Evening School Sem 2 2020

Four philosophy 12-week courses taught online August - November.

The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy is proud to present the Evening School Semester 2 2020 curriculum.  All courses are 24 hours in length.  All courses will be taught via Zoom. As always significant discounts apply for those enrolling in multiple courses. If you have any questions which aren't in our FAQs please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

When: 10 August - 6 November 2020

Where: ONLINE.  All courses will be taught via Zoom.  Video recordings will also be available within a few days after each seminar for those who can't make the schedule.  Readings are made available online before the school begins.  Links to the Zoom classroom are sent out approximately 1 hour before class.  All payment must be made via credit card during enrolment.  Also it's worth noting that Melbourne is 10 hours ahead of UTC (6.30pm here is 10.30am in Berlin and 1.30am in LA).

 

Fees:

Courses Waged Unwaged
1 $225 $150
2 $270 $180
3+ $300 $200
Enrol

Evening School Programme

2 hours per week for 12 weeks

Mon 6.30-8.30pm
Starts 10 August
Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy? A retrospective
Lecturer: Dr Jon Roffe
Tues 6.30pm-8.30pm
Starts 11 August
A Sceptical Style: Wit and Laughter
Lecturer: Dr Valery Vinogradovs
Wed 6.30-8.30pm
Starts 12 August
Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism
Lecturer: Prof Andrew Benjamin
Fri 6.30-8.30pm
Starts 14 August
Simone de Beauvoir: Philosophy and Feminism
Lecturer: Sameema Zahra

 

Course Descriptions


Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy? A retrospective

Lecturer: Dr Jon Roffe

Schedule: Mon 6.30-8.30pm. August 10 - November 2. (No Class on September 21)

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

This course will present a detailed explication of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s 1991 What is Philosophy? We will take up each of the main claims of the book and examine them in the light of Deleuze’s work as a whole. It is this that will give the course a kind of retrospective character. The aim will thus be to form a complex synthetic and critical portrait of the main lines of this work as they develop.

Readings from What is Philosophy? are indicated for each session; additional selections from Deleuze’s earlier works, alone and with Guattari, will be provided during the course.

1. Introduction. Overview of What is Philosophy?

Reading: ‘Introduction’ (WP)

The first session will present the major claims of What is Philosophy? on their own terms, to situate the discussion to follow.

2. Forces and chaos, clichés and doxa

Reading: ‘Conclusion’ (WP)

The relationship between thought and the ambient context of thinking recur throughout Deleuze’s work. We will focus here on the contrast between the account of cliché and doxa in What is Philosophy? and the picture of thinking that appears in Nietzsche and Philosophy and Difference and Repetition.

3. Ideas and concepts, concepts and problems

Reading: ‘1. What is a concept?’ (WP)

What is Philosophy? advances a positive, constructive definition of the concept. We will consider this definition in the context of the very different account Deleuze gives of the concept in Difference and Repetition.

4. The image of thought and planes of immanence

Reading: ‘2. The Plane of Immanence’ (WP)

As with many themes in What is Philosophy? the status of the pre-philosophical dimension of philosophical thought is a constant feature of Deleuze’s work. Here we will focus on the accounts given in Nietzsche and Philosophy, Proust and Signs, and Difference and Repetition

5. Who thinks? Involuntary thought and conceptual personae

Reading: ‘3. Conceptual personae’

The object of this session will be the nature of the subject who thinks. The account of conceptual personae from What is Philosophy? will be considered alongside the view, one Deleuze takes Artaud’s work to embody, that thought is involuntary.

6. Co-adaptation

The initially strange concept of ‘taste’ possesses an important if overlooked function in the construction of What is Philosophy? This concept refers us back not just to positions elucidated in Difference and Repetition and in Foucault, but in Deleuze’s earlier engagement with Kant’s aesthetics as it is delineated in the Critique of the Power of Judgment. We will consider this trajectory here.

