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 37612: Literary Theory and the Hebrew Bible
Readings in literary theory and in select works of the Hebrew Bible, with special attention to voice and genre. Seminar-style presentations and discussion.
KNOW 22709: Introduction to Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics
In this class we examine some of the conceptual problems associated with quantum mechanics. We will critically discuss some common interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as the Copenhagen interpretation, the many-worlds interpretation and Bohmian mechanics. We will also examine some implications of results in the foundations of quantum theory concerning non-locality, contextuality and realism.
Prerequisites: Prior knowledge of quantum mechanics is not required since we begin with an introduction to the formalism. Only familiarity with high school geometry is presupposed but expect to be introduced to other mathematical tools as needed.
KNOW 57000: –/+: Molding, Casting, and the Shaping of Knowledge
Of all technologies of reproduction and resemblance, those of molding and casting are perhaps the most intimate. An object, a sculpture, a creature, a person is slathered in plaster (or some other form-hugging material), and the resulting "negative" image is rendered into a "positive" replica. This course explores the various historically and culturally contingent meanings that have been attached to these technical procedures-despite their ostensibly "styleless" or "anachronistic" character-from the ancient world to the present day. Used in practices ranging from funerary rituals to fine art, natural history to medicine, anthropology to forensics, molding and casting constitute forms of knowledge production that capture at once the real and the enduring, the ephemeral and fleeting, and the authentic and affective. Featuring a diverse set of readings by authors such as Pliny the Elder, Charles Sanders Peirce, Walter Benjamin, Oswald Spengler, Gilbert Simondon, and others, the colloquium will address theoretical and methodological questions pertaining to concepts of materiality, indexicality, tactility, scalability, and seriality. Besides plaster, the objects of our analysis will comprise a diverse range of media including but not limited to wax, metal, photography and film, synthetic polymers, and digital media.
KNOW 28900: Magic, Science, and Religion
The relationship between the categories of magic, science, and religion has been a problem for modern social science since its inception in the nineteenth century. In the first half of this course, we will critically examine some of the classical and contemporary approaches to these concepts. In the second half, we will explore a number of detailed historical and ethnographic studies about modern phenomena that call some of the fundamental assumptions behind these categories into question.
KNOW 25308 / 40202: History & Anthropology of Medicine & the Life Sciences
In this course we will examine the ways in which different groups of people--in different times and places--have understood the nature of life and living things, bodies and bodily processes, and health and disease, among other notions. We will address these issues principally, though not exclusively, through the lens of the changing sets of methods and practices commonly recognizable as science and medicine. We will also pay close attention to the methods through which scholars in history and anthropology have written about these topics, and how current scientific and medical practices affect historical and anthropological studies of science and medicine.
KNOW 24112 / 34112: Screening India: Bollywood and Beyond
Cinema is, unarguably, the medium most apposite for thinking through the complexities of democratic politics, especially so in a place like India. While Indian cinema has recently gained international currency through the song and dance ensembles of Bollywood, there remains much more to be said about that body of films. Moreover, Bollywood is a small (though very important) part of Indian cinema. Through a close analysis of a wide range of films in Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, and Urdu, this course will ask if Indian cinema can be thought of as a form of knowledge of the twentieth century.
KNOW 12203: The Italian Renaissance: Dante, Machiavelli, and the Wars of Popes and Kings
This course will consider 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, philosophy, primary sources, the revival of antiquity, and the papacy's entanglement with pan-European politics. We will examine humanism, patronage, politics, corruption, assassination, feuds, art, music, magic, censorship, education, science, heresy, and the roots of the Reformation. Writing assignments focus on higher-level writing skills, with a creative writing component linked to our in-class live-action-role-played (LARP) reenactment of a Renaissance papal election. This is a Department of History Gateway course.
Prerequisites: Graduate students by consent only; register for the course as HIST 90000 (sect 53) Reading and Research: History.
Course Description Notes: History Gateways are introductory courses meant to appeal to first- through third-year students who may not have done previous course work on the topic of the course; topics cover the globe and span the ages.
KNOW 18400: Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization II: “Renaissance to Enlightenment”
This lecture-discussion course examines the development science and scientific philosophy from the mid-fifteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. The considerations begin with the recovery of an ancient knowledge in the works of Leonardo, Vesalius, Harvey, and Copernicus. Thereafter the course will focus on Enlightenment science, as represented by Galileo, Descartes, Newton, and Hume. The course will culminate with the work of Darwin, who utilized traditional concepts to inaugurate modern science. For each class, the instructor will provide a short introductory lecture on the texts, and then open discussion to pursue with students the unexpected accomplishments of the authors under scrutiny.
KNOW 31408: Colloquium: Introduction to Science Studies
This course explores the interdisciplinary study of science as an enterprise. During the twentieth century, sociologists, historians, philosophers, and anthropologists all raised interesting and consequential questions about the sciences. Taken together their various approaches came to constitute a field, "science studies." The course provides an introduction to this field. Students will not only investigate how the field coalesced and why, but will also apply science-studies perspectives in a fieldwork project focused on a science or science-policy setting. Among the topics we may examine are the sociology of scientific knowledge and its applications, actor-network theories of science, constructivism and the history of science, images of normal and revolutionary science, accounts of research in the commercial university, and the examined links between science and policy.
KNOW 15620: Imagining Pagans in the Middle Ages
This undergraduate course investigates what became of classical paganism during the Christian Middle Ages. How did medieval writers portray Greek and Roman practices of worship and its pantheon of gods? For medieval literate culture, classical myths were both an index of historical difference – 'we no longer believe what they believed' – and an ongoing source of poetic, narrative, and symbolic potency. Through the close-reading of a variety of source texts, the course examines what classical myths and pagan belief means to late-medieval poets and thinkers. In particular, we’ll look to how ‘imagining pagans’ incited the medieval historical imagination; inspired cosmological or proto-scientific thought experiments; disrupted orthodox theology; and finally, worked to establish fiction as a domain of literature. The poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer will be at the heart of the class, but we will also read widely across medieval culture. No previous experience with Middle English is necessary.