Graduate Courses: Academic Year 2020-2021


Course Title: Argument, Rhetoric, and Persuasion in Ancient China and Greece
Prof. Lisa Raphals
T 2:00-4:50pm

This seminar uses primary and secondary texts to examine structures and techniques of argument, persuasion, and rhetoric in early Chinese and Greek texts from a comparative perspective. It surveys key Chinese and Greek texts that address questions of how argument and persuasion are conducted, including key passages from Plato (Gorgias, Phaedrus, Republic, Symposium), Aristotle (Rhetoric, Poetics) and key readings from the Mencius, Zhuangzi, Sunzi’s Art of War, Xunzi and Han Feizi. Key scholarship considers such topics as the “anthropological” reading of classical texts, linguistic relativism, the role of deception, accounts of techniques of psychological persuasion, and perspectives on metaphor.

Course Title: What is an “I”?
Prof. John N. Kim
W 5:00-7:50pm

This seminar is focused on one question over ten weeks of the Spring Quarter, “What is an ‘I’?” Beginning with essays by the structural linguist Émile Benveniste, this seminar examines the afterlife of a central conceptual distinction between the “subject of enunciation” and the “subject of the enunciated [énoncé;  utterance, statement]” attributed to Benveniste but appearing nowhere in his published writings. What began as a crucial distinction between a subject making a statement (énonciation) and the subject posited within a statement (énoncé) has subsequently informed developments in literary theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and cultural analysis in general. This seminar traces this development, in both its explicit and implicit forms, first by re-examining the status of the “I” in three key texts in the history of philosophy (Descartes, Kant, Hegel) and then by turning to contemporary works in critical theory (Agamben, Butler, da Silva, de Man, Esposito, Levinas, Schmitt) as well as literary works by Tawada Yōko. It pursues the proposition that whatever the “I” is or maybe, it is somehow theological, or a fictive force with all of the violence of what Lacan calls “the real.”

Prof. Jonathan Hall
M 5:00-7:50pm

The last twenty years have yielded a vast field of scholarly writing about Asian visual culture. Harvesting the cream of this uneven crop, we probe what post-structuralist and Marxist theories have had to offer “visual Asia.” We trace what new theoretical paradigms have emerged in conversation with Asian popular and high-art visual culture. And we contemplate newly material and hybrid forms of critical thought. Engaging with film, photography, and installation art from Asia (especially East and Southeast Asia) in addition to literary and critical texts, the course follows these fields: post-colonial visual theory, vernacular modernism, performance, and the archive, global psychoanalysis, feminist criticism, queer Asia, and strategic geopolitics of the visual. Critics and visual artists are paired carefully week-by-week and include Malek Alloula, Ariella Azoulay, Roland Barthes, Bi Gan, Arnika Fuhrmann, Stuart Hall, Miriam Hansen, Ann Hui, Amir Muhammad, Isaac Julien, Gina Kim, Soyoung Kim, Homay King, Latipa, Bliss Cua Lim, Eng-Beng Lim, Lim & Lam, Markus Nornes, Jacques Rancière, Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano, Danh Vo, Wang Bing, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Zhao Liang.

FALL 2020

Prof. Anthonia Kalu​

This course examines selected central works from contemporary written African literature. Assigned works are written originally in English or translated from African or other European languages into English. We shall examine how African literature portrays colonialism, post-colonialism and independence, and how those representations inform, enable or disrupt general understandings of questions about space, gender, individual, and communal consciousness, development and national identities in contemporary Africa. We will also explore how African writers from the different regions engage each other on the relevance of space, territory, gender and identity as relevant issues for understanding the cultures, histories and politics of individual nations and the continent.

Prof. Yenna Wu

CPLT 277 in Fall 2020 will focus entirely on the study of selected works of Chinese and Taiwanese fiction and film. Both premodern and modern Chinese fiction will be included. Topics to be discussed may include aesthetics, gender, nationalism, human rights, and others. Some specific texts will be read and studied in the Chinese original.

Course title: Architecture, Space & Modernity
Prof. Heidi Brevik Zender

Discourses of modernity since the nineteenth century have been concerned with issues of spatiality and questions that include: where does modernity occur?  how do urban space and the built environment define the modern? how do humans and other bodies operate in, through, and outside of these spaces? This seminar will examine architecture and space broadly conceived, from their work as literary metaphors to the representations of physical locations of modernity, their functions, and their symbolic meanings in texts and films. Critical texts will be studied alongside works of fiction and film.