7. Science

Reading: ‘5. Functives and concepts’

Deleuze’s philosophy is marked in general terms by a certain distance from science. While he draws on a wide array of scientific disciplines, above all in A Thousand Plateaus, he is careful to distinguish it from the work of philosophy. What is Philosophy? formalises the relationship between philosophy and science in the form of a certain non-relation, drawing on two perhaps surprising sources: Leibniz and Hjemlslev. This session will also consider the broader relationship that holds between science, philosophy and art, which begins to be formulated in the early eighties around the time of the publication of Francis Bacon.

8. Logic

Reading: ‘6. Prospects and concepts’

Two of Deleuze’s books include the term ‘logic’ in the title, the term appears throughout his work in a positive light, and yet logic itself is presented in What is Philosophy? in the harshest possible terms. Our aim in this session will be to distinguish the two senses of logic at issue, and to determine the significance of this final critical account.

9. Phenomenology and art

Reading: ‘7. Percept, Affect and Concept’

This session will begin on the terrain of logic once again, to situate the initially obscure remarks about phenomenology made in the chapter devoted to art in What is Philosophy? We will then situate this critique of phenomenology in the context of Deleuze’s longer engagement with this tradition.

10. Art and affect

Reading: ‘7. Percept, Affect and Concept’

While Deleuze has recourse to the arts throughout his work, the presentation that appears in What is Philosophy? is clearly inflected by the approach that he adopts in Francis Bacon and the two Cinema volumes. This session will be devoted to situating this approach in contrast to the accounts that appear in the sixties, notably in his work on literature, guided by the idea of a symptomatology.

11. Politics and thought

Reading: ‘4. Geophilosophy’

What is the place of politics in Deleuze’s philosophy? In this session, we will consider the answer to the question found in the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, and before that in Nietzsche and Philosophy, alongside the infamous ‘Geophilosophy’ chapter of What is Philosophy?

12. Conclusion. The three Deleuzes

The final session will step away from the detail of What is Philosophy? and consider the portrait of Deleuze that the course has built over the weeks. We will see that it is triple, or that there are three distinct periods in Deleuze’s work, and the breaks between them are marked with the names of thinkers whose key claims this last work sets aside: Kant and Artaud.

 


A Sceptical Style: Wit and Laughter

Lecturer: Dr Valery Vinogradovs

Schedule: Tues 6.30-8.30pm. August 11 - November 3. (No Class on September 22)

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Watch Iceberg Slim interviewed by Joe Pyne in 1968.

Watch Dave Chappelle introducing Iceberg Slim’s memoir, “the capitalist manifesto”, named Pimp (1967).

Can we call such “cold” street narratives witty? If so, what makes them witty? What does the audience laugh at? Is it one and the same thing? Why do they tend to laugh, rather than, say, shed tears/feel disgusted?

Watch a ceremony of Tom Cruise accepting the Freedom Medal of Valour awarded by the Church of Scientology.

Customarily, philosophy is presented as a serious intellectual activity, leaving little room for wit, a form (and art) of judgement that is readily attributed to comic literature and performing arts, such as theatre, cinema, and circus. Philosophical activity typically capitalises on rationality and logic as a means of discovering and evaluating meaning. Interestingly, with regards to philosophies of self-fashioning, many seminal authors - recently: Foucault and Shusterman - argue that no well-rounded philosophical understanding can be achieved when the body and our aesthetic responses are neglected. A traditional philosophical inquiry gravitates towards establishing and entertaining a problem, a position, a belief, or a set of thereof, while an exercise of wit aims toward experiencing laughter, an embodied aesthetic response. It is not surprising, then, that neither wit nor laughter has been taken seriously enough in the history of philosophy and philosophical education.

