean communities, such as coral reefs.
The format of the class will be lectures, discussions, interactive exercises, and hands-on lab and field inquiry-based exercises, including a seven-day excursion during fall break to the island of Bermuda. We will be based at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science (BIOS), www.bios.edu, an institution with an international reputation for scientific research and education on marine ecosystems. The island of Bermuda is located in the core of the Sargasso Sea, an ideal place to study the role of the ocean in global climate change. The unique marine habitat around Bermuda includes reef-building corals, which provide excellent field sites for studying the impact of a warming Gulf Stream on temperature tolerances and adaptations of ocean communities. During the trip, students will conduct snorkeling-based exercises over shallow coral reefs, explore the completed restoration of a nearby island (Nonsuch Island) to pre-settlement conditions, and contribute to a new island restoration project. Students must devote their fall break to the class trip, be able to swim, and have a valid passport. Costs of the Bermuda trip are fully covered by the Princeton Environmental Institute. (Thursday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
The family of King Agamemnon is one of the first and most memorable dysfunctional families in the Western tradition. The king sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia so his army could go to war. His adulterous wife, Clytemnestra, killed him and his mistress with an axe on his return home. Their son Orestes was driven by the god Apollo to avenge his father's death by killing his mother. Elektra, Iphigenia's sister, waited and yearned for this revenge.
We first hear of them in Homer's Odyssey, but Elektra's family continued to fascinate writers and thinkers, with the eerie silent girl herself often taking center stage. In the course of the seminar, we will examine versions of the myth across centuries, genres, and media. We will ask what remains stable and what invites innovation and change, and we will think about the appeal of different stages of the story depending on the type of project in which it is evoked.
We will begin with Homer and the three Greek tragedians — Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides — whose versions of the myth we are lucky to possess. We will then study other texts (among them Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialist rewriting of the Elektra myth in his play The Flies and playwright Eugene O’Neill's Freudian trilogy Mourning Becomes Electra) as well as opera (from Gluck's two baroque operas Iphigenia in Aulis and Iphigenia in Tauris to Strauss' modernist Elektra), film (Michael Cacoyannis' Iphigenia and Elektra), and psychoanalytic thought (Carl Jung attached the name "Electra complex" to Freud's tentative development of an Oedipus complex equivalent for the female). Throughout the seminar, we will consider what gives these stories staying power and try to locate the source of their creative energy. (Wednesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
Jean-Christophe de Swaan
Examples of ethical transgressions in financial markets continue to abound, despite the slew of high-profile scandals exposed over the past two decades. The global financial crisis arguably highlighted the extent to which we seem to have made little progress in stamping out unethical behavior in markets. This seminar will explore ethics in financial markets using a case-based method. Our approach will be grounded on an understanding of the role of a financial system in an economy and society. We will frame the discussion by reviewing the economic development and egalitarian arguments in favor of markets and considering their limits. We will address the seminar's topic from various angles, drawing on financial theory and concepts of behavioral ethics, corporate governance, economic development, and public policy.
In addressing ethical issues, a few themes will be particularly emphasized throughout the semester:
An attempt to distinguish ethical issues that are systemic in nature from those that relate to individual decision-making and character.
For the systemic issues, a comparison of corporate governance across national financial markets, with particular emphasis on the United States, China, Japan, and India, and how each of these countries' typical corporate governance failings might be linked to the nature of their financial systems.
For the issues related to individual decision-making, case studies will illustrate various patterns observed in markets, from outright deceit, fraud, and manipulation to more nuanced mishandling of conflicts of interest. For the latter, we will pay particular attention to the concept of "bounded ethicality" and the gray areas in which financial actors have to balance a complex web of duties and incentives. Many of these discussions will center on the conflicts that arise from agent-principal relations such as corporate executives acting on behalf of shareholders and investment managers acting on behalf of clients.
A discussion of role models – finance professionals who pursue their self-interest in a responsible manner, in ways that seek to benefit society. We will analyze specific decisions they made that are at odds with the path taken by their peers.
An exploration of the economic and social value of investments and which types of investments might create the most positive impact beyond financial returns.
The seminar is targeted at a broad group of students, including students who have an interest in financial markets from an investment, economic development, or public policy perspective, and those who have an interest in concepts of moral reasoning applied to finance. There are no specific prerequisites for the class, although having taken introductory economics will help.
