Faculty Development Seminars

From 2007 to 2018, the Faculty Development Seminars in the Humanities program enhanced the quality of humanities research at UW-Madison and promoted sustained collaboration and dialogue across disciplinary lines.

Programmed by the Center for the Humanities and Institute for Research in the Humanities (with major support from the Office of the Dean of the College of Letters & Science), the Faculty Development Seminars in the Humanities enabled an individual tenured faculty member or a team of two tenured faculty members to lead a seminar on a topic of broad interest across the humanities. The seminar leaders received a course release for directing a seminar of other faculty members who met ten times during a semester in two-hour sessions.

Descriptions of and select syllabi for these seminars can be found below.

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Spring 2018: Food Cultures



Food can be studied from biological, sociological, phenomenological, and culinary perspectives. It is analyzed by anthropologists, nutritionists, political scientists, ethicists, journalists, theologians, and physiologists, as well as cooks and critics. Food discourses run the gamut from high-minded to pedestrian. Over the past decade especially, the academic study of food – and indeed, the development of Food Studies as a program of scholarly inquiry – has grown dramatically. However, these discussions too often occur within the silos of existing clusters (e.g., anthropology of food, history of food).

This seminar aims to intervene in this tendency by encouraging a transdisciplinary conversation among scholars who currently study food on the University of Wisconsin campus and those who might like to add a consideration of food to their portfolio of interests. Recorded cultures across time and space share three things in common: (1) they ate food; (2) what constituted “food” was disputed; and thus (3) they tabooed foodstuffs that were physically digestible but not culturally digestible. How are we to theorize the ways in which food – or, more appropriately, “food” – has been a contested and meaningful category?

We will look at a range of existing texts that consider food gastronomically and phenomenologically. We will consider the ways that individuals, communities, and societies relate to and represent food. Emphasizing the culture in agriculture, we will look at the sourcing of food and its delivery. We will think about aesthetics and ethics, marketing and technology, hunger and excess, cooking and eating, justice and regulation, nutrition and safety. We will discuss how modern food systems raise questions debated in antiquity, and how ancient food taboos develop into multi-billion dollar modern industries. In this multivalent seminar, we anticipate a recurring focus on biopolitics (theoretical as well as historical understandings of food as a central part of the organization of living bodies in political frameworks), representation (depictions of food in works of art and culture, including nonfiction accounts) and practice (food itself, how it is produced, transformed, consumed and embodied).

While attentive to political, economic, and geographic frameworks, we will anchor ourselves in the strengths of the humanities–criticality and creativity. For every scientific and policy concern, there is also a humanities question worth asking. For example, food safety regulations might be considered not only from the perspectives of law and health but also analyzed for the ways in which they illustrate cultural values. What can the humanities bring to the study of food? What can the study of food bring to the humanities? And what happens when we share the insights developed in our disciplines to examine the same data set? One of the challenges we are posing to our seminar participants is to attend to the materiality of food culture, the ways that acts of gastronomy are not only trades to be studied by humanists but are actually instances of humanistic culture in and of themselves. As humanists, we will also pay close attention to what can be learned from the ways that food is used analogously and metaphorically.


Week 1: Backdrop In which we frame our humanities approach to food studies with the sociology of culture and food activism.

  • Pollan, Michael. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. New York: Penguin Books, 2014. or The Netflix series from 2016, 4 parts.

Week 2: Identity In which we consider constructions of “authenticity” in the context of cuisine.

  • Appadurai, Arjun. “How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India.” Comparative Studies 30/1 (1988). Pages 3-24.
  • Allison, Anne. “Japanese Mothers and Obentōs: The Lunch-Box as Ideological State Apparatus.” In Food and Culture: A Reader. Edited by Carole Counihan and Penny van Esterik. New York: Routledge, 1997. Pages 154-173.
  • Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko. Rice as Self: Japanese Identities through Time. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pages 114-120.
  • Srinivas, Tulasi. “‘As Mother Made It’: The Cosmopolitan Indian Family, ‘Authentic’ Food, and the Construction of Colonial Utopia.” In Food and Culture: A Reader. Edited by Carole Counihan and Penny van Esterik. New York: Routledge, 1997. Pages 355-375.

Week 3: Taboo In which we interrogate the designation of certain foods as ineligible for cultural consumption.

  • Fessler, Daniel M. T. and Carlos David Navarrete. “Meat is Good to Taboo: Dietary Proscriptions as a Product of the Interaction of Psychological Mechanisms and Social Processes,” Journal of Cognition and Culture 3/1 (2003). Pages 1-40.
  • Rosenblum, Jordan D. The Jewish Dietary Laws in the Ancient World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Pages 8-28.

Week 4: Abundance and Scarcity In which we contemplate hunger and excess.

  • Anderson, Patrick. So Much Wasted: Hunger, Performance, and the Morbidity of Resistance.Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.
    • Required: Pages 30-56.
    • Recommended: Pages 1-29.
  • Guthman, Julie. Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2011.
    • Required: Pages 1-23
    • Recommended: Pages 163-184

Week 5: Ethics In which we study the ethical dimensions of how cultures justify food choices and foodways.

  • Safran Foer, Jonathan. Eating Animals. New York and Boston: Back Bay Books, 2010.
    • Suggested: Pages 3-17, 21-35, 81-115

Week 6: Politics In which we investigate the political dimensions of how cultures justify food choices and foodways.

  • Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007. Pages 31-50, 51-66.
  • Patel, Raj. Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System. Brooklyn: Melville House, 2012. Pages 29-53.

Week 7: Food and Art In which we learn how artists in the past and the present have engaged in serious play using food.

  • Bottinelli, Sylvia and Margherita D’Ayala Valva. “Introduction” in The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices. Edited by Silvia Bottinelli and Margherita D’Ayala Valva. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2017. Pages 3-20.
  • Perullo, Nicola. “Can Cuisine Be Art? A Philosophical (and Heterodox) Proposal.” in The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices. Edited by Silvia Bottinelli and Margherita D’Ayala Valva. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2017. Pages 23-44.
  • D’Ayala Valva, Margherita. “Spoerri Reads Rumohr: The Spirit of Culinary Art Revisited.” In The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices. Edited by Silvia Bottinelli and Margherita D’Ayala Valva. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2017. Pages 77-90.
  • Clark, Laurie Beth and Michael Peterson. “Ways of Eating: Tradition, Innovation, and the Production of Community in Food-Based Art.” In The Taste of Art: Cooking, Food, and Counterculture in Contemporary Practices. Edited by Silvia Bottinelli and Margherita D’Ayala Valva. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2017. Pages 225-243.

Week 8: Race and Ethnicity In which we revisit identity politics in the light of our readings on politics, ethics, taboo, abundance, and scarcity.

  • Read at least three of the following:
    • Chatelain, Marcia. “Black Women’s Food Writing and the Archive of Black Women’s History.” in Dethroning the Deceitful Porkchop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama. Edited by Jennifer Jensen Wallach. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas, 2015. Pages 31-45.
    • Hoffman, Gretchen. “What’s the Difference between Soul Food and Southern Cooking? The Classification of Cookbooks in American Libraries” In Dethroning the Deceitful Porkchop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama. Edited by Jennifer Jensen Wallach. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas, 2015. Pages 61-75.
    • Fitting, Elizabeth. “From Working the Farm to Fast Food and Back Again: Rural Mexicans in the Neoliberal Food System.” In Latin@s’ Presence in the Food Industry: Changing how we Think about Food. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas, 2015. Pages 77-100
    • Salas, Consuleo Carr and Meredith E. Abarca. “Food Marketing Industry: Cultural Attitudes Made Visible.” In Latin@s’ Presence in the Food Industry: Changing how we Think about Food. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas, 2015. Pages 203-222.

Week 9: Mediatization In which we investigate the popularization of elite food culture, from celebrity chefs to reality television.

  • Abrams, Joshua. “Trumping Taste: On the Gustatory and the Rise of the Post-factual.” Forthcoming in On Taste, volume of Performance Research 22/3. Pages 141-149.
  • Balthrope, Nathan. “I’ll Have Whatever She’s Having’: Jews, Food, and Film.” In Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film. Edited by Anne L. Bower. New York: Routledge, 2004. Pages 87-100.
  • Forster, Laurel. “Futuristic Foodways: The Metaphotical Meaning of Food in Science Fiction Film.” in Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film. Edited by Anne L. Bower. New York: Routledge, 2004. Pages 251-267.
  • Santos, Marlisa. “Leave The Gun; Take The Cannoli”: Food and Family in the Modern American Mafia Film.” in Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film. Edited by Anne L. Bower. New York: Routledge, 2004. Pages 209-219
  • Kaufman, Frederick. “Debbie Does Salad: The Food Network at the Frontiers of Pornography.” Harper’s Magazine. October 2005. Pages 55-60.

Week 10: Restaurants In which we assess the materialization of the themes we have explored in professional kitchens and dining rooms.

  • Ray, Krishnendu. The Ethnic Restaurateur. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.
    • Required: Pages 1-61
    • Recommended: The Entire Book!

