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Fall 2017

MSCP 80500.  Literature, Law, and the Penitential Body.  Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM, Room 4419. 4 credits, Prof. Jay Paul Gates. 
Ranging across injury, ordeal, execution, judicial mutilation, and torture as represented in Anglo-Saxon literary and legal texts, this course explores imagined social structures over the 600-year Anglo-Saxon period and conceptions of the role of the embodied individual in those structures. Issues to be examined are intersections between the imagined social structures as represented by the literature and the laws as well as potential divergences; shifts from a fragmented, family-, and feud-oriented structure to one based on the individual Christian as a confessional subject; and the roles and responsibilities of legal authorities such as judges, kings, and bishops within each structure.
The following courses will fulfill program requirements:

ENGL 80800. Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: Animals, Nature, and Agency. Thursdays 11:45AM-1:45PM, Room 3308. 2/4 credits, Prof. Karl Steel
“So pricketh hem Nature in hir corages”: apart from reading Chaucer’s unfinished masterpiece, this course will focus on the implications of this single line—how can we, and should we even, distinguish between Nature’s “pricking” of the hearts of birds and its pricking of our hearts? Where can we locate the agency of Springtime piety, or of the other cultural formations of this collection of texts, whether these be the gendering of violence (Knight’s Tale), the compulsions of class and jealousy (Clerk’s Tale), or the helpless binding of character to story (Man of Law’s Tale)? Along the way, the course will offer introductions to Critical Animal Theory, major concerns in Ecocriticism, and readings in free choice and causality, from Augustine and Boethius through to the end of the Middle Ages. 
Course requirements will include two book reviews (one on a medieval topic, one on a related topic in contemporary, theoretically sophisticated scholarship), and the usual seminar paper. Familiarity with Chaucer’s Middle English is helpful but not required.

HIST. 76000. Early Modern Iberian/Colonial Latin America. Wednesday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Room 5383, 3 credits, Prof. Herman Bennett
            In the Fall of 2017, History 76000: Early Modern Iberia/Colonial Latin America will be framed around the political economy of the early modern Atlantic.
            In the wake of successive intellectual turns (the linguistic, feminist, cultural, the post-colonial, and archival turn), our engagement with the cultural domain has become finely honed but at the expense of our understanding of the social.  This dynamic, in many respects, reflects the working of related but distinct renderings of the political.  Arguably, for cultural historians narrating the political entails discursive formations and an awareness of how political rationalities are grafted on to cultural codes and grammars.  While we now understand how the political related to the social draws on similar discursive formations, it also embodies a materiality—signified in the relationship of the political to the economy as in ‘political economy’—that configures it as distinct.   To this end, the course will introduce students to a range of authors and texts which will develop our analytical skills as they relate to the realm of political economy.  To be clear, this is not a course in economics or political science for historians.  While abstractions of the “economy” or “politics” figure prominently in the semester’s work, the course focuses on the contextualized meanings that these terms and related concepts implied for various authors and historical actors through time and space.  At the same time, it should be understood that this course does not offer a formalized discussion of ‘political economy’ framed through a historiography self-consciously stylized as such.  Instead by bringing a distinct selection of authors and texts into conversation seminar participants will hopefully refine their acumen for thinking and writing about the temporal and spatial specificity of early modern ‘political economy.’
Book list here.

HIST. 77950. Islamic rulership: the caliphate in theory and practice. Tuesday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., Room 5383, 3 credits, Profs. Anna Akasoy and Chase Robinson
This class offers an introductory survey to Islamic political theory and practice. Readings and discussions will address origins and development of principal themes and institutions of the Islamic political tradition, including prophecy, caliphate, imamate, jihad, messianism, sharia, revivalism and modernism. We will be reading a combination of primary and secondary sources, including scripture, history, poetry, political theory, coins, and philosophical literature. Both Sunni and Shiite traditions will be covered. No background in Middle Eastern history required.
Syllabus here

RSCP 72100. Neoplatonism across Time and Faith (cross-listed as Comp Lit 80900 and ENGL 71000). Wednesdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm.,Room 3309, 3/4 credits, Profs. Clare Carroll & Feisal Mohamed
Engaging in questions of Platonic influence may seem to support a traditional view of the Renaissance as reviving and redoubling a unitary sense of Western culture tracing its roots to ancient Greece. This course poses a strong challenge to that narrative. By focusing on the Platonism of late antiquity, we in fact engage in a profound re-mapping of the period’s engagement with classical and medieval locales, one less centered on Athens and Rome and taking into its ken Alexandria, Damascus, and Baghdad.
The Neoplatonic tradition was the philosophical limgua franca of the Renaissance: the rediscovery of Plotinus and Proclus achieved in no small measure through the prodigious influence of Marsilio Ficino was a spark generating widespread interest. And as was recognized in the period, it is a tradition that spans all three Abrahamic faiths: the great wellspring of biblical Neoplatonism is the Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria, whose influence can be discerned in the seminal Christian mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius and in the Islamic tradition of falsafa. These interests certainly display themselves in literature, though this course will ask whether such engagements constitute thick intellectual engagement or a merely ornamental embellishment.
We will see in the course how Neoplatonism continues to provide a common philosophical language to theologians of all three faiths, as in the work of the twentieth-century Shi’a philosopher Henri Corbin and of the member of the “Radical Orthodoxy” school Simon Oliver.

MALS 74500. Great Digs: important sites of the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic Worlds.Thursdays, 4:15-6:15 p.m., Rm. 6421, 3 credits, Prof. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
This class exposes students to major archaeological sites from the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds. It seeks to broaden students’ awareness of archaeological methods and aims to demonstrate how interconnected the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds were. Two major types of archaeological techniques, excavation and survey, are introduced.The course will then focus on examples from all periods surveyed in the track, including sites such as Classical Athens, Rome, Hadrian’s Villa (Tivoli), Pompeii, Alexandria, Constantinople, Ravenna, Jerusalem, Dura Europos, and Samarra. These examples and others will serve as case studies that demonstrate how specific sites shaped our knowledge of human history.