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Possible Electives

COURSES OF POSSIBLE INTEREST TO MALS STUDENTS


This list is just a partial sample of courses; to view full course offerings, please visit the websites for the doctoral, master’s, and certificate programs at the Graduate Center. Please also visit the MALS website to view the Fall 2019 course schedule.
 
Please note that courses included in this list are subject to change; please contact the program or faculty members involved for additional details.

 
Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Program
ITCP 70010 / DHUM 7400 – Interactive Technology and Pedagogy I: History and Theory​
Monday 4:15-6:15 with skills Lab directly following from 6:30-8:30
Students will examine the economic, social, and intellectual history of the design and use of technology. The course focuses on the mutual shaping of technology and academic teaching, learning and research—how people and ideas have shaped classroom and research interactions in the past, and how they are transforming knowledge production in the present. By examining the use and design of technologies inside and outside of the university, students reflect on what it means to be human in a world increasingly mediated by technology.

The course also highlights the theoretical and practical possibilities of digital media for teaching, research, reading, writing, activism, collaborative knowledge production, and play. Assignments for the course ask students to leverage new, multimodal approaches for creating scholarship, including a publishable final paper or project that contributes to the discourse around the use of technology in their discipline.
 
Hist. 70310 - Thucydides, Politics, Philosophy
GC: Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Jennifer Roberts
This interdisciplinary course will be guided in part by the particular interests of the students who choose to enroll in it: historians, classicists, archaeologists, political scientists, philosophers.  Although there will be common readings, students are encouraged to pursue their own perspectives on Thucydides while at the same time coming to appreciate his relevance to other disciplines.  The text will be read in English, but I am happy to meet separately with students who would like to read selections in the original Greek.
 
A masterpiece of both narrative and analysis, Thucydides’ account of the war between the Athenian Empire and Peloponnesian League also merits study as a work of profound philosophical import.  The work of a man filled with a plangent sense of the sorrows of the human condition, Thucydides’ history offered a non-fiction counterpart to the tragic drama of his contemporaries Sophocles and Euripides. 
 
The father of political science, Thucydides has often been labeled the father of political realism.  We will explore in what ways this is and is not accurate.  Thucydides has been co-opted by one generation after another, on one continent after another, as a spokesman for its own society and identified as the one person who best understood the problems of the day.  From monarchists to republicans in Europe to 20th and 21st century American neoconservatives, his readers have proudly cited him in defense of their ideologies. Today students of international relations wring their hands over the newly dubbed menace, “the Thucydides trap,” a concept that draws parallels between the diplomatic situation that led up to the Peloponnesian War and America’s growing tensions with China.  Both Thucydides and his legacy will be the subjects of this course.
 
African Film History and Theory, 1950-1990
Boukary Sawadogo bsawadogo@ccny.cuny.edu
Monday 4:15-8:15
The birth and development of African cinema in the 1950s started against the backdrop of the discourse of othering in colonial cinema. This is evident in the underlying civilizing mission of documentaries (education, health, agriculture) and travelogues. In addition, there is the quest for exoticism in Hollywood adventure/action film subgenre that prominently feature the three figures of the blonde, the safari hunter, and the native. African cinema started gaining international attention and recognition in the 1960s, with the works of pioneer filmmakers such as Ousmane Sembène, Med Hondo, and Moustapha Alassane. The historical development of African cinema until 1990 is marked with liberation struggle, appropriation of the gaze, and cultural nationalism. From a theoretical standpoint, African cinema can be regarded as a form of oppositional cinema in the vein of anti-establishment movements of the Italian neorealism, French New Wave, Cinema Novo, and Third Cinema.  
 
HIST 77300 - Rural History Of Latin America And The Caribbean
Thursday, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Laid Bergad

 ​"The history of Latin America has been written on and by the land." Eric Van Young
Until the middle of the 20th century the vast majority of all peoples who lived and worked in the region we refer to as Latin America and the Caribbean lived in the countryside. Their lives were defined by agricultural or pastoral production and their varied ‘relationships’ to land, whether as owners, renters, workers, and a multiplicity of other possibilities.
 
