Spring 2014 Course Offerings

SHUM 4981 Occupy Their Desire

(also GOVT 4755, SOC 4980)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.  
J. Dean
R 10:10 – 12:05

How do collectivities desire? This seminar will approach this question from two directions: first, close readings of early twentieth century crowd theory (LeBon, Freud, Canetti, Tarde), contemporary discussions of riots, occupations, and networks (Badiou, Berardi, Guattari, Surowiecki), and recent developments in politically active art (Bishop, Thompson, Critical Arts Ensemble); and, second, a practical exercise in designing and carrying out an intervention. The two directions intertwine insofar as designing an intervention requires thinking through the flows and structures of desire as well as the sites of power. Our goal is to understand the crowd as a desiring political subject and to put this understanding to work in a political intervention.

In our initial meetings we will discuss different accounts of collective desire, the ways it is concentrated and transmitted, its multiple political valences, and the forms of power it contests or supports. We will consider whether there is an approach to the crowd that can avoid oscillating between the left’s tendency to view active collectivities as uniformly good and the right’s tendency to view them as uniformly bad. Seminar participants will be encouraged to share videos and images of crowds that can illustrate and extend our readings and discussions. Possible readings include: Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego; Tarde, The Laws of Imitation (excerpts; Canetti, Crowds and Power (excerpts); Lacan, “The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire” and “On Freud’s ‘Trieb and the Psychoanalyst’s Desire”; Lenin, “Left-Wing Communism: an infantile disorder”; Guattari, Molecular RevolutionCrowds, edited by Jeffrey Schnapp and Matthew Tiews (selections).

We will then consider strands of contemporary art—understood as a discourse, field, and practice of desire—that push against and contest the enclosure of art’s desire in the gallery and museum, an enclosure with disciplining and pacifying effects insofar as the crowd becomes audience and spectator. We will look at works that resist enclosure and participate in alternative occupations of the social. How effective can this art be in the context of communicative capitalism? Possible readings include: Crowds, edited by Jeffrey Schnapp and Matthew Tiews (selections); Critical Art Ensemble, The Electronic Disturbance; Claire Bishop, Artificial HellsLiving as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011, edited by Nato Thompson (selections); Liberate Tate (videos and blog); Chto delat (videos, newspaper, website). 

Jodi Dean is Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, where teaches courses in political theory, social theory, and contemporary media theory. She received her BA from Princeton University in 1984 and her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1992. She has authored or edited eleven books, including Solidarity of Strangers (University of California Press, 1996), Aliens in America (Cornell University Press, 1998), Publicity’s Secret (Cornell University Press, 2002), Zizek’s Politics (Routledge 2006), Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (Duke University Press, 2009), Blog Theory (Polity, 2010), and The Communist Horizon (Verso 2012). Dean is the co-editor of the international journal of contemporary theory, Theory & Event. In addition to her scholarly work, Dean is a collaborator with the Brooklyn-based art-activism collective, Not an Alternative.


SHUM 4982 Theorizing Refugees: Citizenship and Displacement in the Middle East

(also ANTHR 4082, GOVT 4686, NES 4982, SOC 4930, VISST 4982) 
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.  
D. Allan
R 2:30 – 4:25

This seminar will explore how anthropology, and related disciplines, approaches the study of people defined as exceptions within the political order of citizenship. ‘Refugees’, ‘migrants’, ‘asylum seekers’, ‘illegal aliens’ are the ‘in-between’ others who in their very existence challenge the limits of juridical nation-state definitions of citizenship. We will engage with political theorists who explore the political meanings and implications of refugees and “outsiders,” and reflect on how these distinctions and categorizations are made and with what effects. Readings trace the theoretical evolution of the refugee from abject other in need of therapeutic care to agent of political change, and tack back and forth between theoretical studies of citizenship and exclusion, humanitarianism and the biopolitics of refugee management and control, and “experience-near” ethnographies of refugee life. We examine how people experience displacement, confinement and exclusion; how home, community and belonging are (re)configured; and the phenomenology of exile. While the geographic focus of the course will be the Middle East, materials will be drawn from other areas as well.

