d3c29cd3-ebcb-474d-9eac-6f897466419f

Fall 2017   Spring 2018  

Fall 2017

GERM 279-01

Value: The Bad, the Ugly, and the Cheap

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 03:30 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: NEILL 401
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Cross-listed with MCST 279-01; taught in English*

For thousands of years value has been scrutinized in philosophy, art history, and economic analysis, as it cuts across three constitutive aspects of social, cultural, and political life: economy, aesthetics, and ethics. Not only do we have and impose on the world our moral, aesthetic, and exchange values, but these three fields often become difficult to distinguish, as is evident in the slippery flexibility of words that allow us to say as much “this painting is bad or worthless” as “I think this person is bad or worthless,” or “this is a bad, or worthless, remark” and “this is a bad or worthless check.” This course will focus primarily on influential accounts of value in aesthetic theory, while also examining the ways in which aesthetic value demarcates itself from or implicates its moral and economic counterparts, and what the interplays among the three fields entail for aesthetic value. Our readings will focus on the impact of primarily German thought on the formation of modern aesthetic theory—from the early eighteenth century through the Enlightenment and Romanticism to high modernism and the Frankfurt School.

Class and readings in English. No pre-knowledge required. This course is appropriate for all level students. (4 credits)

GERM 314-01

Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: NEILL 215
  • Instructor: David Martyn

Notes: *Not available to incoming first-years; cross-listed with PHIL 214-01; taught in English*

We all have values; but what are they based on? Perhaps no two thinkers have asked this question as persistently and approached it with such intrepid originality as Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. Writing in an age when religious belief had lost credence as a foundation for ethics, Nietzsche and Freud confronted the groundlessness of value systems while recognizing the impossibility of living without them. Both were reacting to Darwin’s discovery of natural selection, which dispelled nature’s divine aura and inaugurated what Nietzsche would call the “death of God.” The course explores the challenges to value judgments in the wake of Darwin and attempted solutions to them, centering on the four domains of ethics, subjectivity, aesthetics, and cultural value. Readings will include excerpts from Darwin’s The Origin of Species; Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, The Gay Science, and the texts posthumously published as The Will to Power; Freud’s Totem and Taboo, Civilization and Its Discontents, and Beyond the Pleasure Principle; as well as other works. Cross-listed with Philosophy 214. Alternate years. (4 Credits)

MCST 279-01

Value: The Bad, the Ugly, and the Cheap

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 03:30 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: NEILL 401
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Cross-listed with GERM 279-01; taught in English*

For thousands of years value has been scrutinized in philosophy, art history, and economic analysis, as it cuts across three constitutive aspects of social, cultural, and political life: economy, aesthetics, and ethics. Not only do we have and impose on the world our moral, aesthetic, and exchange values, but these three fields often become difficult to distinguish, as is evident in the slippery flexibility of words that allow us to say as much “this painting is bad or worthless” as “I think this person is bad or worthless,” or “this is a bad, or worthless, remark” and “this is a bad or worthless check.” This course will focus primarily on influential accounts of value in aesthetic theory, while also examining the ways in which aesthetic value demarcates itself from or implicates its moral and economic counterparts, and what the interplays among the three fields entail for aesthetic value. Our readings will focus on the impact of primarily German thought on the formation of modern aesthetic theory—from the early eighteenth century through the Enlightenment and Romanticism to high modernism and the Frankfurt School.

Class and readings in English. No pre-knowledge required. This course is appropriate for all level students. (4 credits)

PHIL 214-01

Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: NEILL 215
  • Instructor: David Martyn

Notes: *Not available to incoming first-years; cross-listed with GERM 314-01; taught in English*

We all have values; but what are they based on? Perhaps no two thinkers have asked this question as persistently and approached it with such intrepid originality as Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. Writing in an age when religious belief had lost credence as a foundation for ethics, Nietzsche and Freud confronted the groundlessness of value systems while recognizing the impossibility of living without them. Both were reacting to Darwin’s discovery of natural selection, which dispelled nature’s divine aura and inaugurated what Nietzsche would call the “death of God.” The course explores the challenges to value judgments in the wake of Darwin and attempted solutions to them, centering on the four domains of ethics, subjectivity, aesthetics, and cultural value. Readings will include excerpts from Darwin’s The Origin of Species; Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, The Gay Science, and the texts posthumously published as The Will to Power; Freud’s Totem and Taboo, Civilization and Its Discontents, and Beyond the Pleasure Principle; as well as other works. Cross-listed with German Studies 314. Alternate years. (4 Credits)

