2016-2017 Courses


Fall 2016

Critical Theory 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory
David Simpson
T 12:10-3:00P
248 Voorhies Hall
CRN 27807
We will attempt a survey of some of the core texts of modern critical theory, using the Norton Anthology of Criticism and Theory supplemented by a course reader where necessary. Topics will include Writing, Psychoanalysis, Master and Slave, Ideology and the Aesthetic, Literacy, Sexualities, and Machines. Major authors will include Derrida, Freud, Lacan, Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Hegel, Marx and Engels, Schiller, Bakhtin, Foucault, Butler, Cixous, Benjamin, Haraway, Horkheimer and Adorno (this is not a complete list).

A 20pp. paper will be required, along with participation in all classes.

The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism [2nd Edition], edited by Vincent B. Leitch, et al.  (W.W. Norton & Company, 2010)

Critical Theory 200C. History of Critical Theory
Evan Watkins
R 12:10-3:00P
248 Voorhies Hall
CRN 53330

Course description: We’ll look at a history of criticism centered around the European emergence and development of concepts of the aesthetic in the second half of the 18th century and early 19th century. We’ll begin, however, with Aristotle’s Poetics and some texts of Plato’s that so often appear at the beginning of histories of criticism and are in fact often referenced in the later texts we’ll be reading. The idea is that rather than built primarily in relation to these classical texts, the development of aesthetic concepts might be understood more productively in relation to another set of emergent discourses contemporary with aesthetics: political economy. The continual backwards referencing of aesthetic discourses to classical texts on poetics helped keep aesthetics separate from political economy and other new discourses. Yet at the same time both political economy and aesthetics required, for example, explaining (or explaining away) the force of desire. Both required complex negotiations with moral values and ethical principles. Each, often surreptitiously, found support in the other, particularly in the matter of how to get from individual sorts of things to universal things. I find these connections particularly interesting because as aesthetics was continually “purified” over time economics eventually became its most significantly distanced other among the human sciences. Conversely, the continual attention to moral issues, to sensibility, and to interpersonal sympathy—i.e. the basic material as it were of aesthetics—that seemed perfectly normal to early figures in political economy such as Adam Smith was gradually edited out of mainstream economics completely, returning only in the late 20th century under the sign of the complex mathematical profiles generated by econometrics.

Likely Texts:
Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology, eds. Steven Cahn and Aaron Meskin
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment
Karl Marx, Capital, Vol 1
David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Winter 2017

Critical Theory 101. Introduction to Critical Theory    [Cross-listed with COM 141]
Joshua Clover

TR 10:30-11:50A
110 Hunt Hall
CRN 18327

Critical Theory 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory
Kris Fallon
W 2:10-5:00P
123 Wellman Hall
CRN 18328

Description: This course will approach current debates around political violence, identity, subjectivity and representation by introducing the key theorists and issues that animate and underpin these discussions.  Each week we will pair core texts from central figures including Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Foucault, Heidegger, and Deleuze with essays from contemporary theorists including Judith Butler, Frank Wilderson, Jacques Ranciere, Frederic Jameson, Jacqueline Rose and Giorgio Agamben.  Special attention will be paid to enduring concepts and questions which have and continue to structure theoretically engaged discourse including the constitution of the bounded subject, the role of ideology, the ground of critique, the problem of mimesis and representation and the shifting status of knowledge and experience.  Though we cannot cover all of the ideas in a single quarter, students will be exposed to the major schools of thought which have structured the discussion and the stakes involved in their differences and delineations.

