HSS Courses (2022-23)
This course will survey the evolution of Mediterranean and European civilization from antiquity through the end of the Middle Ages. It will emphasize the reading and discussion of primary sources, especially but not exclusively literary works, against the backdrop of the broad historical narrative of the periods. The readings will present students with the essential characteristics of various ancient and medieval societies and give students access to those societies' cultural assumptions and perceptions of change.
This course offers a focused introduction to the practices of reading, thinking, and writing that characterize academic writing. More specifically, the course teaches students how to articulate a position, situate writing within specific contexts, engage with the work of others, locate and provide convincing evidence, and understand the expectations of different types of academic readers. Additionally, this course focuses on the challenges of academic writing that can be especially demanding for multilingual writers, including mastery of Academic English, understanding American academic conventions regarding citation and plagiarism, and being comfortable with American academic readers' expectations regarding argumentation and evidence. Students will take several writing projects through multiple stages of revision, improving their work with feedback from seminar discussions, workshops, and frequent one-to-one conferences with the instructor. Students are placed in Wr 1 based on a writing assessment that is required of all incoming students; successful completion of the course is required before taking first-year humanities courses. Enrolled students may be required to take Wr 3, 4, and/or 50 in subsequent quarters.
Over the course of their history in the United States, African Americans have advanced various visions of liberation and strategies for attaining it. This course will examine how African Americans have conceptualized and sought to realize their freedom dreams since the end of chattel slavery. We will focus, in particular, on visions of freedom considered radical or utopian, both in their contemporary moment and in our present. Investigating how African Americans have imagined freer lives beyond their own localities, beyond U.S. borders, and even beyond Earth, our topics of discussion in the course may include emigration movements, black communism, pan-Africanism, black feminism, cults, Afrofuturism, hip hop culture, and abolitionism. Not offered 2022-23.
This course offers a focused introduction to the practices of reading, thinking, and writing that characterize academic writing. More specifically, the course teaches students how to articulate a position, situate writing within specific contexts, engage with the work of others, locate and provide convincing evidence, and understand the expectations of different types of academic readers. Students will take several writing projects through multiple stages of revision, improving their work with feedback from seminar discussions, workshops, and frequent one-to-one conferences with the instructor. Students are placed in Wr 2 based on a writing assessment that is required of all incoming students; successful completion of the course is required before taking first-year humanities courses. Enrolled students may be required to take Wr 3, 4, and/or 50 in subsequent quarters.
Designed to introduce students to the academic study of history, this course examines key issues and events that shaped the political, social, and cultural history of the United States in the Twentieth Century. Through a wide variety of historical sources-including primary documents, fiction, and music-students will explore issues such as popular culture, immigration and labor, the civil rights movement, political realignment, and American intervention abroad.
This course builds on Wr 1 or 2 for students who need additional instruction in both the core concepts and practices of academic writing before beginning their first-year humanities coursework. The course will focus on developing critical reading skills and composing successful academic essays. By taking several writing projects through multiple stages of revision, students will develop a deeper sense of their strengths and limitations as writers, and seminar discussions, workshops, and frequent one-to-one conferences with the instructor will equip students to address those limitations. Not available for credit toward the humanities-social science requirement. Enrolled students may be required to take Wr 4 and/or 50 in subsequent quarters.
This course follows Writing 2 and offers an opportunity for more focused study and discussion of core concepts in academic writing, such as audience, genre, argument, working with sources, and process. Weekly readings offer concrete guidance on these topics, and class discussions expand on that guidance, providing insights into common challenges college writers encounter. Not available for credit toward the humanities-social science requirement.
This class will explore several facets of how the concept of empire and its historical formation in China was defined, portrayed, and developed over time. It offers students a chance to reflect on the interaction of event, record, and remembrance as these components combine in the creation and contestation of history. This course will particularly emphasize how the making, writing, and remembering of history responds to the advent of different regimes of legitimacy in order to give students a new perspective on the relationship between action, authorship, and interpretation in history. Not offered 2022-23.
Civilization, Science, and Archaeology: The Development of Science from Babylon through the Renaissance
Connections in antiquity between astrology and astronomy, early theories of light, Islamic science, new concepts of knowledge during the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, the early laboratory, the development of linear perspective, the origins of the Copernican and Keplerian systems of astronomy, and the science of Galileo. Not offered 2022-23.
Civilization, Science, and Archaeology: The Nature of Religious Belief in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Israel
The civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia gave rise to complex forms of religious practices connected to the social order, moral behavior, and the afterlife. The course examines the origins of concepts of moral death and of sin as a violation of cosmic order in antiquity, the nature of polytheism, and the manner in which monotheism arose out of it. In addition to historical analyses the course includes readings by anthropologists who have studied cult structures as well as contemporary theories by evolutionary psychologists. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will introduce students to the early development of civilization in Mesopotamia and Egypt from 4000 B.C.E. through 1000 B.C.E. Origins of agriculture and writing, the evolution of the city, and the structures of the Mesopotamian economy and social order will be discussed. Comparison with contemporary developments in Egypt during the Old and Middle Kingdoms may include a reading of Gilgamesh from 3000 B.C.E. and of the Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe. The course concludes with a discussion of life during the late Bronze Age. Focus will be on life as it was lived and experienced by many groups in pre-classical antiquity rather than on kings and dynasties.
Will introduce students to major aspects of the politics and culture of modernity that have profoundly transformed Western society and consciousness from the French Revolution to the contemporary era. A variety of historical, literary, and artistic works will be used to illuminate major social, intellectual, and cultural movements. The focus will be on significant and wide-ranging historical change (e.g., the industrial revolution, imperialism, socialism, fascism); on cultural innovation (e.g., modernism, impressionism, cubism); and on the work of significant thinkers. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will explore how people understood violence in Europe between ca. 500 and ca. 1400 AD. It will focus on the various norms that governed the use of violence in a period when the right of free people to carry and use weapons was considered self-evident. Working through primary sources, students will explore the relationship between violence and vengeance, the law, central authority and public order, religion, emotions, public ritual, and economics. As they go along students will consider whether violence can coexist with or even promote stable, ordered societies, or whether it by definition creates disorder. Not offered 2022-23.
An introduction to economic methodology, models, and institutions. Includes both basic microeconomics and an introduction to modern approaches to macroeconomic issues. Students are required to participate in economics experiments.
Demographic events-births, marriages, deaths-have always been highly responsive to changes in the local environment. Decisions about when to marry, how many children to have, or what kind of household to live in have always been closely correlated to decisions people take in other areas of their lives and, as a result, can tell us a great deal about the economic, social, and cultural worlds people inhabit. This course examines differences in demographic trends in Europe across space and time, from 1700 to the present, as well as existing explanations for these differences, including political economic factors, social and cultural norms, biology and disease environments. Some topics include: the demographic effects of war, industrialization, and urbanization; changes related to the emergence of reliable contraceptive technologies; changes related to the expansion of economic opportunities for women; the effects of government policies on demographic decisions. Not offered 2022-23.
This course introduces students to both canonical and non-canonical theories of society. From the formative debates over the role of the state in human affairs in early modern Europe to radical interpretations of social good in the twentieth century, students will be exposed to competing theories of society and their implications in the political, the economic, the emotional, and the scientific realms. By the end of the quarter, students will be able to link contemporary notions of individuality, agency, rationality, morality, and ethics to divergent discourses in the history of social theory. Not offered 2022-23.
Introduction to the tools and concepts of analytical political science. Subject matter is primarily American political processes and institutions. Topics: spatial models of voting, redistributive voting, games, presidential campaign strategy, Congress, congressional-bureaucratic relations, and coverage of political issues by the mass media.
This course traces the origins of modern racism and, perhaps surprisingly, of human rights advocacy itself, to a seminal moment in global history sometimes called the Age of Discovery. At this time, two small European kingdoms, Spain and Portugal, first conducted trade and conquest in Atlantic Africa, the Americas, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, forging the world's first truly global empires. We study the legacy of racism and humanitarianism in eye-witness accounts, maps, images and other materials attesting to Spain's seminal encounters with the Americas.
This course will provide an introduction to what we know about the fascinating link between the brain, the mind, and behavior. We will start with a basic review of the brain as a biological organ, its evolution, development, and its basic operations including visual and others' senses. Next, we will discuss how the brain gives rise to a wide variety of complex behaviors, memory, social and emotional behaviors. The course will finally introduce students to the wider neurophilosophical questions concerning freewill, death and morality.
Introduction to anthropology. Exploration of hunters and gatherers and other early forms of human subsistence and social organization. Evolution of contemporary human diversity and similarity in kinship and marriage, gender relations, language, psychology, religion, witchcraft, division of labor, economic organization, political systems, law, and warfare. Contemporary tribalism and interethnic relations are examined. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will explore how natural philosophers and scientists have defined, used, and sometimes challenged ideas about race from the eighteenth century to today. Using a range of primary and secondary sources, we will examine how scientific ideas about race developed in concert with European imperial expansion and slavery; how these ideas were employed in legal cases, medical practice, and eugenics policies; and how activists and scholars have challenged racist practices and ideas. Finally, we will turn to the recent resurgence of racial thinking in biology and medicine in the light of the history of race and science.
What makes humans unique and how did we evolve? This course will review 8 million years of hominin evolutionary history, focusing on the origins of defining features of our species including bipedalism, tool use, language, and advanced cognition. We will examine evidence from primatology and the genetic, fossil, and archaeological records. Concepts from evolutionary biology and anthropology will be covered including adaptation, phylogenetics, life history theory, behavioral ecology, and gene-culture coevolution. Not offered 2022-23.
The things that human beings make and throw away rarely stay where we put them. Just as humans have shaped the biological and physical world, the biological and physical world shapes human actions. In this course, we will examine how these interacting forces propel environmental and cultural change. We will explore these concepts through the lens of waste - how different groups at different points in history define waste, where discarded things go and what they become as they move through space and time. We will consider how conflicting perceptions of utility and waste in different cultural and historical contexts have factored into shifting ideas about race, class, gender, wilderness, technology, consumption, and sovereignty. In rethinking waste, we will explore the multiple meanings of "nature," assess the roots of sustainability, and evaluate past events in light of current ideas about environmental justice. While this course prioritizes reading and discussion, we will also engage with the world around us through visual analysis. Pasadena and Los Angeles will be among our most important resources, allowing us to ground global ideas in a local context.
How do we know what we think we know about ancient peoples and societies? Archaeology is the study of past societies through the material traces they left behind from the great pyramids to microscopic bits of garbage. This course will review the global archaeological record from the earliest stone tools, roughly 3.3 million years ago, through the rise and fall of ancient civilizations of the Middle East, Africa, South and East Asia, and the Americas. We will examine evidence and theories pertaining to global dispersals, origins of agriculture, urbanization and societal collapse. Throughout the course we will discuss methodologies of site discovery, excavation, chronometric dating, skeletal analysis, and artifact characterization. We also discuss how the past is used for modern political and social agendas. Students will create virtual museum exhibits on archaeological topics of their choosing. Not offered 2022-23.
In Europe during the period from 1450-1650, there were several radical "revisions" of the universe. Nicolaus Copernicus proposed a sun-centered, rather than earth-centered, cosmos. Galileo Galilei turned his telescope towards the heavens and observed the Moon, Sun, and moons of Jupiter, and the voyages of discovery led to an expansion of the known world. At the same time, the innovation of the printing press played a crucial role in disseminating information and in allowing for astronomical printed images, including celestial atlases and maps, to reach a broad audience. Paintings of the heavens during this period are also a rich source of shifting astronomical ideas. In this course, we'll trace the role that images and instruments of astronomy played in both producing and reflecting these dramatic "revisions" of the universe. We'll study astronomical models, eclipse diagrams, almanacs, and printed instruments, alongside astrolabes, telescopes, and celestial globes, to uncover how images and instruments literally produced a new "vision" of a sun-centered universe for the early modern world.
This course is an introductory exploration of the stuff of modern biology - the practices and objects that biologists have used to produce knowledge of living nature in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course will look at how familiar concepts (e.g. the cell, evolution, the gene) were shaped by scientific workers' adoption of different methods and materials. This approach will allow us to situate biological inquiries within wider political and cultural contexts, while also drawing our attention to the way instruments mediated perceptions in the recording of observations and the execution of experiments. We will trace continuities and changes in the kinds of questions that naturalists and biologists posed, survey spaces in which they pursued their work, and become acquainted with a variety of humans, nonhuman organisms, chemicals, and machines assembled in these spaces. These exercises will familiarize us with diverse forms of labor in and beyond laboratories that have contributed to how humans understood the living world.
Major topics include the following: What are the origins of modern Western science, when did it emerge as distinct from philosophy and other cultural and intellectual productions, and what are its distinguishing features? When and how did observation, experiment, quantification, and precision enter the practice of science? What were some of the major turning points in the history of science? What is the changing role of science and technology? Using primary and secondary sources, students will take up significant topics in the history of science, from ancient Greek science to the 20th-century revolution in physics, biology, and technology. Hum/H/HPS 10 may be taken for credit toward the additional 36-unit HSS requirement by HPS majors and minors who have already fulfilled their first-year humanities requirement and counts as a history course in satisfying the first-year humanities breadth requirement.
Economics is a way of analyzing the world in which scarcity requires tradeoffs and creates constraints which are expressed as mathematical optimization. Theories are tested with both controlled experiments and analysis of field data. Motivating clever theories and evidence is a folk concept of "thinking like an economist" (or "economic intuition"). We will develop economic intuition about topics which include: Unintended consequences, how to show causality, partial and general equilibrium, game theory, the effect of institutional systems, price bubbles, pricing risk, drug addiction, and more. First-year (undergraduate) only, limited enrollment. Not offered 2022-23.
In recent years, growing numbers of people committed to equity and social justice have discussed various ways of addressing historical injustices whose harms are still experienced in the present. Some have proposed monetary restitution and other restorative strategies that account for resources, opportunities, and lives lost. Others have advocated more symbolic reparative approaches that seek to heal the psychic wounds of injustice. This course will examine efforts to right the wrongs of history, with particular attention given to the decades-long movement for reparations for African Americans and recent efforts to address difficult histories at Caltech. Investigating initiatives that have been realized and others that have been only imagined, in this course we will seek to understand both the possibilities and impossibilities of repairing historical harms. Not offered 2022-23.
During the 19th-century the American economy, despite the Civil War, caught up to and surpassed all European economies. How did the likes of Singer, John Deere and Seth Thomas - latecomers to the markets they served-come to dominate those markets both domestically and internationally? Why did the technology of interchangeable parts and mass production become known as 'the American system' when much of that technology was imported from Europe? What role did government play in facilitating or thwarting innovation and economic growth? This course will explore such questions as reflected in the ordinary things people collect under the label 'antiques'. What do we learn from the fact that we can document a half dozen American manufacturers of apple peelers but not a single comparable European company? Why is the hand sewn quilt a nearly unique American folk art form and what does the evolution of quilting patterns tell us about technology and economic prosperity? What do baking powder cans as a category of collectible tell us about the politics of federal versus state regulation? Students will be expected to each choose a topic that asks such questions and to explore possible answers, all with an eye to understanding the interplay of economics, politics, and demography.
Marvels flourish at the boundaries of literary invention, religious belief, and scientific inquiry, challenging assumptions about natural processes and expected outcomes. From Grendel, the monstrous foe of Beowulf, to Satan, Milton's charismatic antihero, this seminar examines the uses of the marvelous in a variety of texts and genres, including Shakespearian drama, medieval romance, and early travel-writing. Readings may include Beowulf, Marie de France, Chaucer, John Mandeville, Shakespeare, Milton.
Throughout the history of Europe, America, and beyond, poets and philosophers have asked hard questions about unequal relationships, whether between kings and subjects, gods and humans, men and women, rich and poor, or machines and people. Our authors take no single point of view; our goal is to analyze sophisticated and often surprising arguments and to enter new cultural worlds. Readings may include Ovid, Milton, Sei Shonagon, Machiavelli, Rousseau, and Alexievich.
The relationship between patients and doctors, the ill and the well, involves a constant exchange of stories. In this course we will look more closely at the relationship between medicine and narrative through a selection of fiction, essays and poems that investigate the interplay between doubt and diagnosis, the idea of the case study, the problem of medical responsibility, and the language of pain and illness. Authors covered may include Sontag, Mantel, Conan Doyle, Freud, Woolf, Dickinson, Ishiguro and Shelley. Not offered 2022-23.
This course considers three periods of major scientific development-the Renaissance, the nineteenth century, and the modern period- to explore the influence new ideas, discoveries, and theories had on the imagination of English writers. We will look at the early modern interplay between magic and science, Romantic and Victorian debates about evolution, and the twentieth-century advent of modern physics as we confront consistent tropes like the mad scientist, the scientist-hero, and the problem of uncertainty. Authors covered may include Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bacon, Shelley, Darwin, Conan Doyle, Stevenson, Auden, McEwan, and Stoppard. Not offered 2022-23.
European literature has long been a testing ground for radical new ideas which have come to shape our basic understanding of what it means to be a thinking, speaking and perhaps even autonomous human being. The question of what - if anything - makes us different from animals was debated from numerous points of view: including talking dogs, philosophizing women, bestial men, humanlike beasts, and other creatures that defied the conventions of the time. This course explores some of the key literary texts that shaped this debate and pays careful attention to their cultural environments. Selected readings from Cervantes, La Fontaine, Swift, Rousseau, Buffon, Aikin, and Wollstonecraft, among others.
Not available for credit toward humanities-social science requirement. Written report required. Graded pass/fail. Not offered 2022-23.
Albert Einstein once said that imagination is everything, and even more important than knowledge. This course invites you to think about - and use - your imagination as we explore how the act of imagining has been viewed over time in the service of memory and creativity, in both the arts and the sciences. Readings will focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and will include Hume, Moritz, Kant, Novalis, Hoffmann, Coleridge, and Wordsworth. Not offered 2022-23.
Dream narratives reveal as much about cultural beliefs and superstitions as they do about techniques of narration and interpretation. This course investigates key developments in the literature on dreams and dream interpretations with examples drawn from the Renaissance through the beginning of the nineteenth century. Selected readings from Boccaccio, Descartes, Calderón, Shakespeare, and Diderot, among others. Not offered 2022-23.
