Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Classes for Spring 2012 iA

The Prophet Muhammad: History, Law Ritual (Graduate class)

Jewish American Novel

Close readings of American Jewish fiction by writers including Abe Cahan, Ludwig Lewisohn, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and Bernard Malamud, as well as a number of less conventionally studied texts. Attention is devoted to fictions that test the limits of the so-called “Jewish American novel,” including texts composed in Yiddish, Hebrew, and German (all of which are made available in English translations); fiction written by non-Jews about American Jews; and graphic novels.

Baseball as a Road to God
"Baseball As a Road to God" aims to link literature about our national pastime with the study of philosophy and theology. This seminar aims to blend ideas contained in classic baseball novels such as Coover's Universal Baseball Association, Kinsella's Iowa Baseball Confederation, and Malamud's The Natural with those found in such philosophical/theological works as Eliade's Sacred and Profane, Heschel's God in Search of Man, and James' Varieties of Religious Experience. It discusses such themes as the metaphysics of sports, the notions of sacred time and space, and the idea of baseball as a civil religion. Not for the faint-hearted, this course requires students to read over two dozen works of varying lengths in addition to supplemental readings as they might arise. Weekly papers are also required. As with any serious commitment of one?s time, the rewards of taking a seminar such as this can be great.

Between Rights and Justice in Latin America
What is the relationship between human rights and social justice? Do both always operate in conjunction? Are they ever mutually exclusive—one sacrificed at the expense of the other? This course explores key questions around the theory and practice of human rights promotion, surveying specialized literature and founding documents to consider the promise and challenge of existing human rights frameworks as they work for, but sometimes clash with, the promotion of social justice. We ask, are there universal rights? If so, how are these defined, and by whom? What is the relationship between "political" and "human" rights, between individual and collective rights? Can human rights be in conflict, and if so, how are such conflicts to be resolved? In regions rife with inequality—political, social, and economic—is promoting a global human rights agenda unrealistic, or more necessary than ever? After exploring these general questions, we will focus on Latin America, in particular on Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, and Mexico. How do human rights struggles in these countries change our view of the prevailing human rights regime? How do legacies of colonialism in these countries affect both the protection and violation of human rights in the present? Do these countries reveal a political tension between social justice and human rights? Readings will draw from Bartolomé de las Casas, I. Kant, John Rawls, Ariel Dorfman, Paul Farmer, Martha Nussbaum, Winifred Tate, and Greg Grandin, among others.

Lefebvre and Urban Marxism (2 credits)
Despite being heralded after his death in 1991 as the most prolific French intellectual of the twentieth century—he wrote more than seventy books!—the fact is that few theorists have had such as bad a rap as Marxist philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre. Scolded by the Althusserian establishment during the 1960s and 1970s for his rejection of structuralist epistemology; chastised by the French Communist Party for his contempt for dogma and orthodoxy; and ignored by academia for his irreverence toward disciplinary boundaries, Lefebvre’s ideas were never fully embraced until recently. In this course we focus especially on his writings about urbanism—with special emphasis on his concepts of everyday life, social reproduction, and the right to the city—as we explore why his ideas are becoming so popular today. Primary readings include The Urban Revolution, The Survival of Capitalism, Critique of Everyday Life (volume three), and chapters from State, Space, World: Selected Essays.

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