This course aims to bring to light some of the space in this gap. Firstly, it seeks to show that wit - channeled in irony, satire, pun, farce, parody, or slapstick - is an underplayed sceptical weapon. It’s one that has a distinctive, fearless access to philosophical problems; one that is often indispensable in exposing errors in thinking and, more broadly, matters of culture; one that shows, against all odds, that philosophy can and should be funny when it is appropriate. Secondly, the course will explore the varieties of laughter - e.g. gentle, hysterical, cheerful, vulgar, empty - as vital expressions of one’s interpretation of the world and, consequently, her/his individuality. Not only problems and beliefs can be empty. Laughter is an awareness, a life-affirming force. Different kinds of life are affirmed as we laugh. An example: laughing at Iceberg Slim’s story of the exploited, yet troublingly grateful sex worker. Or the women of Greece laughing, having captured the Acropolis. Or the laughter of the self-proclaimed midwife, Socrates, a half-fictional man, inducing the dreams of an examined life.

Mindful of the unprecedented and uncertain current global circumstances, our course will patiently traverse a vast terrain intersecting philosophy with literature and other arts, on a journey to make sense of what is probably the riskiest of all survived sceptical jests, ‘perhaps it’s that, when nothing else from today has a future, our laughter is the one thing that does!’ (Nietzsche, BGE).

1. Lysistrata and Socrates: Comical Knowledge?

  • Aristophanes. 1973. Lysistrata. London: Penguin Books.
  • Plato. 1892. ‘Apology of Socrates’. In The Dialogues of Plato vol. 2. London: OUP.
  • Plato. 1892. ‘Charmides’. In The Dialogues of Plato vol. 1. London: OUP.
  • Tanner, Sonya. 2017. Plato’s Laughter: Socrates as Satyr and Comical Hero. Albany: SUNY.

2. Diogenes and Menippus: Classical Cynic Satire

  • Bosman, Philip. 2006. ‘Selling Cynicism: The Pragmatics of Diogenes’ Comic Performances’. The Classical Quarterly, vol. 56: 93-104.
  • McLuhan, Eric. 2015. Cynic Satire. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.

3. Lucian: Roman Laughter

  • Lucian. 1905. ‘Philosophies for Sale’. In The Works of Lucian of Samosata, vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Lucian. 1905. ‘Dialogues of the Dead’. In The Works of Lucian of Samosata, vol. 7. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Beard, Mary. 2014. Laughter in Ancient Rome: on Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up. Oakland: UCP.

4. Erasmus: Proverbial and Colloquial Wit

  • Erasmus, Desiderius. 1982. Collected Works of Erasmus: Adages 1-100. Toronto: UTP
  • Erasmus, Desiderius. 1878. Colloquies. London: Reeves & Turner.

5. Rabelais: Fearless Wit and Humanist Education

  • Rabelais, François. 1685. The works of Rabelais, faithfully translated from French, with variorum notes, and numerous illustrations by Gustave Doré. Privately printed with twenty additional new illustrations.

6. Montaigne: Idiosyncratic Humour as a Mark of Self-Knowledge

  • Montaigne, Michel. 2003. The Complete Essays. London: Penguin Press.

7. Shaftesbury: Wit as the Test of Truth

  • Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper. 1981. ‘Sensus Communis, an Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour’. In Complete Works. Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog.

Amir, Lydia. 2014. Humor and the Good Life in Modern Philosophy. Albany: SUNY.

8. Diderot: Enlightened Subversive Wit

  • Diderot, Denis. 1993. The Indiscreet Jewels. New York: Marsilio Pub.
  • Diderot, Denis. 1986. Jacques the Fatalist. London: Penguin Press.

9. Kierkegaard: the Comic and a Religious Existence

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. 1941. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. NJ: PUP.
  • Kierkegaard, Søren. 1989. The Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates. NJ: PUP.
  • Morton, Andrew. 2008. Tom Cruise: an Unauthorised Biography. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

10. Freud and Bergson: the Unconscious, the Comic, and Phenomenology (with Justin Clemens)

  • Freud, Sigmund. 2003. The Joke and its Relation to the Unconscious. London: Penguin Press.
  • Bergson, Henri. 2005. Laughter: an Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. New York: Dover.

