CULT 501: Social and Cultural Theory
Recognising that the anthropological definition of culture is no longer adequate to understand and explain contemporary societies and their experiences, the clustering of different disciplinary perspectives around a common object of study, i.e. culture, offers the possibility for developing a distinctive area of study characterised by new methods of analysis. This configuration of disciplines collaborating around the topic of culture constitutes the substance of ‘cultural studies’. This course aims to capture the fluidity of the ‘interdiscursive space’ that characterizes cultural studies and to introduce the main lines of thought in cultural theory, which include the Frankfurt School, structuralism, semiotics, poststructuralism, postcolonial theory, psychoanalytical approaches to the study of culture, literary theory and postmodernism, etc.
CULT 507: Politics and Biography
The aim of this seminar is to initiate the students into the genre of biographies and to analyse the trend called ‘biographical turn’ in the social sciences. By assessing the reading of an autobiography in Turkish every week and discussing the text in detail in the class, the students would notice that even the most non-political biography is one way or another reflecting the political environment that it was once created. Another objective of the seminar is to introduce students to the corpus of biographies existing in Turkish. By assessing a biography every week to the class, the students would discuss the complex relationship between the individual and his/her political environment.
CULT 572: Identity, Memory and Culture
The course approaches identities and memories of places in the context of precedence/obsolescence/continuance. Memory here refers to traditions and origins. Place relates to sites of remembering/forgetting. Fragments and traces of the past either appearing or disappearing in the present constitute the basis upon which themes of temporality and spatiality will be discussed. More specific concepts for analysis will be presence/absence, rootedness/homelessness, preservation/loss/nostalgia/amnesia. The course is structured around weekly readings of Sennett, Benjamin, Barthes, Baudrillard, Huyssen, Crimp, Boyarin, Mitchell, Simmel, Abbas, Saleci, Lefebvre, Young, Terdiman, Rajchman, etc.
CULT 525: Psychoanalytic Method in Culture
The aim of this course is to posit psychoanalysis as a methodology rather than a defined and delimited scientific discipline or a ‘meta-theory’ and to inquire into its possible applications in different areas of knowledge such as literary criticism, film theory, anthropology, post-colonial studies, gender studies, semantics and cultural studies in general. Special emphasis will be given to the encounters between psychoanalysis and other generalized world outlooks that also propose to serve as methodological structures, such as Marxism and feminism.
CULT 565: Gender and Culture
Since ‘abstract thought lost ground’ in this age as Simone de Beauvoir wrote in The Second Sex, the abstract notion ‘human being’ is not enough to explain our being referring to gender; nor is it satisfactory to refer to different social identities. In this class, while exploring in general the possible philosophical perspectives on the meanings of gender in feminist theories, we will also elaborate on the discussions on gender with the questions appearing in queer studies, sexual difference theories, intersectionality studies (regarding race, ethnicity, culture and religion together with gender), and masculinity studies.
CULT 510: Smell and the Cultural History of Senses
This course examines the five basic senses which are the basic tools of the individual’s communication with the outside world in general and sense of smell in the context of world cultural history in particular. In this context, it aims to develop the ability to look at events from a different angle by taking the senses and their relation to each other into account. The role of sensory stimuli in the formation of the conditions that laid the basis for the industrial revolution, the differences in sensory perception of reproduction and evolution -both in individual and community cultures and how these differences were guided in the context of economic market formation constitute the basic content of the course.
CULT 585: Emotions, Affections, Ethics
This course aims to address the basic structure of emotions and how they are related to character and moral action. In the first part of the course we will briefly examine some theories of emotions; we will see that though the philosophical inquiry into the nature of emotions goes back as far as Plato and Aristotle, especially after 1950 there has been an increasing interest in it. In the second part we will mostly examine the relationship between emotions and morality. We will begin with Spinoza’s account of emotions as it appears in Ethics, and then move onto Nietzsche’s genealogical approach to resentment. Finally, we will look at some contemporary philosophers’ discussions of the relationship between emotions and morality.
CULT 511: Introduction to Post-colonial Theory
How can the contemporary world come to be defined in terms of the political and social parameters of ruling powers? How much does the cultural scope of power, hegemony, depend on a combination of historical, geographic and political forces? This course examines the concepts of imperialism, postcolonialism, and globalism from a perspective ‘in the middle’ both geographically between East and West and temporally between the (arguably) postcolonial era of the nation-state and the postnational era of globalism. Through a consideration of primary sources from the struggle against imperialism, secondary texts examining this struggle and a small selection of artistic products from within it, this course attempts to open avenues of investigation and thought towards an understanding of the past, present and future of cultural and political hegemonies
CULT 570: Social Change and the Turkish Novel
In this course, the interaction between the Turkish novel and social change will be studied, especially focusing on the period comprising of the foundation and the early years. The selected readings will be approached from the standpoints of literary criticism and historiography, paying special attention to how this interaction was codified.
