Fall 2014 quarter

Taught by

By the time the First World War broke out in 1914, the vast majority of the world’s population and territory were under the direct or indirect control of European imperial powers. This was accomplished, on the one hand, through military conquest, genocide, and political subjugation, and it was legitimated, on the other, through religious, economic, and scientific argument. Works of art played their part as well, but also open up spaces of inquiry, critique, and resistance. This program shall accordingly place a special emphasis on critical and creative reading and writing as a way of deepening our inquiry into these challenging materials. What were the arguments made in support of imperialist policy and practice? And what arguments – and other forms of resistance – have been mounted against it? How does imperialism do things with words? And what might words, in turn, do with imperialism? How does the experience of imperialism affect those subjected to it, and what impact does it have on imperialists? And how does the legacy of nineteenth- and twentieth-century imperialism continue to structure our own so-called “post-colonial” epoch?

In order to answer these questions, we will study the discursive practices of both the imperial past and the “post-colonial” present, paying special attention, in particular, to verbal actions and reactions in relation to concrete material historical conditions. Our study will be enriched by the theoretical paradigm of Orientalism (as theorized by Edward Said), which shall enable us to examine the ways in which European ideologies underwrote the formation of empire and continues to inscribe asymmetrical relations today under the guise of freedom, modernity, progress, and global economic development.

Requirements will include (a) frequent short writings, (b) an end-of-the-quarter research paper and presentation, and (c) weekly seminars. Weekly schedule will consist of presentations by faculty and guest speakers, viewing of films, study groups, and seminar discussion.

A reporter once asked Gandhi, “What do you think about Western Civilization?” Gandhi replied wryly: “I think that it would be a good idea.”

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

education and teaching, government and politics, and non-profit organizations.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.


Date Revision
August 5th, 2014 Zahid Shariff has left the teaching team; enrollment has been reduced.
July 9th, 2014 Description has been updated.
May 7th, 2014 Eirik Steinhoff has joined this program; description has been updated and enrollment increased.
March 13th, 2014 New opportunity added.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 10199

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