Fall 2023

COL 580: Introduction to Theory: On J. Derrida’s “Introduction” to Husserl’s “The Origin of Geometry”
David Johnson
Tuesdays 3:30-6:10 Clemens 708
Class #23359

This is not an introduction to theory in the sense either of a survey of theories or of a neophyte’s way in to theoretical discourse. We will read Edmund Husserl’s posthumously published “On the Origin of Geometry” (1939) and Jacques Derrida’s first publication, his long “Introduction” to his French translation of Husserl’s text (1962). In the 1980 defense for his “doctorat d’état,” Derrida remarked that all of his subsequent research was anticipated in the Introduction. This seminar, then, will serve as an Introduction, first, to the importance of Husserlian phenomenology and what it offers for literary and cultural studies, particularly in its understanding of the constitution of ideal objects; second, to at least some of the issues that will occupy Derrida for the next 20 and even 40 years: ideality, repetition, language, literature, the imagination, writing, painting, survival or survivance, univocité and équivocité, among others. The outcome of a patient reading of Derrida’s Introduction to Husserl will be the possibility of critically engaging with theoretical discourse and a more sophisticated sense of the stakes of Derrida’s work. Requirements: weekly, engaged attendance; 1 15-minute presentation; 1 15-20 page research paper. (counts toward COL core seminar requirement; required for first-year students).

COL 690: Dissertation Writing Workshop
Kalliopi Nikolopoulou
Monday 3:30-6:10 Clemens 708
Class #15700
The Dissertation Writing Workshop (DWW) is a one-credit hour, mandatory course for all COL PhD students to be taken in the fall semester immediately following the completion of the Oral Examinations. The DWW serves two basic purposes: 1) facilitates the transition from seminars and exam preparation to the writing of the dissertation; 2) professionalization and job market preparation. Requirement for the DWW include the following: 1) production of a substantial and complete draft of a chapter of the dissertation, which will be presented to the workshop participants for comments; 2) presentation of a shorter version of the chapter (40 -50 minutes, approximately 20 pages) during the session in which the longer chapter will be discussed; 5) reading and discussion of other workshop participants' work. Dissertation directors and other faculty will be invited to attend the oral presentations of the student’s work·. The DWW meets the first week of the fall semester to organize the schedule of presentations and any other meetings. In most cases, the DWW will reconvene during the second half of the semester in order to critique the work of the workshop participants. Student grades depend on successful completion of all requirements. Failure to complete successfully the requirements results in the student's having to repeat the DWW in the following fall semester.

COL 704 REC/SEM: "Latina/x Abolitionist Feminisms."
Andrea Pitts
Wednesday’s 3:30-6:10 Clemens 904
Class # 23519/23520

Drawing from interdisciplinary fields such as Latinx studies, feminist theory, and critical prison studies, this seminar foregrounds the historical and contemporary work of U.S. Latina/x writers and activists to examine how each offers philosophical contributions to abolitionist feminist frameworks. The course thus focuses on published writings by Latina/x feminist authors, as well as materials from Latina/x activists from the 1960s until today whose philosophical praxis can be gleaned through their interviews, archival documents, and print media. Our research in the seminar will also distinguish between abolitionist approaches to carceral institutions, approaches which seek to eradicate the use of punishment and confinement as means to address social conflict, from reform projects, which seek to reduce prison populations and rates of incarceration but stop short of calling for an end to incarceration itself as a social practice. Lastly, the course will underscore the rich history of multiracial and multiethnic coalitions forged against carceral systems, including specifically collaborative projects among Black, Indigenous, and Latina/x feminist organizers and writers. Through an examination of such coalitional efforts, students thereby investigate how various forms of abolitionist activism and theory have developed through the valuation and recognition of sites of difference, often across incarcerated/nonincarcerated lines and through the transgression of gender and sexual boundaries as well.

COL 705 REC/ SEM:” Transformative Language of Art: Poetry, Technology, Power”
Krzysztof Ziarek
Wednesday 12:30-3:10 Clemens 708
Class #23490/23493

The course will focus on the transformative force of the “language” of arts, including poetic language. The transformative approach to the artwork will be explored as an alternative to the subject-based aesthetics and to the notions of expression and representation. As part of the inquiry, we will consider the juxtaposition between Western and Eastern (mainly Chinese) approaches to transformation and art, studied against the backdrop of power relations and contemporary technology (computation, AI). Readings and discussion will examine theoretical texts (Foucault, Heidegger, Hui, Irigaray, Jullien), poetry (Coolidge, Hejinian, Mullen, Stein) and artworks (including bio art and Internet art).

