Autumn

KNOW 18400: Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization II: “Renaissance to Enlightenment”

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Autumn
  • TBD
  • HIPS 18400
  • Robert J. Richards
  • Location TBD

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

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Anthropology, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK, Sociology
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Autumn
  • Wednesdays 9:30am to 12:20pm
  • ANTH 32305, HIPS 22001, HIST 56800, SOCI 40137
  • Karin Knorr Cetina; Adrian Johns
  • Location TBD

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 29901: XCAP: The Experimental Capstone -The Art of Healing: Media Aesthetics in Russia & the US

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Autumn
  • William Nickell; co-instructor TBD
  • Location TBD

What makes a medical treatment look like it will work? What makes us feel that we are receiving good care, or that we can be cured? Why does the color of a pill influence its effectiveness, and how do placebos sometimes achieve what less inert medication cannot? In this course we will consider these problems from the vantage points of a physician and a cultural historian. Our methodology will combine techniques of aesthetic analysis with those of medical anthropology, history and practice. We will consider the narratology of medicine as we examine the way that patients tell their stories—and the way that doctors, nurses, buildings, wards, and machines enter those narratives. The latter agents derive their meaning from medical outcomes, but are also embedded in a field of aesthetic values that shape their apperception. We will look closely at a realm of medical experience that continues to evade the grasp of instruments: how the aesthetic experience shapes the phenomenon of medical treatment.

This course is one of three offered in The Experimental Capstone (XCAP) in the 2019-20 academic year. Enrollment in this course is restricted to 3rd and 4th year undergraduates in the College. For more information about XCAP, visit https://sifk.uchicago.edu/courses/xcap/

KNOW 27016 / 37016: Comparative Metahistory

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Autumn
  • Tuesday and Thursday 12:30pm-1:50pm
  • CMLT 27016, EALC 27016 / 37016
  • Haun Saussy (University of Chicago) & Ulrich Timme Kragh (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland)
  • SIFK 104

The seminar will focus on classical, medieval, and modern historiography from China, India, and Tibet seeking answers to three general questions: (1) How are senses of historical time created in Asian historiographies by means of rhetorical figures of repetition, parallelism, dramatic emplotment, frame stories, and interweaving storylines? (2) How are historical persons and events given meaning through use of poetic devices, such as comparison, simile, and metaphor? And (3) How do Asian histories impose themselves as realistic accounts of the past by means of authoritative devices using citation of temporal-spatial facts, quotation of authority, and/or reliance on established historical genres? The methods employed to answer these questions are here adapted from pre-modern Asian knowledge systems of literary theory, poetics, dramaturgy, and epistemology, and thus permit looking at other knowledge formations from within the discourse of the traditions themselves.

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
  • Location TBD

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
  • Location TBD

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 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
  • SIFK 104

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.

Winter

KNOW 22709: Introduction to Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, Philosophy, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Winter
  • Time TBD
  • PHIL 22709, HIPS 22709
  • Thomas Pashby
  • Location TBD

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 25308 / 40202: History & Anthropology of Medicine & the Life Sciences

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Winter
  • Time TBD
  • HIST 25308/35308, HIPS 25808, CHSS 35308, ANTH 34307/24307
  • Michael Rossi
  • Location TBD

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 12203: The Italian Renaissance: Dante, Machiavelli, and the Wars of Popes and Kings

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Classical Studies, History, Italian, Medieval Studies, Religious Studies, Signature Course
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Winter
  • Time TBD
  • HIST 12203, ITAL 16000, SIGN 26034, RLST 22203, CLCV 22216, MDVL 12203
  • Ada Palmer
  • Location TBD

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 15620: Imagining Pagans in the Middle Ages

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: English, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Winter
  • Tu/Thu 12:30pm-1:50
  • ENG 15620
  • Joe Stadolnik & Julie Orlemanski
  • SIFK 104

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.

