Winter School 2021
14 short-courses taught online June-July
When: 14 June - 23 July
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 with the registration email. All payment must be made via credit card during enrolment. Also it's worth noting that Melbourne (AEST) is 10 hours ahead of UTC (5pm here is 7am in Berlin and 10pm in LA).
Winter School Program
2 hours per week for 5 weeks
2 hours per day for 5 days
Classic Films for Teenage Girls: A Deleuzean Approach to the “Woman’s Film” of the 1940s
Lecturer: Mairead Phillips
Starts: Mon 5:00-7:00pm 14 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
The woman’s film of the 1940s has, over the years, gotten a bad rap. No more so than in feminist film theory of the 70s and 80s. The feminist engagement with this genre remains largely uncontested today, but does it accurately reflect the films it purportedly critiques? This course will acknowledge the legacy of this radical approach by offering an alternative way of viewing and appreciating this significant genre through the film-philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Shifting perspective from a textual analysis of narrative to a formal analysis of film images, we find rich material that engages with questions of how to find a meaningful orientation in a corrupt and deadly world. The ethical dimension of these films is not pejorative and directed solely at a female audience to denigrate and demean them as many feminist analyses would have you believe. Instead, we reimagine this critical legacy by returning to the films themselves and ask: what do these films say to us now?
I have a recommended viewing schedule for the 5 weeks and have shown where they are accessible for streaming. Further viewing material is also listed. I will provide relevant readings as the course progresses, but the films are the main texts.
This course is designed to open up a conversation around the meaning and relevance of the films under discussion. Thematic considerations allow us to group them into specific categories, but they overlap considerably: it’s hard, for instance, to separate the medical from the romance, the maternal from the melodrama, the crime from the domestic. The process will be one of a gradual circular examination as we investigate the films, the stars, the directors, the era, and the cinematic universe to which they all belong.
- A Gendered Genre
In our first investigation we take King Vidor’s Stella Dallas as our paradigm example of the quintessential “woman’s film”. It centres around the eponymous heroine who dreams of escaping the working-class milieu in which she’s raised. She can see her future in her mother’s situation and does everything in her power to transcend it. She marries a factory executive on the rebound but it’s not until her daughter is grown that Stella realises the vision that drove her as a young woman to imagine a life beyond the one she was fated to by circumstance of birth, class, and education.
The passionate sacrifices of women in these films, whether mothers, lovers, wives, or daughters, demonstrates that the while the milieu no doubt constrains the choices available to them, they are nevertheless able to exercise that choice in a special philosophical sense of the word: they choose to choose.
- Stella Dallas (King Vidor, 1937) https://www.kanopy.com/product/stella-dallas
- Jezebel (William Wyler, 1938)
- Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen, 1940)
- Waterloo Bridge (Mervyn LeRoy, 1940)
- Random Harvest (Mervyn LeRoy, 1942)
- Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942)
- Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
- To Each His Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1946)
- Domestic Milieux
“What really was the woman’s film?” asks Jeanine Basinger in her 1977 article “When Women Wept”. Her definition is simple: “Basically, it a film in which the woman, not the man, was the central figure.” This lecture will explore questions of genre. We read the “woman’s film” into Deleuze’s definition of the realism of the action-image in his first volume of the cinema books, The Movement-Image. For Deleuze, Hollywood cinema as defined by the action-image constitutes the relation between a specific space-time (a milieu), and of affects and impulses incarnate in discrete actions (behaviours). Within this narrow definition, the “model which produced the universal triumph of the American cinema,” is the so-called “woman’s film” fundamentally any different from, say, the modes of behaviour and milieux that constitute the Western?
Lucia Harper, the mother at the centre of Max Ophuls’ 1949 film, must, on top of her everyday busy domestic duties, negotiate a blackmail threat from a local thug while her husband is away for work. When the woman’s film intersects with the crime film, the domestic domain of female protagonists become infiltrated with noir elements of the crime film. Cake baking becomes a prelude to murder, lace making stands trial for murder, love letters expose a motive for murder.
- The Reckless Moment (Max Ophuls, 1949) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz2D1rNaw5Q
- The Letter (William Wyler, 1940)
- A Woman’s Face (George Cukor, 1941)
- Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)
- Mildred Peirce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)
3. Fatal Encounters
The next trope we explore is the undercurrent of death that underpins so many “women’s films.” This is where the action-image bumps up against the impulse-image in Deleuze’s schema. The murderous impulses threaten our heroines as they negotiate the situation they find themselves in. Marriage is the catalyst for many of these scenarios but sometimes it’s a jealous housekeeper or an evil twin sister. The milieux become infiltrated by the originary power of elemental impulses: jealousy, rage, greed, desire.
Alfred Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film, Rebecca, generates a sense of dread and menace in what would otherwise be a romantic comedy. Gothic mansions, hallucinatory objects, eroticised obsessions, madness and murder find their way to the surface and haunts this cycle of films saturated by the death drive.
- Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) https://youtu.be/YZ_PBT-1vGA
- Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941)
- Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944)
- Experiment Perilous (Jacques Tourneur, 1944)
- Conflict (Curtis Bernhardt, 1945)
- Undercurrent (Vincente Minnelli, 1946)
- Dragonwyck (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946)
- The Dark Mirror (Robert Siodmak, 1946)
- The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Lewis Milestone, 1946)
- Secret Beyond the Door (Fritz Lang, 1947)
- The Two Mrs Carrolls (Peter Godfrey, 1947)
- Medicalised Discourse
So many ailments! So many diagnoses! So many doctors! It’s tempting to make this session a supercut of doctors explaining all the ills that trouble the heroes and heroines of these 1940s melodramas from guilt complexes to amnesia. As the doctor from Curtis Bernhardt’s Possessed remarks in an effort to explain the ballooning number of “manics,” “seniles,” “alcoholics,” and “schizos” finding their way daily into his wards, “this civilisation of ours is a worse disease than heart trouble or tuberculosis and we can’t escape it.”
For anyone interested in the modern obsession with attachment theory, you’ll discover many insecurely attached women of the anxious preoccupied or avoidant types which can be traced back to some childhood trauma. The men, if they are the patient of the story, tend to be shell-shocked and suffering from amnesia. It is in their amnesiac state that they find love; for the women it is love that usually makes them sick!
- Possessed (Curtis Bernhardt, 1947) https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/Possessed_1947?gl=US&hl=en&id=MzEIYyJyLeU
- Dark Victory (Edmund Goulding, 1939)
- Random Harvest (Mervyn LeRoy, 1942)
- The Seventh Veil (Compton Bennett, 1945)
- Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945)
- The Locket (John Brahm, 1946)
- The Spiral Staircase (Robert Siodmak, 1946)
- Johnny Belinda (Jean Negelescuo, 1948)
- Whirlpool (Otto Preminger, 1949)
- Affairs to Remember
In our last session we explore the theme of love, marriage and adultery. Career girls get caught between married paramours and eligible bachelors; long lost loves return from war to find their betrothed is a kept woman; and, in the all-time classic of the era, the British drama Brief Encounter tracks the anguish, shame and guilt of two middle class people who find love in middle age but must renounce it. I like to think of these films as giving us a certain sensitiveness of vision to the suffering of others. Even as they tend to provoke scorn and parody, the camera-eye reveals, if we care to see it, an index of a secret grief which “manifests itself only for a fleeting instant, like the glimpse one may have of a man turning a corner and vanishing from sight.”
The film we look at in detail, however, is an amalgam of almost all the themes in this course. In Now, Voyager, the 1942 classic directed by Irving Rapper, Bette Davis is on the verge of a nervous breakdown having suffered a lifetime of tyranny under a controlling and dismissive mother. She undergoes psychiatric care and the romance of this film forms part of her recovery, following a “make-over” which is trumps any modern-day transformation.
- Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942) https://itunes.apple.com/au/movie/now-voyager/id635154219
- The Women (George Cukor, 1939)
- Kitty Foyle (Sam Wood, 1940)
- Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)
- Humoresque (Jean Negulesco, 1946)
- Deception (Irving Rapper, 1946)
- Daisy Kenyon (Otto Preminger, 1947)
- Beyond the Forest (King Vidor, 1949)
- A Letter to Three Wives (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1949)
Primitive communism: The genealogy of an idea
Lecturer: Miri Davidson (with guest lectures from Dr Simon Barber, Christina Chalmers, Cooper Francis)
Starts: Mon 7:30-9:30pm 14 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
This course explores the idea of primitive communism as it appears in a series of writings at the nexus of anthropology, philosophy and political theory in nineteenth and twentieth-century continental thought. Each lecture investigates a different angle on primitive communism by looking at it through the lens of a particular concept: nature, family, exchange, economy, and power. Guided by these concepts, the course explores some of the ways in which continental philosophy is premised on a relationship with non-philosophical fields such as anthropology, economic history and prehistory, and on the imaginary of a primitive society considered as an exemplar of non-alienated social relations. The relationship between this category of primitive society and the ideas of communism, communalism, and community will constitute the major thread of our investigations.
