FALL 2016 CORE-UA 500, Cultures & Contexts: Topics—The Silk Road and Central Asia
Prof. Stark (ISAW) syllabus*
For centuries Central Asia has been a conduit for a variety of cultural encounters and transfers between China, India, the Near East and the Mediterranean. In an almost emblematic way, this position and function seems to be embodied in our image of the far-distant caravan trader, traversing on the so-called “Silk roads” the vast expanses between China and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. However, it was not only traders that connected the civilizations of the ancient world via Central Asia: with and next to the traders’ caravans traveled diplomats, missionaries, artists and many more; and vast parts of Eurasia were, again and again, connected and controlled by confederations and empires of nomadic origin. We inquire into the many facets, which characterize the resulting network, oscillating around Central Asia, from the Bronze Age onwards up to the days of the Mongol Empire, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to a considerable variety of primary evidence, ranging from ancient travel reports and business letters to spectacular archaeological artifacts.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 5XX, Cultures & Contexts: Latin American Cities
Prof. Dávila (Anthropology) syllabus*
Like many developing regions across the world, Latin America has been undergoing rapid urbanization in the last decades. While increasingly recognized as a continent made up of “countries of cities,” still the dominant image and scholarship on Latin American has yet to catch up with this reality, primarily focusing on indigenous or traditional communities—which are always imagined as rural and authentic, rather than modern and urbanized; and when cities are theorized, it is often as the subject of pathology, social ills, or urban blight, rather than as key engines of modernization; sites of debate about citizenship, democracy and national identity; or as creative hubs where major social transformations are taking place. Topics include the effects of globalization, enclave urbanism, new types of segregation, new imaginaries of class and “urban” identities, the rise of tourism and creative economies, Latin American urban design and new urbanisms, the neoliberalization of labor and the rise of informal economies, and immigration. We also touch on how Latin American immigration is transforming major cities across the United States. Readings are drawn from geography, urban studies, anthropology, and cultural studies.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 510, Cultures & Contexts: Russia
Prof. Kotsonis (Russian and Slavic Studies) syllabus*
Focuses on distinctive historical and geographical dichotomies and issues in Russian culture. Emphasis is on primary documents, including literary works, travel notes, works of art, and political statements from all periods, chosen to establish the particular matrix of competing positions that make up the Russian national and cultural identity.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 512, Cultures & Contexts: China
Prof. Zhang (East Asian Studies) syllabus*
An introduction to the main issues and foundational texts of imperial and modern China. Selected readings include excerpts from early Chinese classics such as Classic of Odes and the Analects to the vernacular novels of late imperial China. The classical canon is then coupled with central texts from modern China, from the initial reflections of the mandarin scholars on a rapidly changing world, to writings on revolution, the modern state, and the new culture of the enlightened individual by leading Chinese intellectuals in the 20th century. Rather than a display of cultural and literary edifices, our intellectual and critical interest is to rethink Chinese traditions, both imperial and modern, in terms of continuity as well as discontinuity.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 514, Cultures & Contexts: Ancient Israel
Prof. Fleming (Hebrew & Judaic Studies) syllabus*
Ancient Israel names the land and people of the Hebrew Bible, and it occupies a place in antiquity that is the “classical” background for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious heritage, much as Greece and Rome stand behind much of modern philosophy and science. Yet Israel in history remains difficult to approach, between a biblical text received only through centuries of later sifting, and archaeological data lacking names, voices, and stories. We piece together glimpses of ancient Israel through varieties of evidence, acknowledging degrees of uncertainty, with the ultimate goal of probing what life was like for everyday people.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 527, Cultures & Contexts: Muslim Spain
Prof. Pearce (Spanish & Portuguese) syllabus*
In medieval Spain we see how members of the three Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—lived in close contact over a sustained period of time (711-1615). Sometimes peaceful and productive, at other times contentious and destructive, in this time of coexistence people of different faiths participated in parallel and overlapping cultural activities, drawing on the same poetic and philosophical traditions, creating similar liturgies, and preferring the same kinds of art and architecture. We examine the role that religion played in the creation of culture and its artifacts through close examination of primary sources, including historical chronicles, treaties, short stories, poetry, liturgy, art, and architecture. Students learn to pose and answer questions about the impact religion, religious expression, and coexistence in a multiconfessional society.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 529, Cultures & Contexts: Contemporary Latino Cultures
Prof. Beltrán (Social and Cultural Analysis) syllabus*
Explores the political, social, and cultural practices of Latinos in the United States using a historical and interdisciplinary approach. Draws on literature, history, politics, as well as social and political theory to address issues of participation, under-representation, and civic and economic empowerment. Topics include immigration, social movements, figures of resistance, identities, popular culture, and language. Of particular concern is the idea and representation of a pan-ethnic “Latino” identity encompassing all the diverse national groups, and the emergence of this concept in both the cultural and political life of these communities.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 532, Cultures & Contexts: African Diaspora
Prof. Gomez (History) syllabus*
The dispersal of Africans to various parts of the world and over time, examining their experiences and those of their descendants. Regions of special interest include the Americas and the Islamic world, centering on questions of slavery and freedom while emphasizing the emergence of cultural forms and their relationship to both African and to non-African influences.
