MAPH students are not bound to classes offered through MAPH; they may choose classes from any department in the Humanities Division. However, these courses are designed with MAPH students in mind, and are taught by MAPH's faculty Directors and Preceptors.
Winter 2017 Course Descriptions
Introduction to Digital Humanities
This two-quarter course sequence will introduce students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to the basics of computing and statistics, and to the various ways in which computers (i.e., digital devices of all kinds) can be used as tools for scholarly research and as media for creative expression. In addition, and of equal importance, students are introduced to the ways in which scholars reflect upon, and discuss critically, the cultural and social contexts and effects of digital technology from diverse philosophical perspectives.
The course is organized around four main themes: (1) the digital representation of knowledge; (2) automated analysis of cultural and historical data; (3) digital media of creative expression; and (4) the cultural and social contexts and effects of digital technology. Within each theme, we will provide explanations of computing concepts and the practices involved in creating and using software, and we will discuss theoretical issues raised by these practices.
In the Winter Quarter, students will engage with the course themes through relevant readings, lectures, and demonstrations by practicing digital humanists on campus. This quarter is meant to provide students with an introduction to ongoing debates in the field and with many examples of cutting edge work. In the Spring Quarter, students will be introduced to the basics of computer programming using the R programming language, with an emphasis on applications related to computing in the humanities. Topics covered include database construction and design, statistical interpretation, text analysis, network analysis, geo-spatial analysis, and image analysis.
Life and Lives in the Nineteenth Century British Novel
Life in the nineteenth century seems to be sometimes the object of political power (population, poverty legislation, sanitation reform, biopower), sometimes the rich and textured subject of the developing realist novel. This class will pursue where and how the concept of life moves between these sites. We will ask questions around the divide between human and non-human life in this period; the right over life, including the right to kill; and how and when nineteenth century novels engage with pluralities, communities or multiple lives. Readings will include novels (Shelley, Dickens, Bronte, Hardy); political and philosophical writing of the period (Malthus, Paine, Mill, Eliot, among others); theoretical texts (Agamben, Foucault, Marx) and literary criticism.
On Fear and Loathing: Negative Affect and the American Novel
Since the “affective turn,” cultural studies has continued to consider how collective feelings like shame, willfulness, envy, and dread penetrate literary and art works. This course serves as an introduction to the structures and unstructures of affect studies through novels concerned with bad feeling. It asks students to consider how vectors of inequality demand fictional explication of negative affects; how authors’ own reading of philosophies of bad feeling might affect our interpretations of their fictions; and how the invocation of particular affects might open up or foreclose particular kinds of interpretation. We will read contemporary affect theorists like Sianne Ngai, Sara Ahmed, Brian Massumi, and Eve Sedgwick, and fiction by authors including Toni Morrison, Jeff Jackson, and Kathy Acker.
Spring 2017 Course Descriptions
In this course, we examine the perspectives, debates, and attitudes that characterize the contemporary field of postcolonial theory, with attention to how its interdisciplinary formation contributes to reading literary works. We begin by surveying the development and trajectory of the field, particularly as it develops around debates on revolution and compromise, cosmopolitanism, the psychology of colonialism, and anti-colonial historiography. Alongside this, we consider the recent disciplinary revival of the categories of “global Anglophone” and “world literature” through readings on “literary worlds” to to evaluate these categories, and their contributions to ongoing debates about translation/translatability, vernaculars, rewriting, and mimicry. What are the claims made on behalf of literary texts in orienting us to other lives and possibilities, and in registering the experience of geographic and cultural displacement? To better answer this, we read recent scholarship that engages the field in conversations around intimacy, belonging, and human rights, to think about the impulses that animate the field, and its possible futures. Readings will likely include works by Debjani Ganguly, Kamau Brathwaite, Jean Rhys, Amitava Kumar, Sara Ahmed and Amitav Ghosh.
Introduction to Digital Humanities: Text Processing and Data-Mining in Python
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the basics of computer programming using the Python programming language in order for them to independently conduct Digital Humanities experiments involving both data-mining and machine learning experiments. While the course will start with an introduction to Python fundamentals, we will very quickly shift our focus to learning how to manipulate text programmatically, a necessary step before moving on to data-mining experiments. As we start experimenting with computational methods of text analysis, we will discuss some of the more common techniques that are used in the Digital Humanities (similarity matching, text classification…). By the end of the class, each student will be able to design a research project that combines both text processing and data-mining.
Students need no prior programing experience, but will need to bring a laptop to class.
Consent and Coercion: Rights, Agency, and Authority in the Eighteenth Century and Beyond
In American popular culture, the eighteenth century is remembered today (to the extent that it is remembered at all) as a heady time of revolutions and revolutionaries, when towering figures of the Enlightenment established modern democracy. This, in many ways, reflects the narrative eighteenth-century writers were developing about their own age. For British Whigs, the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 had been a watershed moment at which the arbitrary rule of kings had been replaced for all time by constitutionalism; the social contract and the civil polity had triumphed over divine-right ideology, ushering in a new, beneficent era of progress. And, in the 1790s, the French Revolution fired the political imaginations of British radicals who saw the potential for a world made anew – a world of universal suffrage and gender equality, where slavery was abolished. Clearly, attaining these goals was a long way off. The debates over the structures, meanings, and nature of consent had tendrils in multiple areas of society – the law, of course, but also in understandings of sexuality, constructions of gender, economics, and colonization. Questions of rights, agency, and authority (what those categories meant, who could possess them, and who guaranteed them) were by no means settled, and, indeed, throughout the century, calls to curtail the categories of people who should have access to the sphere of political influence were often as boisterous as those to expand such access. This course will explore how a range of authors in eighteenth-century Britain figured questions of consent, rights, and authority and how the ideological debates these authors mediated continue to inform contemporary politics, cultures, and identities. We will read works by literary figures such as Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Mary Hays, Olaudah Equiano, and Mary Shelley. We will consider the writings of some of the major political philosophers of the day, as well, including John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Mary Astell, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, and Mary Wollstonecraft. We will additionally discuss readings in modern criticism and theory to help us better situate our primary texts in the discourses of modernity and better understand their lasting resonances.
Our Biopolitics, Ourselves: Biology, Reproduction, Feminist Science Fiction
1970s feminist theory made a significant conceptual move in provisionally bracketing off biological sex from the historical/cultural work of gender. Feminist science fiction (in contrast), in its brief flourishing in the 70s and early 80s, finds its utopian moments in the biological, in genetic manipulation, reproductive technology, ecological forms of being and new bodies of a variety of kinds. This class will read science fiction, feminist theory and current critical work that concerns itself with bios, biology and biopolitics in order to ask questions about the divide between nature and culture, what’s entailed in imagining the future, what gender and genre have to do with each other, and just what science fiction is and does anyway. Authors may include: Le Guin, Russ, Butler, Piercy, McIntyre, Haraway, Malabou, Fortunati, James, Rubin, Firestone.