Summer Session 2024

Enroll on Summer Session website!

Lower Division 

HISC 80S: War and the Media: Critical Approaches to Terrorism Studies 


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Dominant approaches in the field of “terrorism studies” have been shaped by the geostrategic needs and policy imperatives of states engaged in the global “war on terror.” Instead of rigorous intellectual engagement, this has tended to produce instrumental analyses aimed at “knowing the enemy” in order to defeat it. Equally, global media and public discourse have often constructed a notion of Islamist terrorism through tropes of primitive regression or irrational fanaticism. 
Seeking to challenge these assumptions, this course will interrogate the ways in which Islamist radicalism is deeply intertwined with capitalist modernity and mutually constitutive with contemporary militarism and imperialism. We will situate radical Islamist movements within their historical and geopolitical contexts, accounting for their emergence, growth, and how they may claim popular appeal. We will explore the ways that Islamist radicalism might darkly mirror other important aspects of contemporary politics, drawing connections with authoritarian populisms, transnational universalisms, and mediatized events of mass violence. We will ultimately aim to consider what the category of Islamic terrorism can reveal and obscure about political life today.

HISC 82: Another Brick in the Wall


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"And if theres no crack, well, well make it by scratching, biting, kicking, hitting with our hands and head, with our entire body until we manage to create in history the wound that we are.”
                                                                                                    SupGaleano,, 2015

Mother, should I build the wall?” Roger Waters’ question will guide us into exploring what the walls are that make up our world; what they divide, defend, and imprison; or how they solidify and perpetuate not only power, but also limits that protect us. From the borders that enclose nation-states to the bodies that give us the illusion of contained selves, in this course we will encounter, build, or tear down the walls that define knowledge, power, and human and nonhuman experience. By reading the wall” and analyzing it as a metaphor through a range of artistic, philosophical, and literary texts and media, we will investigate the meaning of place, consciousness, objectivity, as well as critique power structures and systemic oppression in our society. Through close reading exercises, analytical writing, and creative presentations, we will inquire, who lays the first brick in a wall? Do resistance movements or violence take down the wall? Can our senses and our affect cause fissures in the wall? How is patriarchy a wall? How about language, science, consciousness, and time? Further, we will return to Waters to symptomatically read the metaphor of the wall and ask, What shall I use to fill the empty spaces where we used to talk? How shall I fill the final places? How should I complete the wall?”


Upper Division 

HISC 108: Parables for a Warming Planet: The Politics of Climate Change


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“Truth and fable are no more opposed than science and poetry…”

                                 – Hayden White

This course examines the literary forms of parables, allegories, fables, and other kinds of storytelling as a way of understanding and responding to ecological crises. How can these stories capture the scale and myriad agents of climate change, sea level rise, and species collapse while helping us explore options for a planetary future? What kinds of attention do these forms demand of their readers and how is their simplicity matched by a complexity of possible interpretations? This course will also examine the role of figurative language and speculation in the discourse of science. What are the stories that science tells itself? Texts will span literature, science, and philosophy with a special interest in the fields of Black feminism, science studies, and Indigenous thought of the Island Pacific.

Close reading and discussion of written and visual texts will be complemented by writing exercises that engage the themes of the course. This course will meet synchronously online. 



HISC 130: Blackness and the Psychoanalytic Imaginary


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"You can never be an expert in psychoanalysis if you talk about blackness."

—Annie Lee Jones, Psychoanalyst (Black Psychoanalysts Speak)

Many scholars working in African and Black Studies have critiqued Freudian and post-Freudian psychoanalysis for its claim of universality, emphasizing its conscious and unconscious failures in accounting for the psycho-historical effects of racial and genocidal violence. Drawing on thinkers and practitioners such as Frantz Fanon, Hortense Spillers, Claudia Tate, Françoise Vergès, Annie Lee Jones, David Marriott, Achille Mbembe, Lewis Gordon and Ato Sekyi-Otu, this seminar closely examines Freudian notions of instinct, drive, desire, death, sexuality, and (religious) ritual in relation to blackness. Our critical study of Freud will be guided by the following questions: What is the relationship between Freudian (and post-Freudian) psychoanalysis and blackness? Is it merely a missed encounter? Is it an incommensurability? In our time together, we will work through these questions while also attending to the deep historical and contemporary stakes of our investigation.



HISC 138: Fascism and Film


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Commentators often note the role that propaganda played in the development of fascism. In Nazi Germany, in particular, Germans often sat eagerly by the radio to listen to Hitler’s voice. Some of the first, and most effective, propaganda films came from early-20th century Germany and Italy. Apparently, fascism and film have always shared a close relationship. Moreover, film provides us with opportunities to see if we can recognize certain aspects of fascism.

In this class, we’ll try to understand what fascism is and what it looks and sounds like. Each week, we’ll learn something new about fascism and try to identify it in a film that relates to the topic for the week. Is fascism a form of government? Is it an ideology? Is it a kind of mass hypnosis? Is it a cultural form? Is it the form of a certain kind of social movement? Perhaps, it’s all of the above, or perhaps, it’s something else entirely. In addition to exploring what fascism is, we’ll also investigate the conditions from which fascism arises. Why is fascism always nationalist? How does it relate to liberalism and capitalism? Reading a wide variety of literature—from Marx’s writing to the Futurist Manifesto to early-20th century analyses of fascism to contemporary psychoanalytic and political economic analyses—we’ll try to answer these questions. 

We’ll pay special attention to a few themes. First, how is it that fascism always comes from capitalist and liberal social relations? Second, what difference does it make if fascists governments arise as the culmination of social movements? Third, what does it mean if we say that fascism is particularly cultural in a way that other social and governmental systems aren’t? Fourth, what can we gain by thinking of something like fascist psychology? Fifth, what does it mean that fascism “aestheticizes politics,” as Walter Benjamin wrote? Finally, if, as so many authors have claimed, fascism works to protect and preserve capitalist relations, how does that work?





  • HISC 80S: War and the Media: Critical Approaches to Terrorism Studies
  • HISC 82: Another Brick in the Wall
  • HISC 108: Parables for a Warming Planet: The Politics of Climate Change
  • HISC 130: Blackness and the Psychoanalytic Imaginary
  • HISC 138: Fascism and Film