Epilogue: Reading Cookbooks In which we examine the roles of cookbook narratives, from memoirs to scientific analyses, in articulating cultural contexts for recipes.

  • For a final party, seminar participants will each choose a cookbook narrative to analyze and will prepare a dish from the selected book.

Spring 2017: Disability Studies in the Humanities



In the wake of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, disability as a site of social justice and scholarly inquiry has become increasingly prominent in both local and global cultural realms. This interdisciplinary Faculty Development Seminar will build on the momentum of UW-Madison’s Disability Studies Initiative, and bring together faculty who already use Disability Studies and faculty new to the field to provide a common and grounding vocabulary from which to build toward future intellectual interchange.

Team-taught by Elizabeth Bearden, a scholar of the global Renaissance, the reception of antiquity, visual culture studies, and Disability Studies and Ellen Samuels, scholar of American studies and Disability Studies in intersection with gender and race, the seminar will provide rich historical and theoretical perspectives on discourses of disability.

Seminar readings and discussions will enable the group to think critically about how disability is significant to our past, present, and future, both on the local level of our own institution and in how we think of ourselves as Americans and global citizens in the 21st century.

To achieve these goals, the seminar has three main areas of focus:
1. genealogies of disability;
2. disability representations; and
3. disability identities.

Faculty participants will take away new scholarly insights and pedagogical tools to enrich their own research and the curricular offerings of their home departments.


Week 1. Genealogies: Introducing Disability: How Disability Is Defined in Past and Present

  • Lennard J. Davis, ed. The Disability Studies Reader, 4th ed. (selections)
  • Handout on “monstrosity” and disability

Week 2. Genealogies: Exposure/Eugenics: Past and Present

  • Homer, Iliad, Book 18
  • Harriet McBride Johnson, NY Times Editorial.
  • Rosemarie Garland-Thomson “Welcoming the Unbidden.”

Week 3. Genealogies: Visualizing Disability: Medicalization to the Telethon

  • Ambroise Paré, On Monsters and Marvels (selections)
  • Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, “Visual Rhetorics of Disability”

Week 4. Representations: Unearthing a Moral Model of Disability

  • Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 1
  • Allison Hobgood, “Teeth Before Eyes”
  • In session: film clips from performances of RIII and media feed about the discovery of King Richard’s body

Week 5. Representations: Biodiversity or Compensatory Rhetorics

  • John Milton, Sonnets XIX and XXII
  • David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snider, “Representation and Its Discontents”
  • In session: film clip from Daredevil

Week 6. Representations: Disability Aesthetics, or Disability as Art

  • Tobin Siebers, Disability Aesthetics (selection)
  • Riva Lehrer, selected paintings

Week 7. Identity: American Intersectionality and Identity Politics

  • Cynthia Wu, Chang and Eng Reconnected, “Introduction”
  • Douglas Baynton, “Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History”

**Spring Recess**

Week 8. Identity: Postcoloniality and Neocoloniality

  • Ato Quayson, Aesthetic Nervousness. “Introduction”
  • Jina Kim, “’People of the Apokalis’: Spatial Disability and the Bhopal Disaster”

Week 9. Identity: Neurodiversity

  • Mark Osteen, ed. Autism and Representation (selections)
  • Neuroqueer Collective, “What is Neuroqueer?”

Week 10. Disability in the University

  • American Association of University Professors, 2012. “Accommodating Faculty Members Who Have Disabilities.”
  • Kerschbaum et al. “Faculty Members, Accommodation, and Access in Higher Education.” MLA/Profession, 2013
  • Brenda Breuggeman, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, and Georgina Kleege, “What Her Body Taught.”

Fall 2016: Human Rights and Refugees: Understanding the Global Refugee/Displaced Persons Crisis through History, Politics, Law, and Literature



The formal United Nations definition of a refugee is an individual who crosses an international boundary seeking refuge “due to a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group or political opinion and/or fleeing from a serious threat to life and liberty.” This definition and understanding is increasingly at odds with what is widely acknowledged today to be a global refugee crisis not witnessed in its scope and consequences since the end of World War II. Forced to flee from conflict, violence, deprivation, and disasters, there is an increasing flow of people moving within and across borders while already there is an approximately 42 million people who remain without permanent residence or effective recognition of their rights. The growing threat of climate change, with rising sea levels, increasing droughts and other extreme weather patterns will only increase the magnitude of refugee flows. These developments pose numerous challenges to international organizations, governments, communities, and to the individuals who find themselves uprooted from their homes and their sources of sustenance for basic needs, social solidarity and culture. Mapped onto a human rights framework these challenges raise many conceptual and empirical questions that need urgent attention.

While it is possible to point to a number of specific post-1989 conflicts that have produced new flows of refugees, the broad scope and increasing magnitude of migration and internal displacement since the end of the cold war is challenging the legal, political and social definitions that distinguished refugees and other migrants in the post-World War II era. Regardless of the United Nations framework, the flow of migrants from south of the U.S. border (whether seeking economic opportunity, fleeing criminal violence or political conflict) or into the European Union (from conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other lands across the middle east) as well as massive movements of people across Africa, involving internal displacement within nation-states or across African boundaries and even into Europe, continues to grow. At the same time there are refugee or displaced persons camps across the globe that have become all but permanent, where up to three generations of people have been born and live in a condition of statelessness.


Summer Reading

  • Rawlence, Ben. City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp. New York: Picador, 2016.
  • Hill, Lawrence. The Illegal: A Novel. New York: W.W. Norton, 2016. Useful Background:
  • http://www.global-refugees.info/
  • http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home
  • http://www.refugeesdeeply.org/op-eds/2016/03/9485/ghost-boat/
  • https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/policy_research/policy_work

Week 1: Introduction

  • Milner, James. “Introduction: Understanding Global Refugee Policy.” Journal of Refugee Studies 27.4 (2014): 477-94.
  • (background) Statute of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • (background) United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

Week 2: Regional and International Systems of Protection

  • Weitz, Eric D. “From the Vienna to the Paris System: International Politics and the Entangled Histories of Human Rights, Forced Deportations, and Civilizing Missions.” American Historical Review 113.5 (2008): 1313-43.
  • Landau, Loren B. and Roni Amit. “Wither Policy? Southern African Perspectives on Understanding Law, ‘Refugee’ Policy and Protection.” Journal of Refugee Studies 27.4 (2014): 534-552.
  • Cantor, David James. “The New Wave: Forced Displacement Caused by Organized Crime in Central America and Mexico.” Refugee Survey Quarterly 33.3 (2014): 34-68.
  • Alternative: Harley, Tristan. “Regional Cooperation and Refugee Protection in Latin America: A ‘South-South’ Approach.“ International Journal of Refugee Law 26.1 (2014): 22-47.

Week 3: Theory

  • Arendt, Hannah. “The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man.” inThe Origins of Totalitarianism. San Diego: Harvest,1976: 267-302.
  • Arendt, Hannah. “We Refugees.” in Altogether Elsewhere: Writers on Exile. Ed. Marc Robinson. Boston: Faber and Faber, 1996: 110-119.
  • Gündog˘du, Ayten. “A Revolution in Rights: Reflections on the Democratic Invention of the Rights of Man.” Law, Culture and the Humanities 10.3 (2014): 367-79.

Week 4: Global and State Approaches

  • Betts, Alexander. “Survival Migration: A New Protection Framework.” Global Governance (special edition on International Migration) 16.3 (2010): 361-382.
  • Stern, Rebecca. “‘Our Refugee Policy is Generous’: Reflections on the Importance of a State’s Self-Image.” Refugee Survey Quarterly 33.1 (2014): 25-43.

Week 5: Statelessness

  • Kerber, L. K. “Toward a History of Statelessness in America.” American Quarterly 57.3 (2005): 727-749
  • Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Elena. “On the Threshold of Statelessness: Palestinian Narratives of Loss and Erasure” Ethnic and Racial Studies 39.2 (2016): 301-321.

Week 6: Internal and Conflict Induced Displacement

  • Siriwardhana, Chesmal and Robert Stewart. “Forced Migration and Mental Health: Prolonged Internal Displacement, Return Migration and Resilience.” International Health 5.1 (2013): 19-23.
  • Joskowicz, Ari. “Romani Refugees and the Postwar Order.“Journal of Contemporary History 51 (2016): 760-787.
  • Aleinikoff, T Alexander. “State-Centered Refugee Law: From Resettlement to Containment.” Michigan Journal of International Law 14 (1992): 120-138.

Week 7: Gender

  • Zahara, Tara. “The Psychological Marshall Plan: Displacement, Gender, and Human Rights after World War II.” Central European History 44.1 (2011): 37-62.
  • Gerard, Alison and Sharon Pickering. “Gender, Securitization and Transit: Refugee Women and the Journey to the EU.” Journal of Refugee Studies 27.3 (2014): 338-59.
  • Subulwa, Angela Gray. “(Dis)(em)placing Gender at Ukwimi: Refugee Resettlement and Repatriation in Eastern Zambia.” Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 22.8 (2015): 1177-1194.
  • (background) UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Guidelines on International Protection No. 1: Gender-Related Persecution Within the Context of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 7 May 2002, HCR/GIP/02/01.

Week 8: Camps

  • Jansen, Bram. “Two Decades of Ordering Refugees: The Development of Institutional Multiplicity in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp.” in Disaster, Conflict and Society in Crises: Everyday Politics of Crisis Response. Ed. Dorathea Hilhorst. London and New York: Routledge, 2013: 114-131.
  • http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2015/jul/03/south-sudan-bentiu-camp-in-pictures
  • Feldman, Illana. “Looking for Humanitarian Purpose: Endurance and the Value of Lives in a Palestinian Refugee Camp.” Public Culture 27.3 (2015): 427-447.

Week 9: Environment

  • Atapattu, Sumudu. “Climate-related Migration and ‘Climate Refugees.’” in Sumudu Atapattu, Human Rights Approaches to Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities. Routlege, 2016: 155-175.
  • Gemenne, François and Pauline Brücker. “From the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement to the Nansen Initiative: What the Governance of Environmental Migration Can Learn from the Governance of Internal Displacement.” International Journal of Refugee Law 27.2 (2015): 245-263.

Week 10: The United States

  • Haines, David W. Safe Haven? A History of Refugees in America. Boulder, CO: Kumarian Press, 2010.

Spring 2016: New Materialities: Things, Objects, and Agency



This seminar will examine how thing theory has pushed the humanities and social sciences to revise some of their research agendas and analytical apparatuses. Thing theory (and its particular strands, such as object-oriented ontology) inverts human-object interactions: instead of asking how people make tools, it speculates on how tools make people. Ultimately, thing theory seeks to understand non-human agents as social entities having a form of subjectivity and agency of their own. Although this debate was long restrained to philosophers and cultural critics, it has now started to refract in a large array of disciplines, prompting new intellectual bridgework between archaeology, anthropology, economy, history, art studies, environmental humanities, political science, and literary criticism.

Readings and discussion will consider recent thing theory from the standpoint of a broader material turn in the humanities and social sciences. We will reflect on how attention to new materialities can renew existing methodologies and empirical enquiries in humanistic disciplines. We will ask how thing theory has blurred the line between art and artifact, materiality and immateriality, commodity and the fetish, authenticity and replica, subjectivity and reality, human and non-human. We will also question the limits of this new materialism: to what extent can we compare “thing agency” and human agency? What are the political consequences of the erasure between the human and the non-human? Should we also think about New Immaterialities?


Week 1: What is OOO? Thinged Objects and Materialities

  • Bogost, Ian. Alien PhenomenologyOr What It’s Like to Be a Thing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 1-34.
  • Ingold, Tim. “The Materials of Life.” In Making: Anthropology, Archeology, Art and Architecture. New York: Routledge, 2013. 17-31.

Week 2: Value and Commodity Exchange in the Shadow of Capitalism

  • Agamben, Giorgio. “Mme Pankoucke: or, the Toy Fairy.” In StanzasWord and Phantasm in Western Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. 56-60 (plus images).
  • Stallybrass, Peter. “Marx’s Coat.” In Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in Unstable Spaces, ed. Patricia Spyer. New York: Routledge, 1998. 183-207.
  • Weiner, Annette. “From Words to Objects to Magic: Hard Words and the Boundaries of Social Interaction.” Man (N.S.) 18.4 (December 1983): 690-709.
  • Marx, Karl. “The Fetishism of Commodities” from Capital, Volume 1.

Week 3: Hyper Objects and Hyper Subjects in the Anthropocene

  • Morton, Timothy. “A Quake in Being: An Introduction to Hyper Objects.” In Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 1-24.
  • Le Guin, Ursula. “Vaster than Empire and More Slow.” In The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, 1971. 100-133.

Week 4: Theorizing Transitional Objects and the Mirror Stage

  • Lacan, Jacques. “The Mirror Stage.” In Écrits—A Selection. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977 (1949). 1-7.
  • Winnicott, D. W. “Transitional Objects (1971).” Published in the International ]ournal of Psycho-Analysis. Vol. 34. Part 2 (1953); and in D. W Winnicott. Collected Papers: Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis (1958a). London: Tavistock Publications.

Week 5: Becoming Objects, Becoming Subjects: Transfers in Reification

  • Brown, Bill. “Reification, Reanimation, and the American Uncanny.” Critical Inquiry 32 (Winter 2006): 175-207.

Week 6: Affective Economies

  • Graves-Brown, Paul. “Always Crashing in the Same Car.” In Matter, Materiality and Modern Culture. London: Routledge, 2000. 155-165.
  • Navaro-Yashin, Yael. “Affective Spaces, Melancholic Objects: Ruination and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 15.1 (March 2009): 1-18.

Week 7: Faking It: Masks, Fetishes, and Spectacles

  • Newell, Sasha. “Brands as Masks: Public Secrecy and the Counterfeit in Côte d’Ivoire.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 19 (March 2013): 138-154.
  • Fernandez, Karen V. and John L. Lastovicka. “Making Magic: Fetishes in Contemporary Consumption.” Journal of Consumer Research, 38.2 (August 2011): 278-299.

Week 8: Among Networks

  • Bennett, Jane. “The Agency of Assemblages and the North American Blackout.” Public Culture 17.3 (2005): 445-465.
  • Latour, Bruno. “From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik or How to Make Things Public.”

Week 9: Technologies of the Post-Human

  • Stacey, Jackie and Lucy Suchman. “Animation and Automation.” Body & Society, 18 (2012): 1-46
  • Jones, Gwyneth. “The Universe of Things.” In The Universe of Things. Seattle: Aqueduct Press, 2011. 48-61.

Week 10: Critiquing OOO

  • Shaviro, Steven. The Universe of ThingsOn Speculative Realism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. 1-13; 45-84.

Fall 2015: Understanding Persecution



Two basic observations motivate this interdisciplinary seminar. First, persecution has been a recurrent feature of human history, punctuating it again and again, at various times, in various places and under various guises. The fact is depressing. Its obdurate character makes it depressing. Still we cannot shrug it off. Nor can we shrug off the impression that its destructive potential remains intact.

Second, the complexity of the phenomenon is daunting. Throughout history, persecution has taken many different forms: physical violence, material destruction, expropriation, subjugation, statutory debasement, legal restrictions, special judicial treatments, and various forms of discrimination. Equally perplexing, the groups targeted by violence have been very diverse: persecution can be religious, ethnic, political, class-based, defined in racial terms, based on considerations pertaining to the health status of the victims, or their sexual orientations.

The purpose of this seminar will be to tackle this complexity. How can we account for the diversity and the ever-possibility of persecution? More broadly, how shall we study its occurrences in history? Which framework is most helpful to investigate this type of violence in a systematic fashion? I propose to explore the causes, processes and impacts of group persecution across different historical settings from a multiplicity of analytical perspectives, paying close attention to the perpetrators’ motivations, the machinery of persecution policies, the behaviors of state agents, and the range of attitudes and strategies displayed by potential victims.

Thus, the readings will reflect research conducted in the fields of history, political science, sociology and anthropology. Acts of persecution situated in time and space have been the subjects of many studies. Often, these studies speak to one another. Yet, analysts have not drawn the connections among them. This seminar will strive to connect these dots drawing on the conceptual tools and the in-depth knowledge provided by monographs and comparative analyses.

The structure of the syllabus reflects this effort at syntheses. We will contrast very different understandings of the temporalities of forms of persecution; examine the role played by popular beliefs in the diffusion of persecutory violence; consider policy-makers’ motivations and rationales; discuss the organization of violence, its apparent spontaneous character in some cases as well as the institutionalization of machineries of persecution; and tackle the range of reactions displayed by victims and the bystanders.


Week 1: Defining persecution

  • Girard, René. 1987. “Generative Scapegoating,” in Violent Origins: Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation, edited by R. G. Hannerton-Kelly. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Week 2: Moral purity

  • Moore, Barrington. 2000. Moral Purity and Persecution in History. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Preface, chapter 3.

Week 3: State structures

  • Moore, Robert I. 2007. The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Authority and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250. Second edition. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Introduction, chapter 1.

Week 4: Group antagonisms

  • Nirenberg, David. 1996. Communities of Violence : Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Chapter 1, chapter 4.

Week 5: Popular beliefs

  • Lehmann, Hartmut. 1988. “The Persecution of Witches as Restoration of Order: The Case of Germany, 1590s-1650s.” Central European History, 21(2): 107-121.
  • Waite, Gary K. 2007. Eradicating the Devil’s Minions : Anabaptists and Witches in Reformation Europe, 1525-1600. Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press. Introduction, chapter 1.

Week 6: Organic democracy

  • Mann, Michael. 2005. The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1, chapter 3.

Week 7: Racial ideologies

  • Weitz, Eric D. 2003. A Century of Genocide. Utopias of Race and Nation. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Introduction, Chapter 3.

