Second Year

Second Year Courses:

AH 2200 E / Theory and History Across the Arts and Humanities

Fall 2017 Instructor: Professor Mary Helen McMurran (English) Fall term syllabus
Winter 2018 Instructor: Professor Joel Faflak (English) Winter term syllabus

Why are theory and history essential to the study of the Arts and Humanities, and why do they remain vital to the study of culture in an increasingly complex global situation? This course surveys contemporary theories and historical approaches that inform research in the Arts and Humanities: Classical Studies, English, Film, French, Linguistics, Modern Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Visual Arts, Writing, and Women’s Studies. We will examine how theoretical and historical approaches intersect across fields, as well as how specific fields deploy theory and history to different ends when interpreting texts, objects, and contexts. What differences and similarities govern research in diverse historical situations: classical studies, medieval studies, early modern studies, eighteenth-, nineteenth-, or twentieth-century studies? Can the same theoretical approaches be used from one period to the next? To answer these questions, the course will also explore how debates about the significance of theory and history have shaped knowledge and research both within and across disciplines. Aside from the various disciplines and historical moments listed above, students will be introduced to an array of theoretical schools and approaches that inform study in the Arts and Humanities: Cognitive Studies, Cultural Studies, Feminism, Film Theory, Marxist and post-Marxist Studies, Museum Studies, New Historicism, Philology, Postcolonialism, Poststructuralism, Psychoanalysis, Psycholinguistics, Queer Studies, Structuralism, Theatre Studies, Visual Theory.

To navigate this rich and diverse field, the course is structured as a selective but representative series of class modules. Each module will target a specific area of historical study, or cluster of historical interests, and examine theoretical approaches that inform research in this area. Each module will reflect the teaching and research interests of Fellows teaching in the School. Through both course- and self-directed study, students will be encouraged to transport the historical and theoretical concerns of their home department and degree and to undertake assignments that address how theory and the study of history impact knowledge and events beyond the classroom. 

Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E 3 hours/week, 1.0 course 

AH 2220 F/G – Effective Communication in the Arts and Humanities

Fall 2017 Instructor:  Professor Michael Fox (English and Writing Studies) course syllabus

General description: This course examines the critical forms and strategies of writing and speaking in the Arts and Humanities by studying the principles and practices of rhetoric, argumentation, stylistic clarity, editing/rewriting, with an eye to students’ professional as well as academic development. 

Detailed description: If communication can be said to have laws, then the first law, without which we cannot communicate, is that effective communication must have a purpose. Crafting effective communication requires a knowledge of audience and the simultaneous awareness of what detracts from that purpose (what might be called minimizing “interference”) and what reinforces that purpose (what some might call “effective redundancy”). Communication in the arts and humanities is not significantly different from communication in any other discipline: good communication skills are vital for things like research and leadership. Further, however, the tools of an effective communicator are in fact prior to expression. We need to be able to think logically in order to communicate effectively. This course will, therefore, address logic and rhetoric together, demonstrating how modern attitudes toward professional communication are indebted to tradition and break from it, how understanding Aristotle helps corporate communication, and how being able to recognize rhetorical figures is vital to being an effective public speaker. In other words, using cases appropriate to the arts and humanities, students will learn to think, write, and speak more effectively. 

Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E 3 lecture hours, 1.0 course

 AH 2230 F/G - Digital Tools, Digital Literacies

Winter 2018 Instructor: Professor Mark McDayter (English and Writing Studies) course syllabus

General description: This course examines the evolution of information systems and the impact of digital technologies on research in the Arts and Humanities through a hands-on examination of databases, search engines, and online archives; text mining and analysis tools; visualization, bibliography and citation software; social media, blogging, and website design and creation.

Detailed description: The advent of new technologies and online resources has revolutionized how scholars conduct and communicate research. The sheer amount of information increases exponentially each year, while new tools emerge to access, search, sift, analyze, and communicate this data. How can we best find useful research information, and how do we distinguish “information” from “data”? What kind of analysis can digital tools provide, and what can they not do? How is research communicated in a world still split between traditional print methodologies and novel digital communications tools? How can we best employ research information and the technology that enables it? How can we ensure it is not controlling us? 

This course examines information systems and technologies past and present. It pays particular attention to digital tools that facilitate research, within the context of a historical understanding of how information systems have evolved, and their impact upon our understanding. The course’s main focus is a hands-on examination of databases, search engines, online archives, text mining and analysis tools; visualization, bibliography and citation software; social media, blogging, and web site creation and design. Students are encouraged to consider the implications of “the digital turn”: What is inside the literal and metaphorical “black boxes” that house and circulate our cultural knowledge, and how do circuit and code, hardware and software, impact how we learn, think, and communicate? 

Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E 3 lecture hours, 1.0 course