Mondays, 1-3.45pm, 8/27/18--12/7/18
"The philosophers hitherto have only interpreted the world, but the point is to change it." -- Karl Marx
This course is a chronological and thematic survey of key texts in critical and cultural theory. A skirmish in the long rivalry of philosophy and rhetoric yielded a turn in Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud into the post-philosophical discourse of critical theory. In the aftermath of world war, critical theory took a biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault -- a turn still reverberating in work on socially legible bodies by writers like Haraway, Spivak, Butler, and Puar. And with the rise of the global precariat and climate catastrophe, critical theory is now turning again in STS (science and technology studies) and EJC (environmental justice critique) to articulate the problems and promises of an emerging planetarity. Theories of the fetish define the turn of the three threshold figures of critical theory -- Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud (commodity, sexuality, and ressentimentality) -- and fetishisms ramify thereafter in critical accounts from Benjamin (aura), Adorno (culture industry), Barthes (myth), Debord (spectacle), Klein (logo), and Harvey ("tech") to Mulvey and Mercer (the sexed and raced gaze). We think of facts as found not made, but facts are made to be found and, once found, made to be foundational. Let us pursue the propositions that fetishes are figures we take to yield false facts, while facts are figures we have fetishized to yield paradoxical truths.
Provisional Schedule of Meetings
Week One | August 27 | Fact, Figure, Fetish
Maps, Stories, Warnings by Way of Introduction
Week Two | September 3 (Drop/Add Deadline is September 7) -- Labor Day Holiday
Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View
W.E.B. DuBois, Of Our Spiritual Strivings
Nietasche, Ecce Homo: Preface -- Why I Am So Wise -- Why I Am So Clever -- Why I Am a Destiny
Week Five | September 24 | Marx and the Fetishism of Commodities
Marx on The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital
Sigmund Freud, Fetishism
Excerpts from Freud's Case Study of Dr. Schreber: 1, Psychoanalysis and Scientificity; 2, Storytelling;
3, Psychoanalysis and Patriarchy (Homosociality and Homosexuality); 4. Psychoanalysis Brought to Crisis.
Week Seven | October 8 (midterm grading period ends) | Commodity, Aura, and Culture Industry
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry
Roland Barthes, Mythologies
Workshop: The Toulmin Schema
Naomi Klein, Taking On the Brand Bullies from No Logo
Week Eleven | November 5 | The Magical Universe
William Burroughs, Immortality
Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto
Week Twelve | November 12 | Racial Fetishism and the Gaze (last day to withdraw with a "W" is November 9)
Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
Kobena Mercer On Mapplethorpe
Week Thirteen | November 19 | Intersections
The Combahee River Collective Statement
Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from Undoing Gender
Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs
Carol Adams, Preface from Neither Man Nor Beast and Manifesto
Week Fourteen | November 26 | Technofetishisms
David Harvey Fetishism of Technology
Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space
CS Lewis Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter Three)
--supplemental Hannah Arendt, Action and the Miracle of Forgiveness
Week Fifteen | December 3 | Fact, Figure, Fetish in Planetary Assembly
Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic
Bruno Latour, To Modernise Or Ecologise?
I. Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud; the postwar biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault; and the emerging post-colonial, post-international, post-global planetarity of theory in an epoch of digital networked media formations, anthropogenic climate catastrophe, and intersectional associations.
II. Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Agency, Alienation, Aura, Cisheteronormativity, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Facticity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Intersectionality, Judgment, Normativity, Performance, Planetarity, Post-Colonialism, Queerness, Race, Recognition, Resistance, Scientificity, Sociality, Spectacle, Textuality, White Supremacy.
III. Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies, Environmental Justice.
IV. Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.