Week 8: The legacies of colonialism

  • Mamdani, Mahmood. 2001. When Victims Become Killers. Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapters 2-3.

Week 9: Perpetrators

  • Straus, Scott. 2006. The Order of GenocideRace, Power and War in Rwanda. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Chapters 4-5.

Week 10: An anthropology of violence?

  • Hinton, Alex Laban. 2005. Why Did They Kill? : Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide. Berkeley : University of California Press. Conclusion.

Spring 2015: Global Health? Rethinking Medical Humanities from the Periphery



What can studies of healing from the periphery offer the humanities more broadly today? Scholarship in the medical humanities and humanistic social sciences has long focused primarily on European and North American medicine. Meanwhile, historical and anthropological studies from the postcolonial world—research on vernacular science, and studies of so-called “global” science in its colonial and post-colonial incarnations—raise questions about some of the major concepts and assumptions underpinning medical humanities work. Studies of vernacular science challenge conventional understandings of how people (lay and expert) know the body, and how that bodily knowledge develops and circulates. Scholarship on the reach, effect, and historical lineages of “global health” interventions raises questions about the intellectual and ethical underpinnings of the medical project. Examinations of postcolonial healing practices challenge the relevance of deeply embedded polarities—traditional versus modern, indigenous healing versus biomedicine, diagnosis versus therapy—that have long inspired studies of medicine and illness. The result of these intellectual transformations is that the study of health and healing in the postcolony is at a particularly vibrant and capacious moment. New frontiers of research and inquiry are developing as a result of conversations among humanists, scientists, and social scientists. This faculty development seminar will examine humanities scholarship on health and disease; in most weeks we pair a reading based on work in Africa with a reading based on work elsewhere in the postcolonial world. We will explore the possibilities and potential pitfalls of deeper engagement by scholars working in these regions with those working on science, medicine and related topics in Europe and North America. We will also examine the ways in which different historical perspectives inform and transform our understanding of more contemporary developments, such as the emergence of medical humanitarianism and the flourishing of health-related non-governmental organizations. The seminar will be organized around key questions raised by this work.


WEEK 1: What is health, what is healing? Defining a field of inquiry.

  • Joao Biehl and Adriana Petryna, “Critical global health,” in When People Come First, 2013.
  • Nancy Rose Hunt, “Health and healing,” in The Oxford Handbook of Modern African History, 2013.

WEEK 2: How might we think about efficacy?

  • Sienna R. Craig, “From empowerments to power calculations: notes on efficacy, value, and method,” in Medicine Between Science and Religion, 2013.
  • Steven Feierman, “Explaining uncertainty in the medical world of Ghaambo,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 2000.

WEEK 3: Is pluralism a useful conceptual tool? Is tradition?

  • Julie Livingston, “Productive misunderstandings and the dynamism of plural medicine in mid-century Bechuanaland,” Journal of Southern African Studies, 2007.
  • Stacey Pigg, “’Traditional Medical Practitioners’ between culture and development,” in International Development and the Social Sciences, 1997.

WEEK 4: What novel methodologies come from studies of the periphery?

  • Stephan Palmié, “Thinking with ngangas: reflections on embodiment and the limits of ‘objectively necessary appearances’.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2006.
  • Nancy Rose Hunt, “An acoustic register, tenacious images, and Congolese scenes of rape and repetition,” Cultural Anthropology, 2008.
  • Annemarie Mol and John Law, “Regions, networks and fluids: anaemia and social topology,” Social Studies of Science, 1994.

WEEK 5: What changes—and doesn’t—in the age of global health?

  • Didier Fassin, “That obscure object of global health,” in Medical Anthropology at the Intersections, 2012.
  • Melissa Parker and Tim Allen, “De-politicizing parasites: reflections on attempts to control the control of neglected tropical diseases,” Medical Anthropology, 2014.
  • Johanna Crane, “Unequal ‘partners’: AIDS, academia, and the rise of global health,” Behemoth, 2010.

WEEK 6: What do (post)colonial interventions into women’s health teach us about biopolitics?

  • Lynn Thomas, “Imperial concerns and ‘women’s affairs’: state efforts to regulate clitoridectomy and eradicate abortion in Meru, Kenya, c. 1910-1950,” Journal of African History, 1998.
  • Stacey Langwick, “The choreography of global subjection” in Medicine, Mobility, and Power, 2011.

WEEK 7: What stories do—and do not—get told, and how are narratives used?

  • P. Wenzel Geissler, “Public secrets in public health: knowing not to know while making scientific knowledge,” American Ethnologist, 2013.
  • Warwick Anderson, “Postcolonial histories of medicine,” in Locating Medical History, 2004.

WEEK 8: Where are the limits of global biomedicine?

  • Julie Livingston, Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic, 2012 (the whole book is recommended; we will concentrate discussion on chapters 2 and 4).

WEEK 9: Humanitarian care: therapeutic domination, moral necessity, both or neither?

  • Richard Rottenburg, “Social and public experiments and new figurations of science and politics in postcolonial Africa,” Postcolonial Studies, 2009.
  • Elizabeth Dunn, “The chaos of humanitarian aid: adhocracy in the Republic of Georgia,” Humanity, 2012.

WEEK 10: What are future directions for study?

  • Readings to be selected by seminar participants in weeks 2-3

Fall 2014: Representing Animals: Philosophy, History, Film



Scientific, artistic, political, and philosophical descriptions of animals have accompanied human history from its beginnings, but it is only relatively recently that these various ways of representing animals have been troubled by the question of animal representativeness; that is, the rights of animals. Animal Studies, a vibrant new field of interdisciplinary inquiry across the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences can be said to be located at the point at which these two seemingly incompatible ways of representing animals intersect.

In this seminar, we will be guided by two interrelated questions that lie at the heart of this new discipline: 1) “What is an animal?” and 2) “How should animals be treated?” We know an animal when we see one, but we are hard pressed to account for the fact that the word “animal” stands in for an enormous variety of living beings all of which are as different from one another as we supposedly are from every one of them. Even so, when we use one single term to name all non-human animals we arrogate to ourselves the right to determine their fate. From the traditional use of animals in sacrifice and ritual, hunting and fishing, transport and labor, the development, over the last two centuries, of biological forms of knowledge has permitted the technological exploitation of the animal at an unprecedented scale. Animals have become objects of human manipulation in factory farms and pharmaceutical laboratories, but have also become the subject of a broad range of cultural representations, including zoos, circuses, natural history museums, Broadway musicals, television shows, and animal films. By pairing philosophical and historical readings with documentary films, this seminar will allow us to address these key questions as well as consider more generally the aesthetic, intellectual, ethical, and political implications of our inevitable anthropocentrism.


Week 1: The Concept of the Animal
John Berger, “Why Look at Animals?” (1980)
J.M. Coetzee, “The Poets and the Animals” (1997)
Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) [film] 90 mins.

Week 2: Animal Philosophy
Derrida, “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)” (2002)
Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man (2005) [film] 103 mins.

Week 3: Animal Rights
Peter Singer, “All Animals Are Equal” (1975)
Martha Nussbaum, “Beyond ‘Compassion and Humanity’” (2004)
Louie Psihoyos, The Cove (2009) [film] 92 mins.

Week 4: Anthropomorphism
Mary Midgely, “What is Anthropomorphism?” (1983)
Giorgio Agamben, The Open (2003) [Excerpts]
Barbet Schroeder, Koko, A Talking Gorilla (1978) [film] 85 mins.

Week 5: Pets
James Serpell, In the Company of Animals (1996) [Excerpts]
Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (2008) [Excerpts]
Errol Morris, Gates of Heaven (1978) [film] 85 mins.

Week 6: Animal Labor
Harriet Ritvo, The Animal Estate (1987) [Excerpts]
Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Sweetgrass (2009) [film] 101 mins.

Week 7: Experimenting with Animals
Anita Guerrini, Experimenting with Humans and Animals (2003) [Excerpts]
Frederick Wiseman, Primate (1974) [film] 105 mins.

Week 8: Eating Animals Noelie Vialles, Animal to Edible (1996) [Excerpts]
Cora Diamond, “Eating Meat and Eating People” [1978)
Georges Franju, Le Sang des bêtes (1949) [film] 20 mins.

Week 9: Performing Animals
Nigel Rothfels, Savages and Beasts (2008) [Excerpts]
Gabriella Cowperwaithe, Blackfish (2013) [film] 83 mins.

Week 10: Animal Politics
Cary Wolfe, Before the Law (2013) [Excerpts]
Ulrich Seidl, Animal Love (1995) [film] 120 mins.

