New Interdisciplinary Team-Taught Courses for 2020-2021 Announced

May 15, 2020
Henry Fox Talbot
Anne McCauley and Jeffrey Whetstone will co-teach "Inventing Photography" in Fall 2020. Image: William Henry Fox Talbot and Nicolaas Henneman at the Reading establishment, 1846.

The Humanities Council’s many interdisciplinary certificate programs, including the Program in Humanistic Studies, offer students “Breakthrough Seminars” that help to enrich and deepen learning across the humanities curriculum and offer experiential exchange with material culture and artifacts. Through the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Projects, the Council supports innovative, first-time undergraduates courses led by pairs or teams of faculty from different departments whose aim is to experiment with course structures and materials, often taking students beyond the traditional classroom setting.

In the academic year 2020-2021, the Council is proud to support the following new team-taught courses by Princeton faculty:


Joshua Kotin (English) and Irene Small (Art and Archaeology) focus on the intersection of language and visual art in the twentieth-century. The course will examine modernist and avant-garde experiments in word and image and then investigate the global rise of concrete and visual poetry and text-based art movements after World War II, looking at artworks from, and the networks that connect, Brazil, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Yelena Baraz (Classics) and  Jhumpa Lahiri (Creative Writing) will examine ancient plots as generative forces for new creative work. We will ask how ancient Greek and Roman plots are appropriated, reused, and reimagined by modern and contemporary writers. The course will read ancient texts in their own historical and cultural context and then ask why later authors turn to these plots and how they transform them in conversation with their own time and in relation to their own artistic goals.


Anne McCauley(Art and Archaeology) and Jeffrey Whetstone (Visual Arts) combine hands-on experience of nineteenth-century photographic processes with the study of surviving images and readings on cultural and scientific forces driving photographic inventions with the goal to deconstruct the current black box that is digital photography.  Student will be introduced to the do-it-yourself practices (chemistry and optics) behind multiple types of imagery that are often lumped together retrospectively as “photography.” Students will make their own personal visual statements and may mix hand-made processes with modern intermediaries such as digitally produced negatives.


Alexander Nehamas (Philosophy) and Katerina Stergiopoulou (Classics) will be offering an interdisciplinary perspective on the work of two renowned Greeks who lived almost two thousand years apart: the philosopher Socrates and the poet C.P. Cavafy. Do these figures, both famous for their use of irony, speak to or past each other across the millennia? How does each buttress or challenge contemporary theories of truth, virtue, and ethics—of the good life?  Does the nature and function of irony change depending on whether it appears in philosophy or in literature?

For more information about Team-Teaching Grants, visit:

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