11. Old New Trends: Horror and Feminism

  • Morreall, John. 1983. Taking Laughter Seriously. Albany: SUNY.
  • Carroll, Noël. ‘Horror and Humour’. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 57: 145-160.
  • Willett, Cynthia, Willett, Julie and Sherman, Yael. 2012. ‘The Seriously Erotic Politics of Feminist Laughter’. Social Research, vol. 79: 217-246.

12. Nietzsche: Immortal Laughter

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2002. Beyond Good and Evil. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2007. The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings. Cambridge: CUP.

 


Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism

Lecturer: Prof Andrew Benjamin

Schedule: Wed 6.30-8.30pm. August 12 - November 4. (No Class on September 23)

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

‘Humanism’ continues to mark a point of departure. Terms such as ‘post’, especially when applied to the ‘human’ and to ‘humanism’, have become common place. And yet, they all too easy addition or evocation of the ‘post’ leaves unexamined the positions to which it is attached.

The contention of this course is that the tradition of humanism, precisely because it lacks an essential unity already contains within it the possibilities for both delimitation and critique.

The central text is Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism (1947). The text itself started as a response to a set of questions posed to Heidegger by Jean Beaufret on the occasion of the publication of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existential is a Humanism (1945). The course itself will begin with an opening lecture on Sartre after which there will be a line by line engagement with Heidegger’s text. Reference will also be made to key passages of Heidegger’s Being and Time.

The course will incorporate two additional elements.  Firstly, because Heidegger refers to Heraclitus, one lecture will be devoted Heidegger engagement with Heraclitus generally and fragment DK119 in particular. Secondly, the Italian philosopher Ernesto Grassi published an important rejoinder to Heidegger in which he argued that Heidegger had misunderstood the tradition of Renaissance Humanism. Consequently one lecture will consider Grassi’s Heidegger and the Question of Renaissance Humanism (1983).

The final two lectures will review all the texts studied and those to which reference had been made in order to work through the limit of humanism with and after Heidegger.

Course Plan:

The page number below refer to page numbers in Martin Heidegger, Letter on Humanism. In Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings (Edited by David Farrell Krell).

Week 1. Jean-Paul Sartre. Existentialism is a Humanism

Week 2. Letter on Humanism  Pages 217-222

Week 3. Letter on Humanism  Pages 223-229

Week 4. Letter on Humanism  Pages 230-236

Week 5. Letter on Humanism  Pages 237-242

Week 6. Letter on Humanism  Pages 243-249

Week 7. Letter on Humanism  Pages 250-256

Week 8. Heidegger and Heraclitus

Week 9. Letter on Humanism  Pages 259- 265

Week 10. Ernesto Grassi. Heidegger and the Question of Renaissance Humanism

Week 11. Thinking the limits of Humanism with Heidegger

Week 12. Thinking the limits of Humanism after Heidegger

Reading:

  • Ernesto Grassi. Heidegger and the Question of Renaissance Humanism. SUNY Press
  • Martin Heidegger, Letter on Humanism. In Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings (Edited by David Farrell Krell). Harper
  • Jean-Paul Sartre. Existentialism is a Humanism. Yale University Press.

 


Simone de Beauvoir: Philosophy and Feminism

Lecturer: Sameema Zahra

Schedule: Fri 6.30-8.30pm. August 14 - November 6. (No Class on September 25)

Location: Taught via Zoom online.

Simone de Beauvoir is probably the most famous as well as the most neglected feminist of our times. Her magnum opus, The Second Sex, is seen as androcentric, phallocentric and outdated while simultaneously being considered the feminist bible. This course attempts to engage with this enigma by reading The Second Sex closely and along with other feminist writings. Each lecture is planned to offer an in depth reading of a different section of The Second Sex and elaborate its philosophical underpinnings. We begin sequentially from the earliest sections of the book, as this is how Beauvoir intended us to read this book. Each section is seen in the light of both Beauvoir’s philosophical predecessors and her feminist contemporaries and successors. We examine the ideas of masculinity, femininity, love, desire, motherhood, Age, Race and freedom as they emerge in the context of her work. By situating her in the context of her philosophical predecessors we examine how far the charges of phallogocentrism are justified and by reading her along with her contemporary and succeeding feminists we inquire whether her work is outdated. The aim of the course is to get closer to the Beauvoir we deserve: Beauvoir the philosopher and the feminist.