Spring 2014: Machiavelli at 500



Machiavelli’s Prince was completed 500 years ago, and it – along with its author and his works – has been the subject of controversy ever since. The project of the seminar is a study of Machiavelli’s major writings, with some attention to their reception. Why has Machiavelli been so controversial, and what are these controversies? Machiavelli is one of the most important figures in early modern thought, while his dramatic and poetic works are of great importance in their own right. The broad aim of the seminar is to facilitate a cross-disciplinary encounter with Machiavelli. Devoting extra time to The Prince (1513) we propose to read Machiavelli’s primary written works in chronological order while incorporating specific, complementary critical studies representing the different disciplinary and hermeneutical approaches to Machiavelli. Texts include thePrinceDiscoursesMangragolaCliziaLife of Castruccio Castracani, and The Art of War. Seminar participants will pursue three interrelated aims. First and foremost, participants will encounter Machiavelli’s life and times through his major works. Second, participants will encounter seminal works of Machiavelli scholarship from a variety of humanistic disciplines through introductory discussions by the faculty conveners. Third, participants will grapple with the questions Machiavelli himself – and his interpreters – have confronted: empire, republicanism, the limits of human agency, and the aims of literature.

The first meeting will address the topics and concerns of the seminar, introduce different disciplinary perspectives on Machiavelli through discussion, and give attention to trends in contemporary Machiavelli scholarship and applications of his thought. The majority of the subsequent meetings will center on particular texts from Machiavelli’s corpus, typically with reading of 50 pages per session.


Week 1: Introductions

Week 2: Machiavelli, The Prince

Week 3: The Prince

Week 4: The Prince

Week 5: Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy

Week 6: Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy

Week 7: Mandragola

Week 8: Clizia

Week 9: The Art of War (Selections), Life of Castruccio Castracani

Week 10: Conclusions

Participants should purchase their own copies of David Wooten’s Machiavelli: Selected Political Writings (Hackett, 1994) and Mandragola.

Fall 2013: Environmental Studies in the Time of the Anthropocene



This seminar has two goals. First, it will explore the vital role of the environmental humanities in re-imagining the intellectual priorities of environmental studies. Compared to forty years ago, when scientists dominated America’s first environmental studies programs, we are witnessing a new appreciation of the power of the humanities to create intellectual bridges between imaginative, narrative and ethical issues on the one hand, and, on the other, more data-driven fields. In a world drowning in data, stories matter, playing a critical role in the making of environmental publics and the shaping of environmental policy.

The seminar’s second goal is to explore the implications of one such ascendant story, that of the Anthropocene. The Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen coined the term Anthropocene to register the epochal changes that humans have wrought on the planet. According to Crutzen and a growing chorus of scientists, the Holocene is history: we have entered a new, unprecedented epoch. For the first time in Earth’s history, a biological species, Homo sapiens, has had a geomorphic impact on the planet’s physical systems that will continue to be felt 5,000 years from now.

While scientific in origin, the Anthropocene is also reshaping the environmental humanities. Our seminar will ask what kinds of intellectual bridgework—and environmental publics—the Anthropocene can help facilitate. How does this neulogism impact our thinking about environmental time and the entangled relations between human and non-human actors? What can the Anthropocene contribute to discussions of critical environmental terms like resilience, adaptation, justice and sustainability? And, as the Smithsonian Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Deutsches Museum all gear up for major Anthropocene exhibits in 2013 and 2014, we need to ask: how can we most effectively narrate and curate the Anthropocene?

Are there possible limitations to the Anthropocene turn in environmental studies? Crucially, if accelerating, anthropogenically-driven change is a defining feature of our age, so too is deepening disparity, the widening gulf between mega-rich and ultra-poor. In Timothy Noah’s phrase, we are living through “the great divergence.” How do we reconcile this deepening divergence within the economic meaning of “the human” with the convergent grand narrative of the Anthropocene as “the Age of the Human?”

This seminar should appeal to a diverse range of faculty interested in exploring the dynamic interface between the environmental humanities and the social, biological and earth sciences, including faculty interested in theorizing, historicizing, representing and mobilizing the Anthropocene.


Week 1: What are the Environmental Humanities?
Reading: Sverker Sorlin, Environmental Humanities: Why Should Biologists Interested in the Environment Take the Humanities Seriously?; Deborah Bird Rose, Thinking Through the Environment, Unsettling the Humanities.

Week 2: The Environmental Humanities and Environmental History
Reading: William Cronon and Gregg Mitman, essays on storytelling and historical methodology.

Week 3: The Environmental Humanities and the Social Sciences, North and South
Reading: Ramachandra Guha, How Much Should a Person Consume?(excerpts).

Week 4: The Anthropocene as Concept and History
Reading: Will Steffen et al, The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Forces of Nature?; Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams, The New World of the Anthropocene.

Week 5: Rethinking Environmental Time in the Anthropocene
Reading: Rob Nixon, Introduction to Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor.

Week 6: The Forms of Feeling: Environmental Elegy and Apocalypse
Reading: Essays by Lawrence Buell and Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands.

Week 7: Imagining Resilience and Agency
Reading: Essays by Susie O’Brien and Jane Bennett.

Week 8: Climate History and Planetary Storytelling
Reading: Dipesh Chakrabarty, Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change and The Climate of History: Four Theses.

Week 9: The Public Anthropocene and Environmental Storytelling
Reading: Either Elizabeth Kolbert, Extinctions (2013) or Naomi Klein, Climate Change and Planetary Futures (2013) (excerpts).

Week 10: The Public Anthropocene on Display
Reading: We will engage with material from exhibits—and debates over how to exhibit—at the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History, Deutsches Museum and the Venice Biennale. Essay by Subhankar Banerjee.

Spring 2013: Global Pop: Music, Race, Capital, History



This faculty seminar proposes an alignment of music studies, global studies, and race studies as part of a new line of inquiry in the critical study of culture. It will place front and center this set of questions: Why did US black music become the central measure of aesthetic value at the onset of the modern, global metropolis, and in what ways did its sonic contours re-cast the aural and cultural environments of the new imperial city? How, moreover, did the musical production of race give form to modern, popular affective capacities—to the very ways in which world-metropolitan listening audiences learned to consume a racial feeling in sound? By exploring a range of interactive researches—from the phenomenology of listening to the commodification of music to the sonic transformation of the international public sphere—the seminar will seek to gain a new appreciation of the audible constitution of race and its significance in the making of modern global history.


Reading: Steven Feld. “Notes on World Beat.” Public Culture Bulletin 1:1 (Fall 1988): 31-37. Max Fisher. “Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message within South Korea’s Music Video Sensation.” The Atlantic
Recommended: Timothy Brennan. “World Music Does Not Exist.” In: Secular Devotion: Afro-Latin Music and Imperial Jazz. New York: Verso, 2008, pp. 15-48. Richard J. Barnet and John Cavanagh. “Global Entertainment and Local Taste.” Global Dreams: Imperial Corporations and the New World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995, 137-160. Louise Meintjes. “Paul Simon’s Graceland, South Africa, and the mediation of musical meaning.” Ethnomusicology 34 (Winter 1990): 37 73.
Listening/Video: Selections from Paul Simon, Graceland and Peter Gabriel, US. PSY. “Gangnam Style.”

Paul Gilroy. “Chapter One: The Black Atlantic as a Counter Culture of Modernity,” The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 1-40.
Recommended: Paul Gilroy. “Sounds Authentic.” Paul Gilroy. “Troubadours, Warriors, and Diplomats.” Darker Than Blue: On the Moral Economies of Black Atlantic Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010, 120-178. (Just skim 129-149 if you are short on time.) Tavia Nyong’o. “Book Reviews” (Darker than Blue). Journal of Popular Music Studies 24:1 (2012): 107-113. Andrew Abbott. “Things of Boundaries.” Social Research 62:4 (1995): 857-82.
Listening: Selections by Bob Marley and Hendrix referenced by Gilroy; others TBD.

Reading: Andrew Jones. “Black Internationale: Notes on the Chinese Jazz Age.” Jazz Planet. Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 2003, 225-244. Brent Edwards. “Uses of Diaspora.” Social Text 19:1 (Spring 2001): 45-73. Recommended: Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant. “On the Cunning of Imperialist Reason.” Theory, Culture, and Society, 16:1 (1999): 41-58. John D. French. “The Missteps of Anti-Imperialist Reason: Bourdieu, Wacquant, and Hanchard’s Orpheus and Power.” Theory, Culture, and Society 17:1 (2000): 107-128.
Listening and Video: Li Jinhui, “Express Train” (Shanghai, 1932). Betty Boop and the Louis Armstrong Orchestra. “I’ll Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You.” (1932). Die Antwoord. “Fatty Boom Boom” (South Africa).

Reading: Eric Lott. “Love and Theft: The Racial Unconscious of Blackface Minstrelsy.” Representations 39 (Summer 1992): 23-50. Rian Malan. “In the Jungle.” The Best Magazine Writing 2001, ed. Harold Evans. New York: Public Affairs, 2001, 51-83.
Listening: Early Blackface Recordings. Solomon Linda (S. Africa). “Mbube” (1939). The Weavers. “Wimoweh” (1956).
Recommended: Catherine Cole. “Reading Blackface in West Africa: Wonders Taken for Signs.” Critical Inquiry 23:1 (Autumn 1996): 183-215.

