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Graduate Courses | spring 2017


Graduate courses to be offered during the spring 2017 semester. Please contact LAIC's Director of Graduate Studies should you have any questions.

MA Seminars (4000-level)

Politics of Representation (SPAN GU4417) | Andrea Giunta, Tinker Visiting Professor | Fridays, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

What were the images capable of representing the Latin American nations that emerged during independence movements of the early 19th century? This question, never before posed with such clarity, was latent in the countless images that sought to represent the political, social and institutional values of the young republics. The disappearance of an order—Colonial—and the emergence of another—Republican—involved both a vacuum and a conflict of representation.

Which images were going to replace the image of the King? In a time of revolutionary movements, portraits of the heroes replaced the image of the monarch. At the beginning of the 19th century, however, these portraits lacked the legitimacy needed to replace the invested images that presented the King. The representation of those heroes, who freed America from the colonial order, raised an unprecedented and urgent issue regarding the relationship between images and power. Representations of heroes were nonetheless, just a part of this story. Next to them were the indigenous, women, or the afro-descendants, bodies of history and subjects of diverse experiences.

Considering four issues connected with the main subjects and subjectivities that performed the social structure of the new nations (heroes, women, indigenous and Afro-descendants), this course examines the historical process of formation of iconographies and critical appropriations that contemporary art activates from the archive of 19th century representations. GSAS Ph.D. students welcome.

Space Grammar of Spanish: Cognitive-Operational Approach (SPAN GU4420) José Plácido Ruiz CampilloMondays, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

From a cognitive and operational point of view, this course wants to reflect on the theoretical and, mainly, practical limits of traditional grammar explanations, contributing with a new meaningful, experiential and representational understanding of Spanish as a human mean of communication. Within this framework, some of the most representative aspects of the grammar of Spanish will be studied from a fully practical perspective, favoring the comparison with the grammar of English. In each case, the reflection will lead to turn the traditional rules with their exceptions into operational laws, as well as to highlight the natural logic underlying every single grammar decision in the use of language. The most visible originality of the course lies in the cognitive and operational approach. The former implies the definition of grammatical meanings in terms of spatial perception and representation. The later entails a strong hypothesis of compositionality by means of which the full meaning of the statement can be considered as a legitimate product of the grammatical and lexical meanings that configure it.

Ph.D. Seminars (6000-level)

Research and Professional Development Workshop II  (SPAN GR6101) | All LAIC first-year students must register

Colloquium in Latin American & Iberian Cultures II  (SPAN GR9046) | All LAIC first-year students must register

Mapping Asian/Americas Art (PORT GR6114)Ana Paulina Lee Mondays, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Mapping Asian/Americas Art is a practice and research-based graduate course. Students will learn to use Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping software to theorize and map the material, sensorial, and imagined borders of Asian diasporic art. With the interdisciplinary aim of bringing mapping, urban, and architecture studies into conversation with humanities-based approaches in cultural studies, ethnic and gender studies, and art history, this course will be a mixture of workshop and studio, discussion seminar, fieldwork and archive visits. Prior knowledge of GIS software is not required.

Texts in Context: Literature in the Spanish 19th Century (SPAN GR6119) | Wadda Ríos-FontWednesdays, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

The work of cultural theorists and sociologists of literature over the past three decades opened the door for the study of literature as a dynamic social field. While this tendency contributed to making its study less hagiographic and more historically embedded, it also diminished engagement with its specific textual qualities. More recently, a number of theorists have suggested ways to re-integrate the contextual and the textual.

For example, Franco Moretti refers to literature’s relationship to social history by considering the two “a sort of cultural double helix,” and advocates an analysis of bourgeois literature that turns away from his own scheme of “distant reading”—the attempt to detect overarching patterns that might require large-scale data analysis rather than traditional critical practices—in search of a “mentality” whose development can be surmised through attention to “the implicit, and even buried, dimension of language.” Bruno Latour’s version of actor-network-theory posits that both animate and inanimate agents (such as authors and texts) can be social actors that effect social evolution; rather than simple “intermediaries” that carry cultural meaning, they are “mediators” that contribute to social transformation. Building on his sociological approach, Rita Felski has argued for a new approach to the literary artifact in its own socially embedded specificity, to explore texts’ “distinctive” and “nonsubstitutable” qualities as forms of their participation in historical chains of events.