Lecture 1: Nature (with Simon Barber) – 14 June
Our first session introduces some of the key problems and contradictions generated by the idea of primitive communism as it is understood by Marx and Engels. We focus in particular on the concept of the naturwüchsig (‘naturally developed’), often translated as ‘primitive’, which expresses the ambiguous relationship between primitivity and nature in Marx’s thought. For this session, Simon Barber will join us to discuss Marx’s ideas of the primitive community in relation to Māori conceptions of tangata whenua.
- Marx, ‘Chapter 1’, Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, pp. 67–99.
- Simon Barber, ‘Māori Mārx: Some Provisional Materials’.
- Marx and Engels, ‘I. Feuerbach: Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlooks’, in The German Ideology.
- Judith Butler, ‘The inorganic body in the early Marx: a limit-concept of anthropocentrism’.
Lecture 2: Family (with Christina Chalmers) – 21 June
Our second session focuses on Engels’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884) and its feminist reception. We consider Engels’s rendering of the stage-theory of Lewis Henry Morgan, and his claim that parallel emergence of private property and the patriarchal family represented the ‘world-historical defeat of the female sex’. We will look at varying conceptions of ‘origins’ in different feminist readings of Engels’ text, as well as how this cleaves time between the pre-history of primitive matriarchy, and the historical time of class society.
- Friedrich Engels, ‘The Family’, in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, pp. 94–146.
- Friedrich Engels, ‘The Iroquois Gens’, in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, pp. 146–161.
- Lise Vogel, ‘Engels: A Defective Formulation’ in Marxism and the Oppression of Women, pp. 77–96.
- Juliet Mitchell, ‘The Holy Family’, in Psychoanalysis and Feminism, pp. 364–401.
- Shulamith Firestone, ‘The Dialectic of Sex’ in The Dialectic of Sex, pp. 11–23.
- Lea Melandri, ‘Critique of Survival’ (translated excerpt to be provided).
Lecture 3: Contract (with Christina Chalmers) – 28 June
This session examines the idea of gift exchange as the basis of what Marshall Sahlins called ‘a kind of social contract for the primitives’. Beginning with Marcel Mauss’s The Gift, we consider how the idea of generalised reciprocity was used to conceptualise forms of non-market exchange and social cohesion in the primitive community. We then look at how this was extended by Claude Lévi-Strauss in his Elementary Structures of Kinship to encompass the ‘exchange of women’ in marriage. Throughout, we will seek to excavate the political substructure of Mauss and Lévi-Strauss’s frameworks of exchange in relation to the non-Marxist socialism of the SFIO.
- Marcel Mauss, The Gift, pp. 1–12.
- Lévi-Strauss, ‘The Principles of Kinship’, in The Elementary Structures of Kinship, pp. 478–497.
- Camille Robcis, ‘Lévi-Strauss’s structuralist social contract’.
- Gayle Rubin, ‘The Traffic in Women: Notes on the “Political Economy” of Sex’.
- Carole Pateman, extracts from The Sexual Contract.
Lecture 4: Economy – 5 July (with Cooper Francis)
Our fourth session looks at how the very idea of the economy is thrown into doubt by primitive societies, in which the production and distribution of material goods was seen to be unseparated from the social and spiritual life of the community. We will focus on Karl Polanyi’s arguments about ‘embedded’ and ‘disembedded’ economies, take a detour via the notion of moral economy popularized by E. P. Thompson, and end by returning to the themes of contract and property discussed in the previous lectures.
- Karl Polanyi, ‘The Economy as Instituted Process’.
- Karl Polanyi, ‘Aristotle discovers the economy’.
- Henry Sumner Maine, ‘From status to contract’, excerpt from Ancient Law.
- E. P. Thompson, ‘The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century’.
Lecture 5: Power – 12 July (with Cooper Francis)
Our final session examines Pierre Clastres’s vision of primitive society as a ‘society against the state’, which inverts Hobbesian social contract theory and initiates a rethinking of power and representation in political philosophy. We will consider Clastres’s ideas in relation to his left-libertarian political engagements and especially the critique of Soviet bureaucracy initiated by the group Socialisme ou Barbarie.
- Pierre Clastres, ‘Society Against the State’, in Society Against the State, pp. 189–218.
- Pierre Clastres, ‘Power in Primitive Societies’, in Archaeology of Violence, pp. 163–170.
- Pierre Clastres, ‘Archaeology of Violence: War in Primitive Societies’, in Archaeology of Violence, pp. 237–277.
- Samuel Moyn, ‘Modern and Savage Liberty’.
- Alberto Toscano, ‘“By contraries execute all things”: Figures of the savage in European philosophy’.
- Miguel Abensour, ‘“Savage Democracy” and the “Principle of Anarchy”’, in Democracy Against the State: Marx and the Machiavellian Moment, pp. 102–124.
Towards a Genealogy of Peace: Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Pico della Mirandola
Lecturers: Dr Francesco Borghesi & Dr Andrew Benjamin
Starts: Tue 5:00-7:00pm 15 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
This seminar forms part of a larger research project undertaken by Francesco Borghesi and Andrew Benjamin on the interrelated concepts of ‘peace’ and ‘concord’. The assumption guiding the research is twofold. Firstly, neither term has an essential nature to be recovered from the history of its use and therefore, secondly, given that both terms are already configurations of specific and contextually determined relations of power, the project involves establishing a genealogy of peace. Those configurations of power have a fundamental relation to both the history of philosophy and the history of theology.
The seminar will examine two moments within this genealogy. The first is the set of frescoes painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in Siena which are known as The Allegory of Good and Bad Government (1338-1339). The second is the role the concepts of peace and concord play in Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486).
Part of the argument to be developed within the course is that the late Mediaeval and the Renaissance periods provide indispensable material for understanding how later considerations of peace – e.g. Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace (1795), Emmanuel Levinas’ Peace and Proximity (1984) – are to be interpreted. Indeed, current work on peace such as Judith Butler’s (2003) argument that ‘war and peace, rather than being the obverse of each other, are two different reactions one could have to the human condition of injury or vulnerability’ only really acquires its full force once that work is shown to form part of an overall genealogy of peace.
Students will be introduced to the general topic after which both the images that comprise the fresco series, as well as Pico della Mirandola’s text, will be subject to a detailed analysis. No prior knowledge is assumed. Part of the project of the course is to allow both texts and images to be understood as loci of thought.
1) Towards a Genealogy of Peace
In this introductory lecture, the framework and goals of the course will be presented and discussed based on the discussion of some preliminary literature on the philosophical standing of the concept of peace.
2) Ambrogio Lorenzetti. The Allegory of Good and Bad Government
The cycle of frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti will be explored in detail in the context of the visual art of the Italian Trecento and its relation to contemporary poets such as Dante Alighieri, political thinkers such as Remigio de’ Girolami and theologians such as Bernardino of Siena. The ideas of ‘common good’ and ‘peace’ will be analyzed in comparison with other connected notions such as ‘justice,’ ‘charity,’ and ‘wisdom,’ while specific concepts linking texts and images like ‘visibile parlare’ (visible speech) and ‘leggibile parlare’ (readable speech) will be unpacked.
3) Ambrogio Lorenzetti. The Allegory of Good and Bad Government
Influential interpretations of Lorenzetti’s frescoes will be discussed in the context of methodological debates about the philosophical significance of artistic and literary production in the fourteenth- and fifteenth century. The contributions of intellectual historians such as Quentin Skinner, historians of political thought such as Nicolai Rubinstein and art historians such as Chiara Frugoni and Maria Monica Donato will be compared and contrasted.
4) Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Oration on the Dignity of Man
The persona of the philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola will be presented by introducing his life and works as well as a few other intellectuals of his times such as Marsilio Ficino, Angelo Poliziano and Lorenzo de’ Medici. Light will be shed on Pico della Mirandola’s relationship with Jewish and Islamic intellectuals such as Yohanan Alemanno and Flavius Mithridates on the relevance of his studies of oriental cultures – the kabbalah, in particular – and languages for his philosophy.
5) Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Oration on the Dignity of Man
A close reading of the Oration will be carried out in parallel with an analysis of major interpretations of his philosophical endeavour by twentieth and twenty-first century scholars like Eugenio Garin, Moshe Idel, Pier Cesare Bori and Brian Copenhaver. Notions such as ‘dignity,’ ‘concord,’ and ‘philosophical peace’ will be addressed in great detail.
1) Rowley, George. 1958. Ambrogio Lorenzetti. 2 vols. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
2) Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni. 2012. Oration on the Dignity of Man: A New Translation and Commentary. Edited by F. Borghesi, M. Papio and M. Riva. Cambridge, England, and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Allen, Michael J. B. 1997. Cultura Hominis: Giovanni Pico, Marsilio Ficino and the Idea of Man. In Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: Convegno internazionale di studi nel cinquecentesimo anniversario della morte. 1494–1994 (Mirandola, 4-8 ottobre 1994). Edited by Gian Carlo Garfagnini. 2 vols. Florence: Olschki: 173–196.
Belting, Hans. 1985. The New Role of Narrative in Public Painting of the Trecento: “Historia” and Allegory. Studies in the History of Art 16: 151-168.
Ben-Aryeh Debby, Nirit. 2001. War and Peace: The Description of Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Frescoes in Saint Bernardino’s 1425 Siena Sermons. Renaissance Studies 15/3: 272-286.
Borghesi, Francesco. 2010. For the Good of All: Notes on the Idea of Concordia during the Late Middle Ages. Italian Poetry Review 5: 215-2138.
Bolzoni, Lina. 2004 . The Web of Images: Vernacular Preaching from Its Origins to Saint Bernardino of Siena. Translated by Carole Preston and Lisa Chien. Aldershot, England, and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate.
Boucheron, Patrick. 2005. “Turn Your Eyes to Behold Her, You Who Are Governing, Who Is Portrayed Here”: Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Fresco of Good Government. Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 60/6: 1137-1199. https://www.cairn-int.info/article-E_ANNA_606_1137--turn-your-eyes-to-behold-her-you-who-are.htm
Busi, Giulio. 2006. “Who Does Not Wonder at this Chameleon?” The Kabbalistic Library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. In Hebrew to Latin, Latin to Hebrew: The Mirroring of Two Cultures in the Age of Humanism. Edited by Giulio Busi. Berlin and Turin: Institut für Judaistik, Freie Universität Berlin and Nino Aragno Editore: 167- 196.
Campbell, C. Jean. 2001.The City’s New Clothes: Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the Poetics of Peace. Art Bullettin 83: 240-258.
Copenhaver, Brian. 2019. Magic and the Dignity of Man: Pico della Mirandola and His Oration in Modern Memory. Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Corazzol, Giacomo. 2019. From Sinai to Athens: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Philological Quest for the Transmission of Theological Truth. Intellectual History Review 29/1: 73-99.
Davis, Charles T. 1984. Dante’s Italy and Other Essays. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Dougherty, Michael V. (ed.). 2008. Pico della Mirandola: New Essays. Cambridge, England, and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Frugoni, Chiara. 1991 . A Distant City: Images of Urban Experience in the Medieval World. Translated by William McCuaig. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Garin, Eugenio. 1965 [1947-52]. Italian Humanism: Philosophy and Civic Life in the Renaissance. Translated by Peter Muntz. New York: Harper and Row.
Jacoff, Rachel. 2009. “Diligite iustitiam”: Loving Justice in Siena and Dante’s Paradiso. MLN 124/5: S81-S95.
Rubinstein, Nicolai. 1958. Political Ideas in Sienese Art: The Frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Taddeo di Bartolo in the Palazzo Pubblico. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21/3-4: 179-207.
Skinner, Quentin. 1999. Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Buon Governo Frescoes: Two Old Questions, Two New Answers. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 62: 1-28.
Skinner, Quentin. 1986. Ambrogio Lorenzetti: The Artist as Political Philosopher. Proceedings of the British Academy 72: 1-56.
van Asperen, Hanneke. 2016. The Virgin and the Virtues. Charity in Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Representation of Good Government. Artibus and Historiae 73: 55-70.
Anarchy as a Way of Life
Lecturer: Dr Valery Vinogradis
Starts: Tue 7:30-9:30pm 15 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
Anarchy is ordinarily associated with the breakdown of social operations and order, with the possibility of personal and collective chaos. Why is anarchy mistaken for disorder and uncertainty, while its proponents seek ways to embrace original order and understanding? In our circumstances, this common lapse may be explained by the phenomenon of contemporary urban life and culture, sustained by a chain of man-made body-structures. Gyms and supermarkets, schools and universities, public services and transport, the government and police forces, -- all are hierarchical structures inculcating us with a sense of authority’s legitimacy. Anarchists, on the other hand, are persons who entertain, design and practice ways of thinking, living and cooperation that assent to no worldly authority, neither private nor centralised, who trust neither currency nor law. A search for an anarchistic sensibility and lifestyle, therefore, is defined by hands-on resistance to the influence of hegemonic values, left or right, praxis, and a mode of self-consciousness.
Our short course investigates the basic principles of anarchistic thought, its historical tenacity and niche, internal tensions, as well as examples and criticisms:
- Responding to Authority: Diogenes the Dog to Plato, Daoism to Confucianism
- Renaissance of Doubt: La Boetie and Montaigne, Servitude and Custom
- Etienne de La Boetie (1975). The Politics of Disobedience: The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude. Translated by Harry Kurz. Montreal: Black Rose Books
- Diogenes Laertius (1925). Lives of Eminent Philosophers vol. 2. London: William Heinemann
- Lao-Tzu (1996). Tao Te Ching. Translated by j.h. mcdonald. Public Domain
- Michel de Montaigne (1993). The Complete Essays. London: Penguin Classic
2.1 Anarchy, Enlightenment, Progress: Godwin’s Revolution
2.2 The State as Criminal: Bakunin’s Revolution
- William Godwin (1793). An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. London: G.G.J. and J. Robinson
- Mikhail Bakunin (1873). Statism and Anarchy. Berlin: Shady Books
3.1 Collectivism: Proudhon
3.2 Individualism: Stirner and Thoreau
- Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1890). What is Property? New York: The Humboldt Publishing Co.
- Max Stirner (1907). The Ego and His Own. New York: Benj. R. Tucker
- Henry David Thoreau (2000).”Resistance to Civil Government”. In Transcendentalism: A Reader, edited by Joel Myerson. Oxford: OUP.
4.1 Garden of Love: Tolstoy, Armand, Executions, Nietzsche-
- Lewis Call (2001). “Toward an Anarchy of Becoming: Post-Modern Anarchism in Nietzschean Philosophy”. Journal of Nietzsche Studies vol. 21: pp. 48-76
- Theodore Christov (2016). “Hobbes against Anarchy”. In Before Anarchy: Hobbes and his Critics in Modern International Thought. Cambridge: CUP
- Émile Armand (1956). Anarchist Individualism and Amorous Comradeship. Public Domain
- Melissa Lane (2017). “Antianarchia: Interpreting Political Thought in Plato”. Plato Journal vol. 16: pp. 59-74
- Benjamin Noys (2008). “Through a Glass Darkly: Alain Badiou’s Critique of Anarchism”. Anarchist Studies vol. 16 (2): pp. 107-120
- Robert Nozick (1980). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Oxford: Blackwell
- Leo Tolstoy (1900). On Anarchy. Public Domain
- Simone Bignall (2016). “On Property and the Philosophy of Poverty: Agamben and Anarchism.” In Agamben and Radical Politics, edited by Daniel McLoughlin. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
- Judith Butler and Jamie Heckert (2011). “On Anarchism: an Interview with Judith Butler”. In Anarchism & Sexuality, edited by Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson. London: Routledge.
- Lewis Call (2002). Post-Modern Anarchism. Oxford: Lexington Books.
- Saul Newman (2015). Postanarchism. Cambridge: Polity Press
Living Grounds: Emergence, Complexity, and Narrative in the early 20th Century
Lecturer: Dr Ben Woodard
Starts: Wed 5:00-7:00pm 16 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
The late 19th and early 20th century witnessed the rise of emergence (concern over describing certain systems, or aspects of reality, as producing things or processes which seemed to be more than their constituent parts). This involved questions such as: are the behaviors of molecules explained by their ingredients or is consciousness explained by the structure of the brain? The central question of emergence is whether this ‘more thanness’ describes the world’s structure adequately or whether emergence is merely an artifact of our ignorance. While emergence has become an almost ubiquitous feature of much continental philosophy there is little discussion of its roots.
To address this question this course will seek to survey the emergence of emergence across the fields of philosophy, biology, chemistry, and theories of mind. To focus these broad philosophical and methodological concerns we will focus on how emergence functions as a narrative of novelty in a world that appeared increasingly deterministic.
