Past courses and current courses whose enrollment has closed.
Dreams and Hysteria: An Introduction to Freud (Tuesdays, 7-9pm, June 12, 2012)
Freud’s biographers and commentators often note that we all ‘speak Freud’ today, whether we like it or not. But how did we come to speak Freud, and do we do so well or badly? In examining these questions, this class returns to two of Freud’s most pivotal texts: Studies on Hysteria and the magisterial Interpretation of Dreams. How did the so-called ‘talking cure’ come into being? What is the unconscious and what are its implications for understanding human subjectivity? How do Freud’s ‘readings’ of the texts of dreams and sick bodies relate to theories of textual interpretation? What constitutes the practice of psychoanalysis? Why and how is Freud relevant in the contemporary world?
NB: This is *by no means* a therapy session, but students are encouraged (although certainly not required) to keep a dream-journal throughout the course of the class.
6 Sessions over 6 Weeks
Film and Philosophy (Wednesdays 7-9pm, June 13, 2012)
For nearly a century now, films have occupied a prominent place within society at large. In this class, we’re going to approach films from a philosophical perspective, one that has been inspired by recent work in the cognitive sciences. We will begin by asking, first of all, what is a film? Are there important differences between still photographs and films? What aesthetic features belong solely to film? Are films similar to other fictional media, like novels and plays? Must a film tell a story? How can a documentary accurately depict events and people in the real world? And why do we care about fictional characters and events depicted on screen, especially when we know they are not real? Although these questions may appear to be simple, we shall very quickly see that such appearances are misleading. Readings will be drawn from a variety of contemporary philosophers, including Noël Carroll, Gregory Currie, Arthur Danto, and George M. Wilson, and film-screenings will include “La Jetée” by Chris Marker, “F for Fake” by Orson Welles, “Eraserhead” by David Lynch, “Night of the Living Dead” by George Romero, and others.
Telegraphs, Pneumatic Tubes and Teleportation; Or, the Way We Communicate Now (Mondays, 7-9pm, April 9, 2012)
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw5REy5uxfk?rel=0&controls=0&iv_load_policy=1&modestbranding=1&showinfo=0&showsearch=0&w=230&h=177]From the telegraph to Twitter, man’s inventions have aspired with increasing ingenuity to contract space and time, bringing people closer together over ever greater distances. Since the invention of early telecommunication in the nineteenth century, writers and artists have pondered the ways that communication technologies have reshaped the social lives of humans—the ways, for example, they change what it means to “reach out and touch someone,” what it means to be a social self. While critics have fretted over the dangers of losing ourselves (and our grammar) to machines, defenders remain fascinated by the practical and conceptual elegance of devices that transport our voices, and thus our selves, to one another. This course will address this persistent fascination in works ranging from classical philosophies of rhetoric and modern media theory to nineteenth-century fiction about telecommunication and dystopian film about the dangers posed by such innovations. We will likely cover works by Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Terry Gilliam, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault and others.
6 Sessions over 6 Weeks
Shocks and Phantasmagoria: Walter Benjamin and The Arcades Project (Tuesdays, 7-9pm, April 10, 2012)
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMJm3bf2BCs?rel=0&controls=0&iv_load_policy=1&modestbranding=1&showinfo=0&showsearch=0&w=230&h=177]Walter Benjamin once wrote that The Arcades Project was “the theater of all my struggles and all my ideas.” Never completed and well over a decade in the making, The Arcades Project takes on the presentation and history of an entire era and place: the Parisian Arcades of the early 19th century. Via quotations, observations, commentaries, philosophical fragments, and “literary montage,” Benjamin attempts a better understanding of the conditions that fashioned both that era and, more importantly, his own. This extraordinarily unique text focuses on some of the most key questions a philosopher can ask: How should we understand the world around us? How should we interpret this world? How should we understand its time? What are social phenomena, history, philosophy, and criticism? What are they for? In this course, we will approach The Arcades Project alongside other writings by Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, Theodor Adorno, and later commentators in an attempt to understand Benjamin’s philosophy of historical materialism as well as the shocks and phantasmagoria of our own time.
6 Sessions over 6 Weeks
Politics of the City – Part 1:
Plato and Aristotle
In this class – the Brooklyn Institute’s inaugural offering – we will closely examine and discuss two of the most influential works in the history of political philosophy: Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics. We will not only read these texts but will think directly about how they were created, what critical reading and philosophical thinking are, and how they relate to our lives in a city today. What is politics? Why do we have it? What is the relationship between politics and metaphysics, politics and economics? How do we understand the body politic and the politics of the body? The foundation of these and numerous other questions are still open to this day.