KNOW 29522 / 39522: Europe’s Intellectual Transformations Renaissance to Enlightenment
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.
PQ: Students taking FREN 29322/39322 must read French texts in French. First-year students and non-History majors welcome.
KNOW 24710: Genealogy of Confession: Foucault, Christianity, and the History of Truth
"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 27015 / 37015: Graphic Medicine
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 45699: When Cultures Collide: Multiculturalism in Liberal Democracies
Coming to terms with diversity in an increasingly multicultural world has become one of the most pressing public policy projects for liberal democracies in the early 21st century. One way to come to terms with diversity is to try to understand the scope and limits of toleration for variety at different national sites where immigration from foreign lands has complicated the cultural landscape. This seminar examines a series of legal and moral questions about the proper response to norm conflict between mainstream populations and cultural minority groups (including old and new immigrants), with special reference to court cases that have arisen in the recent history of the United States.
KNOW 31407: Hermeneutic Sociology
The core ideas of a social hermeneutics expanding traditional textual hermeneutics into social life, were developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They can be summarized in a few intertwining propositions: First, discursive, emotive and sensory modalities of sense making, conscious and unconscious, characterize and differentiate social life forms. Second, sense making is acting, thus entangled in institutions. Third, sense making proceeds in diverse media whose structures and habits of use shape its process rendering form and style important. Fourth, sense making is structured by the relationships within which they take place. Fifth, sense making is crucial for the reproduction of all aspects of life forms. Sixths, sense making, life forms, and media are dialectically (co-constitutively) intertwined with each other. Seventh, social hermeneutics is itself sense-making. The course will explore these ideas by reading classical statements that highlight the core analytical concepts that social hermeneuticists employ such as symbolization, interpretation, mediation, rhetoric, performance, performativity, interpretive community, institutionalization. Every session will combine a discussion of the readings with an analytical practicum using these concepts. Authors typically include Vico, Herder, Dilthey, Aristotle, Burke, Austin, Ricoeur, Schütz, Bourdieu, Peirce, Panofsky, Ranciere, Lakoff, Mackenzie, Latour.
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 31407 course number in order for this course to meet the requirement.
KNOW 40203: Biopolitics and Posthumanism
Much has been written about the possibility (or impossibility) of creating an integrated political schema that incorporates living status, not species boundary, as the salient distinction between person and thing. In this course, we will explore how biopolitical and posthumanistic scholars like Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben, Jane Bennett, Cary Wolfe, and Donna Haraway have acknowledged (and advocated transcending) the anthropocentric ümwelt, to borrow Jakob von Üexküll’s influential term. In parallel with our theoretical readings, we will explore how actual legal systems have incorporated the nonhuman, with a particular focus on Anglo-American and transnational law. Our goal is to develop our own sense of an applied biopolitics—whether to our own research, to future legislation and jurisprudence, or both.
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 27012: Reading the Known World: Medieval Travel Genres
This course will consider how medieval English readers came to knowledge of their world, and imagined a place within it, through genres of travel narrative such as the pilgrim’s itinerary, the merchant manual, and the saint’s life. We will reflect on genre as concept en route: how did generic conventions and strategies organize this knowledge of unknown lands, other peoples, and distant marvels? We will read medieval texts like Book of Margery Kempe, Mandeville’s Travels, and the Digby play of Mary Magdalene, along with medieval and modern literary theory, to survey how vernacular literature presented a picture of the world and charted paths across it. Students will leave the class proficient in reading Middle English (the precursor of modern English). No previous experience with the language is required, and an optional weekly reading group will meet to work through passages in this half-new language.
KNOW 29940: XCAP: The Experimental Capstone: Knowledge Claims - Theory/Praxis
This course incorporates the practice and theory of various knowledge systems. Each week will feature a different expert, and we will cover (albeit not deeply) a historical, topical, and geographical range of readings and experiments. Our explorations will be in chemistry, medicine, textile knowledge, museum collections, conspiracy theories: we examine knowledge claims throughout, with our investigations crossing over the traditional boundaries between science, social science, medicine, and humanities.
This course is one of three offered in The Experimental Capstone (XCAP) in the 2018-19 academic year. Enrollment in this course is by application only. Only 3rd and 4th year students in the College will be considered for enrollment. For more information about XCAP, visit https://sifk.uchicago.edu/courses/xcap/
KNOW 17403: Science, Culture, & Society: Early Modern Period II
Section 2 - "Revolutions in Astronomy Anatomy." This course explores scientific developments in Western Europe from the sixteenth-century Scientific Revolution to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. During this period, European understandings of the natural world-and ways of achieving such understandings-underwent a series of radical and far-reaching transformations that are often called the Scientific Revolution.
KNOW 21415: Evolution Before Darwin
This course will explore the emergence and development of evolutionary thought prior to Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859). We will pay particular attention to the way in which transformism was a feature of nineteenth-century thought more generally, connecting natural history to astronomy, theology, and the study of humanity. Natural philosophers and later scientists who wished to make arguments concerning nature's deep past and hidden or obscured processes (such as the long-term transformations of stars, strata, and organic species) faced an essential problem: the power of observation and experiment was limited. Our class will interrogate this problem, and examine the way in which the development of evolutionary thought prior to Darwin was intimately connected to contentious debates regarding speculation and scientific method. We will conclude by contemplating the ways in which the ideas and challenges raised by transformism and evolution influenced the reception of Darwin's work, and the way in which these ideas and challenges remain embedded within seemingly disparate fields of study today.