KNOW courses are offered by the faculty of the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at both the graduate and the advanced undergraduate levels.
For graduate students, we offer a number of cross-listed seminars as well as an annual core sequence in topics in the formation of knowledge (KNOW 401, 402, 403). These seminars are team-taught by faculty from different departments or schools and are open to all graduate students regardless of field of study. Graduate students who enroll in two quarters of this sequence are eligible to apply for the Dissertation Research Fellowships.
For undergraduate students, we offer courses cross-listed in departments and schools across the University, as well as unique courses taught by the Institute's Postdoctoral Scholars. To browse courses, search by department, quarter, academic year, or type in a keyword that interests you. In addition, the Institute launched the Experimental Capstone (XCAP) in 2018-19, team-taught courses for fourth-year undergraduate students interested in building upon their UChicago educational experience by adding practice, impact, and influence as important dimensions of their undergraduate work.
KNOW 40201: Reason and Religion
The quarrel between reason and faith has a long history. The birth of Christianity was in the crucible of rationality. The ancient Greeks privileged this human capacity above all others, finding in reason the quality wherein man was closest to the gods, while the early Christians found this viewpoint antithetical to religious humility. As religion and its place in society have evolved throughout history, so have the standing of, and philosophical justification for, non-belief on rational grounds. This course will examine the intellectual and cultural history of arguments against religion in Western thought from antiquity to the present . Along the way, of course, we will also examine the assumptions bound up in the binary terms “religion” and “reason.”
No prerequisites. Course requirements: 12-page research paper (40%), class report (30%), active participation (15%), book review (15%).
This course fulfills part of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement to be eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship. No instructor consent is required, but registration is not final until after the 1st week in order to give Ph.D. students priority.
KNOW 41402: Seminar: Patronage and Culture in Renaissance Italy and Her Neighbors 1
A two-quarter research seminar; the first quarter may be taken separately as a colloquium with the instructor's permission. The great works of literature, philosophy, art, architecture, music, and science which the word "Renaissance" invokes were products of a complex system of patronage and heirarchy, in which local, personal, and international politics were as essential to innovation as ideas and movements. This course examines how historians of early modern Europe can strive to access, understand, and describe the web of heirarchy and inequality which bound the creative minds of Renaissance Europe to wealthy patrons, poor apprentices, distant princes, friends and rivals, women and servants, and the many other agents, almost invisible in written sources, who were vital to the production and transformation of culture.
PQ: Graduate students only; can be taken as a one-quarter colloquium with permission.
KNOW 40101: Textual Knowledge and Authority: Biblical and Chinese Literature
Ancient writers and their patrons exploited the textual medium, the virtual reality it can evoke and the prestige it can command to promote certain categories of knowledge and types of knowers. This course will survey two ancient bodies of literature, Hebrew and Chinese, for the figures they advance, the perspectives they configure, the genres they present, and the practices that developed around them, all in a dynamic interplay of text and counter-text. Excerpts from Hebrew literature include (a) royal wisdom in Proverbs & Ecclesiastes; (b) divine law in Exodus 19–24, Deuteronomy, the Temple Scroll, and Pesharim. Readings from Chinese literature include (c) speeches from the Shang shu (Book of Documents), (d) odes from the Shi jing (Book of Songs), and (e) commentaries from Han to Qing periods that elucidate, often in contradictory terms, the law-giving properties of these texts.
NOTE: This course fulfills one quarter of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement.
KNOW 27002: Foucault and the History of Sexuality
This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.
KNOW 27001: Image and Text in Mexican Codices
In most Mesoamerican languages, a single word describes the activities that we would call “writing” and “painting.” This seminar will investigate the interrelationships between image and text in Central Mexico both before and immediately after the introduction of alphabetic writing in the 16th century. We will also review art historical and archaeological evidence for the social conditions of textual and artistic production in Mexico, and how these traditions were transformed under Spanish colonial rule. We will consider the materiality of text and image by working with facsimiles of Mesoamerican books in the Special Collections of the Regenstein Library. At the end of the course, students will have acquired a basic literacy in Aztec and Mixtec writing systems, and will have refined their ability to look productively and write elegantly about art.
KNOW 23001: Aztecs and Romans: Antiquity in the Making of Modern Mexico
Modern Mexico stands in the shadow of two vibrant pre-modern urban societies: the Mexica (commonly known as the Aztecs) and the Romans. In this course, we will examine how Mesoamerican and Mediterranean antiquities overlapped and interacted in shaping the culture, politics and society of the area we call Mexico from the late colonial period to the 21st century. Topics will include: creole patriotism, the political thought of the early Mexican Republic and the Mexican Revolution of 1910, nationalist archaeology, indigenismo, mestizaje and neo-classical and neo-Aztec art and architecture. All readings will be in translation.