Fall 2020 FHI-Affiliated Courses

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Saskia Cornes teaching her Duke Immerse Course "Imagining the Future of Food." Photo by Dean Rhodes, 2018.
Saskia Cornes teaching her Duke Immerse Course "Imagining the Future of Food." Photo by Dean Rhoades, 2018.

One of the best ways for Duke University students​ to join the intellectual communities at the Franklin Humanities Institute is to take a class with one of our affiliated faculty! 

Check out the list of FHI-affiliated courses for Fall 2020 below.

FHI Faculty

Saskia Cornes

Environment in Lit, Law, & Sci
W 1:25PM - 3:55PM

Instructors: Saskia Cornes, Dan Richter, Priscilla Wald

Climate change, resource exhaustion, an increase in natural disasters: these, we are told, are problems with “the environment.” We are living, it seems, in the Age of the Anthropocene, when humanity has become a geological force. 

Terrorism, rising crime rates, unprecedented poverty and urban blight: these, too, are problems with “the environment.”  The world population has exceeded seven billion; we are putting increasing pressure on each other, as well as on our natural resources.

So what is this “environment,” and why does that question matter? How might a better understanding of how that term is circulating help us to move past our impasses and begin constructively to think about how to live more justly and effectively in our world?

This class will address that question by considering the very ground you’re standing on: the Piedmont, Durham, and most specifically the area surrounding the Duke Campus Farm.  Beginning with early settlement, when the earth began to get a history of its own, we will consider five historical moments—settlement; slavery, plantation culture and the Civil War; urbanization and modernization; the Civil Rights movement, and the present—to show how science, law, and cultural forms (literary works, films, political speeches, news media) contribute to the changing idea of “the environment.” 

We will trace the idea of the environment not only across time, but also across geographical space, as we consider how ideas travel through social, cultural, economic, agricultural, commercial, and other networks, shaping the ever-changing relationship between the local and the global. 

The environment prompts us to think of networks of ever-changing relationships across species and geopolitical boundaries, of ecologies and interdependence. We will consider the changing conceptions of “nature” and “the human” and consider how those changes in turn produce categories such as race, gender, and social class—how, that is, they shape humanity’s relationships to our surroundings and each other. 

This class will be “hands on,” using the space of the Duke Campus Farm to explore specifically the connections among science (geology, evolutionary biology, genomics), law and policy, and cultural forms.  Foundational to this class is the idea that literary and cinematic works and literary analyses of non-literary works, landscapes and objects can offer crucial insight into the pressing questions of our moment and should be a significant part of our ethical, legal, and policy debates concerning “the environment.”  The course begins with the assumption that literature, film and other artistic and cultural forms can help us see how our ideas circulate through language, images, and stories to shape our lived experience: specifically, our sense of “the environment.” We will consider how we are telling these stories through science, law, and policy as well as fiction, film, and the news media.  And we will consider how the story of “the environment” unwittingly shapes our approach to our surroundings.  Throughout the class, we will ask what alternative stories we might tell, and how they might affect the practice of science, law, and policy and lead to more productive debate and constructive change. 

There will be several written requirements for this class (two papers and a blog) as well as a collaborative class project involving Duke, Durham, and the surrounding area. 

Selected Topics in Women's Studies: Land and Literature
GSF  290S - 02
TuTh 10:05AM - 11:20AM

An exploration of literary representations of rural life and livelihoods, with a focus on the role of farms and farming in the American cultural imagination, from European contact to the present. The course will examine the exchange between cultural and agricultural practice, and the complex relationships between race, gender and the land. Readings will include literary and literary non-fiction writing by authors such as Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Laura Ingalls Wilder, John Steinbeck, Michael Pollan, and Octavia Butler.
Our guiding questions will be about how contemporary relationships to the land bear witness to the past, and about the possibility for new futures of food opened up by cultural forms. This seminar will complement field trips in California and North Carolina, and field experience at the Duke Campus Farm and other local farms. 

Open to students in the Duke Immerse program, Imagining the Future of Food.

Ranjana Khanna

First-Year Seminar on Literature: The Empire Writes Back
TuTh 1:25PM - 2:40PM

Twentieth-century literature from former European colonies often aimed to give life to minor characters or silenced figures who were nonetheless important in the novels of empire.  We will read British novels, some of which demonstrate the impossibility of thinking Europe without its relation to the countries it colonized.  And we will pair these texts with ones that write back, in creative and critical forms, to tell the other side of the story, or the voices or lives of characters that were not fleshed out in those earlier texts.   Do we understand the early novels as representative of a repressed interest in colonized figures, or as an inevitable presence in the fabric of the worlds represented?  And is the response combative or demonstrative of literary complicity in the recent history of the novel?

