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 Dissertation Research Fellowships.

For undergraduate students, we offer courses cross-listed in departments and schools across the University, as well as unique courses taught by the Stevanovich Institute's Postdoctoral Scholars. To browse courses, search by department, quarter, academic year, or type in a keyword that interests you. In addition, the Stevanovich Institute will launch the Experimental Capstone (XCAP) in 2018-19, team-taught courses for fourth-year undergraduate students interested in building upon their UChicago educational experience by adding practice, impact, and influence as important dimensions of their undergraduate work. 

KNOW 40104: Battle in the Mind Fields

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Linguistics, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Autumn
  • Time TBD
  • LING 36555, LING 26550, KNOW 40104
  • John Goldsmith

The goal of this course is to better understand both the ruptures and the continuity that we find in the development of linguistics, psychology, and philosophy over the period from early in the 19th century up until around 1960. Among the topics we will look at are the emergence of 19th century linguistics through the methods developed to reconstruct Proto Indo-European, and at the same time, the emergence of two wings of German psychology (exemplified by Brentano and by Wundt); the transplanting of both of these disciplines to the United States at the end of the 19th century; the rise of behaviorism in psychology and its interaction with Gestalt psychology as German scholars were forced to leave their homes in Europe in the years before World War II; the development of an American style of linguistics associated with the Linguistic Society of America; and the interactions after World War II of cybernetics, cognitively-oriented psychology, and a new style of linguistic theory development. 

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 27860: History of Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, Comparative Human Development, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Autumn
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-10:50am
  • KNOW 27860, CHSS 37860, HIPS 27860, CHDV 27860 / 37860
  • Dario Maestripieri

This course will consist in lectures and discussion sessions about the historical and conceptual foundations of evolutionary behavioral sciences (evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary psychology, ethology, comparative behavioral biology), covering the period from the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species up to the present day. Topics will include new theoretical developments, controversies, interdisciplinary expansions, and the relationships between evolutionary behavioral sciences and other disciplines in the sciences and the humanities.

KNOW 26000: BIG: Monumental Buildings and Sculptures in the Past and Present

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, SIFK, Signature Course
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • M/W/F 12:30-1:20pm
  • SIGN 26000 / NELC 20085
  • James Osborne

The building of sculpted monuments and monumental architecture seems to be a universal human trait in all parts of the world, from the pyramids of ancient Egypt to the inuksuit cairns of the arctic Inuit. What explains our urge to create monumental things? Why are monuments built, and how do we experience them? This course explores various answers to these questions through the disciplines that most frequently address monuments: archaeology, architecture, and art history. In the process, we will encounter a number of the major theoretical trends that have characterized the humanities and social sciences in the past century. This course examines humankind’s monumental record through a series of famous case studies from around the world to investigate the social significance of monuments in their original ancient or modern contexts. We will also determine whether lessons learned from the past can be applied to the study of monuments today, and whether studying modern monuments – including those from our immediate surroundings in Chicago – can help us understand those of the past.

KNOW 29522 / 39522: Europe’s Intellectual Transformations Renaissance to Enlightenment

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: French, History, History of Christianity, Religious Studies, SIFK, Signature Course
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Winter
  • Tue Thu : 02:00 PM-03:20 PM
  • FREN 29322, FREN 39322, HCHR 39522, RLST 22605, SIGN 26036, HIST 39522
  • Ada Palmer

This course will consider the foundational transformations of Western thought from the end of the Middle Ages to the threshold of modernity. It will provide an overview of the three self-conscious and interlinked intellectual revolutions which reshaped early modern Europe: the Renaissance revival of antiquity, the "new philosophy" of the seventeenth century, and the light and dark faces of the Enlightenment. It will treat scholasticism, humanism, the scientific revolution, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Voltaire, Diderot, and Sade.


Additional Notes
PQ: Students taking FREN 29322/39322 must read French texts in French. First-year students and non-History majors welcome.

KNOW 21418 / 31418: Darwinism and Literature

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Comparative Human Development, History, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Autumn
  • Wednesdays 3:30pm-6:20pm
  • CHDV 27861 / 37861, HIST 24921 / 34921
  • Bob Richards and Dario Maestripieri

In this course we will explore the notion that literary fiction can contribute to the generation of new knowledge of the human mind, human behavior, and human societies. Some novelists in the late 19th and early 20th century provided fictional portrayals of human nature that were grounded into Darwinian theory. These novelists operated within the conceptual framework of the complementarity of science and literature advanced by Goethe and the other romantics. At a time when novels became highly introspective and psychological, these writers used their literary craftsmanship to explore and illustrate universals aspects of human nature. In this course we read the work of several novelists such as George Eliot, HG Wells, Joseph Conrad, Jack London, Yuvgeny Zamyatin, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Italo Svevo, and Elias Canetti, and discuss how these authors anticipated the discoveries made decades later by cognitive, social, and evolutionary psychology. 