In this course we will look closely at representations of nonhuman animals in literature from the Middle Ages to our present moment as opportunities to revisit definitions of, and the boundaries created and blurred between, the "human" and the "animal." Readings may include Marie de France, Marianne Moore, Franz Kafka, Donna Haraway, Donika Kelly, and K-Ming Chang.
As both a celebration and remembrance of Black expressive thought, this course will serve as an introduction to Black literature and culture across several US geographic regions from the standpoint of a variety of intersectional identities and experiences. This course centers on how the artistic, cultural, and literary lives of Black people have shaped US economic, political, and social history since before the nation's founding. In addition to literary texts, this course will introduce students to several examples of cultural expression that have also become beloved touchstones in Black cultural history. Because literary works and works of cultural expression by Black people have long informed the possibilities of American artistic expression and critical thought, they provide possible blueprints for how US life might unfold in the future. Students will learn to apply several existing contexts and methodologies for the study of Black literature and culture, propose directions for future study, and explore their own unique possibilities for deepening their relationships to this body of work. Possible authors include Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines, Toni Morrison, Octavia E. Butler, and Akwaeke Emezi. Course requirements will likely include class attendance and participation in discussion, weekly reflections on the readings, a take-home midterm examination, and a take-home final essay.
This course is a comprehensive exploration of the poetics (acts of making) of Black feminisms across literature, culture, and theory, centering on works that engage social justice, healing practices, abolition, self-care, and more. Students will read and study several examples of the lives and works of Black LBGTQ+ people and others who have long reimagined dis/ability, ethics, gender, race, and sexuality within Black feminist contexts. Such works have radically retheorized community, embodiment, home, self-love, and more, in ways that challenge cultures of violence in favor of imagining beloved communities and futures. Through a combination of regular study and practice, students will build expertise to practice black feminist poetics in their own lives and work and will propose their own goals for future study in the field.
Narratives of metamorphosis have traditionally used their dramatic subject matter-a radical change of form-as a vehicle for social criticism. This course explores the ways in which twentieth-century writers experiment with the concept of metamorphosis to take on the most pressing political and social issues of their day, including slavery, women's rights, and critiques of capitalist excess. Readings to include Kafka, Garnett, Orwell, Tawada, and Erpenbeck. Not offered 2022-23.
In this course, we will be considering lying and other types of deception from the point of view of literature and philosophy, with two main goals in mind: 1) to compare cultural practices of deception at various times in European history and 2) to think in general terms about the ability of a literary text to convey truth and falsehood. Can a fictional text be "true" in any meaningful sense, such as a political one? Or, as many people have thought over time, is it more accurate to think about literature as a beautiful lie? Readings will include the legend of Till Eulenspiegel as well as texts by Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Diderot, and those relating to the Ossian controversy. Not offered 2022-23.
Why begin the study of literature with poems? Written words are the building blocks of literature, and poetry, in Coleridge's famous equation, is "the best words in the best order." To be understood and appreciated, poetry requires a close attention to words and their ordering as they are read and reread. All good literature requires such attention, but practically speaking, poetry provides the best way to acquire the art of rereading because of its shorter forms. More importantly, poetry can be the most emotionally intense and satisfying of literary forms. We will read a small number of poems written in English from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries from several genres - sonnet, ode, elegy, verse epistle, satire, villanelle - and on several subjects - love, death, and politics. Poets will include William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and William Butler Yeats.
Studies of American aesthetics, genres, and ideas from the birth of the nation to the present. Students will be introduced to the techniques of formal analysis. We will consider what constitutes evidence in relation to texts and how to develop a persuasive interpretation. Topics may include Nature's Nation, slavery and its aftermath, individualism and the marketplace, the "New Woman," and the relation between word and image.
This course addresses questions such as: Where do our moral ideas come from? What justifies them? How should they guide our conduct, as individuals and as a society? What kind of person should one aspire to be? Topics the course may deal with include meta-ethical issues (e.g., What makes an action right or wrong? When is one morally responsible for one's actions? How should society be organized?) and normative questions (e.g., Is eating meat morally acceptable? What should we tolerate and why? What are society's obligations toward the poor?). In addition, the psychological and neural substrates of moral judgment and decision making may be explored. The course draws on a variety of sources, including selections from the great works of moral and political philosophy (e.g., Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, Hobbes's Leviathan, Kant's Groundings for a Metaphysics of Morals, and Rawls's A Theory of Justice), contemporary discussions of particular moral issues, and the science of moral thought.
The theme of this course is the scope and limitations of rational belief and knowledge. Students will examine the nature of reality, the nature of the self, the nature of knowledge, and how we learn about the natural world. Students will be introduced to these issues through selections from some of the world's greatest philosophical works, including Descartes's Meditations, Pascal's Pensées, Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Berkeley's Principles of Human Knowledge, and Kant's Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics. A variety of more contemporary readings will also be assigned.
This course will provide a broad introduction to philosophy using examples from science fiction to make abstract philosophical problems vivid. Topics may include: time travel and the reality of the past and future; teleportation and what makes someone the same person over time; fictional tales of extended deception and Cartesian skepticism; futuristic utopias and the question of what make a life good; the moral status of aliens and animals; intelligent robots and the relation between mind and body; parallel universes and the philosophical foundations of quantum physics.
How do we reconcile the possibilities of modern machine learning with ethical and moral demands of fairness, accountability and transparency? This course will take a case study-based approach to the challenges at the interface of algorithms and human values. By exploring existing debates on algorithmic bias, explainable AI and data ownership, students will be exposed to the relevance of ethical systems of thought to modern social questions.
"The knowledge of photography is just as important as that of the alphabet," wrote artist László Moholy-Nagy in 1928. "The illiterate of the future," he warned, "will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as the pen." Almost a century later, this pronouncement rings as true as ever in a world so profoundly shaped not just by photography but also films, advertisements, and video games, cartoons and comics, molecular graphics and visual models. In this course we will explore how visual culture shapes our lives and daily experiences, and we will learn to find wonder in its rich details. In doing so, we will develop the visual literacy that Moholy-Nagy envisioned: essential skills in reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about visual materials and their circulation through the physical and virtual networks that structure our world. Not offered 2022-23.
This course examines the historical development of film as a popular art and entertainment medium from the 1880s to the present, with a focus on the American and European contexts. Students will learn how to watch a film - how to pay attention to significant visual details and to the ways films construct meaning from the language of images - and will develop the skills to write fluently about what they see. The course covers some of the most influential genres and movements from the earliest actuality films, through the French New Wave, to the Disney/Marvel Universe. Films covered may include short comedies from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, M , It Happened One Night , The Seven Samurai , The Battle of Algiers , and Black Panther .
By permission only. Individualized tutorial instruction in writing and communication for students who benefit from weekly discussions about their work as writers. Not available for credit toward the humanities-social science requirement.
How does something - an image, a person, a thing, an idea - become iconic? Drawing from the worlds of art and film, advertising and PR, science and technology, politics and propaganda, this course explores what makes certain people, places, and things "icons." To do so, we will first deploy a range of methods for closely analyzing images as signs and symbols, including the practice art historians term "iconology." We will then examine histories of how objects have circulated through culture - from newspapers and magazines to postcards, jpegs, and memes - and thereby become ubiquitous features of everyday experience. Finally, we will consider iconoclasm, the destruction of icons, and the beliefs and logics behind powerful interdictions against visual representation. Students will leave the course with a stronger understanding of image power as well as foundational tools of visual and media literacy. Not offered 2022-23.
Artists in the United States greatly admired the Mexican muralists and printmakers of the 20th century. Respected as much for their cultural politics as their artworks, the Mexican School attracted generations of Black and Latino artists who visited, studied, and worked in Mexico. In the legends and practices of the Mexican School, American artists found models for generating self-defined cultural and artistic practices unavailable to them in the United States. This international exchange generated a transnational and decolonial aesthetic tradition. The course begins with the major themes of Mexican printmaking and muralism; follows Mexican and U.S. artists as they travel between their respective countries throughout the 20th century; and concludes with the legacy of the Mexican School on contemporary public art practices. Local artists will be invited to speak with the class.
Intended for students with no or limited musical training, this course is an introduction to the elements of Western music. We will practice reading, notating, and analyzing music through the study of rhythm and meter, scales, intervals, chords, and basic harmonic progressions; musical examples will be drawn from a variety historical periods and styles, including classical, pop, jazz, film, and musical theater. The final project will be a short musical composition. This can be a stand-alone course for students who want to understand how music is put together, or it can serve as preparation for those who might benefit from a review of the fundamentals before taking further courses in music theory.
Most of the music we encounter can be thought of as the organization of a very limited set of tones into distinct patterns of repetition, and it has been this way for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. And yet, music has come to mean infinitely more than its sonic surface: we study great works of music like we do great works of literature and art; we use our musical preferences to convey our social and political identities; we expect - and technology has enabled - our public and private spaces to be saturated in music; and certain musical works possess such power that they are sometimes altered, if not banned outright. But how has music acquired all of these meanings? How does it communicate? What is it that we are listening to when we are listening to music? In addition to serving as an introduction to the academic study of music, this course aims to deepen our musical appreciation and understanding by critically examining listening habits of the past and present. Knowledge of Western music notation and harmony is helpful but not required; the basics will be reviewed as needed.
This survey course will trace the symphony orchestra from its origins in the mid eighteenth century to the present day. Special emphasis will be given to the great civic orchestras of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, their conductors, and core orchestral repertoire. Making use of historic audio and video recordings from the twentieth century, along with more recent documentary recordings, students will be exposed to the cultural history of modern Europe and America through the medium of classical music. Not offered 2022-23.
Media technologies are knotted up in environmental relations. From early cinematic experiments to the sensors and drones used in conservation research, technology has long shaped how environments are known and understood. Simultaneously, technological systems and devices are embedded within harmful, exploitative, and wasteful practices, examples of which include lithium extraction, the carbon emissions of data centers, and e-waste. In this course, we will think through the complexities of eco-technical encounter, using them as generative provocations for producing creative projects that engage environmental questions while aiming to reduce environmental harms. Through a blend of theory and practice, we will survey texts and creative works on environmental media, techno- and eco-feminisms, and queer ecologies, alongside visits to the Huntington. These reference points will then inform how we devise new projects that take both environmental questions and impacts into consideration, and experiment with methods such as using solar power, repurposing recycled or obsolete devices, and testing biodegradable materials.
This course will examine the history of jazz in America from its roots in the unique confluence of racial and ethnic groups in New Orleans around 1900 to the present. The lives and music of major figures such as Robert Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and others will be explored. Not offered 2022-23.
Worldbuilding is an imaginative exercise practiced in the arts and sciences to envision alternative universes. Worldbuilding is also employed in statecraft and social organizing as a form of pre-figurative politics to bring about change within existing relations of power. This course explores the creative craft of envisioning a world as a system of relations, while critically examining the ethical implications of how its actors and elements are represented - and what (or who) is left out. We will take an interdisciplinary approach through lectures and readings in art, theory, and fiction. We will analyze forms of worldbuilding across disciplines and media - from novels to experimental film to architectural renderings to PowerPoint presentations. How do artists build and represent an imagined world through landscapes, seasons, sensory capacities of bodies, and relations of gender, race, and political conflict? How can the social structures in artworks reflect and elaborate upon the worlds we know? We will also draw inspiration from the work of visionary Black science fiction author Octavia Butler, whose archive is held by the Huntington Library. Students will create projects to build their own worlds through writing and visualizations across media of their choice (sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and other creative technologies).
Basic vocabulary and concepts of music theory (rhythm and pitch notation, intervals, scales, function of key signatures, etc.); development of aural perception via elementary rhythmic and melodic dictation, and sight-singing exercises. Not offered 2022-23.
Study of tonal harmony and intermediate music theory; techniques of chord progression, modulation, and melody writing according to common practice; ear training, continued. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will count as a first-year humanities course in either English, history, philosophy, or visual culture, as announced. It is usually taught by new or visiting faculty. The course may be re-taken once if the second class is offered in a different discipline (from among English, history, philosophy, and visual culture). Limited to 15 students. See registrar's announcement for details.
More advanced concepts of music theory, including chromatic harmony, and 20th-century procedures relating to selected popular music styles; ear training, continued. Not offered 2022-23.
Reading in history and related subjects, done either in connection with the regular courses or independently, but under the direction of members of the department. A brief written report will usually be required. Graded pass/fail. Not available for credit toward humanities-social science requirement.
A practice-based course taught by a visiting artist in residence. See registrar's announcement for details.
This seminar course will explore and discuss the unique intersection of environmental racism, environmental justice, and academia. Course material will primarily feature readings and videos on a case study-like basis and focus on bringing conversations typically had in humanities, social sciences and activism to the bio and geosciences. Topics will center around two primary approaches: an "outward-facing" component that looks at environmental racism through the lens of various activisms, and an "inward-facing" component addressing the biases/malpractices broadly employed in the biological and geosciences, as well as the apparent moral dilemmas of decisions involving multiple stakeholders. Out of class work will largely be based on assigned readings, some multimedia presentations, and occasional writings and thought exercises. This course is taught concurrently with Ge/ESE/Bi 248 and can only be taken once, as Hum 61 or Ge/ESE/Bi 248.
An introduction to the great traditions of Japanese art from prehistory through the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912). Students will examine major achievements of sculpture, painting, temple architecture, and ceramics as representations of each artistic tradition, whether native or adapted from foreign sources. Fundamental problems of style and form will be discussed, but aesthetic analysis will always take place within the conditions created by the culture. Not offered 2022-23.
This course examines algorithms and data practices in fields such as machine learning, privacy, and communication networks through a social lens. We will draw upon theory and practices from art, media, computer science and technology studies to critically analyze algorithms and their implementations within society. The course includes projects, lectures, readings, and discussions. Students will learn mathematical formalisms, critical thinking and creative problem solving to connect algorithms to their practical implementations within social, cultural, economic, legal and political contexts. Enrollment by application. Taught concurrently with CS/IDS 162 and can only be taken once as VC 72 or CS/IDS 162.
A course on a specialized topic in some area of the humanities, usually taught by new or visiting faculty. Recent offerings have included courses on film-making, poetry writing, speculative fiction, and the difference between humans and other animals. The course may be re-taken for credit except as noted in the course announcement. Class size is normally limited to 8-15 students. See registrar's announcement for details.
Weekly seminar by a member of the Caltech humanities faculty or a visitor to discuss a topic of their current research at an introductory level. The course can be used to learn more about different areas of study within the humanities. For those interested in (or who become interested) in pursuing a second option in the humanities, the course will introduce students to the kinds of research carried out by members of the humanities faculty and help them find faculty advisers.
A series of weekly seminars by practitioners in industry and academia working at the intersections of science, technology, engineering, art and design. The course can be used to learn more about the different careers in these interdisciplinary areas. Guest speakers will talk about their career trajectory, the nature of their work and the role that science, engineering and/or computing plays in their field. Speakers may include professionals in the fields of investigative science journalism, film/TV, apparel design and manufacturing, architecture, music/sound engineering and editing, art, culture and heritage exhibition and conservation, creative coding, technological art and other areas. Topics will be presented at an informal, introductory level. Graded pass/fail.
This course offers instruction in writing and speaking about science and technology for non-expert audiences. Instruction focuses on how to convey complex technical information in clear, engaging prose and speech in a variety of contexts. Readings in different genres (e.g., the newspaper discovery story, the op-ed, the personal narrative, the explainer talk) raise issues for discussion and serve as models for assignments in these genres. The workshop-style nature of this course relies on drafting and revision in response to peer and instructor feedback. Satisfies the Institute scientific writing requirement and the option oral communications requirement for humanities majors.
When William Blake wrote "to see a World in a Grain of Sand," he tapped into poetry's power to model the universe. For instance, once we set up a simile between "world" and "grain of sand", we can test this hypothesis of sameness. How is sand like the world? Where will the model fail? And what might that tell us? Imagery, sensory language, arguments, ideas, and verse form itself can lead poetry toward power and discovery. This pursuit can reach from the page into one's own life. We will work hard together on poems, our own and one another's.
The class is conducted as a workshop of fiction writing. Contemporary short stories and novel excerpts are discussed, as well as the art and craft of writing well. The course covers the essential elements of fiction writing, including character, voice, setting, world building, scene, summary, plot, and dialogue. Each week, we discuss a particular craft element, analyze published fiction, and provide feedback on student writing. Near the end of the course, students critique the work of their peers in small-group workshops.
This course examines the concepts and practices of maker culture through hands-on engagement, guest workshops, lectures, reading and discussions on the relations between technology, culture and society. Classes may include digital fabrication, physical computing, and other DIY technologies as well as traditional making. Major writings and practitioners' work may be covered from the study of maker culture, DIY culture, media, critical theory, histories of science, design and art. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will examine artists' work with new technology, fabrication methods and media from the late 19th Century to the present. Major artists, exhibitions, and writings of the period will be surveyed. While considering this historical and critical context, students will create their own original new media artworks using technologies and/or fabrication methods they choose. Possible approaches to projects may involve robotics, electronics, computer programming, computer graphics, mechanics and other technologies. Students will be responsible for designing and fabricating their own projects. Topics may include systems in art, the influence of industrialism, digital art, robotics, telematics, media in performance, interactive installation art, and technology in public space. Artists studied may include Eadweard Muybridge, Marcel Duchamp, Vladmir Tatlin, John Cage, Jean Tinguely, Stelarc, Survival Research Laboratories, Lynne Hershman Leeson, Edwardo Kac, Natalie Jeremenjenko, Heath Bunting, Janet Cardiff and others. Not offered 2022-23.
Today's political and social turmoil have cast a sometimes harsh light on news media and the journalistic writing approach. Is the media fulfilling its role in our democracy? What should it be? And what approach should journalists take in their reporting and writing? This course will ponder these questions as it explores how to construct interesting, relevant, journalistic storytelling, including the use of new media tools. It will emphasize the foundations of the craft, such as close attention to fact, accuracy, clarity and precision, and examine its critical components, such as story form, reporting and interviewing, theme and scene, and character development. It will offer opportunities to construct a long-form journalistic piece. Students will produce numerous stories and other writing during the class, including profiles, issues, analysis and reviews. Several of these will be offered for publication in The California Tech. There will be class visits by professional journalists and a possible off-campus excursion.