 Mladen Dolar. “Introduction,” “The Linguistics of Voice.” A Voice and Nothing More. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006, 3-33.
Listening: Whitney Houston. “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” Charice Pempengco (Philippines). “And I Am Telling You …”

Readings: Jacques Attali. “Repeating.” Noise: The Political Economy of Music. 87-132.
Video and Listening: (TBD)
Recommended: Sumanth Gopinath. “Reich in Blackface: Oh Dem Watermelons and Radical Minstrelsy in the 1960s.” Journal of the Society for American Music 5:2 (2011): 139-193. Excerpts. Veit Erlmann. “Rhythm and Clues: Time and the Acoustic Unconscious, ca. 1900.” Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality. London: Zone Books, 2010, 271-306.

Bill Brown. “Reification, Reanimation, and the American Uncanny.” Critical Inquiry 32 (Winter 2006): 175-207.
Listening: George Johnson. “The Laughing Song” (1890). Hatsume Miku (Simulation). “World is Mine” (Live in Tokyo)
Recommended: Peter Pels. “The Spirit of Matter: On Fetish, Rarity, Fact, and Fancy.” Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in Unstable Spaces. Patricia Spyer, ed. New York: Routledge, 1998, 91-121.

**Spring Break**

Guest Visitor, Steve Feld
Reading: Steven Feld. Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012, “First Chorus” (51-85) and “Soundtrack as Archive/Archive as Soundtrack” (212-222).
Listening and Video: An interview with Feld on NPR about the Por Por Honk Horn Music.

Reading: Dipesh Chakrabarty. “The Two Histories of Capital.” Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, 47-71. Michael Hardt. “Immaterial Labor and Artistic Production.” Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture & Society. 1475-8059, Volume 17, Issue 2, 2005, 175-177.
Recommended: W.E.B. Du Bois. “Black Labor.” The Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America. 1924/2007, 13-28.

Ron will outline (and possibly prepare beforehand) an overview summarizing some of the main issues we’ve covered. We’ll devote the session itself to a reconsideration of these issues against the background of global pop studies. Discussion will develop through critical listening, working from a selection of recordings and videos.

Fall 2012: Psychoanalysis and Culture



This faculty seminar is imagined as a survey of the engagement between psychoanalytic theory and the field of humanities broadly conceived. Starting with the basic assumptions of psychoanalysis regarding the unconscious, repression, trauma and sexuality, we will trace the development of these concepts and their influence on a variety of disciplines: anthropology, social theory, political philosophy, literary studies, etc.

Part One. Starting with Freud, Abraham, Rank and other figures of the first generation, we will move onto the work of ego-psychologists (Hartmann, Spitz, Mahler) and object-relations analysts (Klein, Fairbairn, Kohut) and culturalist psychoanalysis (Horney, Fromm, Erikson). This would take up approximately one third of the seminar.

Part Two. In the second third, we will examine the works of the French structural/linguistic school, by looking at the works that have influenced the theoretical turn in the humanities during the seventies (Lacan, Foucault, Deleuze, Kristeva), by both outlining the basic ideas and critically examining the meaning of this turn and its effect on the field of humanities.

Part Three. The concluding part of the seminar will look at the current engagement of psychoanalysis with other disciplines and present the writings of Žižek, Rose and Butler to present different types of engagements and transformations that the psychoanalytic inquiry faces today.

Since the rhetorical exchange between the analysts and analysand marks the entire psychoanalytic process, emphasis will be on the role of language in both its structural and performative aspects. The central contribution to the field of humanities, which has extended this dialogue beyond the original field of “the talking cure” to other disciplines, has been the very process of critical analysis and inquiry itself, rather than particular body of theoretical knowledge. We will focus on this aspect in the seminar, which seems especially critical nowadays, when the process of thinking and analysis have been under threat by various types of faith-based dogma and right wing fundamentalisms.


Week 1: Sigmund Freud, “On Narcissism”

Week 2: Otto Rank, Truth and Reality (excerpt) Melanie Klein, Love, Guilt and Reparation (excerpt)

Week 3: Adam Phillips, “Narcissism, For and Against”

Week 4: Erik Erikson, Identity: Youth and Crisis (excerpt) Karl Abraham, “The Cultural Significance of Psychoanalysis”

Week 5: Jacques Lacan, Seminar VII (“The Ethics Of Psychoanalysis”) (excerpt)

Week 6: Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization (excerpt)

Week 7: Julia Kristeva, Hatred and Forgiveness (excerpt)

Week 8: Gilles Deleuze and Guattari, Nomadology: The War Machine (excerpt)

Week 9: Slavoj Žižek, Looking Awry (excerpt)

Week 10: Jacqueline Rose, States of Fantasy (excerpt) Judith Butler, Frames of War (excerpt)

Spring 2012: Slavery and Emancipation in the United States

Led by Stephen Kantrowitz (History)

This seminar has two goals. First, it seeks to create a sustained conversation across the disciplines about the character of U.S. slavery, the forces that converged to dismantle it, and the nature of the “emancipation” that followed. Second, it will serve as a launching pad for a broader and more public conversation during the following academic year (2012-13), which will be the 150th anniversary of the formal, national emancipation that began during the Civil War.

To study slavery and emancipation is to engage critical questions about modernity that stretch well beyond the borders of history as a discipline. The seminar will range across fields, contrasting how scholars from various quarters of the humanities approach these problems. For example, historians and literary scholars will be able to reflect on their divergent approaches to fugitive-slave narratives, texts from which historians either seek validation or which they attempt to validate, but which literary scholars insist must be understood in terms of genre and convention; meanwhile, political theorists and philosophers will be able to situate discussions of “freedom” and “rights” within a key crucible of their modern evolution.

Close study of U.S. slavery and emancipation disrupts conventional understandings of “progress,” “freedom,” “agency,” and “equality.” The capitalist dimensions of American slave society suggest how easily markets can coexist with unfreedom of various kinds. The breadth and complexity of antislavery activity reveal its enmeshment in projects ranging from sentimental culture to territorial conquest, many of them only tangentially concerned with the lives and fates of actual enslaved people. The failure of postwar Reconstruction to establish meaningful political or economic self-determination for most freedpeople raises important questions about the limits of liberal rights of contract and self-ownership. And the troubled adjustment of America to a nominally non-racial order, which took place side by side with a rigid ideological demarcation between “political” and “social” equality, lends authority to Saidiya Hartman’s observation that for the nineteenth-century West, “the social” became “an asylum of inequality.” Humanists and social scientists of many stripes have a stake in these debates.

The seminar will provide a platform for practical discussions of how humanities scholars at UW-Madison can use the ongoing sesquicentennial of the American Civil War to promote a more thoughtful public conversation about the history of slavery and the meanings of freedom. I am beginning to plan “Emancipations,” a series of events and speakers to mark the 2012-13 anniversaries of wartime emancipation itself. Members of the seminar will have an opportunity to shape this series, working together and building on seminar discussions to create an intellectually expansive reconsideration of emancipation as a moment, an idea, and a (perhaps unfinished) project.

Fall 2011: LGBTQ Studies

Led by A. Finn Enke (History, Gender & Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies) and Judith Houck (Medical History & Bioethics, Gender & Women’s Studies, History of Science)

What is LGBTQ studies, and what can it offer the humanities today? Scholars across the humanities now widely recognize that gender, sexuality, and even concepts of “queer” have been fundamental organizing principles in many cultural contexts: every humanities discipline now produces scholars whose primary expertise reflects an LGBTQ studies lens; many college and graduate courses contain at least a nod to the relevance and multiplicity of systems for regulating and enacting gender and sexuality. In ways unimaginable just a decade ago, it is now possible and useful to ask how the mainstreaming of LGBTQ topics has affected LGBTQ studies, and vice versa. What logics guide the ever-lengthening acronym such that Gay and Lesbian Studies now may include Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, and Intersexuality Studies? Does LGBTQ Studies imply the same rubric, or a different rubric, than gender studies and sexuality studies? How have other vital areas of inquiry such as critical race studies, subaltern studies, transnational and migration studies, gender studies, and body studies challenged lesbian and gay studies and vice versa?

This Faculty Development Seminar begins with such questions in order to examine the interdisciplinary tensions that have given rise to LGBTQ studies as a set of analytical and methodological lenses of interest to scholars in every field and subfield of humanities. We organize the seminar around keywords designed to elicit these tensions. For example, Globalization studies simultaneously encouraged critique of the ethnocentric concepts of gender and sexuality in North American lesbian and gay studies, while proliferating universalizing discourses of “gay rights as global human rights.” Scholarly attention to globalization may have been integral to the emergence of “queer” as an analytical lens that attempts to circumvent neoliberal and imperial formulations of the sexed and gendered subject. The keywords chosen are not designed as topics of the acronym (such as bisexuality), nor are keywords concepts that have been integrated into LGBTQ studies (such as racialization). Instead, each keyword reflects a vital “moment” in the transformations that comprise LGBTQ studies’ ongoing relevance. The order follows developments in the fields, but is also designed such that each key word may evoke and enhance the others. This structure, like a web, allows participants across disciplines to enter the conversation, and it does not require prior background in LGBTQ studies.