KNOW 24710: Genealogy of Confession: Foucault, Christianity, and the History of Truth

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Religious Studies, SIFK
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Winter
  • M 10:30am-1:20pm
  • RLST 24710
  • Maureen Kelly

"Western man has become a confessing animal," Foucault writes, calling our attention to the religious background of secular institutions, especially in the persistence and proliferation of confession in juridical, medical, and psychiatric domains. In this course, we will take up confession as a practice in order to examine both its history and development within the Christian tradition, and its diverse and persisting forms in extra-religious contexts. Following the argument that religious forms act in our contemporary world in varying, diverse, and often unseen ways, the class will pursue an inquiry into confession and the insight it affords into contemporary questions. The course will proceed in three modules. First, we will read selections of Foucault in order to gain a framework and vocabulary for asking philosophical, critical, and historical questions on confession. In the second module, we will study primary sources from the Christian tradition that signal key moments in the history of confession, including sources from Tertullian, Cyprian, Cassian, Augustine, and Luther. In the third module, we will look for patterns of continuity and discontinuity in the domains of philosophy, literature, psychoanalysis, law, and criticism. Treating these sections in turn will allow for comparisons of critical themes, including truth, judgment, freedom, and subject. In answering these critical questions, we will pursue a theoretical and historical investigation of key texts from the history of confession, and put our analytic skills to work on current discursive modes.  

KNOW 25315: Science Outside of Europe

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK, South Asian Languages & Civilizations
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Spring
  • SALC 25315, HIPS 25315
  • Eric Gurevitch

The classical narrative of the history of science is, as one prominent historian of science has recently put it, “not just a Eurocentric narrative, it is the Eurocentric narrative, the one that explained how the West had outstripped the rest by inventing science and thereby winning the modernity sweepstakes.” This course will explore how, when and why this narrative took shape, and how recent scholarship has grappled with its legacy. Is it possible or desirable to tell the
story—or a story—of science from outside of Europe? What might we learn about that thing we call modernity if we start from traditions of systematized knowledge outside of Europe? The course will expose undergraduates to a range of contemporary debates about non-western and non-modern science from post-colonial, post-positivist, and more traditional historicist perspectives. While the course will take a global perspective, it will often draw on materials from
South Asia, which, as the purported ‘jewel’ in the crown of the British empire and as a location with a long history of scholarly traditions, is a productive place from which to pose global questions. No prior knowledge of South Asian history or South Asian languages is required.

KNOW 27015 / 37015: Graphic Medicine

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, English, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Winter
  • Tuesday and Thursday 9:30am-10:50am
  • HIPS 27015, CHSS 37015, ENGL 27015
  • Brian Callender; MK Czerwiec

What do comics add to the discourse on health, illness, and disease? What insight do comics provide about the experience of illness? Can comics improve health? Graphic Medicine: Concepts and Practice is a course designed to introduce students to the basic concepts and practices of the emerging field of graphic medicine. Broadly defined as the “intersection between the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare,” graphic medicine allows for a unique exploration of health, disease, and illness through the narrative use of graphic and textual elements. Following a life-cycle framework, this course will examine the range of graphic medicine works that address topics such as pregnancy, abortion, mental health, sexuality, chronic medical diseases, HIV/AIDS, dementia, and end-of-life issues. Students will learn about conceptual and practical aspects of the field and be exposed to a variety of styles and genres that capture its breadth and diversity. In addition to reading, analyzing, and discussing the works, an important component of the class will be exercises during which students will create their own graphic medicine works. Taught by a nurse cartoonist (also a founding figure in the field) and a physician, the course also provides a perspective of the field from within the practice of medicine. Through didactics, discussion, and practice, this course will provide students with a thorough understanding of the field of graphic medicine. 

KNOW 40306: Race, Land, and Empire: History, Intersectionality, and the Meanings of America

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, SIFK
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Spring
  • Thursday 2:00pm-4:50pm
  • CHSS 40306, HIST 37013
  • Isaiah Lorado Wilner

This seminar examines the making and meaning of the United States at the intersections of race, land, and empire. It considers a set of profound historical transformations that shape American and global life today: the conquest and colonization of the vast North American continent; the expansion of slavery and, with it, a system of global capitalism; the growth of opposition to that system of labor, culminating in the Civil War; the origins, as a result of that war, of a modern American nation-state; the ethnic cleansing and resettlement of the West; and the ascension of the United States of America to global eminence as a military power. Rather than framing these events within a national narrative about the idea of Manifest Destiny or an epic struggle toward the ideal of democracy—an approach that ignores most of the continent, divides the West from the North and South, and frames history itself as progress—this course makes use of a global lens to analyze the borders between and border crossings by American communities. Our foci will be the interrelations between regions and peoples; the processes that led to alteration; and the evolution of structures that redistributed social power. Our three interwoven factors—race, land, and empire—give us an acute lens of observation. At the intersections of these patterns of belonging, modes of land use, and relations of domination, we can come to a new understanding of the most rapid surge of colonization in world history, which led to the rise of a global empire. Salient themes include democracy and its contradictions, imperial science, questions of historical agency, the politics of sex and gender, and the ongoing legacies of slavery and ethnic cleansing.

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 30928: Thinking the Present through the Past: Classic Works of History since 1750

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Social Thought
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Spring
  • SCTH 30928
  • Lorraine Daston

As proudly empirical as the sciences, as interpretive as the humanities, and as analytical as the social sciences, history as the pursuit of knowledge about the past resists classification. Because all history is written through the lens of the present, most works of history cease to be read after a generation, especially during the modern period, as the pace of change accelerated. In this seminar we will read some of the exceptions, including works by Kant, Tocqueville, Michelet, Cassirer, Huizinga, Lovejoy, and Frances Yates, to understand how a powerful vision of the past can transcend its own present.