FALL 2016

Sector IV - Humanities & Social Sciences

  • Cultural Heritage, Politics and War in the Middle East

    Salam Al Kuntar, Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

    Political upheaval in the Middle East has brought cultural heritage studies to the forefront. From playing a role in the making of national identity and economy of Middle Eastern countries to falling prey to armed conflicts, cultural heritage remains an important element of the political and social scene. This seminar will examine the relatedness of cultural heritage to questions of identity and politics in the Middle East, and the impact of recent wars on such heritage.

    The seminar will start by outlining the ancient and modern history of the Middle East, and reviewing the production of
    cultural heritage and its contemporary management in several Middle Eastern countries. It will then proceed to discuss the following major topics:

    1) Cultural diversity of modern Middle Eastern societies, the perception of cultural heritage in these societies, and the survival of long-living historical places, old traditions, and material culture of all kinds.

    2) The influence of ancient cultures on common fixation and beliefs of modern identity in Middle Eastern societies (e.g., particular ethnic and religious group see themselves as direct descendents of one or a number of ancient groups such as Phoenicians, Israelites, Assyrians).

    3) The use of archeological and historical data to create narratives of the past that promote specific political ideologies in the modern Middle East and, in some cases, fabricate novel cultural and political realities.

    4) The damage done to Cultural Heritage by recent wars in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and (i) how these wars are/were the makers of a new time that disrupted the living past through the destruction of cultural landscapes; and (ii) the involvement of cultural heritage institutions and archaeologists in rescuing cultural heritage in the event of war.

    Cross-Cultural Analysis
    ANTH 055 401   NELC 033 401    
    Tuesday and Thursday | 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Architecture in the Anthropocene

    Daniel Barber, Assistant Professor of Architecture

    This course will use architecture and the built environmental as a lens to investigate the emerging field of the environmental humanities. Our goal will be to analyze and understand these new intellectual frameworks in order to consider the relationship between global environmental challenges and the process of constructing the built environment. As such, we will oscillate between social and political theory, environmental history, and architectural history and theory. Issues of importance will include: theories of risk, the role of nature in political conflicts; images, design and environmental communication; and the relationship between speculative design and other narratives of the future. These conceptual frameworks will be read alongside examples of related creative projects in art, literature, and architecture, and will be amplified through presentations and discussions with studio faculty and other visitors to the course.

    ARCH 111 301      
    Monday and Wednesday | 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

  • Hipster Philosophy from Marx to Zizek

    Ian Fleishman, Assistant Professor of German

    From Wes Anderson to Williamsburg, hipster culture is everywhere. And yet the very notion of the hipster remains notoriously difficult to define—whether we perceive this cultural phenomenon as the waste product of the postmodern, as a new form of consumerism, as a peculiar attitude toward irony and authenticity, as scenester posturing or as just plain cool. This course addresses such tensions through an examination of the intellectual history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Each week pairs philosophical and theoretical readings with an artifact of hipster culture: reading Instagram beside Walter Benjamin, ironic facial hair with Friedrich Nietzsche, Facebook through the lens of Georg Lukács and indie music alongside Theodor Adorno. No previous knowledge or skinny jeans required.

    GRMN 031 401   COML 032 401    
    Tuesday | 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Human Nature and History

    Michael Zuckerman, Emeritus Professor of History

    In this seminar, we will take up the topic of human nature as a gambit for establishing common ground and stimulating a deeper intellectual community among incoming University Scholars. Or perhaps we will work the other way round. Perhaps we will draw upon that deeper community as a way of enriching our conversation as we take up the perennially challenging topic of human nature. Either way, we will engage in a wide-ranging reconnaissance of major theories on the topic. We will examine conceptions of humankind drawn from such disciplines as economics, psychology, religion, literature, linguistics, anthropology, and philosophy. Lurking behind all of our endeavor will be questions of time and place, questions, if you will, of history; is human nature best understood as constant or contingent, stable or changeful with time and circumstance? We should have a lot of fun. (Open only to first year students in the University Scholars Program.)

    HIST 104 301      
    Wednesday | 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Languange: East meets West

    Alison Biggs, Senior Lecturer in Linguistics

    Knowledge of language is an extraordinarily complex object of study. What is the relationship between language and mind? Is language a social or individual phenomenon? Is linguistic structure shaped by nature or by convention? Are there limits to linguistic variation? This course explores how eastern and western traditions have approached these questions. Topics include the influence of different writing systems on grammatical traditions; linguistic diversity and language change in China and Europe, and the role of socio-historical context in its characterization; the development of linguistics as a science; the social role of language; language as a political tool, and its sensitivity to the political landscape; treatment of linguistic disorders; and the relationship between language and mind.

    LING 056 301      
    Tuesday and Thursday | 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

  • Music in Urban Places

    Molly McGlone, Assistant Dean for Advising

    Music in Urban Spaces explores the ways in which individuals use music in their everyday lives and how music is used to construct larger social and economic networks that we call culture. We will read musicologists, cultural theorists, urban geographers, sociologists and educators who work to define urban space and the role of music and sound in urban environments, including through music education. While the readings make up our study of the sociology of urban space and the way we use music in everyday life to inform our conversations and the questions we ask, it is within the context of our personal experiences working with music programs at West Philadelphia High School or Henry C Lea Elementary, both inner city neighborhood schools serving economically disadvantaged students, that we will begin to formulate our theories of the contested musical micro-cultures of West Philadelphia. This course is over two-semesters where students register for .5cus each term (for a total of 1cu over the entire academic year) and is tied to the Music and Social Change Residential Program in Fisher Hassenfeld (http://fh.house.upenn.edu/musicandsocialchange) where most class participants live together. All participants volunteer in music classrooms for 3 hours per week, are expected to go to at least two concerts in the community during the year, attend the seminar weekly and complete all assignments.

    Cultural Diversity in the U.S.
    MUSC 018 401   URBS 018 402    
    Friday | 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • Mideast Thru Many Lenses

    Heather Sharkey, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

    This freshman seminar introduces the contemporary Middle East by drawing upon cutting-edge studies written from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. These include history, political science, and anthropology, as well as studies of mass media, sexuality, religion, urban life, and the environment. We will spend the first few weeks of the semester surveying major trends in modern Middle Eastern history. We will spend subsequent weeks intensively discussing assigned readings along with documentary films that we will watch in class. The semester will leave students with both a foundation in Middle Eastern studies and a sense of current directions in the field.

    Cross-Cultural Analysis
    NELC 036 401   CIMS 401    
    Tuesday | 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Beyond Biology--Enhancing the Human Mind through Technology

    Gary Purpura, Assistant Dean for Academic Advising

    Transhumanists seek to extend the capacities of the human mind beyond the bounds of the human brain and body through technology. Indeed, for them, such an extension of human thinking and feeling represents the next big step in human cognitive evolution. In this course, we will examine the philosophical conception of a mind that underpins this movement to extend the human mind beyond human biology. Through an examination of the hypothesis that there can be non-biological thinking and feeling, we consider whether technologies that enable or enhance human mental faculties might one day completely supplant the biological machinery of the human body. We will also consider the moral issues surrounding the creation of transhumans. The questions that we consider in this course will get to the heart of what it means to possess a human mind and indeed to be a human being.

    PHIL 032 301      
    Monday and Wednesday | 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Globalization

    Edward Mansfield, Professor of Political Science

    This course addresses the political economy of globalization. We will discuss what the term globalization means and why many observers argue that the current era is marked by globalization. We will also examine the factors that have contributed to the emergence of globalization. We will consider its political and economic implications, both the benefits of globalization and the challenges that it poses for contemporary society. Finally, we will analyze the sources of resistance to globalization and the extent to which it can be reformed.

    PSCI 010 301      
    Tuesday | 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.