Indiana University Bloomington
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New Class - Teaching Area Studies - Gardner Bovingdon

Teaching Area Studies
CEUS-R599 (31016)
1-3:30 F
Wylie Hall (Wy) 111

Permission required: e-mail ceus@indiana.edu

Let’s say we agree at the outset that area studies are important. But why should we teach area studies? How should we teach area studies? Can and should scholars focusing on different areas learn from each other? Prompted by these and similar questions, this course will address the challenges, opportunities, and enduring questions in area studies. Critics are increasingly skeptical about the expense and idiosyncrasy of area studies research. Humanities researchers often seem to regard regions’ literatures and histories principally as mere grist for the theories of the hour, or comb them for evidence of global convergences. Scholars in social science disciplines have pressed for ‘large-N’ comparisons, statistical analyses, and models that do not depend on deep area knowledge or linguistic skills, in order to maximize the “reach” and “utility” of their findings.

We will read searching critiques and consider important philosophical questions seldom raised in area studies courses, and we will look out various windows at the temptations of other approaches. But we will end with a full-throated defense of the continuing relevance, and importance, of area studies as practice and as a field of teaching.