KNOW courses are offered by the faculty of the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at both the graduate and the advanced undergraduate levels. For graduate students, we offer a number of cross-listed seminars as well as an annual core sequence in topics in the formation of knowledge (KNOW 401, 402, 403). These seminars will be team-taught by faculty from different departments or schools and are open to all graduate students regardless of field of study. Graduate students who enroll in two quarters of this sequence are eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowships.
KNOW 40200: Case Studies on the Formation of Knowledge 1
The KNOW core seminars for graduate students are offered by the faculty of the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge. This two-quarter sequence provides a general introduction, followed by specific case studies, to the study of the formation of knowledge. Each course will explore 2-3 case study topics, and each case study will be team-taught within a “module.” A short research paper is required at the end of each quarter. Graduate students from every field are welcome. Those who take both quarters are eligible to apply for a SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship.
Module 1 : Approaches to Knowledge
Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, Jack Gilbert
The goal of this module is to identify central issues or debates in the theory of knowledge over the past century. Students will be introduced to basic issues in the sociology of knowledge, to the arguments for and against constructivist perspectives on knowledge, and to 21st century scientific standards for knowledge production. The course should provide students with a vocabulary and conceptual tools with which they argue about these issues and reflect upon the very conceptual tools they are using.
Module 2: Democratic Knowledge
Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, Will Howell
This module offers a variation on studies of the epistemic powers of democracy. Instead of asking questions such as how effective democracies are at gathering the knowledge they need to function, the module looks at what forms of knowledge democracies need to assume—for example, the validity of decisions taken by the many—in order to justify their own existence as a (“superior”) form of government.
Module 3 : Progress and Backwardness
Clifford Ando, Jennifer Pitts
Developmental thinking has been central to the European study of society since the early modern period. In the wake of the encounter with the New World and increasing global commercial and imperial connections, the concepts of civilization and progress have been twinned with accounts of savagery, barbarism, and backwardness. Much of modern social science originated in efforts beginning in the late 19th century to understand what had made western Europe’s path of economic development unique. This unit explores theories of progress and modernization from Scottish Enlightenment stadial theories through liberal and Marxist developmental accounts in the 19th century, to modernization theories in the 20th.
KNOW 41404: Approaches to the History of Political Thought
This course will examine some of the most influential recent statements of method in the history of political thought, alongside work by the same authors that may (or may not) put those methods or approaches into practice. We will read works by Quentin Skinner, Reinhart Koselleck, J.GA. Pocock, Leo Strauss, Sheldon Wolin, Michel Foucault, and David Scott among others, with some emphasis on writings about Hobbes and questions of sovereignty and the state.
KNOW 40301: The Discovery of Paganism
How do we know what we know about ancient religions? Historians of religion often begin by turning to texts: either sacred texts, or, in the absence of such scriptures, descriptions of belief and practice by observers from outside the faith. Archaeologists focus their attention on the spaces and traces of religious practice—or at least those that survive—while art historians begin by examining images of deities and religious rites. Yet we often fail to see the extent to which the questions which we ask of all of these diverse sources are conditioned by Christian rhetoric about pagan worship. In this course, we compare two moments when Christians encountered "pagans": during the initial Christian construction of a discourse on paganism (and, more broadly, a discourse on religion) during the late Roman empire and during the Spanish discovery of the New World. Our course examines silences and absences in the textual and material records, as well as the divergences between texts and objects, in order to further our understanding of ancient religious practice. We will begin to see the many ways in which, as scholars of religion, we are in effect still Christian theologians, paving the way for new approaches to the study of ancient religion.
KNOW 27003 / 37003: Feminine Space in Chinese Art
“Feminine space” denotes an architectural or pictorial space that is perceived, imagined, and represented as a woman. Unlike an isolated female portrait or an individual female symbol, a feminine space is a spatial entity: an artificial world composed of landscape, vegetation, architecture, atmosphere, climate, color, fragrance, light, and sound, as well as selected human occupants and their activities. This course traces the construction of this space in traditional Chinese art (from the second to the eighteenth centuries) and the social/political implications of this constructive process.
