Archived Graduate Courses

Fall 2023

French (FRE) 214: The Marriage Plot in Early Modern France

The marriage plot, ubiquitous in Western literature since the Greeks, may seem absurdly formulaic. It centers on the courtship rituals of a young heterosexual couple and achieves fictional closure only by removing all obstacles to marriage. The typical “happily ever after” ending is ideological in the extreme, construing happiness as compulsory heterosexuality, submissive femininity, reproductive futurity, and class determinism. And yet as we will discover in this seminar, early modern French authors working in genres like comedy and fairy tale often manage to adhere to the marriage plot while challenging its ideological underpinnings. Some texts arrive at their happy ending in the expected way, by establishing a conventional household formation; yet they leave us to wonder whether happiness will be truly enduring and shared or whether domestic bliss will be threatened from within. Other texts embrace an oppositional politics, whether by establishing an unconventional (femdom, queer, trans) household and happiness or by embracing an anti-matrimonial polemic (happiness as the avoidance of marriage). The syllabus includes works by Corneille, Molière, Mme. de Villedieu, Mme. d’Aulnoy, Perrault, l’Abbé de Choisy, and la Duchesse de Montpensier. All texts will be available as PDFs in both French and English, and seminar sessions will be conducted in English; however, students in French must do all assignments (reading and writing) in the target language. There will be no research paper, rather a set of weekly two-page reaction papers and a final five-page essay that expands on one of the reaction papers. No screens will be allowed in the seminar room, and students should bring paper and pen with them, along with a printout of the assigned text.

Spring 2023

History (HIS) 202D: Major Issues in Historical Interpretation: India

History of Mughal India

This course will examine approaches to the history of the Mughal Empire of India (sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries), the second greatest economic power, and home to perhaps the greatest court culture of the early modern period. The reading for each week will organized by methodology or theme. Please read each week’s assignment before class and come prepared to present the text and critique it. You are not expected to master the all the information covered in this course. Rather, the goal is to begin to be able to identify the problématique and also to summarize and evaluate arguments and methodologies. There are no pre-requisites. Comparative perspectives are most welcome.

Study of Religion (REL) 230C: Modernity, Science and Secularism

Medicine, Alchemy, Science

This graduate seminar examines the widespread pre-modern science of alchemy in various periods across three major civilizations: Indian, Islamic, and European. Alchemy, currently labeled a pseudo-science or precursor to modern chemistry, involved a range of ideas and practices that went beyond transmuting base metals into gold. We will examine a range of alchemical texts that demonstrate a marked interest in medicine and other medieval sciences and will explore the views of self and the material world present in these readings. Towards the end of the course, we will situate our study within the larger context of the history of science and religion and changing theories of knowledge.

Spanish (SPA) 274: Studies of a Major Writer, Period, or Genre in Latin American Literature

Food in the Early Modern Hispanic World

The gastronomic globalization of the late 20th century, along with the recent boom of the so-called foodie culture, has catapulted the academic interest in food in the past few decades, resulting in the growing field of Food Studies. In the context of Latin American and Iberian studies, food has proved to be a productive and refreshing lens to re-examine historical narratives, national discourses, and the literary canon. In this seminar, we will study Spanish and Latin American cultural artifacts ranging from the 16th to the 18th centuries, focusing on issues of class and social distinction; identity, race, and religion; imperialism and colonization; and sexuality and gender. Students will engage with major theoretical approaches to Food Studies, explore the scholarly literature that has shaped the study of food in Spain and Latin America, and learn about innovative approaches like cooking as a research method. Among the artifacts examined will be natural histories by Bernardino de Sahagún and José de Acosta, Sor Juana’s reflections on kitchen work, baroque theater and poetry, and best-selling 17th-century cookbooks.