Fall 2015

Anthropology 1951 - Eureka! An Anthropology of Innovation

Namita Dharia

To be human is to have the ability to adapt and innovate. The creative and generative spirit of human thought and action is considered to bridge the dividing lines of cultures and nations. An emphasis on innovation and creative solutions has risen in the past decade, as global crises, such as climate change, economic instability, and epidemics, challenge life as we know it. In this class we examine the idea of innovation to explore its processes and politics. We explore both the potential and perils of innovation through specific case studies in technology, artistic endeavors, entrepreneurial initiatives, and everyday life.We approach the idea of innovation through a constellation of terms that accompany it: creativity, generativity, improvisation, ingenuity, entrepreneurism, and cultural and technological change. We will ask: Why and how do we innovate? What does it mean to innovate? What are the historical and geographic conditions and the tools and technologies that enable innovation? In this day and age of celebration of entrepreneurial activity and creative collaborations: we ask who is read as innovative and what are the limits of the innovative endeavor?The course begins with classic texts on creative processes to discuss the innovative human condition. We juxtapose these with texts on the politics of creation. We will think through innovative processes and discuss the idea of the innovative in the every day. Ethnographic monographs will raise questions of body, technology race, class, education, mobility, and gender. How do these change the way we read innovation? We will end by examining how innovation might work with or against modes of exploitation and domination.

Comparative Literature 103 - Grounds for Comparison

David Damrosch

This seminar provides an introduction to literary studies in a global age. How do writers refract and transform the world around them, and the world beyond their borders? How do they celebrate or challenge their society’s values and rethink their literary heritage? Writers in every culture have mobilized the resources of poetic language and literary form to delight and instruct their readers, while critics and theorists have sought to understand how writers achieve their effects. Through close reading of a range of compelling works, accompanied by major critical and theoretical statements, we will explore the relations of literature to society and theory to literature, focusing on different ways in which we can compare works both within and across cultures and eras.

Economics 1776 - Religion and the Rise of Capitalism

Benjamin Friedman

Examines the influence of religious thinking on the intellectual revolution, associated with Adam Smith and others, that created economics as we know it as an independent discipline; also examines how the lasting resonances from these early religious influences continue to shape discussion of economic issues and debates about economic policy down to our own day.

This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Culture and Belief. This course fulfills the requirement that one of the eight General Education courses also engage substantially with Study of the Past.

English 270U - Utopias and Dystopias: Graduate Seminar 

John Stauffer

This interdisciplinary and transnational course examines the rich tradition of utopian and dystopian societies and literature from the Bible and classical antiquity to the present, with a particular focus on the United States.  We explore a wide variety of utopian societies, especially those inspired by religious belief, from communal and aesthetic experiments to conceptions of America as a utopia.  Readings range from scripture and fiction to philosophy, history, sociology, political documents, letters, autobiography, and film.

Ethnicity, Migration, Rights 123 - Issues in the Study of Native American Religion

Ann Braude

Based around a series of guest speakers, this course interrogates the study of religion in general and of Native American traditions in particular in light of indigenous perspectives and histories. Questions of appropriation, repatriation and religious freedom will be approached through legal as well as cultural frameworks. Jointly offered as HDS 2345 and Religion 1590.

Freshman Seminar 23H - Anatomy and Ethical Transgressions in National Socialism

Sabine Hildebrandt

This course introduces students to the history and ethics of anatomy and their relevance for current medical ethics. The general history of anatomical dissection serves as a background to ethical transgressions committed by anatomists during National Socialism (NS, Nazi Germany). Body procurement changed by including increasing numbers of bodies of NS victims, and anatomists became complicit in the complete destruction of so-called “enemies” of the regime. A few anatomists left the traditional paradigm of anatomy- i.e. gain of anatomical knowledge through work with the dead- and started work with the “future dead” in experiments on prisoners who were subsequently murdered.

Freshman Seminar 41H - Islam in Black America

Marla Frederick

Much of the study of black religion in the United States has focused on its Christian roots.  And, while the predominant impulse of black religious expression in the American context came from Christian worshippers, Muslim adherents were among those first brought to America’s shores under the force and violence of slavery.  This course explores the history of Islam among African Americans from the ante-bellum period through the present.  It looks at significant moments in the development and transformation of Islam in the US through what Sherman Jackson calls its three “resurrections.”   

