FRENCH 680 - Studies in Literary Theory
Section: 001 Theory, Technology, and the Humanities in the Anthropocene Epoch
Term: FA 2014
Subject: French (FRENCH)
Department: LSA Romance Languages & Literatures
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of department.
Class Misc Info:
The seminar will be taught in English.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

In this seminar we will explore the state of the humanities, particularly its theoretical branches, in light of two major contemporary vectors of change: the radically accelerated performance of information technologies and the increasingly decisive human impact on the earth’s biosphere and climate. These developments, while massively connected to human culture, are unthinkable without nonhuman entities, which raises questions about the limits and pertinence of disciplines and theories that have traditionally confined themselves to matters of strictly human culture and society. Among the questions to be discussed: how can (or should) the humanities redefine themselves in a communications environment that is very different from the conditions in which most of the traditions and works studied in humanities disciplines were created? What role can the humanities, and their mode of theorizing, play in fields of activity and inquiry that seem to require participation of the natural sciences? We’ll discuss recent works concerned with bringing ecology and objects into the theoretical conversation of the humanities, including William Connolly’s The Fragility of Things, Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, Dale Jamieson’s Reason in a Dark Time, and Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things.

Course Requirements:

Students will be expected to participate in the seminar through discussion and short presentations, and to write a final paper.

Intended Audience:

The seminar will be taught in English and is open to graduate students from all fields, but will be primarily designed for students who expect or hope to make a career in the humanities. It is numbered “FRENCH 680” both because of the disciplinary background of the instructor and because it will feature a slightly idiosyncratic emphasis on Michel Serres (The Natural Contract) and Bruno Latour (Politics of Nature), two French thinkers whose work pertains to the topic.

Class Format:

Although the questions involved are general and could be described para-professional, the seminar will operate in the usual mode of graduate humanities courses: close and critical readings of texts, primarily theoretical texts. The last weeks of the seminar should be based on student-suggested readings.

FRENCH 680 - Studies in Literary Theory
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
M 1:00PM - 4:00PM
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