SPR19:HUM303

SDavis1912Chinatown

Humanities 303-01: History and Culture

SPRING 2019

M/W 2-3.15 in HUM 132

Sean Connelly Contact: connelly@sfsu.edu

Office location/ hours in HUM 416 on M 1-2, Tu 10-11 and by appt.

Prerequisite: ENG 114 or equivalent. This is an upper division course. First and second year students need instructor permission to enroll.

The Project:

Note: the hyperlinks that follow are pdfs.

HUM303: History and Culture introduces students to critical perspectives on the relationship between culture and historytext and context. How do cultural texts  “express” (subvert or affirm) the social values and material conditions of their historical contexts?

Avoiding the blind alley of presentism, we will examine the ways readers and audiences contribute to signification by generating cogent meanings from representations. Subject to the “common sense” of a determinate situation, how are we to interpret the artifacts and practices of our own time and those of prior periods? How do those meanings change over time?

In order to address such questions we will analyze works from a variety of genres, including film, the novel, poetry, popular music, photography, and painting. Does the form of a given signifying practice shape its content or is form itself a kind of content? We will develop a vocabulary of keywords including ideology, narrative, dialectics, and the bolded terms in this syllabus.

Modernity— as a historical period,  a Civilizational project, and a social experience mediating our relationship to the world– lies at the heart of this course, though we will be focusing on that concept in some very particular ways.

For example, in contradiction to many moderns’ sense of themselves as rational subjects governed by Enlightenment principles, we will investigate the chaotic and irrational currents animating the Modern Era from the early 19th century to the present. As European Romantics and Congolese intellectuals alike have argued, the quest for knowledge as a form of mastery over the natural world and the anarchic forces this project unleashes possesses an incoherent, paradoxical aspect. Despite an often unquestioning conviction that “capital P “Progress governs the development of societies, there is abundant evidence that the trajectory of historical change can curl back on itself or jump the tracks altogether. The tempos of modern life hiccup and syncopate, challenging our framework for understanding the world.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who do the work will complete the semester with a general knowledge of the Modern, a solid foundation in narratology and film analysis, and a basic critical toolkit with which to analyze cultural production and semiosis.

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Basic Etiquette

ARRIVE ON TIME,  work completed, with a hard copy of the assigned text. All assignments should be typed and include name/date/course.

Electronic devices

On its own, a cell phone is not an adequate tool with which to pursue a college education. Surely by now everyone knows this. The course blog, for example, is best viewed on a computer. Unless I specifically request it, NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES SHOULD BE USED DURING CLASS.

Intellectual Honesty

CHEATING DESTROYS trust between teacher and student. If you can’t trust your teacher, then you deserve a new one. If you can’t trust your students, etc.

As a general rule any ideas/words that are not your own should be cited. Yet intellectual honesty encompasses more than actively avoiding plagiarism. For example, reading a wikipedia entry rather than an assigned novel or allowing others to do your work for you are examples of cheating.

See http://www.sfsu.edu/~vpsa/judicial/titlev.html

Accessibility

If there’s anything I should know about you as a student, please talk to me RIGHT AWAY and I’ll do my best to help. See also: Disability Program and Resource Center (338-2472 or dprc@sfsu.edu).

Resources

The SAFE Place – (415) 338-2208; http://www.sfsu.edu/~safe_plc/

Counseling and Psychological Services Center – (415) 338-2208; http://psyservs.sfsu.edu/

Additional information on rights and available resources: http://titleix.sfsu.edu

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The Work: Grading Rubric

Effort and Engagement (Attendance, verbal participation, in-class work) 25%

4 Keyword Tests 5% each for a total of 20% 2/11, 2/27, 3/18, 4/8

Film Analysis Presentation (group presentation and written formal analysis) 30% 5/1, 5/6, 5/8, 5/13

Final Exam 25% 5/15

Important Dates

2/11: KW1

2/17: Last day of Drop/Add

2/20: Frankenstein completed

2/27: KW2

3/11: Père Goriot completed

3/18: KW3

3/22: CR/NC Deadline

4/8: 1919 completed

4/8: KW 4

4/24: Tram 83 completed

5/15: Final Exam

Required Texts

You must buy HARD COPIES of the following editions of the books listed below. 

Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot (France 1834) 978-0199538751

John Dos Passos, 1919 (US 1932) 9780618056828

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (UK 1818) 978-0143131847

Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Tram 83 (Congo 2015) 978-1941920046

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Schedule
(note: this schedule of readings and screenings is subject to revision. )

WEEK ONE
1/28
Introduction
Handout: “A Worker Reads History”
First Assignment: John Gray on Progress

1/30
Due: John Gray on Progress
Clip: Margin Call
Assignment: Manifesto of the Communist Party (excerpt)

WEEK TWO
2/4
Due: Manifesto of the Communist Party (excerpt)
In-class Reading:
Clip: American Gangster

2/6
Due: Reading
Clip: Young Karl Marx

WEEK THREE
2/11
Due: Frankenstein
Keyword Test #1

2/13
Due: Frankenstein

WEEK FOUR
2/17
LAST DAY OF DROP/ADD

2/18
Due: Frankenstein

2/20
Due: Frankenstein(complete)

WEEK FIVE
2/25
Due: Frankenstein

2/27
Due: Frankenstein/ Père Goriot
Song: “Gold Digger”
Keyword Test #2

WEEK SIX
3/4
Due: Père Goriot

3/6
Due: Père Goriot

WEEK SEVEN
3/11
Due: Père Goriot (complete)
Clip: A Strike Leader’s Diary

3/13
Due: Père Goriot

WEEK EIGHT
3/18
Due: Père Goriot
Keyword Test #3

3/20
Due: 1919

3/22
CR/NC DEADLINE

WEEK NINE

SPRING BREAK

WEEK TEN
4/1
Due: 1919

4/3
Due: 1919

WEEK ELEVEN
4/8
Due: 1919 (complete)
Keyword Test #4

4/10
Due: 1919
Song: Various

WEEK TWELVE
4/15
Due: 1919

4/17
Due: 1919/ Tram 83

WEEK THIRTEEN
4/22
Due: Tram 83

4/24
Due: Tram 83 (complete)

WEEK FOURTEEN
4/29
Due: Tram 83

5/1
Due: Tram 83

WEEK FIFTEEN
5/6
Film Presentations

5/8
Film Presentations

WEEK SIXTEEN
5/13
Film Presentations/ REVIEW

5/15
FINAL EXAM

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