Freshman Seminar 43M - Psychology of Religion

Jon Boyd

Based around a series of guest speakers, this course interrogates the study of religion in general and of Native American traditions in particular in light of indigenous perspectives and histories. Questions of appropriation, repatriation and religious freedom will be approached through legal as well as cultural frameworks. Jointly offered as HDS 2345 and Religion 1590.

Harvard Divinity School 2195 / History of Science 192 - The Empire Strikes Back: Science Fiction, Religion, and Society 

Ahmed Ragab and Hannah Roosth

From the seventeenth century to today, science fiction has reflected the aspirations of scientific innovation and anticipated new discoveries. It has reflected rhetorical practices by which science melds present contexts with futurism, extrapolation, and promissory logics. Authors have engaged with ethical problems, fears about innovations gone awry, and pessimism about the prospects of technological development, all while critiquing views on gender, race, and sexuality, and subverting colonial ambitions while engaging postcolonial aspirations. At the same time, science fiction has engaged religious and spiritual views, both interacting with religious imaginaries and engaging with the role of religion in society and in relation to science. In this course, we trace science fiction through history. We analyze how it has understood science and technology, war and colonialism, sex, race and gender, health and disease. We investigate how it has interacted with religion and influenced social and cultural attitudes. We will read major works in science fiction and understand how they live with and within us. Topics include: time travel, utopias and dystopias, race, gender, and sexuality, religion and culture, embodiment and disembodiment, posthumanism). In addition to novels and short stories, lectures will incorporate film, television, graphic novels, music videos, and other science fictional subgenres. Jointly offered as History of Science 192.

The course will be accompanied by a film series of major science fiction films and guest speakers (film series attendance is optional)

Harvard Divinity School 2316 - Religion and Identity in Modern American History, 1865-2000

K. Healan Gaston

This course will explore how historians of modern America have portrayed the role of religion in the formation and perpetuation of individual and group identities. Throughout the semester, we will ask how various axes of identity (such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, age, and ability) relate to the dynamics of believing and belonging experienced by a range of historical actors. We will pay particular attention to how dynamics of tolerance and intolerance shape religious identity in a pluralistic democracy. The readi​ngs will provide students with a broad overview of the subject area while at the same time inviting them to consider which interpretive approaches they find most compelling and why. Students will produce 25 pages of writing during the semester, but they will have a choice between three short analytical papers or one article-length original research paper.

Harvard Divinity School 3302 / History of Science 166 - What Is Enlightenment?: Science, Religion, and the Making of Modernity

Soha Bayoumi

From Immanuel Kant's answer to this question in 1784 to Michel Foucault's engagement with the same question and answer in 1984, two centuries had passed and much water had flowed under the bridge. From the inception of its ideals in the Anglo-Saxon world in the seventeenth century at the hands of Spinoza, John Locke and Isaac Newton, to its development in France in the eighteenth century by Voltaire, Montesquieu and Rousseau and culmination with the writings of Immanuel Kant, the Enlightenment developed into an important intellectual movement which helped shape modernity and its repercussions in the contemporary world. This course will trace the history of Enlightenment in primary sources, enriched by a collection of secondary readings, and will explore contemporary reflections on Enlightenment from various schools of thought, ranging from Romanticism to Marxism, and from feminism to postmodernism. Some of the themes addressed include the politics of the Enlightenment, philosophy and morality, rationalism and empiricism, science and education, and religion and toleration.

Harvard Divinity School 3368 / Islamic Civilizations 170 - Islam, Modernity and Politics

 Ousmane Oumar Kane

The aim of this seminar is to study the evolution of Islamic thought and political practices in Muslim societies from the 19th to the early 21st centuries. Attention will be devoted to the patterns of interaction between the Muslim World and the West because it is our assumption that these patterns contribute to influence ideological formations and modes of religious/political mobilizations in the Muslim World. By the end of the eighteenth century, much of the Muslim World was in "decline" whereas European imperial powers, mainly France and Great Britain, were on the rise. The course will explore the response of Muslim societies and intellectuals to the rise of European prominence. The major 19th century reformist movements that appeared in the Muslim World will be discussed, ranging from movements advocating mild reform to those rejecting all influence of "Western civilization" and advocating a return to the Tradition of Muhammad. In the twentieth century, virtually all the Muslim World came under European colonial domination. During colonial rule and after, the Muslim world experienced major transformations which affected the nature and administration of law, politics and society. It is in this context, that the new Islamic revival that some have called "Islamism" was articulated as an alternative to Westernization. The course will address the rise of contemporary "Islamism," as an alternative to Western domination and modernization/Westernization. The major theorists of political Islam as well as the different trajectories of "Islamism" in diverse Muslim societies will be covered. The impact of political Islam in the West will also be addressed. The final part of the course will assess the trajectories of political Islam and address the ongoing debates on post-Islamism, secularism and modernity.

