Courses in Institute for the Humanities (Division 394)

411. Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies. Advanced undergraduate standing. (1-4). (HU). May be repeated for credit.

Section 001 The Fragment in Modern and Postmodern Culture. (3 credits). This course is about fragments and fragmentation unfinished poems, architectural ruins, and eclectic editorial processes and how these fragments and processes of fragmentation have evolved as defining aspects of modern and postmodern culture. Our inquiry will be broad, covering art, literature, architecture, and scientific thought since the early 19th century. Among the topics we will discuss are the following: Keats and the English Romantic fragment poem; the architectural synecdoche of Sir John Soane and Lord Elgin; editorial eclecticism as exemplified in both contemporary editorial theory and the history of eugenic though; Weekly World News, the horse with a human face, and the editing of bodies; collage, bricolage, and decollage; and visual narratives in contemporary drawing. Essentially, our goal is to examine how various cultural narratives are constructed from fragments, and how the fragment itself has evolved as a narrative entity. Many of the questions posed in the class will not have immediate or straightforward answers. Instead, the questions we ask and explore will function in such a way as to expose tensions, contradictions, ironies, and aporias. While this class is essentially a seminar, the format will include lectures, guest presentations, and (depending on class interests) a trip or two. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor (via email to jgrigely@umich.edu). (Grigely)

Section 002 Music and Narrativity. (3 credits). For Winter Term, 1998, this section is offered jointly with Music History 407.001. (Whiting)

Section 003 Insects, Nature, and Modernity: The Case of Jean Henri Fabre in Japan. Prerequisites: some reading knowledge of modern Japanese. (1 credit). Mini-course, 1/7-2/4; meets Wednesdays 3-5:30. French entomologist and belle-lettrist Jean-Henri Fabre (1823-1915) is virtually unknown in the U.S. and all but forgotten in his native country. But no Japanese schoolchild would hesitate when asked to identify the man they call "Faaburu." Idolized by prewar Japanese intellectuals, in postwar Japan Fabre became more a model for boys and girls. Today, new multivolume translations of his work have made him once again an object of fascination to adults. The Fabre-in-Japan phenomenon invites investigation of many topics: Edo-period natural history; the intersection of a "traditional" aesthetic of insects (and claims for a special Japanese affinity for nature) with "Western" science; the taxonomic imperative and the collection obsession; the prominence of insects in modernist, especially central European, literature and Japanese manga; the relationship between nature and technology and the possibly inverse relation between the cultural expansion of nature and ecological devastation; entomology as a moral as well as a scientific pedagogical tool; and the relationship between gender, science, and modern identity in Japan. The fundamental value of the Fabre-in-Japan project lies in how it may illuminate our understanding the relationship between nature and modernity. In this mini-course, we will investigate the Fabre phenomenon symptomatically through a range of texts, including translations of Fabre into Japanese (with some English comparison), philosophical and anthropological studies of the word/concept "nature/ shizen, " and Japanese literary and popular cultural representations of insects. We will consider how entomological writings contribute as narratives to the absorption of scientific and technological knowledge. WL:2 (Field)

Section 004 Racial and Cultural Identity in British Film. (1 credit). Mini-course, 3/10-4/9; TTh 4-5:30. Ngozi Onwurah, an award-winning Black British filmmaker, will be the Paula and Edwin Sidman Visiting Artist at the Institute for the Humanities, March 9 April 10. Daughter of a Nigerian father and white British mother, she grew up in Wallsend and now resides in London. A writer/director, she is also the founder of Non-Aligned Communications, Ltd. This mini-course offers students the unusual opportunity to view the familiar issues of race, gender, and culture from a different perspective and national context, and to discuss them with the writer/director whose experiences and sensibility shaped the films. Intended for non-specialists, the course invites students to consider such topics as: (1) exploration of cultural identity, especially focusing on the self-definition of children of mixed racial and cultural heritage; (2) personal narrative and mother/daughter relationships; (3) ownership of cultural "capital"; (4) who has the "right" to tell a story? (5) changing contexts in traditional societies. The course will end with a free, public screening of Onwurah's feature film, Welcome II the Terrordome, at the Michigan Theater on Thursday, April 9, at 5:30 pm. Among the films covered are: Coffee Coloured Children, I Bring You Frankincense, The Body Beautiful, And Still I Rise, Who Stole the Soul?, and Monday's Girls. Students will write a paper that analyzes the treatment of related topics in a genre other than film, or one of several other topics Onwurah will suggest. (Onwurah)
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