Comparative Literature and Society

Program Office: B-101 Heyman Center, East Campus; 212-854-4541; icls@columbia.edu
http://icls.columbia.edu

Director: Prof. Lydia Liu, 407 Kent Hall; 212-854-5631; ll2410@columbia.edu

Associate Director: Associate Prof. Anupama Rao, Barnard Hall 2nd Floor, Lefrak 226; 212-854-8547; arao@barnard.edu

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Tommaso Manfredini, B-106 Heyman Center, East Campus; tm2538@columbia.edu

Director of Medical Humanities Major: Assistant Prof. of Medicine Rishi Goyal; B-106 Heyman Center, East Campus; rkg6@cumc.columbia.edu

Assistant Director: Sarah Monks, B-102 Heyman Center, East Campus; 212-854-8850; sm3373@columbia.edu

Established at Columbia in 1998, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) promotes a global perspective in the study of literature and its social context. Committed to cross-disciplinary study of literary works, the Institute brings together the rich resources of Columbia in the various literatures of the world; in the social sciences; in art history, architecture, and media; and in the medical humanities.

The major programs at ICLS allow qualified students to study literature, culture, and society with reference to material from several national traditions, or in combination of literary study with comparative study in other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Under the guidance of the director of undergraduate studies, students select courses offered by participating departments.

The program is designed for students whose interest and expertise in languages other than English permit them to work comparatively in several national or regional cultures. The course of study differs from that of traditional comparative literature programs, both in its cross-disciplinary nature and in its expanded geographic range, including not just European, but also Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Latin American cultures.

The program includes course work in the social sciences, and several core courses are jointly taught by faculty from different disciplines. Students thus explore a variety of methodological and disciplinary approaches to cultural and literary artifacts in the broadest sense. The cross-disciplinary range of the program includes visual and media studies; law and the humanities; medicine and the humanities; and studies of space, cities, and architecture. As a major or concentration, this program can be said to flow naturally from Columbia’s Core Curriculum, which combines literature, art, philosophy, and social thought, and consistently attracts some of Columbia’s most ambitious and cosmopolitan students.

Students can choose to complete the major in Comparative Literature and Society (CLS) or the major in Medical Humanities (MedHum). Currently, the MedHum major is not available for the concentration.

Given the wide variety of geographic and disciplinary specializations possible within the majors and concentration, students construct their course sequence in close collaboration with the director of undergraduate studies. All students, however, share the experience of taking the course CPLS UN3900 INTRO TO COMP LIT & SOCIETY in their sophomore year, as well as the required senior seminar in the fall of their last year in the program. The ICLS majors and concentration are designed for students interested in the cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural study of texts, traditions, media, and discourses in an increasingly transnational world.

Students planning to apply for admission to the CLS major, the MedHum major, or the CLS concentration should organize their course of study in order to complete the following prerequisites by the end of the sophomore year:

  1. Preparation to undertake advanced work in one foreign language, to be demonstrated by completion of two introduction to literature courses, typically numbered 3333-3350.
  2. Completion of at least four terms of study of a second foreign language or two terms in each of two foreign languages.
  3. Enrollment in CPLS UN3900 INTRO TO COMP LIT & SOCIETY in the spring semester of the sophomore year.

Information about admission requirements and application to the majors or concentration can be found at http://icls.columbia.edu/programs/undergraduate-admissions/. Students are advised to meet with the director of undergraduate studies before submitting the statement of purpose for the required application. Applications are due in early January of the sophomore year. 

Departmental Honors

To be eligible for departmental honors, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.6 for courses in the major. Departmental honors will be conferred only on students who have submitted a superior senior thesis that clearly demonstrates originality and excellent scholarship. Note that the senior thesis is not required for the major. For information on the honors program, see http://icls.columbia.edu/programs/departmental-honors/.

Executive Committee of ICLS
L. Maria Bo (English and Comparative Literature)
Bruno Bosteels (Latin American and Iberian Cultures)
Souleymane Bachir Diagne (French and Romance Philology)
Madeleine Dobie (French and Romance Philology)
Brent Hayes Edwards (English and Comparative Literature, Jazz)
Matthew Engelke (Religion)
Stathis Gourgouris (Classics, English and Comparative Literature)
Rishi Kumar Goyal (Emergency Medicine)
Bernard Harcourt (Columbia Law School)
Gil Hochberg (Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies and IRWGS)
Seth Kimmel (Latin American and Iberian Cultures) 
Lydia H. Liu (East Asian Languages and Cultures)
David B. Lurie (East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Anupama P Rao (History, Barnard)
Felicity Scott (Architecture)
Oliver Simons (Germanic Languages)
Joseph Slaughter (English and Comparative Literature)
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (University Professor of the Humanities)
Dennis Tenen (English and Comparative Literature)
Jesus R. Velasco (Latin American and Iberian Cultures)

Guidelines for all ICLS Majors and Concentrators

Requirements for the major and concentration in Comparative Literature and Society were updated in February 2019; please contact the director of undergraduate studies with any questions.  An application worksheet can be found on our website. Applications are due in early January of a student's sophomore year. At the time of application, students interested in the major (including the major in Medical Humanities) or concentration must have met these requirements:

  1. Foreign language 1: four semesters of language training (or equivalent) and two semesters of introductory literature courses, typically numbered 3330-3350;
  2. (CLS Majors only) Foreign language 2: four semesters of one language or two semesters of two languages;
  3. CPLS UN3900 INTRO TO COMP LIT & SOCIETY, usually taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  4. A focus statement, 1-2 pages in length. The focus is a period, theme, problem, movement, etc., that is explored from an interdisciplinary and/or a comparative perspective. Faculty understand that this statement is a work in progress, but that it serves as a useful guide to students' academic pursuits and course selection.

Major in Comparative Literature and Society

The major in Comparative Literature and Society consists of a minimum of 33 points or 11 courses, distributed as follows. Courses taken to fulfill the application requirements do not count toward the major. With the exception of courses taken to satisfy the global core requirement, double counting of courses to the CPLS major and another program or university requirement must be approved by the DUS.  Requirements for the major and concentration in Comparative Literature and Society were updated in February 2019; please contact the director of undergraduate studies with any questions.

  1. CPLS UN3900 INTRO TO COMP LIT & SOCIETY, required for all majors and normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year (3 points)
  2. Advanced courses as follows (please note that one course may be used to fulfill two of the advanced course requirements):
    • Two courses with a CPLS designator. CLxx courses, i.e. courses cross-listed between ICLS and other departments, may also be counted toward this requirement (6-8 points)
    • Two seminars in a humanities or social science discipline other than literature (e.g. Architecture, Anthropology, Art History, Economics, Gender & Sexuality Studies, History, Law, Linguistics, Music, Political Science, Race & Ethnicity Studies, Sociology…). The two courses must be grounded in the same disciplinary approach but don’t have to be offered by the same department or program (6-8 points)
    • Two courses requiring readings in a language other than English. (The two courses don’t have to be in the same foreign language) (6-8 points)
    • Two courses focusing on a specific national or regional literature or culture, chosen from any discipline (The two courses should focus on the same nation/region) (6-8 points)
    • One elective course reflecting the student’s intellectual interests. The senior thesis may be counted toward this requirement. Additional foreign language study may also be counted with DUS approval (3-4 points)
  3. CPLS UN3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society
  4. Senior thesis (optional).

