ENGL 456 Fall 2012 Special Topics in Critical Theory: Zizek

This course is for students of any major who wish to continue studying critical, cultural, or literary theory. Students will give close attention to a single theorist or philosophical school or perhaps to a single question as taken up by several theorists. Topics will vary by semester. The topic of this year's course is the theorist, Slavoj Zizek. Zizek's writing is a ferment of psychoanalysis, science fiction, Marxism, crime thrillers, opera, and dirty jokes. He may be the only philosopher alive who is so entertaining that one sometimes forgets that he is also really smart. Our first task, accordingly, will be to figure out what Zizek's philosophical and political project has been, since he never really says. We will try, in other words, to identify what is most systematic in a body of writing that looks more off-handed than it actually is. And if we can't find the system, we should at least be able to name Zizek's preoccupations: What is the relationship between pleasure and political power? Does power operate differently now than it used to? Is obscenity--or rambunctious eroticism--one path towards liberation? What do most of us do with knowledge that is too terrible to bear? Is there an alternative to global capitalism and onrushing ecological collapse? Is there anything about Christianity worth saving? Or about communism? We will read widely in Zizek, splicing in as little Freud, Hegel, Marx, and Lacan as we can get away with.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: informal weekly writing and a seminar paper
Additional Info: can not be taken as pass/fail
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: a 100-level English Course, or a score of 5 on the AP Exam in English Literature or a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate; prior coursework in critical theory or continental philosophy, no matter the department, is strongly recommended
Enrollment Preference: none
Department Notes:
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes:
Divisional Attributes: Division I
Other Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses
Enrollment Limit: 20
Expected Enrollment: 20
Class Number: 1861
ENGL456-01(F) SEM Zizek Division 1: Languages and the Arts Christian Thorne
TF 1:10 PM-2:25 PM Hollander 040 1861
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