Required of students taking the philosophy option. To be taken in any two consecutive terms of the senior year. Students will research and write a thesis of 10,000-12,000 words on a philosophical topic to be determined in consultation with their thesis adviser. Limited to students taking the philosophy option.
An introduction to the neuropsychological mechanisms associated with learning and creativity, and to how different factors and behaviors impede and enhance them. No previous coursework in psychology or neuroscience is required. The course includes labs in which the students will test various hypothesis about their own learning processes. Graded or P/F. Note that this course can be used to fulfill the overall HSS core requirements but does not count towards the introductory or advanced social science requirement. Given in alternate years. Not offered 2022-23.
An individual program of directed reading in Visual Culture, in areas not covered by regular courses. VC 90 is intended primarily for Visual Culture minors. Interested students should confer with a Visual Culture faculty member and agree upon a topic before registering for the course.
This course offers advanced undergraduates the opportunity to pursue research in Anthropology individually or in a small group. Graded pass/fail.
This course offers advanced undergraduates the opportunity to pursue research on a business problem individually or in a small group. Graded pass/fail.
This course offers advanced undergraduates the opportunity to pursue research in Economics individually or in a small group. Graded pass/fail.
This course offers advanced undergraduates the opportunity to pursue research in political science individually or in a small group. Graded pass/fail.
Senior economics majors wishing to undertake research may elect a variable number of units, not to exceed 12 in any one term, for such work under the direction of a member of the economics faculty.
An individual program of directed reading in English or American literature, in areas not covered by regular courses. En 98 is intended primarily for English majors and minors. Interested students should confer with an English faculty member and agree upon a topic before registering for the course.
An individual program of directed reading in history, in areas not covered by regular courses.
An individual program of directed reading in history and philosophy of science, in areas not covered by regular courses.
An individual program of directed reading in philosophy, in areas not covered by regular courses.
Students will study research methods and write a research paper. Required of students in the English option.
Students will work with the instructor in the preparation of a research paper, which will form the basis of an oral examination.
This course will examine the interrelationships between the concepts of causation, moral responsibility, and legal liability. It will consider legal doctrines of causation and responsibility, as well as attempts within philosophy to articulate these concepts. Questions to be addressed include: Can you be morally or legally responsible for harms that you do not cause? Is it worse to cause some harm, than to unsuccessfully attempt it? Is it justified to punish those who cause harm more severely than those who attempt harm? When, if ever, can the ends justify the means? What constitutes negligence? Is it worse to cause some harm, than to allow it to happen (when you could have prevented it)? Not offered 2022-23.
Development and presentation of a major research paper on a topic of interest in political science or political economy. The project will be one that the student has initiated in a political science course they have already taken from the PS courses required for the PS option, numbered above 101. This course will be devoted to understanding research in political science, and basic political science methodology. Students will be exposed to current research journals, work to understand a research literature of interest, and work to formulate a research project. Fulfills the Institute scientific writing requirement.
Well before the advent of the Machine Age, literary texts have been populated by various kinds of ingenious automata, often in animal or human form. This course surveys the role of the automaton in literary texts in order to consider how the notion of "artificial life" changes over time, with a focus on the special case of the human machine. Readings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to include texts by la Mettrie, Hoffmann, Kleist, Shelley, Poe, and de l'Isle-Adam. We will conclude with a classic text from the twentieth century: Isaac Asimov's I, Robot.
This course examines the question of what it means to have free will, whether and why free will is desirable, and whether humans have free will. Topics may include historical discussions of free will from writers such as Aristotle, Boethius, and Hume; what it means for a scientific theory to be deterministic, and whether determinism is compatible with free will; the connection between free will and moral responsibility; the relationship between free will and the notion of the self; beliefs about free will; the psychology of decision making; and the insanity defense in law.
Topics to be determined by instructor.
Topics determined by instructor.
Topics to be determined by instructor.
City-dwellers invented the concept of wilderness, as a space apart from human laws and culture. This course takes a critical look at the different values attributed to that space as it has been colonized by the human imagination. Our discussions will focus on the emergence of the perception of wilderness in European literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but we conclude with the question: what meaning do we invest the concept of "wilderness" with today? Readings will include works by Buffon, Toqueville, Chateaubriand, Byron, Thoreau, Wells, and London.
This course focuses on preparing non-native speakers of English with the communication skills necessary to organize, present or exchange information in a clear, concise manner to a variety of audiences. ESL 101 a will provide instruction on the development of pronunciation, intonation patterns and stress, grammar and verb tense, listening comprehension, and fluency in speaking. Aspects of American culture as well as come current events will be discussed. ESL 101 b is a continuation of ESL 101 a, and covers a variety of oral presentation skills. Students will be asked to paraphrase, summarize, and synthesize information from a journal article or in-class discussions and communicate ideas to the class. The class will discuss information from readings and other media sources in small groups to collect and organize ideas for discussion. ESL 101 ab is open to all first-year graduate students and may be required for some students designated by the ESL interview process during Orientation. A passing grade will satisfy the Institute English proficiency requirement for candidacy. Graded pass/fail. Open to international graduate students only.
This course combines accounting and finance in a dynamic, user-oriented approach. The goal is to enable students to understand what financial statements are (sources of information about a company), what they are not (facts devoid of interpretation or management influence), and how to critically understand and analyze them. The course will utilize actual SEC filings for several companies, across a variety of industries, through which the students will be exposed to important accounting concepts.
Introduction to the computations made by the brain during economic and social decision making and their neural substrates. Part a: Reinforcement learning. Unconscious and conscious processing. Emotion. Behavioral economics. Goal-directed and habit learning. Facial processing in social neuroscience. Part b: History and mechanisms of reinforcement. Associative learning. Mentalizing and strategic thinking. Neural basis of prosociality. Exploration-exploitation tradeoff. Functions of basal ganglia.
Offered in any two consecutive terms, by arrangement with HPS faculty. Under the guidance of an HPS faculty member, students will research and write a focused research paper of 15,000 words (approximately 50 pages). Work in the first term will comprise intensive reading in the relevant literature and/or archival or other primary source research. In the second term, students will draft and revise their paper. Open to seniors in the HPS option and to others by special permission of an HPS faculty member. Not offered 2022-23.
The course uses a multimedia program, and emphasizes the acquisition of fundamental skills: oral ability, comprehension, writing, and reading. Students are evaluated on the basis of quizzes and compositions (1/3), midterm and final (1/3), and class participation (1/3). The course is mainly designed for students with no previous knowledge of French. Students who have had French in secondary school or college must consult with the instructor before registering.
From teapots to pastries, photographs to palanquins, objects and images mediated encounters between people and helped define the "Orient" and the "Occident". This class looks at the visual and material culture produced by and consumed during encounters between European and Asian travelers, diplomats, artists, writers, and tourists since the eighteenth century. Not offered 2022-23.
Finance, or financial economics, covers two main areas: asset pricing and corporate finance. For asset pricing, a field that studies how investors value securities and make investment decisions, we will discuss topics like prices, risk, and return, portfolio choice, CAPM, market efficiency and bubbles, interest rates and bonds, and futures and options. For corporate finance, a field that studies how firms make financing decisions, we will discuss topics like security issuance, capital structure, and firm investment decisions (the net present value approach, and mergers and acquisitions). In addition, if time permits, we will cover some topics in behavioral finance and household finance such as limits to arbitrage and investor behavior.
This course offers a tour of major (as well as some minor) genres and works written in Britain prior to 1500. Far from a literary "dark age," the Middle Ages fostered dramatic experiments in narrative form, bequeathing to modern literature some of its best-loved genres and texts. We will practice reading in Middle English-the language of Chaucer and his contemporaries-while we concentrate on the following questions: how did these texts circulate among readers? How do they establish their authority? What kinds of historical and cultural currents to they engage? Texts may include the lives of saints, the confessions of sinners, drama, lyrics, romances, selections from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and Malory's Morte Darthur. Readings will be in Middle and modern English. Not offered 2022-23.
Student attend four lectures, featuring speakers from outside Caltech, on topics in the history and philosophy of science. Students may choose from a variety of regularly scheduled HPS lectures, including HPS seminars, Harris lectures, and Munro seminars (history or philosophy of science only). Graded on attendance. Not available for credit toward the humanities-social science requirement. Graded pass/fail. Not offered 2022-23.
The first two terms feature an extensive grammar review and group activities that promote self- expression. Op-Ed articles and a series of literary texts provide a basis for classroom discussion and vocabulary expansion. Several short-written compositions are required. The third term is designed to further develop an active command of the language. A variety of 19th- and 20th-century short stories are discussed in class to improve comprehension and oral proficiency. Students are expected to do an oral presentation, to write four short compositions, and a final paper.
Examines the theory of financial decision making and statistical techniques useful in analyzing financial data. Topics include portfolio selection, equilibrium security pricing, empirical analysis of equity securities, fixed-income markets, market efficiency, and risk management.
Following the Enlightenment and amidst the Industrial Revolution, the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw a surging interest in the literature, lives, art, and architecture of the Middle Ages. In this course, we will explore how authors represented, invoked, and often idealized the medieval past-with its knights, peasants, saints, and monsters-as a way to think through the challenges-social, literary, political, aesthetic-of their own time. We will read several novels, poems, and treatises, including Henry David Thoreau's essay, "Walking;" Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court; Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King; and others. Requirements for the course will include weekly response papers and two essays. Not offered 2022-23.
A critical survey of major directors, genres, and movements in French cinema. Particular attention is devoted to the development of film theory and criticism in France and their relation to film production. The course may also focus on problems of transposition from literature to cinema. The class includes screenings of films by Méliès, Dulac, Clair, Renoir, Carné, Pagnol, Cocteau, Bresson, Tati, Truffaut, Godard, Resnais, Lelouch, Malle, Pialat, Rohmer, and Varda. Students are expected to write three 5-page critical papers. Conducted in French. Not offered 2022-23.
An introduction to option pricing theory and risk management in the discrete-time, bi-nomial tree model, and the continuous time Black-Scholes-Merton framework. Both the partial differential equations approach and the martingale approach (risk-neutral pricing by expected values) will be developed. The course will cover the basics of Stochastic, Ito Calculus. Since 2015, the course is offered in the flipped format: the students are required to watch lectures online, while problem solving and case and paper presentations are done in class.
A study of how technology affects issues of market structure and how market structure affects observable economic outcomes, such as prices, profits, advertising, and research and development expenditures. Emphasis will be on how the analytic tools developed in the course can be used to examine particular industries-especially those related to internet commerce-in detail. Each student is expected to write one substantial paper.
"Moððe word fræt." Want to learn how to read the riddle that begins with these words? This course will introduce students to Old English: the earliest form of the English language, spoken in England from roughly the years 450 to 1100. In studying the language, we will turn to its diverse and exciting body of literature, including one poem commemorating the brutal defeat by a Viking army and another based on the biblical story of Judith, who tricks the evil king Holofernes into sleeping with her-but not before slicing off his drunken head. We will also read a variety of shorter texts: laws, medical recipes, humorously obscene riddles. Successful completion of the course will give students a richer sense not only of the earliest period of English literature, but also of the English language as it is written and spoken today. No prior experience with Old or Middle English is necessary for this course. Not offered 2022-23.
Hum 105 and Hum 116 given in alternate years. Topics may include the 20th-century major French novels; French modern theatre; conflicting memories of the second world war; coming of age novels; the French Muslim identity. Conducted in French. Students who write papers in French may enroll in this class as L 105. Not offered 2022-23.
Offered concurrently with Hum 105. L 105 and L 116 given in alternate years. Topics may include the 20th-century major French novels; French modern theatre; conflicting memories of the second world war; coming of age novels; the French Muslim identity. Conducted in French. Students who write papers in English may enroll in this class as Hum 105, which satisfies the advanced humanities requirement. Not offered 2022-23.
The new discipline of Neuroeconomics seeks to understand the mechanisms underlying human choice behavior, born out of a confluence of approaches derived from Psychology, Neuroscience and Economics. This seminar will consider a variety of emerging themes in this new field. Some of the topics we will address include the neural bases of reward and motivation, the neural representation of utility and risk, neural systems for inter-temporal choice, goals vs habits, and strategic interactions. We will also spend time evaluating various forms of computational and theoretical models that underpin the field such as reinforcement-learning, Bayesian models and race to barrier models. Each week we will focus on key papers and/or book chapters illustrating the relevant concepts. Not offered 2022-23.
This course introduces students to data science for financial applications using the Python programming language and its ecosystem of packages. Students will learn how to use Python to extract numerical and text data from websites, evaluate fundamental risk-reward trade-offs using real-world financial data, and combine quantitative and qualitative factors into a persuasive argument. Time permitting, we will cover topics in machine learning, algorithmic trading, and cryptocurrencies. Each student is expected to complete individual problem sets and a final project. Some programming experience is helpful though knowledge of Python is not assumed.
In this course we will examine game theories that are explicitly meant to describe behavior of humans and other species. Prominent models are those with level-k hierarchies, quantal response equilibrium (QRE) and cursed equilibrium. Most of the data is experimental evidence from a wide variety of games. We will also learn about field evidence, mostly about mixed strategies and application of level-k hierarchies to firms' decisions. Data include biological measures such as response times, eye-tracking, fMRI and evidence from psychiatric disorders. Students are expected to replicate an existing experiment (individual students) or work in small teams to create and run a new experiment.
This course explores how contemporary poets grapple with the most urgent questions of our moment: identity, equality, environmental crisis, and justice. In this class, students will gain confidence in reading, discussing, and writing about contemporary poems and will encounter recent and more distant traditions of protest poetry. We will ask how poetic language articulates questions of embodiment, community, law, and memory. The syllabus will focus in particular on writers of color, including queer and indigenous poets, and will include opportunities to attend local poetry readings.
Emphasis on oral-aural skills, and understanding of basic grammar. Immediate introduction of the native script-hiragana, katakana-and gradual introduction to 300 to 500 characters.
The main objective of the course is to develop insight into the process by which firms can create value for their shareholders. We will study major corporate decisions from the perspective of the firm with an emphasis on the interaction of the firm with financial markets: quantitative project evaluation for investment, choice between borrowing and issuing stock, dividend policy, organizational form (for example, mergers and acquisitions). Theory, empirical evidence, and case analysis all play significant roles in the course. Topics include discounted cash flow models, risk and return, capital asset pricing model, capital market efficiency, capital structure and the cost of capital and dividend policy. Not offered 2022-23.
The medieval term romanz designated both a language, French, and a genre, romance, dedicated to the adventures of knights and ladies and the villains, monsters, magic, and miles that stood in their way. This course explores key examples from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries, while also examining evolutions in the form. We will consider how romances figured love and desire as well as negotiated questions of law, territory, and cultural difference. Authors and texts may include Chretien de Troyes, Marie de France, Gawain and the Green Knight, Arthurian legends, outlaw tales, and hagiography. Not offered 2022-23.
This course provides guided instruction in academic writing in STEM fields. More specifically, it teaches graduate students about composing texts in scientific English for expert audiences. It helps familiarize writers with academic STEM discourse, and it teaches writers about the style and genres of U.S. academic STEM writing, helping them learn to locate, read, and write about the work of others in their field. From here, students learn to review the literature in their fields and situate their own research goals within that context. Students are encouraged to take ESL/Wr 107 in the first or second year of graduate school. This course is designed for non-native speakers of English, but it covers topics that are relevant to native English speakers. Open to international graduate students only.
This course is designed to introduce students to the formative period of Western medieval history, from roughly 300 to 1000 CE. It will emphasize the development of a new civilization from the fusion of Roman, Germanic, and Christian traditions, with a focus on the Frankish world. The course focuses on the reading, analysis, and discussion of primary sources.
Continued instruction and practice in conversation, building up vocabulary, and understanding complex sentence patterns. The emphasis, however, will be on developing reading skills. Recognition of approximately 1,000 characters.
In this course we will go over recent works on topics broadly contained in the newly emerging field of Fintech. In particular, the topics include mathematical modeling of strategic actions of agents interacting via a blockchain technology, via crowdfunding platforms, and via online investment platforms ("robo-advisors"). Not offered 2022-23.
In this course we will examine behavioral economics models in several key decision-making contexts: choice over time, choice under uncertainty, choice in market settings (i.e., buying and selling), and others. In each topic area we will begin by providing the standard neoclassical account for behavior, building from assumptions (axioms) to corresponding utility models. We will then ask whether critical axioms of neoclassical models are plausible by calling upon psychological insights and empirical data. Rejection of neoclassical axioms will lead to new models, behavioral economics models, in each setting. These models, mechanisms and their testable predictions will be discussed.
This course focuses on strategies for composing an academic journal article in a STEM field. The rhetorical purpose and form of each section of the journal article will be considered in depth. The course is intended for graduate students who are prepared to be a lead author on a manuscript. While the course will cover strategies for collaborative writing, students will be asked to draft sections of an original journal article based upon their own research. The course will also provide instruction on selecting a target journal, preparing a manuscript for submission, and responding to feedback from peer reviewers. Clarity in scientific writing and creating effective figures will also be discussed. This course is designed for non-native speakers of English, but it covers topics that are relevant to native English speakers. Course enrollment is limited to 15 students. Open to international graduate students only.
This course is designed to introduce students to European history between 1000 and 1400. It will provide a topical as well as chronological examination of the economic, social, political, and religious evolution of western Europe during this period, with a focus on France, Italy, England, and Germany. The course emphasizes the reading, analysis, and discussion of primary sources.
Developing overall language skills. Literary and newspaper readings. Technical and scientific translation. Improvement of listening and speaking ability so as to communicate with Japanese people in real situations. Recognition of the 1,850 general-use characters.
In this course we will develop a deep understanding of the institutional foundations of Chinese finance, and we will use this framework to study the strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese economic system through the lens of finance. We will start from a historical overview of Chinese finance and will study the institutions that drive financial market development. Next, we will focus on the unique economic features of the three main channels of Chinese finance: capital markets (including the stock and bond markets), bank- and fund-based intermediation (including the banking sector, shadow-banking, and private equity, and venture capital), and informal finance. Finally, we will study the opportunities and challenges posed by Chinese-style finance for the future development of the global financial system.
