2015 Fall

Comp Lit 215 and German 201B: Image and Imagination in Early Modern Literature

Instructor: Professor Niklaus Largier

Focusing on the history of iconoclasm, images, practices of figuration, and the imagination, this course will trace key aspects of the literary and intellectual history from the 16th to the 17th century. Readings will include key texts by Luther and the radical reformers; Ignatius of Loyola and his influence; the figure of the fool; the emblem tradition; as well as representatives of 17th century baroque drama, poetry, and mysticism. [more]

English 250, section 1: Literature of the English Revolution

Instructor: Professor Joanna Picciotto

We will track the controversies that dominated public life in the generation before the outbreak of war (with particular emphasis on the Martin Marprelate phenomenon and the furor excited by the "Book of Sports"), explore the textual remains of social movements made possible by the abolition of monarchy (with emphasis on the Diggers and the Levellers), and closely read the first books of poetry written in the aftermath of the invention of the newspaper. We will also read a fair amount of secondary literature. Each student will give a brief in-class presentation and produce a research paper. [more]

English 250, section 4: John Donne and T.S. Eliot: Lyric Poetry and Society

Instructor: Professor David Marno

“Permit me to repeat,” Adorno writes in his celebrated essay on lyric poetry’s relationship to its context, “that we are concerned not with the poet as a private person, not with his psychology or his so-called social perspective, but with the poem as a philosophical sundial telling the time of history.” In this course, we read the poetries of John Donne and T. S. Eliot to see how (or indeed whether) they tell the time of history. To raise the stakes of this exercise, we will focus on Donne’s Holy Sonnets and Eliot’s Four Quartets, ie. poems that share an investment in religion but were written under markedly different circumstances. [more]

French 245B: The Epistolary Novel: From the Canon to the Archive

Instructor: Professor Nicholas Paige

The epistolary novel is a particularly curious literary artifact: unlike the third-person and the first-person novel, which have historically proven to be robust and adaptable forms, the letter novel enjoyed a spectacular if relatively brief moment of hegemony before fading into quaintness. [more]

History 280B: Microhistory and Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe

Instructor: Professor Peter Sahlins

This graduate seminar considers several topics in the study of European popular culture(s) during the long early modern period (14th-19th centuries), relying on the methodologies of microhistory. In an age that increasingly values “Big History” and “The Long Duration,” this course focuses on a methodological approach widely practiced since the 1970s that seeks to make sense of discrete and unusual moments (often scandals or judicial trials) in the lives and activities of a single person or small group of people who have been marginalized in more traditional accounts of early modern European history. Focusing on the lives, beliefs, and behaviors of (mostly) marginal people in peripheral places, microhistorians seek to uncover the everyday worlds of ordinary people in a society transformed by religious reformation, the rise of literacy, the growth of state power, and economic transformation. [more]

History of Art 236: Theorizing the Global Early Modern, South Asia 1550–1850

Instructor: Professor Sugata Ray

The recent past has seen a renewed scholarly focus on the mobility and global circulation of people, objects, and ideas across the early modern world. Historians have now come to understand the early modern as fundamentally transcultural, a form of “globalization” before modernity. But what role did early modern trade networks and diplomacy, commodities and consumption, warfare and intrigue play in the production of objects? How did technology transfer reshape aesthetic taste? Conversely, in what ways did material objects participate in the development of the global early modern as a political, social, and intellectual condition? With these questions in mind, we will closely focus on one object each week to generate a theory of things circulating across the early modern world. [more]

History of Art 262: Human Nature: Between Medieval and Modern

Instructor: ProfessorsBeate Fricke and Elizabeth Honig

What is Mankind? How are we placed in the cosmos; what constitutes the fundamental nature of our being; and in what ways can we be elevated, inspired, socialized, and corrupted? Our ways of answering these questions are said to have undergone a fundamental shift with the advent of renaissance humanism. This course investigates the nature and extent of that shift, and asks which areas of thinking about mankind were more, and less, altered at the dawn of the modern period. [more]

Italian Studies 215 : Ariostan Histories: From Romance to Epic to Novel

Instructor: Professor Albert R. Ascoli

Our aim will be to situate Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, the most widely read literary text of the sixteenth century, at a pivotal place within an array of literary, cultural, and socio-political histories. Most prominently, from a literary-historical point of view, the Furioso may be situated within two genealogies that are often read in opposition to one another: the Renaissance recuperation of classical epic poetry in the Virgilian (and Homeric) mode through a filter of chivalric romance (culminating in Tasso and Milton), and the early modern passage from romance, novella, and other late medieval genres to what would become the literary genre par excellence in centuries to come, the novel (the first great exemplars being Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel and Cervantes’ Don Quixote). [more]

Political Science 211: Special Topics in Political Theory: The Civil Law

Instructor: Professor Daniel Lee

This course investigates the ‘Civil Law’ or the jus civile, the legal order first established by classical Roman jurists and codified in uniform textual form by the Emperor Justinian known collectively as the ‘Body of Civil Law’ [Corpus Juris Civilis]. Hailed variously as ‘the written embodiment of reason’ and ‘the true philosophy,’ Civil Law was foundational to Western jurisprudence and political thought, and its influence was particularly important among early modern theorists of rights and the sovereign state. [more]

Political Science 212B: History of Political Thought: Early Modern (Renaissance to French Revolution)

Instructor: Professor Kinch Hoekstra

In this iteration of the course in Renaissance and Early Modern Political Thought, we will focus on a close reading of The Elements of Law (1640) by Thomas Hobbes. This work has a similar range to that of Hobbes's 1651 Leviathan, though with much less attention to theological and ecclesiastical matters. The earlier weeks of the course will be devoted to a consideration of background materials that are also of intrinsic interest, including Jean Bodin's Six Books of the Republic. [more]

Spanish 280, section 2: Colonial technologies

Instructor: Professor Ivonne del Valle

Recent work of environmental historians has demonstrated how Spanish America underwent drastic changes during the colonial period. From the desertification of 20% of what is now Mexico to the traces of pollution found in the ice caps of the Andes due to mining, it would appear that, since the 16th century, the relationship between technology and economic activity had a detrimental impact on the “New World” natural environment which is only now beginning to be studied. [more]

Spanish 285: Poetics of the Transatlantic Baroque: Sor Juana, Severo Sarduy, and José Lezama Lima Read Góngora

Instructor: Professor Emilie L. Bergmann

Góngora's Soledades and Sor Juana's Primero sueño exemplify the ruptures and continuities in concepts of language and mind. Our readings will frame these poems, as well as sonnets and romances, in terms of philosophical perspectives, visual culture, and sonorous structures in the Baroque, and Neo-Baroque readings of Caribbean writers. [more]