Spring 2020 FHI-Affiliated Courses
Whether you're a student bookbagging for the Spring 2020 semester, or simply interested in the range of courses taught by our faculty affiliates, enjoy exploring the list below!
Nature, Culture, and Gender
Understanding human identity through a consideration of its boundaries. What are the limits of the human in the context of the Anthropocene, an era defined by overwhelming human influence on the planet? What role can feminist and queer theory can play in understanding new formulations of "nature/culture"? What can gender studies contribute to techno-scientific understandings of a changing climate? We’ll take on these and many other questions through readings in literature and theory, and experiential learning with the Duke Campus Farm.
Literature and the World
The two strands of this course consider the question “what is a world?” The first will address the idea that art has a world-making capacity. To explore this idea, we will read twentieth-century novels including Huxley’s Brave New World; Orwell’s 1984; Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments; Joana Russ’s The Female Man; Naipaul’s The Mimic Men; Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room; and Aramh’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. We will analyze how worlds are constituted in them, and how the idea of a world is tackled. The second stand will be about the concept of “world literature.” In this exploration of world literature and the world-making capacity of literature, we will address these novels capacity not only to represent the experienced world, but also to interpret it; not only to interrogate how worlds have been conceived and made in different historical, geographical, and cultural contexts, but also to imagine new worlds in their specific cultural moment.
Major Figures in Feminist Thought: Jacques Derrida: Geschlecht
GSF 860S/LIT 760S
An examination of the thought of some of the significant figures in history who have been influential in the evolution of feminist thought and theory. These may include Derrida, Irigaray, Foucault, Freud, etc.
Introduction to Human Rights: Gateway for the Human Rights Certificate
CULANTH 104/ICS 113/PUBPOL 162/RIGHTS 104
This course introduces students to the field of human rights. The course has two primary purposes: to define and explore the key terms, concepts, foundations and theories of human rights; and examine alternative or competing definitions of rights using a case-based approach. This approach will include critiques of human rights, including from conservatives, nationalist and non-western thinkers. This design insures that students will see the connections between key rights ideas, like individual vs. collective rights, Western origins of rights concepts, humanitarian challenges, rights in the arts and visual culture and rights practice.
Imagining Human Rights
CULANTH 290S/ENGLISH 290S/HISTORY 190S/PUBPOL 290S/RIGHTS 290S
This class examines some of the historical roots of human rights ideas through the lens of speculative fiction. A central question is how the imaginary influences or presages the real, allowing us to experiment with what ifs and different notions of what constitutes a human and how they can inalienable rights.
For generations, writers have extrapolated from contemporary culture, science, and current events to ask what-ifs. What if, as in the case of Ursula Leguin,’s “The Ones who walk away from Omelas,” one child is designated to suffer to keep an entire community safe? What if, as in the case of M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts, the apocalypse is simply a beginning for a new kind of human with equal rights?
The notion of having rights and questions about different bearers of rights has long been rich fodder for writers and practitioners. For instance, it's hard to imagine the Universal Declaration of Human Rights without the work of HG Wells, an early science fiction superstar (The Time Machine, War of the Worlds). A number of rights scholars see a connection between his 1940 book Rights of Man and the idea of an international declaration of human rights. A number of Wells' ideas, included in the Sankey Declaration of the Rights of Man, were later drafted into the UDHR's final text.
We'll also be reading a number of influential women and writers of color and asking how their works bring in new dimensions of rights questions on marginalized communities. One thread will be the idea of utopia (where all rights are respected) in American history. Another will be how science and science fiction overlapped and combined at crucial historical moments (like the involvement of Werner von Braun, Germany's premier weapons and rocket scientist and an avid science fiction fan, in the US space race).
Students will work in Rubenstein's newly acquired Locus Archives, which is a rich source of primary documents on 20th century science and science fiction (many consider this the "the Golden Age") The archive helps show that this imaginary was international in scope, spanning writers from Eastern Europe, the U.S.S.R., China, and Japan. I will be asking students to write on this nexus of rights and the imaginary with a historical perspective.
AAAS 490S-01/CULANTH 490S-01/LATAMER490S-01/ROMST490S-01
This course focuses on the position of Blacks in the national histories and societies of Latin America from slavery to the present day. Emphasis is on an interdisciplinary engagement with issues and critical discussion of national images contrasted with the realities of blackness. We will explore the connections between race, gender, sexuality, and representation in national and transnational encounters and the consequences of the migration of people and ideas within the hemisphere. Countries to be explored include Cuba, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Mexico, Haiti, and Peru.
