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Autumn Semester 2020 Graduate Courses

Comparative Studies

Comparative Studies 6300 Critical Foundations: Cultural and Social Theory

Hybrid | W 2:15-5:00PM | Hagerty Hall 451 | Philip Armstrong

This course offers an introduction to comparative cultural studies and social theory. It introduces students to a wide range of well-known thinkers, critical movements, and widely cited texts situated within different disciplinary and inter-disciplinary contexts—"not theory as the will to truth, but theory as a set of contested, localized, conjunctural knowledges, which have to be debated in a dialogical way” (Stuart Hall). The course is attentive to the ways in which the readings begin to constitute a “canon” they simultaneously refuse, reinvent, and continuously displace, opening toward a “toolbox” of concepts that places movements of thought and individual theorists in continual exchange with one another. The course is not organized around a core canon but is an invitation to begin to assemble the cultural studies and critical theory “toolkits” that can best support and sustain the questions that motivate your own research. Lastly, the course introduces students to other faculty in Comparative Studies through a series of “faculty exchanges.” Discussions among faculty will seek to demonstrate how the movements of thought and concepts addressed in the course actively shape both individual research projects as well as specific disciplinary and inter-disciplinary fields of study.

Comparative Studies 7350.02 Theory in Folklore II: The Ethnography of Performance

Tu 9:10-12:10AM | Pomerene Hall 160 | Dorothy Noyes

The performance turn in folklore, anthropology, and related disciplines has illuminated our understanding of agency and efficacy in everyday life as well as in specialized cultural production. In a major revision of the modern culture concept, the performance approach focuses on cultural forms as process and practice: not texts instantiating a static shared worldview but historically situated, convention-based transactions among persons. Standing against the modern linguistic ideology that privileges reference, the performance approach looks at how representations construct and manipulate reality. Reacting to the focus on deep structure in most grand theory, it insists on the significance of material and interactional surfaces. With its attention to bodies in motion, it also remains relevant as a corrective to the reification of values and identities in contemporary cultural politics.

This seminar will examine both programmatic texts and selected case studies in the ethnography of performance: that is, an approach based in "thick description" of instances.

While theory in the field has tended to develop within genre specializations, we will examine verbal art, cultural performance (ritual, festival, spectacle) and personal performance together in the attempt to illustrate common issues and a general paradigm. Students will share in preparing for discussion and write a research paper.

This course fulfills the core theory requirement of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Folklore. (For more information, see http://cfs.osu.edu/programs/graduate-options/gis-graduate-curriculum.)


Comparative Studies 7360 Theorizing Culture

Hybrid | Fr 9:10AM-12:00PM | University Hall 082 | Morgan Liu

What is “culture” and is the concept useful to understanding what people do, say, and think? Is it to be located in ideas, in materiality, in discourse, or in practice/performance? We will think about how the cultural dimensions of human  existence are variously involved with tactics of power; with conflation  of race, nation, and territoriality; with  shaping  agency and articulating voice; with universalistic claims and particular politics.

Readings are centered on ethnographies that plumb specific cases and simultaneously theorize subjectivity, knowledge, representation, gender, identity, embodiment, space, networks, colonialism, complexity, the state, the global, etc. We will consider these case studies with respect to perspectives from cultural anthropology, human geography, linguistic  anthropology, urban studies, cultural studies, science studies, history, political science, and sociology. Students from all disciplines are very welcome in this course. The central position of the class is your semester-long essay on a topic of your choice (perhaps a piece for your future thesis) in light of perspectives of the course.

The course’s seminar/lecture format involves close engagement among students and with me. There will be a mini-conference where students present their own work to the class for feedback. Prereq: Grad standing or permission of instructor. Not open to students with credit for 716.

Comparative Studies 8100 Interdisciplinary Lab 1

Hybrid | Th 2:15-5:00PM | Hagerty 451 | Maurice Stevens

In general, the Comparative Studies Interdisciplinary Learning Laboratories are year-long courses, including CS 8100 and CS 8200, that encourage participants to engage in sustained interdisciplinary research, to workshop their research projects in conversation with one another, and to share their projects with broader publics. In keeping with the model of the laboratory, the Learning Laboratory emphasizes the creation of shared spaces of experimental inquiry and the generation of knowledge as a collaborative endeavor.*

· To develop shared understandings of Engaged Research and Community-Driven Participatory Theorizing practices

· To discern and enhance methodologies and practices of engaged and community-driven research, participatory leadership, and participatory theorizing

· To cultivate spaces that promote Engaged Research and Community-Centered Participatory Theorizing

· To develop relationships that will serve as mechanisms to share research and theorizing that has been collaboratively produced

· To create and execute a strategic plan for community facing programming that will share knowledge and skill sets that have been developed over the course of the year with the broader community

To do this, our year-long Interdisciplinary Learning Laboratory will be structured through a collaboration between the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, the interdisciplinary Department of Comparative Studies, and a number of research-invested Community Partners/leaders.


This year’s Interdisciplinary Learning Laboratory explores various approaches to community-driven research and participatory theorizing. Topics will include the historical, theoretical, and practice roots of community-driven research and participatory leadership and theorizing as they have been and are engaged in various contexts. Participants in this course will explore topics like the development and execution of participatory principles, collaborative research design, ethics and equity in multi-constituent research, issue and asset determination in collaborative work, action research methods, and the role of engaged research in social advocacy. Additionally, participants in this Interdisciplinary Learning Laboratory will engage in experiential learning practices associated with cultivating participatory leadership and participatory theorizing in community.


Students are expected to commit to taking both COMPSTD 8100 and COMPSTD 8200 as a two-part sequence. In the case of rare extenuating circumstances, students can take COMPSTD 8100 without COMPSTD 8200, but COMPSTD 8100 is a pre-requisite for taking COMPSTD 8200. It is not possible to enroll in COMPSTD 8200 without completing COMPSTD 8100.

Comparative Studies 8990 Colloquium, Workshops, and Departmental Seminars

Hybrid | Th 11:15AM-1:15PM | Hagert 451 | Maurice Stevens

Departmental workshop, colloquium, or seminar.  Topics vary.  Repeatable to a maximum of 9 cr hrs or 9 completions. This course is graded S/U.