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2022 Spring


Bill McGuire
For information about registration please contact our admissions.

Here is the course outline:

1. 9.2 Class Meeting

Feb 9

Session 1: Topic: Introduction to the Course Description: Introduction: Social Theory from the Enlightenment to the Post-Enlightenment; our precarious 21st century; syllabus, grading and course expectations Reading: Elliott, 1-16; Alan Jacobs’ “Wokeness and Myth on Campus” (2017) (text posted on the weekly module of our NEO course site) Master’s: n/a Assignments/deadlines: n/a

2. 16.2 Class Meeting

Feb 16

Session 2: Topic: Enlightenment Social Theory in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant Description: The ontological presuppositions of social contract theory (Hobbes, Locke); Rousseau’s critique of society; Kant’s “transcendental” and “critical” philosophy and its implications for ethics and ontology Reading:; Kant’s “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”; Master’s: Selection from Rousseau’s “The Social Contract” (“Society and the Individual”); Selection from Kant’s “Groundwork for a Metaphysics of Morals” Assignments/deadlines: n/a

3. 23.2 Class Meeting

Feb 23

Session 3: Topic: German Idealism and Dialectical Materialism Description: Hegel’s appropriation of Kant’s transcendentalism; Hegel’s dialectical method and theory of society; Marx’s appropriation of Hegelian method Reading:  Elliott, 17-23; Selection from Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (“The Unified State—From Individual Desire to Rational Self-determination”); Selection from Marx and Engel’s “Bourgeois and Proletarians” (from The Communist Manifesto); Master’s:  Hegel’s “Absolute Freedom and Terror” (from Phenomenology of Spirit); Selection from Hegel’s Science of Logic (“Dialectics”); Selections from Marx’s Grundrisse and The German Ideology Optional:  If you're quite new to Marx's ideas, and would like a nice introduction to them, there's a quite good film by Raoul Peck called The Young Karl Marx (2017) that you may find enjoyable. Assignments/deadlines: n/a

4. 2.3 Class Meeting

Mar 2

Session 4: Topic: Challenging the Enlightenment: Nietzsche and Freud; Weber, Durkheim and Modern Sociology Description: Nietzsche’s “archeology” and “genealogy” of morality; Nietzsche’s response to the problem of nihilism; Freud and the discovery of the unconscious; Weber and Durkheim’s foundational contributions to sociology Reading: Elliot, 24-37; Selection from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (“The Madman”); selection from Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (“Against Conventional Morality”); selection from Freud’s Civilisation and its Discontents; Master’s: Selection from Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Assignments/deadlines: n/a

5. 9.3 Class Meeting

Mar 9

Session 5: Topic: Heidegger and Existential Phenomenology Description: Why Heidegger?; Existential phenomenological analysis and its application to social theory; Heidegger’s legacy; Sartre and Arendt Reading: “Martin Heidegger” (from Melchert and Morrow’s The Great Conversation); (Optional: Selection from Sartre’s Existentialism and Human Emotions (“Existentialism”)) Master’s: Selection from Heidegger’s Being and Time (“Being-in-the-World as Being-with and Being a Self: The “They”) Optional further viewing: "Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt" (2015 documentary directed by Ada Ushpiz) Assignments/deadlines: n/a

6. 16.3 Class Meeting

Mar 16

Session 6: Topic: Frankfurt School Critical Theory Description: Frankfurt School critical theory: Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, Fromm; The Frankfurt School’s appropriation of Marxist, Psychoanalytical and Existential Phenomenological method; Marcuse on “one dimensionality” and “total administration” Reading: Elliott, 40-71; Selection from Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man”; Adorno’s “Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda” Master’s: Adorno’s “Culture Industry Revisited”; Selection from Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment Assignments/deadlines: n/a

7. 23.3 Class Meeting

Mar 23

Session 7: Topic: Discussion of I Am Not Your Negro (documentary film, 2016, directed by Raoul Peck) (Students must watch this film prior to our class discussion) Description: James Baldwin on race and social justice; Applied existential phenomenology and critical theory (Optional further reading: Martin Luther King Jr's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" (1963) (Can be found in the "Resources" section under "Additional Optional Readings")) Review for Midterm Exam