Ultimately, our goal is to bring faculty together from across the humanities to read, discuss, and debate moments in LGBTQ studies. Many faculty members and students at UW-Madison campus work on LGBTQ topics and with LGBTQ tools. But, unlike most of our peer institutions, UW has no formal venue to support faculty collaboration in LGBTQ studies. Indeed, our work and our interests may be unknown to our colleagues in the larger university community. With this seminar, we hope to enrich the intellectual labors of the participants. We anticipate that this will expand the analytical conversation on campus in a lasting way as it fosters nascent interest, builds ties across disciplines, and encourages cross- and inter-disciplinary research and collaboration in LGBTQ studies.

Spring 2011: Humanitas, Humanism, Humanity

Led by Hans Adler (German, Modern Literature Studies)

In times when cosmopolitanism, postnationalism, inter- and even transdisciplinarity are central concepts in contemporary debates about the future of the university and the humanities in particular, it is appropriate and necessary to step back for a moment and ask who the agent and patient of these –isms or –ity are. Since antiquity, humanitas and its derivatives have been terms that convey both a quantitative and a qualitative meaning, referring to all human beings on the one hand and the specific quality of the human being on the other. Humanitas has served for more than two thousand years as a cornerstone in the fundament of very diverse cultures.

The goal of this seminar is twofold. On the one hand, we want to identify the position that humanitas/humanity has held in cultures of the past in order to find out whether there is a core value that remains constant throughout all the Protean changes of this concept. Was ‘dignity’ always Dignity? Was ‘human’ always Human? On the other hand, we want to investigate the multiple forms this concept has taken on in different discourses such as literature, politics, philosophy, anthropology, and the arts. That is, how has humanitas been emplotted, sculpted, painted, acted out, defined?

The overarching question of the seminar is whether the concept of humanitas/humanity is still valuable as a constitutive element of culture today, be it global, be it local. Do we find ourselves at a turning point? What is the historical status of a ‘concept’ (idea, vision, etc.) such as humanitas? Does the term refer to an identical ‘core’ in different languages and discourses? Is humanité the same as humanity or Humanität? What was/is the praxis of the concept humanitas? What is the impact of ecology on the extension of the concept when the human being is no longer considered the ‘crown of creation’? Which discourse was/is the most appropriate for developing the idea of humanitas? We may be capable of thinking humanitas, but are we capable of imagining it? Is there such a thing as ‘post-humanitas’? Last, but not least: What is the role of the humanities in a modern university?

Fall 2010: American Studies

Led by Russ Castronovo (English) and Nan Enstad (History)

Our goal with this seminar is to constitute an engaged intellectual community on campus around the diverse field of “American studies.” Unlike most of our peer institutions, the University of Wisconsin does not have an institutionalized program in American studies. For the past several years, under the loose rubric of the “American Studies Collective,” there have been various endeavors to bring together a group of faculty and graduate students on campus who are interested in American studies. The ensuing conference (“States of Emergency”), guest lectures, and conversations have been successful in eliciting interest and participation. Last year, the Ethnic Studies Cluster (many members of which already participated in American studies conversations) joined with the American Studies Collective to form the Comparative United States Studies Cluster. As is often true on our large and diverse campus, however, events typically draw a somewhat different crowd each time, depending on topic and the vagaries of individuals’ schedules.

In addition, American studies is a broad and complex field, the boundaries of which are continually in debate and flux. Our hope for this seminar, then, is to create a more sustained conversation among a mixed group of faculty, some of whom would be new to American studies and others who have considerable expertise in this interdisciplinary field. By having the space and time to discuss keywords in American studies, we hope to consolidate a core community and generate energy for future possible efforts in American studies, such as team teaching, curricular development, a Mellon workshop, or an MIU initiative.

Our seminar is organized to be both diverse and focused. To achieve this balance, we have structured the seminar around “keywords” in American studies. How do we approach “America” and to what extent is this project different from studying the United States? To what extent does this often homogeneous political imaginary rest on histories and experiences of immigration and empire? Can we speak of a “trans-America,’ whether in terms of gender or linguistic practice? We begin with such questions to provide a jumping-off point for identifying and probing keywords of American studies practice.

Each of our “keywords” pulls together a set of conflicts that appeal widely across the humanities, including art history, history, literary studies, ethnic studies, politics, and other area studies programs. Every keyword thus identifies a problem. To take one example from our list of keywords, the state at once brings together perspectives that focus on the deleterious effects of state power (incarceration, racialization, disenfranchisement, etc.) with those that defend government as a positive social good (the welfare state, protection of minority rights, arts funding, etc.). The logic of our seminar, which turns in subsequent weeks to neoliberalism and fundamentalism, allows us both to deepen and extend this focus, examining how tensions circulating around the state entail considerations centered on markets, privatization, transnational flows, and cultural formations around bodies and religion. That is, we’ve chosen our keywords not because each is discrete but for their capacity to bleed into one another. Since we will be operating as a collective, we anticipate that other keywords will emerge from our discussions, and the syllabus can be adjusted to reflect those interests.

Spring 2010: Higher Education, Aims and Justice

Led by Harry Brighouse (Philosophy)

Higher Education is a perennial topic of controversy in America. Whereas 100 years ago private Universities were essentially finishing schools for a social elite, while public universities were training institutions for professionals, state bureaucrats and farm managers. Few people attended either. College attendance is now a gateway to middle class and professional life of which now about 40% of each cohort has some experience. Most states have one or two public institutions which attempt to compete with the elite private institutions while also serving a heavily subsidized education for non-elite students, while most private institutions try to provide a niche experience for students from elite backgrounds. Unlike other post-secondary institutions, Universities and Colleges do not regard themselves exclusively as training institutions, but promise a liberal education to all students, one which will challenge and transform them not only into effective workers, but into better citizens and better, more successful people. Elite higher education (provided by the flagship public universities, the Ivy League schools and their close competitors) promises a liberal/transformative experience for the student, and also promises substantially better prospects for getting good jobs, higher status and higher income.

The central focus will be on what the proper aims of higher education ought to be. Whereas many of our students, and a significant part of the public, see the aims largely in terms of contributing to individual and societal economic goals, professors and administrators often see the aims in richer terms. But we rarely discuss those aims, and still more rarely do we subject them to critical scrutiny or try to work out to what extent our practices are actually guided by them. This seminar is an opportunity to reflect both on what we think the aims should be, and on whether the practices of the university actually contribute to those goals. What is a liberal education? Is it restricted to introducing students to the life of the mind, or does it also involve shaping their character? If so, is this unacceptably paternalistic? Why, if at all, should a liberal education be a required part of the most reliable path of entry into elites?

I have two underlying agendas that are not necessarily the agendas of the authors we’ll be reading. The first is to figure out an answer to the question of what role the humanities have in a modern university – not just in the teaching mission but also, to a lesser extent, in the research mission. The second is to work out what the contributions of particular disciplines in the humanities are, or should be, to that role.

Fall 2009: Representing Culture in an Age of Networks

Led by Lew Friedland (Journalism & Mass Communication) and Caroline Levine (English)

Popular culture has seen a rising excitement about technological networks and social networking websites. Meanwhile, scholars working in engineering, mathematics, biology, and the social sciences have argued for the importance of networks to the understanding of a vast array of phenomena: not only new media technologies but gene-protein interactions, community building, human and animal brains, ecosystems, transportation, and terrorism. The humanities, on the other hand, have offered relatively little analysis of the network as a concept. And yet, if we look closely at the language of scholarship in the humanities, it turns out that networks have in fact been powerfully at work there for a long while, though in largely unarticulated ways. Humanists struggling to capture the complex flows of meanings, bodies, information, material objects, and power have often relied on the term “network” without explicitly theorizing it. These scholars routinely use the concept to refer to trade routes, the circulation of print, colonial administration, and even meaning itself—the web of connotations and associations within which a particular text takes shape. Indeed, the very notion of cultures as networks has become pervasive. It therefore seems urgent for the humanities to join the social and natural sciences and engineering in explicitly thinking through the biological, social, technological, and cultural importance of networks.

This seminar–Representing Culture in an Age of Networks: The Wire and Others–has two goals. Our first aim will be to introduce network theory from the sciences and social sciences to scholars across humanities disciplines. Our second goal will be to think about how to represent the experience of networked cultures. A flurry of recent films—including BabelSyrianaTraffic, and The Constant Gardener — all take up the challenge of crafting narratives to represent experiences shaped by transnational trade. We propose to organize this seminar around the most complex and sophisticated representation of networks that we know: HBO’s series The Wire (2002-7). A highly plotted police drama set in Baltimore, the series is fascinating for the ways that it tells a story that integrates a number of overlapping networks. Formally speaking, narratives and networks seem to be in a tense relationship, maybe even downright opposed: if narratives are organized around diachronic unfoldings, networks are composed of constant crisscrossings among nodes in a system, best represented by synchronic forms like charts and maps. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology has been developed precisely to track such spatial movements. But The Wire’s innovative storytelling strategies will allow us to investigate both the time and space of networks, posing questions about the kinds of networks that actually organize cultural experience—including economics, kinship, bureaucracy, networking technologies, media, and organized politics—and inviting us to explore the question of how best to understand and represent culture in a networked age.

