Courses of Interest
AAS 322/LAS 301/LAO 322/AMS 323
Afro-Diasporic Dialogues: Black Activism in Latin America and the United States
This course investigates how people of African descent in the Americas have forged social, political, and cultural ties across geopolitical and linguistic boundaries. We will interrogate the transnational dialogue between African Americans and Afro-Latin Americans using case studies from Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. We will explore how Black activists and artists from the US have partnered with people of color in Latin America and the Caribbean to challenge racism and economic inequality, while also considering why efforts to mobilize Afro-descendants across the Americas have often been undermined by mutual misunderstandings.
HIS 333/LAS 373/AAS 335
Modern Brazilian History
This course examines the history of modern Brazil from its independence in the 1820s to the present day. The lectures, readings, and discussions chart conflict, change, and continuity within Brazilian society, highlighting the role played by disenfranchised social actors in shaping the country's history. Topics include the meanings of political citizenship; slavery and abolition; race relations; indigenous populations; uneven economic development as well as Brazil's experiences with authoritarianism and globalization.
POL 351/SPI 311/LAS 371
The Politics of Development
This course will focus on the state's role in promoting economic growth and distribution in the developing world. The core organizing question for the course is: why have some regions of the developing world been more successful at industrialization and/or poverty alleviation than other regions. The students will learn about the patterns of development in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with special attention to such countries as China, India, South Korea, Nigeria and Brazil. General challenges that face all developing countries - globalization, establishing democracy and ethnic fragmentation - will also be analyzed.
Introduction to Portuguese II
A continuation of POR 101. Students will continue to develop skills of oral/aural comprehension, speaking, reading and writing, while gaining further exposure to the Portuguese-speaking world through the media, literature, film and music of Brazil, Portugal and Lusophone Africa. Students who successfully complete POR 102 will place into POR 107.
Introduction to Portuguese for Spanish Speakers
Normally open to students already proficient in Spanish, this course uses that knowledge as a basis for the accelerated learning of Portuguese. Emphasis on the concurrent development of understanding, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The two-semester sequence POR 106-109 is designed to provide in only one year of study a command of the language sufficient for travel and research in Brazil and Portugal.
Intermediate Portuguese for Spanish Speakers
Students will further develop their language skills, especially those of comprehension and oral proficiency, through grammar review, readings, film and other activities. The two-semester sequence POR 106-109 is designed to give in only one year of study a command of the Portuguese language sufficient for travel in Brazil, Portugal and beyond.
POR 340/LAS 375
Songs of Brazil: Listen & Lyrics
This course offers a close listening to some of the most important Brazilian songs. Each class will be dedicated to one or more artists (composers and interpreters) offering an in-depth study of their songs and styles. Samba, Bossa Nova, Tropicália, and other movements will be studied through listening and lyrics training, and a weekly writing blog in Portuguese. Each student will build a repertoire of favorite songs to be presented in a final collective podcast.
Topics of Social Stratification (Half-Term): Race and Racism in the Contemporary World
Racism, xenophobia, and ethno-national chauvinism can be found in most of the world. This seminar compares past forms of popular and state racism, such as fascism, to current ones, such as the neo-fascism and white supremacism of grassroot organizations in such disparate places like Greece, Britain, the United States, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. Students are introduced to concepts of race and racism, methodologies, and social and political theory designed to make sense of racism.
Climate and Weather: Order in the Chaos
This course focuses on the relationship between climate and weather events: each weather event is unique and not predictable more than a few days in advance, large-scale factors constrain the statistics of weather events, those statistics are climate. Various climatic aspects will be explored, such as the geographic constraints, energy and water cycling, and oceanic and atmospheric circulation, solar heating, the El Niño phenomenon, ice ages, and greenhouse gases. These climate features will be used to interpret the statistics of a number of weather events, including heat waves, tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) and floods.
Literature and Society: Global Perspectives on Environmental Justice through Literature & Film
This interdisciplinary seminar in the environmental humanities explores imaginative and political responses to unequal access to resources and unequal exposure to risk during a time of widening economic disparity. To engage these concerns, we venture to India, Japan, the Caribbean, South Africa, Kenya, the U.S., India, Cambodia, and Bolivia. Issues we address include: the interface between climate justice and social justice; water security, deforestation, the commons, Indigenous movements, the environmentalism of the poor, the gendered and racial dimensions of environmental justice and more-than-human environmental justice.
Writing the Environment through Creative Nonfiction
This workshop will expose participants to some of the most dynamic, adventurous environmental nonfiction writers while also giving students the opportunity to develop their own voices as environmental writers. We'll be looking at the environmental essay, the memoir, opinion writing, and investigative journalism. In the process we'll discuss the imaginative strategies deployed by leading environmental writers and seek to adapt some of those strategies in our own writing. Readings will engage urgent concerns of our time, like climate change, extinction, race, gender and the environment, and relations between humans and other life forms.
Empire of the Ark: The Animal Question in Film, Photography and Popular Culture
This course explores the fascination with animals in film, photography and popular culture, engaging critical issues in animal and environmental studies. In the context of global crises of climate change and mass displacement, course themes include the invention of wilderness, national parks, zoos and the prison system; the cult of the pet; vampires, werewolves and liminal creatures; animal communication, emotions and rights; queering nature; race and strategies for environmental justice. How can rethinking animals help us rethink what it means to be human? How can we transform our relations with other species and the planet itself?
Pleasure, Power and Profit: Race and Sexualities in a Global Era
Pleasure, Power and Profit explores the intimate ways that sexualities and race are entwined in contemporary culture, historically, and in our own lives. Why are questions about sexuality and race some of the most controversial, compelling, yet often taboo issues of our time? Exploring films, popular culture, novels, social media, and theory, we engage themes like: race, gender and empire; fetishism, Barbie, vampires and zombies; sex work and pornography; marriage and monogamy; queer sexualities; and strategies for social empowerment such as: Black Lives Matter, the new campus feminism, and global movements against sexual and gender violence.
Pandemics: Critical Perspectives on Emergence, Governance and Care
What makes a pandemic? COVID-19 has illuminated inequities and unpreparedness of global health mechanisms and national health provision systems, and put ways of predicting and preventing catastrophes under scrutiny. While preventable and treatable diseases such as AIDS remain pandemic and take millions of lives yearly, they no longer mobilize the emergency-based governance responses, financial resources, media attention, and modes of surveillance that COVID-19 does. We will examine frameworks, rationales, values, forms of knowledge, collaboration, governance and surveillance around which pandemics coalesce and are also eventually forgotten.
The Philosophy of Plato: Plato's Phaedrus
Seminar reconstructs and evaluates the key philosophical ideas presented in Plato's Phaedrus. We pay special attention to the philosophical methodology employed in the dialogue.
Decolonizing Art History
Art history's disciplinary origins are inextricable from European colonialism and imperialism, and often work to uphold racialized concepts of development, civilization, style. The contemporary practice of art history demands that we acknowledge these origins while imagining a decolonized art history for the present. Drawing from decolonial paradigms, recent scholarship, and foundational texts of critical race studies, we work to analyze and actively reconfigure conventions of field formation, research, and format. In keeping with the political imperative of praxis, students workshop research topics and problems individually and collectively.