Spring 2010 Course Offerings

SHUM 4931 Vitality and Power in China

(also HIST 4931, ASIAN 4429, STS 4911, RELST 4931,
BSOC 4911, CAPS 4931)

Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.  
T. Hinrichs 
T 2:30 - 4:25 

Chinese discourses have long linked the circulation of cosmic energies, political power, and bodily vitalities.  In these models political order, spiritual cultivation, and health are achieved and enhanced through harmonizing these flows across the levels of Heaven-and-Earth, state, and humankind.  It is when these movements are blocked or out of synchrony that we find disordered climates, societies, and illness.  In this course, we will examine the historical emergence and development of these models of politically resonant persons and bodily centered polities, reading across primary texts in translation from these otherwise often separated fields.  For alternate frameworks of analysis as well as for comparative perspectives, we will also examine theories of power and embodiment from other cultures, including recent scholarship in anthropology and critical theory.

TJ Hinrichs is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Cornell.  She has published articles on the history of healing and medicine in China.  She is currently writing a history of Song period (960-1279 C.E.) policies intended to reform “permicious” customs imputed to southerners such as the clientage of shamans, the quarantining of the sick, and “gu-poisoning” witchcraft.  Among the more innovative official responses was the deployment of medical knowledge, especially through the distribution of medical texts, for the education of southern commoners and the reform of shamanic healers. 

SHUM 4932 The History of Reason

(also HIST 4932, STS 4921, BSOC 4921) 
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.  
P. Dear  
M 12:20 - 2:15 

The course investigates the rhetoric of reason in European discourse from the Renaissance to the twentieth century:  that is, the ways in which “reason” was understood, deployed, and contested in European thought and practice from sixteenth century onwards.  It focuses particularly on primary source material that theorizes or employs notions of “reason” in formal ways, including Descartes, Hobbes, Pascal, Newton, Leibniz, Hume, and Kant for the early-modern period, using relevant secondary material such as Foucault’s History of Madness to illuminate the issues involved.  For the nineteenth century and beyond, in addition to primary sources the course examines secondary materials that consider aspects of the practical meanings of “reason,” especially in relation to science, in specific socio-political settings both European and European-colonial (including such diverse theoretical perspectives as the work of Adas, Prakash, and Headrick, as well as John Carson on regimes of intelligence testing).  Further topics include nineteenth-century controversy over the foundations of “reason” in political economy as well as in formal logic  (the “truth-table” approach to avoiding the charge of circularity in reasoning).  By contrast to such theoretical contentions, the practical ideological uses of the category of “reason” will be studied in early anthropological work from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries on the notion of a “Great Divide” between western and non-western cultures (Bloor, Latour; Goody, Stocking, Kuklick).  

Peter Dear is an historian of science who trained at Cambridge and Princeton.  He works primarily on early-modern Europe in intellectual and cultural history of science.  He has taught at Imperial College, London; Cambridge University; and, since 1986, at Cornell, and is a founding member of Cornell’s Department of Science & Technology Studies.  His publications include Discipline and Experience:  The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution (1995; winner of the Ludwik Fleck Prize of the Society for the Social Study of Science in 1998), and The Intelligibility of Nature (2006).  A past Guggenheim Fellow, he gave the annual Distinguished Lecture at the meeting of the History of Science Society in 2004.

SHUM 4933 Abolitionist Circuits

(also ENGL 4073, HIST 4933, ASRC 4933) 
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.  
M. Schoolman 
W 2:30 - 4:25

This course draws together insights from the fields of historical and literary study to examine the multiple ways that English-speaking antislavery communities of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries both occupied space and used the literary as a site for utopian spatial imaginings.   In addition to an examination of such well-known spatial formulations such as Paul Gilroy’s “Black Atlantic” and David Brion Davis’s “Antislavery International,” we will read historical and literary accounts of smaller and more eccentric zones of abolitionist action, some of which are just beginning to receive scholarly attention, and others of which haven’t been objects of serious study since the 1970s. These topics include: the community of African-American activists and intellectuals that regularly traversed the Great Lakes for the purposes of political meetings and mutual aid; emigration schemes to Canada, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Liberia and elsewhere, initiated from multiple sources, both pro- and anti-slavery, black and white; the unlikely tropism of New England abolitionists toward the slaveholding and newly-free West Indies as a place for resting their tubercular lungs; the real and imagined forms of transit between and among Caribbean locales; and the paramilitary turn of the late 1850s, which saw abolitionists re-imagining US geography according to the strategic value of its sparsely-inhabited mountains and swamps.  Primary texts will include works by Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Martin Delany, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Josiah Henson, Joseph John Gurney, Herman Melville, James Redpath, Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Thompson, and Samuel Ringgold Ward, as well as the unique resources available through Cornell’s Samuel Joseph May Collection of abolitionist pamphlets.   Historiographic and literary critical texts will include works by Anna Brickhouse, Claude Clegg, Chris Dixon, Robert Fanuzzi, David Kazanjian, Robert Levine, Floyd Miller, Wilson Jeremiah Moses, Edward Rugemer, and Eric Sundquist among many others.

