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Fall 2017 Course Type: Joint Course Code: CLCZ GU4030 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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Post-War Czech Literature

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A survey of postwar Czech fiction and drama. Knowledge of Czech not necessary. Parallel reading lists available in translation and in the original.

Fall 2017 Course Type: Joint Course Code: CLPS GU4350 (4pts.) Go to Registrar
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Psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School

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In the 1930s, the philosophers and social theorists of the Frankfurt School were the first members of the academy to take the then scandalous discipline of psychoanalysis seriously. Along with Hegel, Marx and Weber, Freud became one of the pillars on which Critical Theory was constructed. Beginning with the Institute for Social Research’s groundbreaking Studies on Authority, through Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment, Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization, and Habermas’ Knowledge and Human Interests to Honneth’s The Struggle for Recognition, the vicissitudes of the development of Critical Theory can be mapped by tracking each of its member’s relation to psychoanalysis. And this is the plan that we will follow in this class in an attempt to elucidate one of the most creative syntheses in contemporary social theory.

Fall 2017 Course Type: Joint Course Code: CLPS GU4220 (4pts.) Go to Registrar
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Psychoanalysis and Writing

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Mallarmé saw writing as a “mad game” [“ce jeu insensé de l’écriture”]. Following Blanchot following Mallarmé, Foucault equaled literature’s writing again with “madness [folie]” and then both with the enigmatic thought of an “absence of work [absence d’œuvre].” By bringing together close readings and references to clinical experience, this course hopes to show that writing lies at the heart of psychoanalysis. We will also ask what share of the “mad game” is written into this heart. In Freud we will trace a poetics that secretly informs the careful constructions of his concepts and theoretical compositions. With Schreber we will analyze a drive to find a formula for the mad experience, a drive that does not only inform his own Memoirs of my Nervous Illness but whose transference can be read in founding texts of psychoanalytic writing on psychosis. In Lacan we will comment on his intention to force a reduction of psychoanalytic discourse to such an extent that it may yield the letters of a “writing of the real.” By elaborating these three moments of writing – (poetic) construction, (mad) formalization, (literal) reduction – we will ask what they have to do with the “sexual” – the word, the concept, the thing, and its metonymies (transference, libido, drive, affect, Eros) – with the “sexual”, this other “heart” of psychoanalysis.

Fall 2017 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CPLS UN3915 (4pts.)

Reading the Multilingual City: New York, Urban Landscapes & Urban Multilingualism

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Instructors Stephan Charitos and Abraham Lee

This course seeks to bring the city and multilingualism into conversation in order to throw light on the cultural history of New York as a multilingual city in which multiple cultures and languages co-exist, interact and lay claim to an ever-changing urban landscape. Focusing on the history and present state of various languages in the New York landscape, the course will explore urban multilingualism through a variety of critical, theoretical, and cultural lenses that will expand our understanding of the relationship between the spatial organization of a city and its linguistic profile.

Fall 2017 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CPLS GR6320 (4pts.) Go to Registrar
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Revolution: a Future Past?

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Application Required. To apply for this seminar, please email Sarah Monks, sm3373@columbia.edu, with your degree program, area of interest, and list any previous courses you’ve taken with Professor Balibar. Be sure to indicate if you want to be registered for a letter grade or as an R-credit.

 

In the anniversary year of what was called once “The Great October Revolution”, the class will undertake a genealogy and semantic examination of this central category of modern philosophical thought. The general title is borrowed from a collection of essays by Reinhard Koselleck, “Futures Past: on the Semantic of Historical Time”, originally published (in German) in 1979, that includes a seminal essay on the word “revolution” (written in 1968). In the class I will confront the question of typical narratives of revolutionary moments in history (and history itself as a succession of such moments), and the question of antithetic concepts of revolution as social, political, cultural and technological phenomenon (particularly insisting on the competing schemes of transformation and antagonism). Rather than discussing the issue in a deductive manner, the class will be based on accurate readings of classical or more recent texts, which highlight some of the central themes and recurrent dilemmas. It will prepare for a discussion on the possibility of a “revolution in the imaginary of the revolution”.

