College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters


2007 - 2008 Groups

Collaboration and the Holocaust in France

We will be discussing France's peculiar relationship to the German invasion, in the Vichy government, as well as the occupied and unoccupied zones; the various and variable meaning of collaboration, the state of contemporary France in relation to this period, and how these political exigencies weighed on the fate of the Jews.


  • Contemporary French Civilization, special Summer 2007 issue, on the theme "France, 1940-44: The Ambiguous Legacy
  • France, The Dark Years: 1940-44, by Julian Jackson
  • The Collaborator, by Alice Kaplan
  • Rat Man of Paris, by Paul West

Faculty Participants:

Hilene Flanzbaum, Paul Hanson, Antonio Menendez, Jon Porter, Eloise Sureau, Sylvie Vanbaelen

Globalization & Identity

Our reading group will be dedicated this year to works that investigate, explicate, and theorize emergent geopolitical phenomena and their effects on nation-state relations and political and personal identities. We will explore the overlapping, intersecting, and divergent perspectives of theorists grappling with issues of globalization, human rights, neo-imperialism, political violence, and possibilities for resistance.


  • Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger, by Appadurai, A.
  • Empire and Imperialism: A Critical Reading of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, by Boron, A.
  • Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence, by Butler, J.
  • The Age of the World Target: Self-Referentiality in War, Theory, and Comparative Work, by Chow, R.
  • Empire, by Hardt M. & Negri A.

Faculty Participants:

Elise Edwards, Lee Garver, Jason Goldsmith, Sarah Painitz, Ageeth Sluis.

Reading the Fathers: Psychoanalysis and Critical Theory

As a group of scholars from different disciplines, we are coming together to read Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to trace the history of psychoanalysis and its relationship to contemporary critical thought.


by Sigmund Freud

  • Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis
  • Interpretations of Dreams
  • Three Case Histories

by Jacques Lacan

  • The Psychoses 1955-1956, Book III
  • The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan , Book XI
  • On Feminine Sexuality, the Limits of Love and Knowledge: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX

Faculty Participants:

Chad Bauman, Terri Carney, Vivian Deno, David Moscowitz, Ageeth Sluis, Brynnar Swenson, Kristin Swenson

Religious Faith & Science in Secular Times

Our concern in this reading group is to explore faith-based and secular world views in light both of the scientific and the cultural developments of our age. We will begin with Philip Kitcher's Living with Darwin, a book that is critical of the intelligent design movement but seeks to provide a better account of how to reconcile religious impulses with modern science. We will then read Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, which provides a historical and cultural account of the emergence of secularism and its relationship to religious movements. We will conclude with Primo Levi's The Periodic Table, a set of meditations, a work of fiction and memoir that ties these issues together. In Levi we have an Italian-Jewish writer who, as a chemist working for I.G. Farben, survived Auschwitz and tried to make sense of both his religious heritage and his experience of the Holocaust.


  • Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith., by Philip Kitcher
  • A Secular Age., by Charles Taylor
  • The Periodic Table., by Primo Levi (Raymond Rosenthal, trans.)

Faculty Participants:

Cynthia Pratt, Fred Yaniga, James McGrath, Judy Lysaker, Stuart Glennan, Robert Bennett, Ulf Goebel

Transnational Feminisms

Our reading group will use an interdisciplinary approach to critically consider the meanings and implications of contemporary transnational feminist theory and practice, as well as women's movements and activism across the globe. We will study the impact of globalization on women's lives in diverse cultures, interactions between the local and the global, and strategies for national and transnational resistance to oppression.


  • Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives, by Carole McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim
  • Women, Gender and Human Rights: A Global Perspective, by Marjorie Agosin
  • Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms, by Inderpal Grewal
  • Just Advocacy? Women's Human Rights, Transnational Feminisms, and the Politics of Representation, by Hesford & Kozol
  • Women's Activism and Globalization: Linking Struggles and Transnational Politics, by Nancy Naples & Manisha Desai
  • The Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women's Movements in Global Perspective, by Elizabeth McGrory & Amrita Basu

Faculty Participants:

Terri Carney, Margaretha Geertsema, Siobhan McEvoy-Levy, Ann Savage, Ageeth Sluis, and Kristin Swenson