PSCI 333 Spring 2013 The Sublime in Politics and Political Thought

This course examines discourses on terror, wonder and awe from the Enlightenment to the present, using the idea of the sublime to rethink important events like the French Revolution and the recent War on Terror. The sublime has meant different things to a great number of thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition, going back to a treatise attributed to Longinus, a 1st century Greek rhetoretician. Longinus was concerned with the power of great poets to "elevate" their audiences, transporting them beyond the limits of their comprehension through mixtures of terror, wonder and awe. How did this old text focusing on experiences beyond the rational come to hold such fascination for philosophers and political thinkers during the Age of Enlightenment? What is the relationship between current events in politics and public culture and the recent revival of scholarly interest in the sublime? Beyond revolution and war, course readings will explore the limits of human comprehension and apprehension in environmental politics, debates over fetal rights, and the fear of confronting people different from ourselves. Though we will regularly take up examples drawn from the worlds of art, literature, politics, and the mass media, our central focus will be on the careful reading of philosophical and critical texts, including Kant's Critique of Judgment and writings from among the following authors: Edmund Burke, Friedrich Schiller, G.F.W. Hegel, Slavoj Zizek, Hannah Arendt, Bonnie Mann, Christine Battersby, and Jean-Francois Lyotard.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: regular class participation, three papers (3 pages, 7 pages and 8-10 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: 3658
PSCI333-01(S) SEM Sublime in Polit & Polit Thght Division 2: Social Studies Nimu Njoya
MR 2:35 PM-3:50 PM Paresky 207 3658
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