Foundations of Contemporary Culture (2022 - 2024)
In addition to the information below, detailed descriptions of each year's course offerings may be found on the Core Curriculum website.
Texts and Ideas
Texts and Ideas: Topics
CORE-UA 400 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Recent topics include: The Meaning of Life, Objectivity, Cybernetics, Liberation, Animal Humans, Utopias and Dystopias, Life and Death, Humor and Laughter. Consult the Core Curriculum website for descriptions of each term's offerings.
Texts and Ideas: Antiquity and the Middle Ages
CORE-UA 401 Offered occasionally. 4 points.
Readings: Hebrew Scriptures and Christian New Testament, ancient Greek drama and philosophy, Vergil, and Augustine. Continues with Dante's Inferno, selections from Paradiso, and other texts from the Middle Ages.
Texts and Ideas: Antiquity and the Renaissance
CORE-UA 402 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Readings: Hebrew Scriptures and Christian New Testament, ancient Greek drama and philosophy, Vergil, and Augustine. Continues with Machiavelli's Prince, a Shakespearean play or Milton's Samson Agonistes, and other texts from the Renaissance.
Texts and Ideas: Antiquity and the Enlightenment
CORE-UA 403 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Readings: Hebrew Scriptures and Christian New Testament, ancient Greek drama and philosophy, Vergil, and Augustine. Continues with Pascal's Pensées, Rousseau's Confessions, and other texts from the Enlightenment.
Texts and Ideas: Antiquity and the 19th Century
CORE-UA 404 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Readings: Hebrew Scriptures and Christian New Testament, ancient Greek drama and philosophy, Vergil, and Augustine. Continues with Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto, selections from Darwin, Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality, or Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, and other texts from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Cultures and Contexts
Cultures and Contexts: Topics
CORE-UA 500 Offered every year. 4 points.
Recent topics include: The Silk Road and Central Asia, Middle Eastern Cities, Transnational Asia, Global Christianities. Consult the Core Curriculum website for descriptions of each term's offerings.
Cultures and Contexts: Islamic Societies
CORE-UA 502 Offered every year. 4 points.
The emphasis in the pre-modern period is first on the Qur’an and then on law, political theory, theology, and mysticism. For the more recent period, the stress is on the search for religious identity. Throughout, students are exposed to Islamic societies through the writings they produced.
Cultures and Contexts: Africa
CORE-UA 505 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Topics include problems in the interpretation of African literature, African history, gender issues, African thought and values, and the impact of the slave trade and colonialism on African societies and culture. Utilizes an interdisciplinary approach and a variety of readings.
Cultures and Contexts: Japan
CORE-UA 507 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Analysis of key literary, religious, and artistic texts. Concentrates on the historical experiences that produced elements of a national culture before there was a nation and on the consciousness of being Japanese before there was a "Japan." Examines how key cultural elements forged a modern nation-state.
Cultures and Contexts: The Caribbean
CORE-UA 509 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Readings examine slavery and transplantation of peoples and cultures from Africa; the history of the region's differing forms of colonialism; the present postcolonial economic and political structures; anthropological material on family and community life, religious beliefs and practices, and gender roles and ideologies; and ways in which national, community, and group identities are expressed today.
Cultures and Contexts: Middle Eastern Societies
CORE-UA 511 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Topics include: how do women and men construct their gender identity? In what ways are village, town, and city lives being transformed? Do people of the Middle East experience their region's politics the way it is portrayed in the West? What are some of the causes of political repression, armed struggle, or terror? How did European colonialism reshape the lives of people in the region, and how do they today encounter the cultural and economic power of the United States and Europe?
Cultures and Contexts: China
CORE-UA 512 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Fundamental concepts and practices of Chinese society and culture, examined using primary sources in translation whenever possible. By studying the social, political, religious, ideological, ritual, economic, and cultural life of the Chinese, students gain a sense of the core values and issues of Chinese civilization and how these have affected and continue to have an impact on the way people think and live.
Cultures and Contexts: Ancient Israel
CORE-UA 514 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Covers the period from about 1200 B.C.E. to the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C.E. Topics include law and social organization, prophetic movements, Israelite religion and the development of monotheism, and ancient Hebrew literature. Draws on evidence from the Hebrew Bible, archaeological excavations in Israel and neighboring lands, the discovery of ancient writings in Hebrew and related languages, and the civilizations of Egypt and Syria-Mesopotamia.
