Fall 2013

PSP 789 00P: "Kafka and Modernism"
Th 1:00 PM-4:00 PM
Sander L. Gilman, Kafka
Franz Kafka, Collected Stories  
Franz Kafka, The Missing Person  
Franz Kafka, The Castle
Franz Kafka, The Trial

[Cross-listed with ILA790, PSP 790, CPLT 752R 00P]


WGS 589R 001: "Foucault"
Th 10:00 AM-1:00 PM

Content: For some decades now, it has been much easier to have a passionate opinion about Michel Foucault than an intelligent reading of him. He is a saint or a demon, a liberator or a desecrator, the heroic promoter of an agenda or the debauched prophet of despair. This seminar will be less concerned to foster impassioned uses of Foucault, or even to analyze his remarkable susceptibility to abuse, than it will be to think with and about some texts that bear his name. We will be particularly concerned with his 'ethical' and 'political' texts—texts about the consequences of medicalizing madness or normalcy, about the powers coded into the category 'sexuality,' about ancient or contemporary alternatives to contemporary management of human life. Members of the seminar will be encouraged to connect their readings in Foucault with their own intellectual projects. 

The seminar will concentrate on texts by Foucault rather than by his interpreters.

Common readings will include:
Foucault, History of Madness [1961],  tr. Murphy and Khalfa (Routledge 2006)
Foucault, Speech Begins after Death [1968],  tr. Bononno (Minnesota 2013)
Foucault, Abnormal [1974-1975], tr. Burchell (Picador 2004)
Foucault, Discipline and Punish [1975], tr. Sheridan (Vintage 1995)
Foucault, History of Sexuality, vol. 1: An Introduction [1976], tr. Hurley (Vintage 1990)
Foucault, Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, tr. Hurley and others (New Press 1997)

Requirements: Beyond thoughtful reading and participation, seminar members will be asked to write two medium-length exercises over the course of the semester.

[Crosslisted with: PHIL 789 002/CPLT 751 007]

ENG 789R 03P: "Sympathy, Philosophy, Literature and Culture"
W 4:00-7:00 PM

Content: This seminar will explore the literary and cultural history of sympathy, from the eighteenth century to the present. In the works of eighteenth-century philosophers, such as  David Hume and Adam Smith, sympathy signified the various ways in which an individual accesses, shares, and responds to the feelings and thoughts of others. As Hume writes in his  Treatise of Human Nature (1739), "no quality of human nature is more remarkable" than sympathy: "the minds of men are mirrors to one another, not only because they reflect each  other's emotions, but also because those rays of passions, sentiments, and opinions may often be reverberated." Philosophical investigations of sympathy (and such closely related  concepts as pity, compassion, fellow-feeling, and empathy) were energetically complemented, complicated, and amplified in the works of numerous novelists and poets: from the  eighteenth-century "novel of sentiment" (e.g. Henry Mackenzie's The Man of Feeling), to Wordsworth's Prelude, to George Eliot's Middlemarch. As Eliot famously writes in her 1856  essay, "The Natural History of German Life," "The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies….Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow-men beyond the bounds of our personal lot." At the same time, although sympathetic feeling often has been understood as a natural and spontaneous human capacity, we also will be interested in exploring how sympathy's failure, blockage, and exhaustion (e.g., "compassion fatigue") have been theorized and represented. Consider, for instance, this recent striking critique of sympathy: "the dirtiest thing the Western imagination ever did, and it does it compulsively still," argues the critic Marcus Wood, "is to believe in the aesthetically healing powers of empathetic fiction." In this seminar, we will engage with sympathy's advocates and critics, and as we work our way from the eighteenth century to the present, we will have the opportunity to consider how sympathy informs (often implicitly) recent debates around the issues of traumatic experience, human rights, political activism, and historical memory.

Texts: Possible texts include Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; George Eliot, Middlemarch; Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals; Emmanuel Levinas, selected essays and interviews; Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others; Judith Butler, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?; Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, dir., The Lives of Others.

(Written permission of DGS required prior to enrollment)

ILA 790 006/PHIL789 0039/WGS 585/CPLT 751 004: "French Feminism"
Tu 1:00-4:00 PM

Content: "French feminism" is a term that is used within English-language scholarship to refer to a remarkably diverse body of theoretical and creative work associated with the  emergence of second-wave feminism in the latter part of the twentieth century, as well as contemporary trends in continental philosophy including existentialism, psychoanalysis, and poststructuralism. In this graduate seminar, we will read selected texts by some of the most prominent thinkers and writers who have been identified with French feminism, even as we will continue to call  into question the value of the term "French feminism" itself. French language skills are not required for this seminar since we will be reading these texts in their available English translations.

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex;
Jacques Lacan, On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge, 1972-1973: Encore, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX (ed. Jacques-Alain Miller);
Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language;
Luce Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman;
Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément, The Newly Born Woman;
Sarah Kofman, The Enigma of Woman: Woman in Freud's Writings;
Monique Wittig, The Straight Mind and Other Essays

PHIL 541R-000 "Ethics: Contemporary Neuroscience, Philosophical Psychology, and Animal Studies"
W 2:00-5:00 PM

Content: New studies from epigenetics demonstrate traumas can be passed through generations; cognitive science testifies to forms of intelligence in the plant and animal kingdoms  that the human species lacks; the use of technology throughout the animal kingdom, the impact of social networks and related phenomena render traditional nature/culture, affect/  cognition, and individual/social binaries irrelevant. What becomes of such standard features of moral theory as judgment, freedom, autonomy, or moral laws? What is ethics?

Texts: Readings Daniel Wexler, Frans de Waal, Korsgaard, Kelly Oliver, Elizabeth Wilson, Catherine Malabou, Shannon Sullivan, Jonathon Haidt, Bruno Latour, Marc Bekoff, and others.

Particulars: Class participation and presentations. 18 page seminar paper.