Major in Medical Humanities

The major in Medical Humanities requires 33 points (11 courses). Note that language courses taken to fulfill the application requirements 1 above do not count toward the required points for the major. Students interested in the major are strongly encouraged to fulfill their science requirement with classes in human biology (e.g., Human SpeciesGenes and Development) or human psychology (e.g., Mind, Brain, and Behavior).

  1. CPLS UN3900 INTRO TO COMP LIT & SOCIETY, required for all ICLS majors and normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year.
  2. Advanced courses as follows (please note that one course may be used to fulfill two of the advanced course requirements):                                     
  • 1 course with a CPLS or CL- course identifier: 3-4 points

          Students choose from among the wide range of courses sponsored by the Institute for        Comparative Literature and Society or cross-listed between ICLS and other departments. These offerings change every semester and are listed on the ICLS website.

  •  1 course with readings in a language other than English: 3-4 points

         Students may either take a course that is taught wholly or partially in a foreign language or a course taught in English for which they have received approval to do most of the reading in a foreign language.

  • 3 courses that form the disciplinary/methodological nexus of the student’s interests: 9-12 points

        Students will develop an individualized course of study at the nexus of health, society and the humanities in discussion with the DUS (Some example of prior constellations include but are not limited to:  Literature and Medicine; Narrative Medicine; Medical Anthropology; History of Medicine; Comparative Public Health; Disability studies; Neuroscience; Biopolitics; Bioethics).

  • 2 required core courses in Medical Humanities: 6 points
  • 2 courses in the biological or biochemical sciences: 6-8 points

         Students in the MedHum major should be versed in contemporary and classical debates and knowledge in the biological sciences.  Students may take any two biology or biochemistry classes that relate to fundamental concepts in human biology.

3. Senior Seminar:

CPLS UN3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society 

     4. Senior thesis (optional).


Concentration in Comparative Literature and Society

The concentration in Comparative Literature and Society consists of a minimum of 27 points or 9 courses, distributed as follows. Please note that courses taken to fulfill the application requirements do not count toward the major. With the exception of courses taken to satisfy the global core requirement, any double counting of courses to the CPLS major and another program or university requirement must be approved by the DUS.  Requirements for the major and concentration in Comparative Literature and Society were updated in February 2019; please contact the director of undergraduate studies with any questions.

  1. CPLS UN3900 INTRO TO COMP LIT & SOCIETY, normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  2. Advanced courses as follows:
    • Two courses with a CPLS designator. CL-- courses, i.e. courses cross-listed between ICLS and other departments, may also be counted toward this requirement (6-8 points)
    • Two seminars in a humanities or social science discipline other than literature (e.g. Architecture, Anthropology, Art History, Economics, Gender & Sexuality Studies, History, Law, Linguistics, Music, Political Science, Race & Ethnicity Studies, Sociology…). The two courses must be grounded in the same disciplinary approach but don’t have to be offered by the same department or program (6-8 points)
    • Two courses requiring readings in a language other than English (the two courses don’t have to be in the same foreign language) (6-8 points)
    • One course focusing on a specific national or regional literature or culture, chosen from any discipline (3-8 points)
    • Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society (CPLS V3991)

The senior seminar is taken in fall semester of the senior year. Students  explore three areas of contemporary reflection in the field of comparative literature and society. Topics change yearly and are aligned with current ICLS research projects. Recent examples include: Bandung Humanism; Global Language Justice; A Safer Online Public Square

  • (Optional) Senior Thesis (CPLS 3995) (3 points)

Students sign up for thesis credits (CPLS 3995) in the spring semester of the senior year but should begin to prepare in the fall semester. They work with an adviser from the Columbia/Barnard faculty who oversees the project and assigns the final grade. The DUS of ICLS is the second reader for all projects. The thesis must be a minimum of 35 pages double-spaced and must include footnotes and a bibliography. Translations, creative work and multi-media projects can be submitted with the prior approval of the DUS. These must be accompanied by an introduction that situates the project intellectually. The thesis should be written in English unless a student receives permission from the DUS to write in another language. Note that the completed thesis is submitted before the end of the spring semester, usually by April 15. The thesis is considered as a 3-point course. It may be counted in lieu of a course taken to meet requirements 2, 3, 4, or 5.

Students should consult frequently with the DUS to ensure that their program of study develops in consonance with the intellectual project described in the focus statement that was presented as part of the admissions process. The faculty understands that this statement is itself a work in progress, but also that it serves as a useful guide to the student's academic pursuits and course selection.

Comparative Literature and Society concentration students should also consider the Barnard College course offerings in Comparative Literature. They are also strongly encouraged to avail themselves of the opportunity to study abroad.

FALL 2020 COURSES

ENGL UN3648 Comics, Health, and Embodiment. 4 points.

Deformed, grotesque, super/transhuman and otherwise extraordinary bodies have always been a central feature of comics. However, the past ten years have seen a surge of graphic narratives that deal directly with experiences of health and illness, and that are recognized as having significant literary value. This course will focus on graphic narratives about healthcare, illness, and disability with particular attention to questions of embodied identities such as gender, sexuality, race, and age. Primary texts will include the work of Alison Bechdel, Roz Chast, CeCe Bell, David Small, Allie Brosch, and Ellen Fourney. We will study the vocabulary, conventions, and formal properties of graphic literature, asking how images and text work together to create narrative. We will consider whether graphic narrative might be especially well suited to representations of bodily difference; how illness/disability can disrupt conventional ideas about gender and sexuality; how experiences of the body as a source of pain, stigmatization, and shame intersect with the sexualized body; and how illness and disability queer conventional sexual arrangements, identities, and attachments. While studying the construction of character, narrative, framing, color, and relationship between visual and print material on the page, students will also produce their own graphic narratives.

Fall 2020: ENGL UN3648
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3648 001/13016 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Rachel Adams 4 16/18

ANTH UN3664 FIELDWORK AT EDGE OF THE VIDEO FRAME. 4.00 points.

Today, we have entered a dramatically transformed world where unexpected pivot events, globalized supply chain economics, and unraveling social formations are moving people and community into a fully online world. The field of Anthropology now faces the idea of “fieldwork” that is not located in a geographic space. Anthropologists have started conducting ethnography of online spaces such as digital gaming and hacker communities. This course examines moving image as a space where fieldwork can be done, by working with materials stored online, in archives, and shared on physical media. The practitioners in this field are outside the academy–filmmakers, installation artists, performers, online vloggers, social media influencers–who work with archives created by others. We will examine evolving forms of visual culture, in museums, streaming media, mobile devices, zoomcasting, etc., and practitioners who rework found footage to build new meanings. Anthropology has a tradition of parsing moving image, especially because pioneering ethnographic films cannot be screened today without contextualization. We will consider the concept of “edge of frame,” whereby materials captured by a journalist decades ago are chosen for new meanings by an artist in a radically different context. We will trace a history of human tendency toward media remix, in the context of rapid technology changes, new historical conjunctures, changing conceptions of social forms, and new forms of public gathering, as mediated by anthropology. We will read accounts from film studies, anthropology, and history, interspersed with viewing films, browsing documentations of art installations, and zoom sessions with practicing filmmakers and artists.

Fall 2020: ANTH UN3664
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ANTH 3664 001/15934 F 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Naeem Mohaiemen 4.00 15/20

HIST BC3825 RACE, CASTE, AND THE UNIVERSITY: B. R. AMBEDKAR AT COLUMBIA. 4 points.

B. R. Ambedkar is arguably one of Columbia University’s most illustrious alumni, and a democratic thinker and constitutional lawyer who had enormous impact in shaping India, the world’s largest democracy. As is well known, Ambedkar came to Columbia University in July 1913 to start a doctoral program in Political Science. He graduated in 1915 with a Masters degree, and got his doctorate from Columbia in 1927 after having studied with some of the great figures of interwar American thought including Edwin Seligman, James Shotwell, Harvey Robinson, and John Dewey.

This course follows the model of the Columbia University and Slavery course and draws extensively on the relevant holdings and resources of Columbia’s RBML, [Rare Books and Manuscript Library] Burke Library (Union Theological Seminar), and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture among others to explore a set of relatively understudied links between Ambedkar, Columbia University, and the intellectual history of the interwar period. Themes include: the development of the disciplines at Columbia University and their relationship to new paradigms of social scientific study; the role of historical comparison between caste and race in producing new models of scholarship and political solidarity; links between figures such as Ambedkar, Lala Lajpat Rai, W. E. B. Du Bois and others who were shaped by the distinctive public and political culture of New York City, and more.

This is a hybrid course which aims to create a finding aid for B. R. Ambedkar that traverses RBML private papers. Students will engage in a number of activities towards that purpose. They will attend multiple instructional sessions at the RBML to train students in using archives; they will make public presentations on their topics, which will be archived in video form; and stuents will produce digital essays on a variety of themes and topics related to the course. Students will work collaboratively in small groups and undertake focused archival research. This seminar inaugurates an on-going, multiyear effort to grapple with globalizing the reach and relevance of B. R. Ambedkar and to share our findings with the Columbia community and beyond. Working independently, students will define and pursue individual research projects. Working together, the class will create digital visualizations of these projects.

SPAN UN3887 The End of Monuments. 3.00 points.

What is the ​end​ of a monument, and when does it happen? On October 12th, 1992, on the quincentennial anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Caribbean, the Organización Campesina Emiliano Zapata marched into the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and knocked down the statue of Diego de Mazariegos. In subsequent reporting on the event, a participant named Mariano argued that the monument was a “symbol of the conquest, colonialism, exploitation, racism and plunder,” and that toppling the statue represented five centuries of popular, indigenous struggle against these forms of repression (cuartopoder.mx). Criticism of these spectacular instances of popular resistance often seize on their inability to destabilize the structural edifice underlying the material symbol, as if the monument were only the tip of the iceberg. As recent movements across Latin America and the US have rearticulated critiques of monuments as place markers for ideologies of settler colonialism, capitalism, anti-blackness and patriarchal notions of power, however, they have also intersected with movements against land theft, resource and labor rights, reproductive justice, abolition, and self-determination. In the process, these popular debates have engendered new ways of thinking about social space and other forms of monumentalism that claim to be reparative, critical, functional, or ephemeral in their engagement with local history, existing or destroyed monuments, and the built environment. In this seminar, we will explore historical and contemporary issues around space, place, memory, and belonging, in order to understand what forms of cultural practice emerge through monumentalism. We will also examine how community actors, activists, writers, artists, and political figures engage with the spatial politics of memory, and actualize, complicate or attempt to dismantle legacies of settler colonialism, white nationalism and resource extraction. We will take as our point of departure an understanding of monuments and their meaning on the Columbia/Barnard campus, and in the City of New York more broadly. Then, we will consider a range of theorizations and interventions on monuments in Buenos Aires, Brazil, Chiapas, Ciudad Juárez, France, Ibadan, Lof Campo Maripe, Nassau, and beyond. Later, we will question the problem of aesthetics and the role of art discourse in determining the character or qualities of a monument. Finally, we will discuss possible relationships between archives, memorials, and monumentality. Our work in this course will involve paying close attention to the objectives and outcomes of monument projects and designing our own interventions to understand their stakes and implications. Not only will we understand the intentions o​ f different monument forms, but we will learn how to manipulate them to our own ends. Students will build substantive skills like community engagement, essay writing, editing, time management, research, publication design and distribution that are crucial to understanding (and working in) the cultural field. Moreover, students will practice diverse research methodologies including but not limited to close-reading, interview, community-based and archival research that they can leverage to produce scholarship accessible to our communities outside of the classroom

Fall 2020: SPAN UN3887
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SPAN 3887 001/15935 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Online Only
Anayvelyse Allen-Mossman 3.00 8/15

CLME UN3928 Arabic Prison Writing. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

This course studies the genealogy of the prison in Arab culture as manifested in memoirs, narratives, and poems. These cut across a vast temporal and spatial swathe, covering selections from the Quran, Sufi narratives from al-Halllaj oeuvre, poetry by prisoners of war: classical, medieval, and modern. It   also studies modern narratives by women prisoners and political prisoners, and narratives that engage with these issues. Arabic prison writing is studied against other genealogies of this prism, especially in the West, to map out the birth of prison, its institutionalization, mechanism, and role. All readings for the course are in English translations.

Fall 2020: CLME UN3928
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLME 3928 001/13134 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Muhsin Al-Musawi 3 19/20

CPLS UN3980 ABOLITION: A SOCIAL JUSTICE PRACTICUM. 3 points.

This course will explore the social justice road to punitive abolition—to the abolition of capital punishment and the dominant punitive punishment paradigm in the United States. It will investigate how abolition of the death penalty might be achieved in this country, but also what it might mean to imagine abolition in the context of policing, of the prison, and also of punishment more broadly.


The United States incarcerates more of its own than any other country in the world and than any other civilization in history. With over 2,600 inmates on death row, 2.2 million people behind bars, another 5 million people on probation or parole, and over 70 million people in the FBI’s criminal record database, this country now operates a criminal justice system of unparalleled punitiveness. The burden of this system has fallen predominantly on poor communities of color. In fact, in some striking ways, this country’s criminal justice system and reliance on mass incarceration have replaced chattel slavery. As Bryan Stevenson explains, “Slavery didn’t end in 1865. It just evolved.”


This course will explore how the country can move from a punitive paradigm to a new paradigm that favors instead education and well-being. It will investigate: (1) how to chart a social justice path toward abolition of the death penalty; (2) how to reimagine the criminal justice system so that it is no longer based on a punitive paradigm; and (3) what it would mean to imagine abolition more broadly of policing and punishment.

