[Cross-listed with SPAN 501]

Cultural Mobilities in Theory and Practice

Cultural mobility can be defined as mobilities relayed in and of cultural products, events, and phenomena. The concept can be viewed as part of a recent, influential critical movement to foreground mobility in social sciences and in the humanities and arts. According to Tim Cresswell (On the Move, 2006: 2-3), mobility is the effect of movement, meaning, and power. John Urry underscores the necessity to analyze assemblages or interconnections of five interdependent mobilities in social life: the corporeal travel of people; the physical movement of objects; imaginative travel through perusing the media; virtual travel through, for instance, Zoom meetings; and communicative travel using, for example, social media (Mobilities, 2006: 47-8). The mobilities paradigm has been used to explain significant socio-cultural phenomena, ranging from social inequality to global climate change, all of which are related to physical movements in crucial ways.

This course introduces the research field of cultural mobilities in relation to case studies focused on several mobile subjects—namely, merchants, explorers, tourists, colonizers, political pilgrims, migrants, and refugees—within Italian, French, and Chinese contexts. The course is divided into two units. In the first unit, students learn critical frames and tools from social scientific and humanistic inquiries into mobilities. In the second unit, students are encouraged to use these theoretical insights to approach major intercultural events (e.g., the Age of Discovery, the Grand Tour, and migrations) as they are articulated in narratives of diverse types (e.g., novels, journalism, diaries, and films). In particular, we consider authorial intent, knowledge creation, cultural technologies, affects, meaning-meaning, and power dynamics that these narratives help articulate. Through this exercise, toward the end of the semester, we assess how we may contribute to further theorizing cultural mobility analysis

Language of instruction : English