Classes are listed alphabetically according to their first department listing. For the most up-to-date listings, check the Yale Course Search website. To add or remove a course from this list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFAM 353 (30164) / HSAR 353
Bodies, Senses, Representations: Medieval and Black Studies in Conversation
This team-taught, cross-disciplinary seminar uses diverse sensory and medial paradigms to explore the very different yet surprisingly congruent figurations of bodily and racialized difference and selfhood in the cultural productions of medieval Europe (ca. 800-1500) and modern America. Extending forms of analysis that interpret visual, spatial, musical, and performance arts through a strictly historical lens, this seminar listens for the resonances between Medieval European definitions of personhood through bodily movements, sensations, and signs and Black Studies’ grappling with the aesthetic implications of racialization—how Black peoples are sensed in and make sense of the world. Even as it takes specific works of art, music, performance, and literature as focal points to teach students about particular forms of cultural production, the course offers students the chance to reflect on field-specific processes and languages of interpretation, and to think about the entanglements both of diverse peoples within particular historical contexts and also of the past with the present.
AMST 038 (30063) / ENGL 038 / ER&M 038
The Native American Renaissance
Lloyd Kevin Sy
Areas HU, WR
In 1983, Kenneth Lincoln described the flowering of Native literatures in the years after N. Scott Momaday’s publication of House Made of Dawn (1968) as the “Native American Renaissance.” This course goes through many of the most important literary works in the decades after 1968 and studies their themes in relation to other salient qualities of Native life. Namely, we examine those works’ investments in ecology, sovereignty, and politics (especially the Red Power movement). We explore how this period led to a revitalization of traditional storytelling and the emergence of new forms of expression that reflected the changing realities of Native American life. Readings may include works by Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, James Welch, Joy Harjo, Louise Erdrich, Simon Ortiz, Gerald Vizenor, and Vine Deloria. We also evaluate how Native literature transformed from this literary period into more recent works by Native creators like Tanya Tagaq, Tommy Orange, Sterlin Harjo, Cherie Dimaline, and Deborah Miranda. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.
AMST 070 (26413) / ENGL 067 / HUMS 067
The Road in Literature and Film
Areas HU, WR
Stories about journeys are at the heart of some of the most powerful works of art and literature that humankind has produced, from the time of Homer’s Odyssey onward, and the trope of the journey has played an especially prominent role in American literature and film. In this course, we look at modern and contemporary examples of books and films that explore “the road” both as a path to freedom and discovery and as a site of hardship and precarity. Along the way, we examine quests for personal enlightenment, flights from economic and political oppression, and attempts to locate some “elsewhere” that’s more exciting than home. Works of literature are likely to include Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road,” Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Muriel Rukeyser’s U.S. 1, Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. Films are likely to include Sullivan’s Travels, It Happened One Night, Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise, and Into the Wild.
AMST 190 (29599) / URBN 307
Race, Class, and Gender in American Cities
This seminar explores how racial, gender, and class inequalities have been built, sustained, and challenged in U.S. cities, with a focus on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The first part of the course examines historical processes that are especially salient for identity and inequality, such as the gendered organization of public and private space, the shifting fate of industrial work, and suburbanization. The second part of the course focuses on contemporary processes that reproduce or challenge the historical construction of urban inequality. Topics include gentrification, transit equity, environmental justice, and the relationships between public space, democracy, and community wellbeing.
AMST 236 (26767) / HIST 199 / EVST 318 / HSHM 207
American Energy History
Areas HU, WR
The history of energy in the United States from early hydropower and coal to present-day hydraulic fracturing, deepwater oil, wind, and solar. Topics include energy transitions and technological change; energy and democracy; environmental justice and public health; corporate power and monopoly control; electricity and popular culture; labor struggles; the global quest for oil; changing national energy policies; the climate crisis.
AMST 281 (29000) / ENGL 278
Antebellum American Literature
Areas HU, WR
Introduction to writing from the period leading up to and through the Civil War. The growth of African American writing in an antislavery context; the national book market and its association with national culture; emergence of a language of environment; romantic ecology and American pastoral; the “ecological Indian”; evangelicalism and the secular; sentimentalism and gender; the emergence of sexuality; poetics.
