Spring 2016 Courses

RSCP 82100 – Research Techniques in Renaissance Studies, GC: W, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, 4 credits, Prof. Professor Clare Caroll  [30293] Crosslisted with CL 80900 The course is designed to help students work on their own research—on the dissertation, the orals, or on a research paper in Renaissance or Early Modern Studies, broadly defined as 1350-1700. Students are not required to be members of the Renaissance Certificate Program to take the class. We will study how the material conditions of texts influence their transmission and interpretation. Readings will include articles on the history of the book, as well as on literary and cultural history. Students will receive instruction in topics specifically related to research in the early modern period: codicology, paleography, textual editing and analytical bibliography. There will study the history of reading—marginalia, descriptions of reading, and of reading practices. The major assignment for the course is an annotated bibliography.  Other assignments include exercises in paleography, analytical bibliography, and an oral report related to one of the readings. We will visit the Manuscript and Rare Book Collections at the Morgan Library.  On March 30, the seminar will be devoted to a day-long symposium on how to do research in archives in Rome, Paris, Madrid, London, Dublin, and Mexico City.

Reading list (texts from which weekly readings will be selected):

Roger Chartier, Forms and Meanings: Texts, Performances, and Audiences from Codex to Computer
Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Study
Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe
Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book
James A. Knapp, Illustrating the Past in Early Modern England
Andrew Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance
Armando Petrucci, Writers and Readers in Medieval Italy
Brian Richardson, Manuscript Culture in Renaissance Italy
Bill Sherman, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England
Articles by Robert Darnton, Anthony Grafton, Lisa Jardine, Arthur Marotti, and Peter Stallybrass


ART 85000 Early Modern Textiles: Fashion and Function. A Seminar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fri 9:30-11:30 am, 3 credits, Prof Wunder and Metropolitan Museum of Art Associate Curator Melinda Watt, [30032] Office Hours: TBA ajwunder@gmail.com Textiles in all forms—woven silks, carpets, tapestries, laces and embroideries—were a treasured art form that served a variety of practical and social functions in early modern Europe. This object-based seminar will explore textiles and their uses, makers and meanings in Europe from around the fifteenth through the early eighteenth centuries. The class will meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with weeks alternating between discussions of readings and firsthand examination of the textiles collection using the facilities of the Ratti Textile Center. Students will be introduced to the technical study of textiles, conservation concepts, and recent scholarship dealing with issues of consumption, production, patronage, and material culture. Through guest lectures by speakers from various departments at the Met, the course will also give students a view of professional practices at the museum. Doctoral students from departments outside of art history and from the Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium schools are welcome. Auditors and MALS students will be admitted only with permission of instructor if there is availability after doctoral students have registered. Requirements: Weekly readings and participation in object viewings and discussions. One catalogue entry based on an object at the Met due mid-semester. Object-based final research paper and final presentation at the end of the term. Preliminary Reading:“Textiles in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 53, no.3 (Winter 1995-96).


ENGL 81500. Send in the Clowns: Fools and Jokers from Medieval and Early Modern Drama to Contemporary Standup. Richard McCoy. Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [30310] In his instructions to the players, Hamlet inveighs against actors who improvise for vulgar laughs and insists that, “clowns speak no more than is set down for them.” And Shakespeare’s noble contemporary, Sir Philip Sidney, objected vehemently to “mongrel tragicomedies” for “mingling kings and clowns.” Yet despite the desire to send off the clowns, fools still proved to be essential dramatis personae in the gravest tragedies. Hamlet himself sometimes plays the fool and “put[s] an antic disposition on.” This course will explore the intense synergy of comedy and tragedy, focusing on theories of humor from antiquity to the present. We will also discuss the clown’s role in drama, noting the diabolical affinities of clowns with Vice figures like Titivillus in Mankind and Robin and Rafe in Doctor Faustus. Their efforts to attack and engage the audience are rooted in a connection between comedy and aggression. This in turn can be linked to the clown’s tendency to break the fourth wall and directly address spectators, suggesting that, in some ways, fools can function as mouthpieces for authors. The clown’s paradoxical combination of stupidity and smarts also allows this figure to become both the joke’s butt and the wily joker – or what one critic calls “the clowning object and the laughing subject of his own mirth.” This paradox enables clowns to resist the condescension and attack the complacency of their presumed betters on stage and off, challenging class barriers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and gender barriers in The Roaring Girl. We’ll also explore comparably paradoxical reinforcement and transgression of class, gender, and racial stereotypes in popular performance from commedia dell’ arte and Punch-and-Judy through nineteenth-century minstrel shows. The clown’s edgy blend of improvisation and shtick as well as the unsettling tendency of humor to go “too far” will be topics for discussion. And we’ll examine the metatheatrical self-consciousness and complex artifice of comic plays within plays like The Knight of the Burning Pestle. Finally, we’ll discuss the fundamental and recurrent features of comic performance up through the present day (Amy Schumer, Key and Peele), including the challenge to dramatic decorum, good taste, and plausibility, jokes’ value as a “weapon of the weak” against social, racial, and gender norms, and humor’s ambiguous blend of aggression and self-abasement. Research paper on topic of your choice + oral presentation.