1. British Emergentism and Post-Darwinian Literature
Reading: “Identity of Cause and Effect” -Lewes, “George Eliot and Spinoza”- Frazer
Optional Reading: Selections from Gilian Beer
2. Theoretical Biology Club (Organicism pt1)
Reading: “The First Generation of Organicists”-Petersen
Optional Reading: “Molecular Biology vs Organicism”-Hilde
3. Emergent Mind
Reading: “Emergence” - C.L Morgan
Optional Reading:“Mechanism and its Alternatives”-C.D. Broad
4. A Stroll through Chaos (Organicsm pt2)
Reading: “The World Egg and Ouroboros” - Susan Squier
Optional Reading” “The Epigenetic Landscape” - Baedke
5. Autopoesis and the Bookkeeping Demon
Reading: “The Ceremony Found” - Wynter
Optional Reading: “A Panoply of LaPlacean and Leibnizian Demons” - Wimsatt
Philosophy under condition: how art “thinks” in Alain Badiou’s L'immanence des vérités
Lecturer: Caitlyn Lesiuk
Starts: Wed 7:30-9:30pm 16 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
This course offers an introduction to the meta-philosophy of Alain Badiou, with a particular focus on the relationship between philosophy and art in the third volume of the Being and Event trilogy, L'immanence des vérités (The Immanence of Truths). Badiou claims that philosophy does not produce truths, but grasps them as they are thought under the four “truth-conditions” of art, science, love and politics. What is important, here, is to begin an English-language dialogue on Badiou's new text (English translation forthcoming) in terms of the intersection of philosophy and art.
As such, each week we will read excerpts from Badiou’s previously published work on the questions of poetry, cinema, and art more generally, before discussing how he extends this work in L'immanence des vérités. In keeping with Badiou’s method, we will encounter his philosophy alongside figures such as Samuel Beckett, Emily Dickinson, Arnold Schönberg and Jean-Luc Godard, interrogating the way his use of certain examples problematises his philosophical system.
Badiou claims that “justice is done to philosophy only if philosophy itself does justice to its conditions and accepts being exposed to their inventive violence”. The question of how philosophy contends with its “outsides” is, indeed, a pertinent one for philosophy today.
Week 1: Inaesthetics
In week one, we will introduce Badiou’s meta-philosophy via his concept of “inaesthetics”, which suggests that art produces truths of its own, distinct from those that emerge under the other conditions. As such, art is not to be taken as a mere ‘object’ for philosophy. In the course of this discussion, we will situate the aims of The Immanence of Truths in the context of Badiou’s larger philosophical project, and outline concepts which will form the foundation of our inquiry over the subsequent four weeks, that is: what it means for “truths” to emerge under the condition of art; the necessity to think these truths in “compossibility” with those of science, politics and love; the danger of philosophy becoming “sutured” to the artistic condition; and finally, how an “event” initiates such a truth procedure.
- Alain Badiou, “Art and Philosophy” in Handbook of Inaesthetics, tr. A. Toscano (California: Stanford University Press, 2005), pp. 1-15.
- Alain Badiou, “Conditions” in Manifesto for Philosophy, tr. N. Madarasz (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), pp. 33-40.
- Justin Clemens, “The conditions” in A. Bartlett & J. Clemens eds., Alain Badiou: Key Concepts (Durham: Acumen, 2010), pp. 25–37.
- Jean-Luc Nancy, “Philosophy Without Conditions” Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2004), 39-49.
Week 2: The writing of the generic
In week two, we will turn to Badiou’s decades long engagement with the work of Irish poet, novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett. Badiou posits Beckett’s work as “the writing of the generic”. In Badiou’s ontology, “the generic” is the being-multiple of truths, thus, the question here is of what it means for truth to emerge in the context of literature. In The Immanence of Truths, Badiou implicitly responds to many criticisms that have been made of his writings on Beckett, and turns his attention to the figure of the “Beckett critic”, thus drawing our eye to a broader tension between philosophy and literary studies.
- Alain Badiou, “The Writing of the Generic” in Conditions, tr. S. Corcoran (London: Bloomsbury, 2008), pp. 249-84.
- Nina Power & Alberto Toscano, eds., “Editors’ Introduction – Think, pig!” in On Beckett (Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2003), pp. xi–xxxiv.
- Jean-Jacques Lecercle, “A Modernist Canon? Badiou and Deleuze Read Beckett”, Badiou and Deleuze Read Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), pp. 119-157.
- Alain Badiou, “Being, Existence, Thought: Prose and Concept” in On Beckett (Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2003), pp. 79–112.
Week 3: Cinema and compossibility
In week three, we will critically examine Badiou’s claim that cinema is the seventh art, or “plus-one” of the arts, which allows us to imaginatively grasp the totality of the other six (architecture, sculpture, painting, music, literature, theatre). In The Immanence of Truths, Badiou advances this thesis through a critique of Hegel’s claim that comedy marks the final dialectical turn in the history of the arts. Badiou tasks Hegel with thinking cinema, which is to say, he finds resources in Hegel’s philosophical system that allow for such a totalisation, rather than the dissolution of the arts in the negative operations of comedy.
- Alain Badiou, “The False Movements of Cinema” in Handbook of Inaesthetics, tr. A. Toscano (California: Stanford University Press, 2005), pp. 78-88.
- Alex Ling, “Can Cinema be Thought?” in Badiou and Cinema (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), pp. 32-54.
- Alain Badiou, “Cinema Has Given Me So Much” in Cinema tr. S. Spitzer (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), pp.1-20.
- Alain Badiou, “Philosophy and Cinema” in Infinite Thought tr. O. Feltham & J. Clemens (London: Continuum, 2003), pp. 109-125.
Week 4: “The Age of Poets” and the problem of suture
Badiou suggests that during the nineteenth century, philosophy was sutured to its scientific and political conditions. This was succeeded by what he terms “The Age of Poets”, which began with Friedrich Hölderlin, ended with Paul Celan, and encompassed Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, Georg Trakl, Fernando Pessoa and Osip Mandelstam. Badiou suggests that a certain kind of poetry was brought about in response to this suture, such that poetry came to “think” questions of being and time in the place of philosophy. Here, we will consider how Badiou extends this reading of poetry in The Immanence of Truths through engaging with figures such as René Char, Victor Hugo, Emily Dickinson, and Alberto Caeiro and the question of classical forms of finitude.
- Alain Badiou, “The Age of Poets” in Handbook of Inaesthetics, tr. A. Toscano (California: Stanford University Press, 2005), pp. 69-78.
- Alain Badiou, Robert Boncardo & Christian R. Gelder, “Mallarmé Said It All” in Mallarmé: Rancière, Milner, Badiou (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), pp. 83-96.
- Alain Badiou, “The Philosophical Recourse to the Poem” in Conditions, tr. S. Corcoran (London: Bloomsbury, 2008), pp. 35-48.
- Jean-Jacques Lecercle, “Badiou’s Poetics” in Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2004), 208-17.
Week 5: Music and the event
In The Immanence of Truths Badiou identifies two “registers” of the artistic truth condition: one for the two “simple” arts, painting and music, and one for the other, “complex”, arts. We will unfurl this distinction through a comparison of Oliver Messiaen’s chamber work Le Merle noir and Richard Wagner’s operas. The notion of an “event” under the artistic condition will be developed using the example of the shift toward dodecaphony associated with the works of Arnold Schönberg. Central to this discussion this week will be the particular tension between a specific artwork, which is necessarily “finite”, and the “infinite” nature of the truth procedure it is caught up in.
- Alain Badiou & Fabien Tarby, “Art” in Philosophy and the Event, tr. L. Burchill (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), pp. 66-91.
- Alain Badiou, “Wagner as a Philosophical Question” in Five Lessons on Wagner, tr. S. Spitzer (London: Verso, 2010), pp. 55-70.
- Alain Badiou, “Scholium: A Musical Variant of the Metaphysics of the Subject” in Logics of Worlds, tr. A. Toscano (London: Continuum, 2009), pp. 79-89.
- Rancière, J., “Aesthetics, Inaesthetics, Anti-Aesthetics” in P. Hallward ed. Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2004), 218–231.
Locating the Posthumanities
Lecturer: Dr Elese Dowden
Starts: Thu 5:00-7:00pm 17 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
What is the ‘posthumanities’?
The posthumanities is an emerging academic field that spans the arts and humanities, with roots in continental philosophy, posthumanism, critical theory and literary studies. This field tends to emphasize collaborative, creative, and inter / anti-disciplinary practice, and as such, the course employs slightly unconventional readings and learning methodologies.
The course will cover some of the major thinkers orbiting this space, drawing on examples in art, literature, film, and music both to illustrate and disrupt traditional ways of doing philosophy. Optional course assessment will include a final piece of creative work across mediums. This course also has a local element, with a focus on contemporary Australasian thinkers, complemented by examples from popular culture.
