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Winter 2022 Class Schedule

Winter 2022 class Schedule

Course Title Instructor Day/Time
HUM 260-0-20 Economics and the Humanities: Understanding Choice in the Past, Present, & Future Morton Schapiro and Gary Saul Morson TTh 12:30 - 1:50PM
HUM 325-4-20 Parks and Pipeline: Indigenous Environmental Justice Joseph Whitson TTh 11:00AM - 12:20PM
HUM 325-5-30 Religion in the Digital Age Eda Uca MW 2:00 - 3:20PM
HUM 370-4-20 Comparative Approaches to Ancient Empires Ann Gunter TTh 2:00 - 3:20PM
HUM 370-4-21 Race and the American Midwest Doug Kiel MW 3:30 - 4:50PM
HUM 370-6-20 India/Pakistan Partition in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture Daniel Majchrowicz TTh 3:30 - 4:50PM
HUM 370-6-22 The Crime Centered Documentary Debra Tolchinsky TTh 12:30 - 1:50PM
HUM 395-0-20 Performance Activism Tracy Davis M 2:00 - 4:50PM
HUM 395-0-21

"Site of Struggle”: Poetry, History, and Social Justice

Natasha Trethewey W 2:00 - 4:50PM


Winter 2022 course descriptions

HUM 260-0-20: Economics and the Humanities: Understanding Choice in the Past, Present, & Future

Co-listed with SLAVIC 260
Fulfills either Distro V or VI: Ethics and Values or Literature and Fine Arts

This course offers a cross-disciplinary approach to our understanding of alternatives, choice, and dialogue. Is there really such a thing as chance or choice? On what basis do we choose? How well can we predict the future? And how might we foster meaningful dialogue across the disciplines and among individuals? Professor Gary Saul Morson, a specialist in literature, and Professor Morton Schapiro, President of Northwestern and a labor economist specializing in the economics of higher education, will offer alternative approaches to these questions based on the presuppositions of their respective disciplines. If you want to dig into topics and questions like uncertainty, prediction, modelling, and judgment, this class is the perfect complement.

HUM 325-4-20: Parks and Pipeline: Indigenous Environmental Justice

Co-listed with ENVR_POL 390-0-27 and AMER_ST 310-0-30
Fulfills Distro IV: Historical Studies

This seminar explores how the relationship between the United States and Indigenous people has shaped the environments, ecosystems, and physical landscapes we live in today. Through engagement with a variety of digital resources including maps and digital media, we will learn how the environment of what is now the United States was managed by Indigenous people before and throughout colonization, how Indigenous people have been impacted by the environmental policies of the United States, and how Indigenous resistance and activism have shaped both the environmental movement in the U.S. as well as contemporary Indigenous political thought. In discussion, we will break down the politics, economics, and ethics of this history, challenging ourselves to think critically about the land we live on and its future. In lieu of a final paper, this course will include a digital, public-facing final assignment. 

HUM 325-5-30: Religion in the Digital Age

Co-listed with RELIGION 369
Fulfills Distro V: Ethics and Values

What happens when religion goes digital? In this course we examine how religions are adapting to an increasingly digital world and how digital environments are shaping old and new religious practices. Through a series of case studies, we will consider how religious practitioners and the “spiritual but not religious” are using digital media to challenge established religious authority, create community, innovate devotional practices, and theorize their experiences. We will examine, for example, collage and hip hop, virtual pujas, mindfulness apps, user-generated gods, emoji spells, tulpamancy, transhumanism, and Slender Man. Through these case studies we will explore how digital natives and adopters are reimagining religious presence, mediation, community, ethics, and ontology. This class centers BIPOC, queer, and feminist voices, digital arts, memetics, lived religion, and social justice. Students will practice skills for digital humanities research, engage in ethical reflection, and apply course learning to creating their own digital artifacts.

HUM 370-4-20: Comparative Approaches to Ancient Empires

Co-listed with ANTHRO 390, ART_HIST 319, CLASSICS 390, and MENA 390
Fulfills Distro IV: Historical Studies

Stimulated by current interest in decolonization and globalization, the study of ancient empires is now thriving. A major research trend adopts a comparative, cross-cultural framework to try to understand and explain commonalities and differences, which this course explores. Did the first complex territorial states we call empires emerge and develop in similar ways? What factors or institutions were crucial to their trajectory and success, and what theories have been proposed to account for them? What are the benefits and challenges of a comparative, multidisciplinary perspective, and what new kinds of histories might it produce? Many recent studies compare Rome and Qin/Han China; others consider the historical sequence of empires in the Middle East, such as the Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid Persian empires; still others analyze aspects of imperial formation and rule in historically unrelated empires in different geographical regions and eras. This course examines selected case studies drawn from a wide geographical and chronological range, with special focus on the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East. We will examine different aspects of territorial expansion, consolidation, and rule, including state ideology, bureaucracy, cosmopolitanism, urbanism, borders and frontiers, religion, and the creation and circulation of the imperial image. Readings will represent contributions by scholars working in different disciplines, including history, art history, and archaeology.

