Recent Graduate Courses:
SCCT 500: Introduction to Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory (Fall 2020, Fall 2021, co-taught with Lee Medovoi)
We live in a time of increasing political skepticism about the workings of the state, the persistent inequitable institutional arrangements, the historical explanations of stratification, and the prevailing oppositional ideologies. This has reinvigorated the political dimension of critical theory and its ability to inform new solidarities, understand political struggles, and analyze institutional reformations. Initially intended as a theory aimed at human liberation, critical theory has been taken up, extended, and critiqued across multiple disciplines, including the social sciences, philosophy, and literature, as well as in interdisciplinary scholarship. It remains, however, in its multiple forms and applications, focused on attempting to critique and change society. Beyond a mere tool for understanding, critical theory is situated as a method for combating injustice and oppression. In this course, you will be introduced to classic and emergent intellectual theoretical frames through readings, multimedia materials, writing, and discussions. We will begin with the work of Freud and Marx and trace the development of critical theory through to contemporary theories that attend to the multiplicities or “mangle” (messy intersectionality) of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. These will include critical race, decolonial, feminist, post-colonial, queer, and performance theory. Weekly readings will include original work of critical theorists, analysis and applications of theory by other scholars, and other forms of media as appropriate. Above all, this course requires students to take an open minded and generous approach to learning and discussing new and potentially challenging concepts.
HRTS 542: Human Rights and the Arts (Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021)
Ending cycles of violence and human rights atrocities that have been nourished by deeply ingrained prejudice and resentment is exceptionally difficult. Broadly speaking, this problem is exacerbated by an insufficient understanding of and investment in the role civil society and the arts can and do play in the process of reconciliation and fomenting vibrant, peaceful societies. Through close examination of diverse range of sites, conflicts, and case studies, we will collectively analyze artistic interventions into how societies remember and engage with past violence while also seeking to halt unfolding cycles of violence, instability, and conflict. Specifically, we will investigate the following questions: How do the arts, broadly defined, impact the way people understand, remember, and engage with past and present conflict and human rights abuses? What is the role of artistic activism in fomenting and supporting democratic processes and the prevention of future atrocity?
SPAN 571: Visual Culture, Performance, and Political Life in the Americas (Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019)
This course explores the relationship between artistic practice and social transformation in the Americas. It is loosely framed around a series of five units: (1) Artistic Practice and Politics; (2) Rights, Bodies, and Resistance; (3) Scopic Regimes and the Performance of Control and Security; (4) Mourning, Memory, and Forensics; and (5) Migration and Human Rights. In addition to providing an overview of visual and performance theory and introducing students to a range of contemporary artists and activists working in the Americas, the course will incorporate guest lectures from prominent hemispheric studies scholars, artists, and activists. Students will be expected to think and write critically and extensively across a range of interrelated themes, including affect, archives, human rights, memory, place and space, migration and borders, power, resistance, and intersectional body politics.
SCCT 510: The Politics and the Senses: Problems in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory (Spring 2018, co-taught with John Melillo)
From #blacklivesmatter to the Dreamers and Standing Rock, to the rise of Trumpism and the re-emergence of white supremacy movements, our current political moment is being shaped by diverse affective, embodied, and performative forms of protest, intervention, community-building. This graduate seminar seeks to make sense of this vitalizing and virulent moment by exploring the relationship between the sensorial, the embodied, and the political. Drawing from a range of methods and analytic approaches, including performance, visual, media, and sound studies, we will investigate how the senses shape and are shaped by our cultural and political milieu. In this seminar we will ask: How do the senses shape our relationship to the world and to each other? How do they produce networks of temporal, spatial, affective, and physical relationships that link individual bodies to others, producing publics, peoples, and masses? In dialogue with important historical and contemporary theorists, public intellectuals, and practitioners, we will collaboratively think through the relationship between politics and the senses.
SPAN 561: Introduction to Memory Studies (Spring 2015)
In the aftermath of the atrocities of the twentieth century in countries across Latin America, the question of how to reconcile with past trauma and move toward a more peaceful future has often focused on memory events and sites, including truth commissions, museums, memorials, monuments, and mass graves. In countries where the transitions from dictatorship to democracy are now several decades old, debates about memory and justice, and the quest to find the bodies of those disappeared by the State during the years of violence, are gradually being transformed by the erosive sands of time. Terms like postmemory, prosthetic memory, and multidirectional memory, to name a few, are now being offered as means by which we might understand how people are called upon to remember as traumatic events slide ever further into history. Other influential scholarly texts explore nostalgia, trauma, affect, haunting, reenactments, material memory, memory tourism, and memory spheres as ways to grapple with theories and practices of individual, collective, and cultural memory. This graduate seminar is designed to provide an overview of the key scholarship and debates in the interdisciplinary field of memory studies. Of primary interest is for students to develop a wider understanding of the historical, theoretical, and cultural turns within academic discourses; as such, we will begin with a selection of foundational texts on memory and make our way toward the influential scholars working to shape the field today.
Recent Undergraduate Courses:
Human Rights and Documentary Film in the Americas
400 Level Advanced seminar
Art and Social Justice
400 Level Advanced seminar
Mapping Belonging: Memory, Visuality, Place
300 Level Advanced seminar
Arts, Resistance, Secrets, and Memory Wars
200 Level Online General Education course
Art and Politics
100 Level Large General Education Survey course