The course will feature several guest speakers, including a business leader, a regulator, and finance practitioners, who will provide a personal perspective on conflicts of interest encountered in financial markets. (Thursday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
Thanks to an initiative of the Pallette Foundation, students in this seminar will engage in a very special project. The foundation has agreed to provide you with $50,000 in order to enhance your understanding of and interest in philanthropy. It will be up to the students in the course to determine the object(s) of our philanthropy, the number and size of our gift(s), the mode of awarding the gift(s), and our plans for evaluating the success of our gift(s). The only limitation that the foundation has placed upon you is that the recipients of the gift(s) must be U.S. 501(C)(3) nonprofit organizations.
This seminar will place its gift-giving effort in the context of philanthropy and civil society in the United States. We will ask how modern philanthropy emerged in America in the early 20th century, how and why the private philanthropic foundation was created to implement the purposes of philanthropy, and what problems in public policy have emerged as a result of philanthropy. We will also examine the functions of civil society, the space between the state and the market, in the United States. Here we will particularly inquire how the nonprofit organizations that form the core of civil society contribute to democracy, and how they are influenced by the actions of philanthropy and philanthropists. We will bring both empirical and theoretical concerns to this inquiry. How does the philanthropic system of the United States actually work? What improvements might be made to the system? How can philanthropy be understood at the level of moral and political philosophy?
But the core of your work will be to organize yourselves as a group to determine how best to act as philanthropists — how to donate $50,000 in the best manner possible before the end of the term. This should be quite a group adventure, and I am looking forward to seeing how you do. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 153 When Adolescence Goes Wrong ... What They Didn't Tell You SA
Have you ever taken the time to examine the complex variables that make up the period between ages 11 and 20? Why is it that adolescence can be so traumatic for some and a relatively smooth period for others? How do we transition from childhood to adulthood? Why is that period of time so often filled with "storm and stress" and why do so many teenagers suffer from emotional meltdowns and personal trauma? In essence, what goes wrong? What happens to our bodies, our brains, and our environments that can result in serious psychopathologies? Is it nature? Is it nurture? Adolescence can be unpredictable, filled with frustrations, rebelliousness, personal failures, and inconsistencies.
This course will take a three-pronged approach to the study of normal and abnormal human behavior between the ages of 11 and 20. First we will spend some time each week discussing and examining what most might term "normal" adolescent behavior from biological, emotional, and sociological perspectives.
From there we will proceed to the most significant part of the course, which will focus on many of the psychopathologies from which adolescents suffer. These may include (based on student interest but not limited to) anxiety, depression, sexuality, bullying, eating disorders, substance abuse, gender identity, several personality disorders, bipolarity, attention deficit disorder (ADD), Asperger's syndrome, adolescent suicide, compulsions, and phobias. Students will be encouraged to research one particular area of interest augmented by texts, journal articles, movies, and DVD segments and will present their findings to the class during the course of the semester.
The third prong of the course will be class presentations and discussions of how adolescence differs in North America, South America, Asia, parts of Northern (predominantly Muslim) Africa as well as in sub-Saharan Africa, and why these differences exist. Students may opt to apply to participate in a social skills program with an adolescent who has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. As the world "shrinks," do we see significant changes in these differences and what can we predict for the next generation of adolescents? This seminar will offer students an opportunity to gain insight into their own adolescence and to compare and contrast it with other students in the course, in the nation, and around the world. (Thursday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
A three-part poetic report of a visionary journey through the realm of the dead, The Divine Comedy takes its readers on a ride through a gruesome hell, in which impenitent sinners are eternally chastised by the most imaginative torments; the more serene airs of purgatory, where souls of the repented purify and ready themselves for paradise; and a final vertiginous, poetically exhilarating, ascent through the heavens toward the direct beatific vision of God. Along the way, Dante — both author and protagonist — encounters souls from all ages of mankind and from the most diverse walks of life: from the most ancient ones, like Adam (in heaven), to the most recently deceased, like the last popes from Dante's own day (surprisingly confined to hell). These meetings not only punctuate and propel the poem's plot, but they also present its readers with larger cultural questions: Where should we draw the line between advancing religious convictions and struggling for power in politics? How should we choose from among competing philosophies of life? What is the nature of art? And more fundamentally, how do we read a poetic text? By presenting us with these questions, the poem will challenge and enrich our perception and understanding of religious, ethical, and aesthetical issues.
In this course, we will use Dante's The Divine Comedy as an invitation and a starting point to become better readers of literary texts. The seminar will consist of a collaborative, close reading of the Inferno, and it will expand into the analysis of selected cantos of Purgatorio and Paradiso. Short introductory lectures will alternate with student-led class discussions, film screenings, and presentations on Dante's reception in modern poetry and art. We will use bilingual editions, which will allow us to access the text easily, while providing us opportunities to observe nuances of meaning or style preserved in the original language. We will also take advantage of the wide array of resources available to Dante students at Princeton. The remarkable collection of illustrated editions of The Divine Comedy in Firestone Library, as well as the incredible wealth of information contained in the Web-based Princeton Dante Project, will help to familiarize us with the culture of Dante's time and the scholarly activity that has surrounded the poem over the last seven centuries.
One key feature of the course will be the experimentation with active-learning techniques. Students should expect, for instance, to work in small, fluidly forming, discussion groups to tackle key issues in the readings and report to the class. They will be asked to prepare one-word lectures on select cantos of the Inferno, defend them and eventually agree on one to be adopted as mnemonic aid for the class. Emulating professional Dante scholars, they will be given the opportunity to become the class leading experts on one facet of Dante's culture. In sum, they will be asked to become directly responsible for an informed, meditated, and collaborative interpretation of the poem, so that our reading will constantly be refracted through the lens of each individual competence.
At the end of the seminar we will have acquired a wealth of techniques of interpretation that will prepare us to perceive and decode meaning in other literary texts beyond the Inferno. A great reader of classical and biblical poetry himself, Dante will be our first guide in this interpretive journey and help us develop and train our sensibilities for other poetry beyond his own. (Monday, Wednesday 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.)
FRS 157 Funny Pictures: Caricature and Modernity HA
Caricatures, originally images distorting the human face for comic effect, have disappeared from the editorial pages of daily newspapers, but at one time provided popular outlets for social and political criticism. Anticipating the modernist avant-garde, they also challenged the ideally "beautiful" and academic art training that developed in Europe after the Renaissance. This course, based on close looking at works in the Princeton University Art Museum and Firestone Library, will explore the explosion of caricatural prints and comic illustrated books from Hogarth to Picasso. Topics will include the role of visual humor in shaping the modern public sphere; the influence of physiognomic and racial theories on caricatural depictions; caricature as evidence of social mores and fads; and the return of the repressed (violence, excrement, eating, and sexuality) in caricatures. Students will be asked to think about what makes images funny and why we like and still need humorous pictures today. The class will also collectively submit captions for New Yorker cartoons. (Wednesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
Harold T. Shapiro
The overall objective of this seminar is to understand and assess how American scientists and U.S. science policy have served the interests of the nation, the U.S. Government, and the scientific community. Moreover, where appropriate, we will discuss the ethical issues that often arise in these contexts.
The seminar will begin with a lecture/discussion that considers the broad relationship between science, technology, and economic growth in order to focus our attention on a critical potential link between science and economic policy while acknowledging that science and technology may also impact and be impacted by other aspects of government policy. In this initial meeting, we will also consider the specific example of the use of science and technology to achieve political aims (i.e., victory) in World War II, and its impact on the war and on science more broadly. Moreover, this initial exploration will help us sketch out just how this formative experience on World War II reshaped U.S. government attitudes both for the support of science and technology ("policy for the support of science and technology") and the reliance of governments on science and technology to achieve particular public policy objectives ("science and technology for policy").
All subsequent sessions of the seminar will revert to a more purely seminar format where students share the responsibility for both leading and participating in the discussions.
Beginning with our second meeting, the next three sessions will focus on three case studies of important national issues that involve the intersection of science, technology, and public policy. In particular we will discuss the set of policy and scientific and technological issues/options surrounding: first, energy; second, assisted reproductive technologies (ART), along with human reproductive cloning and embryonic stem cell research; and third, global warming. In all these cases the focus will be on the new technological options available and the respective role of science, scientists, public policy, ethics, and law in addressing the nation's energy challenges, the potential of ART, human reproductive cloning and stem cell research, and the international challenges surrounding global warming.
With this as background, the seminar will consider more carefully the relationship of science and technology to economic growth and improving living standards. In this context, we will turn to a fuller discussion of the evolving role of the U.S. government in stimulating/directing the growth of science and technology as the government itself becomes more dependent on new achievements on the scientific frontier.
In subsequent meetings of the seminar we will focus on a series of areas in which developments on the scientific frontier raise important additional issues for U.S. public policy. We will consider such areas as: high-energy physics; eugenics; agriculture; and public health policies surrounding vaccines and contagious diseases. In this latter respect our focus will be on the potential/legitimate use of police powers to enforce compulsory public health measures.
If time permits, the seminar will conclude by considering additional issues on the frontiers of science and technology policy such as: globalization, developments in neurobiology, fusion energy, the environment, the science and technology workforce, etc.
Through the course of our discussions, we will come to see the many inherent and potential conflicts of interest that may arise when scientists serve as advocates and advisors in heated policy debates where egos, money, and power are at stake. (Monday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 161 The Forgotten Ghetto SA
According to urbandictionary.com, the word "ghetto" used to refer to the part of European cities in which Jews were restricted. Since then, it has come to refer to "yelling at your boo in the middle of the street," "replacing a broken window with a trash bag and duct tape," and the "tendency to eat every free sample." What has been forgotten along the way?
This seminar traces the birth and spread of the ghetto as a social form and metaphor throughout world history. It begins in Venice and Rome with some of the earliest and most famous restricted Jewish residential zones in a European city, and includes sessions on ethnic enclaves that focus on the experiences of Italians, Latinos, and Asians. Along the way, students will explore the Nazi-created ghettos in Poland during World War II; the black ghettos in northern U.S. cities from World War II to the present; communities of gays and lesbians; and spatial restructuring of cities in the global south as found in Dharavi, Mumbai’s massive informal settlement. The course asks how the idea of the ghetto emerged in different historical moments and what social scientists have made of the experience. The final session will look at the Princeton eating club to ask whether this institution can be better understood through the sociological approach to ghettos. (Monday 7:30-10:20 p.m.)
FRS 163 Narratives of Identity in the "Other" Europe: Reading Culture in the Balkans LA
Why has "balkanized" come to mean divided into small, mutually hostile units? Why have the narratives of balkanized/Balkan identity characterized so much of the southeast European experience? And how, for the West, is the study of the "Other" Europe so often implicitly a contemplation of Self?
The Balkans, the quintessential "Other" of Europe, conjure up a faraway realm on the edge of civilization — the proverbial crossroads between East and West. For Westerners, it is often an exotic, even mysterious, corner of the world, rich with ethnic, religious, and especially cultural diversity. Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, and Albania will provide the backdrop in this seminar for examining a multitude of narratives in which voices of ethnicity, religion, gender, class, and place all speak forcefully and poignantly.
Through literature, language, music, folklore, and popular culture, we will explore how these frames of identity inform contemporary Balkan culture. We will investigate how the past has sometimes been imagined and the present constructed to accommodate deeply held national, local, ethnic, and religious convictions. Moreover, we will view how attempts to perceive the "Other," coupled with associations of the Orient, have often been critical to the West's recognition of southeastern Europe and, in turn, itself.
Southeastern Europe is marked, as a prominent Balkanologist has aptly noted, by a "baroque complexity" that both charms and bewilders us. On the one hand, the Balkans boast Nobel Prize-winning novelists and some of the most daring literary innovations in all of Europe; world-class musicians; complex oral epic songs the length of Homer's Odyssey; rich collections of folk lyric, ritual songs, and tales; and sensual traditional and popular music and dance (much of it performed by Gypsies). On the other hand, the region has had a complicated and troubling past — and present. Fought over (and conquered) at one time by three multinational empires, later ruled by fascist dictators and then communist ideologues, the Balkans have also generated peasant uprisings, local and interethnic civil wars, and revolutions. How do we understand a world that resonates simultaneously as both familiar and foreign, endearing and brutal, cultivated and parochial; and how does culture reflect these many different narratives?
Balkan culture of the 20th- and 21st centuries will comprise the main focus of this course. Narratives of nationalism and their cultural manifestations — the development of languages, literatures, and discovery of folklore — along with inventive recollections of history and the use of historical consciousness will anchor our explorations. We will be concerned with how ethnicity and religion have spawned both conflict and creative diversity and how they are realized in narratives and cultural productions. How patriarchal structures and traditional gender roles characterize Balkan society and permeate everyday life — past and present, as well as public and private — will also engage us. Ties and tensions between urban and rural society likewise inform culture in the Balkans; the village as icon has permeated inventions and reinventions of national collectives, while the 20th-century city eventually brought modernity and urbanization to burgeoning industrial societies.