Cultures and Contexts: Latin America
CORE-UA 515 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Explores the cultural, social, and political organization of Indigenous people before the period of European colonization. Studies the dynamics of the colonial encounter, focusing on Indigenous responses to European rule, the formation of "Indian" society, and the interaction of Europeans, Africans, and Indigenous people. Considers postcolonial Latin America and its political culture, competing ideologies of economics and social development, and construction of collective identities based on region, race, ethnicity, gender, and class.
Cultures and Contexts: India
CORE-UA 516 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Considers the paradoxes of modern India: ancient religious ideas coexisting with material progress, hierarchical caste society with parliamentary democracy, and urban shantytowns with palatial high-rises. Integrates research on India's cultural values with social-scientific perspectives on their contemporary relevance. Examines problems such as protective discrimination for lower castes and cultural nationalism.
Cultures and Contexts: Contemporary Latino Cultures
CORE-UA 529 Offered every year. 4 points.
Examines the growth and development of "Latino" as a distinct category of identity out of the highly diverse populations of Latin American background in the United States, paying particular attention to the social processes shaping its emergence. Provides a detailed examination of the processes of cultural creation behind the rising growth of transnational cultures and identities worldwide, and of the forces that are fueling their development.
Cultures and Contexts: The African Diaspora
CORE-UA 532 Offered every year. 4 points.
The dispersal of Africans to various parts of the world 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 non-African influences.
Cultures and Contexts: Indigenous Australia
CORE-UA 536 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Aboriginal Australian forms of identity, social being, and culture. Topics: cultural formulations of kinship, ritual, art, gender, and politics; the "other" and negative or positive formulations of the "primitive"; cultural autonomy and self-determination; and how Aboriginal peoples are represented and thought about by outsiders.
Cultures and Contexts: Modern Israel
CORE-UA 537 Offered every year. 4 points.
Examines the different ethnic origins of the Jewish population over the last 150 years and the growing role of the Arab population (approaching 20 percent) in Israeli society. Topics: 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.
Cultures and Contexts: Asian/Pacific/American Cultures
CORE-UA 539 Offered every year. 4 points.
Major historical and contemporary issues, including migration, modernization, racial formation, community-building, and political mobilization. Particular attention is given to Asian Americans' use of cultural productions (films, literature, art, media, and popular culture) as an expression and reflection of their cultural identities, historical conditions, and political efforts.
Cultures and Contexts: New World Encounters
CORE-UA 541 Offered every year. 4 points.
How did Indigenous cultures in Central and South America and the Caribbean understand and document their first encounters with Europeans? Explores how those subjugated and enslaved by conquest and colonialism interpreted, resisted, and recorded their experience, considers what new cultural forms emerged from these violent encounters, and examines their role in the foundation of "Latin American" cultures.
Cultures and Contexts: Korea
CORE-UA 543 Offered every other year. 4 points.
A multi-disciplinary survey from antiquity to the present. Topics: formation and development of social relations, popular beliefs, and systems of thought and their resonances and ramifications in modern Korea; encounters with the West and the national struggle under colonial rule; social upheavals after liberation; the Korean War; economic development and crisis; the democracy movement and its limitations; relations with North Korea and the U.S.; and sociocultural diversification in the age of globalization.
Cultures and Contexts: Spain
CORE-UA 544 Offered every year. 4 points.
Focuses on the mid-nineteenth through the late twentieth century and studies fiction, poetry, film (fiction and documentary), painting, poster art, photography, performance, and architecture. The aim is to better understand and question the relation between cultural forms/production and issues of national identity, tradition, modernity, and authorship as they relate to the historical moment and location in which they are produced.
Cultures and Contexts: Egypt of the Pharaohs
CORE-UA 545 Offered every year. 4 points.
The archaeology, literature, and art of ancient Egypt. Topics: ancient Egyptian religious experiences and ethics; constructions of gender, class, and ethnicity; varieties of social experience; and how Egyptians (regardless of social standing) attempted to alter their socio-political circumstances through concerted political action, magic, revolt, or the construction of well-crafted satire. Primary sources include letters, wisdom literature, love poetry, ancient house plans, tomb scenes, and physical anthropology.
Cultures and Contexts: Italy
CORE-UA 554 Offered every year. 4 points.
Italian culture and identity seen through the lens of Rome, both as an actual place and as a political and cultural ideal. Topics: the founding and development of the city; its various "rebirths" in the Renaissance, the Italian Risorgimento, and the Fascist regime; and the vitality of Rome and its histories/myths in other national, political, and aesthetic contexts, from France to the United States.