AMST 310 (30274) / HSAR 447
The American West: Art, Land, Politics
The American West holds a powerful place in the cultural and political imagination of the United States. This seminar considers changing conceptions of the land across media—from maps and guidebooks, to paintings, panoramas, and photographs, to earth art and satellite imagery. We examine the politics of water rights; artists’ engagement with ecological questions; the representation of railroads, National Parks, ghost towns, and highways; the mythology of the frontier; and the visual construction of settler colonialism and indigenous resistance. The course emphasizes close attention to works of art, archival research, and developing term papers that engage with the Beinecke’s extraordinary Western Americana Collection. Classes are held at the Beinecke as well as the Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Peabody Museum.
AMST 332 (28595) / HSAR 410
Humbugs and Visionaries: American Artists and Writers Before the Civil War
This course examines American literature and visual culture in the years before the Civil War, focusing on the ways that writers and artists not only anticipated but helped construct the modern era. We look in particular at mythmakers, prophets and self-promoters, from poets like Phillis Wheatley and Emily Dickinson, to painters like Thomas Cole and Hudson River School artists, to popular entertainers like P. T. Barnum. Topics include: visuality and the invention of “whiteness”; landscape and empire; genre painting and hegemony; race and double-coding; domesticity and sentimentalism.
AMST 364 (26656) / FILM 423 / EVST 366 / ENV 598
Documentary and the Environment
M 7pm-10pm; T 3:30pm-5:20pm
Survey of documentaries about environmental issues, with a focus on Darwin’s Nightmare (2004), An Inconvenient Truth (2006), Food, Inc. (2009), GasLand (2010), and related films. Brief historical overview, from early films such as The River (1937) to the proliferation of environmental film festivals.
AMST 389 (30076) / ENGL 390
The Southern Gothic
Areas HU, WR
A seminar in gothic literature and culture from the U.S. South, exploring haunted houses, dismal swamps, and fearsome wilderness; reflecting on conjure, possession, and metamorphosis; and encountering monsters, spirits, and so-called freaks. We consider how Southern histories of settlement, slavery, and religion find expression in the gothic mode, from at least the 1830s through the present. Readings may include works by Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Chesnutt, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, Jesmyn Ward.
AMST 304 (29120)
Introduction to Public Humanities
Introduction to the various media, topics, debates, and issues framing public humanities. The relationship between knowledge produced in the university and the circulation of ideas among a broader public, including modes of inquiry, interpretation, and presentation. Public history, museum studies, oral and community history, public art, documentary film and photography, public writing and educational outreach, and the socially conscious performing arts.
ANTH 203 (27092)
A study of nonhuman primates threatened by deforestation, habitat disturbance, hunting, and other human activities; the future of primate habitats, especially tropical rainforests, as they are affected by local and global economic and political forces. Examination of issues in primate conservation, from the principles of conservation biology and rainforest ecology to the emergence of diseases such as AIDS and Ebola and the extraction of tropical resources by local people and by transnational corporations.
ANTH 294 (27124) / ARCG 294
The Ancient Maya
Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos
Introduction to the archaeological study of ancient Maya civilization in southern Mexico and northern Central America. Maya origins and modes of adaptation to a tropical forest environment; political history of the Classic Maya and competing theories about their collapse; overviews of Maya art, calendar, and writing.
ANTH 322 (27070) / EVST 324 / SAST 306
Environmental Justice in South Asia
Study of South Asia’s nation building and economic development in the aftermath of war and decolonization in the 20th century. How it generated unprecedented stress on natural environments; increased social disparity; and exposure of the poor and minorities to environmental risks and loss of homes, livelihoods, and cultural resources. Discussion of the rise of environmental justice movements and policies in the region as the world comes to grips with living in the Anthropocene.
ANTH 358 (27093) / SAST 304
Corporations & Communities
Areas HU, SO
Can communities redefine corporations? How do corporations shape everyday life? To whom are they responsible? This course examines the relationship between commerce, society, and culture through a diverse set of case studies that are rooted in both global and local histories. Students learn about Henry Ford’s rubber plantations in the Amazon, family firms in Italy, how the East India Company shaped the modern multinational, the first company town to be established and run by an Indian firm, transnational “stakeholder” arrangements to compensate injured garment workers in Bangladesh, and the rise of “corporate social responsibility” culture. The goal of this course is not to define the relationship between corporations and communities as singular or obvious, but rather, to draw out the variety of factors—economic, historical, social, and cultural—that shape commercial interactions, institutional cultures, and claims about market ethics and social responsibility.