Duke Human Rights Center at FHI

Human Rights Certificate Courses
Robin Kirk

Human Rights in the Americas 
WeFr 11:45AM - 1:00PM

This course introduces students to the history of human rights in Latin America, with a focus on certain regions. We will begin with the Conquest and cover the emergence of independent nation-states; the role of imposed economic policies, including neoliberalism; indigenous protest movements and their relationships to corporate interests; and the influence of the United States on human rights, government formation, immigration and the drug trade. Instructor consent required.

Erika Weinthal

Israel/Palestine: Comparative Perspectives 
MoWe 10:05AM - 11:20AM

Instructors: Erika Weinthal, Rebecca Stein

Introduction to the Israel/Palestine conflict, studied through an interdisciplinary lens, including scholarship from the fields of anthropology, environmental studies, history, geography and cultural studies. Themes include: competing nationalisms, environmental politics and resource management, peace building, refugees and displacement, humanitarian crises and challenges, representational politics. Range of primary sources will be used including human rights reports and testimonials, natural resource policies, feature and documentary film, memoirs, political treatises, and maps.

From Slavery to Freedom Lab

Jasmine Nicole Cobb

Black Frame: African American Documentary Film 
Fr 10:05AM - 12:35PM

This course examines black documentary film by drawing on The Full Frame Archive Film Collection. The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is the largest film festival in the United States entirely devoted to documentary film. Students enrolled in this class will read canonic texts on the black documentary film, study camera techniques, explore the history of the Full Frame Festival, critique the role of race in social justice filmmaking and interact with documentary filmmakers.

Black Women, Black Freedom
Fr 1:25PM - 3:55PM

Examination of struggles for freedom, from nineteenth century through twenty-first, particularly through the lives of black women. Drawing on women’s history, literature, art, performance and critical theory, students interrogate meaning of various freedoms, including civic and sexual. Objective is to discern a working definition for “black freedom” by centering women in struggles for black liberation. 

Richard Powell

African American Art 
MoWe 10:05AM - 11:20AM

Emphasis on works derived from an Afro-United States cultural perspective. Major figures include Henry Ossawa Tanner, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Lois Mailou Jones, and others.

Outsiders and Insiders 
We 1:25PM - 3:55PM

An exploration of the phenomenon in Europe and the Americas during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when critics began to differentiate between art from learned, civilized communities and art from an uneducated, barbaric population. From the Beaux-Arts and lkerkunde, to the debates surrounding primitivism, modernism, and popular culture. An examination of the idea of an art hierarchy and other concepts of artistic outsiders and insiders from a variety of positions, taking into account nationality, class, literacy, economics, race, and gender in the categorization and evaluation of art.

Health Humanities Lab

Marion Quirici

Academic Writing: Disability and Democracy 

WRITING 101-14
Tu/Th 3:05PM-4:20PM

WRITING 101-15
Tu/Th 4:40PM-5:55PM

This course examines theories of democracy and citizenship alongside histories of exclusion and oppression on the basis of disability. Analyzing disability rhetorics, we will observe how disability injustice intersects with other forms of injustice including racism, sexism, anti-immigration sentiment, and economic inequality. People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, and also the most disenfranchised and impoverished. How have standards of fitness and ability limited disabled people’s inclusion in citizenship, education, and employment? How have eugenicist beliefs persisted in medicine? Analyzing cultural beliefs about disability as reflected in the media, the arts, the law, and even the built environment, we will ask critical questions about the state of our democracy, and envision a world where disability justice is possible.

Our course theme is interdisciplinary, and students are encouraged to pursue projects that appeal to your interests, whether those include the health sciences, law, politics and government, the social and behavioral sciences, education, architecture and engineering, business, or the arts and humanities. We will work with an assortment of texts, including critical essays by disabled activists, as well as representations of disability in literature, television, films, and the media. Our exploration of articles and essays addressing disability justice will prepare you to engage with current ideas and contribute to an ongoing conversation, both in speech and in writing.

In an online discussion forum, you will write responses to the readings and other course content across the semester, and interact with your classmates. The first paper is a textual analysis (four to six pages). You will choose a representation of disability from literature, film, television, advertising, or the media. Your final paper is a researched essay (six to eight pages). Our class discussions of a variety of subjects, from language to history, civil rights, the law, medical ethics, institutions, mental disability, chronic illness, race, and the constructed environment (infrastructure, buildings, transportation, public space, and technology) will help you define your topic. While our theme is interdisciplinary, our papers will follow the disciplinary conventions of cultural studies, which draws on diverse academic methodologies to generate integrated understanding of history, politics, and power.

We will devote classtime in the final weeks of the semester to drafting, workshopping, and revising your writing. You will work toward the final assignment with an annotated bibliography that summarizes your reading on the topic, a research statement that clarifies your argument, and a short class presentation. By taking this course, you will learn to enter into important conversations, support your ideas effectively, and to raise social consciousness.

PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge

Philip Stern

Reading Maps: Past and Present
Fr 10:05AM - 12:35PM

Instructors: Philip Stern, Edward Triplett

Reading Maps: Past and Present

This project-based course is to be taken only by students on the Bass Connections team, “Mapping History: Seeing Premodern Cartography through GIS and Game Engines.” More information on the team can be found here.

If you are interested in more information, please contact the instructors via email.

For several decades, scholars of historical cartography have heeded the call to “deconstruct the map”— to treat maps not as representations of the world as it was but as texts, which employ symbols, rhetoric and silences to make arguments about the world as the mapmaker wants it to be seen. Meanwhile, historians, literary scholars and others have applied computational analytics and machine learning to raise new questions about texts through techniques like text mining, XML encoding and data analytics. Bringing these two insights together, how might we “read” maps computationally without altering them to fit the constraints of machine readability?

What if we could climb into historical views of cities and experience the worlds they represent? How could we design digital methods and tools that reconstruct historical images like these in 3D even if they don’t correspond to modern ideas about mathematical perspective or gridded Cartesian space? This project team aims to do just that: develop a methodology that analyzes these maps and views through the process of clipping, modeling and reassembling them in the Unity Game Engine. This malleable software environment will be the aggregation and exploration point for data we create via image tagging, database building and 3D modeling. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and envision a team that includes students interested in fields as varied as history, art history, computer science, game design, urban studies and many others.

As a means of assessing the variety of city maps, views and panoramas created during the medieval and early modern period, a summer 2020 Data+ project will collect and mark up historical images of the cities of London and Lisbon for further analysis by the 2020-2021 Bass Connections team.

Project website; prototype 3D “playable” environments based on various sources, including the 16th-century Portuguese Book of Fortresses, as well as historical views of London and Lisbon; database of tagged images viewable in full resolution through a IIIF Storyboard image server.

Victoria Szabo

Historical and Cultural Visualization Proseminar 1
We 3:05PM - 5:35PM

Interactivity and online content management through databases, collaborative blogs, and other systems. Data visualization based on textual, image, and quantitative sources. Basic techniques for virtual reality, simulations, augmented reality, and game-based historical and cultural visualization project development. Mini-projects based on existing and new research data from the Smith Media Labs and other sources. Best practices for digital research project planning and collaboration. Theoretical topics include: critical digital heritage, virtuality and culture, information aesthetics, hypermedia information design. Instructor consent required.

Media History: Old and New 
ISS 268/VMS 266
Mo 11:45AM - 2:15PM

Development of various media forms in historical and social contexts. Impact of old "new" media on established art, commerce, education, politics, entertainment from 19th c. on. Changing ideas about authenticity, authority, agency, reception, identity, and power relating to emerging media forms, production, circulation. Overlaps, disjunctures, convergences, persistences and antiquations via case studies and examples. Technologies include print publishing, photography, audio recording, film, telegraph, maps, exhibitions, architecture and installations alongside contemporary web, multimedia, database, game, virtual reality, and telepresence systems. Final rich media research project required. 

Social Movements Lab

Michael Hardt

Marxism and Society
Mo/We 10:05AM-11:20AM

Introduction to Marx's core concepts, such as alienation, commodity, and revolution. Includes examination of Marx's own major historical & political analyses, his economic texts, and his philosophical writings. Students also gain familiarity with the role of Marxist thought in different fields and disciplines, including feminist theory, anthropology, history, political science, and literary studies.

Special Topics in Literature: Deleuze and Guattari
LIT 690S-02
Mo 1:25PM-3:55PM

This course will focus on a systematic reading of two books by Deleuze and Guattari’s: Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980).  Especially attention will be dedicated to the concepts that Deleuze and Guattari invent.  We will also track the dialogue with Michel Foucault that is embedded in these books.  Foucault’s History of Sexuality volume 1 (1976) will allow us to recognize the terms of this intellectual dialogue.


Amanda Starling Gould

Learning to Fail
I&E 252
Tu/Th 10:05AM-11:20AM

Instructors: Amanda Starling Gould, Aaron Dinin

Most people spend their lives afraid of failing. Yet, many of the world’s most successful people failed numerous times on their paths toward success. The underlying question of this class is if failing is as antithetical to learning as we’re taught to believe. To explore this question, we will test ways of using failure as a strategy for learning. We will experiment with failure to learn how it can make us better as we develop our skills as innovators, specifically focusing on the earliest stage of creativity: ideation. We will use failure through experimentation as a technique for problem definition and needs discovery which, in turn, will help us validate the quality of our ideas.

Jules Odendahl-James

Visual Cultures of Medicine
ISS 279/VMS346
We/Fr 11:45AM-1:00PM

Exploration of the visual culture(s) of medicine. The changing role of diagnostic visuality and medical imaging from various philosophical and historical perspectives. The connections between medical ways of seeing and other modes of visuality, photography, cinema, television, computer graphics. The circulation of medical images and images of medicine in popular culture as well as in professional medical cultures.