Harvard Divinity School 3341 / History of Science 209 - Science and Religion: Debates, Approaches, and Controversies

Ahmed Ragab

How is your cellphone part of religious experience? Why do some people refuse to vaccinate their children? And why some reject evolution and global warming? What is missionary medicine and how is it related to global health? What role do religious institutions play in our lives? And why does research show that prayers can improve health outcomes? How important is Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment? And why should we care?!

The study of science and religion has been dominated limited set of views that range from animosity to attempts at reconciliation. Yet, these approaches remain largely normative and are deeply rooted in particular readings of European history. In this course, we move beyond debates of conflict or harmony into deeper discussions of how scientific and religious discourses impact daily lives and how issues of race, gender, sexuality and socioeconomic status impact these discourses. The course is a research lab where students are trained on research methods, and on different genres of scholarly writing including grants. Students choose two modules out of four addressing religion and (a) medicine and global health, (2) environmental and natural sciences, (3) social sciences, and (4) art. In each module, students learn about major questions in the field, work with different methods and produce innovative research projects.

Open for graduate and undergraduate students. Offered jointly as History of Science HS 209 and HDS 3341. SRC fellows are required to take this course.

History of Science 146V - Bodies in Flux: Medicine, Gender, and Sexuality in the Modern Middle East

Soha Bayoumi

This course examines how bodies, genders and sexualities in the modern Middle East, from the nineteenth century to the Arab revolts, have been shaped and represented via changing and competing discourses. Through a variety of historical, ethnographic, media and literary readings, the course studies multiple and dynamic representations of bodies in flux: medicalized bodies, gendered bodies, sexualized bodies, (re)productive bodies, aging bodies and bodies in revolt. The course pays special attention to medicine and science in their interaction with laws, traditions and religious practices. Some of the topics covered include analyzing histories of and discourses on slavery, femininity and masculinity, homosexuality, health, reproduction, disabilities, circumcision and genital cutting/mutilation and gender-based violence.

Societies of the World 25 - Case Studies in Global Health: Biosocial Perspectives

Paul Farmer, Arthur Kleinman, Anne Becker, and Salmaan Keshavjee

Examines, through lectures and case-based discussions, a collection of global health problems rooted in rapidly changing social structures that transcend national and other administrative boundaries. Students will explore case studies (addressing AIDS, tuberculosis, mental illness, and other topics) and a diverse literature (including epidemiology, anthropology, history, and clinical medicine), focusing on how a broad biosocial analysis might improve the delivery of services designed to lessen the burden of disease, especially among those living in poverty. Note: Course counts as Social Anthropology. Will not be offered in Fall 2016.

Societies of the World 54 - Islam and Politics in the Modern Middle East

The course critically examines the ideologies and political strategies of twentieth century Islamist movements, as well as their origins and evolution. It will relate the  emergence of organized Islamist movements in the first part of the twentieth century to earlier Islamic reformist narratives, and explore the political and social contexts in which these movements emerged and evolved. Particular attention will be given to the ideas these movements developed and to the texts they published and disseminated.  One component of the course is historical and seeks to cover the evolution of Islamist movements over the course of the twentieth century, from the Muslim Brothers’ emergence, to the development of radical Islam, and the “mainstreaming” of Islamist movements searching for avenues of legal participation. Another component will be issue-based and will examine questions such as: why did political movements based in Islam become so important in the twentieth century? How can we account for their polarization into what are usually described as “moderate” and “radical” trends? How is their existence and history related to the formation of modern states in the Middle East and to their authoritarianism? What are the reasons behind and the consequences of some of these movements’ electoral successes, after the Arab Spring in particular? Egypt will be the central focus due to its crucial role in the genealogy of Islamism as a political movement. Although examples from North Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Middle East will also be covered, the  course is not a survey of the history of Islamist movements throughout the entire region.