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Can we imagine possibilities of justice not dictated by already determined norms? What would a community founded on such a conception of justice look like? Can we imagine a version of community not founded on exclusion? What would the members of such a community look like-what version of subjectivity would that community imply? And might literature in particular have something to say about the possibilities for such versions of community, selfhood, and justice? This course will look at recent, theoretically-oriented writing on justice and community, with an emphasis on the work of Hannah Arendt, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy and Giorgio Agamben. We will place this challenging and exciting philosophical work in relation to fiction from Euripides to Kafka, Farah and Kushner, films (Almodovar, Farhadi), photography (Silva, Badlands and worldly examples of competing claims to justice. The course pursues the aims of the DPE initiative by engaging works in which cultural difference and power differentials reveal the limits of universalizing accounts of law and justice, works such as Euripides’ Bacchae , Nuruddin Farah’s Maps , Louise Erdrich’s poetry, and Farhadi’s A Separation . But the course will equally suggest that such contingency is inherent in the concept of justice as such, insofar as the problem of justice is bound up with forms of constituting indebtedness that define humans as communal beings. In that sense, contingency, and differentials of power mark justice even in its most familiar instances-intimately and close to home, as it were.
Format: discussion seminar/tutorial conferences
one 5-page paper, and a final 15-page paper
a 300-level ENGL course or permission of instructor
English Majors; Comparative Literature Majors
Difference, Power, and Equity
The course engages works in which differences of culture and power reveal the limits of universalizing accounts of law and justice, even as it suggests that such contingency is inherent in the concept of justice as such insofar as the problem of justice is inextricable from forms of indebtedness that define humans as communal beings. Differentials of power mark justice even in its most familiar instances -- intimately and close to home.
ENGL Criticism Courses
JLST Interdepartmental Electives