2020 Spring

French 245A: Early Modern Affect: From Passion to Sensibility

Instructor: Professor Nicholas Paige

If the “affective” turn in the humanities can be seen (in part) as a reaction against conceptions of the aesthetic predicated on the disinterestedness of the ideal consumer of art, it’s also true that the disinterestedness associated with Kant was itself a turn away from a previously dominant understanding of art as precisely a cultivation of interest — with “interest” long meaning not mere curiosity but rather something on the order of heightened emotional involvement. This seminar takes as its subject early modern literature’s varying role in the production and regulation of emotion in its audience. Since we will be ranging over two centuries, one question we will return to is the extent to which we can separate Classical “passion” from Enlightenment “sensibility,” and how such a transition (if it exists) maps onto socio-political formations (court society, bourgeois domesticity) and contributes to the advent of a properly modern aesthetics. We’ll be reading widely in the history of emotions and aesthetics, and tackling the following texts: Corneille, Horace; Molière, Le Misanthrope; Racine, Bérénice; Lafayette, La Princesse de Clèves; Diderot, Le fils naturel and La Religieuse; Rousseau, Julie; Laclos, Les liaisons dangereuses. [more]

French C203: Comparative Studies in Romance Literatures and Cultures — The Learned Academies of Early Modern France, Italy and Spain and the Emergence of New Understandings of Language and Literature (1500-1800)

Instructor: Professor Déborah Blocker

This seminar comparatively investigates the major learned academies of early modern France, Italy and Spain (1500-1800), focusing specifically on their contributions to the development and study of vernacular languages, as well as as on their efforts to define and disseminate new understandings of what we now call “literature”. Early modern academies were institutions assembling a group of individuals desirous to engage in practices of learning, outside of a university setting. Some of these sodalities were heavily institutionalized, others were informal. Some were large, public and mostly subservient to political or religious power. Others were small, private and subversive. Their discussions focused on anything from music to physics or theology. But, in many of them, inquiries on language, rhetoric and poetics (i.e. “literary theory”) constituted a central preoccupation. Given these interests, and the fact that many of these institutions received princely protection, learned academies also played an important in the development of the early modern state — and in that of representations of nationhood more generally. Yet, academic networks, discourses and ideas also spread rapidly across borders, especially in the south of Europe, contributing to the rapid internationalization of new understandings of both language and literature. In this seminar, we will investigate the social, political and institutional history several of the most important of these academic institutions by reading both primary and secondary sources, with the aim of better understanding both their social practices and their intellectual productions. In the process, students will be introduced to the study of rare books and manuscripts produced within these institutions. In particular, we will ask how examining the materiality of these academic productions could help us better understand why and how linguistics and literary criticism began to emerge in the early modern period. We will also discuss the question of the extent to which the discursive practices and scholarly paradigms originally developed within early modern academies might continue to shape linguistic, literary and cultural studies to this day. [more]

History 280B: Sacrifice: A History of the Secular Imagination

Instructor: Professor Jonathan Sheehan

As practice and concept, sacrifice bridges and binds the sacred and secular. Libations to the gods, the sacrifice of Isaac, the Crucifixion, Arlington Cemetery, the martyrs of sect and nation, gifts and offerings, ethical relations — the terrain of sacrifice compasses the ancient and the modern, the religious and the political, the devotional and the profane. This course will explore, largely in the context of the modern Christian west (post-1500), the life and afterlife of sacrifice. The broad goal will be to develop an historical understanding of the relationship between what is usually taken to be a religious past and a secular present. Readings will include key works on the theory of sacrifice, some foundational texts from the ancient world (Greek, Roman, Christian), primary readings in early modern theology and biblical scholarship, early works in anthropology from the 17th- to the 19th-centuries, and key texts in political theology, as well as general theoretical literature on secularization and the secular. [more]

Italian Studies 248: Italy and the Republic of Letters: Cultural Exchange from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment

Instructor: Professor Diego Pirillo

Between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, European scholars envisioned themselves inhabiting an ‘imagined community’, a “Republic of Letters”, that transcended political and religious divisions and was bound together by the common desire to advance and spread knowledge. Modern scholars have variously described the “Republic of Letters” as the age of generalists and polymaths, who mastered ancient languages no less than mathematics and astronomy (Anthony Grafton), or rather as the “the age of eloquence,” when the recovery of ancient rhetoric promoted by Petrarch and Erasmus transformed and unified European culture (Marc Fumaroli). More recently, the new interest in social networks and digital humanities has led scholars to call for “a new Republic of Letters” and to investigate the impact of information technology on the study of texts and cultural memory, areas traditionally dominated by humanist scholars (Jerome McGann). In our seminar we will explore the “Republic of Letters” from its emergence during the Renaissance to its consolidation and crisis throughout the Counter-Reformation and the Enlightenment. In addition to a rich selection of texts from the Italian canon (including Aldo Manuzio, Galilei, Sarpi, Matteo Ricci, Elisabetta Caminer, Cesare Beccaria, Pietro Verri) we will also read a series of European authors who visited Italy or had a special influence on its intellectual life (Erasmus, Montaigne, Milton, Pierre Bayle, Diderot and D’Alembert). By reading early modern texts we will also investigate the different means of communication through which knowledge travelled across the ‘Republic of Letters’, examining how books interacted and coexisted with letters and journals within the same ‘information order’. Finally, the selected sources will also lead us to explore and question different methodologies (digital humanities, global history, newspaper and media studies, urban history, women’s studies, history of science) that are used today in early modern studies. Several classes will be held at the Bancroft Library to introduce students to the study of early printed books and to the rich collections available on the Berkeley campus. [more]