ANTH 372 (27125) / ARCG 372 / ANTH 772 / ARCG 772
The Archaeology of Urbanism
Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos
Archaeological studies of ancient cities and urbanism. Topics include the origin and growth of cities; the economic, social, and political implications of urban life; and archaeological methods and theories for the study of ancient urbanism. Case studies include ancient cities around the world.
ANTH 375 (27099) / ARCG 379 / ANTH 775
Anthropology of Mobile Societies
The social and cultural significance of the ways that hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, maritime traders, and members of our own society traverse space. The impact of mobility and transport technologies on subsistence, trade, interaction, and warfare from the first horse riders of five thousand years ago to jet-propulsion tourists of today.
ANTH 423 (27138) / ANTH 623
The Anthropology of Possible Worlds
This course focuses on the nature of possible worlds: literary worlds (Narnia), ideological worlds (the world according to a particular political stance), psychological worlds (what someone remembers to be the case, wishes to be the case, or believes to be the case), environmental worlds (possible environmental futures), virtual worlds (the World of Warcraft), and—most of all—ethnographic works in which the actual and possible worlds of others are represented (the world according to the ancient Maya). We don’t focus on the contents of such worlds per se, but rather on the range of resources people have for representing, regimenting, and residing in such worlds; and the roles such resources play in mediating social relations and cultural values.
ARCH 160 (29132) / URBN 160
Introduction to Urban Studies
Areas HU, SO
An introduction to key topics, research methods, and practices in urban studies, an interdisciplinary field of inquiry and action rooted in the experience of cities. As physical artifacts, the advent of large cities have reflected rapid industrialization and advanced capitalism. They are inseparable from the organization of economic life; the flourishing of cultures; and the formation of identities. They are also places where power is concentrated and inequalities are (re)produced. Debates around equity are filtered through urban environments, where struggles over jobs, housing, education, mobility, public health, and public safety are front and center. The course is organized as a colloquium with numerous guests. Accessible entirely online, there will also be live, in-person events, with social distancing and face masks/shields, available to students in New Haven.
ARCH 316 (29795) / URBN 416
Revolutionary Cities: Protest, Rebellion and Representation in Modern Urban Space
Cities have always been hotbeds of radical ideas and actions. Their cafes and taverns, drawing rooms and universities have been incubators of new ideas, revolutionary ideologies and debate, while their streets and public spaces have been the sites of demonstrations, protests, and uprisings. Since cities are key nodes in larger networks of trade and cultural exchange, these local events have often had a global audience and impact. This seminar explores the interaction of urban space and event, and the media and technologies of revolutionary representation, through case studies of particular cities at transformational moments in their development. These begin with Boston in the 1760s and 1770s, and may include Paris in 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871 and again in 1968, St. Petersburg in 1917, Beijing in 1949 and again in 1989, Havana in 1959, Prague, Berlin and Johannesburg and other cities in 1989, Cairo in 2011, Hong Kong in 2011-12, 2014 and 2019, and other urban sites of the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements. Course work in modern history is recommended.
ARCH 332 (29127)
Cultural AI: Machine Vision, Art, and Design
More than any other technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) promises to transform the fields of art and design over the next decade. In addition to its economic impact as it replaces and alters human labor, machine vision and cognition will alter and displace human creativity. Already, AI has added a series of invisible layers–filters and lenses–to how we see and create our environment. Understanding this new machine-mediated visual culture is critical to addressing its growth, finding potentials and opportunities for intervention, and identifying avenues for critique and resistance. Readings and discussion trace the historical role of algorithms in human culture and the understanding of creation and design as an algorithmic–even machinic–process. They chart the shift from the explicit code of software to the black box of machine learning and the birth of what Lev Manovich calls ‘cultural AI’–a filter over our collective imagination as technology is incorporated into image-making, -selection, and -viewing platforms. Students also work with AI platforms such as Runway ML to develop design proposals that take a critical and aesthetically specific stance on the current and impending impact of AI on cultural production.
ARCH 341 (27406) / GLBL 235 / LAST 318 / URBN 341 / ENV 782
Infrastructure space as a primary medium of change in global polity. Networks of trade, energy, communication, transportation, spatial products, finance, management, and labor, as well as new strains of political opportunity that reside within their spatial disposition. Case studies include free zones and automated ports around the world, satellite urbanism in South Asia, high-speed rail in Japan and the Middle East, agripoles in southern Spain, fiber optic submarine cable in East Africa, spatial products of tourism in North Korea, and management platforms of the International Organization for Standardization.