Diana Allan received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University in 2008 and was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 2008 – 2012. She is also a filmmaker and the creator of the Nakba Archive and Lens on Lebanon. Her films have screened in international film festivals and as gallery installations, and her articles have appeared in the HumanityJournal of Oral HistoryQuaderni Storici, the Journal of Palestine StudiesCairo Papers in Social ScienceBidounArteEast and in edited volumes.  Her forthcoming book Refugees of the Revolution: Experiences of Palestinian Exile (2013), explores the contingencies of nationalism and everyday survival in Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut.

SHUM 4986 Art, Economy, Spectacle

(also VISST 4986, ASIAN 4486)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.   
P. Erber
T 2:30 – 4:25

The course approaches the emergence of contemporary art in the late twentieth century from the perspective of its relationship with the culture industry and, more broadly, with the capitalist economy. We will explore articulations and intricacies of art as a mode of occupation of time and space with the spheres of labor and leisure in the contemporary world. Topics for discussion include contemporary art and contemporaneity; the commodification of the art object; matter, materialism and dematerialization; aura and fetish; spectacle, spectatorship, and participation; mimesis, fiction, and counterfeiting; artistic practice between work, labor, and praxis. Readings and visual materials range from Marx’s Capital to Cildo Meireles’ Insertions into Ideological Circuits, from Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacleand Theodor Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory to Akasegawa Genpei’s 1,000 Yen Note Model and Alexander Alberro’s Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity.

Pedro Erber is Assistant Professor of Brazilian Studies in the Department of Romance Studies at Cornell University. His research and teaching interests are in the fields of Brazilian, Japanese, and comparative intellectual history, literature, political theory, and visual arts. He received his Ph.D. in Asian Studies in 2009 from Cornell University and was Assistant Professor of Brazilian Studies at Rutgers University from 2009-2011. He is the author of Política e Verdade no Pensamento de Martin Heidegger (PUC-Rio/Loyola, 2003) and has recently completed a book manuscript entitled Breaching the Frame: Contemporaneity and the Margins of Art. He has published in DiacriticsLuso-Brazilian Review, ARTMargins, Folha de São Paulo, and Revista Poiesis, among others.

SHUM 4987 Capitalism's "New Era"? Materialism, Enclosure, and the Body Politics of the Present

(also ENGL 4987, COML 4023)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.   
J. Rosenberg
M 12:20 - 2:15

How do we determine when the present has become the future?  What are the markers by which we come to feel that we occupy a moment that has broken off in some significant way from the past?  What is the relationship between the intensifying enclosures of capitalist accumulation – of land, of the working day, of the body’s productivity – and recent claims, such as Eugene Thacker’s announcement of capitalism’s “new era,” about the imminent overcoming of capital’s logic and demands?  This seminar will focus these questions to ask how thought about the body and materiality grapples with periodizing the present.   Our focus will be on linking theories of sexuality with theories of capital accumulation and enclosure, and our wager will be that conceptions of embodiment, desire, materiality, and our relation to the object world shift in relation to the changing landscape of enclosures and dispossessions wrought by capitalism. We will study two historical periods of intensified accumulation/enclosure: the early modern period described by Marx as one marked by “primitive accumulation,” and the late-20th/early 21st-century marked by what David Harvey calls “accumulation by dispossession.” 

We will seek to develop fluency in a number of theoretical traditions: political-economic thought on accumulation and enclosure, (Samir Amin, Jairus Banaji, David Harvey, Rosa Luxemburg, Marx, E.P.Thompson, E. Anwar Shaikh, Neil Smith), the “decoding” of primitive accumulation and theories of flows/desire (Deleuze and Guattari), theories of resistance/revolutionary violence that includes traditional communist/socialist thought as well as recent work in communization theory/insurrectionist thought (Endnotes, Fanon, Hardt and Negri, C L R James, Linebaugh, Theorie Communiste, Alberto Toscano,  Paolo Virno), conjunctural theories of sexuality (Berlant, Butler, Foucault, Floyd, Munoz), and theories of mediation (Adorno, Althusser, Benjamin, Galloway, Jameson, Lukacs).

