Topics: Contemporary Chinese Literature & Film: 1978-2018
Sponsored by EAS
This seminar examines the development of Chinese literature in the so-called "Opening and Reforms Era" (1978-) with a focus on fiction, including its film adaptation and, when applicable, its ripple effect in everyday life and in the arena of intellectual political debates and campaigns. We will interrogate this period's obsession with formal innovation; its active participation in the profound change in the collective moral orientation and value system; and its ever deepening dialogue with world literature as well as with various native traditions (ranging from classical to folkloric to revolutionary). Of particular interest will be the close analysis of the radical expansion of narrative, representational and allegorical capacity vis-a-vis the historical reality of contemporary China. Major phenomena and authors to be analyzed include the Misty Poetry movement; the "Literature of Reflections" (fansi wenxue); the Search for Roots movement; the "Avant-Garde" or "Experimental" fiction; and, last but not least, the persistence or recurrence of realism throughout these decades. Roughly following a literary-historical chronology of Post-Mao Chinese development of literature, art and intellectual discourse, the seminar is nonetheless analytical and critical in nature, bent on explicating the formal-structural complexity of literary-cinematic texts in their own socioeconomic contexts. The seminar will be co-taught with Su Tong, Global Distinguished Writer/Scholar in Residence at NYU China House for Fall 2019.
Unsettled Scores: Theories of Grievance, Stuckness, and Boundary Troubles
Sponsored by German
Taught in English. This course explores the literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis and political theories of straightjacketed existence. Is the stagnation of being a temptation or a necessity? How are we confined within a grievance culture--by whom, to what purpose? Do we have enough agency to pull out of the psychic stalls or political stagnation fueled by misgivings and faltering assumptions? How does fiction manage these questions and reconfigure our being-toward-death? Are growing accounts of ethical failure and mounting injustice at all survivable? We shall also analyze different aspects of penitentiary culture or what Michel Foucault calls "the carceral subject"--effects of incarceration whether material or imaginary, corporeal and psychic. To what extent do boundaries protect or limit the possibility of experience? How have we secretly internalized penitentiary structures? By the end of the course, the thinking organized around limits, frontiers, and different forms of lockdown, will offer boundless interpretive possibilities and a new freedom for understanding movement and its inhibitors. Our start-up text will be Heinrich v. Kleist's famous work on the making of a terrorist, Michael Kohlhaas, whose exemplary demise in the face of inequity drives him to political despair. One of our sticking points will involve Kleist's circumscription of a feminized zone of counter-memory. To frame our work, we will lean heavily on Lyotard's theories of dispute (The Différend) and explore Derrida's thought on justice and the mystical foundations of authority ("Force of Law," on Walter Benjamin’s Critique of Violence). Prepare to be blown away!
Problems in Critical Theory: Theodor W. Adorno: Metaphysics, Aesthetics, and Ethics
Professor de Vries
Sponsored by German
This seminar will consist in a systematic investigation of Theodor W. Adorno’s central philosophical works in light of their contemporary critical reception and their contribution to current debates on epistemological skepticism, minimal metaphysics, aesthetics, and ethics. Readings will include passages from Adorno’s contributions to the Dialectic of Enlightenment, his programmatic introduction to Against Epistemology, selections from Minima Moralia, Negative Dialectics, and Aesthetic Theory. We will also draw on some of the more recently published lecture courses, accompanying and elucidating the major works. Required and recommended readings will include relevant selections from Wittgenstein, Habermas, Honneth, Putnam, McDowell, Butler, Gordon, and others. Taught in English.