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Spring 2021 Courses

ST 600: Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Social Theory

Queer Theory

Fridays 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm  Hybrid (online & Whitehall Classroom Bldg Rm.336)

Instructor: Co-taught by UK scholars, Dr. Elizabeth Williams, Jack Gieseking, Yi Zhang, and Rusty Barrett

Course Description

The field of Queer Theory emerged in the early 1990s and is devoted to examining how concepts like “queerness,” deviance, and normativity informed larger systems of power. At the time, most of the research on sexuality consisted of identitarian recovery research that sought to add the voices of marginalized people (especially gay, lesbian, and trans people) to the existing canon. Queer Theory rejected this focus on identitarian categories: rather than look at people who were “gay” or “straight,” Queer Theory asks how ideas of normativity/deviance work at a systemic level to shape concepts like race, gender, class, sexuality, nationality, religion, ability, etc. Queer Theory thus offers scholars a number of tools which allows us to deconstruct a binaristic vision of the world (as male/female, gay/straight, trans/cis),reveal what it hidden in the interstices, and use solidarities across non-”normativities” to fight for justice.

Queer Theory has had its detractors, and these debates have spawned various sub-fields of theoretical approach. In particular, Queer Theory has sometimes (rightfully) been accused of centering whiteness and ignoring the ways in which differing positionalities of race, but also class, ability, region, geography, religion, etc., mediate the extent to which queerness proves an emancipatory or positive framework. For example, scholars, including E. Patrick Johnson, Rod Fergeson, Fatima El-Tayeb, C. Riley Snorton, Gayatri Gopinath, Mel Chen, Martin F. Manalansan, and Chandan Reddy, have developed the field of Queer of Color Critique that more centrally locates issues of racial difference as a key component of Queerness.

The authors of the readings in this course have been assembled with a particular set of goals in mind. First, authors were chosen based on the degree to which their work engaged with Queer Theory, rather than examining the lives of GLBT2IA subjects or sexuality in general. Queer Theory proposes a particularly methodological and theoretical approach which extends beyond identitarian projects to consider “queerness” as a broader heuristic device. Second, the authors offer a strongly diverse body of work for seminar study across the professors’ areas of research, which includes Latin America, China, Africa, and the US. 


PHI 715 Hannah Arendt, Covid-19, and Thinking in Dark Times


Instructor: Dr. Natalie Nenadic

Course Description

This course centers on close readings of Hannah Arendt’s major works The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil as well as key essays. Her thought analyzes major political crises of our era focused on authoritarian government -- from totalitarian systems (Nazism and communism) to other types of dictatorship. We will cover her treatment of such topics as: how societies slip into authoritarianism; concurrent shifts in societal and moral norms; systemic inequality, racism, and anti-Semitism; questions of law, criminality, evil, and legal accountability; and ethics and personal responsibility. Arendt evinces the idea that philosophy or thinking is most needed in times of crisis to help us understand and navigate them and that it emanates from a multidisciplinary proximity to these developments and through knowledge of the past that resonates with them. In this way, we will consider how her thought may help us make sense of today’s extraordinary times. We will center on the unique experience of COVID-19 in the United States and will include topics such as its disproportionate health and economic effects on communities of color, Native American nations, and women and its intersections with Black Lives Matter.



M 4:00-6:30PM  Online

Instructor: Dr. Carol Mason

Course Description

This seminar critically examines three right-wing cultural narratives taking influential form in the 1970s whose legacies impact us today: the Invisible Government; the Militant Homosexual; and the Northwest Imperative. We will read primary materials from right-wing movements contextualized with secondary sources by scholars to understand the bases for current conspiratorial fictions known as “deep state,” “gender ideology,” and the “great replacement.” In this way we will be poised to analyze comparatively the concept of “America” as it manifested in 1970s politics and popular culture of the United States and as it currently transcends national boundaries in the midst of a global rise of the right. Tertiary sources will therefore include cultural and feminist studies of the 1970s as well as American Studies guides to interdisciplinary analysis.