This course will study topics in behavioral economics demonstrating departures from the classic economics assumptions of rationality and pure self-interest. We will study evidence of these departures, models that have been designed to capture these preferences, and applications of these models to important economic questions. Topics will include biases and heuristics, risk preferences, self-control, strategic uncertainty, and social preferences, among others. The course will be based in readings from both classic and modern research. Methodologically, the course will combine both theoretical and empirical evidence of the mentioned above topics.
Madness threatens to dissolve boundaries of the most various kinds: between the human and the inhumane, reality and fantasy, sickness and health. One of the tasks of a literary text is to subdue and contain madness through the construction of rational frameworks. How does a literary text accomplish this? Which strategies, such as the use of irony and humor, are the most effective? What role do insane characters play in literary texts? And when - if ever - should we consider an excess of reason as a kind of madness in its own right? Selected readings from Shakespeare, Voltaire, Goethe, Hoffmann, Büchner, Gogol, and Schnitzler, among others. Not offered 2022-23.
This course tells the story of the knight from his beginnings in the early Middle Ages, through his zenith in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries, to his decline and transformation in the late medieval and early modern periods. The course treats the knight not simply as a military phenomenon but also as a social, political, religious, and cultural figure who personified many of the elements that set the Middle Ages apart. Not offered 2022-23.
This course introduces students to the artistic style and the social, historical, and political content of French films, starting with Méliès and the Lumière brothers and working through surrealism and impressionism, 1930s poetic realism, the Occupation, the New Wave, the Cinema du look, and some critically acclaimed auteurs of the end of the century. The class teaches students to look at film as a medium with its own techniques and formal principles. Conducted in English.
This course focuses on strategies for composing an academic journal article in a STEM field. The rhetorical purpose and form of each section of the journal article will be considered in depth. The course is intended for graduate students who are prepared to be a lead author on a manuscript. While the course will cover strategies for collaborative writing, students will be asked to draft sections of an original journal article based upon their own research. The course will also provide guidance for preparing a manuscript for submission and responding to feedback from peer reviewers. Clarity in scientific writing and creating effective figures will also be discussed. Course enrollment is limited to 15 students.
An introduction to the theory and practice of venture capital financing of start-ups. This course covers the underlying economic principles and theoretical models relevant to the venture investment process, as well as the standard practices used by industry and detailed examples. Topics include: The history of VC; VC stages of financing; financial returns to private equity; LBOs and MBOs; people versus ideas; biotech; IPOs; and CEO transitions. Not offered 2022-23.
The role of the government is multifold, from providing public goods to intervening in market failures. Additionally, some policies are motivated by paternalistic concerns of citizens not acting in their own best interest. Through a mix of theory, experiments, and empirical analysis, we will cover methods of assessing individual and societal welfare, the identification and measurement of consumer biases, and theories of when and how the government should intervene in the economy. We will cover topics such as taxation, education, savings, and insurance, and the policies and nudges designed to implement these goals. Not offered 2022-23.
This class explores the history of sexuality and gender across the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Exploring both literary texts and visual representation, it considers how previous eras and cultures understood embodiment, sexuality, and gender and asks how we, as modern readers and viewers, approach these questions across the distance of centuries. We will read across a wide range of literature, including theology, philosophy, fiction, romance, and spiritual biography, and examine manuscript illustrations and other early visual media. Questions we will take up include the following: how did writers and artists construct the "naturalness" or "unnaturalness" of particular bodies and bodily acts? How did individuals understand the relationship between their own bodies and those of others? In what ways did writing and art authorize, scrutinize, or otherwise parse the boundaries of the licit and illicit? Finally, how have modern critics framed these questions? How do we approach and make use of earlier theories of sex and gender? Not offered 2022-23.
An examination of theories of causation and explanation in philosophy and neighboring disciplines. Topics discussed may include probabilistic and counterfactual treatments of causation, the role of statistical evidence and experimentation in causal inference, and the deductive-nomological model of explanation. The treatment of these topics by important figures from the history of philosophy such as Aristotle, Descartes, and Hume may also be considered.
Grammar fundamentals and their use in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Spanish. Exclusively for students with no previous knowledge of Spanish.
Investors demand reward for taking risk. Concepts of Knightian risk and uncertainty; risk preference (risk-neutral Q vs. real-world P probability measures); coherent risk; and commonly used metrics for risk are explored. The integration of risk and reward in classical efficient portfolio construction is described, along with the drawbacks of this approach in practice and methods for addressing these drawbacks. The leptokurtic (fat-tailed) nature of financial data and approaches to modeling financial surprises are covered, leading to inherently leptokurtic techniques for estimating volatility and correlation. Scenario analysis, and regime-switching methods are shown to provide ways of dealing with risk in extreme environments. The special nature of modeling long/short portfolios (hedge funds) is explored. The text for the class is a Jupyter Notebook with Python code segments.
This course takes students through the history of the medieval Christian Church in Europe, from its roots in Roman Palestine, through the zenith of its power in the high Middle Ages, to its decline on the eve of the Reformation. The course focuses on the church less as a religion (although it will by necessity deal with some basic theology) than as an institution that came to have an enormous political, social, cultural, and economic impact on medieval life, and for a brief time made Rome once more the mistress of Europe. Not offered 2022-23.
L/VC 109 and L/VC 111 are given in alternate years. This course looks at popular genres (comedy, thriller, animation film) and auteur cinema. It focuses on major trends in contemporary French movies and their relationships to French society (exploration of class, ethnic, gender and sexual identity, etc.). It analyzes the reappropriation of the national heritage, the progressive feminization of the filmmaking profession and the new appearance of directors who are immigrants or children of immigrants. Throughout this class, students will further develop their understanding of the methods and concepts of cinema studies. Conducted in English. Not offered 2022-23.
The course offers an introduction to international financial markets, their comparative behavior, and their inter-relations. The principal focus will be on assets traded in liquid markets: currencies, equities, bonds, swaps, and other derivatives. Attention will be devoted to (1) institutional arrangements, taxation, and regulation, (2) international arbitrage and parity conditions, (3) valuation, (4) international diversification and portfolio management, (5) derivative instruments, (6) hedging, (7) dynamic investment strategies, (8) other topics of particular current relevance and importance. Not offered 2022-23.
This course provides an introduction to Bayesian Statistics and its applications to data analysis in various fields. Topics include: discrete models, regression models, hierarchical models, model comparison, and MCMC methods. The course combines an introduction to basic theory with a hands-on emphasis on learning how to use these methods in practice so that students can apply them in their own work. Previous familiarity with frequentist statistics is useful but not required.
In the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman claimed that "the United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem." We might ask any number of questions in response to Whitman. If the United States are a poem, then who wrote it? What is this poem about? What genre is it? Is anyone reading it? Is it actually any good? Though we might approach Whitman's statement with some apprehension from our historical moment, this course will take seriously American life lived within poetry and the lives poems lived across the country. Together, we will track the development of American poetry as it engages with enslavement, abolition, genocide, war, beauty, nature, racialization, constructions of gender, sexuality, and affect. Ultimately, we will ask what reading nineteenth-century American poetry, or nineteenth-century America as a poem, might mean for our understanding of the country today. Readings may include Bryant, Poe, Longfellow, Schoolcraft (Bamewawagezhikaquay), Whitman, Dickinson, Harper, Dunbar, and Noguchi.
This course will take on the Scandinavian seafaring warriors of the 8th-11th centuries as a historical problem. What were the Vikings, where did they come from, and how they did they differ from the Scandinavian and north German pirates and raiders who preceded them? Were they really the horned-helmeted, bloodthirsty barbarians depicted by modern popular media and by many medieval chronicles? What effect did they have in their roughly two centuries of raiding and colonization on the civilizations of medieval and ultimately modern Europe? Not offered 2022-23.
Grammar review, vocabulary building, practice in conversation, and introduction to relevant history, literature, and culture. Literary reading and writing are emphasized in the second and third terms. Students who have studied Spanish elsewhere must consult with the instructor before registering.
This course combines elements of business, economics, engineering, financial statement analysis, strategy, and law to provide students interested in entrepreneurship with a practical understanding of the mechanics of growing a 'post-idea' company. The class will explain how prospective investor’s view entrepreneurs and their ideas, teach students about types of capital, sources of capital, and term sheets, and generally delve into the timing and financial alternatives and trade-offs facing entrepreneurs seeking capital in order to launch or grow a company. As such, this class is a complement to BEM 110 (Venture Capital) and E 102 (Scientific and Technology Entrepreneurship).
The first of a two-course sequence on Shakespeare's career as a dramatist and poet. We will read plays from the first half of Shakespeare's career, his comedies and histories. Particular attention will be paid to Shakespeare's use of his sources and to the textual history of the plays. En 113 and En 114 may be taken independently and, usually, are given in alternate years. Not offered 2022-23.
This course is an in-depth study of the hedge fund industry. We will study hedge fund trading strategies, the business model of hedge funds, hedge fund investors, as well as the institutional and regulatory framework in which hedge funds operate. The course will evaluate and analyze popular hedge fund trading strategies, including equity strategies (activist, market-neutral, long/short, event-driven, etc.), arbitrage strategies (derivatives, convertible, fixed-income, currency and global macro, etc.), and fund of hedge funds. The course will also analyze the hedge fund business model, including: performance evaluation and risk management; fund compensation and contractual features; transaction costs and market impact; as well as fund raising and marketing. In addition, the course will study the institutional relationships hedge funds have with service providers (prime brokers, custodian banks, etc.) and with regulators. We will also discuss public policy implications and the value of hedge funds in society. This course is designed to provide students with the skills necessary to evaluate hedge fund strategies, and to develop, manage, and successfully grow a hedge fund business.
The second of a two-course sequence on Shakespeare's career as a dramatist and poet. We will read works from the second half of Shakespeare's career, his tragedies, tragicomedies, and Sonnets. Particular attention will be paid to Shakespeare's use of his sources and to the textual history of the plays. En 113 and En 114 may be taken independently and, usually, are given in alternate years. Not offered 2022-23.
Offered concurrently with L 114. This course explores canonical Spanish literary works and their film adaptations, from the Renaissance to the present, through an array of male and female authors and directors from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain. Conducted in Spanish. Students who write papers in Spanish may enroll in this class as L 114. Not offered 2022-23.
Offered concurrently with Hum 114. This course explores canonical Spanish literary works and their film adaptations, from the Renaissance to the present, through an array of male and female authors and directors from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain. Conducted in Spanish. Students who write papers in English may enroll in this class as humanities, which satisfies the advanced humanities requirement. Not offered 2022-23.
Epic remains the most ancient and most modern of literary genres. Women in ancient epic begin as prizes of honor for male warriors and become powerful witches and queens, while some contemporary women writers allow their ancient heroines to speak in their own voices. From Homer to the present, epic narratives also traverse continents as they narrate the founding and foundering of empires historical and imaginary. This course introduces students to key classical epics while exploring historical and contemporary adaptations from Dante's Divine Comedy to Madeline Miller's Circe . By examining the afterlives of epic, we will consider how the genre changes when taken up by the gender typically marginalized in the classical tradition. Possible authors include Homer, Apollonius of Rhodes, Virgil, Ovid, Dante, Christa Wolf, Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeline Miller, and María Baranda.
Offered concurrently with L 115. This course introduces students to narrative film and literature from the Hispanic world, with an emphasis on the hero figure. It also takes up hybridization and transculturation in the Americas, specifically in Mexico, Peru, and Cuba, as well as film and narratives of Spain from the Civil War to the present. Conducted in Spanish. (a) Basics of Hispanic films and narratives, and their socio-cultural roots (b) Hybridization and mestizo cultures in the Hispanic world (c) The last century in Hispanic film and narrative. Each term can be taken independently. Students who write papers in Spanish may enroll in this class as L 115.
Offered concurrently with Hum 115. This course introduces students to narrative film and literature from the Hispanic world, with an emphasis on the hero figure. It also takes up hybridization and transculturation in the Americas, specifically in Mexico, Peru, and Cuba, as well as film and narratives of Spain from the Civil War to the present. Conducted in Spanish. (a) Basics of Hispanic films and narratives, and their socio-cultural roots (b) Hybridization and mestizo cultures in the Hispanic world (c) The last century in Hispanic film and narrative. Each term can be taken independently. Students who write papers in English may enroll in this class as Hum 115, which satisfies the advanced humanities requirement.
The study of how people think about other people and behave toward or around others. Topics include social cognition and emotions (theory of mind and empathy), their development from childhood to old age, impairments in social functions, altruism and cooperation, social groups (ingroup and outgroup), attribution and stereotypes. The class also presents evidence on how these social phenomena are implemented in the human brain and introduces behavioral and neuroscientific methods used in social psychology and social neuroscience. Not offered 2022-23.
Offered concurrently with L 116. Hum 105 and Hum 116 given in alternate years. The course focuses on contemporary France. Topics may include France and the European Union; political parties and elections; family life; social protection; religion; education; media and technology. Conducted in French. Students who write papers in French may enroll in this class as L 116.
Offered concurrently with Hum 116. L 105 and L 116 given in alternate years. The course focuses on contemporary France. Topics may include France and the European Union; political parties and elections; family life; social protection; religion; education; media and technology. Conducted in French. Students who write papers in English may enroll in this class as Hum 116, which satisfies the advanced humanities requirement.
Much of modern financial economics works with models in which agents are fully rational, in that they maximize expected utility and use Bayes' law to update their beliefs. Behavioral finance is a large and active field that develops and studies models in which some agents are less than fully rational. Such models have two building blocks: limits to arbitrage, which makes it difficult for rational traders to undo the dislocations caused by less rational traders; and psychology, which provides guidance for the kinds of deviations from full rationality we might expect to see. We discuss these two topics and consider a number of applications: asset pricing; individual trading behavior; the origin of bubbles; and financial crises. Not offered 2022-23.
We will tackle the fundamental question of how to allocate resources and organize exchange in the absence of prices. Examples includes finding a partner, allocating students to schools, and matching donors to patients in the context of organ transplantations. While the main focus will be on formal models, we will also reason about the practical implications of the theory.
Why did the Greeks and Romans remain fascinated with the same stories of gods and demigods for more than a thousand years? On the other hand, how did they adapt those stories to fit new times and places? Starting with the earliest Greek poems and advancing through classical Athens, Hellenistic Alexandria, and Augustan Rome, we consider the history of writing poetry as a history of reading the past; the course also serves as an excellent introduction to ancient literary history at large. Readings may include Homer's 'Odyssey,' Hesiod, Aeschylus, Euripides, Apollonius Rhodius, Ovid, and Seneca.
This course provides a survey from the perspective of economics of public policy issues regarding the management of natural resources and the protection of environmental quality. The course covers both conceptual topics and recent and current applications. Included are principles of environmental and resource economics, management of nonrenewable and renewable resources, and environmental policy with the focus on air pollution problems, both local problems (smog) and global problems (climate change). Not offered 2022-23.
We read three famous novels about people who migrate and people who immigrate, by authors who have also been uprooted in their own lives: Salman Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' (1981), Zadie Smith's 'White Teeth' (2000), and Jonathan Franzen's 'The Corrections' (2001). As you can see from these dates, this class will also teach you about experimental fiction in the 20th century, a time that prized complexity and even difficulty. We won't find "linear narratives," "well-rounded characters," or "relatability" here. How are these novels structured instead? Do their experimental structures reflect the theme of displacement itself? Should we even try to generalize about a literature of displacement, and, if yes, what kinds of comparisons can we draw? Not offered 2022-23.
This is an advanced humanities course on a specialized topic in some area of the humanities. It is usually taught by new or visiting faculty. The course may be re-taken for credit except as noted in the course announcement. Limited to 15 students. See registrar's announcement for details.
The use of large data sets and innovative statistical methods has revolutionized professional and intercollegiate sports. This course introduces students to the academic and professional world of contemporary sports science. The course will meet biweekly with instructor lectures on sports science and with guest speakers from collegiate and professional sports. Students will be introduced to the primary data sources for sports science, to methods used to collect sports performance and outcomes data, and to the statistical tools used for sports analytics (for example, logistic regression, regression trees and random forest, network models, time series, and natural language processing). Students will be responsible for weekly writing or homework assignments based on readings and speaker presentations, as well as a quarter-long sports analytics research project. Students should have some background in econometrics, statistics and probability, data science, or machine learning.
The question of what a woman wants animates a central strain of the modern American novel, as do evolving ideas about what women can and cannot have. This course considers female desire-for personal agency and freedom, self- and sexual fulfillment, economic and social opportunity-across a half dozen novels written from about 1880 - 1940, in light of some of the cultural forces that shape and constrain characters' (and real women's) horizons. Authors covered may include Henry James, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, Anzia Yezierska, Nella Larsen, and Zora Neale Hurston. Not offered 2022-23.
An introduction to fundamental philosophical problems concerning the nature of science. Topics may include the character of scientific explanation, criteria for the conformation and falsification of scientific theories, the relationship between theory and observation, philosophical accounts of the concept of "law of nature," causation, chance, realism about unobservable entities, the objectivity of science, and issues having to do with the ways in which scientific knowledge changes over time. Not offered 2022-23.
A consideration of existing literature on the voting behavior of the citizen, and an examination of theoretical and empirical views of the strategies followed by the parties. Two substantial papers are expected of students.
This course will provide the student with a unique insight into the skills used by successful scientists in the social sciences, with the focus being on psychology and cognitive neuroscience (although this is interesting for any type of science career). The course promotes active (hands on) learning, to enhance skills such as creative idea formation, theory, science communication including presentation and writing skills for the public. The class will also provide discussion on practices and expert opinions on what departments looks for when recruiting students and hiring faculty. Enrollment limited to 14 students.
This course examines historical and contemporary representations of the natural world in art and science through a social lens. We will draw upon theory and practices from art, science, geography and landscape studies to critically analyze how artists, explorers, speculators, scientists, military strategists, and local inhabitants use environmental imagery for diverse purposes with sometimes conflicting interests. The course includes projects, lectures, readings, discussions and a 2-day field trip. Students will learn to think critically while developing creative, culturally complex approaches to observing, recording and representing the natural world. Students hoping to combine their course work with a research paper may sign up for a separate independent study and conduct research concurrently, with instructor approval. Not offered 2022-23.