Week 1: Introduction

Objectives

If philosophy begins with wonder what sort of wonder does feminist philosophy introduce us to? In the first lecture we raise the general question of the relationship between feminism and philosophy. We will discuss whether Western philosophical tradition is inherently misogynist and if so whether we should discard it altogether or is there any possibility of salvaging the tradition of philosophy?

Questions

Is Feminist philosophy a misnomer?

Is Western Philosophy essentially phallocentric and misogynist?

Why study feminism?

Why is Beauvoir relevant and significant today?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “Introduction”  (3-17)
  • Le Doeuff, Michèle 1989. “Long Hair, Short Dresses” The Philosophical Imaginary,  trans. Colin Gordon. Stanford : Stanford University Press: Columbia University Press (100-128).

Recommended Readings:

  • Alison Stone, “Introduction: What is Feminist Theory?” in An Introduction to Feminist Theory (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007: 1- 29).
  • Bauer, Nancy 2004. “Must we Read Simone de Beauvoir?” in The Legacy of Simone De Beauvoir. Edited by Emily R. Grosholz. 115-135. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Le Doeuff, Michèle 2007. Hipparchia's Choice: An Essay Concerning Women, Philosophy, etc., trans. Trista Selous. New York: Columbia University Press (27-32).
  • Gross, Elizabeth. 1986. "What is feminist theory?" in Feminist Challenges editd by C. Pateman and E. Gross, 190-204. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Week 2: Beauvoir’s Philosophical Commitments

Objectives.

We continue engaging with the significance of Beauvoir’s work by setting up her philosophical background. We will examine Beauvoir’s philosophical commitments by engaging with her phenomenology and existentialism. In this regard we discuss her in relation to Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. We examine how Beauvoir carries forward the tradition while rupturing its misogyny. We also examine Beauvoir’s ethics and its indebtedness to Kant.

Questions.

What is Phenomenology? Is there something like feminist Phenomenology?

What is the role of freedom in existentialist philosophy?

Can existentialism give us an ethics?

Reading

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de. 1949. The Ethics of Ambiguity. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Philosophical Library (selection)
  • Heinämaa, S. 1999. “Simone de Beauvoir's phenomenology of sexual difference.” Hypatia, 14(4), 114-132.
  • Le Doeuff, M. 1980, ‘Simone De Beauvoir and Existentialism’ Feminist Studies 6, no. 2, 277-89.

Recommended Readings:

  • Kruks, Sonia. 1987. "Simone De Beauvoir and the Limits to Freedom." Social Text, no. 17 : 111-22.
  • Lundgren-Gothin, Eva 2003. “Reading Beauvoir with Martin Heidegger” in The Cambridge Companion to Simone deBeauvoir edited by Claudia Caed 45-65. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press.
  • Pillardi, Jo-Ann1995. “Feminist Read The Second Sex” in Feminist Interpretations of Simone de Beauvoir edited by Margaret A. Simons, 29-44. Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania State University Press.
  • McWeeny, Jennifer 2017 " Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty" In A Companion to Simone De Beauvoir, edited by Hengehold, Laura 211-233. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Week 3: The Body

Objectives.

We begin reading The Second Sex with the chapter on “Biological Data”. This chapter has often lead thinkers to argue that Beauvoir believes in some sort of biological determinism; that according to her, women’s bodies puts them in a disadvantageous position compared to men. We examine these accusations and ask what Beauvoir actually wants to do by discussing the data of biology. We examine further how her work on the body contributed to the development of post-structuralist feminism.

Questions.

What is the significance of the biological data?

Sex and gender, are these two clearly demarcated?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “Biological Data”  (21-49)
  • Butler, Judith. 2011. Bodies That Matter on the Discursive Limits of "sex". “Part 1- chapter-Bodies that matter” p (3-27) Routledge Classics. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.

