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Jean-François Lyotard: the sublime and the differend

Lecturer: Ashley Woodward

Originally Taught: Summer School 2003

This subject will explore the philosophy of Jean-François Lyotard, the French post-structuralist philosopher who was largely responsible for introducing the idea of the "postmodern" into contemporary philosophy and theory. We shall focus on three themes central to Lyotard’s thought: language, politics, and art. We will look at Lyotard’s major work of his postmodern period, The Differend, which is his most important intervention in issues of politics and justice, and which rests upon a complex philosophy of language. We shall also examine Lyotard’s influential engagements with art and aesthetics, dealing with his interpretation of the sublime and his writings on avant-garde artists, such as Newman and Monory.

prior reading:
a. the "Lyotard" entry at the Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy (written by Ashley Woodward himself):
b. James Williams, Lyotard: Towards a Postmodern Philosophy, (especially chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6)
c. Lyotard, The Postmodern Explained
d. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.
Brave souls may wish to make a start on
e. Lyotard, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute