His1020h-s: cultural theory / cultural history

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Prof. Elspeth Brown

University of Toronto • Winter, 2011

office Munk 326N class meets: T, 12-2

email:Elspeth.brown@utoronto.ca Wilson Hall, 2006

phone 416-946-8011; office hours: by appointment with Stella at CSUS; email csus@utoronto.ca. [I am usually in the office but due to being Director for the Centre for the Study of the United States, it’s probably safest to just make an appointment.]
What is ‘cultural history’? How has theory informed and transformed the questions posed by historians, as well as their methods? This course will explore the ‘cultural turn’ in historical studies through thematic sections that tie theoretical works to empirical studies. The course will begin with readings in the various ‘schools’ that have informed the field (e.g., Annales, Frankfurt, Birmingham). The remainder of the course will explore the works of specific thinkers (Foucault, Butler, Benjamin, Stoler as just some examples) in relationship to historical studies. We will endeavor to think through these pairings in relationship to thematic threads on, for example, markets, intimacy, and affect; food and power; commodity chains and empire; history of the senses; sexuality, gender, and capitalism. Historical examples will be drawn from various national and transnational studies, with a likely (though not exclusive) focus on North America. The course is designed, however, for all students interested in cultural history, regardless of geographical area.
Assignments and grading weights:

Response papers: each week, the majority of students will submit a short response paper to the class discussion list (on Blackboard). The papers/emails should be about 300-350 words in length, and are meant to be reflections or challenges to the main issues raised in the reading, with an emphasis on the book or articles’ argument(s) and evidence. (If the reading is especially dense, feel free to use this assignment to help you make sense of the content). These should be posted to the discussion list no later than 9 am on Tuesday morning, so that all of us can read them before class (please do post them earlier if you can). Also, it would be great if you can read the comments of your peers, and respond to them as well—either in the content of your small piece, or via a separate post. Please do six of these response papers, with one per week; you can choose which weeks you want to do, depending on your work schedule. You are welcome to incorporate or respond to other postings, en route to making your own claims or observations about the material. I won’t be marking these weekly (though I will be reading them). Instead, I will monitor the discussion and then provide feedback twice during the term: once in mid-semester, and once at the end. Aspects of the discussion on line will be incorporated into our seminar discussion.
Discussion Questions: students will sign up for two weeks in which they are responsible for generating a total of four-five discussion questions. These questions must be well crafted

to prompt students to engage central themes, debates or methods in the scholarship for that week. It is recommended the questions, as a whole, cover the range of questions we’ll want to bring to the scholarship, including questions about analytic framework; argument; evidence; historiography; and historical themes. Students who write questions will also take responsibility to facilitate quality discussion that week. Your discussion will be co-directed by the two of you, and so you will need to meet with your partner in advance of the seminar in order to decide on the questions together, and how to get meaningful conversation going. Please print out the questions and bring sufficient copies to seminar. You are welcome to shape your questions in relationship to the issues unfolding on Blackboard.

Final paper: This is a 8-10 page paper on a topic of your choice due at the end of the semester. Use this essay to analyze a focused set of primary sources using a theoretical framework or methodology from the class. In other words, the main focus is to select, analyze, and historicize primary source text(s) using one of the course’s analytic lenses. Please note that this page length is typical for a 20-25 minute conference paper, and so I would encourage you to conceptualize this assignment as a conference paper if this is of interest to you. Related to this assignment is the submission of a paper ‘abstract’ of 350 words, due in class on March 22th. I encourage you to discuss your ideas with me in office hours, some time before mid-March. The papers are due by 5 pm on Monday, April 18th in my box in the Munk Centre (South house reception). I will distribute a handout in class with further guidelines/pointers etc for these related assignments.
Participation: is required for the course. Please come to each class meeting having done all the reading.
Grading weights: response papers, 20%; discussion questions, 20%; final paper 40%; participation, 20%.
Texts, available at Bob Miller Book Room, 180 Bloor Street West, and on Robarts Reserve:

[Books are in the order in which we will read them]

•Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1 (1979)

•Nan Enstad, Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: working women, popular culture, and labor politics at the turn of the twentieth century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).

