Feit Interdisciplinary Seminars in the Humanities Spring 2014

IDC 4050H / CMWH
Monday/Wednesday 11:10-12:25 - cross listed with POL 3999H
Political Literature from the Athenian Republic to the Global
Christina Christoforatou, Department of English
Allison Deutermann, Department of English

This course explores how pre-modern conceptions of sovereignty, agency, and freedom, inform our present-day negotiations—civic, personal, economic, and political—and condition our views of political agency and civic legitimacy.  Our texts may include Aristotle, Politics (excerpts); Plato, The Apology of Socrates; Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy; St. Augustine, Confessions (excerpts); Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince and the Discourses (excerpts); Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan (excerpts); Thomas More, Utopia; Francis Bacon, “The New Atlantis;” and Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine I and II.  Each class session will be dually focused on the past and present, commencing with a discussion of a contemporary political document that engages the subject of sovereignty in today’s global age: the UN charter, the EU constitution, the Geneva Convention, the mission and bylaws of the American Red Cross, corporate white papers (for example, GE’s on best recycling practices or JP Morgan’s on Health Savings Accounts), vacillating between the present day and the social and intellectual histories that have given it shape. Students are expected to lead their peers in discussion through formal and informal presentations, and through their researched writing, which will be analytical and investigative in nature.

IDC 4050H / CTRH
Tuesday-Thursday 11:10-12:25
Translating Between Worlds: Anthropology and Literature
Professor Esther Allen, Modern Languages
Professor Carla Bellamy, Sociology

Whenever something moves from one cultural context into another -- a person, a religion, a literary text, an idea – it is profoundly altered by that shift. Both anthropology and literature scrutinize such transitions, studying the way meanings change as contexts do. In this class, anthropological texts and literary works will be read together for what they tell us about how we change when we move from one world to another. Readings will include Katherine Russell's memoir Dreaming in Hindi,  Vassilis Alexakis' Greek-French memoir-novel Foreign Words, Jorge Luis Borges's seminal essay The Translators of the Thousand and One Nights and anthropologist James Clifford's analyses of literary texts in Writing Culture. We will trace the translation history of texts such as the ancient Sanskrit Upanishads, translated into Persian in the 17th century, then into Latin, and from there coming to influence 19th-century American Transcendentalism which, in turn, plays a role in the popularity of yoga as a sort of latter-day transcendentalism in contemporary America. Guest lecturers will contribute perspectives from the related fields of folklore studies and history. For their coursework, students will have the opportunity to conduct research at the Rubin Museum, and those who are polylingual will be encouraged to pursue a translation project of their own.



The City University of New York