Courses

Spring 2021

Anat Schechtman
Phil 835: Infinity in Early Modern Philosophy
Monday 1:15-3:15pm

The notion of infinity was central to many scientific and mathematical developments in the 17th century (e.g., infinitesimals). This seminar will investigate two very different approaches to infinity in the period. Empirically-minded thinkers, such as Newton and Locke, viewed infinity as applicable to quantities, such as space, time, and number. Descartes and Leibniz, by contrast, recognized various other, non-quantitative types of infinity. To understand these approaches and how they differ, we’ll look at debates over quantity (e.g., space and time) and quality (e.g., color), the nature of change, and the metaphysics of substance. In addition to the aforementioned figures, we will look at relevant writings of some of their important predecessors (e.g., Aquinas and Scotus) and contemporaries (e.g., Anne Conway and Spinoza). We will also read recent scholarship, and will consider how debates about infinity in early modern philosophy might bear on contemporary work on infinity at the intersection of
philosophy, math, and science.

 

Prof. E. Bearden
Engl.804: Title: “The Global Renaissance”
Meeting time TBA

This course concentrates on global cultural crosscurrents that contributed to literary production in the period of cultural flowering in Western Europe referred to as the Renaissance. Though English literature will provide the core of the readings, the approach is comparative, and In this regard, the course is appropriate for students working in areas other than English literature and for anyone who is interested in the history of global exchange. As indicated by Jyotsna Singh, the Global Renaissance “explores both the formation of. . .  conceptions of the “global” and the impact of global economic, cultural, religious, and political developments on [European] society and culture during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.” Social materialist, anthropological, and comparative approaches will be useful models for thinking about the global Renaissance. Adding to this current framework, we will explore how more corporeally-based insights from gender and sexuality, critical race, and  disability studies might also help to trace aesthetic and political valences of early modern global literary production as well. The course will include formative Humanist authors such as Petrarch and Erasmus, canonical English authors such as Shakespeare and Marlowe, as well as a wide selection of travel narratives, plays,  and poetry by authors that may be new to class members. The course will certainly include transatlantic and Euro-Levantine exchange, but some of the course readings can be adjusted to the geographical areas of interest of class participants as well, assuming they are within the period under study. Oral presentations (depending on Covid mode of instruction), reading responses, and a 15-20 page research paper will be required.

 

Steven Hutchinson
Spanish 435:  Don Quixote.

MW 2:30-3:45 

In-depth reading of Cervantes’ masterpiece, about which Dostoevsky had this to say: ‎“There is nothing in the world more profound ‎or powerful than this work. This is the ultimate ‎and greatest word that human thought has yet ‎produced, it is the bitter irony expressible by ‎man, and if the world were to end and someone ‎were to ask there, somewhere, ‘Well, did you ‎understand your life on earth? What ‎conclusions did you reach about it?’ one could ‎silently point to Don Quixote.”‎

 

Mercedes Alcalá Galán
Spanish 852: Sex and Gender in Early Modern Spain.
Monday 4-6 pm

Taking into consideration the markedly visual character of early modern culture, this course explores the diverse notions of gender in texts and artistic works in the 16th and 17th centuries. Special emphasis will be given to the notions of the body and gender in medical, scientific, legal and religious discourse. We will also examine representations of women in literature and art.

 

Lee Palmer Wandell
History 710: Designing Courses
T 1:20-3:15 

This is a workshop in designing courses: thematic and chronological, lectures and seminars, for all levels of students.  Each participant will design one course of their choosing, to be taught in-person, blended, or fully online from a platform we shall be discussing.  In our weekly meetings, we begin with the changing landscape of course design itself, the need to design courses that can be changed at any point in a given semester.  We shall also be talking about conceptualizing the whole, the parts, and how one builds connections over a single term of study.  In our discussion of lecture courses, we shall consider the architecture of each lecture as it fits into the larger architecture of the course, as well as how to build into each lecture differing levels and kinds of access for a diverse student body.  In our discussion of building a seminar, we shall explore various ways of bringing students into weekly conversations – how to build into the structure of the course student engagement with the material.  For all courses, we shall be exploring ways of fostering student participation in what may well be a virtual classroom.

 

French 391, “French for Reading Knowledge”: Spring 2021
Professor Anne Vila (acvila@wisc.edu)
TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15 PM

  • Modality: remote synchronous
  • Required textbook: French for Reading 0133316033 Sandberg and Tatham PRENTICE HALL 1997
  • Recommended: Collins Robert French Unabridged Dictionary 0061338176 2007
Overview of Course Goals and Structure

The goal of this course is to give students with no previous knowledge of French the ability to read texts that are necessary or useful for their research. The fundamental elements of French grammar are given over the course of the semester. Basic exercises focus on translation from French to English. A good deal of memorization will be required, but students will generally not be expected to reproduce forms in French, just to recognize them. French pronunciation will NOT be studied extensively, and students will NOT learn to speak French or to understand spoken French, just to read texts written in French.

No previous knowledge of French is required; those who have studied some French but cannot yet read texts in their field of research are welcome to take the course. French 391 can be taken by graduate students in many departments as a means of fulfilling a foreign language reading requirement (please consult your particular department regarding its particular policies).

There will be closed-book exams about every 3 weeks or so, and at-home translations to hand in. The course requires very regular attendance and systematically keeping up with the material. For their final work, students will have a choice between taking a final exam and doing a “capstone” translation project.

During the first half of the semester, our reading/translation exercises will be based largely upon the passages provided in the French for Reading textbook, which represent a range of fields in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. As the semester progresses, students will have the opportunity to concentrate individually on texts pertinent to their particular discipline.

 

Florence Hsia & Robin Rider
Hist Sci 623: Studies in Early Modern Science
W 3:30–4:25 PM (online)

A discussion section for graduate students enrolled in Hist Sci or Hist 323 (Scientific Revolution), with graduate-level readings and a writing requirement tailored to specific interests and needs (in lieu of graded assignments in Hist Sci/Hist 323). Students taking this course will gain familiarity with major trends in recent literature on the history of early modern science, understand significant concepts and interventions raised, and develop their own perspectives on relevant interpretative and methodological issues.

 

Florence Hsia & Robin Rider
Hist Sci/Hist 323: The Scientific Revolution
TBD (online)

This course explores the renaissance and revolution in European science, beginning in 1543 with the heliocentric astronomy of Nicolaus Copernicus and ending with Isaac Newton’s death in 1727. It pays particular attention to issues of tradition and novelty in natural knowledge, institutional settings for scientific activity, the multifaceted relationship between science and religion, as well as manuscript traditions and the transition to print. Topics covered include the Copernican cosmology and Galileo’s trial, experimentation, the mechanical philosophy, Newtonianism, the significance of new scientific organizations like the Royal Society of London and the Paris Academy of Sciences, the role of science in European exploration and expansion,  public perceptions of science and its practitioners, science and print culture, and scientific writing and communication. Grad students should enroll concurrently in Hist Sci 623.