ARCH 392 (30087) / ENGL 478
Writing About Place
Areas HU, WR
An exploration of reading and writing about place. Definitions of home; different meanings and intent of travel. Readings include exemplary contemporary essays from the eighteenth century to the present. Workshop for assigned student essays. An Advanced Level course in the Creative Writing Concentration. Application due November 1 at Noon. See https://english.yale.edu/undergraduate/courses/creative-writing-journali…
ART 013 (28576)
Spaces can sometimes appear as idiosyncratic as the people within them, taking on characteristics we usually ascribe to ourselves. They can appear erratic, comforting, uncanny–even threatening. Working like a therapy session for architecture, the body, and the objects around us, this seminar analyzes a diverse collection of readings and works, ranging from Renaissance mysticism to conceptual art and film, to explore how the visual arts have utilized a productive, but skeptical, relationship with space. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.
CSGH 200 (31392)
Relating Bodies: Performing Sites and Ecologies
This course explores how artists and scholars engage with their relationship to place and ecology in the face of the climate crisis. Together, we analyze a combination of theoretical readings by scholars including Dipesh Chakrabarty, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Miwon Kwon, and Robin Wall Kimmerer; and the work of contemporary artists such as Paul Chan, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, and Emily Johnson. We also experiment with our own approaches: making small-scale performances, engaging our bodies and local ecologies. Core concepts include climate and environmental justice; relationality; notions of space, place, and site; the intersection of ecology and performance; and more-than-human agency. How is place constructed, and how does our physical presence shape it? What does it mean to be “human,” what does that category do and hold, and how can and should it be decentered? Is it possible to think both on a local and a planetary level? Tending to how the legacies and structures of colonialism, imperialism, and the slave trade, as well as personal locations and histories, shape space and time and our experience of them, we consider if and how performance can address issues of environmental justice.
EALL 205 (29837) / EAST 306 / EVST 205 / HSAR 477 / HUMS 181 / EALL 505
The Culture of Landscape in China
An introduction to Chinese philosophical, poetic, and visual explorations of landscape and the changing relationship between human beings and nature. Through texts, archaeological materials, visual and material culture, and garden designs from the 2nd c. BCE to modern times, we learn about the Chinese conception of the world, relationship to and experiences in nature, and shaping of the land through agriculture, imperial parks, and garden designs. We conclude with contemporary environmental issues confronting China, and how contemporary parks can help regenerate our ecosystem.
EAST 406 (28155) / HSAR 352
Introduction to Central Asian Art and Architecture
Overview of the art and architecture of Central Asia including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, in addition to Afghanistan and Xinjiang, from the Late Antiquity to the modern day. Examination of artistic, architectural-urban transformations as a reflection of the broader societal and cultural change. Through readings, we challenge ourselves 1) to reconsider some of the prevailing understandings of Central Asian history/art & architectural history and 2) to perceive the built environment as an artifact that uncovers secrets and affirms political, social, cultural, and economic aspects of the human past. Throughout, we focus on interactions across the Eurasian continent among Sogdians, Turks, Persians, Arabs, Chinese, Mongolian nomads, and Russians during the last millennium and a half, to understand how these cultures shaped Central Asian urban landscapes, art, and architectural styles. Previous knowledge of Central Asian history is helpful but by no means necessary. Previous knowledge of Art & Architectural history is helpful but by no means necessary.
EAST 417 (27106) / ANTH 414 / ANTH 575 / EAST 575
Hubs, Mobilities, and World Cities
Analysis of urban life in historical and contemporary societies. Topics include capitalist and postmodern transformations; class, gender, ethnicity, and migration; and global landscapes of power and citizenship.
EVST 030 (30300) / NELC 026 / ARCG 031
Origins of Civilization: Egypt and Mesopotamia
Areas HU, SO
The origins of the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia and Egypt along the Nile and Tigris-Euphrates Rivers explored with archaeological, historical and environmental data for the origins of agriculture, the classes and hierarchies that marked earliest cities, states and empires, the innovative monumental architecture, writing, imperial expansion, and new national ideologies. How and why these civilizational processes occurred with the momentous societal collapses at periods of abrupt climate change. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.