Fall 2020: CPLS UN3980
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3980 001/15662 W 4:20pm - 7:10pm
406 Hamilton Hall
Bernard Harcourt, Alexis Hoag 3 7/7

CPLS UN3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society. 3 points.

Prerequisites: CPLS UN3900

The senior seminar is a capstone course required of all CLS/MLA majors. The seminar provides students the opportunity to discuss selected topics in comparative literature and society and medical humanities in a cross-disciplinary, multilingual, and global perspective. Students undertake individual research projects while participating in directed readings and critical dialogues about theory and research methodologies, which may culminate in the senior thesis. Students review work in progress and share results through weekly oral reports and written reports.

Fall 2020: CPLS UN3991
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3991 001/10228 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Seth Kimmel 3 17/15
Spring 2021: CPLS UN3991
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3991 001/10149 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Bruno Bosteels 3 0/15

CLIA GU4023 Travel Literature in and from the Mediterranean, 18th-19th centuries. 3 points.

This course will study various forms of travel writing within, from, and to the Mediterranean in the long nineteenth century. Throughout the semester, you will read a number of travel accounts to develop your understanding of these particular sources and reflect on the theoretical discussions and the themes framing them, namely orientalism, postcolonial studies, imaginative geographies, literature between fiction and reality, Romantic and autobiographical writing, gender, sexuality and the body, the rise of archeology, adventurism, mass migration and tourism. We will focus on Italian travel writers visiting the Ottoman Empire and the Americas (Cristina di Belgioioso, Gaetano Osculati, Edmondo de Amicis) and others visiting the Italian peninsula (Grand Tourists, Madame De Staël), and we will study the real or imaginary travels of French, British and American writers to the Eastern Mediterranean and to antique and holy lands (Jean-Jacques Barthélemy, Count Marcellus, Austen Henry Layard, Lord Byron, Mark Twain), as well as Arabic travel writers to the West (Rifāʻah Rāfiʻ al-Ṭahṭāwī).

Fall 2020: CLIA GU4023
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLIA 4023 001/10122 Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Online Only
Konstantia Zanou 3 10/25

CLEN GU4199 Literature and Oil. 3 points.

This course will investigate the connections between literary/cultural production and petroleum as the substance that makes possible the world as we know it, both as an energy source and a component in the manufacture of everything from food to plastic. Our current awareness of oil's scarcity and its myriad costs (whether environmental, political, or social) provides a lens to read for the presence (or absence) of oil in texts in a variety of genres and national traditions. As we begin to imagine a world "beyond petroleum," this course will confront the ways in which oil shapes both the world we know and how we know and imagine the world. Oil will feature in this course in questions of theme (texts "about" oil), of literary form (are there common formal conventions of an "oil novel"?), of interpretive method (how to read for oil), of transnational circulation (how does "foreign oil" link US citizens to other spaces?), and of the materiality (or "oiliness") of literary culture (how does the production and circulation of texts, whether print or digital, rely on oil?). 

Fall 2020: CLEN GU4199
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLEN 4199 001/10036 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Online Only
Jennifer Wenzel 3 45/70

CLPS GU4200 FREUD. 3.00 points.

Clinic, Culture, Cruelty: With these three terms one could indicate both the wide range of Freud’s work and the specific force it kept addressing without shying away from the theoretical and practical consequences that came with it. In Civilization and its Discontent Freud develops—in part openly, in part secretly—a peculiar, paradoxical and abyssal logic in order to formalize how culture (or civilization) is in a mortal battle with itself. Even more so, culture is this battle; and civilization is the result of a violence the sole aim and source of which is the destruction of civilization. The determining factors of this logic form the proper object of psychoanalysis which had developed out of clinical concerns; and what occurs here as “violence,” or “destruction,” as it does in several texts whose themes are cultural, historical, or sociological, is given multiple other names in all of Freud’s work or is linked to such names: the unconscious, the drive, libido, Eros, Thanatos, sexuality, narcissism, masochism, even hysteria, obsession and psychosis. All these terms mark instances of the same logic in which what we call the “sexual” and “language” are entangled with a “cruelty” that is neither the opposite of pleasure nor can be derived from any supposedly natural ground. In this seminar, we will trace this logic as well as its material in its reiterations, displacements, and reinventions from Freud’s clinical writings, through his constructions and theories of the “psyche,” to his analyses and speculations in civilization and history. Freud’s text will be read closely, with the attention to details that he himself performed as a virtue and a method. No previous acquaintance with Freud or psychoanalysis is required—only a mind as open as possible to the surprises over what they have to offer today

Fall 2020: CLPS GU4200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4200 001/10227 Th 4:10pm - 6:40pm
Sat Alfred Lerner Hall
Marcus Coelen 3.00 11/17

MATH GU4200 MATHEMATICS AND THE HUMANITIES. 4.00 points.

This course is being taught by two senior faculty members who are theorists and practitioners in disciplines as different as mathematics and literary criticism. The instructors believe that in today's world, the different ways in which theoretical mathematics and literary criticism mold the imaginations of students and scholars, should be brought together, so that the robust ethical imagination that is needed to combat the disintegration of our world can be produced. Except for the length of novels, the reading is no more than 100 pages a week. Our general approach is to keep alive the disciplinary differences between literary/philosophical (humanities) reading and mathematical writing. Some preliminary questions we have considered are: the survival skills of the logicist school over against the Foundational Crisis of the early 20th century; by way of Wittgenstein and others, we ask, Are mathematical objects real? Or are they linguistic conventions? We will consider the literary/philosophical use of mathematics, often by imaginative analogy; and the role of the digital imagination in the humanities: Can so-called creative work as well as mathematics be written by machines? Guest faculty from other departments will teach with us to help students and instructors understand various topics. We will close with how a novel animates “science” in prose, stepping out of the silo of disciplinary mathematics to the arena where mathematics is considered a code-name for science: Christine Brooke-Rose’s novel Subscript

Fall 2020: MATH GU4200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
MATH 4200 001/15440 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
312 Mathematics Building
Gayatri Spivak, Michael Harris 4.00 12/18

CLRS GU4213 Cold War Reason: Cybernetics and the Systems Sciences. 3.00 points.

The Cold War epoch saw broad transformations in science, technology, and politics. At their nexus a new knowledge was proclaimed, cybernetics, a putative universal science of communication and control. It has disappeared so completely that most have forgotten that it ever existed. Its failure seems complete and final. Yet in another sense, cybernetics was so powerful and successful that the concepts, habits, and institutions born with it have become intrinsic parts of our world and how we make sense of it. Key cybernetic concepts of information, system, and feedback are now fundamental to our basic ways of understanding the mind, brain and computer, of grasping the economy and ecology, and finally of imagining the nature of human life itself. This course will trace the echoes of the cybernetic explosion from the wake of World War II to the onset of Silicon Valley euphoria

Fall 2020: CLRS GU4213
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLRS 4213 001/20774 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Adam Leeds 3.00 11/18

CLPS GU4251 Global Freud. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Prior study of Freudian theory and psychoanalysis.

