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HUMN 1020-6   Introduction to Humanities II
Giulia Bernardini/Kelly Hansen

This course provides an analytical, chronological, comparative and integrated study of works in literature, music and visual arts from the Baroque to contemporary eras.  While students are reading Racine and Moliere, for example, the art and music lectures examine the architecture of Versailles and compositions of Lully and other court composers.  In the appropriate context with the literature, such composers as Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, and Stravinsky are studied, along with such artists as Fragonard, Goya, Monet, and Picasso. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: historical context or literature and the arts.

HUMN 2601-3   Kafkaesque
Davide Stimilli

One proof of a writer’s acknowledged status as a classic is undoubtedly the currency of his or her name in ordinary parlance.  Not only has “Kafka” become a household name, but even the adjective derived from his name, “Kafkaesque” is liberally applied to anything, from works of art to state bureaucracies, from types of shoes to architectural styles, by people who may have never read a word of Kafka’s writing.  The term is therefore often misused and misunderstood, in spite of being by now recorded and defined in every dictionary of the language.  This course is meant to counteract such a trend and to expose the students to a wide selection of Kafka’s literary output, with the aim of reaching our own tentative answer to the question: What is the Kafkaesque?  We will then expand upon Jorge Luis Borges’ suggestion, in a seminal essay he devoted to “Kafka and His Precursors,” that extraordinary writers change our understanding and appreciation of the past, as much as they modify the future of literature, and upon Gilles Deleuze’s contention, in his fundamental study of film aesthetics, The Movement-Image, that Orson Welles’ cinematographic style is the visual equivalent of Kafka’s literary style.  We will do so by looking for traces of the Kafkaesque in the verbal as well as the visual arts, beyond the empirical existence of the writer called “Kafka”.  Same as GRMN 2601. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: literature and the arts.

HUMN 3092-3   Studies: The Human and the Animal: Violence in Literature and Philosophy
Anthony Abiragi

Can humanity distinguish itself from animal life without losing something essential to its own nature? Can we devise a coherent account of ethical life that would neglect our kinship with animals? Does the violence we visit upon animals sanction the violence we visit upon one another? In this course, we will examine various representations of human-animal interaction in an effort to address these questions. We will begin with the literary writings of two authors for whom the animal is a persistent theme: Franz Kafka and J.M. Coetzee. We will then revisit a debate in twentieth-century philosophy regarding the meaning and relevance of humanism and whether a definition of the human can overlook our relation to animal life. Robert Antelme’s memoir of his year in German concentration camps will open the question of the related violence we visit upon animals and fellow human beings. After a screening of three films, notably Claire Denis’ The Intruder, we will close with an examination of animal life as depicted in prehistoric art as well as in the paintings of Francis Bacon. The writings of Georges Bataille and Gilles Deleuze will respectively accompany our examination of Lascaux and Bacon.

HUMN 3505-3 The Enlightenment: Tolerance and Emancipation
Anne Schmiesing

By questioning long-standing assumptions and traditions, Enlightenment thinkers achieved a reformulation of ideals and values which has been of lasting influence on modern society. In the context of the Enlightenment emphasis on reason and humanity, this course examines eighteenth-century European arguments for (and against) freedom of religion, the abolition of slavery, and the emancipation of women, as well as eighteenth-century views on science, education, and government. Texts by Leibniz, Lessing, Kant, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Graffigny, Locke, Hume, Wollstonecraft, and others. Same as GRMN 3505. Approved for arts and science core curriculum: ideals and values.

HUMN 4020-3 Topics in Humanities: Reading, Guessing and Chance
Davide Stimilli

This course will engage in a discussion on method, and, more specifically, on the method of the humanities as opposed to that of the natural sciences. We will start by looking at the text that inaugurated such discussion: Descartes’ Discourse on Method, and at the emergence of a modern concept of probability in the XVII century. We will then adopt a literary text as our guide to further explore the dialectics of method and probability: Joseph Conrad’s novel Chance, and will explore the relationship between activities that may appear unrelated at first, such as reading and guessing, but that are equally concerned with the future, as they both try to get it right, be it with the help of chance, or a stroke of luck. In the process, we will touch upon such interesting and diverse matters as astrology, gambling, financial markets, and flying-saucers.Restricted to Sophs/Jrs/Srs.

HUMN 4030-3   Advanced Topics: The Art of Travel
Shirley Carnahan

This course is an interdisciplinary one intended to examine the art of travel: not where to go and what to do, but rather philosophical concepts about why people travel.  Likely areas of discussion will include Exploration, Discovery, Escape, Pilgrimage, the Grand Tour, Expatriotism, Exile, Nomadism, Armchair Travel, and the Sense of Home.  Materials will include books by travel writers, novels, films, essays, short stories, art, music, and historical documents. Prerequisite: HUMN 2000 or junior/senior standing.