EVST 060 (26623)
Topics in Environmental Justice
Areas SO, WR
This seminar introduces students to key concepts in environmental justice and to a selection of cases representing a wide range of environmental dilemmas. Course readings and discussions impart awareness of the diverse contexts in which problems of environmental justice might be studied, whether historical, geographic, racial, social, economic, political, biological, geophysical, or epistemic. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.
EVST 189 (26779) / HIST 246
The History of Food
The history of food and culinary styles from prehistory to the present, with a particular focus on Europe and the United States. How societies gathered and prepared food. Changing taste preferences over time. The influence of consumers on trade, colonization, and cultural exchange. The impact of colonialism, technology, and globalization. The current food scene and its implications for health, the environment, and cultural shifts.
EVST 229 (30669) / SPAN 230 / ER&M 287 / LAST 226
Reading Environments: Nature, Culture, and Agency
Areas LA (5)
Extreme weather, proliferation of species extinctions, climate migration, and the outbreak of pandemics can all be understood as instances of koyaanisqatsi, the Hopi word for life out of balance. They may also be viewed as indications that we are living in the age of the Anthropocene, a term in the natural and social sciences that acknowledges that human activities have had a radical geological impact on the planet since the onset of the Industrial revolution. In this course we study relations between humans and other-than-humans to understand how we arrived at a life out of balance. We inquire into how binary distinctions between nature and culture are made, sustained, or questioned through a diversity of meaning-making practices in Spanish, Latin American, and indigenous literature, visual culture, and material culture. The indigenous artifacts studied include Popol Vuh, poetry, petroglyphs, and documentaries by indigenous people of the Amazon, which provide opportunities for asking pressing questions: To what extent does the nature and culture binary foreclose alternative possibilities for imagining ourselves and our relation to the world? Are there ways of perceiving our world and ourselves that bypass such binaries and if so, what are they? In the final weeks of the course, we draw from our insights to investigate where the nature/culture binary figures in present discussions of environmental catastrophes and rights of nature movements in Latin America. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite: SPAN 140 or 145, or in accordance with placement results.
EVST 255 (27003) / GLBL 282 / PLSC 215
Environmental Law and Politics
We explore relations among environmental quality, health, and law. We consider global-scale avoidable challenges such as: environmentally related human illness, climate instability, water depletion and contamination, food and agriculture, air pollution, energy, packaging, culinary globalization, and biodiversity loss. We evaluate the effectiveness of laws and regulations intended to reduce or prevent environmental and health damages. Additional laws considered include rights of secrecy, property, speech, worker protection, and freedom from discrimination. Comparisons among the US and EU legal standards and precautionary policies will also be examined. Ethical concerns of justice, equity, and transparency are prominent themes.
EVST 319 (30186) / ENV 618
Anthropology of Smallholder Agriculture in Developing Countries
The premise of this course is that small-scale agriculture, its distinctive economic character, and the ecology of its crops and soil, shape each other in important ways. The course explores this premise through ethnographies of smallholder farming in the developing world.
EVST 391 (29409) /GMAN 390 / HUMS 368 / LITR 481 / PHIL 400
Alienation, Reconciliation from Hegel to the Ecological Rift
Alienation has been explored in social, economic or environmental respects, and thinkers differ widely according to how, where, and when to identify the other of alienation, a non-alienated way of life or reconciliation. This course discusses alienation and reconciliation along these lines in Rousseau, Hegel, Marx; Simmel, Lukács, Sartre; Lefebvre, J.B. Foster, J.W. Moore and others.
EVST (26627) / ARCG 399
Agriculture: Origins, Evolution, Crises
Analysis of the societal and environmental drivers and effects of plant and animal domestication, the intensification of agroproduction, and the crises of agroproduction: land degradation, societal collapses, sociopolitical transformation, sustainability, and biodiversity.