Course Content & Readings
The title for each weekly session is taken from core readings, which are listed first under each weekly heading. In addition to academic texts, this course employs audio-visual material to increase your engagement. All readings are accessible via the blue hyperlinks in the references, though you will find most written readings in the dedicated Box folder.
Preface: Ground Provisions
Harney, S. and T. Sealy Thompson (2018). "Ground Provisions." Afterall: A Journal of Art Context and Enquiry 45: 120-125.
Week 1: One World in Relation
Diawara, M. (2010). Édouard Glissant: One World in Relation. United States: 50 Minutes.
We begin locating the posthumanities with Martinique thinker Édouard Glissant, considering his poetics of relation via Manthia Diawara’s 2010 film, ‘One World in Relation.’ Glissant’s work provides an excellent entry point to rhizomatic thinking, offering a wider lens through which to understand conceptions of the ‘posthumanities’. While this course does not necessarily locate the posthumanities within the field of posthumanism, this is a common reading of the term. As such, we will also outline the works of three major thinkers in this space: Francesca Ferrando, Donna Haraway, and Rosi Braidotti.
The Australasian Posthumanities (2021). S2E3: Francesca Ferrando: Posthumanism and the Everyday. The Australasian Posthumanities. Melbourne, Spotify.
Guignion, D. (2019). Rosi Braidotti's "The Posthuman". Theory & Philosophy. D. Guignion, Spotify.
Haraway, D. (1991). A Cyborg Manifesto. Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Simians. New York, Routledge: 149-181.
Week 2: In Search of Humanity
Mukandi, B. (2018). "South-South Dialogues: Global Approaches to Decolonial Pedagogies." The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education 47: 73-81.
Just as ‘post-modernism’ acknowledges its debt to modernism, the ‘post’ of the posthumanities acknowledges both its inextricability with and gravitation away from the traditional western humanities and enlightenment humanism. Mukandi, Césaire and Maldonado-Torres offer critiques of the Cartesian privileging of the mind over the body, demonstrating that the division has only served to legitimize colonial violences. In this session, we begin to dismantle these concepts in order to demonstrate the limitations of both humanism and the humanities more broadly.
Maldonado-Torres, N. (2007). "On the Coloniality of Being." Cultural Studies 21(2): 240-270.
Césaire, A. (1972). Discourse on Colonialism. New York, Monthly Review Press.
Week 3: Poetry is Not a Luxury
Lorde, A. (2007). Poetry is Not a Luxury. Sister, Outsider. C. Clarke. Berkeley, Crossing Press: 36-39.
Creative practice plays an important role in posthumanities methodologies, and in this session, we consider the role of poetic thinking in conceptualizing new worlds and ways of being. Starting with Lorde’s ‘Poetry is Not a Luxury’, this session builds on previous critiques of enlightenment humanism to demonstrate that the arts are not merely supplementary to academic work or activism. Instead, as Lorde and Zambrano show, poetry and creativity play an integral part in challenging the various oppressions which shape our experiences. In this class we will also reflect on western cultural conceptions of gender, race, sexuality and power with reference to Australasian poetry.
Daly Sadgrove, F. (2019). "Turducken." Retrieved 28/05, 2021, from https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/15-11-2019/the-friday-poem-turducken-by-freya-daly-sadgrove/.
Lorde, A. (2007). Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power. Sister, Outsider. C. Clarke. Berkeley, Crossing Press: 53-59.
Week 4: The White Possessive
Moreton-Robinson, A. (2015). Aileen Moreton-Robinson, “The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty”. New Books in Critical Theory. A. Epstein.
Beginning with Aileen Moreton-Robinson’s ‘The White Possessive’, we will continue to problematize the underpinnings of the humanities via the western conception of property ownership. This notion again finds basis in the privileging of mind over body, as well as false binaries between human and non-human. Drawing on examples of Australian nationalism, carceral systems, and animal activism, we will also think through Stephen Muecke’s 7 posthumanities methodological principles to investigate the consequences of western humanist logic.
Moore, D. (2020). "Behrouz Boochani and the Penal Archipelago." Retrieved 28/05, 2021, from https://overland.org.au/previous-issues/issue-239/review-behrouz-boochani-and-the-penal-archipelago/.
Muecke, S. (2020). S1E5: Stephen Muecke: 7 Posthumanities Methodological Principles. The Australasian Posthumanities. E. Dowden. Melbourne, The Australasian Posthumanities.
Week 5: The End of Man
Zylinska, J. (2017). Exit Man. UK, Vimeo: 6'36".
The central themes of our final class revolve around disruptive forms of contemporary art and music. Creative practice in the posthumanities regularly blurs lines between subject and object, constructing new imaginaries where plants, machines, animals and people form ambiguous autonomies in relation to one another. We will think about how the death of the author lends itself to the production of rich and complex art forms, and students will be invited to begin plotting their own creative responses to the material covered in this course.
Neimanis, A. (2013). "Feminist Subjectivity, Watered." Feminist Review 103: 23-41.
Kanaan, F., et al. (2021). CTM 2021: »Apotome Live«. Germany, CTM.
Museum of Modern Art (2019). Arthur Jafa: APEX. Artist Stories. Museum of Modern Art. New York, Museum of Modern Art,.
Recap: Locating the Posthumanities
This is an optional and informal sixth session 2 weeks after the final class where students are invited to gather on Zoom over a cup of tea (or preferred beverage) to share final creative pieces, or just reflect on the learnings from the course. There are no expectations for you to bring your final piece of coursework. Students are also welcome to bring external texts that have inspired or informed their thinking throughout the course to share and discuss with the group. Please note that this is a private and unrecorded Zoom session facilitated outside of the formal structure of the MSCP.
Figure, sensation, colour: Deleuze’s Francis Bacon
Lecturer: Dr Jon Roffe
Starts: Thu 7:30-9:30pm 17 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
In this course, we will examine the lineaments of Gilles Deleuze’s 1981 book Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Deleuze describes it as a book he was afraid to write, dealing with a painter whose work he found overwhelming. The result is a remarkable conceptual construction, providing a point of view on the visual arts that exceeds the scope of its topic, despite being oriented by this singular painter.
Though the course will not proceed in a linear fashion through the book, we will touch on all of its main themes, according to the following structure.
The aim of this initial session will be, first, to provide a general introduction to Bacon’s life and work. With this in hand, we will turn to the circumstances and general outline of Deleuze’s Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. The second hour of this session will be devoted to an overview – following Deleuze’s account – of the formal elements of Bacon’s paintings, and his goal of painting for the nervous system and not the brain.
Readings: ‘1. The Round Area, the Ring’, ‘5. Recapitulative Note’ and ‘8. Painting Forces’
Additional readings: ‘Interview 3’ in The Brutality of Fact; Deleuze, ‘Painting sets writing ablaze’
2. From the figure to rhythm
In the first session, we will have seen the essential formal features of Bacon’s paintings. This second session will focus on the central feature: the figure. We will follow, in effect, Deleuze’s own trajectory here, and consider four questions. First, what is the relationship between the figure and figuration in painting? Second, how can we understand those paintings of Bacon’s that seem to include two figures? And third, and more challenging again, how can we understand Bacon’s famous triptychs as figural works? That is: what is a triptych for Bacon?
With these questions answered, we will repeat the analysis from the perspective of rhythm, drawing on the work of Deleuze’s friend and one time colleague, the phenomenologist Henri Maldiney.
Readings: ‘7. Hysteria’, ‘9. Couples and Triptychs’, ’10. What is a Triptych?’
Additional readings: ‘Interview 2’; Maldiney, extract from Gaze Speech Space
3. From sensation to the diagram
This third session will focus on two questions: how does Bacon compose his works? And, how do Bacon’s paintings function? For Deleuze, the two answers mirror each other. On the one hand, as we will see, Bacon’s method begins with contingency, but is irreducible to it. On the other, the way in which the contingent element, namely the diagram, is played out in the work also allows us to grasp the logic of sensation that figures in the title of Deleuze’s book.
On both fronts, the contrast between Bacon’s method, and that adopted by abstract expressionism and formal abstraction will be a constant reference.
Readings: ‘6. Painting and Sensation’, ’11. The Painting before Painting’, ’12. The Diagram’
Additional readings: ‘Interview 1’; Bogue, ‘Henri Maldiney’
4. From analogy to the haptic
Throughout Francis Bacon, Deleuze is at pains to situate Bacon’s work in the context of art history, though one construed very much on his own terms. This session will begin by compiling the various historical remarks as we find them throughout the book.This historical perspective will provide a basis for us to more fully understand the opposition between the optical and the haptic that colours the second half of the book. The second part of this session will turn to Deleuze’s fascinating account of the role of analogy in painting.
