Revolutions that Changed the World
This course examines revolutions that have greatly affected societal change. It studies the causes and consequences of these revolutions. It takes into consideration the transformation they cause of economic, social, and political systems.
- Said Amir Arjomand, The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran. ISBN:0195042581.
- David Armitage and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, eds., The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, c. 1760-1840. ISBN: 0230580475.
- John Foran, ed., Theorizing Revolutions. ISBN: 0415135680.
- Ruth Rosen, The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America, rev. ed. ISBN: 0140097198
- John Springhall, Decolonization since 1945: The Collapse of European Overseas Empires. ISBN: 0333746007.
- James D. Tracy, Europe’s Reformations, 1450-1650: Doctrine, Politics, and Community. 2nd ed. ISBN: 0742537897
Theories of Technological Change
This course will provide students with a set of frameworks to examine some characteristic social patterns that emerge when new technologies are developed and implemented. Different historical cases will be analyzed to demonstrate different use patterns of technology in different fields of human endeavor including education, health, the home, and the military. We will also look at examples of technology adoption and non adoption at the state, the organizational, and the domestic level.
- Booth, W. et al. (2008). The craft of research, 4th edition. University of Chicago Press. (ISBN: 978-0226239736)
- Matthewman, Steve. (2011). Technology and social theory. Palgrave Macmillan. (ISBN: 978-0-230-57757-2)
- Bobrow-Strain, Aaron. (2012). White bread: A social history of the store-bought loaf. Beacon Press. (ISBN: 978-0-8070-4467-4)
History, Culture, and Politics of the 1960s
The 1960s is a decade that still looms large in the American psyche. From the war in Vietnam to the rise of the counterculture movement to the struggle for social justice and civil rights, the period continues to capture the public’s imagination as a period of immense political, social, and cultural tumult. This class examines the “long” 1960s and situates this pivotal period within the larger context of post-war America, a time when Americans wrestled with issues of profound national importance and when American values and the American way of life were not only severely challenged – both at home and abroad – but subject to sweeping transformation. This course will explore this volatile and highly important period predominantly through the lens of American politics, society, and culture. However, it will situate the profound changes in America’s political, social, and cultural landscapes within the context of a wider world, touching upon the nation’s role as a global superpower and exploring issues.
David Farber. The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s. New York: Hill and Wang, 1994.
Modern Ethnic Literature
T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst RU-JBMDL Hybrid Section)*
According to the most famous first-person account of slavery in the eighteenth century, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (1789), many Africans’ first encounter with Europeans may have went something like this: “The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship. … I was now persuaded that I gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions too differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke, which was very different from any I had ever heard, united to confirm me in this belief” (55). As suggested by Equiano, alien environments, technology, language, and body forms are nothing new to black experience and writing. Far from the exception to the rule, an encounter with the fantastic might be one of the foundational tropes of black expression in the New World.
Mindful of such important historical precedents, this course is an exploration of science fiction (broadly conceived) produced by people of African descent in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Organized around units that derive from fairly established sci-fi concerns – time travel, dystopia, and space adventure, for example – it surveys how a speculative aesthetic has animated black cultural production. Though the course’s main archive will be written texts, it will also gesture towards the wider impact of the fanciful in such mediums as film, music, and clothing.
Love Story in Contemporary Literature
Description: This course takes the contemporary love story in film and literature as its focus to examine how writers and filmmakers around the world have used the couple as a means to examine cultural, historical, political, and social tensions. A time-honored tradition, the love story traditionally underscores the values of a culture, but as revisionist approaches emerged in the 20th century, it increasingly became a genre for foregrounding conflicts between ideologies and individuals. This course will draw on a range of methodologies – feminism, queer theory, postcolonial studies, among others – to understand both the texts and the national traditions out of which they emerge. The relationship between literature and history also will be emphasized to show how art reflects the era of its creation by fostering a dialogue with it. Throughout the course, we seek to develop key skills of close reading, argumentation, and critical writing for appreciating what narrative is and its relevance to our everyday lives.
