9589 - Representation, Culture, and the Past - The rise of poststructuralist theory--as well as developments in interdisciplinary studies--in the latter part of the twentieth century raised the stakes in discussions of representation's historical dimensions. Having challenged the writing of history as a disinterested, empirical project, cultural historians are left with contradictions and paradoxes (How can sexuality have a history? How does one write a history of voices silenced by oppression?) that have become themselves the objects and subjects of investigation. This course will analyze some of the authors who have shaped the field of cultural studies in the past twenty years, taking the problem of history and historiography, and their relation to culture and representation, as its starting point. We will read selected essays of French poststructuralism, British Marxism, the Frankfurt school, and American anthropology, in order to trace the influences governing recent developments such as "the New Historicism" and trauma studies.
We will spend the first eleven weeks of class reading a selection of essays. Student will be required to present one seminar paper on a given theorist/historian. We will then take a one-week break, when I expect students to draft a 4000-5000 wd. (15 pp) paper on a historical subject and theory. In the last week of class (we will schedule an additional class if necessary), students will present their papers to the class; other students will be asked to respond to the papers, which will be distributed to all class members the day before they are presented. Students are required to turn in their final essays the following week, with a written summary of the responses they received to their papers.
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