Spring 2009: Digital Humanities

Led by Jon McKenzie (English)

Digital humanities is an emerging area that draws on such fields as media studies, humanities computing, and new media arts. It brings together scholars working on, with, or through digital technology, whether it be studying computers’ impact on society, inventing electronic research tools, creating multimedia work, or incorporating online activities into teaching and learning. The National Endowment for the Humanities recently upgraded their Digital Humanities Initiative into a standing Digital Humanities Office, thus signaling this area’s importance to 21st-century humanities. This seminar focuses on enhancing and developing digital humanities across the UW-Madison campus.

The faculty seminar is developmental in two ways: it seeks to develop faculty knowledge of digital humanities, while also applying this knowledge toward the development of digital humanities at UW–Madison. Thus the seminar will work toward three goals:

  • an historical consideration of interrelation of the humanities and technology;
  • a critical understanding of “digital humanities” proper, the field’s contours and defining issues;
  • and most importantly, the forging of a network of UW-Madison faculty currently working on, with, or through digital media and technology.

The seminar will consist primarily of discussions of seminal texts in digital humanities, new media studies, and related fields; and weekly readings will be held to approximately sixty pages. In addition, invited speakers will share their experience working on or with digital technologies. At the seminar’s core will be such issues as the relation of knowledge and technology, the language and rhetoric of new media, and the nature of mediated collaboration and distributed agency. Throughout, we will examine the digital’s transformational potential for the humanities—and inquire into just what the humanities offers to emerging digital societies.

One guiding assumption is that all humanists work within the digital–routinely using email, web browsers, and word processors–while a much smaller number work on or with the digital, either as an object of study or as a primary component of their research or teaching. Ideally, the seminar will serve both groups, those currently doing digital humanities and those interested in doing so more effectively.

Fall 2008: Visuality

Led by Jill Casid (Art History/Visual Culture) and Theresa Kelley (English)

This seminar investigates visuality’s remarkable presence in contemporary culture and the academy, its sustained involvement in the long arc of modernity, and its emergent futurity. The work of the seminar emphasizes the modes of visuality which have shaped much of what we take today to be new or unprecedented in visual culture: its unsettling of disciplinary boundaries, its role in debates about the categories of the human and the non human and now the posthuman, its presence in global inquiry and histories, its vexed relation to truth claims and the role of other kinds of sensory knowledge. Much of visual thinking in modernity has turned on its relation to actuality, whether visual media produce simulacra of the world as, for example, aids to scientific presentation and investigation, the rise of photography from the so-called nature prints of the early nineteenth century, and so on. The readings for the seminar emphasize a skeptical reading of visuality’s relation to the “real” and a wide ranging investigation of the stakes of the visual in contemporary and emergent cultural life.

One goal of the seminar is to ask how a more complex historicization of these topics and disciplinary engagements can contribute to a more nuanced and powerful account of visual theories and practices. The seminar readings pursue these questions by examining several topics: pre-modern and early modern visuality; interactions among vision, science and spectacle; the role of visual representation in slavery and empire; the ethics of the visual; religion; a visual history of the post human; the visual economies at work in globalization, transnationalism and transculturation; and the tyranny of the vision.

Spring 2008: Migration

Led by Susan Stanford Friedman (English, Gender & Women’s Studies)

The seminar will explore current theory and its implications for understanding aesthetic practice in the exploding field of migration and diaspora studies. The most recent phase of globalization-enhanced by the new technologies of communication, information, and warfare-has intensified the global movements of people, goods, ideas, cultural practices, and money to epic proportions. What is often called “the new migration”-the massive transcontinental movement of peoples in the post-World War II era-has been the subject of extensive theorization and scholarship. This emphasis on recent migration on a global scale has also reinvigorated the study of migration in earlier historical periods, with many arguing that human mobility, civilizational clashes and intermixing, and global cultural flows have been endemic to the human species since the beginning. What is developing, in my view, is a new paradigm for reading human cultures and civilizations, one that supplants the older model of cultural and civilizational exceptionalism with a framework that emphasizes networks and relationality, bringing into the foreground interculturalism, borders and borderlands, and hybridic formations even as these occur in situations of great inequality, violence, and conquest.

The seminar will work to build bridges between theories of migration and diaspora in the humanities and social sciences. While cultural theory in the humanities is particularly adept at dealing with visual and verbal forms of representation and the subtleties and variations embedded in texts, cultural theory in the social sciences has produced concepts that foster comparative work and theorization across different ethnic, racial, and national groups. Our seminar will aim to put these two strengths (with their concomitant limitations) in dialogue-using, for example, the sociological models of push/pull and circulation migration to illuminate literary or cinematic migration narratives; and using theories of memory, loss, and the fictionalizing imagination to add a phenomenological and linguistic dimension to social science modeling and typology. Several edited collections are now available that encourage this kind of interdisciplinary conversation: e.g., Theorizing Diaspora (Braziel and Mannur); Migration Theory: Talking cross the Disciplines (Bretell and Hollifield); The New Immigration: An Interdisciplinary Reader (Suarez-Orozco et al.); and Writing across Worlds: Literature and Migration (King et al.). Additionally, some important theorists themselves work across the humanities and social science divide-e.g., sociologist Nikos Papastergiadis and anthropologists Avtar Brah and James Clifford.

Fall 2007: International Governance

Led by Professor Jeremi Suri (History) and Jonathan Zeitlin (Sociology, Political Science, and the LaFollette School of Public Affairs)

“International governance” is an area of research that has drawn major interest in the last decade from scholars in numerous humanistic and social science disciplines. The growing dangers attributed to unfettered competition among states in a world of proliferating weapons, rapid environmental degradation, and widening economic inequality have pushed diverse observers to contemplate alternatives to Westphalian presumptions about state sovereignty. The nation-state, in this sense, has lost some of its historical legitimacy. Numerous groups and institutions have coalesced in recent years to offer new approaches to governance on a transnational scale. Our seminar will not seek to build expertise about particular proposals for international governance, nor will it offer any proposals of its own. Instead, we will seek to interrogate the core conceptual issues behind the movement toward international governance. We will treat this topic as central humanistic dilemma – how to build order in diversity, cooperation with competition. In addressing questions of international governance in these terms we will take a broad approach, interrogating some of the most influential public discourses, historical experiences, and contemporary experiments with international governance. We will also examine some of the criticisms of globalization, especially those that question its effects on local culture, political accountability, and social equality. We expect that this is an approach that can draw fruitfully on many different humanistic fields of study, and contribute to the research of many diverse humanities scholars.

The texts will offer diverse perspectives on three theoretical and empirical questions, around which we will structure discussions:

  • What kinds of authority are legitimate for governing diverse cultures and societies?

What are the appropriate aims of international governance?

  • What are the effective mechanisms for instituting international governance?

In the end, we hope to build a community of scholars interested in one of the most enduring questions at the root of humanistic study: how can human beings live peacefully together. Recent scholarship on international governance returns us to this basic question, with clear and obvious connections to our contemporary world, and the many disciplines that comprise a vibrant “republic of letters.”

Spring 2007: Ovidianism: The Metamorphosis of Ovid

Led by Carole Newlands (Classics)

The project of the seminar is a study of Ovid’s poetry, with a particular focus on its reception. How was this most protean of poets appropriated and transformed by different writers, artists and thinkers in different ages? What are the reasons for his enduring appeal now? Ovid is among the most influential of Roman poets, if not the most influential today. He had a major impact upon European intellectual history, literature, and art. The seminar will engage in a two-way process: the exploration of the influence his writings had upon later eras will shed fresh light on the original texts. The investigation moreover of why certain of his works were in vogue at various periods while others were excluded or marginalized, will tell us much about changing literary, social and political climates. But we will not deal only with Ovid’s works but with the poet himself as a figure of political exile around whom various myths accrued; hence we will be studying the phenomenon of ‘Ovidianism’. Clearly I am not an expert in all the disciplines upon which Ovid’s poetry had a major impact. I hope that the participation of an interdisciplinary group of faculty, for instance scholars in the disciplines of English, French and Italian, Art History, History, Comparative Literature and Classics, will shed new light upon and provide new directions for the study of this most protean of writers. The methods will differ from an ordinary seminar in that I will ask participating faculty to lead discussion in their particular areas of expertise. I envisage this seminar as a collaborative project under my guidance.

Scholars have called the twelfth century Aetas Ovidiana, ‘the age of Ovid.’ Equally we could call the late 20th C and the start of the 21st also an Ovidian age for it has been marked by an extraordinary resurgence of interest in Ovid, expressed both in scholarship and in literary culture. The reception of classical literature is probably the fastest growing area in the field of Classics today, particularly in the UK and the USA. This is a good time then for a faculty seminar, drawing on the rich and varied expertise of scholars in the Humanities at UW-Madison, to consider the place of ‘Ovid’ in our culture now and how a study of his reception can change our perception of his works.