The Anthropology of Awe and Terror

This course explores encounters with awe and terror via the “sublime” experience. How are these inner states generated and represented in a variety of cultural, political, emotive and artistic contexts? From trembling at a mountain, to being struck mute by the threat of nuclear warfare or the reality of climate change, how are our relationships to the phenomena of the world un/made by our experiences of the unspeakable? Our inquiries include: harm and the 21st century warscape; encounters with beauty and violence; wonder as a means of decentering ourselves; and the perils of “stuplimity,” as astonishment gives way to boredom then apathy.

Sample reading list:
Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgment
Joseph Masco, The Theater of Operations
Michael Taussig, Law in a Lawless Land
Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just
Solmaz Sharif, LOOK
Hassan Blasim, The Corpse Exhibition

Reading/Writing assignments:
Reading: Average 70-120 pages per week. Weekly response assignments (30%); Field Notebook (20%); one 10-12 p. term paper/ project (40%).

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
Prior familiarity with critical theory is encouraged. Students in Creative Writing and the Arts are particularly invited to join the course. There will be options for creative components alongside analytic work. Interested students should email a 5-page sample of their creative writing to

Other information:
Professor Stone’s first collection of poems STRANGER’S NOTEBOOK (TriQuarterly 2008) is inspired by her fieldwork in North Africa, and her current poetry manuscript in progress, KILL CLASS is based on fieldwork within war trainings across America and the Middle East. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The New Republic, The Best American Poetry 2016, The Best Emerging Poets 2014-15, Guernica, Diode, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. Stone is completing a MFA at Warren Wilson.




Tuesdays, 7:30 - 10:20 pm


Nomi Stone