Winter 2017 Programs

In Winter 2017, undergraduate students will participate in three study abroad programs hosted by the Center in Paris. See a list of the faculty and their courses below.

European Civilization

Arnaud Coulombel (Center in Paris) - European Civilization in Paris I
This course is a hybrid: at once an introduction to European Civilization since the late Middle Ages and an overview of French history. We will have two objectives: on the one hand, to master the historian’s craft; on the other to integrate textual analysis with the discovery of a French history and culture. To do so, we will read historical documents and ‘classic’ texts, discuss and debate them in our 4 weekly meetings.

Robert Morrissey (Romance Languages and Literatures) - European Civilization in Paris II
Part II of this course continues along the lines established in the previous section, serving as a generalized introduction to cultural, political and intellectual themes in European history, with a particular emphasis upon the French experience. We will begin by discussing old regime society, establishing the sources of stability and change; we then explore the Enlightenment, the final crisis of the old regime and—in some detail—the French Revolution itself.

Jennifer Wild (Cinema and Media Studies) - European Civilization in Paris III
This course is an introduction to the history of European civilization during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will read and discuss a number of historical, philosophical, political, and literary texts that shaped culture and intellectual history in the modern era. Particular attention will be paid to the traditions of liberal and socialist thought, the cultural changes associated with industrial modernity, the transformation of urban life, the rise of modernism, and the rethinking of Enlightenment ideals. While we will consider the broad European context, the course will give some emphasis to French texts and to the place of Paris as one of the great intellectual and artistic centers of European modernity.

Neuroscience

Aaron Fox (Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Physiology) - Neurobiology from a Cellular Perspective
The course will start with a brief overview of the nervous system. This survey will go from functional brain regions down to the level of the individual neuron, where we will listen to neurons communicate. Neurons talk to themselves. Or to other neurons. Sometimes they whisper. Or they shout. The language of the neuron involves small changes in voltage and the release of chemical neurotransmitters. Where better to learn a new foreign language than in Paris?

Peggy Mason (Neurobiology) - Neuroanatomy
In this course, we will use an understanding of development in order to understand the neuroanatomy of the adult vertebrate nervous system. This understanding will be solidified by dissections of mammalian, fish and bird brains as well as a trip to see myriad brains at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle. In the second half of the course, the pathways that underlie perception, voluntary movement, homeostasis, and executive function will be explored. Trips to the Exploradôme and Musée Dupuytren will give students first-hand experience with perceptual illusions and allow students to see the brains of two patients (preserved in alcohol since the 1860s) used by Jean Paul Broca to describe aphasia.

Steven Shevell (Psychology) - Sensation and Perception
What we see and hear depends on energy that enters the eyes and ears, but what we actually experience – perception – follows from human neural responses. This course focuses on visual and auditory phenomena, including basic percepts (for example, acuity, brightness, color, loudness, pitch) and also more complex percepts such as motion and object recognition. Biological underpinnings of perception are an integral part of the course.

Social Sciences

Jennifer Timmons (History) - Paris in the Middle Ages
From an island settlement routinely pillaged by Vikings in the 9th century, Paris grew by 1300 into a city of more than 200,000 people, renowned for its schools and learning, its arts and craftspeople, and its ideological import to the rulers of France. This course will explore the intellectual, political, and socio-economic landscape of Paris through the transformative centuries 1100-1500. Taking the city itself as our point of departure, we will investigate the people and forces that shaped it. We will look at the rise and structure of the medieval university and its interactions with its urban environment, the social and economic effects of medieval urbanization, and the relationship between the city and its rulers. The course is designed to introduce both the history of a city, and the types of tools and questions Historians have used to investigate this history. We will use primary sources to enter into a medieval view of Paris and secondary articles to understand how the discipline of History has framed and discussed these sources.

Kotaro Yoshida (Economics) - International Finance
This course follows a particular history of ideas and ideals that come out of, expand, contend with, contest and explode liberalism – ideas such as democracy, revolution, class, citizenship and nation, as they have been conceptualized in certain contemporary French philosophical traditions that think with and beyond Marx. Specifically, we will read the work of three philosophers – Marx himself, Jacques Derrida and Etienne Balibar – and their writings around three critical conjunctures:

Kaushik Sunder Rajan (Anthropology) - Philosophies of praxis and conjuncture: Objects and subjects of politics in Marx, Derrida and Balibar
This course follows a particular history of ideas and ideals that come out of, expand, contend with, contest and explode liberalism – ideas such as democracy, revolution, class, citizenship and nation, as they have been conceptualized in certain contemporary French philosophical traditions that think with and beyond Marx. Specifically, we will read the work of three philosophers – Marx himself, Jacques Derrida and Etienne Balibar – and their writings around three critical conjunctures:

  • Marx (1848-1852, and how the specter of communism that was haunting Europe materialized into the reality of Louis Bonaparte’s counter-revolution in France);
  • Derrida (early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the proclaimed end of the Cold War, which was also the so-called “end of history”);
  • Balibar (the question of Europe and the challenges and opportunities it presents to democracy).