PSP 789 - 000: Theories of Subjectivity and Representation
Content: Reflecting on the burden of the Cartesian legacy to modernity, Maurice Merleau-Ponty noted that “there are some ideas that make it impossible to return to a time prior to their existence, even and especially if we moved beyond them, and subjectivity is one of them.” This course will examine the elaboration of rational consciousness in Descartes as a foundational moment in the development of modern metaphysics. At issue will be the radical shift from notions of self (notably as elaborated in Montaigne) to subject, that will inaugurate not just a new understanding of truth but a new way of being and picturing the world. The relation of subjectivity to representation, the mind-body dualism, the analogy of the body to a machine, the question of technology and ideas about art will be at issue along with attendant philosophical, theoretical, literary and artistic critiques by Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Georges Canguilhem, Emile Benveniste, Michel Foucault, Louis Marin, Jean-François Lyotard, etc.
Texts: Montaigne, “Of Experience,” and “On Some Verses of Virgil” from the Essays; Descartes, Discourse on Method; Heidegger, “The Age of the World Picture,” and “The Question of Technology;” Merleau-Ponty, “The Cogito,” and “The Body as Expression and Speech” from The Phenomenology of Perception; Benveniste, “Of Subjectivity in Language;” Georges Canguilhem, “Machine and Organism;” Foucault, The Order of Things (selections); Foucault, “Technologies of the Self; Marin, On Representation (selections)” and multiple pictorial references.
Cross-listed with FREN 770R, CPLT 752R, PHIL 789R, AHIST 769R
PSP 789 - 001: Water Graves
Content: Martinican philosopher and poet Edouard Glissant writes: “The cemeteries of countries and cities of creolization, and, generally, of powerful hurricanes --Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti, New Orleans, Cartagena-- grow into glittering small towns like white beaches, whose avenues open onto fleeting illuminations rather than onto the mute space of a dull hereafter.”
The seminar focuses on the shared vulnerability -ecological, societal, cultural- of sites of creolization in the Caribbean and in the US South. Particularly, it explores how poets, fiction writers, performer and mixed-media artists represent the vulnerability of land and people in response to the lack of official rituals granted to the drowned. In addition to figuring death by drowning in the aftermath of slavery and “natural” and human-made catastrophes, their aesthetic creations serve as memorials, dirges, tombstones, and even literal supports for the regrowth of life underwater. Water, as we will see, is both a place of disconnection (island) and relation (archipelago), as well as an abyss and conduit between the dead and the living.
Hurricane Katrina, which revealed to the world the coincidence of natural and technological vulnerability, poverty, and racial inequality, will serve as a privileged platform to discuss the historically related event of the Middle Passage and the states of ecological and social frailty of our 21st century.
Course Material: In addition to the books to be purchased, readings will include selections from texts by Derek Walcott (The star Apple Kingdom), Édouard Glissant (Poetics of Relation and Overseer’s Cabin), C.L.R. James (The Black Jacobins), George Washington Cable (“Belles Demoiselles Plantation”), William Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom!), Longfellow (“The Slave in the Dismal Swamp”), Natasha Trethewey (Native Guard) for poetry, fiction, and essays; Judith Butler (Frames of War), Colin Dayan (The Law Is a White Dog), Joseph Roach (Cities of the Dead), Ian Baucom (Specters of the Atlantic), Tanya Shield’s (Bodies and Bones), Alexander Weheliye (Habeas Viscus), Vincent Brown (The Reaper’s Garden) for theory. We will also discuss creations by artists Radcliffe Bailey, EPaul Julien, Eric Waters, Kara Walker, and Beyoncé (US); Fabienne Kanor, Patricia Donatien-Yssa, and Laurent Valère (Martinique); Édouard Duval-Carrié and Gabrielle Civil (Haiti); and Jason deCaires Taylor (Guyana).
Required Books (to be Purchased with indicated ISBN only)
- Aimé Césaire. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. 978-0819564528 or Cahier d’un retour au pays natal for students reading in French. 978-2708704206
- Edwidge Danticat. Farming of Bones. 978-1616953492
- NourbeSe Philip. Zong! 978-0819571694
- Jesmyn Ward. Salvage the Bones. 978-1608196265
Particulars: Sustained participation, 3 short response papers, oral presentation, and research paper with annotated bibliography.
Cross-listed with ENG 789R, FREN 770, CPLT 751
PSP 789 - 002: Against Culture/For Education
Elizabeth Goodstein and Sander Gilman
Content: Inspired by the contemporary “crisis of the humanities,” this course will explore the trajectories of educational visions and cultural ideals in western modernity after the Enlightenment. Tracing a genealogy from Humboldt to the present and paying special attention to critics at the previous fin de siècle who questioned the institutionalization and professionalization of education in the modern research university, we will address the cases for and against education as an instrument of democratization and cultural progress. We will also examine efforts to overcome or resolve the conflicts between individual and collective in modernity through alternative visions of education as a pursuit of worldly knowledge in literary Bildungsromane. This course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.
Texts: Readings may include:
Hannah Arendt, “Crisis in Education” (1954)
Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1869)
John Dewey, School and Society (1899)
W.E.B. DuBois, Souls of Black Folks (1903)
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (1929)
Wilhelm von Humboldt, On Public State Education (1792)
Maria Montessori, Pedagogical Anthropology (1913)
John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated (1852)
Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Education (1869)
Georg Simmel “The Concept and Tragedy of Culture” (1911)
Lionel Trilling, Sincerity and Authenticity (1972)
Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation” (1922)
Oscar Wilde, "The Decay of Lying" and "The Truth of Masks" (1891)
Particulars: Evaluation will be based on weekly short response papers circulated to the group for discussion and a substantial final essay based on original research.
Cross-listed with HIST 585, CPLT 751, PHIL 789R, ENG 789R