HUMN 4092-3   Advanced Studies: Modern Subjectivity
Anthony Abiragi

Modern subjectivity is often characterized by a single defining feature: free, rational self-determination. In this course, we will examine how this conception of humanity has created a tension in modern life between the pleasures of individualism and the longing for community. Through an exploration of diverse artist traditions, we will investigate how emotions such as love, fear, and guilt; social constructs such as moral imperatives and the law; social affects of alienation and belonging; and the pleasures and perils of anonymity and social indeterminacy play into our ever-evolving negotiations of individualism and community. In addition to reading philosophers from Hobbes to Heidegger, we will examine the literary works of Melville, Kafka, Beckett, and Coetzee. The films of Claire Denis, Philippe Garrel, Abbas Kiarostami, and Andrei Tarkovsky will stimulate reflections upon contemporary conceptions of homeland, national identity, and class structure.  The course will conclude with an investigation of contemporary public art and will therefore touch on the relation between site-specific aesthetic artifacts and local community.

HUMN 4110-3   Greek and Roman Epic
Peter Knox

Students read in English translation the major epics of Greco-Roman antiquity such as the IliadOdysseyArgonauticaAeneid, and Metamorphoses. Topics discussed may include the nature of classical epic, its relation to the novel, and its legacy.  No Greek or Latin required.  Same as CLAS 4110. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: literature and the arts.

HUMN 4120-3   Greek and Roman Tragedy
Laurialan Reitzammer

We will be reading a selection of the surviving works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides (all works written at Athens in the 5th c. BCE) and Seneca (whose 1st c. CE tragedies represent the sole examples of the genre at Rome surviving in non-fragmentary form).  There will also be substantial secondary or background reading to guide the development of an understanding of the religious and moral dimensions of tragic drama in context. In this course, the aim will be to develop skills and habits of close observation, analysis and argument, as well as respect for ideas, nuances and differences.  As we read, we will attend to the importance of the texts in the literary historical tradition and their role in shaping cultural norms, habits of thought and the imaginative landscape of western civilization.  We will also consider what they tell us of what it is to be human in a complex and ever-changing world.  There is no formal prerequisite, but experience writing and talking about literature will be helpful.  Same as CLAS 4120.  Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: literature and the arts.

HUMN 4130-3   Greek and Roman Comedy
Andrew Cain

Studies Aristophanes, Plautus, and Terence in English translation.  No Greek or Latin required.  Same as CLAS 4130.  Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: literature and the arts.

HUMN 4135-3   Art & Psychoanalysis
Paul Gordon

Explores psychoanalytic theory as it relates to our understanding of literature, film, and other arts.  After becoming familiar with some essential Freudian notions (repression, narcissism, ego/libido, dream work, etc.), students apply these ideas to works by several artists (e.g., Flaubert, James, Kafka, Hoffmann, and Hitchcock). Same as FILM 4010. Prerequisite, HUMN 2000 or junior/senior standing.  Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: literature and the arts.

HUMN 4502-3   Nietzsche:Literature and Values
Henry Pickford

A study of Nietzsche’s major philosophical writings, with attention to his views on metaphysics, aesthetics and his critique of morality.  Restricted to sophomores/juniors/seniors.  Same as GRMN 4502. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: ideals and values.

HUMN 4555-3   The Arts of Interpretation
Paul Gordon

Introduces various hermeneutical methodologies (literary/philosophical criticism, biblical exegesis, art history, etc.) with which to examine the question of interpretation.  Methodologies are studied in close conjunction with particular works of art.  Prerequisites, HUMN 2000 or junior/senior standing.  Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: critical thinking. This class is restricted to Humanities majors for the first three weeks of the registration period.

HUMN 4821-3   20th Century Russian Literature and Art
Rimgaila Salys

Focuses on major works of 20th century Russian fiction and selective affinities with Russian art, from the syncretism of Russian Modernism to the formal parallels between postmodern literature and art. Follows the changing cultural landscape from the time when Russia was in the vanguard of modern European literature to the gradual cultural relaxation that culminated in perestroika and glasnost. Same as RUSS 4821.  Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: literature and the arts.

HONR 4055-3   Deconstructing Our Culture/Reconstructing Our Lives
(Discourse Analysis and Cultural Criticism)
Cathy Comstock

How do we “read” the world and the discourses around us, and how does that reading shape our considerations and our actions?  Deconstruction explores the vested interests or hidden contradictions in an ideological system by looking at that which has been marginalized in the service of its preservation.  In Western culture, for example, we have placed so much emphasis on high achievement and physical perfection that perhaps the great majority of us walk around feeling “disabled” in some way:  not buff enough, not smart enough, not good-looking enough, not thin or rich enough . . .  When our hierarchies are applied to other races and other species, to the very environment we rely on for life, the effects can be even more damaging.  Hence, we may want to question our traditional power hierarchies and consider new kinds of relationship to the world, to other species and to the environment.    This class also gives you the opportunity to earn from one-to-three hours of credit for doing outreach to communities in need, where we often can intimately experience what life is like on the margins. Approved for critical thinking, honors senior seminar and Humanities upper division.

READINGS INCLUDEOn Deconstruction; “Freaks As-At the Limit”; Discipline And PunishGandhiWhy the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It; Compassionate Communication; PLAN B 3.0; and others.