ER&M 278 (29592) / SPAN 228 / LAST 228
Borders & Globalization in Hispanophone Cultures
Areas LA (5)
The borders that constitute the geographical divisions of the world are contingent, but they can have enormous ordering power in the lives of people and other beings. Human-made borders can both allow and disallow the flow of people and resources. Like geographical borders, social borders such as race, caste, class, and gender can form and perpetuate privileged categories of humans that restrict access of excluded persons to natural resources, education, security, and social mobility. Thus, bordering can differentially value human lives. Working with the premise that borders are sites of power, in this course we study bordering and debordering practices in the Hispanic cultures of Iberia, Latin America, and North America, from the 1490s to the present. Through analyses of a wide range of texts students will investigate the multiple ways in which social, cultural, and spatial borders are initiated, expressed, materialized, and contested. Some of the questions that will guide our conversations are: What are social borders and what are the processes through which they perdure? How do the effects of local practices that transcend borders (e.g., environmental pollution, deforestation) change our understanding of borders? How does globalization change discourse about borders? (To be conducted in Spanish.) Prerequisite: SPAN 140 or 145, or in accordance with placement results. A maximum of one course in the 200-230 range may count as an elective toward the Spanish major.
FREN 307 (27752) / LITR 302
France by Rail: Trains in French Literature, Film, and History
Areas HU, WR
Exploration of the aesthetics of trains in French and Francophone literature and culture, from the end of the nineteenth-century and the first locomotives, to the automatically driven subway in twenty-first century Paris. Focus on the role of trains in industrialization, colonization, deportation, decolonization, and immigration. Corpus includes novels, poems, plays, films, paintings, graphic novels, as well as theoretical excerpts on urban spaces and public transportation. Activities include: building a train at the CEID and visiting the Beinecke collections and the Art Gallery.
GERM 169 (29990)
Architecture, Art and Social Justice
Areas HU, LA (5)
This class introduces students to aspects of architecture as art and building design, within the context of social and environmental justice issues in the 20th and 21st centuries. Students explore the “New Settlements of Berlin Modernism,” the Bauhaus School, subsidized public housing, industrial and solar architecture in Germany, as well as examples at Yale and in New Haven. Taught in German. Prerequisite: GMAN 140 or equivalent, any L5 class, permission of the instructor.
HSHM 224 (30159) / HSAR 170 / HUMS 170
Nature and Art, or The History of Almost Everything
This global introductory course surveys the interrelation of nature and art from antiquity to the present. Throughout the semester, we consider a controversial question: is it possible to understand the history of art and science as a more-than-human story? Challenging traditional narratives of human progress, we attend to episodes of invention and destruction in equal measure. We discuss how art history is inseparable from histories of extracted resources, exploited species, environmental catastrophe, racialized and gendered understandings of the ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’, and politicized understandings of land as power. At the same time, we explore how makers across cultures approached the natural world as a locus of the divine, a source of inspiration, and the ground for both scientific inquiry and the pursuit of self-knowledge. The very notions of art and artistic creation are impossible to define without recourse to nature as both a concept and a site of lived experience. This course is open to all, including those with no prior background in art history. Sections will include visits to collections and sites across Yale campus.
This course tracks the emergence of new ways of engaging with and making meaning from the atmosphere between the 1600s and the present. To investigate the atmosphere is to attune the senses to the body’s dependence on place at local and global scales. “Atmosphere” is a concept that mediates between private and collective experiences, between scientific and artistic representations, and between local and planetary processes. We will explore the shifting significance of “atmosphere” through historical episodes including seventeenth-century matter theory, eighteenth-century medical climatology, nineteenth-century landscape painting, and twentieth-century atmospheric science. We will analyze atmospheric texts and images (including paintings in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art) using methods from history of science, art history, affect theory, and critical race, disability, and queer studies. These tools will help us understand how the impacts of climate change are compounding the historical injustices of racism and colonialism. The course will include a three-day field trip to the Gull Island Institute, located on a tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts, where students will experience being part of a sustainable, self-governing community. In partnership with Gull Island, we will explore multiple ways of knowing a place and its atmosphere, and we will reflect on the question: what does it mean to inhabit a place well? Throughout the semester, we will consider how scientific and cultural analyses can complement each other as well as the tensions between them. LEARNING GOALS: Students will gain experience using historical research to think critically about the present. They will learn to work with the methods of history of science, analyzing science as a social and material process bound to the cultural and epistemological particularities of its historical context. Analyzing primary sources will be a core part of this training. Students will also refine their observational skills by practicing atmospheric description in both an aesthetic and ethnographic vein. Finally, they will grapple with ethical problems that have become urgent in the era of anthropogenic climate change.
