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Academics / Social Theory Courses / Spring Courses

Spring Courses


The following courses are approved courses for SP24 for those pursuing a graduate certificate in Social Theory (listed alphabetically):

ANT 580-002: Who Owns Cultural Property? (3 credits)
Instructor: Monica Udvardy
Day & Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-4:15 pm
Location: Whitehall Classroom Building Room 231
Course Description: This special course offering examines some of the major controversies behind the rising tide of cultural identity politics and cultural property.  We will consider these issues from the perspectives of local communities and their constituents, as well as those of former colonial powers in the West.  We will delve into debates about art versus artifact; the meaning of objects as well as intangible cultural heritage; protecting rights to cultural property versus the need for an unhindered flow, diffusion and exchange of cultural elements; the efficacy of international legislation; and the future of rights to cultural property.  This seminar is of interest to graduate students in such disciplines as Anthropology, Art, Architecture, Classics, Criminal Justice, Geography, Historic Preservation, History, Law, and Sociology; as well as such area studies programs as Latin America, Africa, and Asian Studies.

ARC 513: Architectures of Socio-Spatial Control* (3 credits)
Instructor: Seda Kayim
Day & Time: Tuesdays from 2-4:30 pm 
Location: Pence Hall Room 205
Course Description: This seminar will examine the ways human behavior is shaped and bodies are controlled spatially. The seminar will focus on various architectural types—such as the plantation, housing, and prison—and spatial technologies—the slave ship, landscape, and the kitchen—to investigate how building and environmental design facilitated the surveillance, policing, and control of racialized and other marginalized bodies and identities across the course of global modernities: from the start of the Atlantic Slave trade to the present. Through a diverse range of readings from across the humanities, the seminar will ultimately explore resistances that emerge within architectures of socio-spatial control, which lead to their strategic undoing from within.

*Registration of students outside of the College of Design need to discuss registering for this course with Dr. Kayim as seats are limited. 

EPE 628-201: Ethics and Educational Decision Making (3 credits)
Instructor: Eric Thomas Weber
Day & Time: Tuesdays from 4-6:30 pm
Location: On Zoom (synchronous) 
Course Description: This course will cover a) the relationship between religion and ethics in education, b) the Belmont Report and ethical principles in policy relevant to education, and c) traditional moral theories and how they get tested in a variety of educational debates about things like public support for education, continuing segregation, teaching values in schools, conflicts of interest, and educational fundraising.

GEO 714: Carceral and Abolition Geographies (3 credits)
Instructor: Lydia Pelot-Hobbs
Day & Time: Mondays from 2-4:30 pm
Location: Whitehall Classroom Building Room 237
Course Description: “What is, so to speak, the object of abolition?

Not so much the abolition of prisons but the abolition of a society that could have prisons, that could have slavery, that could have the wage, and therefore not abolition as the elimination of anything but abolition as the founding of a new society.” 

― Fred Moten and Stefano Harney 

In this course, we will trace how the racial projects of partition and policing have fundamentally remade the world since the rise of capitalism. From the invention of borders to the development of mass incarceration to the policing of sexuality, we will interrogate the productions of carceral power across space, scales, and time. In particular, we will consider how carceral geographies have developed and adapted in dialectical relation to race-making (that is, racism), the contradictory nature of carceral state formations, and what the conditions of possibility might be for states to be remade as something different. As the carceral state has never been totalizing, we will closely attend to how periods of crisis have also been fertile ground for freedom struggles. We will study how the making of abolition geographies from the uprising of the diggers, to the Haitian Revolution, from the Attica Rebellion, to everyday fights against the county jail (to name a few) have stretched us towards new geographies of freedom. 