Tentative Reading List:
Kant, 2nd Critique
Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit
Marx, The German Ideology and Capital I
Freud, Interpretation of Dreams, The Ego and The Id
Horkheimer & Adorno, Dialectic of the Enlightenment
Heidegger, Being and Time, “The Age of the World Picture”
Foucault, History of Sexuality v.1 and “Society Must be Defended”
Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, A Thousand Plateaus (with Felix Guattari)
Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter, Precarious Violence
Frederic Jameson,
Ranciere, The Names of History, “10 Theses on Politics”
Wilderson, Red, White and Black
Agamben, State of Exception
Rose, Sexuality in the Field of Vision

Critical Theory 200B. Psychoanalysis as Theory and Practice
Omnia El Shakry
T 3:10-6:00P
4217 SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities Building)
CRN 18329

Course Description: This course will serve as an introduction to the psychoanalytic tradition through a reading of its foundational Freudian as well as post-Freudian texts.  Centered on the “so-called Copernican revolution to which Freud himself compared his discovery,” we will attend primarily to the lineaments of the unconscious.  Remaining attentive to what is “in Freud more than Freud,” we will explore the temporal contours of the unconscious; the status of the subject and reality; desire and sexuality; the relationship between the self and the other, and the self and the object; and experience and unknowability. 

Tentative Reading List:

Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, translated by James Strachey
Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, translated by James Strachey
Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, translated by James Strachey
Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id, translated by James Strachey
Melanie Klein, The Selected Melanie Klein, edited by Juliet Mitchell
Jacques Lacan, Écrits, translated by Bruce Fink
Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, translated by Alan Sheridan
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, translated by Charles Lam Markmann
Winnicott, Playing and Reality
Wilfred Bion, Attention and Interpretation
Christopher Bollas, The Freudian Moment

Critical Theory 200C. History of Critical Theory
Neil Larsen
R 3:10-6:00P
263 Olson Hall
CRN 18330

Course Description: Rather than proceed panoramically, this seminar will focus intensively on ancient and early modern philosophical works that have both preconditioned but have also been occluded by the modern philosophical and analytical currents grouped under the heading of “Critical Theory.” These works will be: Plato's Phaedrus, Symposium and selections from The Republic; Aristotle’s Poetics, and selections from the Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics; Descartes’ Discourse on Method and the Meditations on First Philosophy; selections from Hobbes’ Leviathan; and Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. Key notions to be traced include mimesis, ancient ideas of ethics, love, reason and the subject, and pre- and early modern concepts of society and the state. Secondarily, we will sample works of contemporary Critical Theorists that take up certain of these precursors, among them Adorno’s lectures on Metaphysics. Extensive class participation, 5-6 short response papers, one oral presentations and a final seminar paper or take home examination (approximately 5,000 words ) required.

Critical Theory 298. The Grundrisse and Critical Political Economy
Joshua Clover
Thursdays, 12:00-2:00 p.m.
Location: 308 Voorhies (see below)
CRN: 18331

This is a 2 unit course. We will focus our efforts on The Grundrisse (1857), the notebooks providing “groundwork” for Marx’s mature writings oriented by his critical political economy. We will pay particular attention to the opening sections where Marx makes his most thoroughgoing exposition of historical method, and the “the Chapter on Capital” wherein he takes up the core problematics that will occupy the volumes of Capital. This will culminate in “Fragment on the Machine” where we arrive both at the “limits to capital” (and thus at a theory of crisis) as well as speculations on its overcoming.

Along the way there will be assigned support readings, including passages from Capital Vols. 1 and 3, as well as brief selections from contemporary theorists for whom the Grundrisse had played a fundamental role, including Antonio Negri, Paolo Virno, and Moishe Postone. There will be no written component. Students will be expected to complete the reading, participate in discussion, and present assigned material once or twice each. Please note: the first meeting (only) will be in Voorhies 156.

Winter 2017 External Courses

French 211 (CRI 200B Equivalent). Literary Worlds (4 units)
Toby Warner
T 1:10-4:00P
111 Wellman Hall
CRN 43931

Course Description: This course will be an introduction to literary theory through the topic of literary worlds — how literary texts delineate the parameters of their “own” worlds and how they circulate in, interact with, and intervene in “our” world. We will aim to put two kinds of critical perspectives into productive tension: a formalist approach that considers the “worldedness” of literary texts, and a historicist approach that focuses on the “worldliness” of texts. Each week we will consider a facet of this intersection through one of a series of keywords: form, text, anthology, world, public, translation, scale, reading, network, affect. Our readings, conversations and assignments will not presume a broad familiarity with literary theory, but will instead be geared toward helping students at all levels of graduate study find their own footing and positions in contemporary debates.