While there is a general familiarity with the history of psychoanalysis’s spread from Vienna throughout Europe, and from the European centers of psychoanalysis to the US, less is known about its broader internationalization. This course explores the globalization of Freudian theory, and the varying ways it has been read and deployed by intellectuals, artists, and political activists--among others--in various parts of the world. Whether its central appeal was to pre-Revolution Russian intellectuals, who wished to assert their cosmopolitanism and kinship with Europe; to Mexican judges, who employed it to analyze criminal defendants; or to Egyptian experts in dreams, who added this tool to their analytic toolkit, psychoanalysis lent itself to novel, and often contrasting, interpretations and uses.


            In this class, we will examine how Freud’s universal model of the mind and theory of the subject were refashioned and repurposed to address specific social problems and to advance particular political projects, and how they were revised to conform to local concepts of emotion and the self. We will consider how a system of thought grounded in secularity and individualism was adapted for faith-based and communitarian societies. In addition, we will look into the ways Freudian notions of the unconscious intersected with existing philosophical traditions, and how other cornerstones of psychoanalytic thought were blended with local interpretive practices. Finally, we will address a number of issues that have arisen in the global transmission of psychoanalysis, including problems in the translation of Freudian theory from the original German, and the formation and ongoing conflicts of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

Fall 2020: CLPS GU4251
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4251 001/10044 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Karen Seeley 3 6/15

CLGM GU4300 Retranslation: Worlding C. P. Cavafy. 4 points.

Focusing on a canonical author is an immensely productive way to explore translation research and practice. The works of Sappho, Dante, Rilke, Césaire or Cavafy raise the question of reception in relation to many different critical approaches and illustrate many different strategies of translation and adaptation. The very issue of intertextuality that challenged the validity of author-centered courses after Roland Barthes’s proclamation of the death of the author reinstates it if we are willing to engage the oeuvre as an on-going interpretive project. By examining the poetry of the Greek Diaspora poet C. P. Cavafy in all its permutations (as criticism, translation, adaptation), the Cavafy case becomes an experimental ground for thinking about how a canonical author can open up our theories and practices of translation. For the final project students will choose a work by an author with a considerable body of critical work and translations and, following the example of Cavafy and his translators, come up with their own retranslations. Among the materials considered are commentary by E. M. Forster, C. M. Bowra, and Roman Jakobson, translations by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, James Merrill, Marguerite Yourcenar, and Daniel Mendelsohn, poems by W.H. Auden, Lawrence Durrell, and Joseph Brodsky, and visual art by David Hockney, and Duane Michals

Fall 2020: CLGM GU4300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGM 4300 002/11978 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Online Only
Karen Van Dyck 4 7/10

CLFR GU4500 Pandemics in Francophone Literature and History. 3 points.

In this course we explore the history of epidemics and medical confinement in France and some of its colonies/former colonies, from the 1720 plague in Marseille to recent outbreaks of Ebola and COVID-19. We consider how disease, contagion, quarantine and confinement have been understood and represented, drawing on contemporary and later sources that include medical treatises, news media, personal accounts, fictional works, films and visual depictions such as paintings, illustrations and cartoons. Though we focus on disease and representation in the French and ‘francophone’ context, the course also has a comparative dimension: we turn to other historical contexts and texts associated with them when these connections are illuminating. The course is organized around a series of five case studies centering on different contagious diseases and their historical context. We will see that each of these pandemics raises its own moral, political, social and historiographical questions, though there are also connecting threads that traverse historical periods, including the linkage between epidemics and the othering of certain population groups; the intersection of colonialism, revolution and warfare with disease and the introduction of new medical protocols, and the gradual emergence of biopolitics as a framework for the relationship of individual to state. 


Discourses about contagious disease have always had a ‘literary’ dimension, making regular use of metaphor and allegory. This course explores the intersections of history and literature, considering not only these recurrent tropes but also how writers and, to a lesser extent, film-makers have explored the experiential, ethical and political aspects of illness and contagion. Without making general claims about the specificity of literature, we approach literary texts as sites that condense and catalyze philosophical and political reflection and debate. The course examines chapters in the history of disease and medicine but it also has a historiographical component as we consider how representations of epidemics have changed over time and to what extent the historical study of illness, medicine and public health helps us to think about the present.

Fall 2020: CLFR GU4500
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLFR 4500 001/15505 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Aud Earl Hall
Madeleine Dobie, Thomas Dodman 3 10/15

CLEN GU4550 Narrative and Human Rights. 3 points.

(Lecture). We can't talk about human rights without talking about the forms in which we talk about human rights. This course will study the convergences of the thematics, philosophies, politics, practices, and formal properties of literature and human rights. In particular, it will examine how literary questions of narrative shape (and are shaped by) human rights concerns; how do the forms of stories enable and respond to forms of thought, forms of commitment, forms of being, forms of justice, and forms of violation? How does narrative help us to imagine an international order based on human dignity, rights, and equality? We will read classic literary texts and contemporary writing (both literary and non-literary) and view a number of films and other multimedia projects to think about the relationships between story forms and human rights problematics and practices. Likely literary authors: Roberto Bolaño, Miguel de Cervantes, Assia Djebar, Ariel Dorfman, Slavenka Drakulic, Nuruddin Farah, Janette Turner Hospital, Franz Kafka, Sahar Kalifeh, Sindiwe Magona, Maniza Naqvi, Michael Ondaatje, Alicia Partnoy, Ousmane Sembène, Mark Twain . . . . We will also read theoretical and historical pieces by authors such as Agamben, An-Na'im, Appiah, Arendt, Balibar, Bloch, Chakrabarty, Derrida, Douzinas, Habermas, Harlow, Ignatieff, Laclau and Mouffe, Levinas, Lyotard, Marx, Mutua, Nussbaum, Rorty, Said, Scarry, Soyinka, Spivak, Williams.

Fall 2020: CLEN GU4550
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLEN 4550 001/10035 M W 5:40pm - 6:55pm
Online Only
Joseph R Slaughter 3 59/90

AHIS GU4646 Foucault and the Arts. 4 points.

Michel Foucault was a great historian and critic who helped change the ways research and criticism are done today – a new ‘archivist’. At the same time, he was a philosopher. His research and criticism formed part of an attempt to work out a new picture of what it is to think, and think critically, in relation to Knowledge, Power, and Processes of Subjectivization. What was this picture of thought? How did the arts, in particular the visual arts, figure in it? How might they in turn give a new image of Foucault’s kind of critical thinking for us today? In this course, we explore these questions, in the company of Deleuze, Agamben, Rancière and others thinkers and in relation to questions of media, document and archive in the current ‘regime of information’. The Seminar is open to students in all disciplines concerned with these issues.

Fall 2020: AHIS GU4646
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4646 001/11341 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Online Only
John Allan Rajchman 4 23/30

MDES GU4718 Persian Poetry (In Translation). 4 points.

