Previous Graduate Courses

Spring 2020

GER 509
MED 509 / GSS 510 / COM 504

Middle High German Literature II: Gender, Sanctity, and Popular Piety in the Middle Ages


Seminar explores constructions of sanctity in texts and objects from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries. Beginning with saintly Queens, working through mystic writings, and ending with popular material culture surrounding vernacular legends and cults, we ask what constitutes holiness in these situations, as well as the relationship of these ideals to medieval understandings of gender: the multivalence of virginity; the gendering of male clergy; the different valuation of ascetic practices in male versus female holy women; the significance of female cross-dressing in proving female sanctity.

GER 521

Topics in German Intellectual History: Hannah Arendt: Freedom and the Public Sphere


The seminar is devoted to the work of Hannah Arendt, which has gained new topicality in recent years. This is true of her relentless descriptions of flight and statelessness, her analysis of the aporia of human rights, and her reflections on the relationship between politics and truth. It is also true of two ideas that are fundamental for all her critical interventions: the idea of decidedly political freedom and the idea of a public "space of appearance" in which such freedom can unfold. The seminar explores the Arendtian net of concepts and discuss whether - and if so, how - it can be reconfigured to meet the challenges of today.

GER 526

Topics in German Literature: Ego-Writing, Autobiography, Diary, Self-Documentation, Quantified Self


This seminar investigates the long-standing claim that autobiographical writing doesn't simply document the self, but--through this very documentation--constitutes the subjective self as such. We read texts from the late 18th-C to the present, and consider the extension of this literary tradition into the digital world via "diary apps", "life-logging" and the new "sharing culture." Close readings of texts by Francke, Goethe, Sagar, C. Schmitt, Knausgaard, among others, and digital apps like Happy Factor, explore the relationship between text-based communication with the Ego and the genres and media formats used by the writing self.

GER 564

Seminar in Modernist Art and Theory: The Avant-Garde in a State of Emergency


In this seminar we investigate the interpenetration of aesthetics and politics in the interwar period, structuring our conversation around particular debates, such as the question of Violence in Sorel and Marinetti, the problem of sovereignty in Schmitt and Benjamin, the polemics about modernism and realism around Lukacs, the base materialism of the College De Sociologie, the rise of factography in the USSR, and the return to dis/order in France and Italy.

GER 566
PHI 516/REL 516

Special Topics in the History of Philosophy: Knowledge & Belief in Kant/Fichte/Hegel


A seminar on Kantian epistemology and philosophy of mind.  Topics include: the nature of assent; the nature of faith and hope; fallibilism vs. infallibilism about justification; transcendental arguments; opinion and common sense; the sources of epistemic normativity, and the structure of practical arguments. Kant is the main focus, but we will also consider how some of these themes are treated by his influential successors J.G. Fichte and G.W.F. Hegel. We may also look at some broadly Kantian movements in contemporary epistemology and pistology (theory of faith).