SPA 681 Magical Realism Meets Weird Materialisms: Latin/x American Women Fiction Writers Theorize the Horrors of the 21st Century

Wednesdays 4:30 - 7 pm  Online

Instructor: Dr. Dierdra Reber

Course Description

“Ghost stor[ies] for the real world,” “psychological realism, science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism” whose narrative modalities include “psychological menace,” “black magic,” “physical and metaphysical blindness,” and “dangerous games that blur the line between love and violence,” are some of the descriptors of Latin American women’s fiction published in the last ten years. Primarily short story anthologies and novels, this literary corpus of predominantly 30s- and 40s-something writers from the Southern Cone, the Andes, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States is populated with “broken souls,” “toxins,” “drugs,” “pain,” “disappearance,” “psychopathic cannibal[s],” “Catholics-turned-terrorists,” “17th-century buccaneers,” “African-derived religious practices,” “Siamese fighting fish, cockroaches, cats, snakes, [and] strange fungus” in apartment buildings and libraries, on road trips and space travel, at the Mexico-US border and in the Antilles, across time in the past, present, and future. One author is likened to a “psychoanalyst in a planetary refugee camp.” We will explore this fiction alongside feminist theoretical texts from both hemispheres in the Americas, but we will fundamentally consider how these works enunciate their own theory about current cultural realities from a literary platform. Using a kaleidoscopic mix of genres, these authors play with horror, magic, and the weird to render fierce social criticism from their narrative exposition of material realties about relationships, affect, power, and the prospects for self-determination and decolonization of the feminist subject. Course materials will be available in both Spanish and English; class discussion will be conducted Spanish or English as determined by enrollment. Exercises will include short weekly position papers, student teaching, and a final essay.Fiction (novel and short story) may include:Liliana Colanzi, Nuestro mundo muerto (Our Dead World; Bolivia 2016, Mariana Enríquez, Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego (Things We Lost in the Fire; Argentina 2016), Rita Indiana, La mucama de Omicunlé (Tentacle; Dominican Republic, 2015), Paulina Flores, Qué vergüenza (Humiliation; Chile 2015), Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive (Desierto sonoro; US/Mexico 2019), Carmen María Machado, Her Body and Other Parties (US 2017), Lina Meruane, Sangre en el ojo (Seeing Red; Chile 2012), Silvia Moreno-García Certain Dark Things, (Canada/Mexico 2016), Malka Older, …and Other Disasters (US 2019), Guadalupe Nettel, El matrimonio de los peces rojos (Natural Histories; Mexico 2013), Samanta Schweblin, Distancia de rescate (Fever Dream; Argentina 2014), Sabrina Vourvoulias, Ink (US 2012). Theory: Sara Ahmed, Laura Catelli, Mel Y. Chen, María Luisa Femenías, Olga Grau, Donna Haraway, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Nelly Richard, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Ofelia Schutte, M. Urania Atenea Ungo, Kathryn Yusof


LIS 690-201Informal Learning in Information Organizations

Virtual Office Hours: Wed, 2–4 PM, via Zoom

Instructor: Dr. Daniela Kruel DiGiacomo

Course Description

How people learn has implications for how learning environments should be designed. This course examines theories of informal learning— primarily drawing upon research from the sociocultural tradition of learning and human development—and considers how they can be practically implemented into information organization contexts. Being grounded in a sociocultural tradition means that this class will center issues of equity, diversity, and justice as they relate to the organization and design of information organization contexts and settings (e.g. libraries, museums, youth programs, new media centers, non-profit organizations). For example, how do issues of culture and learning inform the development of afterschool literacy programs in public libraries or Maker spaces in school libraries, especially those that serve predominantly minoritized communities? By gaining a deep understanding of how people learn across their lifespan, students will be able to consider how to create a community of learners in a range of settings in which people from various backgrounds participate. Topics covered include issues related to culture and cognition, identity development, adult-youth partnerships, access to/relationships with new digital media, and design thinking. No prerequisite


ANT/BSC/PSY/SOC 776 Dependency Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar


Instructor: Co-taught by Dr. Claire D Clark and Scott K Taylor

Course Description

This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to examining dependency in the United States. We will examine the roots of the idea of addiction to alcohol and drugs, its ascendency in the 20th century, and the current moment when the disease model of addiction is undergoing challenges from several different directions. The aim is to take the perspectives of several disciplines - including history, literary criticism, sociology, and anthropology - to give students a broader understanding of dependency behavior than the DSM-5 (the standard guide to mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association) provides and to question why dependency behavior today is still understood as both a biological disease and a supposed moral failing. This course is designed for students from many different disciplinary backgrounds, and students will have a wide latitude in designing their own final projects.