KNOW 40101: Textual Knowledge and Authority: Biblical and Chinese Literature
Ancient writers and their patrons exploited the textual medium, the virtual reality it can evoke and the prestige it can command to promote certain categories of knowledge and types of knowers. This course will survey two ancient bodies of literature, Hebrew and Chinese, for the figures they advance, the perspectives they configure, the genres they present, and the practices that developed around them, all in a dynamic interplay of text and counter-text. Excerpts from Hebrew literature include (a) royal wisdom in Proverbs & Ecclesiastes; (b) divine law in Exodus 19–24, Deuteronomy, the Temple Scroll, and Pesharim. Readings from Chinese literature include (c) speeches from the Shang shu (Book of Documents), (d) odes from the Shi jing (Book of Songs), and (e) commentaries from Han to Qing periods that elucidate, often in contradictory terms, the law-giving properties of these texts. NOTE: This course fulfills one quarter of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement.
KNOW 41402: Seminar: Patronage and Culture in Renaissance Italy and Her Neighbors 1
A two-quarter research seminar; the first quarter may be taken separately as a colloquium with the instructor's permission. The great works of literature, philosophy, art, architecture, music, and science which the word "Renaissance" invokes were products of a complex system of patronage and heirarchy, in which local, personal, and international politics were as essential to innovation as ideas and movements. This course examines how historians of early modern Europe can strive to access, understand, and describe the web of heirarchy and inequality which bound the creative minds of Renaissance Europe to wealthy patrons, poor apprentices, distant princes, friends and rivals, women and servants, and the many other agents, almost invisible in written sources, who were vital to the production and transformation of culture.
PQ: Graduate students only; can be taken as a one-quarter colloquium with permission.
KNOW 27002: Foucault and the History of Sexuality
This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.
KNOW 23001: Aztecs and Romans: Antiquity in the Making of Modern Mexico
Modern Mexico stands in the shadow of two vibrant pre-modern urban societies: the Mexica (commonly known as the Aztecs) and the Romans. In this course, we will examine how Mesoamerican and Mediterranean antiquities overlapped and interacted in shaping the culture, politics and society of the area we call Mexico from the late colonial period to the 21st century. Topics will include: creole patriotism, the political thought of the early Mexican Republic and the Mexican Revolution of 1910, nationalist archaeology, indigenismo, mestizaje and neo-classical and neo-Aztec art and architecture. All readings will be in translation.
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. Course requirements: 12-page research paper (40%), class report (30%), active participation (15%), book review (15%).
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 40303: The Humanities as a Way of Knowing
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 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.