Brooklyn Institute for Social Research -
  • What is melancholy? And why does this term of art shadow the activities of literature and philosophy? Historically, “melancholia” referred to a disorder resulting from an imbalance of the body: an excess of black bile thought to cause sustained sadness, sudden and inexplicable anger, sullen fits, and intense imaginative capability. How have the concept of melancholy and its associated images and strategies evolved in history? ...
  • Is there an American way of philosophizing? However capitalist, consumerist, or entrepreneurial the United States is, the development of philosophical pragmatism seems a straightforward rebuke to de Tocqueville’s claim that “Americans have no philosophic school of their own … there is no country less interested in philosophy.” Yet, what kind of philosophy is pragmatism? What does it mean to judge a theory or proposition wholly by its practical effects? Does pragmatism offer justification for ignoring the abstract and speculative systems advanced across centuries of European philosophy? ...
  • Anthony Trollope’s 1873 novel The Way We Live Now is a vitriolic attack on “a certain class of dishonesty,” written, in the author’s words, with “the whip of the satirist.” It is a splenetic, splendid, and pessimistic account of financial speculation, fraud, fortunes won and lost, and engagements delayed and broken. Badly reviewed when it was published, it is now considered something like a masterpiece. In this course, we will read the entirety of "The Way We Live Now" alongside portions of Trollope’s Autobiography and critical texts. What sort of fraud can it be when “everyone knows” about it? What is the narrative structure of the open secret? ...
  • Emerging in the cultural-political turmoil of the 1990s, New Queer Cinema offered representations of gay and lesbian life that have often been described by a single word: defiant. According to film scholar, B. Ruby Rich, four elements converged to produce New Queer Cinema: AIDS, Reagan, camcorders, and cheap (New York City) rent. Equally important was the embracing of the term “queer” to signify a resistance to normative codes of gender and sexuality. How did a defiantly queer orientation challenge both the homophobia of mainstream cinema and the “homo-normative” imperatives of gay culture? ...
  • Looking is always a form of political entanglement. Photographs, particularly photographs of bodies in pain, are often used as an appeal for charity, for sympathy, or mobilized as calls for a particular political project. Images of pain have historically been cultural, political, and emotional documents, ones that seem to cry out for social action yet are, of course, only pictures. How do we learn to read political photography and to see photography politically? ...

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Open Call for NYC Faculty

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (BISR), a non-profit critical education and research institute which integrates rigorous but accessible scholarly study with the everyday lives of working adults and re-imagines scholarship for the 21st century, seeks scholars who are interested in joining our faculty to teach and design rigorous seminar-style courses for adult students in […]

BISR Faculty Writing: Politics after Amazon, Futurism, and a Culture of (Child) Sacrifice

The Podcast for Social Research, Episode 32: Another Odicy: On the Two-Hundredth Anniversary of Keats’ Odes of 1819

Call for Michigan Faculty: History, Political Economy, Urban Studies