The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to the long history and multiple genres of Persian poetry. The seminar will begin with the classical period and come down to the contemporary periods. The geographical span of the course extends from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent to Iran.

Fall 2020: MDES GU4718
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
MDES 4718 001/14421 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Hamid Dabashi 4 6/25

CPLS GU4810 Theories of the Subject. 4 points.

This seminar will revisit some major texts and concerns in the theoretical humanities that develop genealogical, psychoanalytical or political theories of the subject, roughly from Marx until today. The goal is to come to a critical understanding of the centrality of this notion of the subject as one of the founding concepts of modernity, as well as to draw out all the consequences of its crisis in radical humanistic (or even so-called posthumanist) thought today. Thinkers to be discussed further include Freud, Foucault, Badiou, Butler, Althusser, Rozitchner, Žižek and Zupančič.

Fall 2020: CPLS GU4810
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4810 001/13055 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
206 Casa Hispanica
Bruno Bosteels 4 17/15

SPRING 2020 COURSES

CLCV UN3005 RACE AND ETHNICITY IN THE GRECO-ROMAN WORLD. 3 points.

This course provides an introduction to ancient attitudes towards race and ethnicity. Students will be challenged to consider how categories of race and ethnicity are presented in the literature and artistic works of Greece and Rome, and how ancient thinking remains current and influential today. We will consider texts from antiquity including epic, history, medical texts, ethnographies, dramas, and novels, as well as material evidence intended to represent ‘foreignness’. Our case studies pay particular attention to concepts including notions of racial formation and racial origins, ancient theories of ethnic superiority, and linguistic, religious and cultural differentiation as a basis for ethnic differentiation. We will also examine ancient racism through the prism of a variety of social processes in antiquity, such as slavery, trade and colonization, migrations, imperialism, assimilation, native revolts, and genocide. By the end of the course, students will have gained a richer understanding of the intellectual and cultural history of the ancient world, and will be able to engage in discussions of identity construction in a comparative manner.

ARCH UN3117 Modern Architecture in the World. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Designed for but not limited to sophomores; enrollment beyond 60 at the discretion of the instructor.

How has architecture been “modern”? This course will introduce students to things, practices, figures, and ideas behind this contentious and contradictory concept, emerging in multiple locations around the world. Students in this course will learn about architecture as it was practiced, taught, thought, and experienced across landscapes of social and cultural difference during the past two centuries. Learning about the past through historical consciousness around architecture and investigating the history of architecture as a discursive field are fundamental to liberal arts thinking generally, and important for students in architecture, the history and theory of architecture, art history, and urban studies.Students in this course will be introduced to:

Architecture as enmeshed with other forms of cultural production

Culturally-specific intellectual and public debates around the architectural and urban

Makers, thinkers, and organizers of the designed or built environment

Geographies, territories, and mobilities associated with architecture as an end or means for material extraction, refinement, trade, labor, and construction

Sites, institutions, media, events, and practices which have come to hold meaning 

Modernity, modernism, and modernization in relation to each other, as social, cultural, and technological drivers holding stakes for past events as well their histories.

In this course, we will ask questions about ideas and practices within disparate socially-and culturally-constructed worlds, and across other asymmetries. For example, can we draw a coherent historical thread through Lisbon in 1755, Bombay in 1854, Moscow in 1917, the moon in 1969, and al-Za’atari refugee camp in 2016? Are such narratives of coherence themselves the trace of the modernist impulse in architectural history? In this course, we will study modern architecture’s references to an art of building as well the metaphors it gives rise to. Embedded in this examination are social and cultural questions of who made and thought modern architecture, and aesthetic and historical questions around the figure of the architect.

Spring 2021: ARCH UN3117
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3117 001/00575 T Th 1:10pm - 2:55pm
Room TBA
Anooradha Siddiqi 3 0/100

CPLS UN3454 Blood/Lust: Staging the Early Modern Mediterranean [in English]. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

This course examines, in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain and England (1580-1640), how the two countries staged the conflict between them, and with the Ottoman Empire; that is, how both countries represent national and imperial clashes, and the concepts of being “Spanish,” “English,” or “Turk,” as well as the dynamic and fluid identities of North Africa, often played out on the high seas of the Mediterranean with Islam and the Ottoman Empire. We will consider how the Ottoman Empire depicted itself artistically through miniatures and court poetry. The course will include travel and captivity narratives from Spain, England, and the Ottoman Empire. 

CLGR UN3536 Culture at the Margins: Literature and Film in the German Borderlands. 0 points.

In this course, we will investigate the twentieth and twenty-first century borders of the German-speaking world as portrayed in literature and film. Rather than focus on the abstract borderlines that separate geopolitical entities, we will make recourse to the notion of the ‘borderlands’ as the meeting place or point of collision between different traditions, classes, races, and ways of life. With the aid of literature, film, and theory, we will treat the borderland as a particularly opportune site from which to approach the following questions: How are borders or dividing lines constructed in both material reality and thought? How do the restrictions associated with the border manifest themselves in private life, administering the sexuality, language, and bodies of individuals? What styles or genres tend to proliferate in the margins? What is Germany or the German-speaking world, and is it even accurate to call these borderlands “German”? Authors include Bachmann, Handke, Kafka, Müller, Roth, and Tokarczuk, alongside theorists such as Deleuze, Derrida, and Kristeva. No prior knowledge of German or theory required.

CPLS UN3900 INTRO TO COMP LIT & SOCIETY. 3.00 points.

Spring 2021: CPLS UN3900
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3900 001/10103 Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
David Lurie 3.00 0/15

CPLS UN3995 Senior Thesis on Comparative Literature and Society. 3 points.

Students who decide to write a senior thesis should enroll in this tutorial. They should also identify, during the fall semester, a member of the faculty in a relevant department who will be willing to supervise their work and who is responsible for assigning the final grade. The thesis is a rigorous research work of approximately 40 pages (including a bibliography formatted in MLA style). It may be written in English or in another language relevant to the student's scholarly interests. The thesis should be turned in on the announced due date as hard copy to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. 

Fall 2020: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/21514  
Tommaso Manfredini 3 0/7
Spring 2021: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/10113  
Tommaso Manfredini 3 0/15

CPLS UN3997 Independent Study-Undergrad. 1-3 points.

Independent Study (set up for MLS service learning)

POLS GU4110 RECENT CONTINENTAL POL THOUGHT. 4.00 points.

This course will compare and contrast the theories of the political, the state,freedom, democracy, sovereignty and law, in the works of the following key 20th and 21st century continental theorists: Arendt, Castoriadis, Foucault, Habermas, Kelsen, Lefort, Schmitt, and Weber. It will be taught in seminar format

Spring 2021: POLS GU4110
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 4110 001/10427 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Jean Cohen 4.00 0/25

CLGR GU4130 Literary Theories: From Nietzsche to Agamben. 3 points.

