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Friday, January 31, 2020

Teaching Day Whew

Was feeling super swamped yesterday, and frankly inadequate to the demands of the day, and then... everything turned out great. Class went well, meetings went well, and it's looking like those I missed I can catch up with next week without ill consequence. Maybe this term won't be quite the weed thicket I worried it was. Now that would be lovely. If only Nazis weren't running the country and the planet weren't on fire, too, but one can't have everything.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Teaching Day Gack

Beginning of term has been an avalanche, I feel like I often do by the end of term, completely swamped. Mourning mom made the break unbreaklike to say the least and I'm honestly feeling like a bug exposed on a slide in classroom settings at the moment, trying not to burst into exasperated tears or into enraged rants at any moment, about who knows what, and all my thesis students and independent study students (who are wonderful and deserve better) feel like saucers spinning on poles. Three insomnia nights in a row isn't helping. Gack!

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, January 21, 2020


School's back and I'm back to prepping for lectures: tomorrow a broad-brushstrokes history of critical theory, Thursday a discussion of right-wing appropriations of the classics and a preliminary discussion of patriarchy (including the problems with trying to get at the complexities and dynamisms of sexism, heterosexism, and cissexism through a meta-narrative about "patriarchy"). I'm usually a complete basket case of first-day jitters but for whatever reason I seem to be taking this new term in stride for a change. This was a weird break, lots of thick blank mourning time passed these last few weeks. I'm not really completely sure what state I'm in, even, to be honest. Teaching seems a decent way to spend the next few months. Lots better than paying attention to Nazi Republicans howling at the moon or infantile Democrats indulging in their idiotic primary antics.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Syllabus for This Spring's Undergraduate Patriarchy in Antiquity Course at SFAI

HUMN-220E-01 (3534) Patriarchy in Greek and Roman Antiquity

Spring 2020, San Francisco Art Institute
Thursdays, 4.15-7pm, Chestnut Room 18

Course Blog:
Instructor: Dale Carrico,
Office Hours: Before class and by appointment.

Course Description:

The societies of Greek, Roman, and Christian antiquity were conspicuously patriarchal. Homeric heroes made history and conquered death with great words and deeds in an aspirational fantasy of masculine agency. The Roman paterfamilias, perhaps patriarchy's most quintessential expression, centered around the authoritarian male head of the household who held an unquestionable power of life and death over his children, female relatives, and household slaves. But in philosophy and in poetry, in Greek tragedies and in Roman comedies, we find glimpses of a considerably richer and more complicated world of gendered relations, erotic imagination, and human possibility, we encounter profound anxieties, ambivalences, and resistances to patriarchal practices and prejudices. This course will examine these tensions. We will be reading from Sappho, Homer, Gorgias, Plato, Aristophanes, Euripides, Cicero, Terence, Juvenal, Petronius, and many others.

Course Requirements:  Attendance/Participation (15%), Reading Notebook (15%), Midterm Paper, 2-3pp. (15%), Presentation 2pp. (15%), Final Paper 5-6pp. (40%)

Attendance Policy:  Attendance and punctuality are expected. Necessary absences should be discussed in advance whenever possible.

Provisional Schedule of Meetings

Week One | January 23 | Introductions

Week Two | January 30 | Poems of Sappho
Presentation: Portrait of a Girl {"Sappho"}; Portrait of Terentius Neo (two works)

Week Three | February 6 | Homer First and Last Chapters of the Iliad and an excerpt from Chapter IX posted on the blog.
Presentation: Apollo Belvedere

Week Four | February 13 | Gorgias -- Encomium of Helen; Thucydides -- Melian Dialogue and Pericles' Funeral Oration
Presentation: From the House of Jason ("House of Fatal Love"), three works: Medea; Phaedra; Paris and Helen

Week Five | February 20 | Euripides -- Hecuba
Presentation: Athena Parthenos (Tennessee Reconstruction)

Week Six | February 27 | Plato -- Symposium
Presentation: The Old Drunkard {or Drunken Old Woman}

Week Seven | March 5 | Plato -- Apology and "Allegory of the Cave" from the Republic; Aristotle on Women
Presentation: Venus de Milo; Venus de' Medici (two works)

Week Eight | March 12 | Aristophanes -- Wasps
Presentation: Venus Kallipygos; Michelangelo Pistoletto: Golden Venus of Rags (1967-71) (two works)

Week Nine | Spring Break

Week Ten | March 23 | Terence -- Eunuchus
Presentation: From the House of the Vettii: Priapus

Week Eleven | Cicero, Against Cataline, Philippics (Against Antony), Suetonius -- Caligula
Presentation: Trajan's Column

Week Twelve | 6 Hortensia in the Forum (posted to the blog), Marcus Cicero -- Commentariolum Petitionis
Presentation:  Aphrodite, Pan, and Eros (one work)

Week Thirteen | 13 Juvenal -- Satires I, II, and III
Presentation: Sleeping Hermaphroditus [sic]

Week Fourteen | 20  Petronius -- Trimalchio's Feast from Satyricon (The link takes you to Chapter Six -- keep reading through Chapter Ten.)
Presentation: The "Dionysiac Frieze" from the Villa of the Mysteries

Week Fifteen | 27 Workshop for the Final Paper

Week Sixteen | 4 Concluding Remarks, Augustine from City of God | Final Papers Due


Our wild little wonder is two years old today! She brings a birthday present of joy into literally every livelong day.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Phryne's Back!

Syllabus For This Spring's Graduate Introduction to Critical Theory at SFAI

At this point, after teaching variations of this course at UC Berkeley and SFAI for nearly a quarter century, I only just tinker with this syllabus around the edges. There are times when I could cheerfully jettison most of the first half of this syllabus altogether, honestly.

