Archive Course descriptions

Social, Cultural, & Critical Theory

(To be updated as courses come in)

Recurring (Fall)

SCCT 510
Tuesdays 3:30-6
Kaitlin Murphy and Lee Medovoi

We live in a time of increasing political skepticism about the workings of the state, the persistent inequitable institutional arrangements, the historical explanations of stratification, and the prevailing oppositional ideologies. This has reinvigorated the political dimension of critical theory and its ability to inform new solidarities, understand political struggles, and analyze institutional reformations.  Initially intended as a theory aimed at human liberation, critical theory has been taken up, extended, and critiqued across multiple disciplines, including the social sciences, philosophy, and literature, as well as in interdisciplinary scholarship. It remains, however, in its multiple forms and applications, focused on attempting to critique and change society. Beyond a mere tool for understanding, critical theory is situated as a method for combating injustice and oppression.

In this course, you will be introduced to classic and emergent intellectual theoretical frames through readings, multimedia materials, writing, and discussions. We will begin with the work of Freud and Marx and trace the development of critical theory through to contemporary theories that attend to the multiplicities or “mangle” (messy intersectionality) of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. These will include critical race, decolonial, feminist, post-colonial, queer, and performance theory. Weekly readings will include original work of critical theorists, analysis and applications of theory by other scholars, and other forms of media as appropriate. In order to introduce graduate students to the ways that faculty at the University of Arizona are thinking, writing, and employing social, cultural, and critical theory, the course will also integrate faculty guest speakers who are working across a range of disciplinary approaches. Our primary activity will be intensive group discussion of shared readings. Above all, this course requires students to take an open minded and generous approach to learning and discussing new and potentially challenging concepts. SCCT 500 serves as the first core course for the GIDP minor in Social, Cultural and Critical Theory.

Spring 2021 Electives

SCCT 510: Monstrous Ecologies: (Dis)order and Excess Across Time (core for PhD)
Wednesday 3:30-6
Chris Cokinos and Joela Jacobs

This class will examine the history, present and future of notions of the monstrous in nonhuman and anthropocentric natures, both actual and speculative. Students will become conversant in Western conceptions of order and design in nature as well as the lineage of the monstrous from myth to contemporary science-fictional thinking. We will interrogate such concepts as the sublime, the grotesque, the more-than-human, posthuman, the (in)stability of species boundaries and the fact of extinction across deep time and in alternative futurities.

Theorists and scientists we will encounter likely will include Haraway, Foucault, Hayles, Csicsery-Ronay, Daston, Wolfe, Tsing, Marder, Margulis, Fuß, Bowker & Star, Darwin, Haeckel and Uexküll, among others. Additionally, we will consider texts that focus on the practicalities and ethics of genetic engineering, terraforming and climate engineering as well as debates about AI, cybernetics, and robotics. Creative texts could include work by Hawthorne, Atwood, Kafka, Robinson, Wells, Lovecraft, Ballard, Laßwitz, Butler, Döblin and Vandemeer, among others. Visual materials might include the paintings of Alexis Rockman, the film “I am Legend” and episodes of the contemporary dystopian series “The 100.”

GWS 696M Gender, Sexuality and International Migration
Tuesday 3:30-6
Eithne Luibhéid

Focusing on contemporary migration across international borders, we explore how migration contributes to the production, contestation, and remaking of dominant gender and sexual norms as these articulate hierarchies of race, class, and geopolitics. We particularly examine how the selection, incorporation or “illegalization,” and governance of migrants provide occasions for contesting, renegotiating, or affirming dominant gender and sexual norms; how migrants contest multiple exclusions and refashion identities, communities, and politics through gender and sexuality; and how transnational social fields, grounded in histories of empire and global capitalism, shape and are reshaped by these processes. We link these changes to other kinds of flows across borders, including of capital, goods, information, images, and technology. Moreover, we historicize and critically interrogate the formation and function of nation-state borders in relation to the regulation of sexualities and genders at multiple scales. We also analyze the circulation, impact, and contestation of hegemonic discourses about gender and sexuality that affect migration possibilities and materially impact on migrants’ lives. We consider how these processes also implicate people who do not migrate but are nonetheless affected by the dynamics of transnational migration and its governance.

ANTH 613 Culture and Power
Mondays 3:00-5:30
Brian Silverstein

This course examines approaches to the relationship between culture and power through classic and more recent work drawing on cases from various periods and from around the world. After some conceptual work on approaches to theorizing culture and power (are they things? processes? effects? heuristic devices?) we turn to their articulations in a number of case studies.

GEOG 689 – History of Geographic Thought
Tuesdays, 4:00PM - 6:30PM
John Paul Jones III

Description: This course is a survey of the major schools of thought in the development of the discipline of geography. It’s organized historically, with an emphasis on the second half of the 20th century to the present. It is intended for geography students but other students with theoretical and methodological interests in space and place, or an intention to minor in the field, are welcome.

GEOG 696N Geography and Social Theory
Thursdays 2:00-4:30
Professor Nelson

“Indeed, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, four intellectual currents — postcolonial and subaltern studies, critical race studies, diaspora studies, feminist and queer studies — have, more than any discipline, placed a lasting imprint on the manner in which society, politics, and culture are thought.” -Achille Mbembe “On the postcolony: A brief response to critics” (2006, p. 144)

This seminar will: 1) provide a partial dive into the intellectual currents identified by Mbembe above, 2) examine how geographers have engaged and contributed to these debates, and 3) guide students in connecting these theoretical concerns to their evolving research agenda.

GWS 539A: Feminist Theories
Monday 3:30-6
Reid Gomez

Love in the Time of Death
We are living through the time of COVID-19 (Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19). The rona. La Cabrona. Love in the time of demographic collapse. How do we discuss the uneven distribution of crises—the idea of crises—when what we have is a relationship between intimacies, histories and structures. Broadly speaking Feminism is an approach to difference and power. There are many ways to think difference, and many ways to engage and locate power.

MAS 475A/575A The Education of Latinas/Latinos
Tuesdays 4-6:30
Mauricio Magaña

This course presents a theoretical and empirical overview of Latinx educational issues in the U.S. Special emphasis will be placed on disentangling the effects of race, gender, class, and immigrant status on Latinx educational access and “achievement.” We will also examine how historical, social, political, and economic forces impact on the Latinx educational experience. Given our location in southern Arizona, this course will highlight these issues with an emphasis on Mexican, Chicanx, and immigrant communities in the Southwest and the forces that impact their educational experiences and opportunities. Rather than study our region and communities in a vacuum, however, we will also examine how experiences from other regions and for other racialized and minoritized students and their communities overlap with local conditions. These issues will be approached primarily through anthropological, sociological, ethnic studies and critical youth studies lenses.

Spring 2020 Electives

SCCT 510: Problems in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory* (core for PhD)
Politics of the Archive/s

Dr. Anita Huizar-Hernández, Spanish and Portuguese and Dr. Jamie A. Lee, School of Information

Tracing what's been called 'the archival turn' in a large number of disciplines, this graduate seminar centers the archive/s as both the conceptual 'archive' and the material 'archives' to make sense of the tension that arises within transdisciplinary deployments, translations, and interpretations of what might be considered 'archival.'  Drawing from a range of theoretical, methodological and analytic approaches to archive/s --from archival studies, the humanities, feminist and queer studies, and Latinx and Critical Indigenous studies --, we aim to explore together the seeming neutrality and simplicity of the archive/s in order to enact both a politics of recovery and an intervention into singular and dominant histories.  Through hands-on archival production and research, students will interrogate the archive/s through 1) the Colonial, 2) the Postcolonial, and 3) the Decolonial frameworks to study the material consequences of the political projects of archive/s, archiving, and remembering.

ENGL 515:  Marxism and the Critique of Modernity
Th 3:30-6 PM
Lee Medovoi

Capitalism, we are told, is the only viable framework we have ever developed for modern human life. It has steadily enveloped more of the world and insinuated itself ever more deeply into our everyday existence from the sixteenth century onward. And yet, capitalism has always been accompanied by a palpable sense of impending social, political, economic and environmental crisis. On what basis can we critically examine the forms of life and the historical trajectories of sociality, culture and subjectivity that capitalism continuously creates and recreates? This class will work through the Marxist tradition for approaching these questions. As arguably the richest and more sophisticated tradition of critical thought we have for thinking about capitalist modernity, marxist insights and approaches have been engaged by critical scholars working in disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. What are the marxist tradition's key strengths and weaknesses? Has marxism been thought and rethought as a means of investigating the predicaments of capitalist modernity?

We will begin with a detailed examination of Karl Marx’s own work, including his conceptions of historical materialism, the mode of production, capital and labor, the state and civil society, ideology, base and superstructure, the commodity-form, world history, alienation and expropriation. From there, we will skip ahead to various recent (i.e. late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century) revisions and challenges to his modes of analysis. Along the way we may explore marxism’s intersections with the study of race/racism, postcolonial theory, feminism, immaterial labor, art and culture, ideology/common sense, and nature/environment. Authors whose work we may read include Lous Althusser, Moishe Postone, Sylvia Federici, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Cedric Robinson, Etienne Balibar, Slavoj Zizek, Antonio Negri, Jason Moore, Frederic Jameson, Mark Fisher, and others.
 

ENGL 696E-003 : Rhetoric Within and Beyond Borders: Xicanisma, Indigeneity, and Livable Futures
Damián Baca
M 9:30 AM-12:00 PM

What happens to Rhetoric once we refuse the racially coded, pedagogically violent “From-Aristotle-to-the-Present” mythology still dominating our graduate seminars? What becomes of Composition when alphabetic script and White Settlers are no longer the unquestioned foundations for the history and theory of written communication? To account for these inquiries, we will advance a subaltern, third-space Xicanista border consciousness. This transgressive, post-Occidental analytic advances a necessary corrective to the field’s hegemonic macro-narratives still circulating through assessment, cultural rhetorics, first year composition, leadership, literacy, multimodal composition, research methods, rhetorical history, trans-languaging, and writing program administration. We will furthermore shift our attention to the survivors of colonial exploitation in order to 1) reveal the false universalism of Rhetoric and Composition, 2) interrogate why Hegelian Greek fantasies have become acceptable alternatives to a global diversity of expression, and 3) affirm a pluriverse of flourishing no longer b/ordered by geospatial and pedagogical manifestations of racialized / languaged / gendered colonial violence.

German 506: Decolonization
Weds. 4:00 to 6:30 pm
Prof. David J Gramling
dgl@email.arizona.edu

In recent years, Germany and Austria have been the site of multiple, ongoing, local interventions with the goal of decolonizing literature, public institutions, education, language, art, urban space, and the prerogative to define Germanness. Black German feminist scholarship, in particular, has sought to move the agenda of Vergangenheitsbewältigung (overcoming the past) to deal more squarely with Germany’s colonial occupations in Africa and their contemporary repercussions, alongside its efforts to atone for National Socialism. In this research seminar, participants will engage interdisciplinarily with the broad agenda of decolonization (in curriculum, public works, education, literature, language, and research), drawing particularly on the work of Germanophone theorists, writers, and activists. For students who prefer to work in a research language other than German, alternative research readings can be agreed upon with the instructor before the beginning of the term (please contact in December). Final projects involving a range of potential formats, including translation, creative work, curriculum design materials, and theoretical / empirical research will be welcome. Authors considered in the course include: SchwarzRund, Saša Stanišić, Grada Kilomba, Oumar Diallo, Eva Bahl, Maisha Eggers, Eve Tuck, Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, Hito Steyerl, Encarnación Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, Anibal Quijano, María Lugones, Sharon Dodua Otoo, Nelson Flores, Jonathan Rosa, Kien Nghi Ha, Fatima El-Tayeb, Theodor Michael, Fatma Aydemir, Hengameh Yaghoobifarah, Noah Sow, Natasha R. Kelly, and many more.

Note on language and interdisciplinarity

Any UA graduate student is welcome to join the course, if they have interest in Germanophone contexts. Ability to read / speak German is not necessarily a requirement; alternate readings can be found in consultation with the instructor. Students should expect to be able to do a final project that corresponds with their overall graduate research area. For those who do not read / speak German, it might be wise to contact the instructor during Winter Break to discuss alternate readings.