All of these approaches will enable us to explore the meaning of Balkan identity in the context of contemporary culture. We will aim to understand the dynamics of how culture on the border between "West" and "East" is formed and how it functions. Students will be able and urged to pursue their own particular interests during the semester as we read and bring meaning to the many rich and multilayered narratives of identity in the Balkans. (Thursday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 165 Self to Selfies EC
In 2013, the Oxford Dictionaries declared "selfie" the Word of the Year. It grows out of new forms of technologically enabled communication, which includes new games, such as chat roulette, and new forms of public exposure, such as sexting. What is this about? How have we arrived here? This course will explore transformations in understandings of the self in science and popular culture. In many cultural traditions, from Buddhism in Asia to psychoanalysis in the West, the "self" is an important object of speculation, analysis, and power. From anthropological and psychoanalytic perspectives, it examines three questions: How is the self formed? Under what conditions can the self change? What is the self's relationship to culture, society, politics, and economy? This seminar will examine these questions through ethnography, literature, television serials, and film. Most of the focus will be on American culture, but the course will also include material from other cultures. (Monday, Wednesday 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.)
FRS 167 Endless Romance: Allure and Risk from Daphnis and Chloe to Lolita LA
Romance is a medium that is perennial. From the pastoral Daphnis and Chloe by Longus in the second century, to the enduring appeal of texts based on King Arthur's medieval chivalric realm, cowboy classics, and such riveting contemporary techno-romances provided by action heroes like James Bond — we can never get enough.
Can romance be defined in a meaningful way that spans its 2,000-year existence in aesthetic as well as historical terms? Does a particular kind of social environment breed romance? Why has this form repeatedly attracted some of the most brilliant writers and provoked the arbiters of justice and art to condemn it? What is the enduring appeal of romance in our sophisticated, even cynical, 21st-century world? Does it provide escapist fantasy from a problematic existence (disapproving parents or transgressions of caste and class)? Or is it a form of self-aggrandizement designed to celebrate the values by which society identifies itself?
In this course, we will consider romances as well as texts that problematize romance, in addition to select theoretical and historical material, and examples from the visual arts. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 169 Student Life: The University in Literature and Film LA
What happens at college? What do we learn there? Who do we become there? This seminar will consider what it means to belong to a "campus community" — a term loosely interpreted in various ways by the texts we will examine. They depict the university campus as many things: a space of personal growth and discovery, of intellectual pursuit, of political action, of conflict and community building. Through a series of texts that range from classic campus novels to selections from the 1960s Free Speech Movement, to contemporary pop cultural phenomena, we will discuss interpretations of the university as both an elite institution and as a public space. As students progress through their first semester of university life, we will explore what possibilities are afforded by the specific kinds of intellectual and social communities created within the world of the college campus. The seminar will culminate in a creative project that will ask students to reflect not only on the texts that they have encountered, but also upon their evolving experiences as Princeton students over the course of the semester.
Readings and viewings will be historically bookended by two visions of Princeton life: F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise (1920) and Joyce Carol Oates' The Accursed (2013). In between, we will explore different visions of campus life and community in novels, film, and television, with a particular emphasis on contemporary visions of the American university. In addition to Fitzgerald and Oates, readings will include The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton and a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist; Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin; selected speeches by Mario Savio; Zadie Smith's On Beauty; and Donna Tartt's The Secret History. Films will include David Fincher's The Social Network, Mark Kitchell's documentary Berkeley in the Sixties, Spike Lee's School Daze, and Mike Nichols' post-college classic The Graduate. We will also consider several recent campus-based television shows, including Undeclared, Community, and Fresh Meat. (Monday, Wednesday 1:30-2:50 p.m.)
FRS 171 Photography and Literature LA
Writing in 1840, Edgar Allan Poe, that famous American author of horror stories, found himself enchanted by the most extraordinary triumph of modern science: the daguerreotype. Here the author saw "a positively perfect mirror," a technological medium that so surpassed the limitations of painting that its frames could disclose nothing short of "absolute truth." But what could this positively perfect mirror offer the author? How could this scientific triumph traverse the spheres of objectivity into the creative sphere of literary production? In this course, we will explore the complex intersections of literature and photography from its very inception, questioning notions of objectivity and subjectivity, reality and falsification, memory and forgetting.