A study of consumer preference, the structure and conduct of markets, factor pricing, measures of economic efficiency, and the interdependence of markets in reaching a general equilibrium.
Introduction to the US Congress with an emphasis on thinking analytically and empirically about the determinants of Congressional behavior. Among the factors examined are the characteristics and incentives of legislators, rules governing the legislative process and internal organization, separation of powers, political parties, Congressional elections, and interest group influence. Not offered 2022-23.
The application of statistical techniques to the analysis of economic data.
Philosophical and conceptual issues arising from the study of probability theory and how it relates to rationality and belief. Topics discussed may include the foundations and interpretations of probability, arguments for and against the view that we ought to have personal degrees of belief, rational change in beliefs over time, and the relationship between probability and traditional epistemological topics like evidence, justification, and knowledge. Not offered 2022-23.
Why does the U.S. Constitution feature separation of powers and protect states' rights? Should the Senate have a filibuster? When can Congress agree on the best policy for the country (and what does "best" even mean)? This course uses a rigorous set of tools including game theory and social choice to help students understand the effectiveness of American democracy to represent diverse interests. Using the tools, we study U.S. electoral systems, Congress, federalism, and the courts, with a focus on understanding how the country has tried to overcome the challenges of group decision making and the inevitable conflicts that arise between the branches of government and divided political interests. Students will leave the course with a deeper understanding of how rules and strategy shape U.S. democracy.
This course uses econometric tools to analyze choices made by people among a finite set of alternatives. Discrete choice models have been used to understand consumer behavior in many domains - shopping between brands (Toyota vs. BMW), where to go to college (Caltech or MIT), choosing between modes of transportation (car, metro, Uber, or bicycle), etc. Models studied include logit, nested logit, probit, and mixed logit, etc. Simulation techniques that allow estimation of otherwise intractable models will also be discussed. Not offered 2022-23.
A survey of the 19th-century novel from Austen through Conrad, with special emphasis upon the Victorians. Major authors may include Austen, Shelley, Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray, Gaskell, Brontë, Collins, Trollope, Stoker, Hardy. Not offered 2022-23.
In the historical record, much attention is given to wealthy elites (rulers and lawmakers, aristocrats, wealthy merchants), since they were the ones who left written records of their political and economic activities and their personal affairs. But what about the vast majority of people who lived in the past, most of whom were barely literate and had little opportunity to 'make history'? What can we know about them? This class focuses on the lives of ordinary people, and the sources historians use to learn about them. Special attention will be given to women, the poor, and other marginalized groups in societies ranging from England in the west to Russia in the east. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will examine the philosophical foundations of the physical theories covered in the first-year physics sequence: classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and special relativity. Topics may include: the goals of physics; what laws of nature are; the unification of physical theories; symmetries; determinism; locality; the reality of fields; the arrow of time.
This course will examine the historical origins of several regulatory agencies and trace their development over the past century or so. It will also investigate a number of current issues in regulatory politics, including the great discrepancies that exist in the cost-effectiveness of different regulations, and the advent of more market-based approaches to regulations instead of traditional "command-and-control." Not offered on a pass/fail basis.
Statistical inference in the social sciences is a difficult enterprise whereby we combine data and assumptions to draw conclusions about the world we live in. We then make decisions, for better or for worse, based on these conclusions. A simultaneously intoxicating and sobering thought! Strong assumptions about the data generating process can lead to strong but often less than credible (perhaps incredible?) conclusions about our world. Weaker assumptions can lead to weaker but more credible conclusions. This course explores the range of inferences that are possible when we entertain a range of assumptions about how data is generated. We explore these ideas in the context of a number of applications of interest to social scientists.
A survey of the 20th-century British and Irish novel, from the modernist novel to the postcolonial novel. Major authors may include Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Forster, Lawrence, Orwell, Amis, Lessing, Rushdie. Not offered 2022-23.
Current events have us looking to the past for explanations. How does Russian history help us to understand what is happening in Russia today? Contemporary political commentary emphasizes the recent past: the history of the Soviet Union and its collapse in 1991. This course takes a longer look at Russian political, economic, social, and cultural history - from imperial Russia to the present day. The emphasis is on longer continuities over eras: tsarist, Soviet, post-Soviet. Topics covered include the nature and role of the state, internal politics, rule of law and property rights, serfdom, inequality, art and social commentary, popular resistance, censorship, and the effects of all of these on the lives of ordinary Russians.
This course will focus on questions about the nature of space and time, particularly as they arise in connection with physical theory. Topics may include the nature and existence of space, time, and motion; the relationship between geometry and physical space (or space-time); entropy and the direction of time; the nature of simultaneity; and the possibility of time travel.
This course will review existing data in several areas of controlled economic decision-making with a focus on individual and group differences. Theoretical and empirical approaches for understanding and decomposing heterogeneity into preference and stochastic components will be presented. Students will gain exposure to prominent experimental techniques, estimation of models of heterogeneity and heterogeneous treatment effects, and out-of-sample prediction exercises. Not offered 2022-23.
A selective survey of English writing in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Major authors may include Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Austen. Particular attention will be paid to intellectual and historical contexts and to new understandings of the role of literature in society. Not offered 2022-23.
Why was the Russian Revolution of 1917 successful? And how did the Soviet system survive nearly 75 years? These questions will be addressed in the wider context of Russian history, with a focus on political, economic, and social institutions in the pre- and post-revolutionary period. Subjects covered include the ideological underpinnings of Bolshevism, Lenin and the Bolshevik coup, the rise of Stalin, collectivization, socialist realism, the command economy, World War II, the Krushchev 'thaw', dissident culture and the arts, popular culture, and Gorbachev's perestroika. A variety of sources will be used, including secondary historical literature, fiction, film, and art. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will focus on philosophical and foundational questions raised by quantum physics. Questions may include: Is quantum mechanics a local theory? Is the theory deterministic or indeterministic? What is the role of measurement and observation? Does the wave function always obey the Schrödinger equation? Does the wave function give a complete description of the state of a system? Are there parallel universes? How are we to understand quantum probabilities?
This course examines the causes of and solutions for conflict and violence: Why do wars occur and how do we stop them? We cover topics such as terrorism, ethnic violence, civil wars, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, repression, revolutions, and inter-state wars. We study these phenomena using the rational choice framework and modern tools in data analysis. The goals of the class are to explain conflicts and their terminations as outcomes of strategic decision-making and to understand the empirical strengths and weakness of current explanations.
Same as Psy 25, but for graduate credit. Not available for credit toward humanities-social science requirement. Not offered 2022-23.
The literature of horror, fantasy, and the supernatural, from the late 18th century to the present day. Particular attention will be paid to gothic's shifting cultural imperative, from its origins as a qualified reaction to Enlightenment rationalism, to the contemporary ghost story as an instrument of social and psychological exploration. Issues will include atmosphere and the gothic sense of space; gothic as a popular pathology; and the gendering of gothic narrative. Fiction by Walpole, Shelley, Brontë, Stoker, Poe, Wilde, Angela Carter, and Toni Morrison. Film versions of the gothic may be included. Not offered 2022-23.
Fundamentally, this course is about making arguments with numbers and data. Data analysis for its own sake is often quite boring, but becomes crucial when it supports claims about the world. A convincing data analysis starts with the collection and cleaning of data, a thoughtful and reproducible statistical analysis of it, and the graphical presentation of the results. This course will provide students with the necessary practical skills, chiefly revolving around statistical computing, to conduct their own data analysis. This course is not an introduction to statistics or computer science. I assume that students are familiar with at least basic probability and statistical concepts up to and including regression.
Corruption taxes economies and individuals in both the developing and the developed world. We will examine what corruption means in different places and contexts, from grand financial scandals to misappropriation of all manner of public resources. How do we measure corruption? What are its costs and social consequences? What have culture and psychology got to do with it? How much do governance and a free press matter? What are the potential solutions? Students will work closely with the professor to develop an independent and original research project of their choice. Limited enrollment.
This course will focus on the major novels of Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. Film and television adaptations will also be considered, and students may have the opportunity to read Austen's unfinished works, as well as related eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British fiction and non-fiction. Not offered 2022-23.
The development of Irish fiction, poetry, and drama from the early 20th-century Irish literary renaissance, through the impact of modernism, to the Field Day movement and other contemporary developments. Topics may include the impact of political violence and national division upon the literary imagination; the use of folk and fairy-tale traditions; patterns of emigration and literary exile; the challenge of the English language and the relation of Irish writing to British literary tradition; and recent treatments of Irish literature in regional, postcolonial, and global terms. Works by Joyce, Yeats, Synge, Friel, O'Brien, Heaney, Boland, and others. Not offered 2022-23.
An examination of conceptual issues that arise in mathematics. The sorts of issues addressed may include the following: Are mathematical objects such as numbers in some sense real? How do we obtain knowledge of the mathematical world? Are proofs the only legitimate source of mathematical knowledge? What is the relationship between mathematics and the world? How is it possible to apply abstract theory to the world? Views of major historical figures such as Plato, Hume, Kant, and Mill, as well as of contemporary writers are examined. The course will also examine philosophical issues that arise in particular areas of mathematics such as probability theory and geometry. Not offered 2022-23.
An examination of certain analytical and quantitative tools and their application to American economic development. Each student is expected to write two substantial papers-drafts will be read by instructor and revised by students. Not offered 2022-23.
"It is the picture of life contrasted with the fact of life, the ideal contrasted with the real, which makes criticism possible," insists Frederick Douglass. This course will take an historical approach to the relationship between literature and photography by examining what Douglass refers to as the contrast between "picture" and "fact" from the advent of photography in the nineteenth century to our present moment. Together, we will think about how each medium creates images, invites different ways of reading or viewing, and makes forms of individual, collective, and political representation possible. We will also examine the ways in which photography and literature shape our understanding of temporality, truth, memory, and history. In addition to our experience of literary and photographic works, theoretical texts on photography will inform the ways of reading and ways of seeing we will develop in this course. Readings may include Boucicault, Douglass, Dunbar, Hartmann, Barthes, Lorde, and Rankine. Not offered 2022-23.
The artificial satellites encircling the planet make up a global information infrastructure. Most of us living in industrialized regions use satellites daily without even realizing it. How did satellites become so integral to terrestrial technological systems? How did Earth orbit transform from a wilderness into a landscape during the second half of the 20th century, and how is that landscape changing in the 21st? We will trace the history of satellites beginning with the first artificial "moons" and moving into the current moment of private industry ascendance, taking into account the development, use, and decay of these technologies. We will consider how designers and users shape satellites, and map out the ways that objects in orbit reflect and reinforce power and geopolitics on the ground below. Not offered 2022-23.
Employs the theoretical and quantitative techniques of economics to help explore and explain the development of the European cultural area between 1000 and 1980. Topics include the rise of commerce, the demographic transition, the Industrial Revolution, and changes in inequality, international trade, social spending, property rights, and capital markets. Each student is expected to write nine weekly essays and a term paper. Not offered 2022-23.
Political and professional arenas often invoke technology as both a cause and potential solution. In much of mainstream American culture, an enthusiasm for innovation often overshadows the messier ways that humans interact with our surroundings through the artifacts and technologies that we create. In this course, we will examine the interplay between environment and technology in America, from before the arrival of Europeans on the North American continent through present debates about our changing planet. We will consider the boundaries that different groups have drawn between natural and artificial, and how these definitions have shaped the cultural, political, and material landscape of America. How useful are these boundaries? How might rethinking them also help us rethink America's history and its possible future?
Grammar fundamentals and their use in aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Students who have had German in secondary school or college must consult with the instructor before registering.
The course offers an overview of experimental findings and theoretical issues in the study of human memory. Topics include iconic and echoic memory, working memory, spatial memory, implicit learning and memory; forgetting: facts vs. skills, memory for faces; retrieval: recall vs. recognition, context-dependent memory, semantic memory, spreading activation models and connectionist networks, memory and emotion, infantile amnesia, memory development, and amnesia. Not offered 2022-23.
This course examines surveillance, one of the defining features of twenty-first-century life, with wide-ranging implications (from intelligence gathering and biometrics to social media and contemporary art), and a key point of intersection between modern technology and visual culture. Though it applies more broadly, the concept of "surveillance," from the Latin vigilare ("to watch") and the French surveiller ("to watch over"), originated in practices of looking and observation that still define many of its most significant practices today. Building on these etymological roots, we will treat surveillance as, first and foremost, a visual practice and survey the longer history of surveillance (and counter-surveillance) techniques as well as the theories that have emerged to describe its social effects, moral and ethical stakes, and changing legal status. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will serve as an introduction to basic concepts, findings, and theory from the field of behavioral psychology, covering areas such as principles of classical conditioning, blocking and conditioned inhibition, models of classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, reinforcement schedules, punishment and avoidance learning. The course will track the development of ideas from the beginnings of behavioral psychology in the early 20th century to contemporary learning theory. Not offered 2022-23.
This course focuses on Edgar Allan Poe and the considerable influence his works have had on other writers. Authors as diverse as Charles Baudelaire, Jules Verne, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, John Barth, and Philip Roth have used Poe's stories as departure points for their own work. We shall begin by reading some of Poe's s classic short stories, including "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym," "The Purloined Letter," and others. We shall then explore how and why Poe's stories have been so important for authors, despite the fact that his reputation as a great American writer, unlike Hawthorne's and Melville's, for example, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Not offered 2022-23.
Humans are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction-the first to be caused by human activity. Extinction has been viewed in changing ways over the past 200 years, and this course takes an interdisciplinary approach to learning about the extinction process from a historical as well as a modern perspective. Our focus will be on the extinction of biological entities, but we will also touch on other systems that have disappeared: languages, technologies, habitats, and ways of living. Central to our endeavors will be asking what it means to live in this time of loss: Should we mourn? And if so, how do we mourn for what many or most of us do not see, but only read about? Finally, we will scrutinize what the practical effects of extinction have been, are, and will be. We will also make at least one visit to a natural history museum to view some extinct species behind the scenes. Not offered 2022-23.
The Victorian period introduced a huge array of new possibilities and constraints for women of all classes, as it witnessed rapid urbanization and industrialization, a changing conception of marriage and motherhood, and a new set of professional restrictions but also opportunities. This class focuses on novels by and about women, as it seeks to take the measure of these transformations and of a larger culture's reaction to them. How did women imagine and re-imagine themselves and what they wanted? How did notions of femininity and masculinity change? How do the imaginings of the Victorians resonate now? Authors studied may include Eliot, Gaskell, the Brontes, Oliphant, Braddon, and Scheiner. Not offered 2022-23.
Humans' conceptions of nature have changed dramatically over time. Ecological systems influence human culture, politics, law, and many other spheres, and in turn, humans influence those systems. This class introduces students to the field of humanistic ecology-a discipline that looks to a number of cultural, political, historical and economic elements to better understand the role of ecology in a larger sphere outside of its scientific structure and uses. Humanistic ecology is designed to provide context for the study of ecology, and in a fundamental way, focuses on the appropriate role of humanity in its relationship to nature: what is ethical, or not, what is useful, or not, and a variety of other matters that should be considered when taking a fully three-dimensional view of ecological science. Not offered 2022-23.
Reading of short stories and plays, grammar review, aural and oral drills and exercises, expansion of vocabulary, and practice in reading, writing, and conversational skills. Second and third terms will emphasize written expression, technical/ scientific translation, and literary readings. Students who have studied German elsewhere must consult with the instructor before registering.
Axiomatic structure and behavioral interpretations of game theoretic and social choice models and models of political processes based on them. Not offered 2022-23.
Reinforcement-learning concerns the computational principles by which animals and artificial agents can learn to select actions in their environment in order to maximize their future rewards. Over the past 50 years there has been a rich interplay between the development and application of reinforcement-learning models in artificial intelligence, and the investigation of reinforcement-learning in biological systems, including humans. This course will review this rich literature, covering the psychology of animal-learning, the neurobiology of reward and reinforcement, and the theoretical basis and application of reinforcement-learning models to biological and non-biological systems. Not offered 2022-23.
We will spend the term studying the famous and eccentric epic poem 'Paradise Lost' (1674) by the British poet and politician John Milton. Each week we will read about 1,000 to 1,500 lines of difficult but beautiful poetry, looking especially for its visual images, literary and mythological references, and poetic sounds, as well as Milton's copious and paradoxical philosophical stances. You will never forget the central character of Satan, the parliament of devils in Hell, the theological conversations in Heaven between God and Jesus, Eve being tempted by diabolical arguments to eat the forbidden fruit, and Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden of Eden at the point of an avenging angel's sword.
Forests - which cover 31 percent of the world's land surface - have played essential roles in enhancing the planet's biodiversity. Forests have also served humans in numerous and often controversial ways, and have also been subjected to dramatic change through human activity. How well have we served forests, as well as being served by them? The class will cover the growth and use of forests from a humanistic and historic perspective, as well as discussions about the role of fire in forests, with a particular emphasis on the unprecedented forest fires in California in the past several years and the global ecological implications.
This course will critically examine the impact of recent advances in computational neuroscience for central problems of philosophy of mind. Beginning with a historical overview of computationalism (the thesis that mental states are computational states), the course will examine how psychological explanation may be understood in computational terms across a variety of levels of description, from sub-neuronal and single neuroncomputation to circuit and network levels. Specific issues will include: whether computation provides unifying psychological principles across species; whether specific mental states such as pain are computational states; digital/analog computation, dynamical systems, and mental representation; whether conscious experience can be understood as a computational process. Not offered 2022-23.
The course will analyze Melville's career starting with Typee and ending with Billy Budd. Special attention will be given to Moby-Dick and Pierre. The centrality of Melville's position in American literature will be considered from a variety of perspectives, including aesthetics, representations of race, class, and gender, the role of the audience, and connections with other authors.
The cultural, scientific, social and political roles of birds make them an excellent lens through which to view humans' interactions with the natural world. This course will cover our changing understandings of birds, starting with hawking and falconry in earlier centuries, through the discovery of new species, up through Darwinian understandings of speciation and evolution, and continuing up to present scientific understandings of birds' capabilities and their ties to humankind, as well as to other anchors in the natural world. We will take a strong biographical as well as avian approach to understanding key personalities who furthered our understandings of avian science.