GWS/ARH 530: QUEER CINEMA Form & Fantasy
Dr. Eva Hayward (evah@email.arizona.edu)
Th 3:30-6:00PM Chavez 305

Fantasy is a fundamental human activity based on the capacity for imagining and imaging: for making images in one’s mind (imagining) and making images in material expressions (imaging) by various technical means that include, say, drawing and photography but also language and even one’s own body, for example, in performance. Psychoanalytic theory understands fantasy as a primary psychic activity, a creative activity that animates the imagination and produces imaginary scenes of scenarios in which the subject is protagonist or in some other way present—Teresa de Lauretis Signs, 1999.

Cinema has a privileged relationship with sexuality—fantasy, desire, and want shape how we watch film. Looking at cinematic form—narrative, editing, cinematography, mise-enscène, character and casting, lighting, and editing—this course asks how the work of sexuality is as much formal as it is content driven. In this way, queer is as much about the structure of films as it is about inclusion, visibility, or representation of LGBT characters. By rigorously re-working cinematic conventions through genre-confusion, non-narrativity, abstraction, discontinuity editing, and the foregrounding of the filmic apparatus, queer cinema resonates with queer theory’s commitments to desire, dis/identification, non-normativity, deconstruction, and anti-sociality. We will watch films by Kenneth Anger, Isaac Julien, Barbara Hammer, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Andy Warhol, Lourdes Portillo, Lizzie Borden, Marlon Riggs, and others.

In this course, we will reflect on the following questions, and more: What is the relationship between queerness and fantasy? What constitutes queer film, queer characters, and queer dis/pleasures? How might we (or can we) define, or conceptualize, a queer aesthetics? How is spectatorship shaped by sexuality, and how does queerness alter this relationship? Is there a cost to LGBTQ visibility through cinema, and if so, what is it? What are the limits of politics, and how can politics be a refusal of fantasy? How is queerness made un/legible through gender, race, sexuality, and nation, and ability? Is film inherently queer?

FALL 2019 

SCCT 500: Introduction to Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory
Monday, 5-7:30pm
Dr. Jill Koyama, Educational Policy Studies and Practice and Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies

This core course introduces students to classic and emergent intellectual theoretical frames through readings, writing, and discussions. It also explores how these theories are applied or enacted across multiple fields to address and study contemporary issues. Emphasis will be placed on theories that attend to the multiplicities or “mangle” (messy intersectionality) of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. UA faculty who engage with particular theories will come to speak in the course in seminar style.

Anth/Hist 612   Anthropology of Modernity
Brian Silverstein
W  3:00-5:00

This seminar brings anthropological attention to bear on classic and more recent work identifying and analyzing characteristically modern and emergent social forms. After a review of the historical contingency of their emergence, we will examine the careers of these forms beyond their historical heartlands in a number of case studies from around the world; the relationship between them and colonial and imperial projects; their articulation with locales on various scales and their impact on the politics of self and community. In the process, the historical and cultural specificity of some of the central categories of social scientific analysis — often taken to be a-cultural or universal — like history, labor, society, economy, and the ‘human,’ as well as the ethical and political issues involved in such an inquiry, will be highlighted. Topics to be addressed include: capitalism; colonialism; race; nature; history; development; science and expertise; power and subjectivity; liberty; resistance; and human rights. 

Books
(all except Mintz and Rosenthal available as ebooks through the UA Library)Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought & Historical Difference, 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton U Press, 2007.
Escobar, Arturo. Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. Durham: Duke UP, 2017.
Ferguson, James. Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution. Duke U Press, 2015.
Hirschman, Albert. The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before its Triumph. Princeton UP, 1997 [1977].
Li, Tania Murray. The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development and the Practice of Politics. Durham: Duke U Press, 2007.
Mintz, Sydney. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. NY: Penguin, 1985.
Mitchell, Timothy. Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity. Berkeley: UC Press, 2002.
Rosenthal, Caitlin. Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management. Harvard U Press, 2018.
Tsing, Anna, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt, eds. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Minneapolis: U Minn Press, 2017.
White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. New Ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2011 [1991].
Wolf, Eric. Europe and the People Without History. Berkeley: UC Press, 2010 [1982].

A few additional readings will be posted as PDFs, including writings by T. Asad; C. Tilly; and H. Blumenberg.

ENGL/LIS 544: Media Archaeology
Tuesday, 3:30-6pm|
Dr. Jennifer Jenkins, English

This course explores the moving image as evidence across the disciplines, from Film Studies to History to Anthropology, the Social Sciences, and the Humanities. The course breaks the semester into three successive parts: 1) Background: a survey of historical and contemporary media theory, moving image narrative, and basic film theory; 2) Methodologies: methods, materials, and approaches to researching moving image documents, including identification and use of technologies, descriptive metadata, primary and archival source materials, and oral history techniques; 3) Applied Practice: students will identify, research, and document an assigned film or films from local archival collections that relates to their topic area, thereby building skills in and methodologies of defining and determining visual media as evidence. The semester’s work will culminate in an in-house Media Archaeology symposium.    

I am expecting to co-convene with a parallel course at the Colegio de San Luis, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. There will be opportunities for shared projects and collaborations as well as binational discussion of materials and methodologies.

GWS 696M: Gender, Sexuality and International Migration
Wednesday, 3:30-6pm
Dr. Eithne Luibheid, Gender and Women’s Studies

Focusing on contemporary migration across international borders, we explore how migration contributes to the production, contestation, and remaking of dominant gender and sexual norms as these articulate hierarchies of race, class, and geopolitics. We particularly examine how the selection, incorporation or “illegalization,” and governance of migrants provide occasions for contesting, renegotiating, or affirming dominant gender and sexual norms; how migrants contest multiple exclusions and refashion identities, communities, and politics through gender and sexuality; and how transnational social fields, grounded in histories of empire and global capitalism, shape and are reshaped by these processes. We link these changes to other kinds of flows across borders, including of capital, goods, information, images, and technology. Moreover, we historicize and critically interrogate the formation and function of nation-state borders in relation to the regulation of sexualities and genders at multiple scales. We also analyze the circulation, impact, and contestation of hegemonic discourses about gender and sexuality that affect migration possibilities and materially impact on migrants’ lives. We consider how these processes also implicate people who do not migrate but are nonetheless affected by the dynamics of transnational migration and its governance.

SPAN 571: Visual Culture, Performance, and Political Life in the Americas
Tuesday, 3:30-6pm
Dr. Kaitlin Murphy, Spanish and Portuguese and Chair of SCCT

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of visual and performance theory via examination of some of the foundational texts, tracing various genealogies of the field and considering links to various disciplines/modes of inquiry (anthropology, theater studies, dance studies, gender studies, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, etc.). Throughout, the course will introduce students to a range of contemporary artists and activists working in the Americas. Additional interrelated themes will include affect, human rights, memory, immigration and borders, power, resistance, and intersectional body politics.

Spring 2019

SCCT 510-001...Cultures and spaces of Finance and Debt: A Long View of the Big Short
Marcia Klotz
Mark Kear
Tuesday 3:30-6:00

It has been ten years since the global financial crisis, but its effects remain all around us. Yet long before it first appeared on the horizon, Gilles Deleuze argued that the United States and other advanced capitalist states had become “societ[ies] of control,” where social order was produced not only through disciplinary institutions (prisons, factories, schools), but increasingly through relations of debt; in short, “encircled man [sic] has become indebted man.” The consequences of this shift have been profound, altering human spaces and architectures as well as our daily lives, our sense of the future, intimate relationships and subjectivities.

To analyze the origins and consequences of the neoliberal “financialization” of the economy, society and culture, this seminar adopts interdisciplinary methodologies drawn from geography, history, literary analysis and critical theory to track the changing role of debt, finance and money in shaping the human experience from the scale of the body to the scale of the globe. To help us along the way, we will explore the work of Giovanni Arrighi, David Harvey, Annie McClanahan, David Graeber, Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Wendy Brown, Mary Poovey, Fred Moten, Maurizio Lazzarato, Randy Martin, Arjun Appadurai, and Greta Krippner, among others.

Students enrolled in this course will have the unique opportunity to present their work at the international Futures of Finance and Society conference to be held in Tucson in Fall of 2019, and meet eminent scholars from across the US and around the world.