Origins of German Critical Thought II: Heidegger, Being and Time (Division II): The Hermeneutics and Poetics of Temporality
Sponsored and housed by German
Course Description: Starting with a recapitulation of its Introduction and Division One, this seminar will offer an integral reading of the controversial Division Two of Martin Heidegger’s 1927 magnum opus Sein und Zeit (Being and Time) against the background of its historical, theological, and philosophical origins and context as well as in view of its immediate reception at the time. The seminar further aims to bring not only phenomenological, hermeneutic, and deconstructive, but also analytic, epistemological, and pragmatist methods, arguments and perspectives to bear upon the more recent reception and undiminished significance of this modern classic.
Tpcs in Lit Theory II: The Interwar Central European Novel
Sponsored by German
The history of literary modernism in Central Europe is one narrated almost exclusively from the center, through its German-speaking authors: Kafka, Kraus, Musil, and Roth. In point of fact, the literary marketplace of Austria-Hungary was just as diverse as the empire itself—a vast multinational superpower that encompassed over a dozen present-day nations. After 1918, cultures once subject to foreign rule from a distant center and considered “peripheral” in the imperial context became new nuclei of independent nations. What happens to “minor literatures” (Deleuze and Guattari)—and formerly “minor” authors—when they become central to the cultural politics of successor states? Interwar novels did not simply represent the remnants of empire, but also served to produce post-imperial order in a newly reorganized Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to some German-language classics, this course embarks from the former imperial margins and treats novels originally written in Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Rumanian, Serbo-Croatian, and Slovenian.
Tpcs in Amer Lit: On Gendered Thought: Feminisms in the Americas
*Sponsored and housed by Spanish & Portuguese
Course description: Is Latin American feminism different from other feminisms, whether in North America, Europe, or other regions in the Global South? What has been its impact on Latinx and other US feminisms? This course will consider such questions through an initial examination of the forgotten/rejected feminisms of the 1980s, such as that of the Chilean, Julieta Kirkwood. It will then review the present-day return to 1970s feminist thinkers and to socialist feminisms of the 1970s (for example, in the contemporary feminist insurgency of May 2018 in Chile). We will devote most of the course to a sustained analysis of contemporary forms of gendered thought, responding to pivots like #niunamenos, movements against disaster capitalism, digital activism, and indigenous feminism. We will interrogate the allocation of certain feminist knots of concern to specific Latin American regions or countries; the social subject designated by the signifier “woman,” while not discounting it; the binary understandings of gender which are in evidence in full force with the turn to the right, the reaffirmation of the nationalist family and cis separatist movements which proclaim themselves as feminist; and regional rejections of certain feminist and queer keywords (seen in linguistic alterations like “cuir” or “cuerpa”). The thread will be an intensive consideration of gender and knowledge grounded in what cultural theorist Nelly Richard refers to as the “disordering of the sign of woman.” Readings might include theoretical, critical, and artistic texts by Julieta Kirkwood, Rosario Castellanos, Marta Lamas, Nelly Richard, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sayak Valencia, and Verónica Gago, Diamela Eltit, Rita Indiana Hernández, Cristina Rivera Garza, Domitila Barrios, Jean Franco, Susana Draper, and Macarena Gómez Barris, as well as global feminist theory and criticism. Students may work comparatively within their areas of research. Reading knowledge of Spanish is recommended but not required for the course, which will be conducted in English.
Topic in Lit & Mod Cult: Arte, Activismo y Academia
Sponsored by LATC and housed in CLACS
Please contact the professor directly for a course description.
Topics in Renaissance Lit: Paradiso
Sponsored by Italian
Course Description: A rereading of Dante’s Paradiso that focuses on the interaction between the medieval mystical- theological culture and the encyclopedia of secular learning as it takes place in the Commedia. Dante utilizes the philosophical and scientific knowledge of his time, but relives it in light of the evangelical message. A text of the Christian "paideia" par excellence, Paradiso, is also an extraordinary modern work. Organized on the patrimony of values formulated by western monastic culture, by the Christian ascetic practice of the desert, the Paradiso is a journey towards awareness, in which knowledge implies the mystical rediscovery of the self.
All these themes will be investigated in the course along with the central issue of the Commedia as a discourse about the "other world" which implies the unveiling of the meaning of "this world". Dante’s Paradise will be read in light of Dante’s minor works.
Tpcs in Intellectual and Cultu: Walter Benjamin: Language, Nature, History
Prof. Friedlander (German Visiting Professor)
Sponsored by German
Course Description: The seminar will be devoted to investigate the dependence between three fundamental terms - ‘language’, ‘nature’ and ‘history’ - in Benjamin’s thought. We will begin with a consideration of Benjamin’s early account of language (in ‘On Language as such and on the Language of Man’) and attempt to articulate his vision of human language as the medium through which we conceive of the convergence of Nature (World), Man and God. We will pursue the account of the ‘life’ in language, or the idea of living language in Benjamin, through a consideration of his ‘Task of the Translator’ and pay particular attention to the historical dimension of language identified in the “afterlife” of literary works. In further attempting to articulate the natural dimension of the human, we will consider Benjamin’s account of love and the erotic, (primarily through a reading of the place of fantasy, fate and the mythical in his essay ‘Goethe’s Elective Affinities’). We will consider more generally how Benjamin relates himself to Goethe’s account of art and nature, as well as how he takes his historical concept of ‘origin’ to be a transposition of Goethe’s account of Ur-phenomenal nature. We will conclude with a consideration of the Passagenwerk as Benjamin’s radical translation of Goethe’s framework “from the pagan context of nature … into the Jewish context of history.”