An analysis of the effects of uncertainty and information on economic decisions. Included among the topics are individual and group decision making under uncertainty, expected utility maximization, insurance, financial markets and speculation, product quality and advertisement, and the value of information. Not offered 2022-23.
Charles Dickens and London have perhaps the most famous relationship of any writer and city in English. In this course, we will investigate both the London Dickens knew, and the portrait of the city that he painted, by reading one of Dickens's great mid-career novels alongside a selection of contemporary texts and images and secondary historical sources. We will think about the gap-or overlap- between history and fiction, the idea of the novelist as alternative historian, and the idea of the novel as historical document. Historical topics covered may include: the development of the Victorian police force; plague and public health; Victorian poverty; colonialism and imperialism; Dickens and his illustrators; Victorian exhibition and museum culture; and marriage and the cult of domesticity, among others. Students will practice both textual and visual analysis skills. In addition to written work, students should expect to be responsible for making a short research presentation at some point in the term. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will critically examine attempts to understand moral judgment and behavior from the perspective of neuroscience and controversies surrounding its implications for moral philosophy. Starting from an evolutionary perspective, we will investigate the search for moral precursors in non-human primates and the evolutionary innovations in cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms purported to underlie human morality. From there, we will investigate controversies regarding this emerging "neuroethics" for debates in moral psychology and normative ethics, including the role of reason, desire, and the self in normative theory and whether neuroscience can play any role in adjudicating among competing theories of normative ethics.
The purpose of this course is to understand legislative elections. The course will study, for example, what role money plays in elections and why incumbents do better at the polls. It will also examine how electoral rules impact the behavior both of candidates and voters, and will explore some of the consequences of legislative elections, such as divided government. Not offered 2022-23.
This course is an intermediate-level class on individual-level theory. The method used posits precise assumptions about general behavior (axioms) then finds equivalent ways to model them in mathematically convenient terms. We will cover both the traditional “rational’’ approach, and more recent “behavioral’’ models that incorporate psychological principles, in domains of intertemporal choice, random (stochastic) choice, menu choice, and revealed preferences. Students are expected to understand rigorous mathematical proofs. The class also includes serious discussion of the value of experimental evidence motivating new theories. Not offered 2022-23.
An overview of the Great Inimitable's fiction, concentrating on four texts representative of different phases of his novel-writing career and their relationship to the changing world of Victorian Britain: Oliver Twist, Dombey and Son, Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend. Not offered 2022-23.
This class will introduce students to the methods of archival work in the humanities and social sciences. Over the course of the quarter students will receive an introduction to factors surrounding the collection, organization, and use of various types of archives as a background to several small-scale projects working in an archival collection of their own choosing. The seminar will center around weekly projects and synthetic analytical essays about the archival process and archival discoveries. Students hoping to combine their course work with an archive-based research paper may sign up for a separate independent study and conduct research concurrently, with instructor approval. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will critically examine the emerging science of happiness and positive psychology, its philosophical assumptions, methodology, and its role in framing social policy and practice. Topics to be addressed include: the relation between happiness as subjective well-being or life satisfaction and philosophical visions of the good life; the relation between happiness and virtue; the causes of happiness and the role of life experience; happiness and economic notions of human welfare, attempts to measure happiness, and the prospect for an economics of happiness; happiness as a brain state and whether brain science can illuminate the nature of happiness; mental illness and psychiatry in light of positive psychology.
This course analyzes some of the great works of American literature written by African Americans. This body of writing gives rise to two crucial questions: How does African American literature constitute a literary tradition of its own? How is that tradition inextricable from American literary history? From slave narratives to Toni Morrison's Beloved, from the Harlem Renaissance to Alice Walker, from Ralph Ellison to Walter Mosley, African American literature has examined topics as diverse and important as race relations, class identification, and family life. We shall analyze these texts not only in relation to these cultural issues, but also in terms of their aesthetic and formal contributions. Not offered 2022-23.
This course explores the shifting boundary between discourses of crime and disobedience over the last millennium or so of Chinese history. It offers fictional, philosophical, political, propagandistic, official, and personal writings on crime and those who commit it as a basis for a wide-ranging series of discussions about when breaking the law is good, when breaking the law is bad, and who gets to decide where the line between a criminal and an outlaw should be drawn. Not offered 2022-23.
This course surveys the music and musical institutions of Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Nearly two millennia of musical developments, needless to say, cannot be adequately covered in ten weeks; the course thus aims to build literacy in music from these periods by contextualizing musical works and their creators against broader themes, including music and the church, music and politics, music and gender, the evolution of musical notation, and the rise of secular music. At the same time, we will interrogate the central historical narratives of Western music that we have inherited and grapple with how historiography - the writing of history - shapes the way we understand the musical past and present.
This course will study the divergent theories of realism that arose in the period after the Civil War and before World War I. Authors covered may include Howells, James, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, Jacob Riis, Stephen Crane, and W. E. B. DuBois.
This course introduces students to some of the seminal writings on the meaning of life, the essentials of rulership, and the place of the individual in the universe from the history of Chinese thought and philosophy. Students are given selected readings from several schools of thought in Chinese history, with an emphasis on the formative Warring States era (the period of the Hundred Schools of classical Chinese philosophy). Instead of being asked to write expository or argumentative essays, participants in this seminar will be introduced to analyzing and presenting texts using the method of annotation. Exposure to the principles of annotation will provide students with a new approach to analyzing and talking about texts both within a humanistic context and beyond.
This course will investigate how assumptions about human nature shape political philosophy, social institutions, and social policy. The course will begin with a historical perspective, examining the work of such political philosophers as Plato, Locke, Rousseau, and Marx, along with such psychologists as Freud and Skinner. Against this historical perspective, it will then turn to examine contemporary views on human nature from cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology and explore their potential implications for political philosophy and social policy. Among topics to be discussed will be the nature of human sociality and cooperation; economic systems and assumptions regarding production and consumption; and propaganda, marketing, and manipulation. Not offered 2022-23.
This course surveys the music and musical institutions of Europe during the Baroque and Enlightenment eras. Two hundred years of musical developments, needless to say, cannot be adequately covered in ten weeks; the course thus aims to build literacy in music from these periods by contextualizing musical works and their creators against broader themes, including music in the European courts, music and religion, words and music, music and gender, music and Enlightenment ideals, and the rise of instrumental music. At the same time, we will interrogate the central historical narratives of Western music that we have inherited and grapple with how historiography - the writing of history - shapes the way we understand the musical past and present.
We will start the term by reading Homer's 'Iliad' (possibly 8th century B.C.) for two weeks. This is a disconnected, strange, and violent poem, which raises the excellent question how it could become a widely revered classic down to our own time. To look for answers--answers that perhaps also apply to any "classic" book-- we will go on to study the acts of interpretation, revision, and recycling that made the 'Iliad' fresh and different, sometimes virtually unrecognizable, for each new generation of readers. We survey surprising ancient Greek philosophical interpretations, a medieval romance by Geoffrey Chaucer set in ancient Troy, a fake Scottish epic poem allegedly composed by "Ossian," Chuck Palahniuk's novel 'Fight Club' (1996), and other works. My suggestion for you will be that the 'Iliad' has remained alive for millennia only through quasi-biological processes of mistranscription, mutation, and nonlinear evolution. Not offered 2022-23.
This seminar will introduce students to the problems and practices of historical translation for academic purposes, with a focus on primary materials from Chinese history. Students will take responsibility for an individual translation project, participate in seminar discussions and collaborative projects to improve the translations being made, and discuss the philosophical and methodological questions at the heart of the practice of translation. Advanced proficiency in written Chinese is required. Students who write analyses (4,000 words) of the sources being translated may enroll in this class as H 139, which satisfies the advanced humanities credit. Not offered 2022-23.
Policy makers since at least the time of Jeremy Bentham have argued that welfare maximization ought to be the goal of social policy. When this includes perfectionist notions of realizing one's capacities, economic prosperity, prosocial norms, and democratization have all coincided as key drivers of human development. Although the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development envisions worldwide inclusive and sustainable economic growth, there is substantial debate regarding the extent to which sustainability and economic growth are compatible. This course will critically examine the links between human welfare, economic growth, and material culture to better understand why economic growth and welfare have been taken to be intertwined - and the extent to which they could be decoupled. Our starting point will be the Brundtland report, its conception of welfare based on human needs, and subsequent articulations of needs-based theories of human welfare, including evolutionary and biological accounts that include social comparison processes such as esteem, status, and recognition. This will provide us with a theoretical framework for investigating the role of material culture in satisfying these needs and whether they may be satisfied by less resource-intense routes. Not offered 2022-23.
This seminar will introduce students to the problems and practices of historical translation for academic purposes, with a focus on primary materials from Chinese history. Students will take responsibility for an individual translation project, participate in seminar discussions and collaborative projects to improve the translations being made, and discuss the philosophical and methodological questions at the heart of the practice of translation. Advanced proficiency in written Chinese is required. Students who write analyses (4,000 words) of the sources being translated may enroll in this class as H 139, which satisfies the advanced humanities credit. Not offered 2022-23.
This course surveys the music and musical institutions of the so-called "Western art music" tradition from the Romantic era until the present. Over two hundred years of musical developments, needless to say, cannot be adequately covered in ten weeks; the course thus aims to build literacy in music of this period by contextualizing musical works and their creators against broader themes, including music and the nation, music as art and philosophy, music and appropriation, music and genre, and the musical canon. At the same time, we will interrogate the central historical narratives of Western music that we have inherited and grapple with how historiography - the writing of history - shapes the way we understand the musical past and present.
This course offers a broad introduction to the theoretical and empirical research in comparative political economy. An emphasis will be placed on the parallel process of political and economic development and its consequences on current democratic political institutions such as: electoral rules, party systems, parliamentary versus presidential governments, legislatures, judicial systems, and bureaucratic agencies as exemplified in central bank politics. We will study the differential impact of these political institutions on the type of policies they implement and the economic outcomes they produce. The main objective of the course will be to assess the robustness of the analyzed theories in light of their empirical support, coming mainly from statistical analysis.
This course examines the contemporary literature on economic growth and development from both a theoretical and historical/empirical perspective. Topics include a historical overview of economic progress and the lack thereof; simple capital accumulation models; equilibrium/ planning models of accumulation; endogenous growth models; empirical tests of convergence; the measurement and role of technological advancement; and the role of trade, institutions, property rights, human capital, and culture. Not offered 2022-23.
This class will examine budgetary conflict at key junctures in U.S. history. Topics include the struggle to establish a viable fiscal system in the early days of the Republic, the ante bellum tariff, the "pension politics" of the post-Civil War era, the growth of the American welfare state, and the battle over tax and entitlement reform in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Russian intelligentsia registered the arrival of modern urban society with a highly articulate sensitivity, perhaps because these changes-industrialization, the breakdown of traditional hierarchies and social bonds, the questioning of traditional beliefs-came to Russia so suddenly. This gives their writings a paradigmatic quality; the modern dilemmas that still haunt us are made so eloquently explicit in them that they have served as models for succeeding generations of writers and social critics. This course explores these writings (in English translation) against the background of Russian society, focusing especially on particular works of Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Goncharov, Tolstoy, and Turgenev. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will equip students to engage with active research at the intersection of social and information sciences, including: algorithmic game theory and mechanism design; auctions; matching markets; and learning in games.
In this course, we will examine America after Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, a period that historians have referred to as an age of fracture and social disaggregation. Using fracture as a conceptual framework to investigate American politics and culture in the last quarter of the twentieth century, we'll consider how the recent past has informed present-day American society. Themes of study will include the culture wars, political polarization, globalization, and the growing wealth gap. In addition, we'll investigate the theoretical and methodological challenges of doing recent history. Not offered 2022-23.
We tend to think of literary texts as models of a stable poetic order, but modern and postmodern writers conduct increasingly bold experiments to test the contrary. This class explores how writers from the nineteenth century onward draw upon ancient and contemporary concepts of chaos to test out increasingly sophisticated models of disorder though writing. Readings to include Lucretius, Serres, Calvino, Barth, Stoppard, and Kehlmann. Not offered 2022-23.
Read and examine the selected classical Japanese literature and its traditions from 7th to 11th century from the perspectives of women, anti-heroes, and religions. A comparative analysis is applied to many genres such as oral traditions, performing arts, films, picture scrolls, comics, and anime to understand how Japanese think, and how Shinto and Buddhism have formed their ways of life, ethics, and concepts of life and death. Read selected portions of "The Kojiki", "Manyoshu", "The Tale of Ise", "The tale of the Bamboo-Cutter" (The Tale of the Moon Princess), and "The Tale of Genji." Not offered 2022-23.
An advanced humanities course on a special topic in music. Topics may include specific genres of music, the music of particular eras or geographical regions, or the relationship between music and other aspects of culture. The course may be re-taken for credit except as noted in the course announcement. See registrar's announcement for details.
General principles of the function and organization of nervous systems, providing both an overview of the subject and a foundation for advanced courses. Topics include the physical and chemical bases for action potentials, synaptic transmission, and sensory transduction; anatomy; development; sensory and motor pathways; memory and learning at the molecular, cellular, and systems level; and the neuroscience of brain diseases. Letter grades only.
The late 1960s saw the beginning of a movement in which several generations of artists investigated and deconstructed the customs and institutions of art. Institutional critique, as it would come to be known, challenged the promises and putative neutrality of public art museums. Following several decades of criticism the question remains unanswered: can the public art museum become a democratic institution? This course explores the ongoing debates around race, ethnicity, objectivity, subjectivity and cultural authority in contemporary museology. We will begin with the Enlightenment origins of the European art museum and its deployment within the United States; we will consider the artistic interventions that exposed its biases and eurocentrism, as well as the emergence of culturally-specific arts institutions and contemporary efforts at decolonization. Relying on decolonial and ethnic studies scholars, we will develop a critical framework for understanding the historical pathways that led to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the upcoming Latino Smithsonian Museum. We will conclude with a deep dive into a radical museum model: Noah Purifoy's "Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture". Not offered 2022-23.
The way in which humans perceive and record time has a discernable history, and literary texts offer us one of the best ways to study it, particularly in times of war and natural catastrophe. With a focus on 16th- through 18th-century European literature, we will examine various techniques of literary time-keeping as they relate to topics such as, fame and mortality, as well as the experience of time's slowness and acceleration. Readings will include selections from Baroque emblem books as well as texts by Montaigne, Milton, Pepys, Defoe, and Rousseau. Not offered 2022-23.
Read and examine the selected Medieval to pre-modern Japanese literature and its traditions from 11th to 18th century from the perspectives of women, anti-heroes, and religions. A comparative analysis is applied to many genres such as oral traditions, performing arts, films, picture scrolls, comics, and anime to understand how Japanese think, and how Shinto, Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, as well as the social systems, have formed their ways of life, ethics, and concepts of life and death. Read "The Princess Who Loved Insects" from "The Tsutsumi-Chunagon Monogatari", selected chapters of "The Tale of The Heike", "The Konjyaku Monogatari", and "Otogizoshi". Also read "The Double Suicide at Sonezaki" and "The Double Suicide at Amijima."
This course will examine African American politics, culture, and society in the decades following the passage of landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Topics of discussion will include deindustrialization and the rise of hip hop culture, black feminist and queer thought, debates over welfare and affirmative action, and mass incarceration. Analyzing a variety of political and cultural artifacts as well as cutting-edge secondary literature, we will investigate various moments in recent African American history to gain insight into changing notions of rights, citizenship, equality, and freedom in American society. Not offered 2022-23.
This course introduces students to French theater and fiction of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from Molière's comedies (The Misanthrope, Tartuffe), and Racine's tragedy Phaedra to the novels of Madame de Lafayette, Marivaux, and Laclos. Topics include the aesthetics of neoclassical theater, the rise of the novel, historical and social contexts (the reign of Louis XIV, libertinage, Rousseauism), and writers' creative development. Covers the period 1643-1789. Conducted in English, but students may read the French originals. Not offered 2022-23.
This seminar introduces students to the history of environmental inequality, environmental racism, and environmental justice. Human bodies are inescapably enmeshed in our environments: human health and environmental health are inseparable. But environmental burdens and benefits are distributed unevenly along lines of race, gender, class, and nationality. We will examine local, national, and transnational case studies to understand the historical development of environmental inequalities and movements for environmental justice. We will consider different methods for studying environmental injustice and the politics of environmental knowledge. Not offered 2022-23.
This course focuses on the refugees and migrants' images in documentaries, narrative films, graphic novels, fictional texts, poetic works, and autobiographical narratives. It investigates how these representations participate in the development and strengthening of political discourse. Works by authors such as Hannah Arendt, Antje Ellermann, Achille Mbembe, Martin A. Schain, and Sasha Polakow-Suransky will provide some context to our analysis. Topics discussed in class include the historical and economic relationships of Europe with the refugees and migrants' countries of origin, the rise of anti-immigrant politics and its significance for the future of the European Union, but also its impact on social peace, in France in particular. This course is taught in English. Not offered 2022-23.
This seminar offers an introduction to scholarship on gender and science. Feminist science studies can seem oxymoronic: the objectivity on which science depends appears opposed to the political commitments feminism implies. Scholars in feminist science studies, however, argue that feminist theory and methods can in fact improve scientific practice. This course will introduce students to the historical development of feminist Science & Technology Studies and what this field tells us about the history of women in science, the history of scientific theories of sex/gender, and the future of feminist research. This reading-heavy class will also include discussions of feminist epistemology, feminist research methods, and new directions in feminist STS.
This course introduces students to the French novel of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from the realist masterpieces of Stendhal (The Red and the Black), Balzac (Old Goriot), and Flaubert (Madame Bovary/Sentimental Education) to Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Topics include the literary representation of reality, historical and social contexts (the Bourbon Restoration, 1848 Revolution, the Third Republic), and the decline of the French nobility. Covers 1814-1918. Conducted in English, but students may read the French originals.
What do we know about epidemics in the past? What did contemporaries understand about these events? How did societies respond to periodic bouts of epidemic disease? This course examines mortality crises and epidemics from the Black Death in the 14th century to the current coronavirus pandemic, with attention given to the impact of epidemics on societies, the ways in which such outbreaks have been understood over time and the kinds of responses they have elicited. We will draw on studies for a range of societies in order to identify patterns across space and time, and to highlight both continuity and change in the ways societies have dealt with contagious diseases. Not offered 2022-23.