Race/Sex/Brazilian History and Society
This interdisciplinary course will examine the connections between race, sex, and gender in shaping Brazilian racial relations from slavery to the present day. We will explore the role of sex, deviance, and the body in shaping national identity and how Brazil is viewed from the outside. This course will include readings from anthropology, history, sociology, and literature as well film. Topics to be explored include slavery and colonialism, miscegenation, sexual tourism, prostitution, plastic surgery, and lesbian, gay, and transgender identities.
African Art: From Royal Court to Contemporary Medicine
AAAS 348/ARTHIST 345/ICS 223
Explores traditional, modern, and contemporary African art from the ever-shifting perspectives of prestige, power, and identity. The conceptual framework guiding this survey is both a broad introduction to the major artists and artworks of Africa across millennia, as well as probing specific questions about the changing definitions of African art, individual versus state identities in African art, and the impact of religion, colonization, and trade/commerce on African art.
The American Artist
This course utilizes art historical methodologies as tools for critical inquiry and scholarly research on a major American artist. Apart from a firm biographical and art historical grasp of the specific artist under investigation, this course develops visual literacy of American art through seeing and writing. An emphasis will be placed on improving various forms of written art discourse (i.e., descriptive, expository, interpretative, etc). This seminar requires students to conduct original research on selected artists and their works, and to present their findings in a scholarly, written format. The timing of assignments encourages students to submit and resubmit drafts of their scholarship, with the goal of improving one’s writing skills.
The subject of the Fall 2019 seminar The American Artist is Betye Saar. Betye Saar (b. 1926, Los Angeles, CA) is an American artist known for assemblage and collage works. With a found-object process like that of Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenberg, Saar explores both the realities of African-American oppression and the mysticism of symbols through the combination of everyday objects. “I'm the kind of person who recycles materials but I also recycle emotions and feelings,” the artist has explained. “And I had a great deal of anger about the segregation and the racism in this country.” Betye Saar was a central figure in the Black Arts Movement: a cultural phenomenon that, encompassing literature, popular media, the performing arts, fashion, and the visual arts, proclaimed a heightened racial consciousness and social activism among African Americans. During this period Saar's work tackles racism through the appropriation and re-contextualization of African-American folklore and icons.
Flaubert’s Brain: Neurohumanities
FRENCH 481/LIT 246/NEUROSCI 241
Consideration of `realist' fiction of Gustave Flaubert from social and cognitive neuroscience perspective. Investigation of implications of Flaubert's illustration of cognitive, affective, and somatic experiences of his characters, and his own experience, e.g. lapses of consciousness, convulsions, heightened emotions. Use of digital resources to chart emerging discourses and patterns in documentation of neuropathology, while attempting to define unique properties of fiction as literary "technology", e.g. by consideration of realist mimesis as analogous to mapping and other technologies documenting brain function/dysfunction. A preceptorial may be available for French majors/minors.
Academic Writing: Neurodiversity, Narrative, Activism
The neurodiversity movement challenges the assumption that there is only one “normal” or “right” way for a mind to think and develop. Neurodiversity recognizes the natural variations between brains as having the same value as biodiversity in advancing the progress of life. In this course, we will study neurodiversity to develop a critical perspective on our medical and cultural understandings of consciousness, psychology, and development. All kinds of mental disability and neurological difference are relevant to our theme, including intellectual and developmental disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, trauma, cognitive differences, variations in sensation and perception, and neurological impairments. We will read stories about mental disability, including both fiction (modernist literature) and nonfiction (contemporary personal narratives), to identify the ways that creative representation can revolutionize scientific understandings of human consciousness. We will read critical scholarship from the fields of disability studies and mad studies to understand these narratives in the context of social justice activism. This is not a course about “the brain;” it is a course about how our culture makes mental differences meaningful. Rather than pathologizing individuals, we will focus on the social structures that create psychological struggle, and the cultural conditions that make mental differences harder to live with.With our writing assignments, our ultimate goal is to use our skills of writing and storytelling to enact social change. Students will participate in a weekly Discussion Forum on Sakai to cultivate the skills of close reading, and engage in conversation with peers. The first major assignment will be a flexible-format activism project, in which students address a wider audience on campus to challenge the stigma of mental differences, and raise awareness about the cultural conditions that cause trauma. The second assignment will be a textual analysis (four to six pages) of one of the stories we read together as a class. For the final paper, you will convert one of your first two assignments into a critical essay (eight to ten pages) by incorporating a body of scholarship (a minimum of four critical sources, one of which will be a book). We will devote classtime across the semester to drafting, workshopping, and revising your writing. The course will train you to critically analyze texts and culture, to engage with research, to express yourself clearly, and to support your ideas effectively. It should appeal to students with an interest in service, activism, literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, race and gender studies, the history of medicine, psychology, sociology, and the neurohumanities. “Neurodiversity, Narrative, Activism” is a unique opportunity to connect meaningfully with your community and discover ways to make a difference. We will learn the value of neurological diversity and the power of story.
