Knowledge and Power


Can there be knowledge without power, or power without knowledge?

The pursuit of knowledge and of power is reflected in an astonishing range of human endeavors, and has been critically probed through plays and novels, poetry and religious texts, science fiction and graphic novels, and historical and philosophical literature spanning many centuries. From Genesis, Machiavelli’s Prince and Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality, through Freud and Foucault, the relationship between knowledge and power has provoked profound concerns and framed key questions.

  • Does knowledge empower us or undermine us?
  • Are different kinds of knowledge distinguished by their relationship to power?
  • What are the forms of power, and how have these changed throughout history?
  • Does the pursuit of power and knowledge belong to all of humanity, or is it ultimately a privilege reserved only for the few?
  • How do knowledge and power affect our relationships with others, or even with ourselves?

These are just a few of the themes and issues that we will explore, questions that we might ask of Eve and Oedipus, or of Rachel Carson and Thomas King; of Hamlet, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Manhattan, or of Liu Cixin and Franz Kafka. As we set out to discover what the university has to offer for our society and for ourselves, we will trace in turn the subtle and complex, but always revealing connections between knowledge and power.

Here is the Text list for the 2017W academic year.  At this time the list is subject to modification.

2017W ‘Knowledge + Power’ Reading List, with ISBN’s   (Update: January 9, 2018)