Thinking Politically with the Greeks
Instructor: Chiara Ricciardone
In this course, students will learn to creatively apply knowledge of ancient Greek politics to political problems that matter to them today. We will develop a multi-faceted picture of the ancient Greek polis, reading political philosophy by Plato and Aristotle as well as ancient Greek history, poetry, oratory, tragedy, and comedy. We will also consider how some modern thinkers, including Hannah Arendt, Paul Tillich, and C.L.R. James have drawn courage and inspiration from the Greek tradition for their politically influential thought. Key concepts and themes include: democracy, equality, freedom, justice, and revolution; as well as imperialism, slavery, exclusion, elitism, tyranny, and dissent. Students will actively co-construct their learning experience. At the midterm, each student will design a syllabus for the version of the class they would love to take for the remainder of the semester. They can do their own research, and they can also draw on the Course Bibliography, which provides resources for modules such as Race and Racism in Antiquity; Punishment, Incarceration, and Police; Rebellion, Direct Action, and Activism; Immigration and Inclusion; and Free Speech and Political Rhetoric. Students will then collaborate on a shared syllabus to follow for the remainder of the term. The final product of the course is an individual or group Praxis Project, an open-format project in which students remix an ancient Greek text to think through a political issue that is important to them
Speaking Truth to Power: Testimony, Prison and Exile
Instructor: Franco Baldasso
Is it possible to react creatively to experiences of subjugation, internment, and prison? Through documenting personal and collective traumatic experience caused by political and social oppression — especially under totalitarian regimes, but also in prisons of democratic states — intellectuals are able to bear witness and make sense of their experience, challenging the indifference of the outer world. And yet, surviving extreme conditions forced them to ask: “how has internment, how has exile changed not only me, but also my voice?” As an outlet for freedom, for denouncing violence and perpetrators, the expression of discontent can become an impossible burden to carry, from (self)censorship to the so-called “survivor’s guilt.” In this course we will analyze groundbreaking testimony and fiction (Primo Levi, Antonio Gramsci, Sylvia Plath, Czeslaw Milosz and Ta-Nehisi Coates), together with theoretical texts by Goffman, Foucault, Agamben and Said. We will also examine contemporary filmmaking describing how poetry can happen even in prisons, in movies such as Slam by Marc Levin and Caesar Must Die by the Taviani Brothers.
The Political Life of the Mourning.
Instructor: Sam Hill
There has been a swell of interest around themes of loss, grief, and mourning within contemporary political theory. This course is designed to explore and critically engage with some of these questions. Can we transform moments of loss into an opportunity for democratic politics? Are those losses already political? How are these formative moments of loss—the death of a son, 9/11, the murder of Eric Garner—constitutive of a collective politics? The course will explore the political life of mourning within the tradition of western political thought. Drawing together texts from Sophocles, Freud, Butler, Douglas, Du Bois, Morrison, and Moten we will look at examples from contemporary historical experience including the struggle for queer rights in Butler’s work on melancholia, the question of precarity in the attacks of 9/11 and second war in Iraq, and the tradition of mourning within the African American community from W.E.B. Du Bois to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement.