Critical Theory 200
Critique in 19th Century Thought
Mondays 4-7 pm, 282 Dwinelle
This course will focus on the themes of Enlightenment, critique and freedom, centering on readings of Kant and Hegel. We will begin with Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?” and then turn to his aesthetic theory and his attempt to ground a moral theory. Our study of Hegel begins with his criticisms of Kant’s moral philosophy. We will then move on to Hegel’s formulations of how speculative philosophy works, and ultimately we will spend several weeks studying selected sections of the Phenomenology of Spirit. Most weeks will include short commentaries, aphorisms and criticisms from other prominent authors in the history of critical theory, most notably Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno and Arendt. The goal is for students to understand not only some of the basic concepts and gestures in Kant and Hegel, but also to place those within the context of 19th- and 20th-century critical theory.
Critical Theory 240
On the International
Tuesdays 3-6 pm, 7415 Dwinelle
This seminar examines the transformations in the concept of the international from the late eighteenth century until the contemporary moment. We examine both the meanings of the concept and its sites of operation. Referring to the word “international,” Jeremy Bentham associated it with the law of nations. He wrote: “the word international, it must be acknowledged, is a new one; though, it is hoped, sufficiently analogous and intelligible. It is calculated to express, in a more significant way, the branch of law which goes commonly under the name of the law of nations” (Limits of the Penal branch of Jurisprudence, 149). During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the concept gained new meanings, as in the First International in 1864, moving away from associating the international with legal relationships. Our objective is to open up the concept, to examine its competing formations, and to unpack their political operations and interventions. We will also examine the relationship between the international and other concepts (the world, mankind, and so forth) signifying world communities. Our readings will include both philosophical texts that mobilized the concepts and historical/theoretical works that examine the operations of the concept in particular contexts.
Political Science 216
Marx and Neoliberalism
Tuesdays 2-5 pm, 706 Barrows
This course will first analyze Marx’s writings on capitalism (primarily Capital and Grundrisse) and then turn to contemporary critical formulations of neoliberalism (Foucault, Peck, Clarke, Laval, Comoroff and others). We will spend a fair amount of time with Foucault’s lectures on neoliberalism (The Birth of Biopolitics) and with commentary on those lectures. We will focus on grasping what is and isn’t distinctive about neoliberalism as a theory, description and form of capitalism. We will also consider which parts of Marx’s analysis of capitalism remain useful and which do not— commodities, fetishism, surplus value, capital accumulation, theory of value, productive/unproductive labor, etc. And we will be exploring shifts from exchange to structured competition, laissez faire to governmentality, materialism to normative reason, labor to human capital, interest to entrepreneurialism, productivity to financialization, freedom to responsibilization, concentration to devolution. This course is not an introduction to Marx or neoliberalism. It presumes knowledge of both, even as we will attempt to defamiliarize and rethink both.
Film and Media Theory
Mary Ann Doane
Seminar: Wednesdays 1-4, 226 Dwinelle
Tuesday 6-8 pm, 226 Dwinelle
This course offers an advanced introduction to the field of film and media theory. Classic, 1970s, and contemporary film theory texts will be placed in conversation with the broader cultural and philosophical theories from which they emerged and to which they contributed (e.g. phenomenology, Marxism, structural linguistics, psychoanalysis, feminism, postmodernism, etc.). We will focus on film theory’s relation to questions of modernity (Kracauer, Benjamin, Adorno, Miriam Hansen), “Screen theory” of the 1970s (Heath, Metz, MacCabe), and more recent theories of visual studies, television and digital media as well as media archaeology. Although we will read these works in roughly chronological order, we will not assume a teleology of development from more “primitive” to “advanced” and some readings on new media will be paired with those of older media. Throughout the course we will attempt to place theorists in conversation with one another about crucial questions of moving-image representation and to place ourselves in conversation with them.
The Third Generation of the Frankfurt School
Mondays 10 am-12 pm, 2303 Dwinelle
Critically appropriating the revisions made in classical Critical Theory by Jürgen Habermas, who is the leading representative of the Frankfurt School’s second generation, a cohort of scholars in Germany and America has emerged in the past thirty years to form a distinct third generation. Often engaged with contemporary French and American thought, while revisiting some of the earlier concerns of Adorno, Horkheimer and Benjamin, they have been focusing on a wide variety of issues. Among them are new developments in democratic theory, the importance of the dialectic of recognition, the implications of postmodernism, the changing role of the aesthetic, the relationship between justification and justice, and the challenges of gender, race and post-colonialism. This seminar will focus on the writings of major representatives of the third generation, including Albrecht Wellmer, Axel Honneth, Susan-Buck- Morss, Seyla Benhabib, Thomas McCarthy, Nancy Fraser and Rainer Forst.
Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
Mondays 12:40-3:30 pm, Graduate Theological Union DSPT:3
Kant’s first Critique is one of the basic texts for modern and contemporary philosophy and thinking – and not only because it marks a transition in the way to pose epistemological questions known as the ‘Copernican turn’. Kant’s intention was to distinguish between the real knowledge (a priori) we could gain on the one hand and what he calls ideas of the reason, on the other hand. These ideas (God, the soul, and freedom) are seen to be products of our pure reason which can never, according to Kant, reach the status of real knowledge. He does, however, give some reasons why we produce and apparently (or seemingly) need such ideas – e.g. to create a liberal order for our social communities. In the seminar we will read parts of the text very closely and work out together the relevance for our contemporary thinking.
Seminar: Class presentations and 15-20 page research paper. Intended audience: MA/MTS, PhD/ThD [Auditors excluded].
The format of the class is a seminar with some lecture and presentation parts; attendance and participation in the discussion is therefore important. Students need to be committed to reading the text in preparation for each session.
Practice and Symbolic Power in Pierre Bourdieu
Tuesdays 4-6 pm, 402 Barrows
This is an advanced social theory/sociology/anthropology course that presupposes solid knowledge of the key works of classical social science. Using a mixed lecture-seminar format, we attempt a systematic study of the work of Pierre Bourdieu in its sociobiographical, intellectual, and theoretical contexts, anchored by the three pillars of his thought: the logic of practice, the workings of power, and the potency and limitations of knowledge. We will strive to elucidate the epistemological principles, methodological stances and procedures, core concepts (habitus, capital, field, doxa, symbolic violence), and substantive theories that undergird and arise out of Bourdieu’s varied empirical investigations of the alchemy of (symbolic) power in society and history. We will consider how these theories developed, cohere (or not), and their implications, and contrast them with alternative conceptions of social action, structure, and knowledge. The purpose is to move towards a sociogenetic understanding as well as generative grasp of Bourdieu’s scientific “point of view” (as opposed to scholastic erudition and sycophantic veneration) that would enable us to both reproduce, extend, and challenge the models of social analysis he proposes.