Hist. 78400- Knowledge is Power: The State and its Sciences in the Age of Enlightenment, GC:  T, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Barbara Naddeo [30334] If age-old, the well-known aphorism “knowledge is power” was a watchword of the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, an age in European history which has traditionally been hailed for its development and codification of the methods and disciplines of the modern sciences. If usually studied as the product of the culture and sociability of the age, the emergence of the modern sciences in Europe was also inextricably tied to the new political culture of the territorial state, which itself sought to sponsor, cultivate and harness the findings of the sciences to its own political ends. As a result, the age of the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment was perhaps the first age of “big science,” big-picture theories and large-scale projects which sought to transform the terrain and peoples of Europe’s territorial states and their empires. At the same time, “big science” equally transformed the political culture of the state, the jurisdiction of its administration, and, no less, the rights and duties of its citizens. This dualistic trend is perhaps best illustrated by the advent of the human sciences, which more than a set of discourses was also tied to the new institutional culture and political practices of the emergent nation-state in Europe. What were the political ramifications of “big sciences” for the state, its subjects and citizens in the age of Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment? This class will provide the answer to that enduring question with its case studies of the major figures and projects of the new human sciences at the cusp of modernity.

MALS 78500Arabian Nights– GC:  M, 4:15pm – 6:15pm, 3 credits, Prof. Professor Anna Akasoy [30711] Crosslisted with CL 87000 / MES 78000 This course offers an introduction to the history and literary features of the example of the Arabian Nights as well as to its literary and visual adaptations. For the purposes of this course, the Arabian Nights will be treated as an open corpus which continues to expand and transform in a variety of cultural contexts and formats. We will be reading stories from the Arabian Nights in different English translations and discuss a variety of academic publications, but also take into consideration modern artistic interpretations, including examples from literature, the visual arts, film and theater. These comparative exercises will shed light on the continuing appeal of the Arabian Nights and assist us in contextualizing specific developments of the Nights within their respective historical environments. We will begin by tracking the development of the text and its visual adaptations, beginning with the earliest stories and compilations in India and Persia, continuing with the first Arabic compilation in Iraq and expansions in Syria in the medieval period, proceeding with the introduction to western Europe by way of Galland’s early eighteenth-century French translation, and concluding with the Arabian Nights as a global phenomenon. We will discuss the institutional, intellectual and cultural circumstances which allowed for this transmission as well as account for different interpretations and adaptations. After exploring formal elements of the Arabian Nights (such as the story within a story, the significance of poetry, the classification as fairy tales, and the element of performance and story-telling), we will focus on major themes in the Arabian Nights and their adaptations in modern literature (morality, religion, magic, and power). We will discuss the appeal of the character of Shahrazad, paying attention to psychoanalytical and feminist interpretations and conclude with a discussion of the Arabian Nights in film and on stage and the impact of different media on the manner the stories are told.

P SC 72001- Machiavelli, GC, R, 6:30-8:30pm, 3 credits, Professor Benedetto Fontana [30249]  This course will focus on Machiavelli and his interpreters. It will engage his thought through a close reading of his major political works, The Prince, the Discourses and The Art of War, as well as some of his minor works, The Life of Castruccio Castracani, A Provision for Infantry, Discourse on Remodeling the Government of Florence, the Tercets on Ambition and On Fortune. There is no need to underline the importance of such a course for a student of politics and of political theory. That he has had a broad and profound influence on political thought cannot be denied. He has been called teacher of evil, founder of modernity, partisan of republicanism, defender of tyranny, discoverer of a new science of politics, amoral realist and impassioned idealist. The very ambiguity (and popularity) of the term “Machiavellian” testifies to the range and depth of this influence. In addition, the course will examine different interpretations, or different ways of reading, Machiavelli—such as reason of state, republican, democratic, Straussian, rhetorical and revolutionary.
In effect, the course will offer a reading of several of Machiavelli’s writings, and it will at the same time delve into the various approaches to, and interpretations of, his politics and thought.

PHIL 78600 – Understanding Locke’s Essay, GC,R, 4:15-6:15pm, 4 credits, Prof. Gordon-Roth [30223] John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding was the single most widely read academic text in English for a full fifty years after its publication, and Locke’s answers to important and currently debated philosophical issues are still cogent today. In fact, John Locke is known as the father of modern empiricism, and Locke’s thoughts on persons paved the way to current theories of personal identity. In this course we will read Locke’s magnum opus, and we will explore not only Locke’s thoughts on nativism and personal identity, but also the role of language, the limits of knowledge, the dangers of enthusiasm, and the debate over substance dualism. Along the way, we will question whether Locke is rightly called an “empiricist,” and the extent to which Locke is committed to the corpuscular hypothesis. The central objective of this course is to deepen and broaden our understanding of Locke’s metaphysical and ontological commitments, within the framework of his epistemic modesty, while gaining a better appreciation for Locke’s influence on current philosophical debates.

SPAN 82100 – Cervantes’ Art of Fiction: from the Exemplary Novels to the Persiles GC: Thursday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Schwartz, [30382] Cervantes started his career as a writer with a pastoral novel.  La Galatea, a literary genre which was in fashion in the second half of the sixteenth-century.  At the same time, or soon after, he began composing short-fiction, following the model of Boccaccio’s novella, which he would recreate and transform in his twelve Novelas ejemplares, some of which are based upon other Italian sources.  In the years between the publication of the first (1605) and the second part (1615) of Don Quijote, Cervantes was also obviously working on his last work of fiction,  Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, published posthumously in 1617.  The purpose of this course will be to study Cervantes’s fiction from the perspective of early modern poetics and rhetoric, while focusing on a selection of literary and historical topics and themes that he privileged.  Our reading or re-reading of Cervantes’s works will also allow us to follow the process of transformation of narrative fiction since his times, when it followed the Aristotelian principle of verisimilitude until the eclosion of realism in the nineteenth-century. This course will be taught in Spanish.

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