Winter 2008

Alessandra Di Maio

“New Italian Identities: Arts of Migration”
Department of Italian
Traditionally a country of emigration, during the last decades Italy has become a hub for immigration for people from various regions of the world, who have arrived by the millions. The arrival of the newcomers has sparked controversy, igniting a heated debate on immigration in Italy and throughout Europe, while urging Italians to re-assess their already composite national identity.  This newly designed graduate course investigates the narration of immigration to Italy by analyzing a number of texts by contemporary migrant Italian artists. Novels, short stories, poems and autobiographical narratives by writers such as Khouma, De Caldas Brito, Ghermandi, Scego and Ali Farah will be examined alongside a selection of films and music. Concepts such as ethnicity, multiculturalism, hybridity, postcoloniality and minority will be explored within the Italian context, while Italian Studies will be brought into dialogue with the most recent debates on transnationalism.

Fatima El-Tayeb

“Migrants and Minorities in Contemporary Europe”
Interdepartmental Program in European Studies

This course will focus on contemporary continental Europe and the ways in which race, class, religion, gender, and sexuality intersect in debates on immigration and identity. The conflation of these concepts in the creation of “foreignness” is certainly not restricted to Europe, but it affects the continent in particular ways. In this class, we will approach these configurations through a focus on three groups: Muslim minorities, Eastern European Roma, and undocumented African migrants. While we will explore dominant discourses on migration across the continent, we will pay special attention to self-representations of these communities and cultural productions by “2nd generation” artists and activists and their strategies of undermining dominant perceptions of what it means to be European. Readings will also include theoretical texts by Etienne Balibar, David Theo Goldberg, Stuart Hall, Saskia Sassen, and others.

Kris Manjapra

“Cosmopolitanism and Colonialism” Department of History
What were the expressions of cosmopolitan thought and life in the age of colonialism?  How was cosmopolitanism lived differently, and to different ends, by groups in Europe and in the colonial world.  This course offers a comparative and connective study of the intellectual and cultural production, and the social networks, associated with the Pan-Africa, Greater India, Pan-Europe and Communist movements of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as the internationalist organizations that developed during those years.  We will encounter the often conflicting cosmopolitan visions among colonial intellectuals and European thinkers, and investigate what they tell us about nationalism and imperialism in the era before decolonization. Students will also critically engage with current-day theoretical work on cosmopolitanism, and will discuss how notions of cosmopolitanism have shifted in our own time.

Eulàlia Moles

“Contemporary Issues of Chicanas Department of Spanish and Portuguese

This seminar introduces students to key concepts related to the theoretical framework of globalization with a special emphasis on how it impacts Chicanas/Latinas. We will discuss how globalization and neoliberalist policies have a profound effect on the “new world border,” the femicide on the border, and (trans)national migration and its feminization in the 1990s in the rise of the global economic shifts. We will also carefully examine how transnational feminist decolonizing practices engage with different human rights frameworks in their pursuit of social justice in order to denounce and counteract both personal and structural violence. Different theories informing the emerging field of transnational studies will be explored in the light of the formation of transnational alliances based on the historical and contemporary geopolitical links in the Americas.

Sonali Pahwa

“Language, Media and Community in the Arab World” Department of Anthropology

This seminar investigates the imagination of an “Arab world” by examining the historical role of the Arabic language in linking distant peoples, its dialogue with vernacular culture, and the ways in which mass media have created new transnational cultural forms in Arabic. Beginning with a look at traditional speech genres for poetry, religious discourse and performance, we then consider how programs for cultural and linguistic reform in modern Arab nations created new dialectics between textual and popular culture. Our primary focus is on the use of media in disseminating national culture, circulating minority voices, and reshaping circuits of cultural and religious authority through transnational authorship and reception.

Babli Sinha

“Magical Realism Department of English”
The term magical realism is used to refer to literature that combines elements of the fantastic with realism. It has been suggested that magical realism is a trope for narrating the nation, for imagining utopias, and for resisting restrictive aspects of society. This course will examine the genre, interrogate its relationship to other genres of fantasy, and consider the relationship between the aesthetic patterns of the genre and its potential for social advocacy. We will examine the techniques of magical realism in fiction by Toni Morrison, Ben Okri, Angela Carter, Derek Walcott, Salman Rushdie, and Borges, such as the use of cyclical rather than linear time and the inversion of social hierarchies. We do this in order to understand the ways in which the genre blurs the boundaries of nation, region, race, gender, and class as it challenges our understanding of historical events as being easily defined with logical causes. In addition to poetry, novels, and short stories, we will also be reading secondary texts, including works by Bakhtin, Jameson, Appiah, and Bhabha.

Sarah Valentine

“Russian Literature through World Cinema”
Department of Slavic Languages

Examination of Russian literary masterpieces and their screen adaptations in various national cinematic traditions, with focus on problems of perception and misperception arising when literature is translated into cinema, and one national culture is viewed through the eyes of another.