In large part their histories are virtually unknown as the historiography of the region has focused on urban areas, political themes, or more recently something that has been referred to as ‘cultural’ although this has not generally included agriculture.
 
Overarching terminologies and labels such as ‘peasants’ ‘haciendas’ ‘plantations’ ‘estancias’ have been used as references to rural life when in most cases there is little analytical or intellectual content associated with the use of these terms from the vantage point of rural peoples themselves who have used an entirely different vocabulary to define themselves.

No auditors.
 
HIST 73900 - Britain and the World
Wednesday, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Tim Alborn
This course explores different channels of intercourse between Great Britain and the rest of the world between 1750 and the present. It opens with surveys of Britain’s ambivalent location between America and Europe, its status an imperial power in the nineteenth century, and its changing role in the world since then. It then discusses spaces, goods, and people that have framed, moved, and settled in and among British territories and trading partners: including colonial America and the US, India, Ireland, Jamaica, and Australia.  
 
HIST 75300- From the Progressive Era to the New Deal: The Contours of Reform
Wednesday, 11:45 – 1:45 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Thomas Kessner
This course focuses on topics in U.S. social, political and cultural history between 1900 and 1940. In this period the United States economy took on a global aspect, foreign policy turned isolationist, roles for women expanded and the U.S. was transformed from a largely agricultural and rural nation to one that was urban and metropolitan. Northern racial ghettoes formed and erupted, immigration was restricted, radicals were deported and the capitalist market surged, only to tank into depression.  The Us responded with uncertainty toward the rise of totalitarian governments in Europe and offered no haven to those seeking refuge. At the same time the succession of progressive politics, World War, prosperity and depression shaped a reform political regime that redrew the parameters of American political thought.   
 Readings will include a sample of classic works along with a selection of more recent monographs and interpretive studies.


HIST 70310- Thucydides, Politics, Philosophy
Monday, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Jennifer Roberts
Crosslisted with Philosophy and Classics
This interdisciplinary course will be guided in part by the particular interests of the students who choose to enroll in it: historians, classicists, archaeologists, political scientists, philosophers.  Although there will be common readings, students are encouraged to pursue their own perspectives on Thucydides while at the same time coming to appreciate his relevance to other disciplines.  The text will be read in English, but I am happy to meet separately with students who would like to read selections in the original Greek.
 
A masterpiece of both narrative and analysis, Thucydides’ account of the war between the Athenian Empire and Peloponnesian League also merits study as a work of profound philosophical import.  The work of a man filled with a plangent sense of the sorrows of the human condition, Thucydides’ history offered a non-fiction counterpart to the tragic drama of his contemporaries Sophocles and Euripides. 
 
The father of political science, Thucydides has often been labeled the father of political realism.  We will explore in what ways this is and is not accurate.  Thucydides has been co-opted by one generation after another, on one continent after another, as a spokesman for its own society and identified as the one person who best understood the problems of the day.  From monarchists to republicans in Europe to 20th and 21st century American neoconservatives, his readers have proudly cited him in defense of their ideologies. Today students of international relations wring their hands over the newly dubbed menace, “the Thucydides trap,” a concept that draws parallels between the diplomatic situation that led up to the Peloponnesian War and America’s growing tensions with China.  Both Thucydides and his legacy will be the subjects of this course.
 
ENGL 81100 Actors, Bodies, and Performance in Early Modern England
Tanya Pollard
Fall 2019, Th 2-4
This course will explore ways that actors, both individually and collectively, shaped the construction of plays in early modern England. How did the members and power dynamics of repertory companies inspire playwrights’ development of characters and plots? What can we learn from accounts of actors in plays and other documents, and how did recognizable bodies interact with prosthetics such as wigs, cosmetics, blackface, and physical deformities? How might factors such as height, build, beards, voices, previous acting parts, and reputations have affected roles, and how did authors and audiences play with conventional practices of crossing lines of gender, race, class, and age? Readings will plays that include Marlowe's Dido and Tamburlaine; Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, Othello, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Tempest; and Jonson's Alchemist; as well as theatrical documents and scholarship by theater historians, literary critics, and performance theorists.
 
AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT/TRADITION  (Political Science)
American political thought asks the big theoretical Enlightenment questions about freedom and equality within a representative democracy, even as the United States returns to being a society premised upon gross inequalities. It juxtaposes 18th-century equality and inequalities embedded by the Scottish and English Enlightenment with those of the 20th and 21st centuries in the polity, society, and a “free market” that becomes increasingly detached from equality of opportunity or any semblance of a meritocracy in the American political tradition. Nearly a century after women gained the right to vote, particular attention will be given to the continuing absence of female voices -- in the canon of American political thought and in the American political system. As with race, this absence will be studied as a silence that speaks volumes about the real nature of American citizenship. Sexism and misogyny, like white supremacy and racism, were built into the American political tradition. These supremacies were designed and propagated by white male propertied citizens, reflecting the hierarchical nature of the American political system that glaringly contradicts the Declaration of Independence phrase “all [people] are created equal.” Special attention will be given to the increasing inequality in public and private education, which initially helped untip the scales during a brief period of meritocracy.
 
Span 85000 Lorca, Buñuel, Dalí: Theater, Cinema, Painting
Wednesday 4.15-6.15 Professor Paul SmithThis course treats the drama of Federico García Lorca, the silent and Spanish-language films of Buñuel, and some fine art works by Dalí. It also involves close reading of literary, cinematic and fine art texts and analysis of the voluminous and contradictory body of criticism on those texts. It also addresses such questions as tradition and modernity; the city and the country; and the biopic in film and television. The question of intermediality, or the relation between different media, will be examined in its historical and theoretical dimensions. The course will graded by final paper (50%), midterm exam (25%), and final presentation, weekly postings to course website and oral contribution to class  (25%).
 
Span 87000 Contemporary Spanish and Mexican Cinema
Wednesday 6.30-8.30, Professor Paul Smith
This course, which is taught in English and requires no knowledge of Spanish, compares and  contrasts Spanish and Mexican cinema and television of the last three decades. The course will address four topics in film: the replaying of history, nationality and transnationalism, gender and sexuality, and regionalism and urbanism; and will further study aspects of television fiction. Feature films will be viewed in subtitled versions. Methodology will embrace analysis of the audiovisual industry, film form, and theory. The course grade will be made up of final paper and related presentation (50%), class contribution and weekly postings (25%), and take home exam (25%).
 
WRITING THE SELF: FROM AUGUSTINE TO SELFIES
Domna C. Stanton (dstanton112@yahoo.com)
Fall 2019, Class: Tuesday 4:15 to 6:15; Office Hours by appointment Tuesdays 3-4 and 6:30 to 7:30.
How is the self written, constructed? What forms and shapes does this writing take over time, in different genres? what purposes does it serve, what work does it accomplish for the several selves inscribed in the text and for others (including the self) who will read it? This course will begin by tracing self-writing from the Middle Ages to today, in theoretical texts (Derrida, Butler, Lacan, Lejeune), and primary works, beginning with confession (St Augustine, Rousseau); then early- discursive forms of interiority (Gentileschi, Sévigné) that steadily enlarge both the scope of self writing and the figures of the self. We will consider the long passage that women's autogynography and the self-writing of persons of color and other others took to be recognized -- from Kempe, Heloise and Pisan to slave narratives (Equiano, Jacobs, Douglass), to letters, diaries and journals (Woolf, Nin, de Beauvoir). Our readings will culminate with the proliferation of forms in the 20th- and 21st century: from autofiction (Colette, Joyce, Stein, Eggers, Cardinal); Holocaust memorials and trauma narratives (Frank, Levi, Agamben) and testimonials (Manchu) to AIDS memoirs (Arenas, Guibert), transgender texts (Bornstein) and medical blogs (Miller) that highlight transformations, death and rebirth. We will end by considering what the continued obsession with revealing/inscribing the selves might mean in visual forms (Leonard, Bourgeois, Abramovic); and finally, given the untraceable lines between the ‘real’ and ‘the fictive,’ whether all writing is self-writing.
Work for the course: Whether the course is taken for 2, 3, or 4 credits, all students will be responsible for doing the readings closely and for engaging consistently in class discussion.
a Students who take the course for 2 credits will present in class a reading of one primary text, which will also be submitted in writing (c 5-7 pp); these students will also take the final exam.
b Students who take the course for 3 credits, will do all of the above and in addition, they will do a 10-13-page paper on a topic they select, after consultation with the instructor. They will also submit a thesis statement, a bibliography, an outline and the introduction (the schedule will be indicated on the syllabus).
c Students who take the course for 4 credits will do all of the above, and will also do a 20-25-page paper on a topic they select, after consultation with the instructor; they will also submit a thesis statement, a bibliography, an outline, and an introduction (the schedule will be indicated on the syllabus).
Please contact Domna Stanton with any questions (dstanton112@yahoo.com).  The syllabus and texts will be posted on Blackboard by August 15, 2019.
 
