Spring 2008 Course Offerings

SHUM 419 Imagining Contemporary Asia in High and Mass Cultural Production

(also ENGL 407.02, ASIAN 423)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students.  
W. Wee.  
R 10:10-12:05

The seminar will revisit some of the arguments on globalization and cultural change that have emerged over the past decade or so, and consider their stances in relation to the rapid economic changes in East Asia since the 1980s, in the wake of what the World Bank in 1993 called the East Asian Miracle. We will consider the possible relationship between the fact that "globalization" creates/strengthens trade within regions and how these increased regional trade circulations may lead to an emergent and improvised post-Miracle cultural imagining of the region itself -- of an idea of an Asian Modern shared by the states of East Asia, a region which in terms of the cartographic imagination now seems to include the successful countries of Southeast Asia -- by both state and non-state actors in the realm of culture and cultural identity and production. The seminar will keep in mind the caveat that the omnibus term Asia always is problematic, as it is made to cover a great of cultural and social diversity. There will be some examination of recent critical scholarship that has emerged from East Asia itself since the 1990s. The seminar will then proceed to look at various artistic productions -- ranging from “high” culture such as theater and contemporary visual culture, to mass cultural products, such as Hong Kong film and Japanese and Korean pop music -- and consider the contrasting and similar attitudes towards a putative “East Asia” that have arisen since the 1980s.

SHUM 420 Bodies in Medicine and Culture

(also STS 402, BSOC 402, FGSS 425)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  
R. Prentice.  
W 2:30-4:25

Every day we are barraged with cultural messages telling us to eat better, get more exercise, stop smoking, practice safe sex. These messages make us insecure about our bodies: Am I thin enough, ripped enough, sexy enough? They are also contradictory: Fish makes you smarter; mercury in fish makes you sick. Many of these messages use the language of science and medicine: There are obesity "epidemics" and chocolate "addictions." Our bodies are described and treated like machines: transplant surgeons talk about our "spare parts"; computer programmers describe their brains as "wetware." Our sense of our bodies may feel improvised, created on the fly from a collage of scientific, medical, cultural, and advertising snapshots. This course draws from literature in science and technology studies, anthropology, and feminist and gender studies to examine how bodies emerge from the shifting lessons of science, technology, and medicine, as well as how cultural and political concerns express themselves in and through bodies.

Rachel Prentice is an assistant professor in the Department of Science & Technology Studies. Her research focuses on the engineering of bodies in medicine. Her current book project examines the relationship of new technologies to changes in anatomical and surgical training.

SHUM 421 Cutting and Film Cutting

(also FGSS 426, COML 411.03)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.   
S. Fathy.  
R 12:20-2:15

This course will consist of comparative analysis of films on female and male genital cutting. The deconstruction of the cinematographic discourse will be dealt with on both thematic and technical levels. Theoretical references will include Derrida’s Circonfession along with works by Freud, Jean-Luc Nancy, etc.

Safaa Fathy is a writer and a film maker. She signed a film about Jacques Derrida (Derrida’s Elsewhere 1999) and co-signed with Derrida a book (Tourner les mots Galilée 2000). She publishes poetry in Arabic and plays in French (Ordalie/Terreur Editions Lansman, 2003). She has published numerous articles about cinema, theater and poetry in English, French and Arabic. She was the administrator of the Fonds Jacques Derrida, at the French archive (IMEC) Institut de la Mémoire Contemporaine in Paris and responsible for curating the Audiovisual Archives of  Jacques Derrida at the University of California in Irvine. Her work has been translated into 10 languages and she has been elected by the American Biographical Institute (ABI) for inclusion as one of 1000 women in the 2006 edition Great Women of the 21st century.

SHUM 423 Futures of American Poetry

(also AMST 402, ENGL 408.01)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.    
M. Cavitch.  
R 2:30-4:25