Critical readings may include Michael Allan, Roland Barthes, Karin Barber, Lauren Berlant, Pascale Casanova, Eric Hayot, Isabel Hofmeyr, Caroline Levine, Georg Lukacs, Natalie Melas, Franco Morretti, Jean-Luc Nancy, Sianne Ngai, Edward Said, and Michael Warner. We will also supplement our readings from a selection of literary texts.

French 215 (CRI 200B Equivalent). French and Francophone Film
Jeff Fort
R 2:10-5:00P
109 Wellman Hall
CRN 43932

French Film and Film Theory

This course will offer an introduction to a number of major theorists of film (and photography) along with a selection of films to accompany the readings. Theorists will include André Bazin, Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, Christian Metz. Filmmakers will include Chantal Akerman, Germaine Dulac, Chris Marker, Jean Renoir, Alain Resnais and others.

This course will be taught in English; students can read the material in French or English.

GER 211 (CRI 200B Equivalent). Concepts in Literary Theory: Memory & Memoir
Elisabeth Krimmer
T 2:10-5:00P
109 Wellman Hall
CRN 43917

This course examines different theories of memory with particular attention to the link between memory and the body (Paul Connerton, Walter Benjamin), to the interplay of collective and individual memory (Maurice Halbwachs, Jan Assmann, Jacques Le Goff), and to the nexus of memory and trauma (Cathy Caruth, James Young, Charles Maier). We will also study the genre of memoir and analyze the impact of class, race, and gender on the construction of the self in writing (Thomas Couser, Annette Kuhn, Rebecca Walker, Marianne Hirsch). A final segment will discuss the intersection of memory and photography (Roland Barthes). The course will be taught in English. 

Spring 2017

Critical Theory 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory
Kathleen Frederickson
T 3:10-6:00P
248 Voorhies
CRN 66957

This course is designed to enable you to read work in contemporary critical theory. With that aim in view, it sets out to offer a partial overview of key movements and thinkers, from Kant onward, that retain theoretical relevance in the current moment. We will read texts by Immanuel Kant, GWF Hegel, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, Claude Levi-Strauss, Frantz Fanon, Louis Althusser, Huey Newton, Luce Irigaray, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, , Sylvia Wynter, Fred Moten.

 Spring 2017 External Courses

French 207A (CRI 200C Equivalent). Eighteenth-Century Literature: Philosophies
Julia Simon
M 2:10-5:00P
522 Sproul
CRN 91169

The Dialectic of Individual and Community - This course proposes to examine the dialectical relationship between individual and community in the social and political thought of eighteenth-century France. Readings of literary and non-literary texts will analyze the conflict between upholding the rights and freedoms of the individual and the rights and freedoms of the community.  Through the study of these Enlightenment texts, we will trace the development of liberal political thought in the articulation of various visions of democratic community.

Primary texts:
Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine de l’inégalité parmi les hommes
Rousseau, Du contrat social
Diderot, Entretien d’un père avec ses enfants
Diderot, “Droit naturel”
Sade, La philosophie dans le boudoir

Secondary texts:
Peter Gay, “Introduction,” in Ernst Cassirer, The Question of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” in Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty
Louis Althusser, “The Social Contract (The Discrepancies),” in Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
Zev Trachtenberg, “Subject and Citizen: Hobbes and Rousseau on sovereignty and the self,” in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Sources of the Self
Allan Bloom, “Rousseau’s Critique of Liberal Constitutionalism,” The Legacy of Rousseau
Iris MarionYoung, “Impartiality and the Civic Public: Some Implications of Feminist Critiques of Moral and Political Theory,” in Feminism as Critique
Julia Simon, “Negotiating the Legal and the Moral: Diderot’s Conversation of a Father with His Children,” in Beyond Contractual Morality
Philippe Roger, “A Political Minimalist,” in Sade and the Narrative of Transgression
Marcel Hénaff, “The Encyclopedia of Excess,” in Sade and the Narrative of Transgression