A survey of the most influential literary theories of the twentieth century, this seminar will discuss seminal contributions to hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, structuralism, deconstruction, discourse analysis, and gender theory. Each section will juxtapose two representative authors whose texts either complement or contradict one another. Based on close readings of exemplary texts, we will explore basic concepts of these theories and examine their intersections and differences. A second focal point of the seminar will be on applications of theory to literature. We will analyze their reformulation as methodologies in literary studies and discuss how they influenced different approaches to literature. The aim of the seminar will ultimately be to scrutinize critically these “applications” of theory to literature.  Readings and discussions in English. No prior knowledge of literary theories required.

CLRS GU4191 A Specter Haunting Europe: Radical Thought from the French Revolution to Russian. 3 points.

This course is an introduction to radical thought in Europe across the long nineteenth century from the French to the Russian revolutions. This period marks the entrance of the lower orders onto the political stage—and not merely in moments of revolt, but as a permanent presence around which politics and government subsequently must needs orient, and not merely to be recorded in the texts of their aristocratic enemies, but as inspiring and expositing their own political doctrines. Nineteenth century political thought is usually reduced to a list of liberal authors, with the exception of Marx, whose work then stands in for all of radicalism. But in this course we will study a variety of seldom read texts by often forgotten radical democratic, socialist, and anarchist writers from France, Great Britain, Germany, and Russia. Readings may be drawn from the writings of such figures as Babeuf and the Enragés, Proudhon, Saint-Simon and his followers, Hess, Feuerbach, Owen and popular political economy, the Chartists, Blanqui, Russian populists and terrorists, Bakunin, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Bernstein, and Lenin. This class is open to graduate students, who will also be expected to read and engage with secondary literature, and any undergraduate who has taken a class in political thought (such as Contemporary Civilization).

CLPS GU4201 Post-Freud. 4 points.

This course examines psychoanalytic movements that are viewed either as post-Freudian in theory or as emerging after Freud's time. The course begins by considering the ways Freud's cultural and historical surround, as well as the wartime diaspora of the European psychoanalytic community, shaped Freudian and post-Freudian thought. It then focuses on significant schools and theories of psychoanalysis that were developed from the mid 20th century to the present. Through readings of key texts and selected case studies, it explores theorists' challenges to classical thought and technique, and their reconfigurations, modernizations, and total rejections of central Freudian ideas. The course concludes by looking at contemporary theorists' moves to integrate notions of culture, concepts of trauma, and findings from neuroscience and attachment research into the psychoanalytic frame.

Spring 2021: CLPS GU4201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4201 001/10389 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Karen Seeley 4 0/15

CLGM GU4300 Retranslation: Worlding C. P. Cavafy. 4 points.

Focusing on a canonical author is an immensely productive way to explore translation research and practice. The works of Sappho, Dante, Rilke, Césaire or Cavafy raise the question of reception in relation to many different critical approaches and illustrate many different strategies of translation and adaptation. The very issue of intertextuality that challenged the validity of author-centered courses after Roland Barthes’s proclamation of the death of the author reinstates it if we are willing to engage the oeuvre as an on-going interpretive project. By examining the poetry of the Greek Diaspora poet C. P. Cavafy in all its permutations (as criticism, translation, adaptation), the Cavafy case becomes an experimental ground for thinking about how a canonical author can open up our theories and practices of translation. For the final project students will choose a work by an author with a considerable body of critical work and translations and, following the example of Cavafy and his translators, come up with their own retranslations. Among the materials considered are commentary by E. M. Forster, C. M. Bowra, and Roman Jakobson, translations by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, James Merrill, Marguerite Yourcenar, and Daniel Mendelsohn, poems by W.H. Auden, Lawrence Durrell, and Joseph Brodsky, and visual art by David Hockney, and Duane Michals

Fall 2020: CLGM GU4300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGM 4300 002/11978 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Online Only
Karen Van Dyck 4 7/10

CPLS GU4315 Multilingual Technologies and Language Diversity. 4 points.

Innovations in digital technologies have shown their potential to be at times breathtakingly beneficial, and at others divisive or troubling. With regard to digital technologies’ impact on the ecosystem of language diversity, evidence suggests that new technologies are one contributor to the decline and predicted extinction of 50-90% of the world's languages this century. Yet digital innovations supporting a growing number of languages also have the potential to bolster language diversity in ways unimaginable a few years ago. Will innovations in multilingual natural language processing bring about a renaissance of language diversity, as users no longer need to rely on English and other dominant languages? To address this question, this course will introduce a dual view on language diversity: 1) a typology of language vitality and endangerment and 2) a resource-centric typology (low-resource vs. high-resource) regarding the availability of data resources to develop computational models for language analysis. This course will address the challenge of scaling natural language processing technologies developed mostly for English to the rich diversity of human languages. The resource-centric typology will also contribute to the dialogue of what is “Data Science.” Much research has been dedicated to the “Big Data” scenario; however “Small Data” poses equally challenging problems, which this course will highlight. This course brings data and computational literacy about multilingual technologies to humanities students, while also exposing computer science and data science students to ethical, cultural, business, and policy issues within the context of multilingual technologies. 

Spring 2021: CPLS GU4315
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4315 001/11952 F 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Smaranda Muresan, Isabelle Zaugg 4 0/15

CPLS GU4320 Marginalization in Medicine: A Practical Understanding of the Social Implications of Race . 4 points.

There is a significant correlation between race and health in the United States.  People of color and those from underserved populations have higher mortality rates and a greater burden of chronic disease than their white counterparts.  Differences in health outcomes have been attributed to biological factors as race has been naturalized.  In this class we will explore the history of the idea of “race” in the context of changing biomedical knowledge formations.  We will then focus on the impact that social determinants like poverty, structural violence, racism and geography have on health.  Ultimately, this course will address the social implications of race on health both within the classroom and beyond. In addition to the seminar, there will also be a significant service component. Students will be expected to volunteer at a community organization for a minimum of 3 hours a week. This volunteer work will open an avenue for students to go beyond the walls of their classrooms while learning from and positively impacting their community.

CSER GU4340 Visionary Medicine: Racial Justice, Health and Speculative Fictions. 4 points.

In Fall 2014, medical students across the U.S. staged die-ins as part of the nationwide #blacklivesmatter protests. The intention was to create a shocking visual spectacle, laying on the line “white coats for black lives.” The images were all over social media: students of all colors, dressed in lab coats, lying prone against eerily clean tile floors, stethoscopes in pockets, hands and around necks. One prone student held a sign reading, “Racism is Real.” These medical students’ collective protests not only created visual spectacle, but produced a dynamic speculative fiction. What would it mean if instead of Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Freddie Gray, these other, more seemingly elite bodies were subjected to police violence? In another viral image, a group of African American male medical students from Harvard posed wearing hoodies beneath their white coats, making clear that the bodies of some future doctors could perhaps be more easily targeted for state-sanctioned brutality. “They tried to bury us,” read a sign held by one of the students, “they didn’t realize we were seeds.” Both medicine and racial justice are acts of speculation; their practices are inextricable from the practice of imagining. By imagining new cures, new discoveries and new futures for human beings in the face of illness, medicine is necessarily always committing acts of speculation. By imagining ourselves into a more racially just future, by simply imagining ourselves any sort of future in the face of racist erasure, social justice activists are similarly involved in creating speculative fictions. This course begins with the premise that racial justice is the bioethical imperative of our time. It will explore the space of science fiction as a methodology of imagining such just futures, embracing the work of Asian- and Afroturism, Cosmos Latinos and Indigenous Imaginaries. We will explore issues including Biocolonialism, Alien/nation, Transnational Labor and Reproduction, the Borderlands and Other Diasporic Spaces. This course will be seminar-style and will make central learner participation and presentation. The seminar will be inter-disciplinary, drawing from science and speculative fictions, cultural studies, gender studies, narrative medicine, disability studies, and bioethics. Ultimately, the course aims to connect the work of science and speculative fiction with on the ground action and organizing.