Our explorations of these central issues will begin with an examination of the status of the image in Roland Barthes' canonical text, Camera Lucida, and John Berger's photo-textual meditation, Another Way of Telling. Through the textual inscription of the photograph and its emancipation from these textual confines, we will confront the photograph as both visual preoccupation and storytelling device. Moving roughly chronologically, our subsequent investigations will lead us through the twists and turns of photographic and literary exchanges across borders, cultures, and aesthetic movements. We will consider Poe's fascination with early photographic technologies in light of his dark prose; Anton Chekhov's commentary on photographic banality; poetic responses to photographic space in the verses of Joseph Brodsky and William Carlos Williams; photojournalism in a Soviet-American road trip; Vladimir Nabokov's photo-illustrated memoir; the fraught intertwining of photographic traces and narratives of trauma in the Stalinist repressions and the Holocaust; and the highs and lows of the photo-illustrated novel, including Andre Breton's Surrealist experiments and W. G. Sebald's contemporary masterpiece, Austerlitz.
With a strong emphasis on close reading and visual literacy, students will be encouraged to follow their own lines of inquiry to discover new kinds of photo-literary interactions. Class meetings will be founded on lively and in-depth discussion — springing from these close readings of our literary texts, accompanying illustrations, and examples of photographic trends of the day — as we seek to define both the creative potentials and confining limitations of text and image. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
W. Barksdale Maynard
Gardens and parks are not only beautiful, they are rich with intellectual meanings. This course begins with an overview of gardens of the Roman world and the Middle Ages, then visits in detail the great English gardens of Shakespeare's time and afterwards. Special attention is given to the collecting of plants in the Age of Exploration. Turning to America, we will examine colonial gardens, including those of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, then look at 19th-century developments centered on Philadelphia, the horticultural capital of the young nation. Specific places will be studied in detail, including the spectacular gardens and parks of the mid-Atlantic, such as Longwood Gardens — the preeminent display garden in the hemisphere — as well as Central Park in New York. We will take a field trip to see Longwood and other estates in the Brandywine Valley, and there will be frequent walking tours of Princeton, a designed landscape more than 260 years old, where the word "campus" first debuted. Given its location in the Garden State, there is no better place to study designed landscapes than Princeton. This course is for the student with varied interests, since it combines art, literature, botany, and environmental thought — in true interdisciplinary spirit. The larger goals are to introduce students to the excitement of doing research in the humanities and to provide a grounding in the fascinating history of the university that will be your new home. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
Would you like to see a Toulouse-Lautrec up close and without its frame, or hold an ancient vessel in your hands? Participants in this seminar will go behind the scenes of the Princeton University Art Museum with an encyclopedic collection of more than 80,000 objects from ancient to contemporary art. Sessions will focus on discussions of connoisseurship and the role of the museum in the 21st century. Students will study aspects of exhibition planning, from scholarship and education to loans and installations, through the exhibitions Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting from the Collection of Preston H. Haskell, Kongo Across the Waters, and The Story of Chigusa. Course readings will introduce students to some of the most compelling practical, theoretical, and ethical issues confronting museums.
A team of curators, Director James Steward, and other members of the professional staff of the museum will lead the seminar sessions, which focus on particular topics. Students will be expected to participate in critical discussions about issues in acquisitions, conservation, education, and interpretation based on readings and outside projects. There also will be a trip to New York City to visit museums. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 177 American Noir LA
Noir … is the long drop off the short pier and the wrong man and the wrong woman in perfect misalliance. It's the nightmare of flawed souls with big dreams and the precise how and why of the all-time sure thing that goes bad. — James Ellroy
In the 1930s, American popular culture generated a new narrative form, eventually called Noir (dark, or black). On page and screen, hundreds of these thrilling "gangster" stories — stark, vivid, and ambiguous — shaped the imagination and self-concept of an America beset by depression and global change. As the post-atomic nation shifted from hot to cold war, endured the Red Scare, and grappled with civil rights, Noir depicted a dream-like Otherworld where morality turns fluid, crime undermines justice, and capitalism sours democracy. Although today Noir's political outlook ranges from liberal to libertarian, its core irony remains constant: crime and justice are mirror analogues, shadow selves.
To explore the Noir outlook, we will map its rise and spread, relate Noir to the rise of postmodern thought, and study its triumph as a global style. We will explore questions including: Why do we so enjoy crime stories? What are crimes against society, and why should we care? How does the work of criminal investigation benefit social good? Is crime natural to our species? Why do we admire outlaws yet condemn them? What can we say to the transgressor within ourselves?