CULT 536: Politics of Memory, Nationalism and Commemoration
How do we commemorate the events that happened before we’re born? This seminar is structured around this question. Concentrating mostly on the Turkish experience, this seminar tries to explore how the act of commemoration/remembrance is not a random and arbitrary practice. It is related to the type of nationalism prevalent in Turkey and shaped by it.
CULT 552: The Sacred, Sacrifice and Modernity
This course focuses on the following questions: How did ‘sacrifice’ come to emerge as a new social category in modern societies where the sacred has disappeared? Why is the concept of ‘sacrifice’ still active in secularized, non-religious Western societies, as if it still has something to do with the sacred? How can the individual member of modern society, often described as ‘hedonistic, egotistic and flighty’, become sentimental over the narratives and images of a victim from the other side of the world? Why do modern individuals who have based their life projects on success, incessant mobility and immediate externalization of ‘surpluses’, see every other individual as a potential victim?
CULT 557: Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture
This course is designed to develop an in-depth anthropological understanding of practices and conceptualizations of resistance in diverse geographies and periods. This course aims to provide a general overview of the field of anthropology and cultural studies with a particular focus on global forces that create and challenge the new world order. We will explore various ethnographies and case studies in order to explore the anthropological concept of ‘culture’ in all its complexity and contextuality and to assess the valence of related notions such as globalisation, locality, millennial economy, humanitarianism, eco-activism, border work, regimes of expertise, and networks. The main task of the student is to cross-culturally study the primary political, cultural, and existential stakes surrounding the possibilities and deadlocks of the anthropological category at hand.
CULT 504: Methods of Cultural Analysis
The course aims to provide students with the basic principles and methodologies of social research and introduces students to key debates on social studies. It critically reviews the major approaches to social scientific investigation ranging from positivism to postmodernism and poststructuralism. The course offers a comprehensive overview of classical methodologies as well as more current approaches that have argued for more innovative methods. A wide range of research methods and the epistemological and ontological assumptions that underpin them are explored. The course aims to demonstrate the interrelatedness of theory and method, the ways in which theory informs the practice of research.
Cult 537: Digital Culture
This course aims to introduce students to the issues raised in using visual materials for the purpose of social analysis. It considers the effects inherent to various visual environments, including social space, photography, film and exhibition, as well as considering various approaches to visuality, including those of philosophy, psychoanalysis, gender and race. The purpose of this course is to broaden the analytic perspective of students interested in using visual material, whether from social field work (including analysis of visual behaviours such as dress, consumerism, etc.), photographic documentation, television, film, and/or exhibition.
CULT 511: Introduction to Postcolonial Theory
How can the contemporary world come to be defined in terms of the political and social parameters of ruling powers? How much does the cultural scope of power, hegemony, depend on a combination of historical, geographic and political forces? This course examines the concepts of imperialism, postcolonialism, and globalism from a perspective “in the middle” both geographically between East and West and temporally between the (arguably) postcolonial era of the nation-state and the postnational era of globalism. Through a consideration of primary sources from the struggle against imperialism, secondary texts examining this struggle and a small selection of artistic products from within it, this course attempts to open avenues of investigation and thought towards an understanding of the past, present and future of cultural and political hegemonies.
CULT 541: Femininity, Masculinity and ‘Modernity’
This course aims to interrogate how categories of sex, gender and sexuality are historically and culturally constructed within power relations. Through the course we are going to analyze essentialist understandings towards sex, gender and sexuality in the light of the following questions: What is the relationship between gender binary, heteronormativity and violence? What are the repressive, discriminatory and exclusionist practices in the construction of “normal” and “abnormal” categories? Can we establish a thought system that is beyond dichotomies, which is inclusive of all differences?
CULT 571 : Politics of Space
This course explores the multifarious relations between space and politics. It will provide the students with the conceptual vocabulary to think the social and the political spheres spatially (and vice versa). The course will complicate the students’ understanding of space as they work through a shift from “things in space” to “the social production of space.” The course is multi-disciplinary: it is designed for students with interests not only in humanities and social sciences but also in fields like architecture, urban studies and contemporary art.