How do we understand the COVID pandemic and the differential responses to it around the globe? What is the best framework for proper understanding? Science, history, politics, culture? Special attention will be given to the state of medical science today and in the past, the understanding of ethology, transmission, and symptoms; the role of scientists, physicians, and "quacks"; the persistence and change in the forms of fear, superstition, and misinformation across time. Not offered 2022-23.
In the context of knowledge of heavenly phenomena, model-making played a continuous role throughout the history of Babylonian astronomy, from the 2nd millennium BCE to the Hellenistic period. This course looks selectively at the development of models for astronomy, from arithmetical linear models in 2nd millennium BCE to 1st century BCE Babylonia to the geometrical cinematic models of Hellenistic Greek astronomy. Questions about the relationship of observation to theory and model-making, and the relationship of astronomical models to the representation of the motion of heavenly bodies and to cosmology will be of interest. The material will be set against its historical and cultural contexts, including the relationship of astronomy to astrology. Readings will be taken from cuneiform texts and translations of Greek astronomical treatises.
Covering a broad range of environments and visual cultures, this upper division course explores the history of Los Angeles through a decolonial and borderlands framework. The seminar begins with Tongva/Gabrielino history and traces the transformations and remapping of the land by Spanish, Catholic missionary, Mexican and Anglo-American empires. Relying on the Catholic Mexican Indigenous and Chicano ritual, Día de los Muertos, as a touchstone, the course investigates how aesthetic projects in Los Angeles have resisted the colonization of space, time, and being. We will cover topics including modernity/coloniality, conversion and assimilation, the politics of public art, and the outstanding role race has played in shaping the cultural landscape. Students will learn to analyze a contemporary opera, historic maps, murals, sculpture, socially-engaged art performances and photographs. Students will be tasked with generating small-scale collages and drawings in response to historic and contemporary themes. Local cultural workers and artists will be invited to speak with the class.
Section a required for sections b and c. An examination of recent work in laboratory testing in the social sciences with particular reference to work done in social psychology, economics, and political science. Students are required to design and conduct experiments. Not offered 2022-23.
This course introduces students to Hollywood films and filmmaking during the classical period, from the coming of sound through the '50s. Students will develop the techniques and vocabulary appropriate to the distinct formal properties of film. Topics include the rise and collapse of the studio system, technical transformations (sound, color, deep focus), genre (the musical, the melodrama), cultural contexts (the Depression, World War II, the Cold War), audience responses, and the economic history of the film corporations. Terms may be taken independently. Part a covers the period 1927-1940. Part b covers 1941-1960. En/VC 160 b not offered 2022-23.
An exploration of the most significant scientific developments in the physical sciences, structured around the life and work of Albert Einstein (1879-1955), with particular emphasis on the new theories of radiation, the structure of matter, relativity, and quantum mechanics. While using original Einstein manuscripts, notebooks, scientific papers, and personal correspondence, we shall also study how experimental and theoretical work in the sciences was carried out; scientific education and career patterns; personal, political, cultural, and sociological dimensions of science. Not offered 2022-23.
This course examines the post-classical era of Hollywood filmmaking with a focus on the late 1960s through the 1970s, a period of significant formal and thematic experimentation. We will study American culture and politics as well as film in this era, as we consider the relation between broader social transformations and the development of new narrative conventions and cinematic techniques. We will pay particular attention to the changing film industry and its influence on this body of work. Films covered may include Bonnie and Clyde , The Graduate , The Godfather , Taxi Driver , and Jaws . Not offered 2022-23.
This is an advanced humanities course on a specialized topic in History. It is usually taught by new or visiting faculty. The course may be re-taken for credit except as noted in the course announcement. Limited to 15 students. See registrar's announcement for details.
A comparative, multidisciplinary course that examines the practice of science in a variety of locales, using methods from the history, sociology, and anthropology of scientific knowledge. Topics covered include the high-energy particle laboratory as compared with a biological one; Western as compared to non-Western scientific reasoning; the use of visualization techniques in science from their inception to virtual reality; gender in science; and other topics.
This class is an introduction to the literary masterworks of the Hispanic tradition from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Readings and discussions are in English, but students may read Spanish originals. Not offered 2022-23.
We will begin this course by reading a selection of Octavia E. Butler's (1947-2006) novels and short stories, including her 1993 novel Parable of the Sower, which became a New York Times bestseller in 2020. Born here in Pasadena, California in 1947, Butler's writing explored issues such as chattel slavery, climate change, genetic engineering, pandemics, nuclear apocalypse, and post-apocalyptic life. She was also attentive to Black and indigenous modes of care, healing, social justice, and organizing. We will pay special attention to Butler's critical and theoretical contributions to the fields of Afrofuturism, Black studies, feminisms, gender and sexuality studies, and the environmental humanities by reading her works in conjunction with select works of criticism and theory. In the second half of the course, we will explore connections between Butler and the works of other Afrofuturists and Black science fiction writers today, such as Tomi Adeyemi, Akwaeke Emezi, Nalo Hopkinson, N. K. Jemision, Nnedi Okorafor, and others, in order to explore our own ideas for extending Butler's literature of Black futures. Course requirements will likely include class attendance and participation in discussion, weekly reflections on the readings, a midterm project proposal, and a final project and essay.
What is a Black diasporic analytic and how might it deepen our understandings of the cultural and literary significance of Black lives around the world? The literary and culturally expressive genius of Black people across the African or Black diaspora has resulted in an extensive tradition within and beyond English-speaking nations. While this course focuses on contemporary Black diasporic literature and culture, it will also foreground the various histories that inform and shape this body of work. Additionally, students will learn how recent works of Black diasporic literature and culture have in turn shaped our current understandings of family, gender, identity, labor, migration, nation, race, sexuality, and more. Overall, this course will serve as an advanced-level introduction to several pivotal Black diasporic literary and cultural works; modes of criticism and methodologies; and the cultural, historical, and social realities of Black people's lives from the 1980s to today. Possible texts include those by Dionne Brand, Edwidge Danticat, Akwaeke Emezi, Bernardine Evaristo, Nalo Hopkinson, Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, and Caryl Phillips. All readings will be provided in English. Course requirements will likely include class attendance and participation in discussion, weekly reflections on the readings, a midterm project proposal, and a final project and essay.
Before the Industrial Revolution, new clothes were few and far between. By the early 1800s, new industrial recycling processes enabled wool rags to be reprocessed into new suits, and for the first time the working class gained access to 'Sunday finery.' Dressing better meant a chance at increased social mobility. Today we take for granted fast fashion and disposable clothing. This course examines the complex interrelationship among history, technology, and the ways in which we construct our own identities through clothing; visual, textile and other material culture sources will be front and center. Students will dig into their own closets, memories, and dreams. Not offered 2022-23.
For centuries, Black feminists, especially queer and trans women, and non-binary and queer folx, writing in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, the United States, and more, have used literature to reimagine feminisms. In the decades following the second-wave feminist movement, a body of writing coalesced around the terms "Black feminist" and "womanist." These years are remembered for decolonization and postcolonialism; Anita Hill's testimony; the passing of Title IX; the first Take Back the Night marches; the introduction of terms "intersectionality" by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and "third-wave feminism" by Rebecca Walker; the widespread publishing of works by feminists; the creation of Ethnic Studies and Women's and Gender Studies departments across institutions of higher education; and more. It was a moment in which Black people across identities and national origins wrote a number of works that radically retheorized family, home, gender, love, race, sexuality, work, and more, in ways that challenged cultures of violence in favor of imagining beloved communities. In this course, students will read, discuss, and better understand multiple literary and critical works participating in Black feminisms in order to then theorize new possibilities for Black feminist futures. Not offered 2022-23.
The course develops a framework for understanding the changing relations between science and religion in Western culture since antiquity. Focus will be on the ways in which the conceptual, personal, and social boundaries between the two domains have been reshaped over the centuries. Questions to be addressed include the extent to which a particular religious doctrine was more or less amenable to scientific work in a given period, how scientific activity carved an autonomous domain, and the roles played by scientific activity in the overall process of secularization.
This course uses a combination of lectures with hands-on laboratory work to bring out the methods, techniques, and knowledge that were involved in building and conducting historical experiments. We will connect our laboratory work with the debates and claims made by the original discoverers, asking such questions as how experimental facts have been connected to theories, how anomalies arise and are handled, and what sorts of conditions make historically for good data. Typical experiments might include investigations of refraction, laws of electric force, interference of polarized light, electromagnetic induction, or resonating circuits and electric waves. We will reconstruct instrumentation and experimental apparatus based on a close reading of original sources. Not offered 2022-23.
Major works of Latin literature, usually one per term. No work will be studied more than once in four years and students may repeat the course for credit.
One of the last great challenges to our understanding of the world concerns conscious experience. What exactly is it? How is it caused or constituted? And how does it connect with the rest of our science? This course will cover philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, and cognitive neuroscience in a mixture of lectures and in-class discussion. There are no formal pre-requisites, but background in philosophy (equivalent to Pl 41, Pl 110) and in neuroscience (equivalent to NB/Bi/CNS 150) is strongly recommended and students with such background will be preferentially considered. Limited to 20.
This course covers the development of electromagnetism and thermal science from its beginnings in the early 18th century through the early 20th century. Topics covered include electrostatics, magnetostatics, electrodynamics, Maxwell's field theory, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics as well as related experimental discoveries.
A survey of the development of Chinese art in which the major achievements in architecture, sculpture, painting, calligraphy, and ceramics will be studied in their cultural contexts from prehistory through the Manchu domination of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Emphasis will be placed on the aesthetic appreciation of Chinese art as molded by the philosophies, religions, and history of China.
A study of the experimental, mathematical, and theoretical developments concerning light, from the time of Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. to the production of electromagnetic optics in the 20th century. Not offered 2022-23.
An introductory course in standard Chinese (Mandarin) designed for students with no previous knowledge of the language. The course introduces the fundamentals of Chinese, including pronunciation, grammar, and Chinese characters, emphasizing the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. By the end of the three-term sequence, students will have acquired knowledge of basic rules of grammar and the ability to converse, read, and write on simple topics of daily life, and will have command of more than 800 Chinese compounds and 700 characters.
An advanced humanities course on a special topic in visual culture. Topics may include art history, film, digital and print media, architecture, photography or cartography. It is usually taught by new or visiting faculty. The course may be re-taken for credit except as noted in the course announcement. Limited to 15 students. See registrar's announcement for details.
This course covers developments in mechanics, as well as related aspects of mathematics and models of nature, from just before the time of Galileo through the middle of the 18th century, which saw the creation of fluid and rotational dynamics in the hands of Euler and others. Not offered 2022-23.
A streamlined course designed for students who have acquired some speaking, writing, or reading skills, either from home or school. The course aims at consolidating and developing the students' ability in listening, conversation, reading, and writing. By the end of the three-term sequence, students should have command of 2000 Chinese compounds and 1500 characters, and be able to live or work in a Chinese speaking environment. Students who completed L 171 abc can advance to L 173 ab (Advanced Chinese)
An examination of the impact of Buddhism on the arts and cultures of India, Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan from its earliest imagery in the 4th century B.C.E. India through various doctrinal transformations to the Zen revival of 18th-century Japan. Select monuments of Buddhist art, including architecture, painting, sculpture, and ritual objects, will serve as focal points for discussions on their aesthetic principles and for explorations into the religious, social, and cultural contexts that underlie their creation. Not offered 2022-23.
What makes an old building, artifact, or custom "historic"? Which historic things are worth preserving? This course explores the aesthetic, political, social, and environmental dimensions of cultural heritage. We will examine the narratives and values associated with heritage conservation at the local level as well as within national and global contexts. From Caltech's own campus and the Watts Towers, to the national parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the culinary legacy of the Atlantic slave trade, our class will grapple with the theories, practices, and debates as they determine what gets preserved and which stories get told. Readings/screenings will be supplemented with field trips to heritage sites in Pasadena and Los Angeles.
The course will provide students with a brief yet adequate survey of the history of mathematics, characterizing the main developments and placing these in their chronological, cultural, and scientific contexts. A more detailed study of a few themes, such as Archimedes' approach to infinite processes, the changing meanings of "analysis" in mathematics, Descartes' analytic geometry, and the axiomatization of geometry c. 1900; students' input in the choice of these themes will be welcomed. Not offered 2022-23.
A course designed to meet the personal interests and future professional goals of students who have had one year of elementary modern Chinese. Students will learn new vocabulary, sentence patterns, idiomatic expressions, and proverbs, as well as insights into Chinese society, culture, and customs.
This course is an introduction to non-cooperative game theory, with applications to political science and economics. It covers the theories of normal-form games and extensive-form games, and introduces solutions concepts that are relevant for situations of complete and incomplete information. The basic theory of repeated games is introduced. Applications are to auction theory and asymmetric information in trading models, cheap talk and voting rules in congress, among many others.
In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates famously described the virtues of two ways of looking at the world. The first entailed "seeing together things that are scattered about everywhere and collecting them into one kind," while the second was the skill "to cut up each kind according to its species along its natural joints, and to try not to splinter any part, as a bad butcher might do." In a similar sentiment, Darwin wrote in 1857, "It is good to have hair-splitters and lumpers." How have scientists and laypeople perceived similarities and differences in the living world? How have they divided nature into distinct kinds and individuals? How have they distinguished between parts and wholes? Where have they positioned human beings within nature's order? What were the consequences of finding different kinds of order in nature? This course explores these and related questions historically. We will consider different approaches to making sense of nature, and how a multitude of perspectives have been brought to bear on this ordering project. Topics covered include taxonomy and classification, race science and scientific racism, gender and sex differences, disease categories and immune selfhood, and symbioses and biogeochemical cycles.
A course designed as a bridge between language and content courses. It provides the opportunity to further develop overall language proficiency through reading essays on Chinese culture, stories, and news editorials. Multimedia is included. By the end of L 173 ab, students should have acquired the basic skills to read and research about Chinese culture and society. Classes are conducted primarily in Chinese.
Humans excel at using other organisms, including other humans, as means to ends. From the beginnings of agriculture, our species has cultivated crops, livestock, and microbial fermenters as living technologies of production. In modern industrial economies, human uses of life have undergone radical changes, as have the values humans assigned different forms of life. Agriculture underwent rationalization and intensification, increasing yields many times over. Scaled-up fermentation techniques served to preserve food, manufacture drugs, and process wastes. In vitro fertilization and somatic cell nuclear transfer permitted dramatic interventions in sexual reproduction. This course will explore these and other histories of biotechnology across different temporal, geographic, and cultural contexts, paying special attention to the ambivalent relationships that arose between user and used in such instrumentalizations of life.
Offered concurrently with L 174. Reading and discussion of representative Chinese written work throughout Chinese history, including philosophical texts and literary works in different genres. Students are expected to examine these works in light of their sociopolitical and historical contexts. Students who write papers in Chinese may enroll in this class as L 174. This course can be repeated for credit when the course content changes.
Offered concurrently with Hum 174. Reading and discussion of representative Chinese written work throughout Chinese history, including philosophical texts and literary works in different genres. Students are expected to examine these works in light of their sociopolitical and historical contexts. Students who write papers in English may enroll in this class as Hum 174, which satisfies the advanced humanities requirement. This course can be repeated for credit when the course content changes.
The course will examine how elements of knowledge that evolved against significantly different cultural and religious backgrounds motivated the great scientific revolution of the 17th century. Not offered 2022-23.
Intense training in oral expression, pronunciation, vocabulary, listening comprehension and fluency. The class is designed for students planning to attend Ecole Polytechnique. Discussion materials and guest lectures will focus on technical language to prepare students for their classes in math and science. Taught in French. Enrollment limited to 12. L 175 can be repeated for credit since the content is never the same (different speakers, different articles discussed in class).
This course examines the frequent and significant encounters between what chemist/novelist C.P. Snow famously dubbed the "two cultures"-the sciences and the humanities-with an emphasis on forms and practices of visual culture that blur the boundaries between science, technology, and art. What role, we will ask, have visual culture and visuality played in the construction of scientific knowledge? Taking a broad historical and geographical approach, we will explore topics including representations of science and technology in the arts and popular culture; the use of photography, illustration, and visualization in the sciences; histories of visuality and visual devices; and the everyday visual practices of scientific inquiry. Not offered 2022-23.
The cornerstone of current progress in understanding the mind, the brain, and the relationship between the two is the study of human and animal cognition. This course will provide an in-depth survey and analysis of behavioral observations, theoretical accounts, computational models, patient data, electrophysiological studies, and brain-imaging results on mental capacities such as attention, memory, emotion, object representation, language, and cognitive development. Given in alternate years; offered 2022-23.
Modern science is often described as a rational, empirical, and objective search for truth about nature. But how, when, and why did science come to acquire these qualities? Many scholars look to the exciting developments and discoveries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe-the so-called "Scientific Revolution"-as the defining period for the emergence of modern science. If "modern" science is defined in these terms, then "premodern" science must have looked more like pseudo-science, superstition, or myth. However, that is far from the truth. In this course, we'll work to uncover the role that the occult sciences, including alchemy, astrology, and magic, played in the formation of modern science. Our studies of the occult sciences will force us to think more deeply about what distinguishes modern science from the occult sciences, and to question why their role in the development of modern science has also been obscured.
Training in oral expression, pronunciation, vocabulary, listening comprehension and fluency. The class is designed for students who have learned one year of Chinese and plan to incorporate it into their future professional or social lives. News, guest talks and discussion forums will be included. Can be repeated for credit as content changes every year.
In the seventeenth century, Descartes penned his famous expression "I think therefore I am!" and thus the modern subject was born-or so the simplified story goes. But long before the age of Descartes, the Middle Ages produced an astonishing range of theories and ideas about human selfhood, subjectivity, and interiority. For instance, writing from prison more than one thousand years earlier, Boethius came to realize that what distinguishes a human being from all other creatures is his capacity to "know himself." The meaning of this opaque statement and others like it will command our attention throughout this course, as we explore the diverse, distinctive, and often highly sophisticated notions of subjectivity that developed in the literatures of the Middle Ages. We will take up questions of human agency, free will, identity, self-consciousness, confession, and secrecy as we encounter them in some of the most exciting texts written during the period, including among others) Augustine's Confessions, Prudentius's Psychomachia, the Old English poem The Wanderer, the mystical writings of Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich, and Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. Not offered 2022-23.