HUM 370-4-21: Race and the American Midwest

Co-listed with HISTORY 393
Fulfills Distro IV: Historical Studies

This seminar explores the role of race and Indigeneity in histories of the American Midwest. Despite popular narratives of the Midwest as purely a heartland of white homogeneity and normativity, racialized communities of color have long shaped politics, culture, and society in the region. This course emphasizes the fluid nature of ideas about race, and their interplay with the construction of place in a settler colonial society. The course materials cover a wide range of topics that are crucial for understanding both Midwestern and U.S. history writ large. From the multi-ethnic world of the fur trade, to contemporary housing inequalities, this course highlights the making of a U.S. region, and confronts mythologies of the Midwest in the American imagination.

HUM 370-4-21: India/Pakistan Partition in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture

Co-listed with ASIAN_LC 260-0-20
Fulfills Distro VI: Literature and Fine Arts

In August 1947, as the sun set on Britain’s Indian empire, the subcontinent was partitioned into two newly-created, independent nations: India and Pakistan. The division into two territories –one Hindu-majority, the other Muslim-majority – was accompanied by perhaps the largest migration in human history. Millions moved from one territory to the other, often against their will, as hundreds of thousands were killed in the ensuing chaos. The unprecedented violence of Partition - physical, emotional, social – profoundly shaped the national identities of India and Pakistan, permanently restructured the texture of everyday life and altered the global political order. From the subsequent partitioning of Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1971, to enduring border disputes in Kashmir, from ongoing cross-border migration to unresolved conflicts over identity and belonging, Partition continue to shape the region today. Partition’s legacy today extends far beyond the heavily-fortified frontier and into the art, literature and popular culture of the three countries that emerged from it. Even as the post-colonial states treated Partition as an aberration best forgotten - a footnote of a midnight tryst with destiny – the arts emerged as the primary space in which the meaning of Partition was negotiated and mediated. What could not easily be engaged directly found its expression, often allegorically, on the silver screen or the off-white pages of literary magazines. This class will examine how Partition has been engaged in literature and popular culture, moving from contemporary depictions from the 1940s to its continued invocation in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh today. We will read/watch these texts alongside the extensive body of scholarship on Partition from History, Anthropology and Gender Studies with particular attention to the historiography of Partition and South Asian nationalisms. Throughout, we will engage with the idea of Partition as an “event” and ask how Partition continues to inflect life in South Asia and beyond today.

HUM 370-6-22: The Crime Centered Documentary

Co-listed with RTVF 377-0-20 and LEGAL_ST 376-0-20
Fulfills Distro VI: Literature and Fine Arts

In this course, we will view non-fiction and hybrid films that revolve around crime, criminal justice, and criminal court cases. Our emphasis will be on cases that are either mired in controversy or emblematic of wider social concerns. Readings will augment viewings as we weigh legal, philosophical, or scientific perspectives: What is accurately depicted? What is omitted? What is misrepresented? Concurrently, we will investigate the films aesthetically: How is the film structured and why? What choices are being made by the filmmaker regarding camera, sound, and editing, and how do these choices affect viewers? Throughout the course, we will consider the ethics of depicting real people and traumatic events. We will also look at specific films in regard to their legal or societal impact. Assignments will include a series of short response papers and a substantial final project, which can take the form of either (up to the student) a ten to twelve-page paper or a six to twelve-minute film/podcast/media project. Projects should center upon a legal topic. Ideas include, but are not limited to, a paper that compares two films depicting the same criminal case or a polished/edited film interview with an individual connected to a crime or involved with the legal system (a defendant, a lawyer, a judge, a policeperson, etc.). Additional topics could center around mitigation films, viral crime videos, local courts, legal advocacy centers, or hybrid crime films. 

HUM 395-0-21: “Site of Struggle”: Poetry, History, and Social Justice

Certain kinds of trauma visited on peoples are so deep, so cruel, that unlike money, unlike vengeance, even unlike justice, or rights, or the goodwill of others, only writers can translate such trauma and turn sorrow into meaning, sharpening the moral imagination.  —Toni Morrison                                                                              

Responding to the question posed by the “A Site of Struggle” exhibition at the Block Museum—How has art been used to protest, process, mourn, and memorialize anti-black violence within the United States?—this course will focus on the reading and writing of poems that engage this difficult history. We will consider the function of poetry to document, bear witness, and to effect what Seamus Heaney called “the redress of poetry. Along with reading poems that take up the subject, we will read several essays to undergird our discussion of the ethics of representation, positionality, and what it means to write about violence and trauma. In all of this, we will focus on the craft of writing poetry—metaphor, image, musicality, voice, etc.—with a focus on ekphrasis and intertextuality which will engage students in responding both to the works of art in the exhibition and the poems we will read in the course.

HUM 395-0-20: Performance Activism

Co-listed with THEATRE 441-0-20

Note: This is a graduate level course, open to advanced undergraduates with instructor permission.

Activism is accomplished through a set of repertoires that aim to dismantle privilege and change the status quo. While progressive and liberatory politics are consistently promoted, performance is the means by which causes are individualized as well as internationalized in a recognizable lexicon of performance and mediatization.This course examines both the history through which the repertoires emerged and consolidated and case studies of how they are manifest recombinatively as performance in contemporary movements. Students will have the opportunity to study different movements, observe and/or participate in events (live or mediated), and enhance the entire class's understanding and aptitude through diverse means.


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