Sawyer Seminar at the University of Chicago, 2011-2012                               Around 1948: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Transformation

Sawyer Undergraduate Course offered by the History Department:

Justice in Wartime and Its Aftermath, Europe 1940-1950
(HIST 22209, HMRT 22209, INST 22209, PLSC 22209)
Taught by Dimitris Kousouris (History)

The Second World War in Europe unleashed an unprecedented amount of brutality and deeply shook the pre-existing social and political hierarchies, transmuting the war into a gigantic and diversified set of civil conflicts. If during the war itself the legal prosecution of (internal and external) enemies was a means of retribution and dissuasion, the post-war period witnessed a number of international and domestic legal purges implemented in order to rehabilitate state authority and to lay the foundations of a new political order. This course examines the forms of both domestic and international justice as components of a vast process of nation re-building that took place in Europe in the aftermath of WWII, and as a key point in the formation of a new community of law (i.e. international humanitarian legislation). How did the war experience generate the quest for justice? And how, in turn, did the judicial dramas performed in the trials shape the official memories and foundation myths of post-war regimes? With special emphasis on the long-lasting effects of these procedures upon contemporary political culture and collective memory, we will use a selection of the vast secondary literature on the subject as well as primary sources including legal texts, press releases, essays, fiction and films. Cases will include Greece, France, Italy, Poland and others. (Spring 2012)

Two graduate courses offered by the Center for Disciplinary Innovation:

Suspended between Worlds: Crisis, Displacement, and Disorientation around 1948
(CDIN 52410, ENGL 52410, HIST 62402)
Taught by Deborah Nelson (English) & James Sparrow (History)

This course takes up four interlocking crises of the immediate post-world war II era which unfolded in a suspended historical moment amidst the acknowledgement of the Second World War’s disaster, but before the Cold War logic imposed its order: (1) the “outer” crisis in world politics, occurring at sites ranging from Hiroshima to Nuremberg to New Delhi to Berlin to Peekskill and beyond; (2) the “inner” crisis of modernity produced by the utopian/dystopian ramifications of mass politics explored by Arendt, Orwell, Camus and Nabokov, which was only deepened through realist moves in political theology by Niebuhr, Tillich, Schmitt, Morgenthau, and Koestler; (3) the crisis of representation and cultural criticism, as exemplified by Auerbach and Pound, Brooks and Eliot; and (4) the confrontation with the underlying crisis of modernity through internal exile, displacement, and commitment as improvised by Sartre, Beauvoir, Bowles, Fanon, and Baldwin, and the flight from the same crisis within the American popular culture that began to encircle the world. Working across the disciplinary boundaries of history and literary studies, we will look at how these crises were understood and the strategies proposed to confront them in both the arts and politics. (Winter 2012)

Postcolonial Intersections: The Middle East and South Asia
(CDIN 49500, ENGL 66730, PLSC 42512, SALC 49500)
Taught by Leela Gandhi (English) & Lisa Wedeen (Political Science)

From its inception, postcolonial theory has generally been construed as a polemic between West/non-west and colonizer/colonized—unmindful of important variations on both sides of these binaries (e.g., historical and geographical varieties of colonialism; diverse types of anticolonialism; experiences of and reflections about postcolonial political, economic, social, and intimate life).  Also occluded are the complex conversations (some of them quite antagonistic) across colonized locations. This seminar pays attention to forgotten geo-historical and epistemological/affective circuits of postcolonial theory, with particular attention to the exchanges between South Asia and the Middle East. (Spring 2012)

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