Jordana Rosenberg is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.  Rosenberg is the author of Critical Enthusiasm: Capital Accumulation and the Transformation of Religious Passion (Oxford UP, 2011), as well as the co-editor (with Amy Villarejo), of “Queer Studies and the Crises of Capitalism” (GLQ 18.1, 2012), and (with Chi-ming Yang), of “The Dispossessed Eighteenth Century” (The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, forthcoming 2014).  Rosenberg’s current book project is titled Apertures of Enclosure: The Form of Dispossession in the Ages of Finance, and articles appear or are forthcoming in Radical History ReviewThe Eighteenth Century: Theory and InterpretationGLQEnglish Literary History, and The Blackwell Companion to GLBT/Q Studies Reader. Rosenberg is the recipient of an Ahmanson-Getty Fellowship from the Center for Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies at UCLA, as well as a Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Award, the Catherine Macaulay Prize, and a William Andrews Clark Memorial Library Joint Fellowship Award.

SHUM 4988 Cinema and the Time of Occupation: The Situationists and the Films of Guy Debord

(also VISST 4988)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.  
J. Smith
M 2:30 – 4:25

This course will be devoted to a study of the political thought and artistic practices of the Situationist International (1957-1972), with a particular emphasis on the question of the cinema. Recent scholarship on the S.I. has paid particular attention to the organization’s early emphasis on the contemporary spectacular city and the types of spatial practices that might disrupt its logic of “occupation.”  This course will instead emphasize the way film and the cinema form a central, if often neglected, concern of the S.I. from the very first issue of their journal; this emphasis on the cinema will in turn allow us to highlight the way in which the focus on spatial practices emphasized by recent scholarship can be supplemented or challenged by paying underlining not only to the role the S.I. accords the cinema in its conception of artistic practice, but to the films of Guy Debord as well. Taking as their central theme the spectacular city – exemplarily, Paris – these films, rarely seen and the subject of little critical commentary, present the city in thoroughly temporal terms, namely as an articulation of the linear time of production and “pseudo-cyclical” time of consumption and the reproduction of class power. In doing so, I argue, these films present themselves not simply as an analysis or diagramming of the temporal logic of the city, but as one way to disrupt this time as well, in view of the construction of a temporal “situation” or a properly revolutionary time.

Jason E. Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Art program at Art Center College of Design. His writing and research is largely concerned with contemporary art and aesthetics, modern continental philosophy (Spinoza, Hegel, 20th century), and post-1968 political thought (primarily French and Italian). He is currently working on two projects: Styles of Negation, a monograph on the films of Guy Debord, and Alain Badiou and the Specter of Leftism, a book on the political thought of Alain Badiou from 1969 to the present. He has published in ArtforumCritical InquiryGrey RoomParrhesia, and Radical Philosophy, among other places. He co-edited and introduced, with Hasana Sharp, Between Hegel and Spinoza (Continuum, 2012) and recently published, with Jean-Luc Nancy and Philip Armstrong, Politique et au-delà (Galilée, 2010). His translation of and introduction to Alain Badiou and Élisabeth Roudinesco’s Jacques Lacan, Past Present will appear with Columbia University Press in 2013. He also serves on the editorial board of the journal Décalages.


SHUM 4989 Sovereignty Under Military Occupation

(also ASIAN 4496, COML 4024, GOVT 4656)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to 15 students.  
A. Shimabuku
R 12:20 – 2:15