Topics: Taste: History, Theory, Case Studies
Sponsored by Russian and Slavic Studies
Course Description: When and how did it become possible to possess what we call taste? What theories have been advanced to explain, defend, and critique taste as a phenomenon? What can we learn from “bad” taste (kitsch, camp, vulgarity, Russian poshlost’)? Primary texts by Pushkin, Hawthorne, Flaubert, Proust, Wharton, Wilde, Nabokov, Zoshchenko, Tolstoya, and others; theoretical readings ranging from Kant and Hume to Adorno, Arnold, Simmel, Benjamin, Greenberg, Bourdieu, Schor, Boym, Alpers, and Ngai. Film, visual arts, fashion, and music will also be considered. Topics to include connoisseurship, class, taste vs. aesthetics, gendered tastes, bohemianism, dandyism, details and femininity, minorness, the slavery/luxury nexus, “white trash,” and Russian “sovok.”
Sp Tpcs: Boccaccio
Sponsored by Italian Studies
Course Description: This course is devoted to the reading of Boccaccio’s Decameron. Boccaccio (1313-1373) is the most important Italian prose writer, and the Decameron is his chef-d’oeuvre.
During the plague of 1348, seven young ladies and three young men decide to leave Florence and to go to live on the Fiesole’s hills. In the splendid framework of the 14th century Tuscan landscape, the “brigata” enjoys a natural life and spends its time in conversations interspersed with dancing and chanting. Every day during the hours in which the weather is hottest, they meet in a small wood and tell each other ten stories.
The book thus consists of one hundred stories, in which imagination and criticism of established values play a crucial role. These stories inaugurate a new way of considering human beings and their passions, goals, vices, and virtues.
This course will focus on the classical medieval background of The Decameron and on the new elements of the culture of humanism which enter to interact and supersede the old models and ideas. This new sense of the past, a past revisited with a critical eye in order to build new ethical values for a new society, is one of the topics that will be introduced and discussed.
The course will also provide students with an avenue for investigating the problems of historical knowledge and guide them in developing critical tools and research skills. To that effect, the class discussion will focus on how to move from narrative to problems and from problems to narrative.
Special Tpcs in Theory: Marxism and In/Humanism: Race, Queerness, & the Aesthetic
Sponsored by Art & Public Policy (Tisch)
Course Description: Following ongoing critiques of liberal humanism from critical race, Afro-pessimist, transnational, queer, and feminist studies, what alternative political projects or visions might now inform our practices and work? What should follow after we question the grounds of modernity, liberalism, and materialism? This class seeks to examine one critical possibility: Marxism, particularly Marxist humanism. Although we will define this political project, we will also question its limits. The legacy of humanism in both liberalism and Marxism becomes a problem when placed alongside recent critiques around the subhuman and inhuman. In particular, what is the figure of the human for Marxist humanism? And how does such a figure sit with and/or against the liberal subject, person, and Man that has come under critique by queer inhumanism (with a focus on objects, animals, and environmental relations), along with the larger ontological turn coming from Black studies, Afro-pessimism, trans and queer theories, and new materialism? This class examines 1) differing notions of the human and subject as informed by liberalism and Marxist humanism, 2) the political limits and possibilities of Marxist humanism, and 3) the history and the continued mediation of Marxism alongside discourses of race, the transnational, disability, queerness, sexuality, and gender. In addition, we will situate how the aesthetic has engaged these larger questions. This course will examine theorists like Sylvia Wynter, Raya Dunayevskaya, Cedric Robinson, Silvia Federici, CLR James, Jacques Derrida, Stuart Hall, Shu-mei Shih, Fredric Jameson, Mario Mieli, and Petrus Liu, amongst others.
Topics in Translation: The Arab, the Jew, and the Arab-Jew: Contested Genealogies
This seminar will offer a genealogical reading of the gradual splitting of the Semitic figure into “Arab” and “Jew,” and its ramifications for contemporary discourses about origins, homeland, exile, return. Despite their shared classification under the Orientalist rubric of “the Oriental” or “the Semite,” the notions of “Arab” and “Jew” came to occupy opposite places within the East-versus-West binary. Examining shifting Orientalist discourses in the wake of the Enlightenment and colonialism, the course traces contemporary depictions of the Arab/Jewish divide – and the ambiguous position of the Arab-Jew within it – back to crucial shifts in 19th century representations. In what ways have racial tropes intersected with religious identities in the Middle East / North Africa, especially with Muslims and Jews? Discourses embedded in racial sciences, ethno-national identity, linguistic families, archeological strata, and genetics have all been mobilized to generate originary maps of belonging. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will examine Orientalist philological texts, historical novels, travel narratives, and visual culture through a contemporary postcolonial critical lens. Some of the readings will include: Benjamin Disraeli, Ernest Renan, G. W. F. Hegel Sigmund Freud, Albert Hourani, Maxime Rodinson, Edward Said, Nissim Rejwan, Shlomo Sand, and Nadia Abu al-Haj.