This course proposes a fresh inquiry into a selection of literary works from a period when Spain evolved from absolutist to constitutional monarchy and republic, grappled with new scientific paradigms, underwent capitalist modernization, experienced the emergence of a bourgeoisie, and assayed a post-imperial global role while trying to preserve the remains of empire. Considering these texts both individually and as parts of a larger continuum, we will explore, through their intricate linguistic structures, their agency in networks of political, economic, social, and literary transformation. Special attention will be paid to two topical domains. First, the ways in which literary historiography’s periodization has not captured the relational dynamics of the period’s texts in terms of their own geographic/temporal context. Second, evidence of how the history of nineteenth-century Spanish literature reveals a concatenated history of affect and its gradual relegation to the private sphere, with the consequent loss of preeminence as a form of collective organization.

Microliteratures: The Margins of the Law (CPLS GR6335) | Jesús R. VelascoWednesdays, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Readers use books’ margins to pencil in their ideas about the texts they are reading. Writers comment on their own production, self-glossing their poetry or their prose. Glosses and marginal commentaries, from the ordinatio of the text to the scientific grounds laid down by footnotes, evince the authority of some institutions, like academia itself. Industries, from university stationes—old models of the university book production—to the Web 2.0 on the Internet, struggle to gain control of the uses, location, and spread of marginal texts.

In this seminar, we will explore, in historical terms, the development of the legal discipline, legal discourse, and legal vocabularies from the microliterary margins of legal manuscripts and printed books from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period. While many marginal interventions are of a textual nature, others fall under the category of “jurisgraphisms,” that is, images and designs that may have legal value or that engage in legal thinking.

The examination of these manuscripts and printed books will allow us to advance theses and conclusions about the uses of the margins to develop new kinds of legal literacy and a specific strand of critical thought that is central to the marginal commentary of the law and the legal discipline. Among the primary sources we will engage with are works by Averroes, Maimonides, the Corpus Iuris Civilis, the Corpus Iuris Canonici, the glosses and commentaries of authors from Bartolo de Sassoferrato to Christine of Pizan, and then from Francisco de Vitoria to the Siete Partidas (in several editions with different sets of glosses). We will also read muslim fatawa or legal resolutions, as well as other documents with microliterary elements. In terms of theoretical readings, we will engage with Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, the cognitive legal scholar Steven L. Winter, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Yan Thomas, Judith Revel, Bernard E. Harcourt, and others.

Theories of Art in the Iberian Worlds (SPAN GR6343)Alessandra RussoThursdays, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

In recent decades scholars have focused their attention on a precise aspect of the Iberian expansion between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries: the vast circulation of overseas objects as “goods,” with the consequent enrichment of the European collections, the birth of the Wonder Cabinets etc. Beyond these physical movements of new items, from Peru, Brazil, India, New Spain, Sierra Leone, or the Philippines, however, another parallel and equally significant process took place: the production and circulation of texts documenting, describing and analyzing the diversity of these creations, the qualitative exceptionality of their creators ́ abilities, their mythologies, their material specificities, and their possible aesthetic, theological, or political links as well as their key role in the Iberian domination process itself.

These two movements between texts and images are intimately intertwined: as more items were being produced overseas, more texts were being devoted to their existence and production; then as more texts were being written, published, and read, more objects were being desired, commissioned, invented, and shipped. The seminar will explore the variety of these sources—variety of genres (chronicles, histories, inventories, grammars, dictionaries, legal or inquisitorial processes), variety of authorships (conquistadors, missionaries, ambassadors, travelers, visitadores, cronistas, naturalists, historians, collectors, artists) etc.—in order to examine the relationship between textual and visual production in Early Modernity. The study of these unexpected “theories of the arts” will be continuously accompanied with the discussion of the actual artifacts commented in the sources. We will also consider if there are local specificities in the production of such texts: for instance, is the impressive amount of sources exclusively related to the “American” (New Spain, Brazil, Perú…) artistic processes understandable within a broader Iberian perspective or is there something specific in the observation and examination of the “American” aesthetics?

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LAIC, « Graduate Courses | spring 2017 », Blogs, Columbia University | LAIC, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (online), published on October 26, 2016. Full URL for this article

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