This seminar surveys American crime fiction and film from The Maltese Falcon (1931) to Breaking Bad (2013). We will examine the origins and hallmarks of Noir style: its political tensions, treatment of gender and sexuality, role in the "blacklist" era, and effects on postmodern media. From Europe to Asia, this lasting American genre now defines global ideas of crime and justice. For more information on this seminar, visit http://www.princeton.edu/~howarth/177/. (Thursday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 179 Nomads, Nomadism, and Nomadology HA
The figure of the nomad appears across written history as the antithesis of civilization. Early Greek and Chinese histories relate tales of strange and distant people, while later chroniclers preserve horrified accounts of the Mongol conquests. Despite this trope of eternal antagonism, however, nomadic and sedentary ways of life were for a long time deeply entwined with one another, from the commercial exchange of the ancient "Silk Road" to the schizophrenic court life of Tamerlane, who built the world’s finest cities but held court in a tent.
Even though the threat of nomadic invasion has long disappeared, the nomad still inspires apprehension and fascination. In the popular imagination, nomadism has become a way to express ideas of freedom and dislocation, from Deleuze and Guattari's critique of structuralism to the Dothraki of R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series.
This course examines perceptions of nomadism as they have developed over two and a half millennia. Because almost all of our textual sources about nomads come from sedentary societies, we will also examine how the discussion about nomads relates to other discussions about difference. In particular, we will look at how Western society explained and described the "Orient" from antiquity through contemporary times, engaging such ideas as "Orientalism" and "the clash of civilizations." (Monday, Wednesday, 1:30-2:50 p.m.)
FRS 181 Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Wisdom of Crowds LA
In this seminar, we will study the history and nature of urban myths, particularly in regard to the way that they reflect the concerns and fears of society. We will examine the ways in which myths differ from folk tales, fairy tales, and superstition, and the means by which entire communities, seized with conviction often for generations, disseminate and fortify them. The collective unconscious is often manifested in metaphor, particularly in literature and film, and the legitimate anxieties, fears, and guilt that it reflects will be the subject of our study.
We will discuss urban myths through history (witchcraft, alchemy, and the philosopher's stone, prophecies of the end of the world) as well as contemporary myths (Ponzi schemes, alien abductions), and the technological, religious, and cultural shifts that cause them. We will examine why urban myths are invariably terrifying, and why they play a part in appeasing collective anxiety with their vivid and sometimes humorous imaginative force (as in the myths The Hook, The Kidney Thieves and The Dog in the Microwave), and why myths are more effective in conveying collective fears than rational warnings or lessons. If urban myths spring from the need to convert the sources of terror or guilt into tales of irony and horror, they also serve a practical purpose of entertainment, instruction, and warning. Thanks to the Internet, urban myths based on real fears are now spread very quickly, often taking the form of alarms (false emails bearing the logo of the Los Angeles County Fire Department warned that acid rain from the Fukushima Nuclear plant was fast approaching the west coast of America, resulting in "burns, alopecia, and even skin cancer").
Students will read from Grimm's Fairy Tales, Charles MacKay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Jack Zipes and Marina Warner, as well as the books Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, White Noise, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Students will also create their own urban myths and cautionary tales. We will watch the films Contagion, Battleship Galactica, The Birth of a Nation, M, Dr. Strangelove, Metropolis, and ET the Extra-Terrestrial. (Wednesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 183 Reading Freud's Great Case Histories as Short Stories LA
What can we learn today from Freud's five case histories? These case histories read like detective stories in which Freud treats symptoms as clues. Freud himself wrote: "It still strikes me as strange that the case histories I write should read like short stories and that, as one might say, they lack the serious stamp of science." Indeed, Freud was never awarded the Nobel Prize but was given the Goethe Prize, a literary award.
We will read Freud's five great case histories: Dora; Little Hans; the Rat Man; the Wolf Man; and President Schreber, exploring the literary aspects of language, structure, and verisimilitude as well as considering Freud's psychological discoveries of the human mind.