Readings: ’13. Analogy’ and ’14. Every Painter…’
Additional readings: ‘Interview 8’; Ionescu, ‘Wilhelm Worringer’.
5. Colourism. Conclusion
Francis Bacon concludes by turning to the category of colour. There is, in a sense, a complete retelling of the argument of the whole book to be found in the final three chapters, a retelling oriented around the rights of colour, and Bacon’s way of dispensing with the classical functions of painting. The final session will be devoted to an elucidation of this version of the argument.
Readings: ’15. Bacon’s Path’, ’16. Note on Colour’, ’17. The Eye and the Hand’
Additional readings: ‘Interview 9’
The main text will be the Daniel W. Smith translation of the book. Alongside this, we will make frequent reference to David Sylvester’s excellent collection of interviews with Bacon, The Brutality of Fact (both of these will be provided). Each class, other short texts on some of other prominent figures will also be provided, including texts on and by Henri Maldiney and Wilhelm Worringer.
Luce Irigaray’s Speculum of the Other Woman
Lecturer: Eva Birch
Starts: Fri 5:00-7:00pm 18 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
Speculum of the Other Woman is Luce Irigaray's second doctorate and the first book in her oeuvre. Along with Simone De Beauvoir's The Second Sex, it is considered a foundational text of second wave feminist theory. Following its publication in French in 1974 Irigaray was expelled from the Ecole Freudian, a school for psychoanalysis founded by Jacques Lacan, and her teaching post at the University of Vincennes in Paris. The book was and still is scandalous in its radical proposition that beyond the purely patriarchal construct of 'woman' there exists a feminine position. Irigaray comes to this idea via an idiosyncratic critique achieved by mimicking Freud and Plato, among others. In this seminar we will do a close reading of most of Speculum of the Other Woman to think about how Irigaray uses mimicry to imagine a feminine position—or what is more precisely described as sexual difference.
We will work through the book in three sections. In the first section, 'The Blind Spot of An Old Dream of Symmetry' Irigaray reads Freud, in the second section, 'Speculum,' Irigaray, presents a series of short, poetic essays, and in the third section, 'Plato's Hysteria,' Irigaray reads Plato. We will consider how each section engages with psychoanalysis, poetics, and philosophy to create different inflections of her central idea of sexual difference.
1. 'The Blind Spot of an Old Dream of Symmetry,' pages 11 – 55
Optional reading: 'The Future of Sexual Difference: An Interview with Judith Butler and Drucilla Cornell' by Pheng Cheah and Elizabeth Grosz
2. 'The Blind Spot of an Old Dream of Symmetry,' pages 56 – 129
Optional reading: Sigmund Freud, 'Femininity'
3. 'La mystérique,' pages 191 – 203
Optional reading: Luce Irigaray, Elemental Passions
4. 'Plato's Hysteria,' pages 243 – 302
Optional reading: Plato's Republic VII, 514a - 521d
5. 'Plato's Hysteria,' pages 303 - 352
Optional reading: Tina Chanter, 'Irigaray’s Challenge to the Fetishistic Hegemony'
‘Who is Frantz Fanon?’ ‘Oh, my body, always make me a man who questions’
Lecturer: Steven Corcoran
Starts: Fri 7:30-9:30pm 18 Jun
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
Lesson 1 – Aspects of Fanon’s biography and Black Skin, White Masks
We will touch here on Fanon’s background and some of the key turning points in his life, before exploring, chapter by chapter, the structure, methods and arguments of the work, his first, that Black Skin, White Masks. Delving into how he understands the structure of an anti-black world and how it impacts the body and psyche of the colonized, we look at his arguments for a revised conception of the human. Fanon’s essential emphasis is always on futurity: how in an anti-black world can the problem of blackness and whiteness be overcome toward a different human futurity.
Reading: Black Skin, White Masks.
Biographical details will be provided shortly before the class. For those wanting something more comprehensive, read David Macey’s excellent Frantz Fanon: A Biography.
Lesson 2 – Fanon, political revolutionary: Algeria (or the nation) as a political category
Moving to Algeria to take up a position as a psychiatric, Fanon’s political ideas (we come to his psychiatric praxis in Lesson 4) shift focus. While Black Skin, White Masks lays out the basic structure of his decolonial work, once in Algeria, surrounded by the anticolonial struggle of the Algerians, he develops a broader theory of the oppressed, colonialism and revolutionary resistance to its systemic reach. The Wretched of the Earth is essential Fanon reading.
Reading: Wretched of the Earth
Lesson 3 – Fanon, political revolutionary
Here we continue to read about Fanon’s political work and his broader takes on the necessity of African unity in the struggle against coloniality as a system. If Fanon’s focus here shifts from Algeria to Africa at large and a call for African unity, this is because his call for solidarity in action is based on an approach to (anti-colonial) struggle that is anti-essentialist, one that is consonant with his work from the beginning and still relevant for us today.
Reading: A Dying Colonialism and Toward the African Revolution
Lesson 4 – Fanon, radical psychiatrist
Little has been written about Fanon’s radical psychiatric work and practice, which he based on an understanding on the role of sociality and culture in the formation of mental illness. Here we touch on themes such as: the role of culture in mental illness and the refusal of all forms of naturalization of mental illness; Fanon’s strong notion of alienation; his critique of ethno-psychiatry; and mental illness as a ‘pathology of freedom’.
Reading: excerpts from The Psychiatric Writings of Frantz Fanon. tba
Lesson 5 – Figures of Fanon
This lesson will be devoted to contemporary readings of Fanon. We will look at the way that Fanonian discourse is woven into various theoretical and political agendas. Broadly, we will contrast Homi Bhabha’s poststructuralist and postcolonialist reading of Fanon with Achille Mbembe’s rather more ethical reading and with the more directly political readings that we see in the likes of Peter Hallward. We thereby hope to grasp in the diversity of the figures insight into how Fanon can inspire us today.
The New Receptions of Jacques Derrida
Lecturer: Dr Peter Gratton
Starts: Mon 12:00-2:00pm 19 Jul
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) is a notoriously difficult philosopher to introduce. He published dozens of texts in his lifetime, left behind many volumes of lectures that will be published over the coming decades, and he was perhaps the most commented upon philosopher of the last fifty years. One thus comes upon his works disoriented about where to begin. The task of this seminar will be twofold: 1) to introduce the work of Derrida to those who are just starting with him and 2) to rethink the dominant ways of interpreting his writings and influence given the ever-new contexts in which we find ourselves reading him. For many, still, Derrida represents a nihilist who was too caught up in clever word games and interpretive nuances to state anything clearly. Coming on the heal of the supposed “end of metaphysics” (something declared in fields ranging from European theory to Anglo-American philosophy to economics and sociology), Derrida’s work, especially after its reception in English and Comparative Literature departments in North America, the UK, and Australia, seemed to offer new ways to interpret texts, but remained thus trapped in in the texts beings read and thus not able to speak what is new, material, and concrete in our world. We will put the lie to this view, visiting key moments in his oeuvre from beginning to end to get a sense of the tasks of Derridean deconstruction, aiming to make clear the philosophical decisions that make it possible.
Reading: Peter Salmon, An Event, Perhaps: A Biography of Jacques Derrida (2020).
[Lecture sets up Derrida’s entire career, plus dips into the influences that shaped his work and answers why he’s still important today.]
Readings: Jacques Derrida, sections, Heidegger: The Question of Being and History, given in 1964-5;
Derrida, sections, Of Grammatology (1967)
Derrida, sections, Positions… (1972)
[Lecture looks at key moments in his early work and its relationship to previous “metaphysics.”]
Reading: Jacques Derrida, sections, Specters of Marx (1994)
[Lecture takes off from his early engagement with Heideggerian temporality to his political considerations of Marx in the early 1990s, specifically his notion of the democracy to come.]
Readings: Jacques Derrida, sections, The Beast and the Sovereign, lectures from 2001-2004.
[These lectures will explore Derrida’s last lecture courses, looking how his career ends with the themes of autoimmunity, the phantasms of sovereignty, an investigation of the human/animal distinction, and critiques such important figures as Agamben.]
The Freudian Subject: A Radical Reappraisal
Lecturer: Jen Izaakson
Starts: Mon 2:30-4:30pm 19 Jul
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
Freud is often relegated to an antiquated relic, that elicits nostalgia, but is made little use of within contemporary philosophical thought.
This course would examine some of the most radical and unexplored aspects of Freud’s theory and ask what sort of subject does Freud construct? Many regard Freud as the father of the ‘science of sex’, an image built retrospectively after his death, but many do not know the origins of psychoanalysis in its historical context. By uncovering these roots, we can find a lesser recognised Freud: his professional ostracisation for lecturing on male hysteria (psychosomatic illness), thus divorcing it from female biology after several millennia, denying women’s so-called ‘frigidity’ in favour of a universal polymorphous perversity, and the coining of ‘housewife’s psychosis’ through the Dora case.