Disney Films: Analyzing Adaptations
This course surveys films made by Disney based on fairy tales, myths, and books from around the world. Special attention is paid to adaptation theory, including work by Hutcheon, Stam, Zipes, and Leitch. In addition, students will be introduced to the major schools of interpretation, including formalism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, postcolonialism, feminism, queer theory, and cultural studies.
This class is dedicated to advancing the conceptual and practical uses of digital media in a fine arts context. Focused on a nexus of theory and studio-based work, the course utilizes much of the technology already available in our day-to-day lives to make video art, mash-ups, interactive media and web based artworks. New Media Art also offers the opportunity to actively participate in the innovations that are the hallmark of this new medium while tracing the historic significance of computing, hacktivism and shared interfaces. Students need no prior background in art to take this class.
Conceptual Art: Strategies and Movements
In sentences 2 and 3 from Sentences on Conceptual Art, Sol LeWitt states: “Rational judgments repeat rational judgments. Irrational judgments lead to new experience.” In this class, we will create artistic works and learn about the nature of innovation by tracing the dematerialization of the art object through the history of Western art in the twentieth century.
Some of the conceptual strategies we will explore in Conceptual Art: Strategies and Movements include recontextualization, generative processes, frottage, performative actions, and site-based intervention. You will also learn how to write critique statements, give online presentations on current and historical works, and present your own projects within a formal critical structure.
This course is designed to allow students to plumb their own lives for subject matter for short stories or essays. The four subjects we’ll tackle are childhood, travel, grief, and work, but these subjects are broad enough that they welcome other topics into their scope. For instance, when considering travel, we might think about food, international norms, or the sad state of the airline industry; when we write about work, we might write about our houses, our hobbies, our loves. Each unit contains a lecture, several mandatory readings, a few suggested readings and/or videos (which are designed to help inspire you to write your weekly submission), and a mandatory discussion forum, in which you must respond to the readings and to one another’s posts). Graduate students are responsible for one six-nine page submission weekly, and undergraduates are responsible for four-seven page submissions.
Methods of Fiction is a workshop designed for every writer – from novice to well-practiced – interested in strengthening his or her short stories and novels. We will investigate the foundations of fiction: character, plot, dialogue, and setting, and practice by submitting our own short works. We will complement our writing with the discussion of memorable contemporary short stories.
From Bop to Pop: History of Jazz
From Bop to Pop: History of Jazz is a graduate course designed to introduce and survey the origins of jazz from New Orleans to the music of today. Topics covered will trace the social and historical context that gave birth to jazz styles as well as the related genres and musical inventions. From Dixieland and Folk to Big Band to Rock, students will investigate landmark artists, songs, and movements, which explore the connections between the music they listen to and the artists who have pioneered that progress.
The Collapse of Complex Civilizations
For the last several years, and with increasing frequency, environmental, economic, and socio-political disasters have dominated the news. Almost every day there is a new story about the Global Economic Crisis and the state of the American economy. Is this just a case of history repeating itself?
In this course, we will ask what, if anything, can we learn from the rise and fall of past civilizations, and is this knowledge applicable to developments in modern society? Using concepts from sociology, economics, history, anthropology, and archaeology, we will analyze examples of societal collapse, such as the civilizations in ancient Egypt, Greece, the Maya, and the early Middle Ages. These will then be used to analyze current events in Europe and the America in light of the lessons of the past.
Politics of Terrorism
An analysis of the use of terror as a form of political expression and strategy. The course will investigate terrorism from institutional and historical perspectives, focusing on the level of threat to the United States from domestic terrorists and Al Queda, as well as tactics, weapons, aims, and the rationality of terror. Other topics include state-sponsored terrorism, and the consequences and tactics of counter-terrorism.
