Feit Interdisciplinary Seminars
Spring 2015

IDC 4050H / MTH

Tuesdays, 11:10-2:05

Darwin at Issue:  What Is and what Isn’t Natural about Darwinian Evolution

Thomas Teufel, Philosophy

Rebecca Spokony, Natural Sciences

Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species (1859) was a turning point in the way we see the world and our place in it. In this seminar we will develop an understanding of what Darwin did (and did not) propose, as well as an appreciation for what was (and continues to be) revolutionary about his ideas. We will discuss Darwin’s significance for 19th century biology and philosophy, consider his contribution to the “modern synthesis” of evolution, genetics, and paleontology in the 20th century, and detect how Darwin’s ideas influence contemporary science, policy, and the business of living.

 

IDC 4050H / NRH

Thursdays 2:30-5:25

Nuestra America:  identities, languages, literature, and society

David Cruz de Jesus, Comparative Literature and Modern Languages

Hedwig Feit, Black and Latino Studies

Lourdes Gil, Black and Latino Studies

This seminar examines the Latin American identity from a Latin American perspective. Through the writings of scholars, writers and political thinkers, starting with the post-independence period of nation formation in the nineteenth century up to the present day, we will focus on the relations between language and identity, as well as the interrelation between identity and cultural, historical and political events.  Although the amalgamation of languages, cultures and ethnicities precedes the arrival of the Europeans, only now is there a recognition of indigenous and regional languages as marks of ethnic and cultural identities. The seminar will address the current trend toward interregional integration happening south of the border, accelerated by globalization. It will also acknowledge the inclusion and participation in public debate of previously silent voices of women and indigenous communities. THE COURSE WILL BE CONDUCTED ENTIRELY IN SPANISH AND MAY BE USED TOWARD CREDIT REQUIREMENTS FOR MAJORS AND MINORS IN SPANISH.

 

IDC 4050H / BMWH

Mondays/Wednesdays 9:30-10:45

Workers of the World, Unite! Histories of the Global Left

Martina Nguyen, History

Andrew Sloin, History

This course explores the global history of communism and the political left. It begins by considering the rise of competing theories of socialism and communism as a response to the crises of early capitalism and excesses of the Industrial Revolution. We then follow major developments in the ideas and ideologies of Communism globally, focusing on four specific case studies: the Paris Commune, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Chinese Revolution, and the August Revolution in Vietnam. Through these cases, we will investigate how ideas and practices of Communism changed as they traveled through time and across cultures. In addition to reading foundational writings by (among others) Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin, Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Mao Zedong, and Ho Chi Minh, we will also explore the relationship between politics and culture under various Communist regimes. Through avant-garde film, revolutionary poetry and prose, Constructivist and Socialist Realist art, music, clothing, propaganda ephemera and other forms of cultural production, we will seek to understand how Communist regimes sought to realize their revolutionary dreams in everyday practice. Finally, we conclude by considering the failure of actually existing socialisms, as well as the question of the enduring relevance of Marxian critiques of global capitalism in the 21st century.

 

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