KNOW 40206: Assaulting the Paradigm: Franz Boas and His Contemporaries

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Winter
  • Tuesdays 2pm-4:50pm
  • Isaiah Lorado Wilner
  • SIFK 104

How do ideas succeed? What challenges do those who voice new ideas face as they try to gain adherents, and how do they rise to influence against the odds? This course examines how the unexpected, the unconventional, and the radically original can dethrone accepted truths. We will investigate this question through a case study of the anthropologist Franz Boas and his contemporaries, who assaulted the paradigm of race at the turn of the twentieth century. In addition to reading Boas, we will study the works of John Dewey, W. E. B. Du Bois, Sigmund Freud, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Margaret Mead, and Thorstein Veblen. By tracing the mutual influence between Boas and thinkers in fields from psychology to philosophy, we can examine how knowledge is contested and propagated—including the challenges those who frame ideas face as they break away from the pack, the role of social networks in the success of concepts that go “against the grain” of conventional wisdom, and the special agency of multidisciplinary collaboration in the periods of ferment produced when authority is tested and new ideas are demanded.

KNOW 40205: Ecological Thinking

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Winter
  • Tuesdays 9:30am-12:20pm
  • Nicolette I. Bruner
  • SIFK 104

What is the environment, anyway? Is it a collection of resources? An entity in need of protection? An autonomous state of being? In this course, we will engage with writers and thinkers who have grappled with what it means to think ecologically. We will examine how environmental concerns have reached across borders to shape law, culture, and theories of knowledge on a global scale. Course themes will include environmental justice, the energy humanities, postcolonial environmentalisms, ecocriticism, ecofeminism, queer ecologies, and critical life studies. Readings will include works by Rachel Carson, William Cronon, Lawrence Buell, Helena Maria Viramontes, Christopher Stone, Rob Nixon, Tamara Giles-Vernick, Timothy Morton, and others.

KNOW 29941: XCAP: The Experimental Capstone - The Affect System

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Winter
  • Wednesdays 9:30am to 12:20pm
  • Stephanie Cacioppo & Eric Oliver
  • SIFK 104

The Affect system in Medicine and the Political Science is a multidisciplinary course that aims to explore the concept of “affect” from different angles and unique perspectives. Drawing broadly from Medicine, philosophy and the political science, this course seeks to understand the affect system in different cultures and environments. The term “affect” typically refers to feelings beyond those of the traditional senses, with an emphasis on the experience of emotions and variations in hedonic tone. The structure and processes underlying mental contents are not readily apparent, however, and most cognitive processes occur non-consciously with only selected outcomes reaching awareness. Over millions of years of evolution, efficient and manifold mechanisms have evolved for differentiating hostile from hospitable stimuli and for organizing adaptive responses to these stimuli. These are critically important functions for the evolution of mammals, and the integrated set of mechanisms that serve these functions can be thought of as an “affect system.” It is this affect system – its architecture and operating characteristics, as viewed from neural, psychological, social, and political perspectives, that is the focus of the course.

This course is one of three offered in The Experimental Capstone (XCAP) in the 2019-20 academic year. Enrollment in this course is restricted to 3rd and 4th year undergraduates in the College. For more information about XCAP, visit https://sifk.uchicago.edu/courses/xcap/

Spring

KNOW 37612: Literary Theory and the Hebrew Bible

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Bible
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Time TBD
  • BIBL 37612
  • Simeon Chavel
  • Location TBD

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 57000: –/+: Molding, Casting, and the Shaping of Knowledge

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Art History, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Time TBD
  • HIST 57000, ANTH 54835, ARTH 47300, CHSS 57000
  • Patrick Crowley & Michael Rossi
  • Location TBD

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

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, Religious Studies, SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Time TBD
  • RLST 28900, ANTH 23906, AASR 30501
  • Alireza Doostdar
  • Location TBD

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 24112 / 34112: Screening India: Bollywood and Beyond

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Cinema and Media Studies, History, SIFK, South Asian Languages & Civilizations
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Time TBD
  • CMST 34112/24112, HIST 36808/26808, SALC 30511/2051
  • Rochona Majumdar
  • Location TBD

