Graduate Courses for Spring Semester 2016


Comparative Studies 5957.01 Comparative Folklore: Traveler as Trickster

Th 3:15PM - 6:00PM | Hagerty Hall 451 | Sabra Webber

This seminar takes a critical look at different sorts of travel and travelers—explorers, ethnomusicologists, migrant workers, anthropologists, folklorists, NGO and government officials and workers, missionaries, and tourists. We look at a wide range of travel narratives and their relation to “tricksters” and to trickiness in various cultural and historical contexts.  It is to be hoped that students will produce papers that circle around these themes and that their projects will intersect in ways that will enhance the work of fellow students in the seminar and in turn will be enhanced by theirs. Folklore Minor and GIS Course. Repeatable to a maximum of 6 cr hrs.


Comparative Studies 5957.02 Folklore in Circulation


Study of transmission of culture.  Topics vary, e.g., tourists, travelers, tricksters; cultures of waste and recycling; orality and literacy.  Prereq: English 2270 (270). Repeatable to a maximum of 6 cr hrs.


Comparative Studies 6391 Approaches to Comparative Cultural Studies II

We 3:15PM - 6:00PM | Hagerty Hall 451 | Nina Berman

In this course we will engage with a range of theories and methods of cultural analysis and comparison, and explore some of the conceptual tools used in the construction of comparative studies scholarship. We will read texts by authors from diverse historical and geopolitical contexts and engage with their commentary upon the interpretation of culture. Keywords that will structure our discussion include questions of power and ideology; empire, race, and nation; modernity and modernities; gender and sexuality; globalization; and humanitarianism.

Among the critics we will read are Al-Biruni, Ibn Khaldun, Clifford Geertz, Tom Kasulis, Bartolomé de Las Casas, Rabindranath Tagore, E.W. Blyden, Rosa Luxemburg, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Johannes Fabian, writers of the Harlem Renaissance, Takeuchi Yoshimi, Enrique Dussel, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Andrea Muehlebach, and Didier Fassin.

This is the second course in a two-semester introduction to critical and cultural theory, while also offering a stand-alone introduction to key concepts for formulating interdisciplinary and critical research projects in cultural studies. Primarily designed for graduate students in the Department of Comparative Studies, this course is also open to graduate students from across the university. Requirements: Participation (20%); bi-weekly response papers (30%); class presentation / preparation of one reading (20%); course proposal (as final project; 30%). Not open to students with credit for 711.


Comparative Studies 6750.02 Introduction to Graduate Study in Folklore II: Fieldwork and Ethnography of Communication

Tu 1:50PM - 4:50PM | Denney Hall 435 | Gabriella Modan

Introduction to fieldwork and ethnographic writing in the humanities - interviewing, participant observation, and research ethics. Focus on the ethnography of communication and community representations.
Not open to students with credit for 770.02 or English 6751.02 (770.02). Cross-listed in English 6751.02.


Comparative Studies 7340 Theorizing Science and Technology

Tu 2:15PM - 5:00PM | Hagerty Hall 451 | Katherine Hendy

Introduction to comparative and cultural studies of science and technology.  Not open to students with credit for 730.


Comparative Studies 7350.03 Theorizing Folklore III: Differentiation, Identification, and The Folk

We 12:40PM - 3:40PM | Denney Hall 245 | Merrill Kaplan

This seminar explores the concept of the Folk, its roots in the 18th century and before, its development in the modern and postmodern world, and its uses in a range of cultural contexts both inside and outside academia. We’ll discuss the formation and maintenance of nationalisms – perennial sites of identity construction dependent on one or another understanding of the Folk. We’ll also investigate multiple processes of differentiation along ethnic, racial, class, and other lines in the US and elsewhere. Readings will be drawn from a broad range of historical moments. No prior familiarity with folklore is necessary. Not open to students with credit for 770.03 or English 770.03 or 7351.03 or 7351.13. Cross-listed in English 7351.03.


Comparative Studies 7888.01 Interdepartmental Studies in the Humanities

We 1:50PM - 4:50PM | Denney Hall 419 | Francis Donoghue

Current Developments in Academic Labor

I invite interested students to think of this seminar as "Introduction to Graduate Studies 2.0."  The first third of the course will focus on the genre of academic self-help, broadly defined.  We'll read several practical texts:  excerpts from Gregory Semenza's Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century, the second edition of Emily Toth's book, now titled Ms. Mentor's New and Even More Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia and Karen Kelsky's extensive website, "The Professor is In."  Her book, which shares the website's title, is currently very successful, but duplicates much of the information available on the site.  We'll conclude this segment of the course with Jeffrey Williams' somewhat more theoretical, How to Be an Intellectual.  Ideally, parts of two class meetings will include Skype chats with Professors Toth and Williams.

The second third of the course will be devoted to critiques and defenses of the humanities and of higher education in general.  We'll read Russell Jacoby's classic work, The Last Intellectuals, then two critiques of the university which focus on the growing imbalance between faculty and administration in the contemporary university, Benjamin Ginsberg's The Fall of the Faculty and Rise of the All Administrative University and The Rise and Decline of Faculty Governance.  We'll counterbalance that assignment by reading Fareed Zakaria's In Defense of a Liberal Education and Geoff Colvin's Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will.   Ideally, part of one class meeting will include a Skype chat with Professor Jacoby.

After such a heavy reading load, which may well spill over past week ten of the semester, we will wrap up the course with very light reading assignments devoted to whatever events are current in academia in April and May of 2016.  An informal course requirement is that all students will be expected to become regular readers of The Chronicle of Higher Education and InsideHigherEd for the duration of the term.  Both daily periodicals have easily searchable archives and are sources of academic news.  Students will be asked to do a brief, informal presentation on one article or op-ed piece of their choice each week, and our discussions will be devoted to the issue the piece and the report raises.  The final assignment, for those taking the course for full credit, will be a research paper.

My hope is that this course will give students some exposure to the kinds of broader conversations that go on among professional academics all the time.  Those conversations cross all disciplinary and period boundaries, but understanding them is critical to what we do.

Repeatable to a maximum of 15 cr hrs.

Comparative Studies 8890 Colloquia, Workshops, and Departmental Seminars

TBA | TBA | Theresa Delgadillo

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


Comparative Studies 8896 Seminar in East Asian Philosophy

Th 12:15PM - 3:00PM | Hagerty Hall 451 | Melissa Curley

This year’s seminar will examine both classic texts and current interpretations, looking at great works from China, Korea, and Japan, and the ways in which these texts have been read by modern and contemporary philosophers in Asia and elsewhere. The course begins with the Zhuangzi, the classic of philosophical Daoism, composed amidst the tumult of China’s Warring States period, and ends with German philosopher Byung Chul Han’s Burnout Society, composed against the exhaustion of the twenty-first century. In between, we’ll consider multiple thought traditions (including Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism), focusing on six interlocking themes that concern classical and contemporary thinkers alike—selfhood, sociality, freedom, equality, environment, and technology. Students will share in the work of designing the course such that it aligns with their own research questions; the chief assignment for the term will be the creation of a public-facing document that makes the case for the significance of these questions, with the document serving as a master class for other students of philosophy interested in learning more about East Asian thought and the possibilities afforded by taking a comparative approach. .  Repeatable to a maximum of 9 cr hrs. Cross-listed in EALL and Philos 8102.