HSHM 464 (30336) / HUMS 382
Nature and Human Nature
Areas HU, SC
This course explores the Western conception of the human place in the natural world as it has shifted across four centuries. It features, alongside corollary readings, close study of three classic texts: Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632), Giambattista Vico’s New Science (1744), and Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859)―fundamental texts locating humans in the cosmos, in society, and in natural history, respectively. It finishes with a new work, Terrence Deacon’s Incomplete Nature (2011), an attempt to explain the emergence of mind from the natural world. No prerequisites, though the challenging nature of the materials suggests that this course will be aimed mainly at students beyond their first year.
HIST 086 (27929) / MMES 086
Omnia El Shakry
Areas HU, WR
This course explores the history of Cairo from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present. We examine various facets of modern Cairo ranging from architectural modernism to urban expressions of Christian and Muslim piety, while focusing on the principal political, cultural, and social factors that have shaped the city. Themes include political technologies; colonial modernity; artifacts and architecture; workers and students; capitalism, commodities, and consumerism; gender and sexuality; policing and surveillance; urban expansion; piety; the everyday; soundscapes; and the 2011 Uprising. We mobilize a diverse array of primary and secondary sources, novels, films, music, art, and architecture in our exploration, with an emphasis on work produced in Cairo. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.
HIST 156J (26738)
Capitalism, Labor, and Class Politics in Modern U.S.
Areas HU, WR
History of American capitalism from the mid-19th century through the 21st century. This course examines different modes of capitalist accumulation and creation of landscapes, territories, boundaries. Readings address how regionalism, race, and class power shaped the development of American capitalism. We consider the continuum of free and coerced labor well after the end of slavery in the U.S. We read about indigenous communities, the environment, energy politics, and on-going struggles with the state. This mix of labor history, social theory, intellectual history, business history, social history, and geography also impel us to imagine the workings of American capitalism beyond the borders of the nation—to think about how capitalists and workers move through space and reshape space; the exchange of workers, ideas, technologies, and resources across national, imperial, and oceanic boundaries.
HIST 307 (30307) / EAST 301
The Making of Japan’s Great Peace, 1550–1850
Examination of how, after centuries of war in Japan and overseas, the Tokugawa shogunate built a peace that lasted more than 200 years. Japan’s urban revolution, the eradication of Christianity, the Japanese discovery of Europe, and the question of whether Tokugawa Japan is a rare example of a complex and populous society that achieved ecological sustainability.
HIST 328J (26756)
History of Indonesia
Areas HU, WR
As a diverse archipelago of more than 10,000 islands in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has a rich and diverse history with different languages, religions as well as rich flora and fauna. We explore the history of Indonesia from its earliest beginnings to the recent times through themes such as religion, environmental history, colonialism, revolution, Cold War, and democracy.
HIST 405 (29247) / ENV 628
How to Ruin the World: Global Environmental History Since 1500
How did we get to this point of accelerating global environmental crisis? This lecture class provides a long historical perspective, and a global one, on the roots of our predicament. The class aims to introduce students to the field of environmental history, emphasizing the value of a global and comparative perspective. Beginning around 1500, the class makes connections between the violent conquest of the Americas and the state of China’s forests, and between the trading networks of the Indian Ocean and the transformation of Europe’s demography. The class examines the transformative impact of fossil fuels in the nineteenth century, alongside widening global inequality. Moving into the twentieth century, we explore the push and pull between growing environmental consciousness and accelerating environmental harm. What was the relationship between decolonization and environmental awareness? How have environmental movements around the world learned from and been inspired by one another? Why, despite an upsurge of activism, has there been so little political will to confront climate change? A central question motivating the class is: what can a complex understanding of history bring to urgent debates about environmental justice?
HIST 420J (27467) / URBN 370
Urban Laboratories: Early Modern Citymaking
Areas HU, WR
This interdisciplinary seminar explores the diverse forms of urbanism that emerged in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia before the modern era. Course readings probe the ideas of writers, travellers, politicians, and social reformers on topics including commerce, migration, policing, citizenship, and sexuality. The aspirations and setbacks that emerge from these sources offer a long timescale of evidence of the different ways in which urban societies operated and structured day-to-day life. At the end of term, we look at urban environments of our time. In doing so we articulate comparative perspectives, identifying how today’s cities have mirrored, advanced, and built upon the actions, designs, and errors that early modern cities gave rise to.