This course will be a broad-based introduction to American poetry, from the beginnings of English settlement to the early 20th century.  Our approach will be historical, and it will be oriented towards English-speaking North America.  But we’ll eschew national determinism.  Instead, we’ll concentrate on the uncertain and dynamic futures that American poetry anticipates and helps bring into being.  Looking ahead, 17th-century poets of the Colony of Virginia, for example, could not, and would not, have anticipated anything remotely like the United States of America.  Nor could their contemporaries in New Haven Colony have anticipated any future nation in which the political influence of a wildly heterogeneous evangelical activism would help lead it into the bloodiest civil war of the modern era.  What did they anticipate instead?  This is the fundamental question we’ll be asking of every phase and form of American poetry, from Puritan fantasias on the Last Judgment to Enlightenment odes to progress; from musings on providential design to sentimental assurances of a personal afterlife; from Gothic and Romantic visions of Indian Removal to elegiac expressions of the infanticidal unconscious; from incitements to bloody rebellion to calls for peaceful resignation; from brashly confident forecasts of canonicity to the more quietly ambivalent poetics of pseudonymity and anonymity.  In other words, we’ll be reading forward rather than backward, paying special attention to how all sortsof futures—scenarios of desire, audience, vision, prophecy, exhortation, novelty, anxiety, mortality, transmission, and transcendence—get figured in and for American poetry by a wide range of authors, including Anne Bradstreet, Michael Wigglesworth, Edward Taylor, Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, Philip Freneau, Joel Barlow, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, George Moses Horton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Julia Ward Howe, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Helen Hunt Jackson, Emma Lazarus, E. A. Robinson, Stephen Crane, and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

The course will combine an introductory survey of a major literary field with opportunities for original scholarship.  Having recently been wrestled out of the clutches of a largely non-reflexive antiquarianism, the field of early American poetry presents exciting new opportunities for dynamic, innovative, idea-driven research and criticism.  Advanced students of poetry and/or American literature may want to devise more elaborate research projects.  But there will be no expectation of prior experience with early American literature.  And we’ll take a no-student-left-behind attitude to the study of prosody and versification, beginning the semester with a brief, intensive (re)introduction to poetic history and form.  Versophiles and versophobes alike who want to get a head-start could read John Hollander’s Rhyme’s Reason in advance of the first class meeting (it will be required reading for the second class meeting).

Assignments will include two very short essays (2-3 pages), an in-class presentation, an annotated bibliography (approx. 10 pages), and a conference-length paper (8-10 pages).

Max Cavitch (B.A Yale, Ph.D. Rutgers) is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.  He teaches all periods of American literature, from the beginnings of English contact and settlement to the present day, concentrating in U.S. literature and culture before 1900.  His teaching and research interests also include gender and sexuality studies, historiography and poetics, genre theory, and circum-Atlantic cultural history.  Presently, he is writing a book about Phillis Wheatley.  His first book, American Elegy: The Poetry of Mourning from the Puritans to Whitman, was recently published by the University of Minnesota Press.  He has also published essays on a wide variety of topics in the journals Early American LiteratureContemporary PsychoanalysisAmerican LiteratureVictorian Poetry, and American Literary History.  Since 2001, he has served on the Advisory Council of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.

SHUM 424 The Mediterranean and Cervantes

(also SPAN 434, NES 449, HIST 429, COML 411.01) 
Spring. 4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.   
M. Garcés.  
M 2:30-4:25

This course concentrates on the twin themes of cultural exchanges and cultural frontiers in the early modern Mediterranean, where the writer Miguel de Cervantes played an important role as soldier, captive, and spy. We will explore contacts between Muslims and Christians in historical and literary texts emerging from Granada, Algiers, Sicily, Cyprus, and Istanbul in the 16th and 17th centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the dynamic improvisation of identities and transfer of men and ideas promoted by the “renegades” — Christians who converted to Islam and fled to Ottoman territories. The readings will range widely and include chronicles on the Guerra de Granada(1568-1570)—the last armed struggle on Spanish soil between Christianity and Islam—by Nuñez-Muley and Pérez de Hita, among others;  English and Spanish reports of captivity; plays and novels by Calderón, Cervantes, Marlowe, and Shakespeare, as well as eyewitness accounts of life in Algiers and Istanbul by Antonio de Sosa and Ogier de Busbecq. Course selections will be supplemented with an ample range of critical approaches. Reading knowledge Spanish is highly recommended.

María Antonia Garcés is Associate Professor in Hispanic Studies at the Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University. She studies the literatures and cultures of early modern Spain, including its relations with Muslim North Africa and the Mediterranean, interests that include psychoanalysis and cultural studies. Her book Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive’s Tale (Vanderbilt UP, 2002; rev. ed. 2005), a study of Cervantes’s Algerian captivity (1575-1580) and its effects on his fiction, received the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) in 2003. A  revised and expanded version of the book was recently published in Spain as Cervantes en Argel: historia de un cautivo (Madrid: Gredos, 2005). Her current research concerns the improvisation of identities and of new modes of subjectivity carried out by “renegades” in the early modern Mediterranean. 