•Mark Smith, How Race Is Made Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses (UNC Press, 2008).

•Ann Laura Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton UP, 2010).

•Special Issue of History and Theory journal: Theme Issue 48: Photography and Historical Interpretation Volume 48, issue no. 4 NB: I have bought enough copied for everyone in the class, which I will ‘lend’ to you; if you want to purchase a copy from me, the cost is $13.00. Don’t feel you have to buy it though since I have other takers.

•Joseph Masco, Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton UP, 2006).

Ritu Birla, Stages of Capital Law, Culture, and Market Governance in Late Colonial India (Duke, 2009).

Alice Echols, Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture (Norton, 2010)

WK 1: January 11 Introduction to Course; “culture” and “cultural history”

•Peter Burke, What is Cultural History (Polity, 2008), pp. 1-30.

•Anna Green, “Introduction,” in Cultural History (Palgrave, 2008), 1-10.

•William H. Sewell, Jr. “The Concept(s) of Culture,” in Victoria Bonnell and Lynn Hunt (eds.), Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture (Berkeley, CA: UC Press, 1999), 35-61.

Part II: THE ‘NEW CULTURAL HISTORY’ (1970s- 1990s)
WK 2: January 18 Symbolic Anthropology and Culture

•Clifford Geertz, “Thick Description: Towards and Interpretive Theory of Culture,” in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays by Clifford Geertz (Basic Books, 1973), 3-32.

•Natalie Zemon Davis, “The Rites of Violence,” Society and Culture in Early Modern France (Stanford, 1975), pp. 152-187. [Originally published 1973].
•E.P. Thompson, “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century,” Past & Present, No. 50 (Feb., 1971), pp. 76-136.
•Roger Chartier, “Text, Symbols and Frenchness: Historical Uses of Symbolic Anthropology,” in Cultural History: Between Practices and Representation (trans. Lydia G. Cochrane) (Polity Press, 1988), 95-111 [originally published in 1985].
•Robert Darton, “Review: The Symbolic Element in History,” Journal of Modern History, vol. 58 no. 1, March 1986, pp. 218-234.
NB: On January 20th, Geeta Patel, Associate Professor of Studies in Women and Gender and Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia, is presenting a pre-circulated paper for the History Department’s History and Theory Working Group (this year’s thematic focus is “Techniques and Affects of Economy.”) Prof. Patel’s current project, Financing Selves, on risk, insurance and pensions in South Asia, opens with the early East India Company archives and closes with labor movements in contemporary Sri Lanka. I really encourage you to take advantage of her visit by downloading the paper and attending the seminar. To get the paper, and to learn more about the workshop, please see: http://uthistoryandtheory.wordpress.com/.
WK 3: January 25 Foucault and the History of Sexuality

•Patricia O’Brien, “Michel Foucault’s History of Culture,” in Aletta Biersack and Lynn Hunt, The New Cultural History (Berkeley: U Cal Press, 1989), 25-46.

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: The Will to Knowledge, vol. 1 (1976)
WK 4: February 1 Neomarxism: Frankfurt and Birmingham

a) the Institute for Social Research (i.e., the ‘Frankfurt School)

•Martin Jay, “The Creation of the Institute fur Sozialforschung and its First Frankfurt Years,” from The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research, 1923-1950 (Berkeley: U Cal Press, 1973), 3-40. [optional background reading]

•Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" in Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944).
b) the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies/Birmingham School of Cultural Studies

•Raymond Williams, ‘The Analysis of Culture’ (excerpt), from The Long Revolution (1961), 41-71 [emphasis on structures of feeling material]

•Stuart Hall, “Notes on Deconstructing ‘the Popular’,” originally published R. Samuel, ed., People’s History and Socialist Theory (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981), 227-40; reprinted in John Storey, Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader (Pearson, 2006), 477-487.

•Stuart Hall, “Encoding/decoding,” from Culture, Media Language: working papers in cultural studies, 1972-1980 (London, 1980), 128-139. Please focus on the part of the essay after footnote 14 on the three reading positions he outlines; think about in relationship to other cultural texts, not just television.

