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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Syllabus for my Introduction to Critical Theory (Starting Tomorrow)

CS 500A: Introduction to Critical Theory Spring, 2015, San Francisco Art Institute

Instructor: Dale Carrico,
Course Blog:
Fridays 1-3:45, Chestnut Lecture Hall

Rough Basis for Grade: Reading Notebook, 25%; Three Precises, 25%; Fifteen+ Comments, 15%; Final Paper 15-20pp. 35%.

Course Description:

"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 Gilroy. And with the rise of the neoliberal 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 Hall (the sexed and raced gaze).

Provisional Schedule of Meetings

Week One | January 23
Maps, Stories, Warnings by Way of Introduction

Week Two | January 30
Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, Digression on the Ancients and the Moderns
Immanuel Kant Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View
W.E.B. Du Bois, Of Our Spiritual Strivings from The Souls of Black Folk
Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism
Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray
Phrases and Philosophies for the Instruction of the Young
Wilde on Trial

Week Three | February 6
Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extramoral Sense
Selections from The Gay Science
Ecce Homo: Preface -- Why I Am So Wise -- Why I Am So Clever -- Why I Am a Destiny (or Fatality)

Week Four | February 13
Marx and Engels, Theses on Feuerbach
Marx on Idealism and Materialism
Marx on The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital

Week Five | February 20
Excerpts from Freud's Case Study of Dr. Schreber
Sigmund Freud, Fetishism

Week Six | February 27
Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility
A Short History of Photography
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry
Adorno, The Culture Industry Reconsidered

Week Seven | March 6
Roland Barthes, Mythologies
Raymond Williams, Culture from Keywords
Dick Hebdige, on Subculture and Style

Week Eight | March 13
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Naomi Klein, Taking On the Brand Bullies, Patriarchy Gets Funky from No Logo
Stuart Hall, The Question of Cultural Identity

Week Nine | March 16-20 | Spring Break

Week Ten | March 27
Franz Kafka, Give It Up!
Louis Althusser, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses
Hannah Arendt, The Gap Between Past and Future
William Burroughs on Coincidence and the Magical Universe

Week Eleven | April 3
Frantz Fanon, Selections from Black Skin, White Masks
Paul Gilroy, Race and the Right to be Human
Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
Kobena Mercer On Mapplethorp

Week Twelve | April 10
Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish, Introduction, Docile Bodies, Panoptism
Foucault, from History of Sexuality: We Other Victorians, Right of Death and Power Over Life
Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence
Hannah Arendt, Reflections on Violence

Week Thirteen | April 13–17 | MFA Reviews

Week Fourteen | April 24
Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from Undoing Gender
Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs
Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto
Carol Adams, Preface and On Beastliness and Solidarity

Week Fifteen | May 1
David Harvey Fetishism of Technology
Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space
CS Lewis Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter Three)
Slavoj Zizek, Bring Me My Philips Mental Jacket!

Week Sixteen | May 8
Bruno Latour, A Plea for Earthly Science
Gayatri Spivak Theses on Planetarity

Course Objectives:

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 and anthropogenic climate catastrophe.

Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Agency, Alienation, Aura, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Fact/Value, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Judgment, Neoliberalism, Post-Colonialism, Scientificity, Sociality, Spectacle, Textuality.

Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies.

Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

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