8. 6.4 Class Meeting

Apr 6

Session 8: Topic: The Structuralist Turn and the Discursive Unconscious: The Structural, Existential, Phenomenological and Post-Structural Psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan Description: Structuralism: Saussure, Levi-Strauss, Barthes; Lacan’s eclectic methodology; The 3 registers of the Lacanian psyche (“imaginary,” “symbolic,” and “real”); Lacan’s “four discourses”; The Lacanian seminars and their influence on the French intellectual world Reading: Elliott, 75-92, 112-132; Lacan’s “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the ‘I’ Function”; (Optional: Selection from Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics; Selection from Barthes’s Mythologies; Lacan’s “The Symbolic, the Imaginary, and the Real”) Master’s: Lacan’s “The Function and Field of Language and Speech in Psychoanalysis” (Optional: Selection from Claude Levi-Strauss (TBD)) Assignments/deadlines: n/a

9. 13.4 Class Meeting

Apr 13

Session 9: Topic: Interpellation, Panopticism, Power and the Subject Description: Althusser’s synthesis of Marx and Lacan; “ideological and repressive state apparatuses”; “Interpellation” and “subjectivation”; Foucault on the modern subject; the Enlightenment and disciplinary power; “panopticism” Reading: Elliott, 92-109; “The Eye of Power” (Interview with Foucault); (Optional: Foucault’s “The Subject and Power”) Master’s: Althusser’s “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”; Selection from Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (“Panopticism”) (Optional: Foucault’s “Discourse on Language”) Assignments/deadlines: n/a

10. 20.4 Class Meeting

Apr 20

Session 10: Topic: Poststructuralism I: Deconstruction and Community Description: Derrida on “difference,” the “metaphysics of presence” “grammatology” and “community”; Blanchot and Nancy on community and difference Reading:; Elliott, 132-138; “Deconstruction in a Nutshell” (A roundtable interview with Derrida) Master’s: Nancy’s The Inoperable Community (Optional: Blanchot’s The Unavowable Community) Assignments/deadlines: n/a

11. 27.4 Class Meeting

Apr 27

Session 11: Topic: Structuration, Habitus, System, Democracy Description: Giddens on “structuration”; Bourdieu and “habitus”; Habermas’s defense of the Enlightenment and democracy; Luhmann’s “systems theory” Reading: Elliott, 144-174, 177-205 (Optional: Habermas’s “The Public Sphere”; Hudson’s “Social Theory Without Reason: Luhmann and the Challenge of Systems Theory: An Interview with Niklas Luhmann”) Master’s: Habermas’s “An Alternative to the Philosophy of the Subject (Optional: Selection from Luhmann’s Introduction to Systems Theory (Chapter 5 “Psychic and Social Systems”); Selection from Bourdieu’s Distinction) Assignments/deadlines: n/a

12. 4.5 Class Meeting

May 4

Session 12: Topic: Feminism and Patriarchy Description: Beauvoir’s existential phenomenology of the feminine; Kristeva’s feminist semiotics; Irigaray’s psychoanalysis of “phallocentrism”; Butler’s “gender performativity” Reading: Elliott, 207-248; Irigaray’s “The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine” Master’s: Selection from Butler’s Gender Trouble (“Performative Acts and Gender Constitution”) Assignments/deadlines: n/a

13. 11.5 Class Meeting

May 11

Session 13: Topic: Poststructuralism II: Difference, Desire, Simulacra, Postmodernism Description: Deleuze and Guattari’s “schizoanalysis”; Lyotard on “the postmodern condition”; Baudrillard, “simulacra,” and “the desert of the real”; Responses to postmodernism by Jameson and Zizek Reading: Elliott, 252-274; Selection from Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition”; Selections from Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus; (Optional: Selection from Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulations; Jameson’s “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” Master’s: Selection from Zizek’s The Sublime Object of Ideology (Optional: Selection from Baudrillard’s “Symbolic Exchange and Death”; Selection from Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus) Assignments/deadlines: n/a

14. 18.5 Class Meeting

May 18

Session 14: Topic: Networks, Risks, Liquids…. Discussion of The Social Dilemma (film, 2020, directed by Jeff Orlowski) (Students must watch this film prior to our class discussion) Description: On becoming the products of our technologies and economies; Baumann on “liquid modernity” and Beck on “the risk society’; Castells on “network societies” and “flows”; Review for Final Exam Reading: Elliott, 274-329; (Optional: Selection from Bauman’s Liquid Modernity (Forward: “On Being Light and Liquid”); Bauman’s “Migration and Identities in the Globalized World”; Beck’s “Global Risk Society” (interview)) Master’s: Selection from Bauman’s Liquid Modernity (Chapter 1: “Emancipation”) Assignments/deadlines: n/a

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