Spring 2010

Core Courses

Critical Theory 205/History of Art 285
The Arcades Project

T. J. Clark
Tuesdays, 3-6 pm, 308B Doe

This seminar will explore Walter Benjamin’s notes and drafts for the unfinished book on 19th-century Paris. It will take advantage of the already substantial literature on the Arcades Project, but its main focus will be on close reading and discussion of the primary texts. We may wish to set Benjamin’s picture of Paris against more recent treatments: the histories of Louis Chevalier and Jeanne Gaillard, for example, or David Harvey’s Paris, Capital of Modernity, or Anthony Vidler’s Warped Space, or Michael Marrinan’s Romantic Paris. But again, we shall try not to get lost in textual and historical comparisons. A particular focus of concern will be Benjamin’s approach to the artistic achievement of the 19th century. His evolving conception of Baudelaire will be at the center of things, but also what he has to say—and what he does not have to say—about the visual culture of Paris at large. He is notable silent about French painting, which some would see as the century’s world-historical achievement. Why? Are there ways in which we could turn certain of Benjamin’s questions and frames of reference toward figures he largely ignores: to Manet, say, or Seurat, or Degas, or even the Nabis’ sense of the bourgeois interior?

Elective Courses

Comparative Literature 225
Modern Poetry and Frankfurt School Aesthetics

Robert Kaufman

Note: Although this seminar emphasizes the fundamental importance of 19th- and 20th-century poetry and poetics to the development of Frankfurt School aesthetics, criticism, and theory, as well as the role of later 20th- and now 21st- century poetry in more recent contributions to Frankfurt-oriented criticism, the course can serve also as a survey of some of the major texts in Frankfurt aesthetic, literary, and cultural theory more generally, provided students are willing actively to study and engage with modern poetry and poetics as the course’s primary literary field. Readings in modern, and especially modern lyric, poetry (much of it from the U.S., but also from Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Near and Middle East) in relation to major Frankfurt-School texts (on aesthetics, criticism, and social theory) that emphasize the significance to the Frankfurters of literature (as well as the other arts) in general and poetry in particular; special concentration on the writings of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, and on their development of Kantian, Hegelian, and Marxian traditions of aesthetics and critical theory; sustained attention to how and why poetry turns out to be so crucial to the Frankfurters’ (and, in particular, to Benjamin’s and Adorno’s) overall analyses of modernity, mechanical/technical/technological reproduction or reproducibility (in both the economic and artistic-aesthetic spheres), and critical agency; consideration of how Frankfurt-School concerns and legacies might engage the changed sociopolitical circumstances and artistic-aesthetic tendencies–and the changed poetry–of the last three decades; analysis in turn of how later-modernist and contemporary poets’ work may challenge Frankfurt analyses of and assumptions about poetry, aesthetic experience, and critical agency themselves. Readings of poetry throughout the course will tend to emphasize formal, stylistic, and philosophical-theoretical matters in order to highlight the consideration of how–and to what degree–artistic technique, in relation to aesthetic form and aesthetic experience (most specifically, lyric experience), may offer stimulus toward and insight into historical, sociopolitical, and ethical understanding and engagement. Some treatment of Romantic and nineteenth-century poetry, and of 21st-century poetry, but the course will focus primarily on twentieth-century, modernist poetry (including modernist poetry written and published during the apparently postmodern period). As a shared project throughout the semester, the class will read and continue discussing together in a sustained manner two volumes of poetry (a facing-page French-English volume containing Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal [1857] and Le Spleen de Paris/Petits Poèmes en Prose [1869]; and Michael Palmer’s Sun [1988]), while for each week’s class, students and/or the instructor also will have distributed ahead of time xeroxed texts of work by other poets (whom they will have chosen to present to, and discuss with, the rest of the class).

Required Books: Michael Palmer, Sun (North Point Press, 1988) ISBN: 0-86547-345-5. [Note: This book of poetry is sometimes hard to get; but shipments of it can always be obtained from (the non-profit) Small Press Distribution, which can be reached at 1341 Seventh Street, Berkeley, CA 94710, tel. (510)524-1668 or (800)869-7553, fax (510)524- 0852, orders@spdbooks.org]; Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (Shocken, 1968); Walter Benjamin, Reflections (Schocken, 1978); Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (Harvard UP; 1999; 1st Harvard UP paper edition, 2002); Theodor W. Adorno and Walter Benjamin, The Complete Correspondence: 1928-1940 (translation copyright Polity Press, 1999; first Harvard UP paper edition, 2001); Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment (Continuum; 1987); Theodor W. Adorno, Notes to Literature – Volume One (Columbia University Press; 1991); Theodor W. Adorno, Notes to Literature – Volume Two (Columbia University Press; 1992); Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory (University of Minnesota Press, 1997); Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (Verso, 1974); Jean-Paul Sartre, “What is Literature?” and Other Essays, introduction by Steven Ungar (Harvard University Press, 1988); Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination, Revised edition (University of California Press, 1996) Along with these books (which can be purchased at the ASUC Bookstore), a course reader will contain photocopied excerpts of additional required texts, including those by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Vallejo, Duncan, Benjamin, Adorno, Marcuse, Sartre, Beauvoir, Brecht, Mayakovsky, Neruda, Zurita, Celan, various of the Surrealists, Objectivists, WC Williams, Moore, Bishop, Stevens, Paz, Duncan, Olson, Levertov, Creeley, Rich, and many others.

Italian Studies 235
Pasolini: Cultural Criticism in Words and Images

Alessia Ricciardi
Wednesdays, 2-5 pm. Screenings: Mondays, 7-10 pm, 179 Dwinelle

Pasolini might be considered one of the most important and versatile European intellectuals of the second half of the twentieth century, a crucial figure not only of modern cinema but also of modern poetry, and cultural criticism. Through his work in different media, Pasolini emphatically questioned the roles of power, Marxism, colonialism, religion, and sexuality in contemporary life. The course will start with a selection of his poetry (from the volumes The Ashes of Gramsci, The Religion of My Time, and To Transfigure and To Organize) and continue with the critical essays written shortly before his assassination in 1975, particularly those collected in Lutheran Letters. We then will turn to Pasolini’s cinema (Accattone, La Ricotta, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Notes Towards an African Oresteia, The Walls of Sana’a, Pigsty, Theorem, Salò) and to his critical essays on film published in Heretical Empiricism. What are the limits of Pasolini’s apocalyptic tone and romantic aesthetics? What role does his “cinema of poetry” play in performing a criticism of what he called “the anthropological mutation” and “the cultural genocide”? We will seek to address these questions through a reading of Pasolini’s texts in dialogue with selected works of Giorgio Agamben. Agamben—who began his career acting the part of an apostle in Pasolini’s Gospel—may be regarded as a crucial inheritor of Pasolini’s legacy insofar as he philosophically elaborates his predecessor’s anxiety toward the biopolitical domain in works such as Homo Sacer and State of Exception. Finally, we will compare Pasolini’s provocative rhetoric to the measured tone of Foucault’s functionalist investigation of power and explore their respective approaches to queer forms of life. In particular, we will discuss Foucault’s decisive rejection of Pasolini’s last film, Salò.