Recommended readings

  • Fallaize, E. 2001 "A Saraband of Imagery: The Uses of Biological Science in Le Deuxième Sexe." In The Existential Phenomenology of Simone De Beauvoir, Edited by Wendy O’Brien and Lester Embree, 67-84. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Heinamaa, Sara. 1997. "What Is a Woman? Butler and Beauvoir on the Foundations of the Sexual Difference." Hypatia 12, no. 1 : 20-39.
  • Gatens, Moira, 2003, “Beauvoir and biology: a second look” In The Cambridge companion to Simone de Beauvoir, Edited by Claudia Card, 266-285. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Walsh, Mary. "Twenty Years since 'a Critique of the Sex/gender Distinction': A Conversation with Moira Gatens." Australian Feminist Studies 19, no. 44 (2004): 213-24.
  • Vintges, Karen 1995. “The Second Sex and Philosophy” in Feminist Interpretations of Simone de Beauvoir edited by Margaret A. Simons, 45-58. Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania State University Press.

Week 4: History

Objectives.

Week four engages with Beauvoir’s views on the historical development of the hierarchy of the sexes. Here we also examine why she believes that historical materialism is unable to explain the oppression of woman.

Questions.

What history can tell us about the oppression of woman?

Is there a single factor that gave rise to the hierarchy?

Is the history of class oppression also the history of sexual oppression?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “The Point of view of Historical Materialism63-69 and “History-1” 70-77
  • Heinamaa, Sara. 2003. Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir. Lanham, Md. ; Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield. Chapter Five

Recommended Readings

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ““History 2-5” 78-159.
  • Engels, Friedrich, 2010 Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Project Gutenberg. “Family” (35-101)
  • Simons, Margaret 1995. “The Second Sex: From Marxism to Radical Feminism” in Feminist Interpretations of Simone de Beauvoir edited by Margaret A. Simons, 243-262. Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania State University Press.
  • Kail, Michel 2017 "Simone De Beauvoir: Women and Philosophy of History" In A Companion to Simone De Beauvoir, edited by Hengehold, Laura 418-28. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Kruks, Sonia. 2017. “Beauvoir and the Question of Marxism” in A Companion to Simone de Beauvoir, Edited by Laura Hengehold and Nancy Bauer, 236-248. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Week 5: Myths

Objectives.

Volume one of The Second Sex is entitled “facts and Myths” as Beauvoir finds the myths of femininity equally constitutive of woman’s oppression.  In week five we engage with the myths of femininity and masculinity and examine not only how they emerge as a result of the inequality of the sexes but also how they maintain the oppression of woman. We also look at Beauvoir’s Hegelian legacy and ask whether Beauvoir places Hegel’s dialectic into the category of myth told by patriarchy to maintain the hierarchy.

Questions.

Are myths merely figments of imagination? If so, why they hold such important role in our common imaginary?

What these myths tell us?

Is Beauvoir’s woman Hegel’s slave?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.  “Myths” Chapter 1 163-220 (selected pages) and “Chapter 3” 275-284
  • Heinamaa, Sara. 2003 Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir. Lanham, Md. ; Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield. Chapter Four

Recommended Readings

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.  “Myths Chapter 2”  221-274
  • Hegel, G. W. F. 1977. Phenomenology of Spirit, Translated by A.V Miller and J.N. Findlay. Clarendon Press: Oxford. (The master-slave Dialectic)
  • Green, K., and Roffey, N. 2010, ‘Women, Hegel, and Recognition in The Second Sex.’ Hypatia, 25(2), 376-393.
  • Altman, M. 2007, ‘Beauvoir, Hegel, War.’ Hypatia, 22(3), 66-91

Week 6: Formative Years

Objective

In week six we begin reading the second volume of The Second Sex that examines the lived experience of women. Beauvoir begins her study from the early formative years of a girl’s life and this lecture focuses on the first two chapters of those formative years. Here we also examine Beauvoir’s engagement with psychoanalysis as well as her criticism of the limited explanation they provide to describe the complexity of woman’s experience.