KNOW 21402: Science and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth to Twenty-First Centuries
One can distinguish four ways in which science and æsthetics are related during the last three centuries. First, science has been the subject of artistic effort in painting and photography and in poetry and novels (e.g., in Goethe's poetry or in H. G. Wells's Island of Doctor Moreau). Second, science has been used to explain aesthetic effects (e.g., Helmholtz's work on the way painters achieve visual effects or musicians achieve tonal effects). Third, aesthetic means have been used to convey scientific conceptions (e.g., through illustrations in scientific volumes or through aesthetically affective and effective writing). Finally philosophers have stepped back to consider the relationship between scientific knowing and aesthetic comprehension (e.g., Kant and Bas van Fraassen). We will devote the first part of the quarter to Kant, reading carefully his third Critique. Then we will turn to Goethe and Helmholtz, both feeling the impact of Kant, and to Wells, a student of T. H. Huxley. We then consider more contemporary modes expressive of the relationship, especially the role of illustrations in science and the work of contemporary philosophers like Fraassen.
KNOW 21401: Liberalism and Empire
The evolution of liberal thought coincided and intersected with the rise of European empires, and those empires have been shaped by liberal preoccupations, including ideas of tutelage in self-government, exporting the rule of law, and the normativity of European modernity. Some of the questions this course will address include: how was liberalism, an apparently universalistic and egalitarian theory, used to legitimate conquest and imperial domination? Is liberalism inherently imperialist? Are certain liberal ideas and doctrines (progress, development, liberty) particularly compatible with empire? What does, or what might, a critique of liberal imperialism look like? Readings will include historical works by authors such as Locke, Mill, Tocqueville, and Hobson, as well as contemporary works of political theory and the history of political thought (by authors such as James Tully, Michael Ignatieff, David Kennedy, and Uday Mehta).
KNOW 47002: Topics in the Philosophy of Judaism: Soloveitchik Reads the Classics
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the most important philosophers of Judaism in the twentieth century. Among his many books, essays and lectures, we find a detailed engagement with the Bible, the Talmud and the fundamental works of Maimonides. This course will examine Soloveitchik's philosophical readings and appropriation of Torah, Talmud, and both the Guide and the Mishneh Torah. A framing question of the course will be: how can one combine traditional Jewish learning and modern philosophical ideas? What can Judaism gain from philosophy? What can philosophy learn from Judaism?
All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application firstname.lastname@example.org by 12/16/2016. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course.
KNOW 41403: Seminar: Patronage and Culture in Renaissance Italy and Her Neighbors 2
The second quarter is intended for graduate students who writing a seminar research paper. PQ: HIST 81503
KNOW 41401: Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-Fé and human nature
In this graduate seminar we will read the 1935 novelAuto-da-Fé by Elias Canetti (1981 Nobel Prize for Literature) and discuss it from the perspectives of different disciplines such as psychology and psychoanalysis, anthropology and sociology, history and philosophy, and literary criticism. One of the specific themes of the seminar will be the relationship between Canetti's representation of human mental and social processes in the novel and our current understanding of the human mind and humaninterpersonal relationships (e.g., understanding other minds, interpersonal communication, power dynamics, etc.). More generally, the seminar aims to explore and discuss the extent to which our knowledge and understanding ofhuman nature can benefit from scientific and literary investigations and whether these approaches can complement each other and be effectively integrated.
KNOW 40201: Reason and Religion
The quarrel between reason and faith has a long history. The birth of Christianity was in the crucible of rationality. The ancient Greeks privileged this human capacity above all others, finding in reason the quality wherein man was closest to the gods, while the early Christians found this viewpoint antithetical to religious humility. As religion and its place in society have evolved throughout history, so have the standing of, and philosophical justification for, non-belief on rational grounds. This course will examine the intellectual and cultural history of arguments against religion in Western thought from antiquity to the present . Along the way, of course, we will also examine the assumptions bound up in the binary terms “religion” and “reason.”
No prerequisites. Consent required: Email email@example.com a few sentences describing your background and what you hope to get out of this seminar. Then, submit a consent request online. Course requirements: 12-page research paper (40%), class report (30%), active participation (15%), book review (15%).
NOTE: This course fulfills one quarter of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement.