Recent and current Humanities M.A. seminars

Humanities M.A. Seminars

Spring 2017

Humanities 703: History in the Humanities
4:10 – 6:55 Wednesday in HUM 412
Professor Scott

This course is a somewhat idiosyncratic introduction to the field of cultural history.  We’ll be reading some of my favorite modern historians, including--but not limited to-- historians of modern China. I've chosen the texts for their impact on their field, philosophical or methodological interest, and readability.  You may write your paper on a course-related historical event or topic or on the work of a particular historian.

 

Humanities 711: American Form and Culture
4:10 – 6:55 Wednesday in HUM 412
Professor Garcia-Moreno

Description coming soon.

 

Fall 2015

Humanities 700: Introduction to Integrative Studies
4:10 – 6:55 Wednesday in HUM 412
Professor Garcia-Moreno

An introduction to some of the foundational and current texts, ideas, theories, debates, critical practices and research methods in the humanities. Practice in close reading of textual and visual materials; in research methods; in writing a prospectus and a theoretically informed essay.

 

Humanities 703: History in the Humanities
5:10 – 7:55 Monday in HUM 412
Professor Luft

The philosophical conception of history dominant in the west in the modern age has been the optimistic view of history as infinitely progressive and perfectible. That view culminated in the nineteenth century in two very different conceptions of the ultimate “end” to progressive history, those of Hegel and Marx. Starting with Nietzsche the assumptions that ground the Western conception of history as progressive, or even linear, were undermined, and Nietzsche's critique was "radicalized" by contemporary post-modern writers who deny that history is either orderly or purposeful. Our readings this semester follow the development of the progressive view of history in the writings of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Walter Benjamin.

Besides this focus on the theme of progressive history, we will be concerned with an even more important and equally fascinating issue, that of the role of interpretation in the reading and writing of history. Our last two readings explore this issue in two very different ways. For Derrida, all reading and writing is inherently dynamic, interactive and, always informed by one’s previous readings and writings, intertextual. Derrida thematizes that interaction in his reading of Hegel and Marx in Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, insisting on the need to retain the “ghost” of the liberatory goals of Marxism. Hayden White develops an even more explicit challenge to the epistemological claims of history by deconstructing those claims to reveal the inherently narrative and literary nature of history writing. We evaluate this interpretive view of history as we read White’s literary interpretations of Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche.

Humanities 713: Asian Forms and Culture
5:10 – 7:55 Tuesday in HUM 412
Professor Scott

This course is about how modern Chinese writers and artists respond to what they refer to as traditional Chinese culture. To use the term “tradition” is to express a feeling of rupture with the past.  The use of the term is thus paradoxically a symptom of modernity.  One may use the word positively, with nostalgia for a quality of experience that one has lost, or negatively, with a sense of having fortunately made a clean break with the past.  Either way, one assumes that “now” is somehow decisively different from “then.” The past is not directly accessible to us; it must be reconstructed, and the border between “now” and “then” may be drawn differently by different observers, or even partially erased. The overarching question in this course is: how have modern Chinese writers and artists decided where to draw the line between past and present, how have they constructed a usable past, and what do their depictions of the Chinese past tell us about the Chinese present?