WK 5: February 8 Popular Culture and Gendered Subjectivity

NB: Nan Enstad, Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will be visiting the University of Toronto February 9th and 10th. On Wed. February 9th, she will be presenting the reading assigned here on jazz to the History and Theory Working Group, dscribed above, 4-6 pm; please make sure to come. On Thurs. Feb. 10th, she is presenting a public talk (Munk 208 N, 2-4pm): "American Dreamers and Global Cigarettes: Seeing the Corporation as an Artform.” To prepare you for her visit, we’ll be focusing on her work this week.

•Nan Enstad, Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: working women, popular culture, and labor politics at the turn of the twentieth century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).
•Nan Enstad, draft of current chapter in progress: “Jazz Incorporations: How Cigarette Companies Became Instrumental in Global Jazz Cultures” (43 pages plus notes).
WK 6: February 15 History of the Senses

•Angela M. Blake, “An Audible Sense of Order: Race, Fear, and CB Radio on Los Angeles Freeways in the 1970s,” in David Suisman and Susan Strasser, eds., Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 159- 180. Sound studies has recently grown into a vibrant, interdisciplinary field; this collection represents one of the recent historical interventions.

•Mark Smith, How Race Is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses (UNC Press, 2008).
--February break—
WK 7: March 1 Technoscience: The Nuclear Uncanny

NB: Joe Masco, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, will be visiting the University of Toronto Wed. March 2, and is speaking via CSUS at the Munk Centre room 208N, 2-4 pm; the talk is entitled “Atomic Cinema: The National Security Archive”. Please attend this seminar.

•Joseph Masco, Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton UP, 2006).

•Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny,” (1919), excerpt.

WK 8: March 8 Affect/(public) feeling/intimacy

•Irene Matthis, “Sketch for a Metapsychology of Affect,” International Journal of Psychoanalysis vol. 81 (2000), 215-227.

•Brian Massumi, “The Autonomy of Affect,” Cultural Critique (Fall, 1995), 83-109

•Sara Ahmed, “Affective Economies,” Social Text 79, vol. 22, Summer 2004 (117-139).

•Ann Cvetkovich, “Introduction,” An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Duke UP, 2003), 1-14.

Ann Laura Stoler, “Tense and Tender Ties: The Politics of Comparison in North American History and (Post) Colonial Studies,” Journal of American History, vol. 88, no. 3 (December 2001), 829-855. This piece was published in JAH as part of a roundtable on “Empires and Intimacies: Lessons from (Post) Colonial Studies,” and was accompanied by responses from other historians; please check them out online via JSTOR

WK 9: March 15 Archive

•Ann Laura Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton UP, 2010).

WK10: March 22 Visuality: photography and history

•Special Issue of History and Theory journal: Theme Issue 48: Photography and Historical Interpretation Volume 48, issue no. 4. Read the intro, 2-3 of the ‘dialogues,’ and 2-3 of the essays (your choice); skim the rest.

NB: On March 24th, from 4-6 pm, Prof. Nicolas Rose (LSE) will be presenting a paper in the History and Theory Working Group entitled “Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Making of the Human”; your participation is encouraged if you can find the time.
WK11: March 29 Governmentality

Special guest for part of the seminar: Prof. Ritu Birla, Associate Prof. of History, U of T

•Ritu Birla, Stages of Capital Law, Culture, and Market Governance in Late Colonial India (Duke, 2009), read intro, chapter 1,4, 5 and the conclusion.

•Arjun Appadurai, “Here and Now,” in Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 1-27.

•Michel Foucault, “Lecture: 4 April, 1979” [about homo economicus] in Michel Senellart, ed., The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College de France, 1978-1979 (NY: Palgrave, 2004), 291-316.

•Michel Foucault, “Governmentality,” in Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose, eds., The Essential Foucault (NY: The New Press, 1994), 229-245. [recommended]

WK12: April 5 Cultural History as Narrative History

Alice Echols, Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture (Norton, 2010).

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