Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My Courses at Berkeley This Spring

Another term is already upon us, hard to believe as that is. I'm teaching my usual survey course in contemporary Critical Theory at the San Francisco Art Institute, which means, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Wilde, Barthes, Kobena Mercer, William Burroughs, Valerie Solanas, Fanon, Foucault, Donna Haraway, Paul Gilroy, Carol Adams, Judith Butler -- always a pleasure. But more daunting by far, once again I'm teaching two courses of entirely new material over at the Rhetoric Department at Berkeley. It's an incredible challenge, but I honestly can't believe my luck sometimes, having the opportunity to explore new ideas in conversation with students as bright and earnest and demanding as these. Anyway, here are the two new courses:

Rhetoric 103B: Aesthetics and Politics

Just which objects are art and what are art’s objects and how do arts voice objection? Over the course of the term we will think through the conversation, antagonism, and co-construction of the aesthetic and the political, especially as these have played out in some characteristic Marxist and postmarxist discourses.

Our texts will be collected in a reader, and will include,

“The Soul of Man Under Socialism” by Oscar Wilde
Jeanette Winterson, "Art Objects"
Selections from the volume Aesthetics and Politics, edited by Jameson, including short exchanges between Adorno, Benjamin, Bloch, Brecht, and Lukacs
Selections from the anthology Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, edited by Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg
Selections from the Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
Selections from the anthology Fetishism as Cultural Discourse, edited by Emily Apter and William Pietz
Selections from the anthology Things edited by Bill Brown
Selections from The Politics of Aesthetics by Jacques Ranciere


What is the shape and what might be the significance of a transformation from a mass mediated public sphere into a networked public sphere? We will spend some time studying the broader institutional and practical history of modern media formations and transformations before fixing our attention on the claims being made by political economists, critical theorists, policymakers, and media activists about our own media moment. We will also cast a retrospective eye on the role of media critique from the
perspective of several different social struggles in the last era of broadcast media, the better to contemplate changes we may discern in the problems, tactics, and hopes available to these struggles in the first era an emerging peer-to-peer public sphere.

All of our texts will be collected in a course reader, which will consist of selections from the following:

Edward Said, Covering Islam: How Media and Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World (1981)
Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1991)
Susan Faludi, Backlash: The Undeclared War on Amerca’s Women (1992)
Michelangelo Signorile, Queer in America: Sex, the Media, and the Closets of Power (1994)
David Brin, The Transparent Society (1999)
Naomi Klein, Fences and Windows (2002)
Robert McChesney and John Nichols, Our Media, Not Theirs (2002)
Cintra Wilson, A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Examined As A Grotesque Crippling Disease (2002)
Paul Starr, The Creation of the Media (2004)
Dan Gillmor, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People (2004)
Peter Daou, "The Triangle" (available online) (2005)
Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks (2006)


Martin Striz said...

Yeah, I sympathize. Teaching a new course can be a huge headache. I imagine the science courses I taught (microbiology, molecular biology techniques) are vastly different from your material, but there must be didactic parallels. For the most part, the first semester I taught these courses I was essentially teaching (or re-teaching) myself the material the night before, then delivering it to the students. And it seems like no matter how well I prepared, the students always came up with questions that would confound me.

However, as I re-taught the courses I became exceptionally good at helping my students. My evaluation average went from 3.2 to 3.9 (out of 4.0) between the first and the third times that I taught micro. I don't know. Literary criticism is probably different though. The ball is more in the students' court to evaluate and criticize the material, whereas there's One True Answer to everything in the sciences, so the onus was on me to come up with it.

Anonymous said...

Good to see the course descriptions up. I look forward to the Mediated Republic course.

- geoff