We can discover an underbelly to Freud that places him amongst the foremost thinkers on the indeterminate nature of the subject. The eventual openness of Oedipality, such as its bisexuality in the Leonardo Da Vinci essay, remains largely overlooked in favour of its early, stricter model in Little Hans. Freud’s foundational concepts of castration, primary femininity, infantile sexuality, when understood as indeterminately expressed elements of subjectivity, all speak to an anti-humanist and anti-deterministic Freudian subject. Where then might Freud fit within theory?
If we are to consider Freud as proposing inherently anti-normative parts of the Self, with the unconscious understood as discursive, and sexuality as necessarily disruptive, how does that radical subjectivity relate to the imposition of societal ideological structures?
Other questions to address: what can feminist criticisms of Freud tell us? Where is Freud today within the academy? Is today’s ‘talking cure’ of therapy similar to Freud’s original psychoanalysis?
In advance of the course, the two introductory texts I suggest are Stephen Frosh’s Simply Freud (2017) and an outstanding text book called Reading Freud: A Chronological Exploration of Freud’s Writing (2005) by Jean-Michel Quinodoz. This course is designed to be accessible to new comers to psychoanalysis and will explain key terms like castration, perversion, etc. in understandable ways that everybody can get to grips with. PDF of the complete works of Freud: https://www.valas.fr/IMG/pdf/Freud_Complete_Works.pdf
Lecture 1: Early Freud: Male hysteria, seduction, and universal perversion.
Freud made himself unemployable and unpopular with these theories, but what can we make of them now?
Sigmund Freud, Male hysteria lecture entitled Observation of a Severe Case of Hemi-Anaesthesia in a Hysterical Male (1886), pages 25 – 31, Volume 1, Standard Edition
Sigmund Freud, the ‘Dora’ case entitled Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905 ), pages 2 – 122, Volume 1, Standard Edition (please ensure whichever copy you read that it includes the full retrospective footnotes from 1923)
Sigmund Freud, Heredity and the Aetiology of Hysteria (1888), pages 191 – 225, Volume 3, Standard Edition
Note: There is a lot of reading for these lectures! If it is too much, there are overviews of almost all topics in Reading Freud: A Chronological Exploration of Freud’s Writing (2005). Regardless, these will be gone through thoroughly in the lecture so that by the end everyone will have a good grasp of the ideas.
Lecture 2: Mid Freud – The developing model of Oedipality, infantile sexuality, and universal bisexuality
The Oedipus Complex is perhaps the psychoanalytic model Freud is most widely known for after his elaboration of the unconscious.
From the classic heterosexual model of Little Hans, that already hints at the necessary incorporation of homosexuality, to its triangulation and eventual full bisexuality later on, how can we best understand Oedipality? Is it lifelong and what is its remit? Does its relative absence in the Three Essays on Sexuality mean it isn’t sexual?
How can we reconcile the Leonardo Da Vinci essay that proposes a lifelong open bisexual Oedipus complex with Freud’s later essay on its dissolution?
Should we take the Three Essays on Sexuality literally? If the ‘researches of childhood’ are part of the imaginary life of children and vital to castration, does this give childhood development primacy within Freud’s thought? Does Freud here start to construct an indeterminate theory of the subject?
Sigmund Freud, The case of ‘Little Hans’ entitled Analysis of a Phobia In a Five-Year-Old Boy (1909), pages 3 – 148, Volume 10, Standard Edition
Sigmund Freud, Leonardo Da Vinci essay entitled Leonardo Da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood, pages 63 – 138, Volume 11, Standard Edition
Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), pages 125 – 222, Volume 7, Standard Edition
Bennett Simon & Rachel Blass, The Development and Vicissitudes of Freud’s ideas on the Oedpus Complex, The Cambridge Companion to Freud (1991), pages, 161 – 174, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ronald Britton & Michael Feldman & Edna O’Shaughnessy, The Oedipus Complex Today: Clinical Implications (2019 ), London: Karnac Books
Lecture 3: Middle Freud Maternalism: Primary femininity, masochism, and Freud’s theory of the maternal and narcissistic love.
Primary femininity is pitched by Freud as the bedrock of the subject, but what does it mean and why is its repudiation so important for the development of the subject? Does repudiation equate to rejection? What does Freud mean by narcissistic love and why does he associate both narcissistic love and masochism with women? Both primary femininity and our infantile experience of masochistic desire take place within in earliest life and therefore relate to the world of the maternal. Can we find a theory of the maternal here in Freud?
Sigmund Freud. S, On Narcissism (1914), pages 73 – 104, Vol. 14, Standard Edition
Sigmund Freud, Formulations of Two Principles of Mental Functioning (1911), pages 218 - 226, Vol. 12, Standard Edition
Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and its Discontents (1939 ), pages 64 – 148, Volume 21, Standard Edition
Sigmund Freud, Analysis Interminable and Interminable (1937), pages 250 – 253, Vol. 23, Standard Edition
Lecture 4: Middle Freud Paternalism - the paternal function , castration, and psychosis.
In the middle stage of Freud’s work, he began to observe more and more cases of psychosis in men and relate these issues back to their fathers. But the paternal for Freud does not exactly equate to fathers. What is psychosis? And what is the paternal function and why is it so vital for holding the mind together? What does Freud think this means for patriarchal society and culture?
Sigmund Freud, the ‘Wolf Man’ case entitled From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (1918 ), pages 7 – 104, Volume 17, Standard Edition
Sigmund Freud, On Transformations of Instinct as Exemplified in Anal Eroticism (1917), pages 7 – 104, Volume 17, Standard Edition
Sigmund Freud, The ‘Judge Schreber’ case entitled Pscyho-analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (1911), pages 9 – 84, Volume 12, Standard Edition
Rosine Jozef Perelberg, Dead Father, Murdered Father (1916), London: Karnac Books
Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (1913 ), pages 1 – 100, Volume 13, Standard Edition
Lecture 5: Freud’s legacy – Freudianism and the contemporary Freudian tradition
Freud’s work has undergone significant revisionism within secondary texts and the image of his work both castigated by second-wave feminists and lauded by the Frankfurt School. Are either of these Freud’s recognisable to us in regard to the primary texts?
Where does Freud fit within theory today? Is his thought post-structuralist? Is it queer? If Freud’s work was to explain that which was not explainable within socio-political structures, how does that relate to the role of ideology?
What kind of future does the Freudian practice of psychoanalysis have given the expansion of therapy?
Juliet Mitchel, The Feminists, Psychoanalysis and Feminism (1974), pages 305 - 356, London: Penguin Books Stephen Frosh, Psychoanalysis Outside the Clinic (2010), pages 1 - 39, New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Further reading: Stephen Frosh, Hate and the Jewish Science (2005), New York: Palgrave
Subterranean Passages: The Gothic and Philosophy
Lecturer: Dr Gregory Marks
Starts: Mon 5:00-7:00pm 19 Jul
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
The Gothic genre has long been known for its preoccupation with the limits of thought, the ruin of reason, and the unspeakable borders of language. Whether presented in a natural or supernatural form—in the dark sublimity of mountain craigs or the appearance of spectral revenants—the Gothic is a storehouse of figures made for the expression of human subjectivity at the threshold of the unknown. It is no wonder, then, that philosophers have borrowed tropes, imagery, and narrative structures from the Gothic, or otherwise happened upon similar formations of thought. From Kant’s entombment of the thinking subject within the limits of the faculties and Schopenhauer’s horror at the darkly pulsating will beyond the veil of perception, to Nietzsche’s embrace of bodily flux as the hotbed of cognition and Deleuze’s insistence on the unnatural exteriority of philosophical thought, the Gothic flourish has always been close at hand.
This course will examine the philosophical content of the Gothic genre, and the Gothic form utilised by key figures in modern philosophy. The lectures will begin with a definition of the core structure of the Gothic, and its recurrent use of claustrophobic spaces to chart the limits of human subjectivity. This Gothic obsession with delimitation, privation, and exteriority will be examined not only as a narratological or textual device, but as a structure which extends to epistemological, ideological, and even ontological matters. The subsequent lectures will show how the Gothic repertoire is deployed by philosophers to explore the depths of consciousness and discover the outer bounds of human subjectivity.