GEO 718: Narratives, Worlds, and Literary Geographies (3 credits)
Instructor: Abdul Aijaz
Day & Time: Thursdays from 2-4:30 pm
Location: Whitehall Classroom Building Room 305
Course Description: This course will explore the multiple ways cultural narratives and material worlds shape each other. It will survey contemporary critiques of the fact-fiction binary that divides sciences from humanities to understand the material implications of literary and scientific narratives of the world. The course will simultaneously investigate the fictionality of scientific narratives and the factuality of literary and cultural fictions. We will read several critical texts in STS highlighting how our notions of fact are simultaneously real and fanciful, along with ecocritical theories emphasizing how our environmental imaginaries and cultural ideals shape the worlds we live in. The general objective of the course is to destabilize the boundary between fact and fiction in the modern knowledges and free up discursive and material space for other stories and knowledges of the world.     

GWS 600: Capitalism, Feminism, and Crisis (3 credits)
Instructor: Karen Tice
Day & Time: Thursdays from 4-6:30 pm
Location: Jacobs Science Building Room 337
Course Description: In this seminar, we will explore the historical and contemporary articulations, connections, debates, and frictions that have characterized feminist engagements with capitalism, socialism, and political economy across a variety of geo-political-economic locations. We will consider the following questions: How have changing configurations of racialized capitalism, feminism, neo-liberal/development and market rationalities, gendered entrepreneurship and development, globalization, affective economies, crisis, the state, and socialism shaped feminist struggles, critiques, and affinities? How have intersectional hierarchies and differences shaped the relationship between feminism and anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-colonialist struggles.

GWS 616: Colonialism/Post-colonialism and Gender (3 credits) 
Instructor: Elizabeth Williams
Day & Time: Tuesdays from 4-6:30 pm
Location: Whitehall Classroom Building Room 205
Course Description: This seminar focuses on issues of gender and sexuality within the broader body of Post/Decolonial Theory. Post/Decolonial Theory emerged from the work of thinkers like Franz Fanon, Edward Said, and the members of the Subaltern Studies Collective who wished to center imperialism and its continued legacies in the Global South. Feminist scholars quickly entered the fray, asking how issues of gender and sexuality complicate the post/decolonial experience. Additionally, post/decolonial feminists demonstrated how imperialism itself was a gendered and sexed process. This course will expose students to foundational works in post/decolonial thought, asking how these texts do or do not invoke issues of gender and sexuality. We will then turn to more explicitly feminist anti-colonial work, exploring how a gendered analysis broadens and deepens our understanding of imperialism. The course is not meant to be a comprehensive look at anti-colonial scholarship (we don’t have enough time for that), but rather to serve as a starting point from which to launch your own investigations of anti-colonial thought. 

GWS 700-001: Topical Seminar in GWS - Sex and the Black Experience (3 credits)
Instructor: Aria Halliday
Day & Time: Wednesdays from 4-6:30 pm
Location: Jacobs Science Building Room 243
Course Description: In this course we will examine Black epistemological and theoretical approaches to sex, sexuality, and pleasure. With attention to intersections of race, gender, beauty, nationality, porn, and capitalism, students will consider how the lived experiences of Black people enact negotiations and interventions with normative ideas of sex and sexuality. Students will be expected to read books, lead and/or contribute to class discussion, and craft short argumentative essays based on the reading weekly. The class culminates with a research paper on a topic related to the course. This course counts toward requirements for the GWS graduate certificate, PhD, and other degrees as appropriate.

PHI 680-001: Words and the Word (3 credits)
Instructor: Philipp Rosemann
Day & Time: Mondays from 4-6:30 pm
Location: Patterson Office Tower Room 1445
Course Description: Since Ferdinand de Saussure, whose Course in General Linguistics has been foundational for modern linguistics and philosophy of language, language has been considered to be composed of signs in which signifier and signified stand in an entirely conventional, arbitrary relationship. Furthermore, Saussure explicitly brackets the question of how such signs can be related to reality: words signify not because of their connection with the world, but because they function in a system of differences. Approached in this manner, language floats “above” reality. There is no way to understand text except through context, so that meaning is forever “deferred”—hence Derrida’s famous différance.

