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Possible Electives


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 2021 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.

FREN 70500 - Writing the Self: From Augustine to Covidity
Tuesday, 4:15pm-6:15pm, Prof. Domna Stanton

Taught in English, Taught in-person
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-modern 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 centuries 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), and 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, Stein, Eggers) and pictorial modes (Leonard, Bourgeois, Abramovic); Holocaust memorials, trauma narratives (Frank, Levi, Agamben) and testimonials (Manchu); to AIDS memoirs (Arenas, Guibert), the matter of black lives (Cullors, Kendi and Blain), and the global pandemic that engender terror and dying along with possible transformation and rebirth. Finally, given the untraceable lines between the ‘real’ and ‘the fictive,’ we will end by debating whether all writing is self-writing.
IDS 81650 - Black Visuality, Black Performance
Michael Gillespie
The class is an introduction to the study of black visual and expressive culture. Structured around topics and themes, the class focuses on film, fine art, television, music, literature, graphic art, installation art, and photography, among other art forms, to illustrate methodologies and critical traditions devoted to black history, culture, and the arts. The content of the course will develop during the term (including in group projects led by students in the course) but will always address the relationship between art practice and the idea of race.  Some class sessions will take place in museums or art galleries and other off-site locations. The active learning methods we will be using in this course will be invaluable for those embarking on teaching careers and will prove equally invaluable in any workplace where the techniques of participation, engagement, creative management, collaboration, and conflict resolution might prove useful (including but not limited to situations where one must address and counter overt or implicit racism).  
Contemporary Latin American Cultural Theory
Wednesday, 4:15-6:15npm, 3 credits, Prof. Fernando Degiovanni

This seminar will address key theoretical and critical texts that have defined the field of Latin American cultural studies in recent decades. By analyzing the politics of academic knowledge in the global theoretical market, our goal will be to reconstruct both the genealogical lines as well as the epistemological frameworks that have played a crucial role in the region’s current intellectual production. The first part of the course will focus on a corpus of canonical authors that, since the 1980s, contributed to the definition of notions of modernity, coloniality, globalization and the role of the popular in Latin America. The second part will explore paradigms that have emerged over the last decade, in particular regarding notions of gender and sexuality, human and animal rights, cosmopolitism, as well as ecocultural criticism and theories of the sensible. In this final section, the course will function both as a seminar and as an academic writing workshop, and will focus on the theoretical interests of the students. The objective here will be to help them position their own research interests within contemporary theoretical currents. Class discussions will be conducted in Spanish; writing assignments can be submitted in either Spanish or English.
ANTH 78400: Linguistic Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology
Monday, 2:00 - 4:00pm, 4 credits, Prof. Diane Riskedahl


History 727000:  The African Diaspora
Tuesdays, 6:30 - 8:30 pm, 3 Credits, Prof. Herman Bennett

By employing the heuristic concept of diaspora—and specifically the African diaspora—this course focuses on the analytical work generated by studying cultures of movement.  As scholars, we might begin by asking whether diaspora complicates our understanding of disciplinary formations—including the normative assumptions that inform the study of society and culture.  How does diaspora, for instance, enhance our perspectives on imperial, colonial, national and post-colonial formations and the ways in which they have been historically represented?  In utilizing the prism of diaspora we confront the politics of representation through which scholars render meaning out of the past and present.  For this reason, diaspora like other categories of analysis engages the vexed terrain of representation whereby scholars frame the subject of their inquiries.

Diaspora brings into relief many of the principle categories and themes informing the social and human sciences.  It de-naturalizes many of the foundational assumptions on which contemporary social theory rests.  For this reason, we will route our conversations and readings through some of the central concepts defining social theory (state, nation, society, sovereignty, difference, stratification, race, ethnicity, religion, and culture) so as to discern how diaspora might trouble existing forms of knowledge bequeathed to us by the Renaissance, Enlightenment and Modern Era.
On a practical professional level, the course serves as a graduate-level introduction to diasporas in general but the African diaspora in particular.  Scholarship on this subject along with its development over time and in distinct settings (the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, England and Continental Europe) introduces us to the historical profession and professionalism.  For this reason, we will devote significant time focusing and discussing how various scholars have framed and approached their scholarly projects.  Since the African diaspora as a field of study constitutes a relatively novel endeavor, most of the readings draw on works from the last few decades.  While this conveys a sense of where the field is presently at it also serves to delineate how the African diaspora draws and builds on early forms of inquiry (polity formation and the history of empire, the history of slavery and freedom, the history of racial formation, the history of colonialism, the study of trans-nationalism, etc.)  Over the semester we will constantly need to ask what defines an inquiry, an approach or a perspective as diasporic in scope.  In doing so, we will necessarily focus on an earlier body of scholarship that was associated with different fields of inquiry (slavery, race relations, African Studies, Latin American & Caribbean history, the study of religion, English Cultural Studies, etc.).