What can a slave's narrative teach us about citizenship? How did the new nation identify citizens when its Constitution seemed so silent on the matter? And how did one tailor's pamphlet result in one of most massive restrictions of free speech in U.S. history? Our goal over the semester will be to sketch a story of African American literary production from the latter half of the eighteenth century to the Civil War and to tease out, through this literature, developing understandings of citizenship in the United States. We will read letters, poems, sermons, songs, constitutions and bylaws, short stories, and texts that simply defy easy categorization. We will also spend several sessions becoming familiar with key newspapers and magazines-Freedom's Journal, Frederick Douglass's Paper, The Anglo-African Magazine, Christian Recorder, and The Crisis-to deepen our understanding of the kinds of things people were reading and writing on a regular basis and the kinds of arguments they were making. Writers up for discussion may include: Frederick Douglass, James Madison, Harriet Jacobs, Henry David Thoreau, Sojourner Truth, and David Walker. Not offered 2022-23.
Climate change has already begun to impact life on the planet, and will continue in the coming decades. This class will explore particular causes and impacts of climate change, technologies to mitigate or adapt to those impacts, and the economic and social costs associated with them - particular focus will be paid to distributional issues, environmental and racial justice and equity intersections. The course will consist of 3-4 topical modules, each focused on a specific impact or sector (e.g. the electricity or transportation sector, climate impacts of food and agriculture, increasing fires and floods). Each module will contain lectures/content on the associated climate science background, engineering/technological developments to combat the issue, and an exploration of the economics and the inequities that exacerbate the situation, followed by group discussion and synthesis of the different perspectives. Not offered 2022-23.
This is an advanced humanities course on a specialized topic in English. It is usually taught by new or visiting faculty. The course may be re-taken for credit except as noted in the course announcement. Limited to 15 students. See registrar's announcement for details.
Why does the notion of freedom of knowledge and teaching in science and engineering matter? What kinds of restrictions have been placed on scientists and engineers, their publications and institutions? Who restrained scientific and engineering knowledge of what sorts; for what reasons; and how successfully? These questions will be addressed by exploring the strategies developed by the U.S. research community to protect the international circulation of knowledge after World War II, when scientific freedom and the export of technical data had to be balanced with the needs of national security. Case studies will include the atomic bomb, the semiconductor industry in the 1970s and space technologies, notably rockets/missiles, in the 1990s. The threat to U.S. economics and military security posed by the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and by China today, has transformed the practice of research in university and in industry alike building new walls around the production and circulation of knowledge to affirm national sovereignty that is, all the while, being undermined by the global circulation of trained scientists and engineers. Not offered 2022-23.
Introduction to the use of convex analysis in economic theory. Includes separating hyperplane theorems, continuity and differentiability properties of convex and concave functions, support functions, subdifferentials, Fenchel conjugates, saddlepoint theorem, theorems of the alternative, polyhedra, linear programming, and duality in graphs. Introduction to discrete convex analysis and matroids. Emphasis is on the finite-dimensional case, but infinite-dimensional spaces will be discussed. Applications to core convergence, cost and production functions, mathematical finance, decision theory, incentive design, and game theory. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will examine the body of work that the late Victorian novelist Thomas Hardy published under the general title The Wessex Novels, that is, the sequence of works from Far from the Madding Crowd to Jude the Obscure. The six main novels will be read critically to give a sense of the totality of this greatest British regional novelist's achievement. Not offered 2022-23.
"Freedom of speech," writes Benjamin Cardozo in Palko v. Connecticut (1937), "is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom." We will go inside the matrix, focusing on how it has affected the books we read. This is not a course in constitutional law or political philosophy, but an opportunity to examine how American literary culture has intersected with law and politics. We will investigate the ways in which the meanings of "freedom," what it entails, and who is entitled to it have changed over time. Possible topics include the obscenity trials surrounding Allen Ginsberg's Howl and James Joyce's Ulysses, crackdowns on anti-war propagandists, and the legal battle between Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and televangelist and Moral Majority cofounder Jerry Falwell. Not offered 2022-23.
In 19th-century Britain, for the first time in human history, more of a nation's citizens came to live in urban areas than in rural ones. This result of the Industrial Revolution produced many effects, but in the fiction of the period, one of the most striking was an obsession with the problem of crime. Victorian authors filled their novels with murder, prisons, poisonings, prostitution, criminals, and the new figure of the detective; in this class we will look at the social history, publishing developments, and formal dilemmas that underlay such a response. Authors studied may include Dickens, Collins, Braddon, Conan Doyle, Chesterton, and Conrad, among others. Not offered 2022-23.
The adjective "Dickensian" makes an almost daily appearance in today's newspapers, magazines, and other media sources. It is used to describe everything from outrageous political scandals, to Bollywood musicals, to multiplot novels. But what does the word really mean? And what part of Charles Dickens's output does it refer to? This class will consider some of Dickens's most famous works alongside a series of contemporary novels, all critically described in "Dickensian" terms. The main concern will be equally with style and form, and 19th-century and present-day circumstances of production (e.g., serialization, mass production, Web publication, etc.). Authors considered (aside from Dickens) may include Richard Price, Zadie Smith, Monica Ali, and Jonathan Franzen. Not offered 2022-23.
This course explores late medieval European understandings of the origins, structure, and workings of the cosmos in the realms of theology, physics, astronomy, astrology, magic, and medicine. Attention is given to the position of humans as cultural creatures at the intersection of nature and spirit; as well as to the place of Christian Europeans in relation to non-Christians and other categories of outsiders within and beyond Europe. We will examine the knowledge system that anticipated racializing theories in the West. Not offered 2022-23.
A survey of topics in moral philosophy. The emphasis will be on metaethical issues, although some normative questions may be addressed. Metaethical topics that may be covered include the fact/value distinction; the nature of right and wrong (consequentialism, deontological theories, rights-based ethical theories, virtue ethics); the status of moral judgments (cognitivism vs. noncognitivism, realism vs. irrealism); morality and psychology; moral relativism; moral skepticism; morality and self-interest; the nature of justice. The implications of these theories for various practical moral problems may also be considered.
This class takes up a set of mostly very funny, mostly 20th century British novels to frame a simple-seeming, yet deceptively complicated set of questions: What does it mean to be educated? Who has access to education? What does an ideal education consist in? And ultimately: What is a university for? As we think through these questions we will read op/eds and investigative journalism in addition to fiction, and we will consider a variety of university-centered topics (determined by student interest) including issues of gender, class, privilege, race, and genius. Authors read may include Sayers, Larkin, Amis, C.P. Snow, Lodge, and Zadie Smith.
This course covers a broad range of topics in the history of maps and exploration from Antiquity to the present. These topics range from the earliest visualizations of earth and space in the Classical world to contemporary techniques in interplanetary navigation. By way of maps, students will explore various ways in which different cultures have conceptualized and navigated earth and space. While maps emulate the world as perceived by the human eye, they, in fact, comprise a set of observations and perceptions of the relationship between bodies in space and time. Thus, students will study maps, and the exploration they enable, as windows to the cultures that have produced them, not only as scientific and technical artifacts to measure and navigate our world. Not offered 2022-23.
This course devotes itself to the writings of the diplomat, courtier, bureaucrat, and poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. Best known for the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer also authored dream visions, lyrics, and philosophical meditations. This course will introduce you to some better-known and lesser-known works in the Chaucerian corpus, while also exploring questions central to the production and circulation of literature in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. What did it mean to "invent" a literary work in late medieval England? How did Chaucer imagine himself as a writer and reader? What are the hallmarks of Chaucerian style, and how did Chaucer become the canonical author he is today? We will read Chaucer's works in their original language, Middle English, working slowly enough to give participants time to familiarize themselves with syntax and spelling. No previous experience with the language is necessary. Not offered 2022-23.
This course studies Latin America's most influential authors in the 20th and 21st centuries, with a focus on short stories and novellas produced by the region's avant-garde and "boom" generations. Authors may include Allende, Bombal, Borges, García Márquez, Quiroga, Poniatowska, and Vargas Llosa. All readings and discussions are in English. Not offered 2022-23.
Industrialization, economic growth, and democracy came to Germany much later than to England and France, and the forms they took in Germany were filtered through the specific institutional character of Central Europe. German-speaking writers and intellectuals saw these trends from the perspective of indigenous intellectual traditions, and the resulting collisions of values and priorities largely shaped European and American social, political, and literary debates for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This course explores these writings (in English translation) against the historical background of Central European society, focusing on particular works of Goethe, Hoffmann, Heine, Nietzsche, Kafka, Rilke, and Mann. Not offered 2022-23.
This course will introduce students to the series of religiously motivated European invasions of the Middle and Near East that began at the end of the eleventh century and that led to the creation of Latin Christian principalities in Palestine. Though the crusading movement came to embroil much of Europe itself, the course will focus strictly on the military expeditions to what the Crusaders called the Holy Land, and the history of the Crusader states up to the point of their destruction at the end of the thirteenth century. The course will be guided by the following questions: how did medieval Christianity justify wars of aggression against foreign peoples and religions? What motivated western Europeans to leave their homes and march into a hostile environment, where they often faced impoverishment if not death and where maintaining a Christian presence was a constant struggle? How did they manage to erect stable political entities in alien territory that lasted as long as they did, and how did they have to adapt their own culture to do so? Finally, how did the native peoples of the regions the Crusaders invaded and conquered-Muslim but also Christian and Jewish - perceive the Crusaders? How did the Crusaders' presence affect life in a region whose populations had their own ancient histories and patterns of life? Not offered 2022-23.
Studies Cervantes's literary masterpiece, Don Quixote, with a view to the great upheavals that shaped the early modern world: Renaissance Europe's discovery of America; feudalism's demise and the rise of mass poverty; Reformation and Counter-Reformation; extermination of heretics and war against infidels; and the decline of the Hapsburg dynasty. The hapless protagonist of Don Quixote calls into question the boundaries between sanity and madness, truth and falsehood, history and fiction, objectivity and individual experience. What might be modern, perhaps even revolutionary, in Cervantes's dramatization of the moral and material dilemmas of his time? Conducted in English.
This course explores the material forms of American literature from the colonial era through the nineteenth century. We will study how and by whom books and other kinds of texts were produced, and how these forms shaped and were shaped by readers' engagement with them. Possible topics include the history of such printing technologies as presses, types, paper, ink, binding, and illustration; the business of bookmaking and the development of the publishing industry; the rise of literary authorship; the career of Benjamin Franklin; print, politics, and the American Revolution; and manuscript culture. Not offered 2022-23.
This course covers the fundamentals of utility theory, game theory, and social choice theory. These basic theories are developed and illustrated with applications to electoral politics, market trading, bargaining, auctions, mechanism design and implementation, legislative and parliamentary voting and organization, public economics, industrial organization, and other topics in economics and political science. Open to Social Science graduate students only.
Course will introduce the student to the central problems of political theory and analysis, beginning with the essential components of the democratic state and proceeding through a variety of empirical topics. These topics will include the analysis of electoral and legislative institutions, legislative agenda processes, voting behavior, comparative political economy, and cooperation and conflict in international politics. The student will be sensitized to the primary empirical problems of the discipline and trained in the most general applications of game theoretic reasoning to political science. Open to Social Science graduate students only.
This is a graduate course in the fundamentals of economics. Topics include comparative statics and maximization techniques, the neo-classical theory of consumption and production, general equilibrium theory and welfare economics, public goods and externalities, the economic consequences of asymmetric information and incomplete markets, and recursive methods with applications to labor eco-nomics and financial economics. Open to Social Science graduate students only.
This course explores how psychological facts and constructs can be used to inform models of limits on rationality, willpower and greed, to expand the scope of economic analysis. Topics include overconfidence, heuristics for statistical judgment, loss-aversion, hyperbolic discounting, optimal firm behavior when consumers are limited in rationality, behavioral game theory, behavioral finance, neuroeconomic dual-self models, and legal and welfare implications of rationality limits. Not offered 2022-23.
Mathematical theories of individual and social choice applied to problems of welfare economics and political decision making as well as to the construction of political economic processes consistent with stipulated ethical postulates, political platform formulation, the theory of political coalitions, and decision making in political organizations.
May be repeated for credit. Advanced work in a specialized area of economic theory, with topics varying from year to year according to the interests of students.
This three-quarter sequence is designed for advanced Social Science Ph.D. students with the aim of introducing students to the methodology of modern experimental economics and to provide an in-depth overview of the contributions of experimental methods to a wide variety of fields. The specific topics covered, which will vary from year to year, include but are not limited to individual decision making, preference and belief elicitation, game theory, social learning, bargaining, labor economics, public finance, auctions, voting and elections, competitive markets, networks, matching, mechanism design, coordination/communication, and information aggregation. The focus will be on theory-based experiments and how the dialog between theoretical analysis and laboratory data feeds each other, thereby leading to new avenues of theoretical and experimental research.
Mathematical finance: Pricing financial derivatives, risk management, and optimal portfolio selection. Methods of stochastic, Ito calculus for models driven by Brownian motion. Asset pricing theory: Mean-variance theory, information economics, continuous-time finance and differential equations, intertemporal consumption-based asset pricing theories, recent developments in intermediary-based and behavioral asset pricing theories. Behavioral finance: Empirical facts about asset prices, investor trading behavior, and firm behavior. Psychology about investor preferences and beliefs. Behavioral finance models that explain empirical facts. Trading strategies implemented by hedge funds. Prescriptive behavioral finance that aims at helping individuals and institutions to make better financial decisions.
Topics in behavioral, affective, and social neuroscience that inform how individuals make economic decisions. Applications of neuroscience ideas and methods to understanding choice under risk and uncertainty, temporal discounting and self-control, advertisement and preference formation, habit, addiction, and judgment bias. Not offered 2022-23.
Introduction to the use of multivariate and nonlinear methods in the social sciences. Open to Social Science graduate students only.
The courses in this sequence cover advanced methods and tools in econometrics, as well as their applications to a variety of topics in economics, including industrial organization, dynamic choice, information economics, political economy, market design, and behavioral economics. Offered first and third terms.
This course provides broad coverage of empirical methods in the social sciences. This includes both methods of data collection and practical aspects of data analysis, as well as related issues of survey design, experimental design, techniques for handling large datasets, and issues specific to the collection and analysis of field and historical data. This course also provides students with hands-on experience with data. Open to Social Science graduate students only.
This course explores the interaction of experimental design and econometric inference in the laboratory approach to economic questions. The course critically evaluates existing experimental studies to highlight this interaction and motivate consideration of inferential strategies early in an experiments design. Methodological topics may include testing theories in two-by-two designs, power and optimal design, classifying subjects into canonical types, testing based on elicited preferences and beliefs, and challenges introduced by communication and dynamics in economic experiments. Not offered 2022-23.
Course covers methods used in contemporary applied empirical work in a variety of social sciences. Topics covered include (a) maximum likelihood, Bayesian estimation, management and computation of large datasets, (b) reduced form methods like instrumental variables (IV), difference-in-differences (DID), natural experiments, event study and panel data methods, and (c) structural estimation. Emphasis is on the application of tools to substantive social science problems rather than statistical theory, in areas including political science, political economy, corporate finance, and accounting. Application focus will vary with instructor interests. Not offered 2022-23.
May be repeated for credit. Introduction to modern quantitative history. The tools of economic and political theory applied to problems of economic, social, and political development in a historical context. Second and third terms will be graded together. A pass/fail will be assigned in the second term and then changed to the appropriate letter grade at the end of the third term.
An advanced graduate Social Science sequence in American and comparative politics. The sequence will focus on political institutions and behavior, introducing students to the important theories of American and comparative politics. Students will learn how historical, observational, and experimental data are used in American and comparative political analysis.
This course is an advanced topics course intended for graduate students with a background in optimization, linear systems theory, probability and statistics, and an interest in learning, game theory, and decision making more broadly. We will cover the basics of game theory including equilibrium notions and efficiency, learning algorithms for equilibrium seeking, and discuss connections to optimization, machine learning, and decision theory. While there will be some initial overview of game theory, the focus of the course will be on modern topics in learning as applied to games in both cooperative and non-cooperative settings. We will also discuss games of partial information and stochastic games as well as hierarchical decision-making problems (e.g., incentive and information design).
Emotions are at the forefront of most human endeavors. Emotions aid us in decision-making (gut feelings), help us remember, torment us, yet have ultimately helped us to survive. Over the past few decades, we have begun to characterize the neural systems that extend from primitive affective response such as fight or flight to the complex emotions experienced by humans including guilt, envy, empathy and social pain. This course will begin with an in-depth examination of the neurobiological systems that underlie negative and positive emotions and move onto weekly discussions, based on assigned journal articles that highlight both rudimentary and complex emotions. The final weeks will be devoted to exploring how the neurobiological systems are disrupted in affective disorders including anxiety, aggression and psychopathy. In addition to these discussions and readings, each student will be required to write a review paper or produce a short movie on a topic related to one of the emotions discussed in these seminars and its underlying neural mechanisms.
Survey of laboratory experimental research related to the broad field of political economy. Topics: the behavior of markets, organizations, committee processes, and election processes. Emphasis on experimental methods and techniques. Students will design and conduct experiments. May be repeated for credit with instructor's permission. Not offered 2022-23.
Only open to advanced graduate students in social science. How can social scientists write in a style that makes someone actually want to read their papers? This seminar combines writing exercises with help in planning a professional social science paper and with extensive comments on drafts.
Course for graduate students in social sciences. Students present their research and lead discussion of material relevant to their research program. Open to Social Science Graduate Students only.
The course involves student presentations of their research, reading and discussion of recent research in social and decision neuroscience, and development of professional skill such as scientific writing and speaking, research ethics, writing grants and peer review. This course is only open to graduate students in the Social and Decision Neuroscience, Computational and Neural Systems and Social Science PhD programs.
The goal of this course is to introduce graduate students to current research questions in cognitive sciences, political science, and economics. Select faculty will present their research background, methods, and a sampling of current studies. Background readings and pdf of presentation will be provided.
This course is designed for students to improve their ability for written expression in the English language. This course is only open to graduate students in the Social Decision Neuroscience and Social Science Ph.D. programs.