Professors

Kevin Newmark (Boston College)

Schedule

Monday
From 13:30
to 15:00
Wednesday
From 13:30
to 15:00

 

The 20th century was marked by a series of unexpected and transformative events. Today's thinking in the 21st century is thus, in part, the result of shock waves registered in almost every area conceivable: from historical occurrences to socio-political practices, from philosophical reflections to literary forms. This course will examine innovative ways in which these shock waves have been registered in works of literature, philosophy, theology, linguistics, and journalism. Some of the more challenging questions to be addressed include: war and genocide, racism and post-colonialism, gender differences and relations, language and technology, globalization and the future of the planet. The purpose of this course is to help students appreciate how the past intervenes in the “present” as both an inescapable legacy and a possible starting point for future change.

This course aims to awaken in students an appreciation of the way such sudden and disruptive changes—in history, society, philosophy, and literature—make our situation in the 21st century both a challenge and an opportunity. Facing the unexpected is difficult because it challenges those ways of viewing the world that have become familiar and therefore comfortable for us. However, these challenges can in turn become opportunities for inaugurating modes of thinking and behaving in the future that might be different in very welcome ways, too. One part of the course will be devoted to a consideration, usually through press reports of day-to-day news, of the way all these issues can be traced in especially powerful examples drawn from our own times. We will take advantage of the international composition of our class by reflecting on the different ways news is reported and experienced within the context of diverse cultures. Such reflections should help to make students more sensitive to the delicate interplay between registering shock and coping with its realities. The overall objective of the course is to examine material that can help students begin to appreciate not only what has already happened to change the world we have inherited from our various traditions, but also to consider what still remains possible, what is now demanded of us as we confront and are confronted by new responsibilities. 

 

Syllabus

Class 1: Monday 9/11

Introduction to course: Mark Edmundson, “On the Uses of a Liberal Education” (1997)

Class 2: Wednesday 9/13

M. Coetzee, Disgrace (1999)

Class 3: Monday 9/18

M. Coetzee, Disgrace (1999)

Class 4: Wednesday 9/20

M. Coetzee, Disgrace (1999)

Class 5: Monday 9/25

M. Coetzee, Disgrace (1999)

Class 6: Wednesday 9/27

Jacques Derrida, On Forgiveness (1999)

Class 7: Monday 10/2

Jacques Derrida, On Forgiveness” (1999)

Class 8: Wednesday 10/4

Jean-Lu Nancy, God, Justice, Love, Beauty (2009)

Class 9: Monday 10/9

René Descartes, First Meditations (Selections) (1641)

Class 10: Wednesday 10/11

René Descartes, First Meditations (Selections) (1641)

Class 11: Monday 10/16

Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (Selections) (1916)

Class 12: Wednesday 10/18

Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (Selections) (1916)

Class 13: Monday 10/23

Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1957), The Death of the Author (1968)

Class 14: Wednesday 10/25

Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1957), The Death of the Author (1968)

30 October -3 November: Mid-Term Break

Class 15: Monday 11/6

Italo Calvino, Under the Jaguar Sun (1986)

Class 16: Wednesday 11/8

Italo Calvino, Under the Jaguar Sun (1986)

Class 17: Monday 11/13

Emanuel Lévinas, Bible and Philosophy, There is (1946)

Class 18: Wednesday 11/15:

Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour (1960)

Monday 11/20: No class – to be rescheduled

Class 19: Wednesday 11/22

Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour (1960)

Class 20: Monday 11/27

Art Spiegelman, Maus (1986)

Class 21: Wednesday 11/29

Art Spiegelman, Maus (1986)

Class 22: Monday 12/4

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology (1954)          

Class 23: Wednesday 12/6

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology (1954)

Class 24: Monday 12/11 Make-up Class

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology (1954)

Exam: Wednesday 12/13

 

Evaluation

Class attendance is mandatory. Students will be evaluated on the basis of regular participation as well as on both short and medium length writing assignments.

Students will be graded according to class participation (25%), seminar presentation (20%) mid-term essay (25%), and final paper (30%).

 

Bibliography

Roland Barthes, Mythologies (Selections), “What is an Author?”

Italo Calvino, Under the Jaguar Sun (Selections)

M. Coetzee, Disgrace

Jacques Derrida, On Forgiveness

René Descartes, First Meditations (Selections)

Marguerite Duras Hiroshima mon amour

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology

Emmanuel Lévinas, Ethics and Infinity (Selections)

Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (Selections)

Art Spiegelman, Maus

 

Venice
International
Universiy

Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,
Italy

-
phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510
email: viu@univiu.org

VAT: 02928970272