SHUM 425 Cerebral Seductions

(also ENGL 408.02, COML 411.02, COGST 425, FREN 423)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.   
W. Jones.  
T 12:20-2:15

Quick quiz: what’s the most important sexual organ for humans? The brain, of course! Cerebral Seductions concerns both sex and the brain in various ways. We will explore the emergent field of cognitive literary theory and criticism, reading the work of cognitive critics (e.g., Hogan, Richardson, and Zunshine) and cognitive scientists  (e.g., Damasio, Gazzaniga), while also considering the ways that other types of literary theory (historicist, poststructuralist, psychoanalytic) might be incorporated within a cognitive framework. With this approach in mind, we will read texts within a literary tradition that recognized—right from the start—the cerebral element in human sexuality: the libertine tradition in eighteenth-century England and France. Authors will include Rochester, Behn, Richardson, Laclos, de Sade, Austen, and others. 

Wendy Jones is the author of Consensual Fictions: Women, Liberalism, and the English Novel (U of Toronto Press, 2005), as well as articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. Her “Emma, Gender, and the Mind-Brain” is forthcoming in ELH. She teaches literature and writing in the English Department at Cornell.

SHUM 426 Modernity and Critique

(also ENGL 408.03, COML 454, HART 416)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.   
B. Maxwell.  
T 10:10-12:05

Modernity can be provisionally defined as the aggregate condition of life attendant on the massive dislocations commencing in the 16th century with the process defined by Marx as the "primitive accumulation" of capital.  The more familiar phases (or faces) of modernity, the 19th century urban regime of "transcendental homelessness" (Lukacs) and the "exploded picture puzzle" (Bloch) of the 20th century, generated extraordinary critical examinations by Marxist and anarchist thinkers, extraordinary often in their insight and often enough in their blindness to the world beyond Europe.  Surrealism, some would argue, breached the self-enclosure of European radical thought and found a world of anger and analysis already largely formed, ready to speak its own languages of critique.  In the later work of Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem, and the others of the Situationist International, we arguably have both the ruins of the earlier critical projects as well as exceptionally important means for living critically in and against our moment.
The course will take up three concerns:
1) Critiques of modernity advanced by Marxism and by anarchism.
2) The aesthetics targeted by these critiques, and the aesthetics, if any, desired by them.
3) The Situationist advance into new dimensions of social critique and aesthetic theory.
The reading list will include texts by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Max Weber, Antonio Gramsci, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Saint-Simon, Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Errico Malatesta, André Breton, Herbert Read, Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Ernst Bloch, Theodor W. Adorno, Siegfried Kracauer, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Raymond Williams, Henri Lefebvre, Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem, Jacques Camatte, Amiri Baraka, Samir Amin, Maria Mies, Silvia Federici, T. J. Clark, Hal Foster, Giorgio Agamben, the Retort group, and the Midnight Notes collective.  All readings in English.

Barry Maxwell teaches in Comparative Literature and American Studies at Cornell, and holds graduate degrees from Stanford and Simon Fraser University.  In recent years, he has developed courses on surrealism, Melville, the literature of the outlaw, policing and prisons in American culture, and hemispheric American literatures.  He has published on Benjamin, Bloch, Burke (Kenneth), Crane (Stephen), Davis (Miles), Douglass, David Hammons, Hawes (Hampton), Nathaniel Mackey, Pepper (Art), Sun Ra, and Whitman.  He is at work on a book titled The Grammar of Enclosure, which traces dramas of expropriation and enclosure of the commons in hemispheric American literature and culture.  In 2004, he received the John M. and Emily B. Clark Distinguished Teaching Award.

