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 40303: The Humanities as a Way of Knowing

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2016-17
  • Term: Spring
  • Mondays 9:30 - 12:20 PM
  • SCTH 30925,HIST 29517,HIST 39517,PHIL 20925,PHIL 30925,CLAS 37316,CHSS 30925
  • Lorraine Daston

Despite intertwined histories and many shared practices, the contemporary humanities and sciences stand in relationships of contrast and opposition to one another. The perceived fissure between the "Two Cultures" has been deepened by the fact that the bulk of all history and philosophy of science has been devoted to the natural sciences. This seminar addresses the history and epistemology of what in the nineteenth century came to be called the "sciences" and the "humanities" since the Renaissance from an integrated perspective. The historical sources will focus on shared practices in, among others, philology, natural history, astronomy, and history. The philosophical source will develop an epistemology of the humanities: how humanists know what they know.

Note: This course fulfills one of two courses of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement to be eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship.

KNOW 40302: Islam and Modern Science

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • R 10:30 - 1:20 PM
  • KNOW 40302, AASR 40302, ISLM 40302, ANTH XXXXX
  • Alireza Doostdar

Since the nineteenth century, the rise of the modern empirical sciences has provided both challenges and opportunities for Muslim-majority societies. In this seminar, we examine the epistemological, institutional, and biopolitical transformations that have come about in these societies through encounters with a range of natural and social scientific disciplines (astronomy, medicine, psychology, psychical research, psychoanalysis, eugenics, economics, sociology, anthropology, and others). Readings are from anthropology, history, and science studies.

This course fulfills part of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement to be eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship. No instructor consent is required, but registration is not final until after the 1st week in order to give Ph.D. students priority.

KNOW 21406 / 31406: History of Skepticism

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • KNOW 21406, KNOW 31406, HIST 29516, HIST 39516
  • Ada Palmer

Before we ask what is true or false, we must ask how we can know what is true or false. This course examines the vital role doubt and philosophical skepticism have played in the Western intellectual tradition, from pre-Socratic Greece through the Enlightenment, with a focus on how Criteria of Truth—what kinds of arguments are considered legitimate sources of certainty—have changed over time. The course will examine dialog between skeptical and dogmatic thinkers, and how many of the most fertile systems in the history of philosophy have been hybrid systems which divided the world into things which can be known, and things which cannot. The course will touch on the history of atheism, heresy and free thought, on fideism and skeptical religion, and will examine how the Scientific Method is itself a form of philosophical skepticism. Primary source readings will include Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Lucretius, Ockham, Pierre Bayle, Montaigne, Descartes, Francis Bacon, Hobbes, Voltaire, Diderot, and others.

KNOW 21405 / 31405: The Italian Renaissance

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • KNOW 21405, KNOW 31405, HIST 22900, HIST 32900
  • Ada Palmer

Florence, Rome, and the Italian city-states in the age of plagues and cathedrals, Dante and Machiavelli, Medici and Borgia (1250–1600), with a focus on literature and primary sources, the recovery of lost texts and technologies of the ancient world, and the role of the Church in Renaissance culture and politics. Humanism, patronage, translation, cultural immersion, dynastic and papal politics, corruption, assassination, art, music, magic, censorship, religion, education, science, heresy, and the roots of the Reformation. Assignments include creative writing, reproducing historical artifacts, and a live reenactment of a papal election. First-year students and non-history majors welcome.

KNOW 21404 / 31404: History of Perception

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • KNOW 21404, KNOW 31404, HIST 25309, HIST 35309
  • Michael Rossi

Knowing time. Feeling space. Smelling. Seeing. Touching. Tasting. Hearing. Are these universal aspects of human consciousness, or particular experiences contingent upon time, place, and culture? How do we come to know about our own perceptions and those of others? This course examines these and related questions through detailed readings of primary sources, engagement in secondary scholarship in the history and anthropology of sensation, and through close work with participants’ own sensations and perceptions of the world around them.

KNOW 21403 / 31403: Censorship from the Inquisition to the Present

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • KNOW 21403, KNOW 31403, HIST 25421, HIST 35421
  • Ada Palmer; Stuart M. McManus

Collaborative research seminar on the history of censorship and information control, with a focus on the history of books and information technologies. The class will meet in Special Collections, and students will work with the professor to prepare an exhibit, The History of Censorship, to be held in the Special Collections exhibit space in spring. Students will work with rare books and archival materials, design exhibit cases, write exhibit labels, and contribute to the exhibit catalog. Half the course will focus on censorship in early modern Europe, including the Inquisition, the spread of the printing press, and clandestine literature in the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Special focus on the effects of censorship on classical literature, both newly rediscovered works like Lucretius and lost books of Plato, and authors like Pliny the Elder and Seneca who had been available in the Middle Ages but became newly controversial in the Renaissance. The other half of the course will look at modern and contemporary censorship issues, from wartime censorship, to the censorship comic books, to digital rights management, to free speech on our own campus. Students may choose whether to focus their own research and exhibit cases on classical, early modern, modern, or contemporary censorship.

KNOW 40300: Case Studies on the Formation of Knowledge 2

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2015-16
  • Term: Spring
  • TR 1:30 - 2:50 PM
  • CHSS 40300, CMLT 41803, EALC 50300, HIST 40201, SOCI 40210
  • Robert J. Richards, John Goldsmith, Michael Rossi, Haun Saussy, Andreas Glaeser

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 Science
Robert Richards, John Goldsmith

This module will examine the ways several established disciplines, particularly linguistics and biology, came together in the mid-19th century to establish the science of psychology.  Both linguistics and biology offered empirical and theoretical avenues into the study of mind.  Researchers in each advanced their considerations either in complementary or oppositional fashion.

Module 2 : Origins of the Social Construction of Knowledge
Robert Richards, Michael Rossi

This module will trace the development of the idea of the social construction of knowledge and its relation to philosophy and history of science.  The development lit a spark, then created a conflagration, and yet still smolders.

Module 3 : The Politics of Philosophical Knowledge
Haun Saussy, Andreas Glaeser

The Politics/Philosophy module has to do with the emergence of theories of "schools of thought" in the context of political change. The two examples to be examined are Plato's criticism of the Sophists and Sima Qian's account of the Warring States intellectual landscape, terminated by the consolidation of the Empire.

KNOW 40200: Case Studies on the Formation of Knowledge 1

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2015-16
  • Term: Winter
  • TR 12:00 - 1:20 PM
  • CHSS 40200, CLAS 41616, CMLT 41802, HIST 40200, PLSC 40202, SCTH 40200, SOCI 40209
  • Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, Jack Gilbert, William Howell, Clifford Ando, Jennifer Pitts

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

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2016-17
  • Term: Spring
  • TBD
  • KNOW 41404, PLSC 42420
  • Jennifer Pitts

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

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2016-17
  • Term: Spring
  • W 1:30 - 4:20 PM
  • KNOW 40301, CDIN 40301, ARTH 40310, LACS 40301, CLAS 44916, HIST 64202, HREL 40301, ANCM 44916
  • Clifford Ando, Claudia Brittenham

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.