POLI 160-01

Foundations of Political Theory

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room: CARN 204
  • Instructor: David Blaney

Notes: *First Year Course only* An examination of the evolution of influential political concepts and theories from ancient cultures to the present day, by those writing in/from/to the West. Introduction through textual analysis to historical and contemporary understandings of key terms such as authority, legitimacy, liberty, republicanism, democracy, revolution and “the good.” Additionally, the course provides an introduction to political theory methods of analysis and critique, through the development of skills in reading, critical thinking, and writing.

Class meets MWF, 10:50 am - 11:50 am in Carnegie 204

Writing designation: WA


POLI 265-01

Work, Wealth, Well-Being

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 01:10 pm-02:10 pm
  • Room: CARN 206
  • Instructor: David Blaney

Notes: Wealth has held an allure for many modern thinkers; the creation of a wealthy society often associated with "civilization" itself. The relationships among work, wealth and well-being are a perennial concern and have been central to the study of political economy, since its inception in the mid- to late-18th century. How does work produce wealth for the individual and for society? How, or when, does individual and social wealth translate into individual and/or social well-being? And, how does the character of work affect individual well-being or happiness? This course will examine the answers given to these questions (and myriad corollary questions) by writers within the political economy tradition. (4 credits)

POLI 266-01

Medieval Political Thought

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-10:40 am
  • Room: CARN 107
  • Instructor: Andrew Latham

Notes: This course deals with the political thought of Latin Christendom (Western Europe) during the later Middle Ages (c. 1050 - c. 1550). This body of thought is worthy of sustained study for two reasons. First, it is one of the glories of human civilization. In seeking to answer the timeless question "how we should live our lives as individuals" and "how we should live together in peace and justice" late medieval political thinkers produced a body of political thought second to none in the history of human philosophical speculation. Second, late medieval political thought is worthy of study because it gave rise to many of the concepts that continue to shape our collective lives today (including state sovereignty, separation of church and state, constitutionalism, just war, property rights, "the people," nationalism, democracy, rule-of-law, and human rights). Indeed, it is impossible to really understand contemporary political life without delving deeply into the way in which late medieval thinkers engaged with the big political issues of their day.

The main goal of this course is to provide a solid introduction to the political thought of this crucially important era in human history. In it, we will critically examine the relevant works of thinkers such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, John of Paris, Marsilius of Padua, Bartolus of Sasseferato, and Baldus de Ubaldi. To the extent that they shed light on late medieval thought, we will also touch on classical political theorists such as Aristotle and Cicero as well as Muslim and Jewish thinkers such as ibn Sina, Moshe ben Maimon, and ibn Rusd. (4 credits)


POLI 294-01

Revolutionary Political Theory

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: OLRI 301
  • Instructor: Althea Sircar

Notes: *Cross-listed with AMST 294-03* This political theory course examines how revolutionary movements in political thought intersect with and inflect revolutionary moments in history. Taking "revolutionary" to be descriptive of both events and theoretical frameworks, the course will study how political actors have articulated and enacted abolitionist, feminist, egalitarian, and anti-colonialist revolutionary perspectives. Topics covered will include: the American, French, Haitian, Bolshevik, Indian, and Iranian revolutions, as political events and occasions for political thought. Also under consideration will be contemporary revolutionary movements like #Occupy, the Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, and prison abolition; and revolutions in political theories of gender, race, and (dis)ability.

RELI 235-01

Theorizing Religion

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: MAIN 003
  • Instructor: Erik Davis

Notes: The course is an introduction to some of the important theoretical and methodological work conducted by scholars in various disciplines who hope to better define and understand religious phenomena. This seminar begins with some of the early twentieth century texts that are often cited and discussed by contemporary scholars of religion (e.g., Durkheim, Weber, Freud) and then turns to a number of investigations stemming from engagement with earlier theorists or refracting new concerns. The course inquires into the problems of defining and analyzing religious cultures, and the researcher's position or positions in this analysis, as this has been approached from anthropological, sociological, and religious studies perspectives. (4 credits)


WGSS 240-01

Comparative Feminisms: Whiteness and Postcolonialisms

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room: MAIN 009
  • Instructor: Sonita Sarker

Notes: *First day attendance required; cross-listed with ENGL 294-03* This course brings together discourses that have remained somewhat parallel and unrelated--Whiteness Studies and Postcolonial Studies. It is based on the premise that 'whiteness' as an academic/social framework stems from and is intertwined with social and political identity-based movements (feminist, critical race, etc.). In other words, studies of the intersection of gender, race, class, and nation initiated in the post-colonizing imagination seeks to shake up paradigms of power, and whiteness studies shares in this effort. This course explores where and how the notion of 'whiteness' converges and diverges from post-colonialism.

Spring 2018

ENGL 212-01

Introduction to Literary Theory

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: CARN 105
  • Instructor: Taylor Schey

Notes: If you’ve taken courses in the humanities, then you’re probably aware of a field that goes by the nickname of “theory.” You may have heard of thinkers such as Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault, though chances are you haven’t yet studied how their writings grew out of a common engagement with questions of language and textuality. This course offers you the opportunity to do so. Beginning with Ferdinand de Saussure’s influential Course in General Linguistics, we’ll trace the development of literary theory through structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, gender studies, queer theory, Black studies, postcolonial theory, trauma theory, affect theory, and ecocriticism. Since our approach will be to treat literary theory as a field of study in itself, we’ll be reading almost exclusively primary texts from this field—though, if you engage these texts seriously, they will most likely change the way you read just about everything, from poems and novels to television shows and text messages. This course will be of interest to students of all levels who are interested in learning about literary theory and are willing to be intellectually challenged. It counts as a core course in the Critical Theory Concentration. Authors include J. L. Austin, Roland Barthes, Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler, Cathy Caruth, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Hélène Cixous, Jacques Derrida, Lee Edelman, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, bell hooks, Luce Irigaray, Roman Jakobson, Barbara Johnson, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Paul de Man, Timothy Morton, Ferdinand de Saussure, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Calvin Warren.


ENGL 294-04

Eccentricity and Mediocrity in Modern Prose Fiction

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 02:20 pm-03:20 pm
  • Room: CARN 105
  • Instructor: David Martyn

Notes: *Cross-listed with GERM 294-01; taught in English; counts for the Critical Theory concentration* Tiring of heroism, modern prose fiction invented a new kind of figure beginning in the late 18th century: the mediocre protagonist whose distinguishing characteristic was not prowess or virtue but eccentricity, both real and imagined. What in Germany is called "the middle hero," in France "le bovarysme," and in Russia "poshlost'" (trivial bourgeois ordinariness) all designate aspects of this new literary space of the mediocre in which individuality depends increasingly on forms of deviance. The course traces this development from the dawn of romanticism to high modernism in German, French, and Russian fiction with the goal of understanding the way literature negotiates the tension between the need to be "different" and the injunction to be "normal." Readings from Goethe ("The Sorrows of Young Werther"), Flaubert ("Madame Bovary"), Gogol ("The Nose," "The Overcoat"), Goncharov (“Oblomov’s Dream”), Huysmans (“Against the Grain”), Musil (excerpts from "The Man without Qualities"), Nietzsche (excerpts from “The Gay Science”), Kafka ("Letter to his Father," "The Cares of a Family Man," "The Metamorphosis"); theory and criticism by Erich Auerbach and Foucault. Requirements: regular reading reactions, three mid-length essays.

ENGL 367-01

Postcolonial Theory

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room: LIBR 250
  • Instructor: David Moore

Notes: *Cross-listed with INTL 367-01; this course satisfies the Writers of Color/Postcolonial/Diasporic Literature requirement for the English major.*

Traces the development of theoretical accounts of culture, politics and identity in Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean and related lands since the 1947-1991 decolonizations. Readings include Fanon, Said, Walcott, Ngugi and many others, and extend to gender, literature, the U.S., and the post-Soviet sphere. The course bridges cultural representational, and political theory. Prior internationalist and/or theoretical coursework strongly recommended.

GERM 277-01

Metaphysics in Secular Thought

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: OLRI 250
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Cross-listed with POLI 277-01 and RELI 277-01*

A widespread tendency in contemporary Western societies is to associate metaphysics with religion, if not with what is often dismissively called the "irrational." This course will dismantle this myth by reading closely European philosophy and political theory, mostly since the seventeenth century, in their relation to theology and their reception by twentieth-century critical theory. This will allow us to examine the ways in which secular thought emerges not as an alternative to metaphysics-something which thought cannot supersede anyway-but rather as a different way of dealing with the very same metaphysical questions and issues that concern religion, from the meaning of life to the imminence of death, and from (actual or imagined) guilt to the hope for redemption. We shall endeavor to identify the similarities and differences between the 'secular' and the 'religious' ways, including their respective relations to rationality. Readings will include: Aristotle, Talal Asad, George Bataille, Walter Benjamin, Kenneth Burke, Richard Dienst, Emile Durkheim, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Peter Harrison, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx, Marcel Mauss, Carl Schmitt, Baruch Spinoza, Alberto Toscano, Max Weber, Slavoj Zizek. All readings in English. No pre-knowledge required

GERM 294-01

Eccentricity and Mediocrity in Modern Prose Fiction

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 02:20 pm-03:20 pm
  • Room: CARN 105
  • Instructor: David Martyn

Notes: *Cross-listed with ENGL 294-04; taught in English; counts for the Critical Theory concentration* Tiring of heroism, modern prose fiction invented a new kind of figure beginning in the late 18th century: the mediocre protagonist whose distinguishing characteristic was not prowess or virtue but eccentricity, both real and imagined. What in Germany is called "the middle hero," in France "le bovarysme," and in Russia "poshlost'" (trivial bourgeois ordinariness) all designate aspects of this new literary space of the mediocre in which individuality depends increasingly on forms of deviance. The course traces this development from the dawn of romanticism to high modernism in German, French, and Russian fiction with the goal of understanding the way literature negotiates the tension between the need to be "different" and the injunction to be "normal." Readings from Goethe ("The Sorrows of Young Werther"), Flaubert ("Madame Bovary"), Gogol ("The Nose," "The Overcoat"), Goncharov (“Oblomov’s Dream”), Huysmans (“Against the Grain”), Musil (excerpts from "The Man without Qualities"), Nietzsche (excerpts from “The Gay Science”), Kafka ("Letter to his Father," "The Cares of a Family Man," "The Metamorphosis"); theory and criticism by Erich Auerbach and Foucault. Requirements: regular reading reactions, three mid-length essays.

GERM 365-01

Kafka: Gods, Animals, and Other Species of Modernity

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: OLRI 270
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Taught in German*

This course approaches Kafka's work both as a case for literary analysis and as a text that reveals insights into modernity - the historical era characterized by capitalism, secularization, the nation-state, increasing bureaucratization, the commodification of art, the development of technology and media. In addition to reading closely a selection of Kafka's short stories and exerpts from his novels, we shall also read some influential commentaries on his work, as well as texts that address major phenomena that characterize modernity. Taught in German. Prerequisite(s): GERM 308, GERM 309 or the equivalent

HISP 394-01

Hispanic Studies and Critical Theory

  • Days: M
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: NEILL 215
  • Instructor: Justin Butler

Notes: *Cross-listed with PHIL 294-03* Hispanic Studies and Critical Theory will engage a corpus of philosophical texts in order to equip students for advanced literary, cultural, and historical critique. To this end, students will study key concepts in critical thought such as biopolitics, materialism, commodities, ideology, hegemony, and animality as presented by a variety of thinkers including Marx, Benjamin, Hegel, Althusser, Gramsci, Baudrillard, Adorno, Agamben, and Haraway. Careful understanding of concepts will be mobilized in analysis of select cultural, literary, or filmic texts and events in the field of Hispanism. Such items may range from Gracián’s surprisingly prescient writings on the accrual of power as he observed it in the Golden Age court to present day immigration and dynamics of stateless bodies as seen in the practice coyotaje. The course has been designated a core course in the Critical Theory Concentration and is suitable for diverse interests in the humanities. Hispanic Studies majors and minors will submit written work in Spanish; non-majors and minors will submit written work in English. Course taught in English and all readings will be in English. No prerequisites required. This course is appropriate for all level students.

INTL 300-01

Advanced Feminist/Queer Theories and Methodologies

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: MAIN 009
  • Instructor: Sonita Sarker

Notes: *Permission of instructor required; cross-listed with WGSS 300-01; first day attendance required*

This course is an in-depth study of some specific theories and methodologies on which contemporary feminist and queer thinkers have based their analysis, critique, and reconstruction of men's and women's roles. Some guiding questions are: What is a nation? Who are its citizens? How do language and gender roles shape the ways we imagine our roles as men and women? Do sexuality or economy affect how we subscribe to or resist political ideologies? In previous offerings, the course has explored the intersection of Postcolonialism (specifically gendered critiques of colonizing sociopolitical structures) with Postmodernism (specifically gendered critiques of language and sexuality). The course will include film, photography, music, and the writings of Butler, Foucault, Chodorow, Kristeva, hooks, Spivak, and Trinh, among others. It offers ways to create links with local community and social-work organizations. Prerequisite(s): junior standing or permission of instructor and at least one intermediate WGSS core course. WGSS 200 highly recommended.

INTL 367-01

Postcolonial Theory

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room: LIBR 250
  • Instructor: David Moore

Notes: *Cross-listed with ENGL 367-01; this course satisfies the Writers of Color/Postcolonial/Diasporic Literature requirement for the English major.*

Traces the development of theoretical accounts of culture, politics and identity in Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean and related lands since the 1947-1991 decolonizations. Readings include Fanon, Said, Walcott, Ngugi and many others, and extend to gender, literature, the U.S., the post-Soviet sphere, and Europe. The course bridges cultural, representational, and political theory. Prior internationalist and/or theoretical coursework strongly recommended.

PHIL 294-03

Hispanic Studies and Critical Theory

  • Days: M
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: NEILL 215
  • Instructor: Justin Butler

Notes: *Cross-listed with HISP 394-01* Hispanic Studies and Critical Theory will engage a corpus of philosophical texts in order to equip students for advanced literary, cultural, and historical critique. To this end, students will study key concepts in critical thought such as biopolitics, materialism, commodities, ideology, hegemony, and animality as presented by a variety of thinkers including Marx, Benjamin, Hegel, Althusser, Gramsci, Baudrillard, Adorno, Agamben, and Haraway. Careful understanding of concepts will be mobilized in analysis of select cultural, literary, or filmic texts and events in the field of Hispanism. Such items may range from Gracián’s surprisingly prescient writings on the accrual of power as he observed it in the Golden Age court to present day immigration and dynamics of stateless bodies as seen in the practice coyotaje. The course has been designated a core course in the Critical Theory Concentration and is suitable for diverse interests in the humanities. Hispanic Studies majors and minors will submit written work in Spanish; non-majors and minors will submit written work in English. Course taught in English and all readings will be in English. No prerequisites required. This course is appropriate for all level students.

POLI 160-01

Foundations of Political Theory

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: CARN 06A
  • Instructor: Althea Sircar

Notes: An examination of the evolution of influential political concepts and theories from ancient cultures to the present day, by those writing in/from/to the West. Introduction through textual analysis to historical and contemporary understandings of key terms such as authority, legitimacy, liberty, republicanism, democracy, revolution and "the good." Additionally, the course provides an introduction to political theory methods of analysis and critique, through the development of skills in reading, critical thinking, and writing. Courses numbered in the 100s are Foundations courses. These courses are designed principally for beginning political science majors, as well as non-majors seeking an introduction to the discipline's various sub-fields. The purpose of these courses is threefold: To provide foundational knowledge of the key actors, structures, institutions and/or historical dynamics relevant to the respective sub-fields; to introduce the major theoretical trends, perspectives and debates that have shaped the evolution of the respective sub-fields; and to begin to develop a range of practical competencies (esp. research/writing skills) essential to further scholarly inquiry within the discipline of political science.

POLI 277-01

Metaphysics in Secular Thought

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: OLRI 250
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Cross-listed with GERM 277-01 and RELI 277-01*

A widespread tendency in contemporary Western societies is to associate metaphysics with religion, if not with what is often dismissively called the "irrational." This course will dismantle this myth by reading closely European philosophy and political theory, mostly since the seventeenth century, in their relation to theology and their reception by twentieth-century critical theory. This will allow us to examine the ways in which secular thought emerges not as an alternative to metaphysics-something which thought cannot supersede anyway-but rather as a different way of dealing with the very same metaphysical questions and issues that concern religion, from the meaning of life to the imminence of death, and from (actual or imagined) guilt to the hope for redemption. We shall endeavor to identify the similarities and differences between the 'secular' and the 'religious' ways, including their respective relations to rationality. Readings will include: Aristotle, Talal Asad, George Bataille, Walter Benjamin, Kenneth Burke, Richard Dienst, Emile Durkheim, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Peter Harrison, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx, Marcel Mauss, Carl Schmitt, Baruch Spinoza, Alberto Toscano, Max Weber, Slavoj Zizek. Prerequisite(s): All readings in English. No pre-knowledge required.