Fall 2017 Course Type: Joint Course Code: CLRS GR6120 (4pts.) Go to Registrar
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Russian Cartographies in Prose

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Fall 2017 Course Type: Related Course Code: POLS GR8101 (4pts.) Go to Registrar
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Seminar in Political Thought: Democracy, Civil Society, and Populism

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This seminar will analyze the relationship of democracy and civil society to populism. The first section will compare and contrast democratic legitimacy, political theology and civil religion. We then turn to the relation of civil and political society to populism. Civil society is the terrain on which populist movements emerge. But what is the difference, if any, between populist and other social movements and types of mobilization? Is populism intrinsic to or antithetical to modern pluralistic civil society? Similar questions arise regarding political parties and populism and we will address these as well. The third part of the seminar turns to the concept and different conceptions of populism in contemporary political theory. Why do populist movements arise and do they threaten or revitalize democratic political systems.? Does the distinction between right and left populism make sense? Finally, in the last section we will broach the issue of the relation of populism to religion. These make strange bedfellows but contemporary populists rely on religious tropes and invoke religious and civil religious identities alongside democratic legitimacy. We will analyze to what extent contemporary populist movements and leaders rely on religious rhetoric, and support and why they do so. Among the authors we will read are Ackerman, Blumenberg, Bockenforde, Canovan, Cohen and Arato, Laclau, Lefort, Manin, Moffit, Mudde, Rosanvallon, Schmitt and Zizek

Fall 2017 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CPLS UN3991 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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Senior Seminar – Comparative Literature & Society

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The senior seminar is a capstone course required of all CLS/MLA majors. The seminar provides students the opportunity to discuss selected topics in comparative literature and society and medical humanities in a cross-disciplinary, multilingual, and global perspective. Students undertake individual research projects while participating in directed readings and critical dialogues about theory and research methodologies, which may culminate in the senior thesis. Students review work in progress and share results through weekly oral reports and written reports.

Fall 2017 Course Type: CPLS Course Code: CPLS BC3144 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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Stories & Storytelling: Introduction to Narrative

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Study of the forms and functions of narrative through engagement with the modes of detection, confession, and digression. You will examine how storytelling takes place in various media and genres and across fiction and non-fiction, studying short stories, a novella, novels, a poem, films, scholarly essays, autobiography, and a psychoanalytic case history. Attention to cultural differences, historical shifts, and philosophical questions such as the writing of the self, the nature of memory, the experience of time, and the relationship of truth to fiction. Readings include Doyle, Borges, Sophocles, Freud, Hitchcock, Augustine, Coleridge, McEwan, the compilers of The Arabian Nights, Diderot, Calvino, and Lispector.

Fall 2017 Course Type: Joint Course Code: CLFR GR8547 (3pts.) Go to Registrar
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Structures of Feeling: Emotions in History & Literature

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Instructor: Thomas Dodman

 

Research on emotions has boomed over the past two decades, so much so that is has become customary to speak of an “emotional” or “affective turn” across the disciplines. There is a palpable “gold rush” feeling in the air, in call for papers, specialized journals, dedicated book series, and interdisciplinary research centers. Of late, there is also a sense of urgency, as pressing social and political questions have come to stir passions in a way not seen since darkest days of the 20th century. Today, we talk compulsively of the politics of anger and resentment, of the frenetic pursuit of happiness and love, of our nostalgia for the past and our hopes and fears for the future – in other words, of how passions have come to shape our lives, perhaps more so than interests and reason itself. The rationale for offering this course stems from this surge in interest and an admission of partial failure on behalf of the humanities and social sciences—failure to, until very recently, fully appropriate for themselves an object of study long relegated to an unruly human part, impenetrable to the empirical protocols of scientific scholarship. How ironic, therefore, that our present infatuation with emotion should, by and large, result from a so-called “biological turn” and steadfast embrace of the natural sciences across the Arts. In recent years, this rush to plunder the hard sciences has led to the development of “affect theory,” “neurohistory,” “cognitive literary studies,” and the inevitable backlash against these crossovers—leaving as yet unanswered the question of whether a bridge across the (in)famous “two cultures” is possible, or even desirable. Eschewing both academic fads and knee-jerk reactions, this course takes on the challenges raised by these twists and turns, based on the double premise that there is no a-priori reason why the Arts and Sciences cannot mutually reinforce one another—after all, they did so quite happily not so long ago—and that scholars in the humanities and social sciences simply cannot afford to leave emotions out of the picture because of difficulties in devising satisfactory research protocols. As recent political events remind us, we cover our ears and stick our heads in the sand at our own risk.