Empire and Decolonization
This interdisciplinary class will provide an overview 20th century from the perspective of collapsing empires and the resulting political, social and economic changes. Adding a non-Western perspective to this topic, this class will highlight the efforts and failures of colonized peoples to achieve independence through various means, including violence, protest andnegotiation. By highlighting the intersection of the Cold War and decolonization, this class will provide an examination of the limitations and constraints newly independent countries, peoples and groups faced and the varied responses to these challenges. After a brief overview of the world before 1945, it will examine the rise of the United States and Soviet Union before highlighting Asian, Latin American and African responses to both decolonization and the Cold War. It will utilize primary source accounts,fictional readings and newly published overviews and will also include the development of a student research paper.
Todd Shepard, Voices of Decolonization
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer
Dane Kennedy, Decolonization a Short History
56:606:622 Middle East History and Politics
Description: The history and politics of the Middle East are more important today than ever before, yet are widely misunderstood or mischaracterized. This course focuses on events and dynamics from the 19th century to the present, and how they affect the wider world. Topics include: religious schism; European imperialism; political Islamism; the Arab-Israeli conflict; and the Arab Spring. We will examine these and other issues from a variety of perspectives.
Gender, Sexuality, and Religion
This class looks at the ways that women have been portrayed and treated in the myths, symbols and rituals of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (with options to explore other religions as well). We will examine how these traditions’ views of the body, nature, sexuality, the sacred, and the divine affected each others. We’ll look at the tradition of Goddess worship that was supplanted by the major western religions and why it has enjoyed a resurgence among some people today. We’ll discuss the question of whether elements of these religions are sexist and/or homophobic and whether they contribute to oppression of women and LBGT people. We will consider suggestions various sources about how to make religious stories and rituals more welcoming of people regardless of gender or sexuality.
Democracy: Ancient and Modern
People cite it, refute it, debate it, fight and die for it, but what is democracy? This seminar ventures an interdisciplinary investigation of democracy, both ancient and modern, its origins, history and evolution, and legacy. This course will draw on a variety of evidence, from the archaeology of Classical Athens to modern political thought. Students will then lead discussions that focus on detailed examination of democracy. Topics will include an analysis of democracy’s diagnostic features, diachronic changes in democratic values and processes, an evaluation of the influence of ancient democracy on the earliest modern democratic systems (USA 1776, France 1789-93, Greece 1821-1830), and the variant forms of its modern revival.
Myth and Meaning in America
“In a fractured age, when cynicism is a god, here is a possible heresy: we live by stories, we also live in them. One way or another we are living the stories planted in us early or along the way, or we are also living the stories we planted—knowingly or unknowingly—in ourselves. We live stories that either give our lives meaning or negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives” That is African novelist Ben Okri, but his insight isn’t geographically or culturally limited. We could even say that it applies uniquely to America because America is a story of its own uniqueness. America sees itself through other lenses as well, such as chosen, natural, Christian, millennial, capitalistic, and innocent. Combining theoretical studies of mythology with American historical particulars and interdisciplinary studies in literature, art, music, and dance, Myth and Meaning in America will explore and analyze the many meanings of America from inside and outside of its myths.
Gods and Monsters: Understanding Power
We experience power in some form everyday, yet we rarely think critically about the role it plays in our lives. Gods and monsters symbolize the extreme poles of our understandings of power and thus serve as instructive benchmarks for this interdisciplinary exploration. The course approaches the study of power from theoretical (e.g., philosophical, political, sociological, and historical), literary, and artistic perspectives and applies these understandings to issues in the public sphere. Some of the questions we will ask include: How are gods and monsters made and what cultural functions do they serve? What is power? How is it created, maintained, and distributed? How does power change? How is power gendered? Readings will include religious analyses of anthropomorphism, Freud on religion the Id, Medieval literary criticism on monsters, Nietzsche on the will to power and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Michel de Certeau on belief, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, the Book of Job, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, Ceremony, and various articles on the social construction of gender.
Psychology of Religious Beliefs, Values, and Symbols
Religion remains one of the most puzzling aspects of human behavior for psychologists to explain, since it involves some of the strongest and strangest beliefs, values, emotions, and experiences that people have. This course will explore a variety of theories intended to show possible psychological interpretations for belief in God, prayer and rituals, religious myths and symbols, and altered states of consciousness involved in phenomena such as mysticism, near-death experience, possession, and apparitions. We will analyze the work of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, and others.
