Spring 2024

FRS 122
The Camera and Classical Art
Supratik Baralay

Ever since the invention of the camera, photographers have been compelled to photograph ancient Greek and Roman art. More recently, artists working with photography and writing have drawn on ancient Greek and Roman cultures to create sublime work that addresses utterly contemporary issues. In this class we will explore the almost two-century long interaction between photography and ancient Greek and Roman art.

HUM 349 / STC 350 / COM 374 / CDH 349                                                                           
Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence: Fiction, Technology, Storytelling
Andrea Capra
Artificial intelligence existed in fiction well before the first computer was built. In fact, storytelling and AI appear to be inseparable: apart from countless science-fiction works, stories ranging from mass unemployment to doomsday scenarios have become entangled with real-world AI and its development. This class studies some iconic representations of AI in the arts alongside non-fiction texts that shed some light on how AI works, its potentialities, limits, and biases. In so doing, we will make sense of the stories that we read about AI, and reflect on whether the former can teach us anything about the latter.

HUM 372 / HIS 378 / MED 372                                                                                                       
World Travelers in the Middle Ages
Matthew Delvaux    
The Middle Ages was a period of far-ranging travel, long-distance entanglements, and cultural hybridity. This course will study how geographers and travelers - including eco-travelers like crops and disease - encountered a world grown smaller through empires, trade, and migration, ca. 750-1250 CE. By gathering texts, artifacts, and art from regions often studied separately, this course will test the possibilities for defining a "global Middle Ages" and what that means for our understanding of globalization today. Includes visits from outside experts and trips to special collections.

HIS 474 / NES 474 / AFS 475                                                                                                                                      
Cultural History of the Modern Nile Valley
Lacy Feigh

From renowned artists to everyday artisans, cultural history provides a lens to view complex formation of societies, ideas, and identities. Spanning Egypt to Ethiopia this course takes the Nile Valley as its scope to break down boundaries between the Middle East and Africa. Rather, it is a useful place to examine the fluidity of cultural production, how it can be localized, nationalized, and globalized. Students will examine forces of imperialism, capitalism, nationalism and explore how 20th century states, empires, and individuals mobilized culture to create and challenge national identity and to articulate their own sense of place.

ANT 354 / HUM 373                                                                                                                                                          
Digital Anthropology: Methods for Exploring Virtual Worlds
Akil Fletcher

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, human experience has become heavily defined by our digital/virtual interactions. From Zoom calls and classes online to meeting up with friends in magical lands in video games, we have come to rely on digital technologies in ways rarely seen in the past. But how does one go about understanding our new digital condition? And how might one develop research around the many virtual worlds that have come to exist? This course is an anthropological exploration of the history of human interaction with the internet, social media, virtual worlds, and other forms of digital existence.

AAS 336 / GSS 408                                                                                                                                             
Racial Histories of Gender and Sexuality
Marcus Lee

Students will examine histories of and historiographical debates over sex and gender within Black communities. The following questions will orient the course: How have issues of sex and gender been articulated, used, or represented within the context of Black life? To what extent has the study of racialized gender/sexuality changed over time? Which methods have researchers taken up to pursue this line of research? And, what uses, limitations and ethical dilemmas do different modes of historical inquiry pose when deployed in the study of racialized gender/sexuality? Three subjects anchor the course: AIDS, the "closet," and gender mutability.

SPA 324 / LAS 391                                                                                                                              
Narco Aesthetics in Colombia and Mexico
Nicolás Sánchez-Rodríguez

This course explores the cultural productions surrounding narcos and cocaine in Colombia and Mexico, two countries whose imaginaries have become globally associated with drug trafficking. Beginning with the transformation of the coca leave into an illegal global commodity, passing through the emergence of the figure of the "sicario" in the 1980s, all the way to Netflix's 'Narcos' vision of the War on Drugs and cryptococaine, the course will engage critically with so-called narco-aesthetics in chronicles, movies, television series, short stories, podcasts, and art.

HUM 218 / 219                                                                                                                                                 
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: Literature and the Arts
Katie Chenoweth, Benjamin Conisbee Baer, Carolina Mangone, Simon Morrison, Bailey Sincox, Michael Wachtel
This team-taught double credit course examines European texts, works of art and music from the Renaissance to the modern period. Readings, lectures, and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, and special events. It is the second half of an intensive interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture that includes history, religion, philosophy, literature and the arts.

REL 326                                                                                                                                               
Buddhist Literature: Scripture in Stone

Jonathan Gold, Guy St. Amant
This course in Buddhist literature is centered around Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, from ninth century central Java, Indonesia. Borobudur's thousands of relief panels depict some of the most conceptually rich and historically important pieces of classical Buddhist literature. We will study this monumentalized literary corpus, and interrogate the choices made in representing Buddhist stories, principles and practices in different forms. And, we will place Borobudur in context, to develop broader understandings of the textual and physical worlds of premodern Buddhism across Asia.

HUM 234 / EAS 234 / COM 234                                                                                                                      
East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations

Ksenia Chizhova, Xiaoyu Xia
Second in the two-semester sequence on East Asian literary humanities, this course begins in the seventeenth century and covers a range of themes in the history, literature, and culture of Japan, Korea, and China until the contemporary period. Looking into the narratives of modernity, colonialism, urban culture, and war and disaster, we will see East Asia as a space for encounters, contestations, cultural currents and countercurrents. No knowledge of East Asian languages or history is required and first-year students are welcome to take the course.