But what if the relationship between language and reality were much closer? There is a tradition which claims that reality itself was “spoken” into existence; indeed, that God himself is Word! In this tradition, reality is like a text that can be read: it is the “book of nature,” in which every thing is inherently a sign of its Maker. We just need to learn how to read …

Now it is easy to object that the idea of the creative Word is merely a myth. Maybe it is. Interestingly, however, the Judaeo-Christian idea that language is creative has a parallel in the contemporary theory of performative speech. The founder of that theory, J. L. Austin, composed a famous book under the title, How To Do Things With Words. On Austin’s account (an account further developed by John Searle and others, including Judith Butler), words do not just state things, but intervene in the order of reality itself.

In another contemporary tradition of philosophy, Martin Heidegger has spoken of language as the “house of being.” Careful listening to language, especially through etymological analysis, uncovers foundational experiences in which reality has revealed itself. But philosophy may no longer be capable of such listening. For Heidegger, then, the “task of thinking,” after the “end of philosophy,” is poetic. Only the poets now know how to speak.

SOC 751-401: Contemporary Sociological Theory (3 credits)
Instructor: Ana Liberato
Day & Time: Tuesdays from 5-7:30 pm
Location: Patterson Office Tower Room 1545
Course Description: The division between classical and contemporary theory is artificial. However, we need to follow some structure to achieve the course objectives. We will focus on late Twentieth Century’s theorists whose work falls outside of the once dominant Parsonian’s structural functionalism. Most authors belong to the contemporary theory canon or have at least accrued a great deal of recognition in sociology and other fields. This is also true of all the discussed minoritized theorists. We can only study a handful of theorists/theories in one semester, and so, we will focus on a sample  of them and study them.

We will follow a specific discussion structure. We will do close readings of the assigned books and articles. We will identify important arguments and key concepts. The main goal is to produce meaningful conversations about the theories’ merits (or lack thereof) based on a) how well and how accurately they explain the origins, reproduction, and transformation of social phenomena, including the critical issues of our time b) how they represent agency, structure, power, and social change, and c) how they may be improved to overcome class, racial, gender, sexuality, nationality, Western, and other biases, and limitations.* This means that we will discuss the theories as they speak to these core issues. We will create space for student interests in the context of these specific conversations. The weekly discussion of the readings is the main channel through which we will engage ideas and questions.

We will also consider the discussed theories’ strengths based on whether they a) Reflect how the world is (is truthful) b) are easily applicable and useful (in a general sense) c) Simplify too little or too much or lack necessary nuance and complexity d) Are interesting and thought-provoking e) Facilitate the application of sociological analysis to new fields and domains f) Transcend time and space. 

ST 690/ MCL 525/ GWS 595: Global Asias* (3 credits) 
Instructors: Liang Luo and Charli Yi Zhang
Day & Time: Fridays from 2-4:30 pm
Location: Bingham Davis House (218 E. Maxwell Street)
Course Description: This course takes interdisciplinary approaches across humanities and social sciences to address the intensified contestation about Asia in light of the shifting geopolitical dynamics in the Asia-Pacific area and globally. We draw upon a variety of theoretical tools, including but not limited to, feminism, queer theory, postcoloniality and decoloniality, literary criticism, visual studies, memory studies, oceanic and island turn, and new materialism, among others, to interrogate the evolving concepts and practices of “Global,” “Asia(s),” “Asian/ness,” “Asia-Pacific,” and
“Transpacific.” We ask: How is “Asia" constituted as a material, geopolitical, cultural, and imaginative entity/actant, spatially, temporally, and affectively? What are its varied and contested representations, manifestations, doings, and undoings, and why? How do peoples, communities, the environment, and human and nonhuman subjects that are implicated in the extended event of making Asia(s) negotiate, challenge, and reshape this process? As a collective un/learning project, the goal of this course is to unshackle Asia(s) from its established cognitive parameter of “area studies" rooted in the Cold War logic for potentials of otherwise and alternatives at the times of the emerging New Cold War.

*This ST 690 course will fulfill ST 600 for the graduate certificate.