Fall 2016 CORE-UA 533, Cultures & Contexts: Modern Iran
Prof. Koyagi (Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies) syllabus
Major political, economic, social, and cultural issues that have shaped Iran since the nineteenth century. We ask a number of interrelated questions throughout the semester. How did Iran’s social structure change in the last two centuries? How did gender relations change during the same period? How did the discovery of oil impact Iranian economy and society? Why did the 1979 Islamic Revolution happen? What role did ordinary people play in these historical processes? Why did they act in the way they did? Thinking about these questions requires us to study many kinds of primary texts and other cultural artifacts, including government documents, newspaper articles, short stories, films, songs, cartoons, and posters. By using these sources, we aim to explore how diverse groups of people experienced Iran’s rapid transformation since 1800 and how domestic, regional, and global factors affected the processes of transformation.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 536, Cultures & Contexts: Indigenous Australia
Prof. Myers (Anthropology) syllabus*
The indigenous people of Australia have long been the subject of interest and imagination by outsiders for their cultural formulations of kinship, ritual, art, gender, and politics, and they have entered into representations as distinctively "Other"—whether in negative or positive formulations of the "Primitive." These representations—in feature films about them such as Walkabout and Rabbit Proof Fence, in New Age Literature, or museum exhibitions—are now also in dialogue with their own forms of cultural production. At the same time, Aboriginal people have struggled to reproduce themselves and their traditions in their own terms, asserting their right to forms of cultural autonomy and self-determination. We explore the historical and geographical range of Aboriginal Australian forms of social being through ethnographic texts, art, novels, autobiographies, film and other media, and consider the ways in which identity is being challenged and constructed.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 537, Cultures & Contexts: Modern Israel
Prof. Zweig (Hebrew & Judaic Studies) syllabus*
Modern Israel—Society and Culture: Despite its small size and population, Israel is a diverse, dynamic, and complex society. To understand its ethnic, religious, and political divisions, the different ethnic origins of the Jewish population over the last 150 years will be examined, and the growing role of the Arab population (approaching 20%) in Israeli society will be discussed. The special role of religion in the secular state, the development of Hebrew speaking culture, the political system, the settlement movement and the peace movement, gender issues, and the role of the army in everyday life are all addressed, concluding with a survey of the debate on whether Israel is a Jewish state or a state of all its citizens. Although the controversial issues that keep Israel in the headlines are touched on, the focus is the character of Israeli society and the impact on everyday life of living in the international limelight.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 539, Culture & Contexts: Asian/Pacific/American Cultures
Prof. Saranillio (Social and Cultural Analysis) syllabus*
Examines significant historical and contemporary moments through an analysis of culture and power and how cultural productions--film, television dramas, novels, visual art, national monuments and memorials, among others--produce ideas, stories and silences in different historical moments about different Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that have contemporary resonance today. For instance, how is it that the bikini, which most people associate with suggestive beach wear, has its origins in the U.S. nuclear testing of the first hydrogen bomb on the Bikini Atoll that irradiated much of the Pacific? How do historical representations of Asian American men make the meteoric rise of basketball star Jeremy Lin so unexpected and anomalous? How do histories of U.S. wars in Asia coupled with anti-Asian immigrant legislation shape ideas about Asian Americans as “perpetual foreigners” even centuries after Asian migration to the United States? Using different methods of cultural inquiry such as visual and popular culture, sports and media studies, literary critique, political economy and legal studies, we examine the complex ways that ideas about race, gender, sexuality, and indigeneity produce unequal power relations in U.S. society.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 552, Cultures & Contexts: Empires and the Political Imagination
Prof. Burbank (History) and Prof. Cooper (History)
Throughout history, few people lived for very long in a polity that consisted entirely or even mainly of people with whom they shared a language and culture. Any examination of the variety of human cultures must take account of the political structures within which people tried to make their way, sometimes seeking more autonomy, sometimes accommodating to rulers' authority, sometimes trying to extend their own power over others. Empires—polities which maintained and enhanced social and cultural distinction even as they incorporated different peoples—have been one of the most common and durable forms of political association. We focus on the comparative study of empires from ancient Rome and China to the present, and upon the variety of ways in which empires have inspired and constrained their subjects' ideas of rights, belonging, and power. The study of empire expands our ideas of citizenship and challenges the notion that the nation-state is natural and necessary. We investigate how empires were held together—and where they were weak—looking at political, cultural, and economic connections over long distances and long time periods, from Roman, Chinese, Mongol, Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian, French, British, German, and American empires, drawing on primary sources produced by people living in these and other imperial polities.
FALL 2016 CORE-UA 556, Cultures & Contexts: Germany
Prof. Wood (German) syllabus*
An introduction to the achievements and paradoxes of modern German history and culture. Crucial historical background is the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg in the 1450s, the Protestant Reformation catalyzed by Martin Luther in 1517, and the Thirty Years’ War of the seventeenth century, but the emphasis is on the shaping role that German art and thought have played within European modernity from the late eighteenth century to the present, culminating in the regeneration of German literature and art since the 1960s, involving such figures as Heinrich Böll, Christa Wolf, Alexander Kluge, Ingeborg Bachmann, W.G. Sebald, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Josef Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, and Martin Kippenberger. Sources include literary, philosophical, and other texts, and works of art, architecture, music, and film.