CLPS GU4420 The Creative Self: Autofiction, Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience. 4 points.

Fictional autobiography, or autofiction, forces us to question our assumptions about the links between creativity, truth, and authenticity. Can one invent, or create, one’s own story? It is possible to write the truth of our selves, by creating it? Intriguingly, a process much like autofictional writing is at the heart of modern psychoanalytic technique — and research in neuroscience increasingly suggests that the human brain’s potential to morph and adapt might be instrumental to human mentation as we know it. Might it be possible, then, to invent our way to a healthier narrative, to a different life of the mind, or even, perhaps, to a different neural life? This course explores creativity and self-alteration broadly in three parallel but distinct domains: autofiction, object-relations psychoanalysis and neuroscience. At one level, this is a course about the theories of creativity revealed and implied by the peculiar art-form of autofictional writing, by contemporary psychotherapeutic techniques, and by discoveries pertaining to neural plasticity. At another level, this is a course about interdisciplinary itself. We will seek to understand when and how these three disciplines can be used together to create a rich and multilayered understanding of the problem of human creativity, without resorting to simplistic mergers and crude forms of reductionism. Literary readings to include Wilfred Bion, Christine Brooke-Rose, Marguerite Duras, Chris Kraus, Maggie Nelson, Luisa Passerini and others.

CLGM GU4450 How to do things with Homosexual Βodies. 4 points.

Homosexuality, as a term, might be a relatively recent invention in Western culture but bodies that acted and appeared ‘differently’ existed long before that. This course will focus on acts, and not identities, in tracing the evolution of writing the homosexual body from antiquity until today. In doing so it will explore a number of multimodal materials – texts, vases, sculptures, paintings, movies etc. – in an effort to understand the evolution of the ways in which language (written, spoken or visual) registers the homosexual body in literature and culture. When we bring the dimension of the body into the way we view the past, we find that new questions and new ways of approaching old questions emerge. What did the ancient actually write about the homosexual body? Did they actually create gender non-binary statues? Can we find biographies of the lives of saints in drag in Byzantium? How did the Victorians change the way in which we understand homosexual writing in Antiquity? How is the queer body registered in Modern Greek Literature and Culture? Can one write the history of homosexuality as a history of bodies? These are some of the questions that we will examine during the semester.

CLPS GU4510 Jacques Lacan: An introduction to his work . 4 points.

acques Lacan (1901 – 1981) was without any doubt the most influential psychoanalyst since Sigmund Freud. A meticulous yet inventive reader of the founder of psychoanalysis, he opened himself up to a panoply of sciences, philosophies, and other discourses as well as to political events and social phenomena in order to attune psychoanalysis not only to its own internal exigencies but also to those that he considered to be the ones of his time.


We will read Lacan according to this double exigency: to formalize anew its own logic, methodology, and construction of objects, which proceed “sui generis” as Freud said; and to put them in friction with some of the phenomena and structural determinants of what seems to impose itself on us today: the erosion of discourse as social bond in a time of an ever increasing number of displaced people; a radical change of the status of speech and the “letter”—as well as literature—in the hyper-digitalized world; the renewed enigma of sex and bodily enjoyment in the context of a tele-techno-medical science becoming increasingly autonomous; the status of “nature” as that what might survive only in being destroyed. In short: What concepts are needed to think the “unconscious” today?


The course will proposed as an introduction to Lacan for which no previous acquaintance with his work is required. It will cover texts and seminars from all the periods of his work with a focus on the those from the 1970s.

Spring 2021: CLPS GU4510
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4510 001/10148 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Marcus Coelen 4 0/20

CPLS GU4802 Contradictions of Care: From Intimacy to Institution. 0 points.

Care is central to the interpersonal claim that is made by the other.  It is a response that recognizes and satisfies a need.  Care can be motivated by pain and sorrow, but also by desire and the desire for recognition.  But while care is a fundamental aspect of healing, it can also demand that extracts obligations and liabilities.  Care is an ambiguous concept that always already contains or is determined by its oppositions; we will begin by analyzing the concept of care itself, drawing on resources from the history and philosophy of medicine as well as literary sources.


Ideals of care that many of us have for our loved ones are difficult to render at scale, and are often in tension with the for-profit motivations behind the development of medications, the administration of healthcare services, and the distribution of goods. We will consider the sorts of 

compromises that are made every day through readings in literature, history, political science and philosophy and also through first-person experience in the form of a practicum that that will run parallel to the course. In this practicum students will spend 2-3 hours a week observing a home health aide at work.


As Arle Hochschild, Silvia Federici and others have explored, the free market has contribute to a ‘global transfer of care and emotions’ in which workers, especially women, from the former colonies and the third world are serving as primary caregivers or home health aids in Europe and United States.By observing these home health aides at work, students will begin to appreciate the compromises and contradictions that lie at the heart of caregiving.


Through a combination of theory and praxis, through readings and doings, we will lay bare the grounds of the system that naturalizes care and explore the progressively expanding circle moving from the intimate zones of self-care to the totalizing care of the modern biopolitical state.

CPLS GU4892 Subaltern Urbanism. 4 points.

This seminar asks how spatial politics intersect with economic inequality and social difference (race, gender, caste, and ethnicity) to produce marginalized and stigmatized spaces such as “favelas,” “slum,” and “ghettos.”


The seminar draws on the convergent yet distinct urban trajectories of Bombay/Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro as a place from which to explore questions of comparative and global urbanism from an explicitly South-South perspective. That is, we ask how Bombay and Rio’s distinct yet connected urbanity might force us to alter our approaches to the city; approaches that are largely drawn from modular Euro-American paradigms for understanding urbanization as coeval with modernity, as well as industrialization. We do so in this seminar by focusing on people and practices—subaltern urbanity (and on those whose labor produced the modern city), as well as on spatial orders—the informal or unintended city—to ask the question: “what makes and unmakes a city?”


How might questions about built form, industrialization, capital flows, and social life and inhabitation that takes the perspective of “city theory from the Global South” shed new understanding on the history of the city, the extranational frames of colonial modernity, and the ongoing impact of neoliberalism? How can we rethink critical concepts in urban studies (precarity, spatial segregation, subalternity, economies of eviction, urban dispossession) through embedded studies of locality and lifemaking?