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 40101: Textual Knowledge and Authority: Biblical and Chinese Literature

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Bible, SIFK
  • Year: 2016-17
  • Term: Autumn
  • F 10:00 - 12:50 AM
  • BIBL 50805
  • Haun Saussy, Simeon Chavel

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 31415: Knowledge As a Platter: Comparative Perspectives on Knowledge Texts in the Ancient World

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, Philosophy of Religions, SIFK, Social Thought, South Asian Languages & Civilizations
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • MW 9:30 – 12:20 PM
  • SCTH 30927, SALC 30927, CHSS 30927, HREL 30927, KNOW 31415
  • Lorraine Daston and Wendy Doniger

NOTE: This 5-week seminar meets from March 26 – April 30, 2018

In various Ancient cultures, sages created the new ways of systematizing what was known in fields as diverse as medicine, politics, sex, dreams, and mathematics. These texts did more than present what was known; they exemplified what it means to know – and also why reflective, systematic knowledge should be valued more highly than the knowledge gained from common sense or experience. Drawing on texts from ancient India, Greece, Rome, and the Near East, this course will explore these early templates for the highest form of knowledge and compare their ways of creating fields of inquiry: the first disciplines. Texts include the Arthashastra, the Hippocratic corpus, Deuteronomy, the Kama Sutra, and Aristotle’s Parva naturalia.

KNOW 21416: Reproduction and Motherhood in Multimedia (1800–present)

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Autumn
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:30 – 4:50 PM
  • M. Carlyle

What do artificial wombs, monstrous creations, and dystopian medical landscapes have in common? Answers to these questions are the subject of this interdisciplinary course in which we explore the many ways in which human reproduction has entered multimedia from the eighteenth century through present. In our course, the concept of "reproduction" will be problematized through film, advertising, texts, literature, and objects. Through these sources, we will critically explore how popular representations of human reproduction have shaped the status of the female body and notions of motherhood over time. We will also see how the liberating potential of new forms of multimedia have often served to reinforce--rather than resist or reimagine--longstanding motifs and beliefs surrounding the maternal body and womanhood, from the image of the hysterical woman to that of the monstrous mother. Themes covered include the science of reproduction, hysteria, monstrosities, maternal imagination, artificial life, race, contraception, in/fertility, and sex education.

KNOW 27006: Health Care and the Limits of State Action

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Big Problems, Biological Sciences, Comparative Literature, Human Rights, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Mon : 01:30 PM-04:20 PM
  • CMLT 28900, BPRO 28600, HMRT 28602, BIOS 29323
  • Haun Saussy and Mindy Schwartz

In a time of great human mobility and weakening state frontiers, epidemic disease is able to travel fast and far, mutate in response to treatment, and defy the institutions invented to keep it under control: quarantine, the cordon sanitaire, immunization, and the management of populations. Public health services in many countries find themselves at a loss in dealing with these outbreaks of disease, a deficiency to which NGOs emerge as a response (an imperfect one to be sure). Through a series of readings in anthropology, sociology, ethics, medicine, and political science, we will attempt to reach an understanding of this crisis of both epidemiological technique and state legitimacy, and to sketch out options.

KNOW 31408: Introduction to Science Studies

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK, Sociology
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Wednesday 9:30 – 12:20 PM
  • CHSS 32000, ANTH 32305, SOCI 40137, HIST 56800, HIPS 22001
  • Karin Knorr Cetina; Adrian Johns

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 27007: The First Great Transformation: The Economies of the Ancient World

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Classical Studies, History, SIFK, Signature Course
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:00 – 3:20 PM
  • CLCV 20517, HIST 20505, SIGN 26015
  • Alain Bresson

This class examines the determinants of economic growth in the ancient world. It covers various cultural areas (especially Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and China) from ca. 3000 BCE to c. 500 CE. By contrast with the modern world, ancient cultures have long been supposed to be doomed to stagnation and routine. The goal of this class is to revisit the old paradigm with a fresh methodology, which combines a rigorous economic approach and a special attention to specific cultural achievements. We will assess the factors that indeed weighed against positive growth but we will also discover that, far from being immobile, the cultures of the ancient world constantly invented new forms of social and economic organization. This was indeed a world where periods of positive growth were followed by periods of brutal decline, but if envisaged on the longue durée, this was a period of decisive achievements, which provided the basis for the future accomplishments of the Early Modern and Modern world.

KNOW 21413: Sex and Enlightenment Science

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Gender and Sexuality Studies, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Mondays & Wednesdays 3:00 – 4:20 PM
  • HIST 22218, HIPS 21413, GNSE 21413
  • Margaret Carlyle

What do a lifelike wax woman, a birthing dummy, and a hermaphrodite have in common? This interdisciplinary course seeks answers to this question by exploring how eighteenth-century scientific and medical ideas, technologies, and practices interacted with and influenced contemporary notions of sex, sexuality, and gender. In our course, the terms "sex," "Enlightenment," and "science" will be problematized in their historic contexts using a variety of primary and secondary sources. Through these texts, as well as images and objects, we will see how emerging scientific theories about sex, sexuality, and gender contributed to new understandings of the human, especially female, body. We will also see how the liberating potential of Enlightenment thought gave way to sexual and racial theories that insisted on fundamental human difference. Topics to be covered include theories of generation, childbirth, homosexuality, monstrosities, race and procreation, and hermaphrodites and questions about the "sex" of the enlightened scientist and the gendering of scientific practices.

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

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Art History, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, SIFK
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Spring
  • TBD
  • HIST 57000, ANTH 54835, ARTH 47300, CHSS 57000
  • Patrick Crowley & Michael Rossi

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.

N.B.: This course is a colloquium for graduate students only.

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

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Winter
  • TR 2–3.20
  • HIST 25308/35308, HIPS 25808, CHSS 35308, ANTH 34307/24307
  • Michael Rossi

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 practice affect historical and anthropological studies of science and medicine.

This course fulfills part of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement to be eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship. Ph.D. students must register with the KNOW 40202 course number in order for this course to meet the requirement. 

KNOW 15013: Medicine and Society in America

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine
  • Year: 2018-19
  • Term: Winter
  • TR 9.30–10.50
  • HIST 15003, HIPS 15013
  • Michael Rossi

The course provides an introduction to central questions in American medicine from the early colonial period to the present day. Topics covered include epidemics in the early colonies; frontier medicine and alternative healers; urbanization, hygiene and the state; race, empire, and medicine; sexual health and reproductive rights; the politics of addiction; and the rise of biomedicine, genetics, and genomics, among others. Students will gain from this course both an understanding of major trends and transformations in American medicine, as well as a more nuanced feel for present-day debates about health-care rights and policies in America. Requirements will include short weekly responses to class readings and a final paper of six to eight pages.