Examines the phenomenon and meaning of evil, especially “moral” evil. Key questions pursued are how evil may be explained, why humanity is capable of It in the first place, whether it belongs to some or all people, how to differentiate its perpetrators and its victims, whether evil is compatible with the existence of a good God, and how one may judge the difference between evil and good. These and other fundamental questions are pursued through a wide range of classic, historical, and contemporary texts and in relation to examples of evil in today’s world.
Here is the list of required books for Evil:
- Sophocles, Antigone, any translation, but preferably trans. David Grene, in Sophocles I, Second Edition (The University of Chicago Press, 1991).
- The Bhagavad-Gita, translated by Barbara Stoler Miller (Bantam Books, 1986).
- Augustine, Confessions, translated by R.S. Pine-Coffin (Penguin Books, 1961).
- Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Penguin Books, 1994).
- Richard Kearney, Strangers, Gods, and Monsters (Routledge, 2003).
Contemporary Moral Issues
This course will focus on the study of articles written on a broad range of contemporary issues of ethical concern. These issues potentially include but not limited to capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, sexuality, animal welfare, and poverty. Studying the works of respected thinkers on these matters will afford students an opportunity to think more thoroughly and systematically about these issues than would otherwise be likely.
Major western ethical theories, potentially including but not necessarily limited to those authored by Bentham, Mill, Aquinas, Kant, and Aristotle will also be studied. Representing the most widely studied attempts to bring unity to our particular judgments of right and wrong under a more general ethical perspective, they are not only the basis of many of the articles we will study, but are also useful in revealing inconsistencies in our own views.
Positive Psychology is the study of human potential and the outcomes of positive behavior. It looks at strengths rather than faults, with the goal of improving lives by focusing on what works instead of what does not. As an applied course, the approach will include real world examples to highlight the various concepts related to positive psychology. Each week, students will take a look at different aspects of life – work, home, social, cultural, and media-related – to better understand what it means to thrive using positive psychology principles. It is certain to be an interesting and thought-provoking course that will have students thinking differently about their approach to life.
Social Psycology in the Real World
Description: Are you who you say you are, or are you who I say you are? The creation of our identity is a constant give-and-take between how others perceive us and how we respond to those perceptions. Firmly grounded in social psychology, each week we will explore a different facet of why and how we relate to each other in order to achieve personal, family, social, and work-related goals. You will find this course to be surprising in many ways, as we explore the practical applications of social psychology principles and theories to real-world lives, including the increasing influence of social media. Your own experiences and insights will be the foundation of our class activities.
56:606:661:90 Women, Men and Work
This course will take an anthropological look at the paid and unpaid work that women and men perform in Western and non-Western cultures around the world, especially the United States. The course will analyze the effects of gender on the work people do, and its rewards, hardships, and implications for family living. It will consider how people’s race, ethnicity, and class profoundly affect the shape of male and female labor. It will also ask how work roles have varied throughout history, and how current economic and technological changes are affecting equality between women and men, here and abroad. We will examine historical and cultural context, empirical research findings, and theoretical developments as we study issues relevant to understanding women’s and men’s work experiences.
Collins, Threads: Gender, Labor, and Power in the Global Apparel Industry.
Dudley, Kathryn Marie. 1994. The End of the Line: Lost Jobs, New Lives in Postindustrial America. University of Chicago Press.
Ho, Karen. 2009. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Duke University Press.
World Music is designed to visually and aurally introduce the student to a variety of musical traditions from around the global, thereby giving the student a footing in ethnomusicology—the study of music and it’s relationship to history, culture, sociology, and anthropology. This course explores traditional, ceremonial, and popular music from Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Asia, the Middle East, Indonesia, Latin America, North America, and Europe. Students should develop not only a working knowledge about music, but also the ability to discuss musical happenings and relate music to a variety of cultural events.
Health and Healing in Africa