ENGL 74000. Alan Vardy. Romantic Reveries. Tuesdays 2:00PM - 4:00PM. 2/4 Credits.
This course will explore the various modes of reverie represented by British Romantic writers, including (in no particular order): daydreams, visions (religious and imaginative), ecstasy, nightmares, the unconscious, dreams, waking dreams, rapture, inspiration, hallucinations, madness, imaginative reveries, etc.  In such a conceptual frame, the Romantic canon takes on a slightly different shape.  For example, De Quincey becomes a major figure, and his work will take up a significant portion of our time.  The other giant of this reconfigured field is Coleridge (he coined the term “the unconscious” in its modern sense), and we will consider canonical works like “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan” alongside notebook entries and letters to give us a broad understanding of his contribution.  Other writers we will study include: Mary and Percy Shelley, Byron, Clare, and Barbauld (the reading list will be supplemented during the course).
 
Familiarity with Freud’s “The Dream-work” from Interpretation of Dreams and/or “The Uncanny” would be helpful, but not necessary.  We’ll look at these texts not as keys to Romantic literary works, but rather the converse.  Broadly speaking, we will explore how Romantic authors influence current critical interest in affective experience from various perspectives: psychoanalysis, cognitive studies, aesthetics, affect theory, etc.
 
ENGL 80700. Steven F. Kruger. Books of Marvels and Travels: The Middle Ages and Beyond. Tuesdays 4:15PM - 6:15PM. 2/4 Credits. 
Medieval European writers like William of Rubruck, John of Piano Carpini, Marco Polo, Mandeville, and Gomes Eanes de Zurara produced an extensive body of travel writing between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, detailing encounters, actual and imagined, between European travelers and both Asia and Africa. In the first half (or so) of the course, we will read a number of these travel texts, alongside the travel itineraries of non-Christian writers like Benjamin of Tudela and Ibn Battuta. We will consider these texts in relation to recent theoretical and historical work on the construction of Europe and Christendom in relation to their religious, racial, and geopolitical others, and the recent rethinking of how we treat medieval travel texts by such critics as Kim Phillips and Shayne Legassie. In the second half of the course, we will turn in two directions: (1) toward other late-medieval texts, not always conceived of primarily as travel narratives, that nonetheless feature travel and encounter (e.g., The Book of Margery Kempe, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Langland’s Piers Plowman), and (2) toward post-medieval writing that takes up travel and encounter (e.g., Cavendish’s The Blazing World, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness). With the last group of texts, we will consider how the conventions of medieval travel writing are taken up and transformed in later periods.
 
