SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 500, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Wine and Feasting in the Ancient Mediterranean
Prof. d'Alfonso & Kotsonas (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)
We explore the social significance of the production and consumption of wine, which is characteristic of the early civilizations of the Mediterranean, including western Asia, discussing a range of practices of communal wine consumption (especially feasting), and the role of this consumption in the construction of cultural identities and the manipulation of social relations in select cultures of the mid 2nd to the late 1st millennium BCE. We also explore the ways in which these phenomena contributed to the development of shared cultural practices across the Mediterranean, but also generated varied social and cultural meanings over wine consumption in different contexts and parts of the region. The emphasis on communal wine consumption relates to the value of wine in antiquity. This value derives from the uncommon conditions required for the cultivation of the grapevine, as well as the intoxicating and healing properties of wine. It is because of these properties that wine was associated with cult practices (especially libations), manifestations of power and patronage, and the definitions of aristocratic identity (e.g., through the symposium) in palaces and cities, and sanctuaries and cemeteries of the ancient Mediterranean. Pursuing a diachronic and cross-cultural perspective, we reflect on textual accounts and archaeological correlates of ancient Mediterranean cultural practices centered on wine, as well as on social and anthropological theory on feasting. We read ancient texts in translation, and engage with archaeological evidence, including materials in the collections of the Metropolitan and Brooklyn Museums.
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 500, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Middle Eastern Cities
Prof. Tawil-Souri (Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies)
How has urban life been constructed, governed, experienced, contested, and transformed in the Middle East? We explore concepts such as colonialism, modernization, globalization, marginality, space, im/mobility, and greening as they inform the complexities of city life, and consider how these reshape social, cultural, political, and economic urban landscapes. Empirical cases primarily (but not exclusively) focus on modern and contemporary examples from the region, including Aleppo, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Gaza, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Mecca, Sana’a, Tehran, Tripoli, and others. We consider types of cities such as holy cities, divided cities, walled cities, refugee cities, informal cities, forgotten cities, and megalopolises; forms of cities such as downtown, suburbs, edge cities, and refugee camps; and conceptions of cities such as Oriental city, global city, and media capital. While situating a city within broader historical and geographical dynamics, we focus on what happens within a city, examining who and what shapes it; what kinds of systems and networks make city life possible; how different spaces, physical forms, infrastructures, institutions, and cultural practices change the dynamics and significance of city life; and how people experience, negotiate and define everyday city life. Sources include literary/creative texts, films, art, maps, websites, and sound recordings to consider the city itself as cultural text.
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 500, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Urban Life in the European City
Prof. Jütte (History)
Throughout history, cities have been among the most complex forms of social and cultural organization. In the premodern period, many cities were also important political players with a high degree of autonomy; some even pursued imperial ambitions. Almost all functioned as centers of religious, economic, and cultural activity. Many cities were separated from their environs by massive walls of stone, underscoring the distinct character of the urban community. In reality, however, the fortunes of a city were often crucially tied to immigration and the diversity it engendered. And although every city aspired to construct its own unique identity, as reflected in founding myths or specific artistic agendas, many premodern cities had commonalities. They also faced the same problems, such as social inequality, overcrowding, and environmental crises. We explore the history of the Western city from a multidimensional and comparative perspective encompassing ancient Athens, imperial Rome, medieval Paris, Renaissance Venice, and eighteenth-century London, paying special attention to everyday life, and adopting a bottom-up approach to see how people of different backgrounds (e.g., gender, religion, and class) have experienced, imagined, and struggled with urban life. Can this rich archive of urban experiences from the past teach us lessons for the metropolises of our time?
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 500, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Media and Democracy
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 500, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—East Asia
Prof. Linkhoeva (History)
An introduction to modern East Asia from the mid-19th century to the present day. East Asia here is treated as one, deeply interconnected region, not just as a collection of disparate nation-states. We cover many topics, but follow three main storylines: the political, social, and economic trends that have shaped the region; the intellectual and social histories of imperialism, capitalism, and warfare; and the region’s relationship to the rest of the world.