COL 706 REC/SEM “World, Presence, Sense”
Rodolphe Gasche
Tuesdays 12:30-3:10 Clemens 708
Class #23293/23294

The aim of this course is to explore in depth Jean-Luc Nancy's conception of the being-together of beings, who, like human beings, are characterized by the singular plural, in his works devoted to the notion of a community without any projected communitarian end, and those in which he explicitly addresses the question of what is a "world," and its sense. We will be interested, in particular, in the theme of the present in his reflections on what constitutes a community, a world, and sense. The main texts that we will discuss are "The Forgetting of Philosophy," The Sense of the World, and The Creation of the World, or Globalization

COL 707 REC/SEM: “Thinking 'Race' Beyond Oppression”
Devonya Havis
Mondays 12:30pm-3:10pm Clemens708
Class 23295/23296





COL 708 REC/SEM: “Genocide, Witness, Representation: Specters of Rwanda”
Shaun Irlam
Thursdays 12:30-3:10 Clemens 708
Class #23356/23357
Genocide is a crime of magnitudes: a crime of mathematical magnitude and moral magnitude. Given the sheer enormity of this crime, the challenge is how to bear witness to it and represent it to posterity. As Rwanda approaches the 30th anniversary of the genocide, this course will explore the aporias posed by genocide through a selection from the accumulating literature of testimonies, memoirs, histories, fiction, documentaries and feature films about the Rwandan genocide. On April 6, 1994, a plane crashed into the grounds of the Presidential palace in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, as it approached the airport. The plane had been shot out of the sky by assailants whose identity still remains unknown. On board was the President of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana; he died in his own garden. This assassination finally pulled the trigger on the Rwandan genocide -- 100 frenzied days of slaughter that engulfed the nation and left an estimated 800 000 to 1 000 000 Tutsi citizens and Hutu moderates dead. It was the swiftest and deadliest collapse of any postcolonial state in Africa, but the genocide has its roots deep in the country’s colonial past, and in a certain sense the genesis of this small nation’s troubles begin with the Book of Genesis ….This course seeks to understand this dark chapter of Africa’s colonial history: the ancient ghosts that curse Rwanda and the grim lessons it yields that ought to haunt us still. The demons of ethnicity and the revenants of genocide teach us unforgettable lessons about the challenges and pitfalls facing the postcolonial state. We shall also explore the politics of representation and veracity raised by discourses of witness and testimony and analyze the broader challenges of comprehending and representing histories of trauma through various forms of cultural, aesthetic and creative expression associated with the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Texts will include survivor narratives, memoirs, historical analyses, works of fiction and several films. We shall also examine some of the structural and architectural elements embodied in the genocide memorials that dot the Rwandan countryside.

COL 711 REC/SEM: ““Literature as Messiah” 
Sergey Dolgopolski
Mondays 6:30-9:10 Clemens 708
Class # 19782/ 19783

How literature and messiah relate to each other?  We will draw on Erich Auerbach's answer to this question in order to explore and complicate relationships between testament, testimony, witness and literature in late antiquity and modernity. Auerbach sees the emergence of "European Literature" as a fusion of the "Homeric style" and "Biblical style".  The former describes and makes explicit everything " past and present alike -- in the "foreground" The latter accounts for the significance of the ever dark/inexplicit past of the "background" for the readers" future to remain as promising as never fully detailed. Departing from this starting point, the seminar will comparatively explore the testament to the law in late antiquity (both in its Christian version in the New Testament and in its rabbinic version of a testament paralleling the Scripture in the Mishnah) in relationships to the "literature"  first in Auerbach's sense and then in the broader theoretical context of contemporary discussions of tensions and dependencies between literature and testimony. Our guiding theoretical concern will be the role of the literary figure of a specific human and/or divine messiah in "literature" on the one hand and the "literature" as the intrinsically messianic form of reading and creating the human condition on the other.

Past course offerings