Law 229.5: Constitutionalism before the Constitution

Instructor: Kinch Hoekstra

This is a seminar in the history of political and legal theory. We will explore the idea of fundamental law, illegal laws, mixed government and divided sovereignty, the development of checks and balances, and the very idea of a constitution.

French 230A: Molière: Stage, Page, Patronage

Instructor: Nicholas Paige

Crafted to appeal to a mixed urban audience as well as to King and court, running the generic gamut from farce and Latin comedy to a new kind of satire that provoked, in the words of a contemporary, a silent "rire dans l'âme," Molière's theatrical output is astonishingly varied. In addition, his plays (of which we'll be reading a selection) offer a profound engagement with the politico-cultural mutations of the 1660s, a decade that in hindsight has appeared to many as the founding moment of modernity in France. Our seminar will take the measure of the main lit-critical approaches as well as canvass more recent attempts to understand his work in the context of the institutions that shaped it. Readings in French and English; discussions mostly in French but English speakers welcomed.

French 245A: The Circulation Of the Written Word In Early Modern France and Italy (1450-1800)

Instructor: Déborah Blocker

This seminar introduces students to the fundamentals of book history (the invention of the printing press, development and policing of the book market, and the material forms of the book), but also to what in the field is now called scribal culture, that is the continued circulation of manuscripts during the age of the printing press and, more generally, the lasting and constant competition between books and manuscripts in the high culture of early modern Europe.

German 205: The Sacred: Images, Texts, Theories

Instructor: Niklaus Largier and Beate Fricke

The Sacred has become a key term in recent debates in a number of disciplines. However, what is at its core is often astonishingly undefined, open and ambivalent. Important theories of the Sacred have been articulated in the 20th century by Otto, Eliade, Caillois, Benjamin, Bataille, Auerbach, Feigel, Girard, Ricoeur, Smith, Agamben. In this course we will discuss a range of medieval and early modern images and texts in order to understand the notion of the sacred – in the past and today.

English 250, section 2: Mass Entertainment in Renaissance London and Golden-Age Hollywood

Instructor: Jeffrey Knapp

For most writers on the subject, mass entertainment is a distinctively modern phenomenon, made possible by unprecedented technological advances in production and distribution. Our course will challenge the historical as well as theoretical constraints on mass entertainment that this technocentric conception imposes. We’ll study the theory and practice of mass entertainment during two moments of major innovation in mass entertainment: when permanent theaters were first built in sixteenth-century London, and when talking pictures were first marketed in twentieth-century Hollywood. Comparing plays and movies to the Renaissance and modern commentary on them, we’ll treat these works not simply as examples of mass entertainment but also as analyses of it.

English 217: Shakespeare

Instructor: Professor Oliver Arnold

Instead of pursuing a master problematic, we will take up a wide range of issues: when I read Shakespeare these days, I am interested in his representations of citizenship, compassion, artificial persons (political representatives, diplomats, surrogates, actors), poverty, the Roman Republic, false consciousness, and slavery; and I expect that other participants will bring many more concerns to the table. This capacious approach will allow us to take full advantage of Shakespeare’s unique importance to the evolution of literary criticism and to the philosophy of art.