Schmitt was very clear: sovereignty rests on no solid ground; it is fabricated through practices of occupation. Under the jus publicum Europaeum, this occurred in the occupatio bellica of European states through war, and occupatio of the colonies through discovery. However, as these two collapsed into one during the postwar era, geopolitics became witness to an unprecedented expansion of U.S. military bases globally that blurred the boundaries of territorial sovereignty. In particular, as the new global order shifted from the trans-Atlantic to the trans-Pacific, the U.S. attempted to fill the vacuum left open by the Japanese Empire with a network of U.S. military bases that leeched onto the previous imperial infrastructure even as the U.S. justified its advance with anti-colonial rhetoric. As a result, sovereignty was “restored” to many areas in the Asia Pacific, but only to the extent that it guaranteed the presence of U.S. military bases. What emerged was a transnational network of sovereignty that operated under the cover of individual nation-states. This Empire of military bases—not colonies—necessitated new biopolitical technologies for managing a transnational population whose colonial memories, racially mixed bodies, and otherwise displaced existences were exiled into an extralegal sphere by this new network of sovereignty. After touching upon the American “failure” in Iraq, this seminar uncovers the secret of what has been canonized in American history as a model of “success”—the Allied occupation of Japan—by probing into the metaphysical and performative aspects of sovereignty, examining the role of the globalized economy plays under occupation, and reconsidering Euro-centric notions of the postcolonial so as to appreciate the U.S. military’s renewal of Japanese imperial formations in the postwar era. We will read from Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Leo Ching, Grace Cho, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Hardt/Negri, Chalmers Johnson, Immanuel Kant, Medoruma Shun, Naoki Sakai, Sakiyama Tami, and Carl Schmitt.

Annmaria Shimabuku is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Languages at UC Riverside. She finished A.B.D. in the Department of Sociology at the University of Tokyo in 2004, and received her Ph.D. in East Asian Literature from Cornell University in 2010. She has published numerous academic and newspaper articles in Japanese on postcolonialism within the context of Japanese Empire, the gendered effects of the U.S. military in Okinawa, and the biopolitics of U.S.-Okinawan miscegenation. Her English articles have appeared in Política ComúnThe International Journal of Okinawan Studies, CR: The New Centennial ReviewThe Asia-Pacific Journal, and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies as well as edited volumes. She is currently finishing her book manuscript, Securing Okinawa for Miscegenation: Specters of Sovereignty in the Transnational Empire of the U.S. and Japan.


SHUM 6819 Home and the World: Urban Representations of Harlem and the South Bronx

(also ARCH 6819, ASRC 6819)
Spring.  4 credits.  
Limited to fellowship recipients.  
N. Rooks, M. Woods 
W 10:10 – 12:05

This seminar is a cross disciplinary engagement with questions of urban representation across the humanities and design disciplines. Harlem and the South Bronx, two places that loom large in local and global imaginaries, are the sites for these explorations. The seminar creates a space for collaborations between graduate students from Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) and humanities students in Arts and Sciences (AS). It provides them with the digital, intellectual and theoretical tools for understanding both historical and contemporary issues involved with representation in the urban environment.

The class relies extensively on collections in Olin Library and the Johnson Museum of Art, and will include workshops on new and established digital tools such as text mining, data visualization and mapping, as well as oral history and ethnography to represent and problematize these two urban environments. It will also include faculty from various disciplines in (AAP) and (AS) as well as professional staff from the library and museum. Known as Mellon Urban Fellows, the students selected will receive $1,000 in research funds to support their final projects.   Advanced undergraduate students may apply, but preference will be given to graduate students.

During the semester we will focus on various methods of making, collecting, exhibiting, and studying urban representations in Harlem and the South Bronx over time and space.  Flows and migrations of the local outward and the global inward through wordscapes, imagescapes, and soundscapes will also be examined.  Our aim is for students to leave the class with a set of intellectual and digital tools which will inform their individual, intellectual and professional trajectories beyond the conclusion of the course.

Given the collaborative and interdisciplinary thrusts of the seminar, we imagine that rather than simply writing papers, students will bring their research, analysis, and methods to bear on final projects that involve in-depth explorations of the seminar themes using the digital and other skills they have acquired in the seminar.  These might be either individual or collaborative projects grounded in humanities research and methods as well as design and creative arts such as oral histories; mapping; site-specific installations; online sites; sonic soundscapes; still and video projects; and campus and community symposia or exhibitions.