Questions

What do the formative years tell us about woman’s world?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.  Childhood” and “Girlhood” 293-393 (selection).
  • Gatens, Moira. 1991 “Psychoanalysis and French Feminism” in Feminism and Philosophy : Perspectives on Difference and Equality. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.

Recommended Readings

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “The Psychoanalytical Point of View” (50-62)
  • Zakin, Emily. 2017. “The Drama of Independence: Narcissism, Childhood, and the Family Complexes” in A Companion to Simone de Beauvoir, Edited by Laura Hengehold and Nancy Bauer, 99-110. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Grosz, Elizabeth. 1990 “ The Ego and the Imaginary” in Jacques Lacan : A Feminist Introduction. London ; New York: Routledge. (24-49)

Week 7: Sexuality

Objectives

Moving forward into woman’s formative years we look at her sexual life and how the girl is initiated into it. We examine the role of sexuality and also Beauvoir’s take on lesbianism. This also opens up into Beauvoir’s discussion on the female bond where Irigaray’s work gives an interesting insight.

Questions:

What role does sexuality play in one’s subjectivity?

What is meant by the feminine bond?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “Sexual Initiation and The Lesbian ” (394-448)
  • Irigaray, Luce. 1985 “Female Hom(m)osexuality” in Speculum of the Other Woman. 98-103. Trans.Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Recommended Readings:

  • Heinämaa, Sara. 2018. “Ambiguity and Difference” in Differences : Rereading Beauvoir and Irigaray. Edited by Emily Anne Parker and Van Leeuwen, 138-177. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Week 8: Family Life

Objectives

Beauvoir has criticized the traditional marriage and its detrimental effects on women as it encloses woman into immanence. In this lecture we read her criticism of married life and ask whether she finds matrimony in itself an evil. We also examine her description of the female world of “the home” and examine whether she finds the duties of housework as essentially unproductive and repetitive.

Questions:

Is there a possibility of marriage built on freedom and equality?

Whether housework is essentially enclosed in immanence?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “The Married Woman” and “Woman’s Situation and Character ” (451-536, 653-680)
  • Young, Iris Marion. 2005 “House and Home” in On Female Body Experience "Throwing like a Girl" and Other Essays. Studies in Feminist Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press. (Housework)

Recommended Readings

  • Veltman, Andrea. 2004. "The Sisyphean Torture of Housework: Simone De Beauvoir and Inequitable Divisions of Domestic Work in Marriage." Hypatia 19, no. 3: 121-43.
  • Bergoffen, Debra B. "Marriage, Autonomy, and the Feminine Protest." Hypatia 14, no. 4 (1999): 18-35.

Week 9: The Mother

Beauvoir traces woman’s oppression to the fact that she is the sex that gives lives and not the sex that risks it. This week we examine the role of motherhood in woman’s oppression and whether Beauvoir finds any way in which motherhood can be lived as an authentic experience without the shackles of oppression. We also contrast her work on motherhood to Julia Kristeva’s.

Question

What is the institution of motherhood and how is it oppressive?

Can there be authentic mothers?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “The Mother ” (537-584)
  • Kristeva, Julia 1986. "Stabat Mater" in The Female Body in Western Culture: contemporary perspectives, edited bySusan Rubin Suileman 99-118. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Recommended Readings:

  • Kristeva, Julia, Alice Jardine, and Harry Blake. 1981. "Women's Time." Signs 7, no. 1 : 13-35.
  • Bauer, Nancy 2017. “Simone de Beauvoir on Motherhood and Destiny” in A Companion to Simone De Beauvoir. Edited by Laura Hengehold 146-159. Blackwell Companions to Philosophy. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Stone, Allison. 2017. “Beauvoir and the Ambiguities of Motherhood” in A Companion to Simone De Beauvoir. Edited by Laura Hengehold 122-133. Blackwell Companions to Philosophy. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Zerilli, Linda. 1992 "A Process without a Subject: Simone De Beauvoir and Julia Kristeva on Maternity." Signs 18, no. 1: 111-135.

