Past Courses – (TEST)
(Seminar) This course proposes to develop conceptual coordinates which will enable students to make sense of recent writing on politics, culture, and aesthetics by philosophers like Jacques Ranciere, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Zizek as well as the much-debated theories of global capitalism by David Harvey, Immanuel Wallerstein, Giovanni Arrighi, Hardt/Negri, and others. What are the models of the world which are implicitly appealed to by critics interpreting cultural objects and practices? What sorts of interpretation do such models authorize?
Instructor: M. Velikonja
Nostalgia for Socialism in one of the most unexpected social, cultural and political phenomena that appeared in Post-Socialist transition, from Baltics to the Balkans. It acquired very different characteristics in different countries, for different people and for different reasons: for some, it is strictly personal; for others, it is a matter of cultural preferences, for the mass culture of those times; or is question of someone’s political orientation; some other yearn for the social elements of Socialism that are now lost; some use nostalgia just as another commercial niche.
The first part of the course is aimed to students with more theoretical interests in the phenomenon of nostalgia, its general characteristics, dimensions and contradictions, while the second will be focused on some particular elements of this nostalgic culture, like on ostalgie in East Germany, on jugonostalgija in ex-Yugoslav republics, on Soviet nostalgia in Russia etc.
The class will examine problems related to history of ideas, anthropology, political philosophy, and ethics, arising from the crisis of universalistic discourses which results from the combined effects of globalization as an objective process (affecting institutions, relations of domination, circulations of humans, goods, capitals and information, planetary violence, etc.) and a transformation of subjectivities (identities, anthropological differences, articulations of individuality and community).
This course will explore the manifold relations between the medium of photography and forms of literary narration throughout the 20th century. It will trace the ways in which the reflection on, and the use of, photographic images informs the work of seminal modernist and post-modernist writers like Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, André Breton, Günter Grass, Roland Barthes, Thomas Bernhard, W.G. Sebald, and Marcel Beyer, in order to address questions like the following: the relationship between narrative perspectives and photographic ways of seeing; the function of the photographic album as a model for literary childhood narratives; the textual negotiation of photography’s semiotic status as an “index” of reality; and the role of memory, history, and the photographic imagination in the context of fictional (auto-)biographies. All readings and discussions will be in English.
Instructor: M. McLeod
This seminar explores the relation between space, power, and politics in the urban environment from the Enlightenment period to the present. In contrast to some Marxist approaches that see architecture primarily as an ideological reflection of dominant economic forces, this seminar investigates how power is actually produced and embodied in the physical environment. In other words, space and architecture are seen as active participants in the structuring of our daily lives and relations, not merely as passive reflections of political and economic institutions. Two theorists will be critical to this exploration: the philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre and the philosopher/historian Michel Foucault. Lefebvre’s work, which draws heavily on both Marxism (especially Marx’s early writings on alienation) and existentialism, introduced the notion of daily life as a critical political construct. Lefebvre saw the city and architecture as integrally contributing to power relations, and viewed the urban festival as an important strategy in overcoming the monotony of what he called “the bureaucratic society of controlled consumption.” Foucault, on the other hand, rejects Lefebvre’s humanism and emphasis on subjectivity in his analysis of the relation between space, power, and social institutions. Both theorists, however, share a skepticism towards Enlightenment rationality, and both attempt to counter the traditional Marxist/Hegelian emphasis on historical time by placing a new importance on space. The writings of more recent theorists (such as Michel de Certeau, Teresa Caldeira, Mike Davis, Guy Debord, Andreas Huyssen, Elizabeth Wilson, Marshall Berman) will also be examined with regard to issues concerning the politics of space.
The course will discuss how film making has been used as a vehicle of power and control in the Soviet Union and in post-Soviet space since 1991. A body of selected films by Soviet and post-Soviet directors that exemplify the function of film making as a tool of appropriation of the colonized, their cultural and political subordination by the Soviet center will be examined in terms of post-colonial theories. The course will also focus on the often over looked work of Ukrainian, Georgian, Belarusian, Armenian, etc. national film schools and how they participated in the communist project of fostering a as well as resisted it by generating, in hidden and, since 1991, overt and increasingly assertive ways, their own counter-narratives.
This course will examine the emergent conversations and mutual blindspots between postcolonial studies and ecocriticism. How does contemporary concern about planetary ecological crisis intersect with postcolonial studies’ interest in political, economic, social and epistemological inequality on a global scale? We will consider how the emerging subfield of postcolonial ecocriticism is reading transnational histories of social and ecological injustice back into nature-focused literary study. We will also look back to earlier moments and alternative geneaologies in considering the question of nature in colonialism, liberation theory, mid-20th century decolonization, and contemporary neoliberal globalization. What is the role of literature (imagined most broadly) and the discipline of literary studies in the face of global environmental crisis? (And what are the rhetorical stakes of crisis talk…?)
Instructor: C. Harwood
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.