2013/14 Group B

“Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange.”
–Shakespeare, The Tempest

Life is full of repetition: attempts to remake, remodel, or rewrite what has gone before. From covers or remakes of songs and movies to the renovation or restoration of buildings and monuments, from the reinvention of communication technologies to re-readings (even misreadings) of literary works, we see a pervasive desire to adapt, rework, or subvert inherited cultural forms and traditions.

But repetition is never simple. The recurrence of historic problems or issues is perhaps less compelling than the new concerns and connections that emerge when a deceptively familiar past is reinterpreted in the present. This course examines a variety of philosophical and literary texts through a series of thematic clusters that demonstrate the dynamic tension between established understandings and new meanings.

Our hypothesis is that the appeal of the classics comes not from some timeless essence, but from our need to remake, remodel, and reinterpret the past in ever new ways. When we study these texts together, both “originals” and “remakes,” they shed new light on each other and challenge us to rethink the relations between philosophy and popular culture, tradition and modernity.

Lecture Schedule:

Term One:

Term Two:

Term One:

  • Plato, “The Allegory of the Cave”
  • Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”
  • Jorge Luis Borges, “Kafka and His Precursors”
  • Genesis (photocopy or PDF)
  • Immanuel Kant, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History” (photocopy or PDF, on password-protected page)
  • Plato, Gorgias (Hackett; 978-1603844987)
  • Sophocles, Antigone (Oxford; 978-0195061673)
  • Judith Butler, Antigone’s Claim (Columbia; 978-0231118958)
  • Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus (Broadview; 978-1551112107)
  • Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (Penguin; 978-0141180144)
  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Hackett; 978-0872201774)
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (Penguin; 978-0140444391)
  • Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Beacon; 978-0807043110)
  • Alejo Carpentier, The Kingdom of this World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 978-0374530112)
  • Aimé Césaire, The Tragedy of King Christophe (photocopy or PDF, on password-protected page)
  • Derek Walcott, Henri Christophe (photocopy or PDF, on password-protected page)

Term Two:

  • William Wordsworth, “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” (1802)
  • William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (Penguin; 978-01404424621)
  • Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (Oxford; 978-0199535545)
  • Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead (movie)
  • Sigmund Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (Penguin; 978-0684829463) plus “Femininity” (photocopy or PDF, on password-protected page).
  • Frantz Fanon, Black Skins / White Masks (Grove; 978-0802143006)
  • Ian Hacking, Rewriting the Soul (Princeton; 978-0691059082)
  • Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality: An Introduction (Vintage; 978-0679724698)
  • Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (Dover; 978-0486408934. Or available online here, here, here, or here)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, The Vindications: The Rights of Men and The Rights of Woman (Broadview; 978-1551110882)
  • Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (photocopy or PDF, on password-protected page)
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Broadview; 978-1551113074)
  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Anchor; 978-0385474542)
  • Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now (movie)

Highly Recommended:

  • Wayne Booth (et al), The Craft of Research (Chicago; 978-0226062648)