Societies and the Social Sciences
Note that the prerequisite for Societies and the Social Sciences is completion of Texts and Ideas (CORE-UA 4XX) and Cultures and Contexts (CORE-UA 5XX), as well as completion of (or exemption from) Writing the Essay (EXPOS-UA 1), Writing II (WRI-UF 2002), or International Writing Workshop II (EXPOS-UA 9).
Societies and the Social Sciences: Topics in Interdisciplinary Perspective
CORE-UA 600 Offered occasionally. 4 points.
Examines social phenomena that cross the boundaries among the various social-scientific disciplines. Topics vary and may include human migration, religion, fascism, or colonialism. By considering the methodologies appropriate to the study of these topics, students learn to appreciate the characteristic approaches of the social sciences, their power to help us understand such phenomena, and their limitations.
Note that the prerequisite for all Expressive Culture courses is completion of Texts and Ideas (CORE-UA 4XX) and Cultures and Contexts (CORE-UA 5XX), as well as completion of (or exemption from) Writing the Essay (EXPOS-UA 1), Writing II (WRI-UF 2002), or International Writing Workshop II (EXPOS-UA 9).
Expressive Culture: Words
CORE-UA 710 Offered occasionally. 4 points.
What is literature or the literary? Is there a literary language that works differently from ordinary language? What is literary style and form? What is the position of the writer or artist in relation to society, and what is the function of the reader? Is literature a mirror of the world that it describes, an attempt to influence a reader's ideas or opinions, an expression of the identity of the writer, or none of these?
Expressive Culture: The Graphic Novel
CORE-UA 711 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Examines the interplay between words and images in the graphic novel, a hybrid medium with a system of communication reminiscent of prose fiction, animation, and film. What is the connection between text and art? How are internal psychology, time, and action conveyed in a static series of words and pictures? What can the graphic novel convey that other media cannot? Authors include Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, Peter Milligan, Charles Burns, and Carla Speed McNeil.
Expressive Culture: Images
CORE-UA 720 Offered every year. 4 points.
Considers the power and taboo of images and the ways in which individuals and institutions that constitute "the art world" classify some of these images as works of art; turns to explore the visual and conceptual challenges presented by major works of sculpture, architecture, and painting; and concludes with a selection of problems raised by art today. Students develop a vocabulary to both appreciate and question the artistic "gestures" of society in various places and times.
Expressive Culture: Architecture in New York Field Study
CORE-UA 722 Offered every fall. 4 points.
New York's rich architectural heritage offers a unique opportunity for firsthand consideration of the concepts and styles of modern urban architecture, as well as its social, financial, and cultural contexts. Meets once a week for an extended period and combines on-campus lectures with group excursions to prominent buildings. Considers individual buildings as examples of 19th- and 20th-century architecture, and examines the development of the skyscraper and the adaptation of older buildings to new uses.
Expressive Culture: Sounds
CORE-UA 730 Offered every semester. 4 points.
Our lives pulsate with patterns of sounds that we call music, yet we rarely think consciously about what they mean. Questions how music has been created, produced, perceived, and evaluated at diverse historical moments, in a variety of geographical locations, and among different cultural groups. Through aural explorations and discussion of how these vivid worlds "sound" in time and space, assesses the value and function of music in human experience.
Expressive Culture: Performance
CORE-UA 740 Offered every other year. 4 points.
Examines "performance" both as a practice and as a theoretical tool with which to understand today's world. Covers theatre and dance, performance in everyday life, rituals, popular entertainments, and intercultural performance. On the theoretical level, introduces "speech acts," "restored behavior," "ritual process," and "play."
Expressive Culture: Film
CORE-UA 750 Offered every semester. 4 points.
By exploring the expressive and representational achievements of cinema in the context of modernity and mass culture, students learn the concepts to grasp the different ways in which films create meaning, achieve their emotional impact, and respond in complex ways to the historical contexts in which they are made.
Expressive Culture: La Belle Époque
CORE-UA 761 Offered every other year. 4 points.
La Belle Époque, that period in the life of France's pre-World War I Third Republic (1871-1914) associated with extraordinary artistic achievement, saw Paris emerge as the undisputed Western capital of painting and sculpture; it also was the most important production site for new works of musical theatre and, arguably, literature. Topics: Impressionism, fauvism, and cubism; the operas of Bizet, Saint-Saëns, and Massenet and the plays of Sardou and Rostand; the novels of Zola and stories of Maupassant; and Marcel Proust's Remembrances of Things Past.