Past Courses – (TEST)
The course explores the unique period in Czech film and literature during the 1960s that emerged as a reaction to the imposed socialist realism. The new generation of writers (Kundera, Skvorecky, Havel, Hrabal) in turn had an influence on young emerging film makers, all of whom were part of the Czech new wave.
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.
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.
Instructor: Jack Halberstam
In this seminar, we will read a wide range of authors from Hobbes to Haraway, from Thoreau to Coviello, from nature writing to science studies and we will study the emergence of a persistent set of conversations about the human, the inhuman, the liveliness of the material world and the death-dealing nature of social systems organized around wealth and success. The seminar will use the keyword “wildness” to see what, if anything, escapes hegemonic iterations of self, other, world, being, power, classification and definition. At times, in this course, the category of the wild will refer to something we vaguely recognize as “nature,” but at other times it will name a strain of aesthetic production that falls more easily under the heading of “culture.” Sometimes the wild is a force of human creativity, at others it is a current of non-human wisdom and wonder; at all times the wild is something that eludes our attempts to explain, contain, manage and know. This elusive quality, the sense that another realm of meaning lies just out of reach, stretches towards the wild; as do plans for alternative political futures and dreams of new modes of community and economy. Reaching for the utopian, we will find that the dystopian becomes an easier destination and we will ask about the multiple queer terrains that lie between these markers of modern hope and despair.
Application Required. To apply for this seminar, please email Sarah Monks, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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”.
Instructor: Benjamin D Lussier
How do we represent the self? This comparative course explores different visual modes for representing the self in autobiographical writing. We will look at how authors visually represent themselves in autobiographies that include photographs, graphic memoirs, and autobiographical films to investigate questions about self-creation, referentiality, and the tension between fact and fiction inherent in any autobiographical project. Throughout the course we will focus on the relationship between word and image,the trope of the photograph album and the attempt to understand the self in relation to the family, and the use of images to imagine or invent the past. Themes of memory, imagination, fantasy, nostalgia, trauma, and loss will demand our attention, and we will chart how these concerns transform across the different media. We will explore these themes across a range of materials, including: texts by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vladimir Nabokov, Roland Barthes, Gary Shteyngart, Alison Bechdel, Nina Bunjevac, and Art Spiegelman; films by Andrei Tarkovsky, Federico Fellini, Dominique Cabrera, and Jean-Luc Godard; and theoretical texts by Philippe Lejeune, Paul de Man,André Bazin,and Susan Sontag. No prerequisites required. All readings will be in English
Instructor: Mie Mortensen TR 11:40-1255
This course is designed as a journey through twentieth century Russian literature outside the borders of Russia/the USSR itself. Starting in London, the students will travel south through Western European cities and later on to North America. The students will spend between one and three weeks in each location and learn about the history of Russian exiles, émigrés and travelers in that particular city or country. Each week will be focused on a particular period or theme in this Russian literature from abroad. Through novels, short stories, letters, websites, films and images, the students will explore each place in the minds of Russian writers and artists. The course will furthermore emphasize the relationship between city and text. Students will be encouraged to draw maps, describe architecture and analyze urban phenomena such as the museum as they are represented by the materials we study in class.
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
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.