M. S. Roth [email protected] The Modern and the Postmodern HIST, CHUM and COL 214: Spring 2014 MW, 11:00 am – 12:20 pm In this course we shall examine how the idea of "the modern" develops at the end of the 18th century, and how being modern (or progressive, or hip) became one of the crucial criteria for understanding and evaluating cultural change during the last two hundred years. We shall be concerned with the relations between culture and historical change, and our materials shall be drawn from a variety of areas: philosophy, the novel, and critical theory (with possible forays into music, painting, and photography). Finally, we shall try to determine what it means to be modern today, and whether it makes sense to go beyond the modern to the postmodern. The Modern and the Postmodern traces the intertwining of the idea of modernity with the idea of art or culture from the late 18th century until the present. Beginning with the Enlightenment, Western cultures have invested heavily in the notion that the world can be made more of a home for human beings through the development of culture (and technology). Throughout this period there has also developed a strong, sophisticated counter-movement that sees the Enlightenment effort as a disaster – destructive of both art and of the world. The Western idea of modernity is linked to but not the same as the idea of modernism. We will examine both in this class and then consider postmodernism in relation both to the philosophical idea of modernity and to the aesthetic considerations of modernism. This course covers a lot of ground, historically, conceptually and aesthetically. There is much to read, and very different kinds of reading: from philosophy to novels, from theory to poetry. Not all students will like all the reading, but if you digest it all, you should have a clearer sense of the cultural history of our present. There will also be musical and visual material presented in class or in special sessions. There are five books for sale at Broad Street Books: Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen, Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse, Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, and Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. The other readings are available on the library’s electronic reserve or on the Moodle site for this course. There are links to several of the texts online, and we provide some of those on Moodle. Learning Goals Students should develop a historical, literary and philosophical understanding of some of the key themes of modernity and modernism in the West. They should learn to read classic and contemporary texts for their arguments, beauty and pertinence. They should see why these texts are “good to think with,” and, it is hoped, they will develop an appetite for further study in the areas covered by the course. Class Responsibilities: Students are expected to come to class having read carefully the material for that day. They must arrive in class on time, and (except under extraordinary circumstances) they should Modern and Postmodern Spring 2014 - 2 not exit the room before the end of class. Students will often find it helpful to bring copies of the text to class, since many of the lectures build on quotations from the assignments. Students will also be responsible for helping to direct class discussion by posting, every week, a response to the reading via the Moodle site for the course. These responses may be in the form of questions about the reading or as a personal reaction to the reading that would be useful or provocative for class discussion. They should begin with a short quotation from the reading that prompts your response and be approximately 100 words long. The class will be divided into “blog groups” of about 10 students each. After you have posted a comment or question to the group, you will be able to comment on the posts of other students. You should also register for the online version of this class, which is offered in conjunction with Coursera. In addition to posting your comment on the Moodle page for the on-campus class, you should post to the discussion boards in the Coursera class every week. You may use the same post. There will be three exams in this class. The exams will have two parts: the first will be short answers to be completed in class, and the second will be essays to be written at home. Grades will be based on the following: Exam 1: 20%; Exam 2: 25%; Final Exam: 40%; Moodle-Coursera posts/class participation: 15%. Kate Brackney will be the grader for this course, and she will distribute a guide to grading early in the semester. Prof. Roth will read and re-grade any exam upon the request of the student. In addition to the exams, you have the choice of developing a research paper for the course. This is optional (recommended for students using this course in their major). If you choose to do a research paper, you should plan for it to be about 12 pages long, and you should discuss the topic with Prof. Roth in advance. Proposals for the papers should be submitted before Spring break. Research papers will be due at the end of the semester. For those who write the paper, the grades will be composed of the following components: Exam 1: 10%; Exam 2: 20%; Final Exam: 30%; Paper: 30%, and Moodle posts/class Participation: 10%. Late papers or exams will have their grades reduced by one letter grade for each day they are late. The only exception is for medical reasons (requested in advance with documentation). Honor Code: All work handed in for this course must comply with the Wesleyan honor code. You must take responsibility for your own work and cite the work of others. If you have any questions about plagiarism or about how the honor code applies to your work, please see either Profs. Roth or Brackney, or consult the Student Handbook. Students with Disabilities: It is the policy of Wesleyan University to provide reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities. Students, however, are responsible for registering with Disabilities Services, in addition to making requests known to me in a timely manner. If you require accommodations in this class, please make an appointment with Prof. Roth as soon as possible, so that appropriate arrangements can be made. The procedures for registering with Disabilities Services can be found at http://www.wesleyan.edu/studentaffairs/disabilities/index.html. Modern and Postmodern Spring 2014 - 3 Week I: January 27, 29 — Introduction: Modernity and its Discontents Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Discourse on the Arts and Sciences” (1750) Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?” (1784) Week II: Feb 3, Feb 5 — What is Enlightenment? Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Discourse on the Origins of Inequality” (1755) Week III: Feb 10, 12 — From Enlightenment to Revolution Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor” from 1844 Manuscripts: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848) Begin reading Madame Bovary (Modern Library, trans. Lydia Davis) Week IV: Feb 17th and 19th — Modernism and Art for Art’s Sake Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1856) Review Session: Tuesday, Feb 18th, 8:30 pm First Part of Exam and Take Home Due: Friday, Feb 21 Week V: Feb 24 and Feb 26 — Re-Imagining the World Charles Darwin, “Struggle for Existence,” “Natural Selection” and “Sexual Selection” from The Origin of Species (6th edition). (1st ed 1859) Darwin, “Conclusion” from The Descent of Man. 1871 Week VI: March 3 and March 5 — From Struggle to Intensity Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen (1857-1867) Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, essay 2. (1887) SPRING BREAK – MARCH 8-23 Week VII: March 24, March 26 — Intensity and the Ordinary: Sex, Death, Aggression and Guilt Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents (1930) Week IX: March 31 and April 2 — Intensity and the Ordinary: Art, Loss, Forgiveness Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927) First Part of Exam and Take Home Due: April 7 Week X: April 7 — The Postmodern Everyday EMERSON, “Experience” or “Self-Reliance” (1844, 1841) Ludwig Wittgenstein, Selections from Philosophical Investigations (1953) EVENING CLASS this week to substitute for April 9 Modern and Postmodern Spring 2014 - 4 Week XI: April 14, 16 — From Critical Theory to Postmodernism Horkheimer and Adorno, “The Concept of Enlightenment” (1947) Michel Foucault, selections from Madness and Civilization (1964) “What is Enlightenment?,” Foucault Reader (1984) Week XII: April 21, 23 — Fictions of the Future and the Past Review and Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982). Alison Bechdel, Fun Home 2006 Jennifer Egan “Ask Me if I Care,” The New Yorker (March 8, 2010): http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2010/03/08/100308fi_fiction_egan Jennifer Egan, “Out of Body” from A Visit from the Goon Squad _____, “Black Box,” http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/06/jenniferegan-black-box.html Week XIII: April 28 and 30 — Postmodern Identities Judith Butler, "Introduction" from Undoing Gender (2004) Slavoj Žižek, “You May!” London Review of Books, vol. 21 (March 1999) Week XIV: May 5 and 7 — Postmodern Pragmatisms Rorty, “Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism” (1983) and Cornel West, “Prophetic Pragmatism” (1999) from Pragmatism: A Reader. Anthony Appiah, “Cosmopolitan Contamination” from Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (2006), 101-113. Bruno Latour, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Winter, 2004), pp. 225-248. FINAL EXAMINATION: Friday, May 16th.