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Spring 2015 Classes

With the advent of add/drop, I wanted to highlight some of the cooler classes offered next quarter.  I tried to pick classes without prerequisites and that still had spots available. Feel free to suggest more to be featured!  I will probably add more throughout the week.

HIST 23310 Animals in the Middle Ages. R. Fulton-Brown    
“Animals,” the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss once famously observed, “are good to think.” They are also good to eat, ride, look at, hunt, train for battle, make things out of, and keep as companions. This course considers the many ways in which medieval Europeans used and thought about animals: from the horses, hawks, and hounds of the hunt to the sheep, cows, chickens, and pigs of the home, as well as the lambs, doves, and lions of Holy Scripture, the talking foxes and cats of the beast fable, and the unicorns and dragons of saints’ lives, beastiaries, and travelers’ tales. Topics and questions to be addressed include the economic and social importance of animals, the symbolism of animals, animals in law, science, philosophy, and art, and whether animals were believed to have feelings and/or souls.

CLAS 26914. Death in the Classical World: Texts and Monuments. (=CLAS 36914, NEHC 2/36914) S. Torallas Tovar.
This course will focus on the evolution of beliefs and rituals related to death in the Mediterranean cultures of the Greek world and the Roman Empire, including the Egyptians among others. The course will draw on literary and documentary sources as well as archaeology and remnants of material culture. The topics that will be covered include not only the practicalities of death (funerary rituals, legal aspects of death, like wills and inheritance), but also beliefs and myths of the afterlife, magical rituals such as necromancy, the impact of Christianization on Roman understandings of death, and later Christian developments like the cult of the saints.

CLAS 28300. Ephron Seminar: Getting to Happiness: Philosophy as a Way of Life from Antiquity to the Present. B. Van Wassenhove.
What did it mean to be a student of philosophy in Hellenistic and Roman antiquity? From Epicurus to Marcus Aurelius, ancient philosophers recommended a variety of philosophical practices in their pursuit of happiness. We will read primary and secondary texts about a range of topics in which ancient philosophers offered practical counsel to their students and readers: managing desires, controlling anger, finding the right friends, navigating the challenges of relationships, and coping with grief and the fear of death. For each topic, we will read ancient authors affiliated with different philosophical schools—Epicureanism, Stoicism, Skepticism and Middle Platonism – and discuss their often divergent recommendations. In addition, we will survey how the ancient tradition of practical philosophy was revived from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the present, and ask what we can learn from this tradition today.

LING 28355/38355. Linguistic Introduction to Swahili I. Fidèle Mpiranya
Spoken in ten countries of Eastern and Central Africa, Swahili has more speakers than any other language in the Bantu family, a group of more than 400 languages most prevalent in sub-equatorial Africa. Based on Swahili Grammar and Workbook, this course helps the students master key areas of the Swahili language in a fast yet enjoyable pace. Topics include sound and intonation patterns, noun class agreements, verb moods, and sentence structures. Additionally, this course provides important listening and expressive reading skills. For advanced students, historical interpretations are offered for exceptional patterns observed in Swahili, in relation with other Bantu languages. This is a general introduction course with no specific prerequisites.

LING 27810/37810 Romani Language and Linguistics (= EEUR 21000/31000, ANTH 27700/47900).  Victor Friedman. 
An introduction to the language of the Roms (Gypsies).  The course will be based on the Arli diealect currently in official use in the Republic of Macedonia, but due attention will be given to other dialects of Europe and the United States.  The course will begin with an introduction to Romani linguistic history followed by an outline of Romani grammar based on Macedonian Arli.  This will serve as the basis of comparison with other dialects.  The course will include readings of authentic texts and discussion of questions of grammar, standardization, and Romani language in society. 

RLST 21311 Health and the Body in American Religions. Philippa Koch
From 18th-century debates over smallpox inoculation to contemporary evangelical dieting culture, this course explores how religion has shaped human bodies in sickness and health in American history. We will explore some well-known episodes, like the emergence of Christian Science, as well as less-studied moments in the story of American religion and medicine, like the early-20th-century interest in the effect of tuberculosis on Jews. We will investigate the deep medical interests of early Methodists as well as the sometimes fraught relationship between modern medicine and Amish and Mennonite communities. This course will evaluate how religious thought and practice have interacted in the American context in the human pursuit to understand and change the human body and its health. We will read primary and secondary texts about different religious communities that span the history of America from European exploration to the present: from Algonquians to black Muslims, from Pentecostals to Roman Catholics. 

NEHC 26106. The Medieval Persian Romance: Gorgani’s Vis and Ramin. C. Cross
This class is an inquiry into the medieval romance genre through the close and comparative reading of one of its oldest extant representatives, Gorgâni’s Vis & Râmin (c. 1050). With roots that go back to Late Antiquity, this romance is a valuable interlocutor between the Greek novel and the Ovidian erotic tradition, Arabic love theory and poetics, and well-known European romances like Tristan, Lancelot, and Cligès: a sustained exploration of psychological turmoil and moral indecision, and a vivid dramatization of the many contradictions inherent in erotic theory, most starkly by the lovers’ faithful adultery. By reading Vis & Râmin alongside some of its generic neighbors (Kallirrhoe, Leukippe, Tristan,Cligès), as well as the love-theories of writers like Plato, Ovid, Avicenna, Jâhiz, Ibn Hazm, and Andreas Cappellanus, we will map out the various kinds of literary work the romance is called upon to do, and investigate the myriad and shifting conceptions of romantic love as performance, subjectivity, and moral practice. An optional section introducing selections from the original text in Persian will be available if there is sufficient student interest.