POLI 394-02

Postcolonial Political and Social Thought

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: NEILL 401
  • Instructor: Althea Sircar

Notes: This advanced course in political theory covers foundational texts of anti-colonial, postcolonial and decolonial thought along with recent political theory scholarship on the legacies of colonial domination in contemporary contexts. We will also consider whether and how anti-colonial perspectives should inform how we study political theory and practice. Readings will draw largely from texts focusing on South Asia, Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.


RELI 277-01

Metaphysics in Secular Thought

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: OLRI 250
  • Instructor: Kiarina Kordela

Notes: *Cross-listed with GERM 277-01 and POLI 277-01*

A widespread tendency in contemporary Western societies is to associate metaphysics with religion, if not with what is often dismissively called the "irrational." This course will dismantle this myth by reading closely European philosophy and political theory, mostly since the seventeenth century, in their relation to theology and their reception by twentieth-century critical theory. This will allow us to examine the ways in which secular thought emerges not as an alternative to metaphysics-something which thought cannot supersede anyway-but rather as a different way of dealing with the very same metaphysical questions and issues that concern religion, from the meaning of life to the imminence of death, and from (actual or imagined) guilt to the hope for redemption. We shall endeavor to identify the similarities and differences between the 'secular' and the 'religious' ways, including their respective relations to rationality. Readings will include: Aristotle, Talal Asad, George Bataille, Walter Benjamin, Kenneth Burke, Richard Dienst, Emile Durkheim, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Peter Harrison, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx, Marcel Mauss, Carl Schmitt, Baruch Spinoza, Alberto Toscano, Max Weber, Slavoj Zizek. All readings in English. No pre-knowledge required.

SOCI 272-01

Social Theories

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 01:10 pm-02:10 pm
  • Room: CARN 05
  • Instructor: Khaldoun Samman

Notes: This course is designed to engage students with the most sophisticated and useful schools of thought available in the social science disciplines. The course raises a number of questions: How can we best understand the complexities of self and society? Are these units of analysis useful in and of themselves? Are they contained in an essential body or polity that we can identify as some unitary entity called Jenny and John Doe, American, French, Arab/Jew, black/white, modern/primitive, developed/underdeveloped, Oriental/ Occidental, homo/heterosexual, male/female? Or are they socially produced units that have no essence in-of-themselves, produced and made real only through performance with the "Other"? Furthermore, is there something unique about modernity that has fundamentally transformed the notions of our selves, bodies, polities, races, and civilizations? If the answer to the last question is in the affirmative, how and why did this come to be the case, and what consequences does it hold for our understanding of the past and of the future? These are the kinds of questions that great figures in sociology have been asking since the nineteenth-century, including classic theorists like Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, as well as more recent writers such as Ervin Goffman, Michel Foucault, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Edward Said.

WGSS 300-01

Advanced Feminist/Queer Theories and Methodologies

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: MAIN 009
  • Instructor: Sonita Sarker

Notes: *Permission of instructor required; cross-listed with INTL 300-01; first day attendance required*

This course is an in-depth study of some specific theories and methodologies on which contemporary feminist and queer thinkers have based their analysis, critique, and reconstruction of men's and women's roles. Some guiding questions are: What is a Nation? Who are its citizens? How do language and gender roles shape the ways we imagine our roles as men and women? Do sexuality or economy affect how we subscribe to or resist political ideologies? In previous offerings, the course has explored the intersection of Postcolonialism (gendered critiques of colonizing sociopolitical and economic structures) with Postmodernism (gendered critiques of language, sexuality, culture, and nation). The course will include film, photography, music, and the writings of Butler, Foucault, Chodorow, Kristeva, hooks, Spivak, and Trinh, among others. It offers ways to create links with local community and social-work organizations. Prerequisite(s): Junior standing or permission of instructor, and at least one intermediate-level WGSS core course. WGSS 200 highly recommended.