Ethics for Global Health Research
Course presents overview of practical and theoretical approaches to bioethics from a range of perspectives, including humanities, law, philosophy, medicine and science. Students apply various resources, terminology and frameworks to case studies, preparing them for their own research. Course includes IRB and responsible conduct of research.
ENGLISH 285/LIT 285/PHIL 285
Existentialism in philosophy and literature. Key themes will be existence, ethics, meaning of life, freedom, death, and writing. Texts may include writings by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Beauvoir, Fanon, Murdoch and others.
Wittgensteinian Perspectives on Literary Theory
ENGLISH582S/LIT 681S/PHIL 681S
Key questions in literary theory reconsidered from the point of view of ordinary language philosophy (Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, Cavell). Topics will vary, but may include: meaning, language, interpretation, intentions, fiction, realism and representation, voice, writing, the subject, the body, the other, difference and identity, the politics of theory. New perspectives on canonical texts on these subjects.
HISTORY 269/MEDREN 275
The era of the Tudors and the Stuarts (1485-1688) has been, from Shakespeare to Hollywood, the stuff of romance and myth: kings and queens such as Henry VIII (and his many wives), Elizabeth I, and Oliver Cromwell; major thinkers like Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, Robert Boyle, John Locke, and of course Shakespeare himself; major world-historical events including as the Wars of the Roses, the Reformation, the English Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, and the origins of transatlantic slavery and colonial empire in Ireland, the Americas, and Asia. It is no exaggeration to say this was a period that in many ways gave birth to many of our modern ideas about state and nation, corporations and capitalism, law, science, and culture. This course will examine all of these themes (and many more) through historical readings, film, satire, plays, art, novels, and original student-designed research — paying particular attention to the ways in which this period was responsible for the making of “Great Britain” and its relationship with Europe and the wider world, in the context of pressing issues today, from Scottish devolution to “Brexit.”
Bass Connections: Digital Durham
CMAC 758S/EDUC 356S/EDUC 758S/HISTORY 382S/HISTORY 758S/ISS 356S/ISS 758S/VMS 358S
Bass Connections course. Representing Durham past and present with digital media. Digitize historical and cultural materials, research in archives and public records and present information through various forms including web pages, databases, maps, video and other media. Analysis of social impact of new representations of place and space. Instructor consent required.
Marxism and Society
CULANTH 203/EDUC 239/LIT 380/POLSCI 371/SOCIO 339
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: Paradigms of Modern Thought
Periodizing the 1970s
This course will use Fredric Jameson’s essay, “Periodizing the 60s,” as a guide to study the subsequent decades, 1970s. Through the semester I hope that together we will be able to sketch some lines for understanding the decade from a global perspective. We will not approach this project with the disciplinary tools of historians but instead primarily read theoretical texts that help us frame the political and cultural significance of the decade. The 1970s are often thought of in terms of the birth of neoliberalism and the forms of repression following the revolutionary struggles of the 1960s. This is true, but I am equally interested in the development of revolutionary movements in the 1970s that extend beyond what was accomplished in the 1960s. It will difficult to select texts to read given all the possibilities. The syllabus might include, for example, Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex; Ulrike Meinhof, Everybody Talks about the Weather . . . We Don’t; Antonio Negri, Domination and Sabotage; Jean Genet, Four Hours in Shatila; some texts that engage the Allende government and the Pinochet coup in Chile; and Steve Biko, I Write What I Like.
Drawing as integrative tool where ideas and processes are explored and expanded through a variety of media. Still life, figure, landscape, architecture. Representation, abstraction, and working from imagination. Through problem solving within a range of projects, development of a visual language, and drawing skills to be applied to conceptual, visual, and technical disciplines.
Learning to Fail
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.
Mainstage Production: Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes
Fefu and Her Friends, one of the most beloved and influential plays of the late Cuban-American dramatist Maria Irene Fornes, tells the story of a group of fiercely intelligent and independent college-educated women in the early 1930s, who reunite at the home of one of their most dynamic and dramatic members, ostensibly to rehearse a presentation on women’s education but where the subjects discussed range from love, domesticity, trauma, the nature of existence, and mortality. A ground-breaking script in both feminist and environmental theater history, Fefu divides its audience into four groups who move to different locations in the theater to watch the performance. The show will be staged on the Reynolds Theater stage. Contact Jules Odendahl-James firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeff Storer email@example.com if you are interested in being involved in the performance or design/tech/staging of the show.