Participants will be required to write two short papers and one longer one and to present at least one close textual reading to the class. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 185 Utopia: How Fiction Meets the World LA
First published in Latin in 1516, Thomas More's Utopia remains an influential text for the history of political thought and for later speculative fiction. This seminar addresses More's complex meditation on the place of philosophy in politics and society through a close analysis of Utopia in its intellectual and generic contexts and by considering its influence on utopian thinking and writing across the five centuries following publication. How does social change come about, and what is the nature of political action, including the shape of the authority responsible for political action? What is the relation of fiction to history, and what is the use of speculation as a way to reflect on historically determined change? Perhaps most centrally, where do we locate the history of a political promise that has not been fulfilled and may never be? Among the texts we will read alongside More’s fiction are William Shakespeare’s The Tempest; various foundational texts in the new science associated with Francis Bacon; a pair of 19th-century novels (one American and one English) with strikingly different accounts of political time (and of time itself); and some recent fiction, written at the edge of a dystopian present and the ongoingness of a utopian future, by Octavia Butler and George Saunders. (Monday 7:30-10:20 p.m.)
Shamik Dasgupta and Simon Cullen
What, if anything, do we owe the global poor? Is abortion morally permissible? Is assisted suicide? Is it ever permissible to destroy a human embryo for medical research? Should we massively extend the human lifespan to thousands of years, or perhaps even to biological immortality? Do non-human animals have rights? Is free will possible in a deterministic world, and if it is not, are we ever morally responsible for our actions? What are the conditions of personal identity? What is the probability that we live in a computer simulation?
These are some of the toughest, most pressing questions in practical ethics and metaphysics. Philosophers have addressed these questions by producing subtle, intricate, and often beautiful arguments. In this seminar, you will assess those arguments and produce your own. You will learn to think like a philosopher — to strip an argument presented in prose to its bare essentials and produce a visual map that displays its structure plainly.
Learning to visualize arguments in this way will improve the clarity and rigor of your own thinking and writing. It will put you in a position to make progress on hard questions such as those above. And it will improve your ability to crisply convey your ideas — an ability that will serve you well not just in your Princeton classes, but also in the political, professional, and civic reasoning you employ for the rest of your life.
Please visit http://bit.ly/FRS187-info for more information about this seminar and argument mapping. (Tuesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
Traditionally, constitutional law and international law are supposed to be different. Constitutional law sets up the government within a country, while international law sets up the relationships between countries. The idea that international law or foreign law could ever be allowed to influence constitutional law is very controversial in this country. It is often argued that neither foreign countries nor international organizations should be allowed to undermine the Constitution or impose their will on Americans through the Constitution.
When we look at constitutional law across different countries, however, we begin to see that certain patterns and elements repeat themselves with growing frequency. For example, since World War II, it has become extremely difficult to find a constitution that does not promise either freedom of expression or freedom of religion. Many believe that an important reason for the existence of these international trends is the influence of international law. Especially in the area of human rights, constitutional content may be drawn directly from international law. For example, constitution-writers may copy provisions from human rights treaties directly into new constitutions, while courts may look at how human rights treaties have been interpreted when interpreting existing constitutions.
This seminar will explore various ways in which constitutional law is becoming increasingly international. We will see that constitutional law simultaneously flows sideways (between nations), upwards (from the national level to the international level), and downwards (from the international level to the national level). (Wednesday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)
FRS 191 Did Kubrick Invent the iPad? Introduction to the Close Reading of Films LA
The 1968 box office success of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was initially attributed to its hypnotic quality: the film lulled audiences into passive, even half-unconscious (as if drug-induced) states of mind. Yet in a recent lawsuit, Samsung argued that Kubrick's dreamlike vision of the future was itself the catalytic impetus and inspiration for Apple's landmark invention, the iPad. In this regard, Kubrick's masterpiece is double-coded: it can be enjoyed passively, yet beneath the seemingly seamless flow of continuity editing, the discerning viewer may also discover a startling depth of meanings, incongruities, and implications that call for creative interpretation.
In this seminar, we will examine 2001: A Space Odyssey and a number of other highly artistic films, such as Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai (1954) or Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966), with the scholarly discipline and critical distance that enhances their power to captivate and entertain. We will learn how to develop critical interpretations through the use of filmic quotations that capture specific cinematic effects and devices, and how to make ourselves more literate in the language of film, moving from passive fluency to reflection and analysis.
This seminar will extend beyond the close "reading" of these cinematic masterpieces to consider how they also have shaped the course of popular culture. For example, we will study the influence of Kubrick and Kurosawa on Star Wars and the video game Metal Gear. Ultimately, our odyssey seeks to understand whether film, as a medium of artistic expression, holds a special, inventive power. (Monday 1:30-4:20 p.m.)