Fall 2024 

Undergraduate Courses

Note: * indicates the course is open to undergraduates and graduate students

African American Studies

Professor Christy Clark-Pujara
*African American Studies 671: “Slavery and Capitalism in the United States”
T 2:25-5:25, Helen C. White 7111
American slavery and American capitalism developed in tandem; the two systems were interdependent. Yet, only recently have scholars (economists and historians) at mainstream institutions begun studying the many intersections of slavery and capitalism in the Americas, despite the pioneering work of Black scholars like Eric Williams who wrote Slavery and Capitalism in 1944. Until the 1990s many mainstream historians and economists at predominantly white institutions continued to write and teach slavery as pre-capitalist, situating modern capitalism with free labor and as an oppositional system to race-based slaveholding. Throughout the semester we will read and discuss the intersections of slavery of modern capitalism and explore the following questions: How did capitalism affect slavery and how did slavery affect capitalism in the British North American colonies and the United States of America? How did the growth and dominance of capitalism as an economic system affect slavery as an institution and the experiences of enslaved people? How did the labor of enslaved people affect the development and growth of wage labor? Slavery and capitalism have only recently been studied as interdependent systems, why?

Art History

Professor Yuhang Li
*Art History 411/Art History 776: Beijing: Staging Royalty in Late Imperial China
TR 5:00-6:15 pm, Elvehjem L150
The city of Beijing is incomparably rich in art and architecture from the last two imperial dynasties, the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).  This course explores both permeant and temporary art forms produced by the imperial workshops, such as the palaces, gardens, temples, theaters, objects, and temporal sites for festivals. These diverse and unprecedented works of art and architecture represent royal, political, ritual, and religious authority.  Within Beijing and the Forbidden City, we see the intersection of various forms of time, including cosmological time, dynastic time, calendrical time, and the personal time of emperors and empress dowagers.  By examining the above art objects and spaces, we will explore the confluence of different forms of time and space in relation to the political configurations that made and remade Beijing.

French and Italian

Professor Kristin Phillips Court
Italian 365/Political Science 365/Lit Trans 265: Machiavelli and His World
TR 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM, 1800 Engineering Hall
Introduces students to the major works of Machiavelli through the close reading of his writings in cultural and historical contexts. Discussion and targeted writing assignments will aim at cultivating in students 1) a broad understanding of Machiavelli’s principal intellectual attitudes, 2) a deeper understanding of his literary sensibility, and 3) the ability to articulate controversies and complexities surrounding his thought.


Professor Lee Palmer Wandel
History 119: Europe and the World, 1400-1815.
TR 9:30-10:45 a.m. 1641 Humanities
This course is an introduction to the cultural, intellectual, social, political, and economic changes in Europe between 1400 and 1815.  We shall explore changes in the understanding of the human person—both body and mind—and of the universe; the repercussions of a global economy for different groups in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia; the articulation of new forms of political power and economic organization; and the emergence of the modern sense of self.

Professor Marcella Hayes
History/LACIS 243: “Colonial Latin America: Invasion to Independence”
MW 2:30 PM to 3:45 PM, 1221 Mosse Humanities Building
This course is an undergraduate-level introductory survey of colonial Latin American history, from the late fifteenth to the early nineteenth century. We will examine developments in Spanish and Portuguese America by reading both secondary and primary sources. We will begin with fifteenth-century Europe, the Americas and West Africa. and its expansion, encounters between the so-called Old and New Worlds, the role of religion, sexuality, gender, labor and production, trade and exchange, and politics. Each week, we will focus on a central question that addresses the topic for the week. Students will become familiar with and contextualize key processes and events in colonial Latin American history and learn about the nature of colonization. They will learn to identify and evaluate historical arguments. They will practice interpreting primary sources and building historical arguments about them.


Professor Steven Nadler
Philosophy 432: “History of Modern Philosophy”
MWF 9:55 AM – 10:45 AM, 1651 Mosse Humanities Building
In this course we will read a selection of philosophical works from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This was a crucial period for the early development of modern philosophy (which, at the time, included what we now consider “science”). The philosophers we will study will be drawn from among René Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, George Berkeley, David Hume and Immanuel Kant. We will cover topics in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical theology, and moral and political philosophy.

Political Science

Professor Michelle Schwarze
Political Science 461: Interdisciplinary Seminar in Political Economy, Philosophy, & Politics
TR 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM, 474 Van Hise Hall
Note: this is the capstone seminar for the PEPP certificate program.
This course explores normative arguments for and against economic inequality from the early development of commercial society in the 17th and 18th centuries through the industrial revolution and into the postwar period in the 20th century. We will read selections from Locke, Smith, Rousseau, Marx, Mill, Rawls, and Nozick, among others, and focus on topics like property, the division of labor, cooperative ownership, poverty, and distributive justice.


