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Liberal Studies Courses

GLIB 5826  Women and the Making of Modernity Fall 2011. Three credits.

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Intellectual History GLIB 5101  Modernity and Its Discontents Fall 2011. Three credits.

James Miller

As an introduction to liberal studies at The New School for Social Research, this seminar brings new students and members of the faculty together to explore a variety of themes and texts that represent the critical concerns of our age. Topics include freedom and the problem of progress; human rights; individualism; the end of slavery and the implications of European world domination; new views of human nature; the idea of the avant-garde; and the moral implications of modern war and totalitarianism. Among the authors read are Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, James Madison, Robespierre, Condorcet, Hegel, Marx, Emerson, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Joseph Conrad, Darwin, Freud, Ernst Jünger, Georg Lukács, André Malraux, Jean Améry, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. GLIB 5321  Reading Foucault Spring 2012. Three credits.

Gina Luria Walker

This course examines the ambitions, struggles, and achievements of a group of Western women intellectuals who produced new knowledge that contributed to modern understanding. We begin with the pre-Enlightenment “Querelle des Femmes,” which polarized responses to historical misogyny, Poullain de la Barre’s Cartesian argument that “the mind has no sex,” and the erratic diffusion of the idea of the “equality of the sexes.” We consider the explosion of print culture, the gendering of genre, and the publication successes of fledgling female writers for the new audience of female readers. We study the emergence of Enlightenment feminists like Marie Madeleine Jodin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Mary Hays, who interrogated the conversations of “canonical forefathers” on the subjects of virtue, power, and authority. We trace the centrality o f Enlightenment feminisms to the “revolution debate” after 1789 and the gender conservatism that followed. We investigate the careers of 19th-century public female intellectuals in light of emerging academic cultures of teaching and learning, the explosion of science (including astronomy, birth control technology, and photography), and the impact of these innovations on gender dynamics. We investigate current perspectives on the silences and dialogues between male thinkers like Rousseau, Kant, Godwin, and Nietzsche and their female contemporaries. We celebrate the accomplishments of pioneering women, including Harriet Martineau, George Eliot, Anna Jameson, Hertha Ayerton, and Marie Curie. We assess early modern women’s proposals for female education in light of their own experiences as autodidacts and amid pervasive social anxiety about learned women. We ask what opportunities did these women create for themselves and have these endured?

James Miller

Through a close reading of one major text, Madness and Civilization, this seminar explores the problem of how to enter the imaginative universe of a literary and philosophical work. Using essays by Jean Starobinski and Borges as signposts, we begin by reading the (abridged) English translation of Foucault’s masterpiece straight through. Afterwards, we briefly compare one recent historiographic account of madness to that of Foucault’s book. By raising doubts about Foucault’s concern for empirical accuracy, we raise questions about the philosophical and literary subtexts of his work. In order to clarify, we also read several contemporary essays by Foucault (on Binswanger, and on the madness of Hoelderlin), and discuss literature and art implicitly or explicitly alluded to in Madness and Civilization, including Plato’s Phaedrus, Erasmus’ In Praise of Folly, Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, Sade’s Justine, Nerval’s Aurelia, Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, essays by Andre Breton and Antonin Artaud, and paintings by Bosch, Goya, and Van Gogh. Finally, we review some contemporary commentaries on Foucault by Roland Barthes, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida. At the end of the course, we return to Madness and Civilization. Does the knowledge we have acquired change our readings of Foucault’s masterpiece?

Art, Literature, and Society GLIB 5154  The Modernist Imagination Spring 2012. Three credits.

Robert Boyers

The word modernism has come to stand for a great range of activities and ideas. Early in the 20th century, it was often used to express an opposition to tradition in the arts, especially to the conventions associated with realism and romanticism. Some influential modernists claimed that new forms of art embodied a quasi-religious force with the capacity to redeem the chaos and nihilism of contemporary culture. Still others viewed modernism more narrowly in exclusively aesthetic terms, praising its commitment to formalism, myth, and irony as an expression of “values only to be found in art” (Clement Greenberg). However understood, modernism is now widely considered a relic. Modernists like Joyce, Kafka, Proust, and Picasso continue to excite critical commentary, but younger artists typically turn elsewhere for inspiration. What was modernism, and what precisely is the nature of its enduring value? To address these questions, the course examines a variety of primary sources by writers like Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, T.S. Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, and artists like Picasso, Duchamp, and Jackson Pollock; and a smaller number of critical texts by Octavio Paz, Clement Greenberg, Lionel Trilling, and Susan Sontag. We also view and discuss three seminal modernist films: Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, Federico Fellini’s 8½, and Jean-Luc Godard’s The Married Woman.


The New School for Social Research Catalog 2011-2012