Each student will present orally as part of the seminar structure, and each student taking the course for 4.0 credits will write a research paper. Students working in periods other than the medieval can develop projects in their own field related to the course theme. First-year students in the Ph.D. Program in English can use this project to produce one of the four components of the portfolio required for the Program’s first examination: 1) a 12-15-page review essay; 2) an annotated bibliography of 15 primary or secondary sources; 3) a syllabus with a 1500-word account of a pedagogical approach to a text; or 4) a 10-page conference paper. In addition to completing one of these portfolio projects, students will write a brief (1000-1500-word) essay reflecting on the ways in which this project might provide the basis for a longer, research essay.
 
ENGL 85500. Eric Lott. Racial Hauntologies. Thursdays 4:15PM - 6:15PM. 2/4 Credits.
This course plays with Jacques Derrida’s coinage in Specters of Marx, ontology haunted by a pun on haunting, to propose a course of study or series of case studies in overdetermination itself: the ways racial formation suffuses and delimits other vectors of social dominance.  Race, articulation, and societies structured in dominance give us our marching orders as we examine revealing moments of revolutionary conflict from the U.S. Reconstruction period to the present.  We will take up theoretical coordinates, cultural dossiers, and textual instances of many kinds—forms and formations, bases and superstructures, sudden advances and lockdown retrenchments.  The course will require at least as much attention to social and political theory and debate (Karl Marx, W.E.B. Du Bois, V.N. Vološinov, Angela Davis, Saidiya Hartman, José Muñoz, Tavia Nyong’o, Joshua Clover) as to literary and cultural articulation (Abraham Lincoln, Lucy Parsons, Langston Hughes, Ornette Coleman, Samuel Delany, Arthur Jafa, Carrie Mae Weems, Princess Nokia) as we explore recombinant social formations, riots, strikes, crowds, parties, and utopias and the textual forms that arise from and address them.  Engagements with various kinds of social-activist-intellectual practice is an assumed and built-in aspect of the course.

EES 79903. Monica Varsanyi. (Im)migration, Justice, and the State. Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. Rm TBA. 3 credits.
With a focus on immigration (as opposed to immigrants), our primary task is to interrogate and
explore the ways in which the state mediates and controls the membership and movement of
people across national boundaries and within the territory of the nation-state, both historically
and in the contemporary era. In exploring the changing relationship between migrants and the
state, we will define “state” broadly to include the local, national, and supranational. Topics
include, inter alia, the changing landscape and rescaling of immigrant enforcement, the
construction of migrant illegality, the role of discretion in immigration enforcement, deportation
and detention, and the expanding “crimmigration” system. While the class focuses most
specifically on the US context, international examples will also be discussed and papers based on
international case studies are welcome. This course is geared towards doctoral students and MA 
students with interests in pursuing doctoral education. (Im)migration, Justice, and the State-Syllabus.


HIST 75200. David Reynolds. Warriors against Slavery: Lincoln, John Brown, and Frederick Douglass.
Wednesdays 2:00-4:00 pm. Rm TBA. 3 credits.
This course examines three leading antislavery figures of the Civil War era.  The three took action against the slave power’s increasing dominance of the U. S. government--Lincoln through politics, Douglass through authorship and lecturing, and Brown through violence. Douglass’s autobiographies, which span much of the nineteenth century, provide a vivid record of slavery, abolitionism, and Reconstruction.  His speeches and journalism illustrate his unceasing commitment to the cause of African Americans. Equally devoted to that cause was John Brown, of whom Douglass said, “I could live for the slave, but he could die for him.” We will trace Brown’s evolution, from his days as an Underground Railroad operative through his antislavery battles in Kansas to his doomed raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, which he hoped would lead to the fall of slavery but which instead resulted in his martyrdom on the gallows. Lincoln worked within the political system to end slavery. His speeches, debates, and public letters stand as timeless declarations of freedom and equality. His firm leadership of the nation during its most divided time established him as American’s greatest president. Despite their different approaches to slavery, these three antislavery leaders were connected in surprising ways. This course explores both the linkages and dissimilarities between the three. It also considers them against the background of the American Revolution, the Constitution, proslavery and antislavery thought, and cultural phenomena such as religion and popular literature. We will read key primary and secondary texts related to the three, including a definitive biography of each.
Reynolds-Syllabus