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 502, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Islamic Societies
Prof. Baltacioğlu-Brammer (Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies)
A survey of the politics, social life, culture, and economy of the Islamic world from the life of Prophet Muhammad (570-632) to the rise of the early modern Islamic empires in the sixteenth century. Islamic civilization rose from its humble origins in the seventh century Arabian Peninsula to become a world civilization and global culture, but how was this astonishing transformation accomplished? We examine the advent of Islam, as well as the development of the civilization that bears its name over a thousand-year period and analyze what Islam meant to different societies at different points in space and time. We consider both the shared features that have distinguished Muslim societies under the aegis of Islamic civilization and also the varieties of experience that endowed the region with vast cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and regional diversity. Topics include identity, Islamic law, mysticism, gender and sexualities, minorities, science, and art and architecture
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 515, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Latin America
Prof. Lane (Spanish & Portuguese)
Over the last 50 years, millions of Latin Americans have experienced extraordinary shifts in their social, political, and cultural landscape, a result of the transformative effects of revolution or insurgency, state repression, popular resistance and social movements. We focus on events that had continental, hemispheric, and even global impact, including the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the military coups of the 1970s, and the Zapatista uprising in 1994. Drawing on a range of primary sources and cultural forms, we listen carefully to the voices of the major social actors of the time. Our sources are drawn from a wide range of media: newsprint, television broadcasts, transcripts, testimony, essay, documentary and feature film, art, and music. We deliberately mix artistic representations with documentary evidence to understand how the arts—music, visual art, literature, film—do not just reflect the reality around them, but are themselves vital sites for shaping and changing that reality and our imagination of it, both then and now.
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 519, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Indigenous North America
Prof. Thomson & Ellis (History)
Who were/are indigenous people? What does/did it mean to be indigenous? What is indigeneity? We examine these questions in the context of the Americas, in an inquiry ranging from the era before European contact to the present. Using poetry, art, film, novels, political cartoons, memoirs, and scholarship written by historians, we explore the diversity and resilience of indigenous civilizations in the Americas.
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 537, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Modern Israel
Prof. Rosenberg-Friedman (Hebres & Judaic Studies)
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.
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 543 Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Korea
Prof. Jeon (East Asian Studies)
The history and culture of Korea from premodern times to the contemporary era, examining key moments, figures, and themes that speak to the varied experiences of the Korean people. Main topics include: state making, Korea’s relations to other states in East Asia, the modern transition, capitalist development, democratization, and ongoing social transformation. Primary texts include historical documents, literature, and film. Students learn how to conduct close readings that locate these texts within a larger historical context and how to explain how the social structures, individuals, concepts, and issues through which to view historical developments in Korea. They also gain a new understanding of Korea’s historical trajectory and critical approaches to the study of the peninsula, its people, and the events that have transpired there over the centuries.
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 554, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Italy in Global Context
Prof. Forgacs (Italian Studies)
Almost anything one might think of as typically Italian, from pasta to pizza, neorealism to Sophia Loren, Armani to the mafia, has been made or remodeled by contact and exchange with the world beyond Italy. This does not mean that they are “not really” Italian. They are, but what has made them really Italian have been circuits of international travel and trade and the accompanying processes of naming and comparison by which non-Italians have defined certain things as essentially Italian and Italians have seen themselves mirrored in those definitions, modified them, or branded and marketed themselves through them. To look at how all this works, we start with an overview of ideas of Italy from classical antiquity to the eighteenth century, moving to an analysis of travel to and within Italy, the internationalization of Italian food, drink, music, and fashion, the Futurist assault on Italy’s cultural heritage, and the Italian film and television industries in a global system. We examine how movements of people, both out of and into Italy, have involved a remaking of collective identities. Finally, we turn to international relations and changing perceptions of Italy on the world stage as a result of foreign policies, wars, and entry into the European Union. Throughout, students are invited to reflect critically on how Italy’s culture, political identity, and icons have been produced over time, and to consider how far similar process are at work in other nations, including their own.
SPRING 2023 CORE-UA 555, Cultures and Contexts: Topics—Brazil
Prof. Weinstein (History)
Brazil's transformation from a colonial, agrarian, slave society to a predominantly urban, industrialized nation, and an aspiring world power. Considers how Brazil became both a major industrial power and a society with all the classic social ills of a “Global South” nation. We also explore the relationship between mainstream notions of modernity and development, and the many different social and cultural initiatives that have produced Brazil’s hybrid popular culture and multiple national identities. Topics include slavery, racism, and emancipation, urban life, immigration and industrialization, changing gender roles, carnaval and popular culture, and democratization.