COMP 344
From Hermeneutics to Post-Coloniality and Beyond
Last Offered Fall 2010
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed COMP 344 / ENGL 386 / REL 304
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

This course explores and critiques some of the resources offered by “Theory” for making sense of our contemporary situation, focusing on the nature of interpretation and its role in the construction of the self in a global world. We start with Gadamer’s hermeneutics, which offers a classical formulation of the philosophy of liberal arts education, stressing the importance of questioning one’s prejudices. Although this approach offers important resources for understanding ourselves in a world of cultural differences, it also has limitations, which we explore through the works of Derrida, Foucault and Said. In this way, we question some of the notions central to understanding ourselves such as identity and difference, suggesting some of the difficulties in the ever more important yet problematic project of knowing oneself. We also suggest that representation is not innocent but always implicated in the world of power and its complexities, particularly within the colonial and postcolonial contexts explored by Said. We conclude with a critique of the constructivist paradigm central to this course done from the point of view of cognitive sciences and suggest that the future of “Theory” may well be in a dialogue with the emerging mind sciences. This course, which theorizes the possibilities of cross-cultural understanding, is part of the Exploring Diversity Initiative. Reading list: H.G. Gadamer, Truth and Method. F. Saussure, Course in General Linguistics. J. Derrida, Of Grammatology. P. Rabinow, Foucault Reader. E. Said, Orientalism. Agamben, Homo Sacer.
The Class: Format: lecture/discussion
Limit: 18
Expected: 18
Class#: 1575
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: full attendance and participation and three essays (6 pages)
Prerequisites: some familiarity with philosophy and/or theory is recommended
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under REL; meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under COMP or ENGL
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 344 Division I ENGL 386 Division I REL 304 Division II
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
ASST Interdepartmental Electives
ENGL Criticism Courses
REL Body of Theory Courses

Class Grid

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