Martha Schoolman is Assistant Professor of English at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  She has published essays in the Arizona Quarterly and the collection American Literary Geographies. Her current project considers the geographic dimensions of US literary abolitionism.

SHUM 4934 Art Writing: Tracing the Visible

(also ENGL 4074, ARTH 4934, VISST 4934)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.   
M. Jacobus
T 12:20 - 2:15

‘Painting is, first, an affirmation of the visible which surrounds us and which continually appears and disappears’ (John Berger).

What makes us see (or not see) and what does Berger mean by ‘an affirmation of the visible’? This course will take a psychoanalytic, phenomenological, and philosophic lens to visual art and writing about it. Since Oedipus and the positing of castration anxiety, the founding myths of Freudian psychoanalysis have been concerned with the dynamics of sight and unseeing, looking and blindness, and the appearance and disappearance of the object. Lacan theorizes the Gaze; Merleau-Ponty explores the phenomenology of perception; Derrida posits the blindness that inhabits self-portraiture, Barthes and Benjamin reflect on photography as forms of seeing--subjective, technological, and historical--as well as the mark, the aura, and the trace.  Underlying each of these topoi are assumptions about the importance of perception and affect, and the means by which it is mobilized, interpreted, and historically located.

Seminars will cluster around selected aspects of the visual—including looking, knowing, facing, fearing, feeling, and writing—as represented in theory, painting, drawing, video-art, photography, and graphic art, including calligraphic art. Alongside the main texts, we will read psychoanalytically inflected art criticism and visual theory, including some notable examples of ‘art writing’, as well as writing in, or as, art, by critics like T.J Clark and Mieke Bal and theorists such as
Benjamin, Derrida, and Barthes who are noted for their interest in the visual. Seminars will include case-studies focused on selected artists and writers who have prompted significant re-readings and reinterpretations of the visual, or whose work engages theoretical and perceptual issues so as to mobilize new forms of seeing and meaning-making in their practice. This course will interest students who are interested in literary theory, visual theory and visual culture, as well as those primarily interested in the visual arts. 

Mary Jacobus is Grace 2 Professor of English and a Fellow of Churchill College. She came to Cambridge after twenty years teaching at Cornell University, where she was Anderson Professor of English and Women’s Studies; prior to crossing the Atlantic, she taught at Oxford. Her work is both literary and interdisciplinary, and is currently energized by the range of projects and disciplines represented at CRASSH.


SHUM 4935 Subjectivation as Mode of Production - Zola's Department Store

(also FREN 4935)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.   
S. Tsai
R 12:20 - 2:15 

We will inquire into the production of subjectivity, or rather, the production of mode of existence, in the reign of the Second Empire in France, based on Emile Zola’s novel Au Bonheur des Dames (1883). In Zola’s work, the Second Empire provides a perfect example to study how the reconstruction of the capital city, compounded by modernist technologies of vision and sound, had paradoxically extended the range of cultural mobilities, while the power structure of the empire tried to secure the control over the identification of individuals through regulations of immobility. Subjectivation as mode of production, a conceptual device developed by Zola and further elaborated into the critique of modernity by Foucault and Deleuze, evokes the genealogy of ethics and the production as a process of “becoming condition”. While Foucault stressed on the notion of modernity as an “attitude,” or a “mode of relation” in regard to “today,” Deleuze postulated that the question to be asked about the production of the subject needs to take into consideration every singular position taken in a specific way of seeing, speaking and acting. We will discuss Foucault and Deleuze’s ideas of the “fold” along with the theory of the “screen” and the notion of “simulacra” of Zola in the context of network/mobility. 

Shuling Stephanie Tsai, currently teaches as associate professor in the French department of Tamkang University in Taiwan. She chaired the department from 2001-2006 and established in 2001 a master program in French contemporary thoughts. She obtained the Ph.D degree in French Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with dissertation entitled “L’expérience de l’absence chez Maurice Blanchot: l’approche de l’ éloignement,” and taught, from 1986-90, as graduate teaching assistant (French 101-204). The major themes of her research have been anchored around the construction of subjectivity and the notion of “modernity”. Her research interest covers the most influential contemporary French theories and writers, such as Blanchot, Levinas, Deleuze, Kristeva and Duras. And her recent studies also inquire into the reception and the translation of French theories in Chinese.