ITAL 204 (30008)
The Making of Italian Urban Landscape: From the ‘borgo medievale’ to the ‘città ideale’
Areas HU, LA (5)
What is a city? What a city can tell us about human life? How can we position ourselves in a city? How can cities bridge social, political, cultural differences to become more inclusive? How our perception of the urban landscape has changed during the centuries? This course explores the changing of Italian urban landscape from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance from a multidisciplinary and comparative perspective, from art to economics, from literature to urban design. We go through some discourses and representations of the city; maps, views, travel and narrative literature, tourist guides, films. These sources provide different ways to tell of the experience of the Italian urban environment, the evolutions of Italian towns, the changes in size and organization, the emergence of new spaces and new functions, as well as of new challenges (public health, demographic crisis, destructions, sacks, etc.). By considering the city as both a a physical and conceptual space, we eventually relate the material covered in class with the world outside: What is an ideal city? What is an invisible city? What is our relationship with real cities? Taught in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL 140 or equivalent.
LAST 371 (26952) / SPAN 371
Science and Fiction in Spanish American Narrative
Areas HU, LA (5)
A study of the speculative incorporation of scientific ideas and themes in contemporary Spanish American fiction from Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Peru. Readings and discussions of early and mid-20th-century precursors, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Leopoldo Lugones, Pablo Palacio, and Clemente Palma; of late-20th to early 21rst-century examples of “technowriting” in Samantha Schweblin, Jorge Volpi, and Alejandro Zambra, and of utopias, dystopias and possible futures in Jorge Adolph, Jorge Baradit, Hugo Correa, Angélica Gorodischer, Francisco Ortega, Yoss, Yuri Herrera, and Carlos Yushimito. Related themes include: post-humanism, ecofiction, and sociopolitical satire. Course is taught in Spanish. Prerequisite: L4 Spanish or higher.
RLST 179 (29602)
Writing Religious Studies: Narrative and Ecological Crisis
Areas HU, WR
Many writers and scholars have characterized climate change as a crisis of story and narrative. Some emphasize that narrative offers a way of understanding the problems of ecological crisis—including its causes, the ways it escapes comprehension, and widespread denialism and apathy. Others advocate storytelling as a possible route forward, into better relations between humans and the world(s) they inhabit. This writing-intensive seminar introduces students to major themes in religion and ecology through conversations about the narrative dimensions of ecological crisis. Students learn to evaluate the stakes of these conversations and advance their own claims in relation to them. How have the stories we tell about ourselves and others shaped the world? What are the critical problems and possibilities of understanding ecological crisis in relation to narrative?
This class presents an in-depth examination of how modern societies are entangled with the energy systems that have fueled their own potential demise. Recognizing the current ecological crisis as the main challenge of our times, the class invites students to reflect on how culture, ideas, and narratives shape our relationship with the earth. Contrary to the common perception of energy as a passive resource that is “just there” for the taking, the course posits it as dependent on narratives, labor practices, and political projects that constitute nature as the “raw matter” of modernity. Such narratives and practices often remain hidden, subtly influencing our trajectory in manners that evade daily recognition. Therefore, one of the primary objectives of this class is to unveil the often invisible systems of energy that dominate modern life. For this reason, our sessions will delve into how artists and thinkers have sought to imagine sustainable futures by exposing the impacts of energy’s covert yet extensive presence. Focusing on the history and cultural production of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the course is deeply informed by the histories of colonialism, imperialism, and resistance across Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Latinx world. We will start by analyzing the roots of the current climate crisis through the lens of oil capitalism, reflecting on the problem of how to “read” the pervasive influence of petroleum on modern societies. Our focus will then shift to the politics and cultural representations of oil in Venezuela—Latin America’s largest oil producer and an early “petro-state” in the region—, from the beginnings of oil extraction in the early twentieth century to the contemporary nostalgia for the golden era of the 1970s and 80s oil booms. We will also address the cultural politics of petroleum extraction in the Ecuadorian Amazon and current struggles over fuel accessibility through Mexican “petrocinema.” The second half of the course delves deeper into other energy regimes, including the political ecology of hydroelectric dams, the imaginaries of the Nuclear Age, struggles over energy justice in Puerto Rico, and conflicts concerning lithium (used in electric car batteries) in the Chilean deserts. Finally, the last section explores the promises and pitfalls of wind and solar energies, as we collectively attempt to envision alternative worlds and more sustainable ways of relating to the earth. All readings and assignments will be in Spanish. Instructor permission required to register.