CS-500A-01: An Introduction to Critical Theory
Spring, 2020, San Francisco Art Institute

Instructor: Dale Carrico,;
Course Blog:
Wednesdays, 4.15-7pm, Fort Mason Lounge, 1/22/20-5/10/20

Rough Basis for Grade: Att/Part, 20%; Reading Notebook, 15%; Presentation, 15%; Final Paper, 15-20pp., 50%.

Course Description:

"The philosophers hitherto have only interpreted the world, but the point is to change it." -- Karl Marx

"Feminists are no more aware of different things than other people; they are aware of the same things differently. Feminist consciousness, it might be ventured, turns a 'fact' into a 'contradiction.'" -- Sandra Lee Bartky

"Artists inhabit the magical universe." -- William Burroughs

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 | January 22 |
Fact, Figure, Fetish
Maps, Stories, Warnings by Way of Introduction

                Week Two | January 23 --
Ancients and Moderns, Margins and Centers
                Week Three | February 5 | Nietzsche and the Fetishism of ressentiment
                Week Four | February 12 | Marx and the Fetishism of Commodities
Marx on The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital 
--supplemental Marx and Engels, Theses on Feuerbach and Marx on Idealism and Materialism

                Week Five | February 19 | Freud and Sexual Fetishism
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 Six | February 26 | Commodity, Aura, and Culture Industry
Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility  
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry 

                Week Seven | March 4 | Nature As The Fetish; Or, Ideology Is Structured Like A Language
Roland Barthes, Mythologies 

--supplemental Daniel Harris, The Futuristic

                Week Eight | March 11 | Being to Having, Having to Appearing, Appearing to Branding
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Naomi Klein, Taking On the Brand Bullies from No Logo  
--supplemental Naomi Klein, Patriarchy Gets Funky

                Week Nine | Spring Break
                Week Ten | March 25 | "I Knew It Had To Be Something Like This"
Screening, Carpenter (dir.) They Live 

                Week Eleven | April 1 | Out With The Old, In With The New
William Burroughs, Immortality 
Hannah Arendt, Reflections on Violence
--supplemental William Burroughs, On Coincidence 
Hannah Arendt, The Miracle of Forgiveness and Must Eichmann Hang? (handouts)

                 Week Twelve | April 8 | Racial Fetishism and the Gaze
Frantz Fanon, Selections from Black Skin, White Masks
Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema  
Kobena Mercer On Mapplethorpe 
--supplemental Fanon, "Concerning Violence

                Week Thirteen | April 15 | MFA Reviews

               Week Fourteen | April 22 | The Carceral Archipelago and Abolition Democracy
Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish, the Body of the Condemned (pp. 3-31) Docile Bodies (pg. 135 +), Panoptism (pg. 195 +)
Angela Davis, selections from Are Prisons Obsolete? (read Chapters, 1, 2, 6 of the pamphlet at least if you can)
--supplemental Foucault, from History of Sexuality: We Other Victorians, Right of Death and Power Over Life

               Week Fifteen | April 29 | Intersections and Performances
Audre Lorde, Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference  
The Combahee River Collective Statement 
Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs 
Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from Undoing Gender
--supplemental Carol Adams, Preface from Neither Man Nor Beast and Manifesto

                Week Sixteen | May 6 | Fact, Figure, Fetish in Planetary Assembly 
Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic
Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
Bruno Latour,
To Modernise Or Ecologise?

Gayatri Spivak, Theses on Planetarity
--supplemental David Harvey Fetishism of Technology

Course Objectives:

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.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily


One year ago Eric and I went to an Alameda County administrative office with my friend and colleague from SFAI Carolyn and we got married. Icy rain was falling all afternoon last year, too, and I'm happy to observe the day from the cozy shelter of our snug-shut apartment. We will continue to celebrate our real anniversary about a month from now, tho', February 16, which commemorates our first face-to-face date after a couple of weeks' correspondence online (we met via an online dating site, believe it or not). That was back in 2002, and we'll be celebrating our eighteenth anniversary. I do manage to get some things right.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, January 10, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, January 08, 2020


Public Policy Polling has the diagnosis:
Trump is stuck at 46-47% in Arizona (and has a 46/52 approval rating) and is stuck at 48-49% in Iowa (and has a 48/48 approval rating). He appears to have very little room to grow among undecideds. These numbers suggest that the fate of the 2020 election really stands in the hands of the voters who don’t like Trump. Trump does not have enough people who like him to get reelected: the only way he does is if the voters who don’t like him refuse to get on the same page after the Democratic primary is over. Right now we see a lot of people saying they will vote for Biden but not Bernie or will vote for Bernie but not Biden. If those people get on the same page once the nominee is chosen, Trump will lose. If they don’t, it will be close.
This sort of analysis never quite takes on board the consequences of structural inequities (the anti-democratic operation of the electoral college and non-representative Senate, etc.), Republican cheating (gerrymandering, disenfranchisement, ballot tampering, voter intimidation, etc.) and foreign interference seeking to exacerbate unrest in an ill-educated and polarized US electorate and undermine the legitimacy of US government (not exactly a hard sell). My preferred ticket is Warren/Castro and I haven't given up on Warren's chances at all, by the way -- in historical terms Warren seems pretty well positioned both financially and in terms of likely delegate counts for a long haul during which what seem to me glaring weaknesses in the Bernie-Biden-Buttigieg boys will provide plenty of occasions for them to underperform and provide openings for a Warren campaign that seems to me mostly to be making all the right moves. I tend to think either of the current front-runners Biden or Bernie would make shitty presidents but will still eagerly vote for either of them over the dangerous evil bigot idiot Nazi Donald Trump and his death-cult base of deplorables, obviously.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, January 03, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Another Republican War