E59.3001 Doctoral Theory Seminar Fall 2003

Monday 3:30-6:35 pm

What used to be called "the cultural turn" now seems like an explosion of vacuous and tautological cultural nomenclature in every sphere, as the life-world becomes more intensively commodified and aestheticized. However economic globalization and the growth of IT have combined to renew economism and technological determinism as fashionable doctrines and philosophies of history The resulting disjuncture between the symbolic and the instrumental impoverishes our historical understanding of the economy, and of science, technology and culture, since the analytical tools required to make sense of culture qua culture, and of economic and technological practice as cultural processes, are devalued.

For those engaged in media studies, this is disabling to say theleast, since the work of mediation is largely identified with culture, and yet media studies implies that all social practice can be subjected to cultural and historical analysis. My seminar will address this problem by emphasizing the importance of engaging with the intellectual traditions of sociology and anthropology as civilizational critique. We will consider how following debates in the unfolding of these traditions can lead to social analysis that is both more astute and more historically sensitive.

There will be a mid-term and a final exam (35% each). In addition, class attendance (10%), class presentations (10%) and assignments (10%) will be evaluated.

Week One:

The Marx-Engels Reader, Second Edition. ed. Robert Tucker. New York and London: W.W. Norton and Co., 1978.

Marx on the History of His Opinions, pp. 3-6; Economic and Philosophic manuscripts of 1844, 66-125; German ideology: Part 1, 146-200.

Week Two:

The Marx-Engels Reader. Grundrisse,221-293; Capital Vol. One, 294-438. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, 683-717.

Week Three:

Search for a Method by Jean-Paul Sartre

Week Four: Sep 29

The Adventures of the Dialectic by Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Week Five: Oct 6

The Gift by Marcel Mauss

Structuralism by Jean Piaget (out of print; available at classes.nyu website)

Week Six: Oct 13

The Essential Frankfurt School Reader ed. Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt.

Week Seven: Oct 20

Mid Term Exam

Week Eight: Oct 27

Cornelius Castoriadis, The Imaginary Institution of Society. Tr. Kathleen Blamey. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998 (reprint edition).

Week Nine: Nov 3

Paul Ricoeur - Meaningful action as text

Foucault - Archaeology of Knowledge (Introduction)

Foucault by Gilles Deleuze. Tr. Sean Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.

Week Ten: Nov 10

The Origins of Postmodernity by Perry Anderson. London and New York: Verso, 1998.

Week Eleven: Nov 17

The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern by Fredric Jameson. London and New York: Verso, 1998.

Week Twelve: Nov 24

The Taste of Ethnographic Things: The Senses in Anthropology by Paul Stoller. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989.

Week Thirteen: Dec 1

Towards a Philosophy of Photography by Vilem Flusser. Tr. Anthony Mathews. London: Reaktion Books, 2000.

Week Fourteen: Dec 8

Discourse Networks by Friedrich Kittler

Week Fifteen: Dec 15

Round-up; review.