SHUM 428 Sensing Thinking

also ENGL 408.04)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.   
C. Kronengold.  
T 2:30-4:25

This course explores how the activity of thinking is depicted and embodied in a variety of late-modern artistic practices. We will move across media and genres, studying examples of poetry, music, art, dance and film. The course begins from the premise that artworks convey the nature of thinking by showing us that thought relies upon the senses: thinking happens through points of contact between consciousness and less-than-conscious bodily processes. We’ll be particularly concerned to register modes of thought that lie beneath intellectual attention but as it were above the level of preconscious body/brain responses, especially as these liminal modes work to establish relations between a self and its environment. At the center is the question of what it means for an audience to sense someone thinking. What are we doing, exactly, when we search for signs that a silent character, an improviser, a painter or a choreographer is thinking? How might we characterize the politics and the erotics of such a search? The course examines different pictures of thinking in poems by John Ashbery and Elizabeth Bishop, choreography by Merce Cunningham and Jean-Pierre Perreault, works by visual artists like Robert Colescott, Philip Guston, Eva Hesse, Shahzia Sikander and Trevor Winkfield, recordings and videotaped performances of group improvisations including Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Myra Melford, Max Roach, Cecil Taylor, and Pamela Z, and films by Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati and Tsai Ming-Liang. Additional readings will be drawn from Lauren Berlant, William Connolly, Elizabeth Grosz, George Lewis, Iris Murdoch, Fred Moten, Ludwig Wittgenstein and others.

Charles Kronengold has published on popular music, Western art music, film and aesthetics. He is completing two books, Live Genres in Late Modernity and Different Methods, Different Signs: Crediting Thinking in Soul and Dance Music. He teaches music, film and cultural theory at Wayne State University. 

SHUM 430 Epistemologies of U.S. Empire

(also ENGL 408.05)
Spring.  4 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  
M. Wesling.  
T 12:20-2:15

This course will consider how the struggle for imperial dominance has involved the production of various ways of knowing, where the conflicts over political, material, and geographical dominance relies upon and gives rise to epistemological conflicts as well.  We will begin the course with general concerns about the production of knowledge in relation to empire.  First, we’ll consider how the historical process of imperial expansion has been driven by the desire to document the colonial Other; from sources as disparate as travel narratives, ethnographies, census reports, photography displays, tour guides, and the like, part of the temptation of colonial expansion has been the consolidation of power through the production of knowledge, with these forms emerging as instruments of classification and subjugation, as well as ways of translating and relaying the evidence of cultural difference from colony to metropole and back again. The course will then turn to a more concrete example of this epistemological struggle, by looking closely at the production of knowledge surrounding the U.S. expansion into the Pacific and the Atlantic after 1898. We’ll be looking at the surge of epistemological changes that mark the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century in the U.S.: the emergence of the disciplines of Anthropology and of American literary study, the changing classification strategies for museum and library collections, the proliferation of photographic technology, and the great captivation with the displays at the Worlds Fairs are just a few of the interpretive shifts that accompany the U.S. entry into the global colonial stage.  We’ll consider as well, however, precisely how the logic of American exceptionalism called upon the interests of knowledge production as justification for its colonial expansion.

Readings will include works by Michael Elliott, Carol Duncan, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Amy Kaplan, Renato Rosaldo, and Lisa Lowe, Frantz Fanon, Antonio Gramsci, Albert Memmi, Paolo Friere, Mary Louise Pratt, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Gauri Viswanathan

Meg Wesling is an Assistant Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego.  Her publications include articles in American Literature and MELUS,  as well as in the forthcoming NYU volume Capital Q: Marxisms after Queer Theory. She is currently at work finishing her first manuscript, Educated Subjects: Pedagogy, Empire, and Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature.


SHUM 450 Science, Religion, and the Humanities Since Darwin

(also S&TS 417)
Spring. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students.  
G. Ortolano.  
T 2:30-4:25

This seminar considers a series of episodes in which the dichotomy between science and religion has been contested and defended. Topics will include debates about Darwinian evolution, Victorian education, animal experimentation, Christian fundamentalism, literary Modernism, "two cultures" quarrelling, and sociobiology. The approach here will be contextual and historical, with a primary goal in each case being to identify and discuss the rhetorical strategies that have been available to advocates and critics of scientific authority. The focus will primarily fall on debates and developments within Britain, with some consideration of the American context, but the issues and problems considered are likely to interest students of scientific authority, cultural politics, and the public culture more generally. 

Guy Ortolano is Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches British history and the history of science. His research examines the relationship between science and literature since the Victorians, and he is currently completing a book on that subject titled "The Two Cultures Controversy: Science, Literature, and Cultural Politics in Postwar Britain" (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press). Guy's other research interests include the 1960s, the New Left and New Right, and urban planning.