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 40309: Miracles, Marvels, and Mystics: Unknowing in Medieval England

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Tuesdays 11am-1:50pm
  • Joe Stadolnik
  • SIFK 104

In this seminar we will explore how premodern literary texts imagined experiences of ‘unknowing’: narrating scenes of astonishment, misapprehension, and disbelief. Our primary readings will draw on a rich tradition of vernacular writing in medieval England. We will read across that tradition’s genres, as writers experimented with ways to represent the wondrous, the occluded, the incomprehensible, and the horrific in a variety of forms, among them spectacular miracle plays, prose exercises in mystical negation, and the poetry of dreamworlds and alchemical secrecy.

KNOW 27017: Passing

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-10:50am
  • Nicolette I. Bruner
  • SIFK 104

In this course, we examine how people move within and between categories of identity, with particular attention to boundary crossings of race and gender in U.S. law and literature from the nineteenth century to the present.  Law provides a venue and a language through which forces of authority police categories of identity that, at Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado observe, “society invents, manipulates, or retires when convenient.” Readings will include theoretical texts as well as court rulings, cultural ephemera, and literary texts.

KNOW 21419: Indigenous Knowledge and the Foundations of Modern Social Theory

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Tuesday 2pm- 4:50pm
  • Isaiah Lorado Wilner
  • SIFK 104

Indigenous people are often seen as “objects” of social theory; this course considers their role as subjects of social theory—makers of modern knowledge who made foundational contributions to basic ideas about humanity. We will take up three case studies, each of which highlights an indigenous people who unleashed a cascade of fresh thinking: the Australian Aborigines who influenced the ideas of Émile Durkheim and Sigmund Freud; the Native peoples of the Northwest Coast of America who stimulated Franz Boas to reconstruct the concept of culture; and the indigenous peoples of the Trobriand Islands who shaped Bronisław Malinowski’s ideas about gifts, hospitality, and reciprocity. As we will see, much of what we call social theory turns out to rely on a vast archive of nonstate knowledge generated by indigenous intellectuals. This course names the generators of the knowledge, investigating how ideas circulate, intermix, and transform as they exit their sites of enunciation and go global. To trace these connections, we will make excursions to Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida, and Judith Butler and also to indigenous studies, multispecies ethnography, and the environmental humanities. Behind such foundational constructs as totem and taboo, the Oedipus complex, and le don (“the gift”), there exist equally important indigenous philosophies—including ideas of sustainability, diversity, and collective survival that indigenous intellectuals facing the profound shock of colonial violence archived in the “host body” of social theory, preparing the resurgence of today.

KNOW 29971: XCAP: The Experimental Capstone - What is an Intervention (for Mental Health)?

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Monday 1:30 to 4:20pm
  • Eugene Raikhel and Michael Marcangelo
  • Location TBD

What does it mean for a practice to be understood as an intervention in the domain of mental health? Interventions in mental health can be carried out with tools ranging from chemicals and electrical impulses, to words, affects, and social relationships, to organizations. They can involve acting on a range of distinct targets -- from brains and bodies to psyches and emotional conflicts to housing and employment. This course will use a focus on mental health interventions to introduce students to a range of conceptual and practical issues surrounding mental health and illness, as well as to raise a set of broader questions about the relationships between knowledge formation, practice, ethics, and politics. The questions we will ask throughout the course will include: What does it mean for an intervention to be successful? How is effectiveness understood and measured? Are mental health interventions ethically-neutral or do they contain embedded within them assumptions about the normal, the pathological, and the good life? We will think through these questions vis-a-vis readings drawn from psychiatry, psychology, and the social sciences -- but more importantly, through weekly practical and experiential activities. Each week will focus on one kind of mental health intervention, and will involve a particular kind of practical learning activity.

This course is one of three offered in The Experimental Capstone (XCAP) in the 2019-20 academic year. Enrollment in this course is restricted to 3rd and 4th year undergraduates in the College. For more information about XCAP, visit https://sifk.uchicago.edu/courses/xcap/

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
  • Location TBD

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.