Week 10: Justifications

Objectives

We examine Beauvoir’s views on how women attempt to give meaning to their inessential existence in the man’s world. We examine Beauvoir’s views on romantic love and ask whether love can offer another possibility. We compare her work on love and sexual desire to Sartre and Merleau-Ponty’s views.

Questions:

What is the relationship between one and the other in sexual encounter?

Is love always doomed to failure?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “The Narcissist and The Woman in Love” (683-725)

Recommended Readings:

  • Diprose, Rosalyn. 1998. "Generosity: Between Love and Desire." Hypatia 13, no. 1: 1-20.
  • Sartre, J. 1989. Being and Nothingness : An essay on phenomenological ontology  translated by Hazel E. Barnes ; introduction by Mary Warnock. London: Routledge. “Concrete Relations with Others”
  • Beauvoir, S. de, 2011. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. “The Independent Woman” (737-768)
  • Eleanor Kaufman. "Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and the Phenomenology of Relation." Bulletin De La Société Américaine De Philosophie De Langue Française 13, no. 1 (2003): 68-77.

Week 11: Beyond The Second Sex - Age

Objectives

In these final lectures we engage with Beauvoir’s works beyond The Second Sex and examine how these later works carry the legacy of TSS. We first look at her book old Age and examine how she finds age limiting and oppressive. In this work age becomes a lens like gender through which the disenfranchisement of a group on grounds of their age is examined.

Questions

Is age a natural phenomenon or a social one?

Are questions of age and gender interconnected?

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, Simone de, 1972 Old Age translated by Patrick O’Brian London; Cox and Wyman Limited. (Selection)

Recommended Readings:

  • Duetscher, Penelope 2017. "Afterlives: Beauvoir’s Old Age and the Intersections of The Second Sex” In A Companion to Simone De Beauvoir, Edited by Laura Hengehold 438-448. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2017.
  • Stoller, Silvia 2014. “Beauvoir’s the Coming of Age” in Simone de Beuavoir’s Philosophy of Age: Gender, Ethics and Time edited by Silvia Stoller, 1-26. De Gruyter.
  • Miller, S. "The Lived Experience of Doubling: Simone De Beauvoir's Phenomenology of Old Age." In The Existential Phenomenology of Simone De Beauvoir 2001.

Week 12: Beyond The Second Sex - Race and Colonisation

Objectives

In this final lecture we examine Beauvoir’s views on politics with a special focus on the questions of racism and colonization. We divide this lecture in two parts first we look at the problem of colonization and especially France’s role in it with reference to Algeria. Next we look at Beauvoir’s writing on the problems of Racism and compare it to Fanon’s views on the issue.

Readings

Required:

  • Beauvoir, Simone De 1952 America Day by Day translated by Patrick Dudley London: Duckworth, 1952. (Selection)
  • Fanon, Frantz. 2008 Black Skin, White Masks. Translated by Charles Lam Markman. London: Pluto. (Selection)

Recommended Reading

  • Marso, Lori Jo. 2017 “Violence Pathologies and Resistence in Franz Fanon” in Politics with Beauvoir : Freedom in the Encounter. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Marso, Lori Jo. 2017  “In Solidarity with Richard Wright” in Politics with Beauvoir : Freedom in the Encounter. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Beauvoir, Simone De, and Gisèle. Halimi. 1962. Djamila Boupacha : The Story of the Torture of a Young Algerian Girl Which Shocked Liberal French Opinion. London: Deutsch and Weidenfeld and Nicolson. (Introduction).
  • Sullivan, Shannon 2017 "Race After Beauvoir." In A Companion to Simone De Beauvoir edited by Laura Hengehold 449-62. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Alfonso, D. "TRANSATLANTIC PERSPECTIVES ON RACE: Simone De Beauvoir's Phenomenology of "Race" in America Day by Day." Philosophy Today 49 (2005): 89-99.

 

 

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Course Descriptions