Fall 2008, Spring 2013
ARHA365: Photography and Representation
Photography has given rise to theoretical and critical reflections since its emergence in the 19th century. This seminar will examine some of the theoretical problems posed by photographic practice (in aesthetics, history, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language) and the photographic problems that have been posed by modern theory (in genres as diverse as the snapshot, portraits, and forensic photography). Some of the themes to be explored include photography's relation to problems concerning memory, identity, sexuality, realism, fantasy, and politics.The goal of the course is to enable students to think more clearly about how photographic images tell the truth, how they lie, how they inspire, and how they generally affect thinking and feeling.
HIST351: Topics in the Philosophy of History
This research seminar will examine topics at the intersection of intellectual history and the theory of history. Areas of inquiry to include: history and memory; trauma and history; psychoanalysis and critical theory; postmodern critique of history; photography, film and historical representation. Students can write either 3 short papers or a longer paper.
Fall 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, Spring 2014
HIST214: The Modern and the Postmodern
In this course we shall examine how the idea of "the modern" develops at the end of the 18th century, and how being modern (or progressive, or hip) became one of the crucial criteria for understanding and evaluating cultural change during the last two hundred years. Our readings shall be drawn from a variety of areas philosophy, the novel, music, painting, and photography and we shall be concerned with the relations between culture and historical change. Finally, we shall try to determine what it means to be modern today, and whether it makes sense to go beyond the modern to the postmodern.
Spring 2008*, 2009*, 2010*, 2011*, 2012*, Fall 2013, 2014
This course examines how films represent the past and how they can help us understand crucial questions in the philosophy of history. We begin with three weeks on documentary cinema. How do documentary films achieve "the reality effect"? How has contemporary documentary's use of reenactment changed our expectations of nonfiction film? Much of the course is devoted to classic narrative films that help us critically engage questions about the depiction of the past. We think about those films in relation to texts in this history of philosophy and contemporary film theory.
*Course title was FILM160: The Past on Film