Political Science 219C (CRI 200B equivalent). Max Weber: On Religion and Politics
Shalini Satkunanandan
W 12:10-3:00
593 Kerr
CRN 87423

There is renewed interest in the writings of Max Weber amongst contemporary political theorists, both those who study the persistence of religion in late modern political life and therefore question Weber’s diagnoses of the “disenchantment of the world,” as well those who are interested in “political realism.” These two interests of contemporary political theorists are very much related. Weber’s version of “political realism” arises, in large part, from his concerns about the dangers of absolutist religious commitments in political life. This course is a march through Weber’s central writings on politics and his writings on religion that pertain most directly to politics. My hope is to show the Weberian roots of many reigning ideas and approaches in contemporary political theory, and to consider further ways Weber’s thoughts on the fraught role of religion (and other searches for meaning) in politics may illuminate our present condition. 

Required Books 
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans., Stephen Kalberg (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). 
Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion, trans. Ephraim Fischoff  (Boston: Beacon Press,1993).
Max Weber, Weber: Political Writings, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought,ed. Peter Lassman and trans. Ronald Speirs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
Max Weber, The Vocation Lectures, ed. David Owen and Tracy B. Strong, and trans. Rodney Livingstone (Hackett Publishing Company: Indianapolis/Cambridge, 2004).  

In order to allow close reading of selected passages in class, please use the listed editions (unless you already own a different one). Readings marked with an asterisk in the schedule of readings will be made available on request. 

Fall 2017

Critical Theory 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory
Tobias Menely
M 12:10-3:00
308 Voorhies
CRN 37040

Etymologically, to theorize means to look contemplatively, to examine from a distance, to speculate. To be a theorist, for the Greeks, is to stand apart and consider, whether one is viewing the stage, the stars, or the underlying forms of things. Critique, by contrast, assumes an active and invested relation to a determinate historical situation. Modern criticism developed, Terry Eagleton suggests, in bourgeois opposition to the absolutist state. Critical theory, then, is defined by a constitutive tension between two imperatives: to contemplate, tarrying with the negative and the abstract, and to judge, as an intervention in structures of power.  

This seminar will survey modern critical theory, emphasizing links between foundational texts and current debates in the critical and speculative Humanities, particularly as scholars are drawing on, and reworking, canonical critical theory in response to the economic, political, and planetary crises of the twenty-first century. Our itinerary will be recursive rather than chronological. Topics will include subject formation (interpellation, the unconscious, desire, affect, and will); value and the commodity form; political authority (sovereignty, biopolitics, liberalism, settler colonialism, assembly, and the undercommons); the interpretation of symptoms, signs, and forms; and the philosophy of history.

In addition to weekly discussion posts, there will be one conference-length (12- to 15-page) essay due at the end of the quarter.

Critical Theory 200C. History of Critical Theory
Scott Shershow
W 3:10-6:00pm
308 Voorhies
CRN 37041

In this course we will read a relatively small number of texts closely with particular interest in fundamental questions of political and ethical philosophy.  We’ll follow the genealogy of the classical theory of right from its beginnings in Plato all the way to the totalizing synthesis of Hegel.  At the end of the course we'll depart from our historical focus and read a few more recent texts.  Evaluation will be based on class participation, a short explanatory paper, and a concluding term paper, in which students can, if they wish, bring their own research interests to bear on the course readings.

Tentative Reading List:

Plato, Republic
Hobbes, Leviathan
Rousseau, The Social Contract
Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals
Hegel, The Philosophy of Right
Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community
Jacques Derrida, “Force of Law,” “Ethics and Politics Today,” “Declarations of Independence,” and “To Arrive - At the End(s) of the State” from Rogues