Graduate Courses


Professor Elizabeth Bearden
English 804: Discourses of Disability
R 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM, 7105 Helen C. White Hall
This comparative course centers on concepts of disability from antiquity to the Renaissance in a global context. Literary theory, philosophy, and history will help us frame our thinking about how disability is produced. Along with considering how canonical disability studies  primary texts  such as Shakespeare’s Richard III or Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy represent physical and mental disability, we will investigate the generic, social, and spatial contexts from which these representations arise. Disability and Crip Theory perspectives from fundamental scholars such as Tobin Siebers, Robert McRuer, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Ellen Samuels, and Allison Kafer will help guide our theoretical explorations. The reading for this advanced, comparative course will be plentiful and challenging. A willingness to work hard and an openness to new ways of thinking are required. That said, the student need not have prior exposure to premodern literature or disability studies; students with a variety of concentrations are welcome and from departments other than English.

French and Italian

Professor Jan Miernowski
French 947: Seminar on French literary and intellectual history, “The Nature of History and the History of Nature: premodernity, modernity, nonmodernity”(texts in French, discussion can be in English or French)
T 2:30-4:30, 159 Van Hise Hall
This seminar will explore the mutual relationship between the concept of Nature and the concept of History in premodernity (Pierre de Ronsard); modernity (Michel de Montaigne and Albert Camus); and nonmodernity (Bruno Latour). The leading research question is: to what extent are Nature and History irreconcilable and to what extent are they indistinguishable? From the premodern point of view, the above question implies the confrontation between the permanence of nature and the vicissitudes of human fortune. From the modern point of view, they imply the contrast between beauty and evil. From the nonmodern point of view they imply the hybridization of ecology and politics. All these three points of view will be given equal attention and put into dialogue throughout the semester.


Professor Kristin Phillips-Court
Italian 731: “History, Narrative, & the Poetics of Precarity in Early Modern Italian Literature” (1478-1568)
Th 2:30-5, discussion in English and Italian, 355 Van Hise Hall
By the end of the fifteenth century humanist appreciation for the libero arbitrio (free will) seemed to portend an inestimable potential of the human spirit, capable of reordering reality through ideal forms of expression (literature, art, architecture) and human action.  But if the promise of self-determination could be fulfilled, it came often at great and grave personal risk. During the tumultuous years of plague, shifting alliances, holy war, social mobility as a zero-sum-game, and various internecine conflicts, strategies for “achieving supreme felicity and preventing submission to untoward and wicked Fortune” (L.B. Alberti) ranged from “just waiting it out” (N. Machiavelli) to acquiring “all possible accomplishments” (F. Guicciardini) to producing “virtuous works” (B. Castiglione). If one was neither cardinal nor soldier, but instead a poet, the chances of economic survival were slim. The poet’s need to navigate political conflict while serving another made his or her livelihood all the more precarious. Taking precarity as our topic, we shall investigate the ways in which literary texts express political, social, and personal vulnerability, foreboding, vain hopes, ambition, resignation, resentment, and similar articulations of human fragility that inhabit otherwise “ideal” poetic worlds (Poliziano, Ariosto), revisionist worlds (Castiglione), and “official” historical narratives (Villani, Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Varchi, Vasari).



Professor Marcella Hayes
History/LACIS 982, proseminar: “Empire and Difference in Colonial Latin America”
Th 2:25 PM to 5:25 PM, 2349 Engineering Hall
This graduate-level proseminar will examine the history of social difference and governance in Iberian empires during the colonial period (late 15th to early 19th century). Students will read about how difference was constructed, understood, and lived during this period, especially (though not limited to) ethnoracial categories; gender, sex, and sexuality; poverty; religion; health; and age. They will consider how dynamics of inclusion and exclusion were forged around these categories and how individuals conformed or resisted. This is an interdisciplinary seminar in which we will read books and articles by historians, art historians, anthropologists, and scholars of literature. Geographically, we will center on Latin America but will also include works about Iberia, West and West-Central Africa, and the Philippines.

Political Science

Professor Daniel Kapust
Political Science 932: Seminar in Early Modern Political Theory
“Reading Machiavelli” (T 3:30-5:25, 422 North Hall)
A study of selected works of Machiavelli in translation (including The Prince, The Discourses, Clizia, Mandragola, and The Life of Castruccio Castracani). In addition, participants will study scholarship representative of major approaches to interpreting Machiavelli’s political, social, and ethical thought, and scholarship focusing on specific dimensions of Machiavelli’s thought, such as empire, republicanism, and social conflict.

Spanish and Portuguese

Professor Steven Hutchinson
Spanish 851: Seminar on Cervantes’ Don Quixote

Th 3:30-5:30, 1120 Van Hise Hall) (text in Spanish, discussion can be in English or Spanish)
In this seminar we will read Cervantes’ Don Quixote, about which Dostoevsky said: “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.” We will study it in depth, respond to its humor and vitality, open it up to critical discussion, examine its historical context, ponder its multiple legacies in the novel and cinema, consider its universality and ‘humanity’, reflect on the major themes and questions it poses, and so on.