LECTURE 1: Defining Gothic: A Genre at the Threshold
The first lecture will define the Gothic as a genre pre-eminently concerned with philosophical matters of cognition, perception, and their limits. According to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s work on Gothic conventions, the Gothic is structured around a claustrophobic spatial model, composed of an inside, an outside, and a barrier that separates them. In Sedgwick’s terms, this spatial disjunction stretches from the physical scenes of typical Gothic narratives (with their castles, crypts, and prisons), to the psychological conditions of their characters (afflicted by amnesia or hidden behind masks and false identities), and even to the textual composition of the narrative itself (which is fragmented by lacunae, interruptions, and unrepresentable scenes). With reference to two divergent essays on the Gothic in Kantian philosophy, we shall see how this spatial dynamic functions in respect to thought, and the manner in which critical philosophy’s work of delimitation makes recourse to the Gothic structure.
- Marshall Brown, “The Limits of Kantian Philosophy,” in The Gothic Text (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005): 69-84.
- Mark Fisher, “Gothic Materialism,” Pli 12 (2001): 230-243.
- Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “The Structure of Gothic Conventions,” in The Coherence of Gothic Conventions (New York: Methuen, 1986): 9-37.
LECTURE 2: The Stakes of Knowledge: Dispossession and Disillusionment
This lecture expands upon the question of knowledge and enlightenment in the Gothic, specifically as it relates to the interrogation of social and ideological systems of thought. Gothic plots are frequently concerned with revealing the hidden order of things and discovering the machinations of power that shape everyday life; an ambition they share with critical works of social theory. This week we will examine the Gothic elements of Hegel’s philosophy of dispossession and Marx’s analysis of capitalist enchantment. In Hegel, we shall find the genesis of Spirit in the privations and trials of dispossession, which conform to a Gothic narrative of bondage and freedom. Conversely, in Marx, we will see a narrative of disillusionment via descent, as the critic of ideology pushes through the surface mirage of the market to uncover the dungeons of labour below.
- Ellen Brinks, “Hegel Possessed: Reading the Gothic in The Phenomenology of Mind,” in Gothic Masculinity: Effeminacy and the Supernatural in English and German Romanticism (London: Associated University Press, 2003): 24-48.
- Selection from David McNally, “Marx’s Monsters,” in Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2011): 113-141.
- Anne Williams, “The House of Bluebeard,” in Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995): 38-48.
LECTURE 3: The Limits of Horror: Minds and Bodies in Flux
The third lecture takes up one of the major subgenres of the Gothic, namely the horror story, to chart the limits of human subjectivity and the role of the body in the genesis of thought. Horror will be defined by its role within Gothic fiction as an encounter with some incomprehensible thing, resulting in a limit-experience of shock, followed by anxiety over the boundaries of selfhood. The first half of the lecture will deal with Schopenhauer’s philosophy of the will; a will which functions as a horrifying alien presence, neither accessible to human consciousness nor entirely apart from our selves. The second half will take up Nietzsche’s treatment of the body’s inner turmoil as a productive form of body-horror. Whereas Schopenhauer’s philosophy leads toward either annihilation or abjection at the thought of our subordination to an external will, Nietzsche’s corporeal account of thought makes the horror of dissolution the very birthplace of philosophy.
- Kelly Hurley, “The Revenge of Matter” and “Symptomatic Readings,” in The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siècle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 23-52.
- Pierre Klossowski “The Valetudinary States at the Origin of a Semiotic of Impulses” in Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997): 15-54.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, “On the Possibility of Knowing the Thing-in-Itself,” The World as Will and Representation, Volume 2 (New York: Dover, 1966): 191-200.
- Anne Williams, “Symbolization and Its Discontents,” in Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995): 66-79.
LECTURE 4: The Terror of Thought: The Thought from Outside
Having discussed the capacities and limits of horror as a model for philosophical thought, we turn toward the other major subdivision of Gothic writing: the tale of terror. With reference to the defining works of Ann Radcliffe, this lecture will examine the philosophical content of terror, which differs from horror in its focus upon the rational re-ordering of thought following an encounter with the unknown. Far from being merely the rational conquest of ignorance, we will see that terror is also a form of thought driven by and preoccupied with what lies outside its scope. The Gothic heroine who undergoes the trials of terror is thrust into an encounter which she cannot understand, which forces her to rethink herself and her place in the world to finally unlock its secrets. With reference to the works of Gilles Deleuze, terror may be seen as a “thought from outside,” or an involuntary moment of discovery in which exterior conditions make thought both possible and necessary. For all Radcliffe’s stated rationalism, her terror-fictions reveal the irrationality which lies at the heart of reason.
- Ann Radcliffe, “On the Supernatural in Poetry,” New Monthly Magazine 16, no. 1 (1826): 145-52.
- Anne Williams, “Nightmere’s Milk,” in Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995): 99-107.
- Anne Williams, “The Fiction of Feminine Desires” and “The Eighteenth-Century Psyche” in Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995): 149-172.
- François Zourabichvili, “Encounter, Sign, Affect,” in Deleuze: A Philosophy of the Event (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012): 56-75.
LECTURE 5: Unspeakable, Inhuman: Beyond the Bounds of Perception
The final lecture turns to the aesthetic categories of the Gothic and their place within a philosophical view of the Gothic. The Gothic predilection for impenetrable forests and precipitous mountain ranges has long made it a natural home for the aesthetics of the sublime, which chart the imposition of nature’s enormity upon the limited minds of its human observers. While the sublime has been theorised primarily in respect to its Romantic practitioners, the Gothic holds the key to an alternative, darker form of the sublime—what Vijay Mishra has characterised as a sublime without transcendence. Less celebrated than the sublime, but no less productive for a theorisation of Gothic thought, are the aesthetic categories of the weird and the eerie, which describe the irruptions and absences of the Gothic style.
- Mark Fisher, The Weird and the Eerie (London: Repeater, 2016).
- Vijay Mishra, “Theorizing the (Gothic) Sublime,” in The Gothic Sublime (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994): 19-44.
The Thought of Georges Bataille
Lecturer: Dr Nina Power
Starts: Mon 7:30-9:30pm 19 Jul
Location: Taught via Zoom online.
This intensive course will examine the work of Georges Bataille (1897-1962), at once philosophical, economic (though not in the usual sense of that word), poetic, artistic, mythical and anthropological. Bataille’s thoughts concerning excess, sacrifice, eroticism, laughter, materialism, death, desire, sovereignty and politics, particularly his attempt to understand the rise of fascism, remain invaluable, and are often drawn upon by heterodox thinkers wishing to think beyond the narrow confines of disciplines as they are usually presented to us. Bataille’s conceptualisation of the driving forces of human existence may veer towards the impossible, the incomprehensible and the irreconcilable, but at the same time he gives us extraordinary ways of thinking about nature, ecology and energy which are vital in making sense of today’s often maddening world.
1.General Economy: Solar Excess
- ‘The Notion of Expenditure’ (1933), Visions of Excess, pp. 116-129
- ‘Rotten Sun’ (1930), Visions of Excess, pp. 57-58
- Allan Stoekl, ‘Bataille’s Ethics: Mechanized Waste and Intimate Expenditure’, pp. 32-59 Bataille’s Peak: Energy, Religion and Postsustainability (2007)
2. Anthropology: Sacrifice & Sovereignty
- ‘The Gift of Rivalry: “Potlatch”’ (1949), The Bataille Reader, pp. 199-209
- ‘Sacrifice, the Festival and the Principles of the Sacred World’ (1948), The Bataille Reader, pp. 210-219
- ‘Knowledge of Sovereignty’ (1953-54), The Bataille Reader, pp. 301-312
- ‘The Schema of Sovereignty’ (1953-54), The Bataille Reader, pp. 313-320
- ‘Violence has its Reasons: Girard and Bataille’, Anthony D. Traylor, Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, Michigan State University Press, Volume 21, 2014, pp. 131-156
3. Philosophy: Bataille Reading Nietzsche
- On Nietzsche (1945), Preface, Parts I&II, pp. xix-48
- Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation (London: Routledge, 1992), Chapter 1, ‘The Death of Sound Philosophy’
4. Politics: Understanding Fascism
- ‘The Psychological Structure of Fascism’ (1934), Visions of Excess, pp. 137-160
- ‘Nietzsche and the Fascists’ (1937), Visions of Excess, pp. 182-196
- Richard Wolin, The Seduction of Unreason, Part II, 4 ‘Left Fascism: Georges Bataille and the German Ideology’, pp. 153-186
5. Art, Death, Erotics & Aesthetics
- ‘Sacrificial Mutilation and the Severed Ear of Vincent Van Gogh’ (1930), Visions of Excess, pp. 61-72
- ‘The Pineal Eye’ (c. 1930), Visions of Excess, pp. 79-90
- ‘Preface to the History of Eroticism’ (1953-54), The Bataille Reader, pp. 237-241
- ‘Death’, The Bataille Reader, pp. 242-247
- Troy M. Burdun, ‘George Bataille, Philosopher of Laughter’ (2013), MLA paper