PSCI 330 Spring 2013 Existentialism and Politics

If the classical imperative was to "know thyself," then the modern one is simply to "be yourself." The call to authenticity can be heard not only in popular culture, but also in many of the new social movements such as feminism, ethnic consciousness movements, and anti-colonial movements. Is there an essential way of being that underpins distinct ethnic, national, or gender identities? And what exactly constitutes this "self" that one is asked, quite simply, to be? Course readings critically examine the idea of authenticity, casting it in light of philosophical debates on existence, the nature of being, the idea of the self, and the role of individual experience in generating identities and subjectivities. We will begin with Kierkegaard's account of the singularity of one's own existence and the dimensions of individuality that cannot be captured by traditional ethics and philosophical categories. We will then move on to discuss other conceptions of being-with-oneself and with others, reading such thinkers as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi and Simone de Beauvoir. These thinkers prompt us to think not only about our existence, but also about the political, social, and economic relations that condition our being and becoming.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: regular class participation, several short (1 page) response memos, one paper (6 pages) and one longer final essay (12-15 pages)
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Prerequisites: at least one course in political theory or philosophy or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preference: Political Science majors and concentrators in Political Theory
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: PSCI Political Theory Courses
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 3657
PSCI330-01(S) LEC Existentialism and Politics Division 2: Social Studies Nimu Njoya
TR 09:55 AM-11:10 AM Physics 113 3657
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