Course descriptions

6000: Speaking and Writing I
A general and far ranging discussion of topics in language, focused on readings in one tradition of method and theoretical orientation. Topics discussed may include: meaning; communication; spoken and written language; oral, written, and electronic culture; gesture; image; instrumental, social, and political dimensions of language. Traditions include: Saussurean linguistics, Frankfurt School critical theory, psychoanalysis, deconstruction. Usually co-taught by the Director of Studies and the Teaching Fellow.

Sample course description: "Words, sounds, images ... objects," instructors S. Crocker and P. Trnka. The aim of this course is to introduce students to a variety of manifestations of language (written, spoken, played, sung, painted, photographed, filmed, etc.) and to begin a theoretical study by way of an investigation of the phenomenon of objectification or reification. The premiss of the course is that language is a primary example of a human activity that has become or turned into a thing (be it an object, or a way or manner of objects - e.g., a technique or technology). To examine this premiss, we will investigate three areas of contemporary culture (dada art, situationism, and punk rock) while focusing our theoretical inquiry on the social and political study of fetishism and reification starting with Marx.
Key texts: G. Debord, The Society of the Spectacle; M. Hardt and K. Weeks, eds., The Jameson Reader; G. Marcus, Lipstick Traces.

6001: Speaking and Writing II
An examination of oral, literate, and electronic culture; visual culture - painting, photography, film, and video; graphology; structure and desire in expression; formalism and materialism; language, culture, and death.
Sample course description: "Structure, Desire and Death." What are the origins, structures, and functions of language? How is speech related to thought and to writing? This course will study language by way of its formal features, both structural and literary, as well as its social, cultural, biological, economic, and political dimensions. The thematic focus of the course is on the question of the relation between the structures of language, the desires they may express and elicit, and the cancellation of desire in death.
Key texts: H. Innis, The Bias of Communication; de Saussure, Course on General Linguistics; R. Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, S. Beckett, Waiting for Godot.

6010: Readings in History I (Interpretation)
Through concentrated readings in a period of history - e.g., the Greece of Herodotus and Thucydides, the French, American, and Russian revolutions, or various wars in the 20th century - this course serves to introduce students to the methods of the study of history and to the problems posed by history and coming to terms with it. Period writing is emphasized as well as theoretical texts, such as G.W.F. Hegel, L. Strauss, W. Benjamin, and M. Oakeshott.
Sample course description: "Tyranny, empire, memory: Herodotus and Thucydides." The idea for this course is to study ancient Greek texts in history (Herodotus, Thucydides) as well as modern texts on the meaning of history with an eye to analyzing the contemporary and historical forms of political tyranny and empire. The aim of the course is to introduce students to the study of history in a hands-on manner as well as to illustrate the importance of history for current social and political events. The theme of political memory - as a goal, prerequisite, and point of contention and struggle - unites the variety of conservative and radical political readings of history to be covered in the course. The focus on tyranny and empire, as extreme, violent, and world-wide political formations, is intended to make the subject of the course both ancient and up to date.
Key texts: Benjamin, Illuminations; Herodotus, Histories; Strauss, The City and Man; Thucydides The History of the Peloponnesian Wars.

6011: Readings in History II (Contemporary Applications)
Historiographical questions are at the fore of this theoretical engagement with the basis and significance of history. A major contemporary example of the need for (or evasion of) history, is focused on in each course. Examples may include the Holocaust, May 1968, the War on Iraq, the War on Afghanistan.
Key authors here are include: F. Nietzsche, 'On the Uses and Abuses of History', R.J. Collingwood, Idea of History, Hegel, 'Introduction to a Philosophy of History', Marx, M. Foucault, Benjamin, E.P. Thompson, and H. White.

6020: Readings in Western Literature I (Autobiography)
An examination of various types of direct and indirect autobiography, in literature, painting, photography, video, and film. What are the links between autobiography, expression, and communication?
Same course description: "Autobiography." How is writing one's own life related to expression and fiction more generally? How is property in one's own life conceived in autobiography? This course will examine these and other questions through an investigation of various modes of autobiography (written, pictoral, sculpted, digitized).
Authors may include: Rousseau, Confessions; Abelard and Eloise, Letters; J. Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Barthes, Barthes on Barthes; Descartes, Discourse on Method.

6021: Readings in Western Literature II (Utopia)
An examination of modes of utopia and the relation between expression and utopia; utopian and dystopian forms in theory and fiction; literary, pictorial, filmic utopias; politics of utopia.
Authors may include: Plato, Republic; T. More, Utopia' A. Huxley, Brave New World; G. Orwell, 1984,Animal Farm; Hardt and A. Negri, Empire; M. Piercey, Woman on the Edge of Time; J.G. Ballard, Crash and Atrocity Exhibition; Beckett, End Game,Trilogy, 2001 A Space Odyssey, M. Atwood, A Handmaid's Tale.

6030: Readings in Philosophy I (Interpretation)
An examination of traditions of interpretation and its theoretical comprehension; the art and practice of interpretation; hermeneutics; culture and politics; interpretation in theory, poetry, fiction, painting, and film.
Authors may include: M. Heidegger, H G. Gadamer, Strauss, McLuhan, Bourdieu, F. Jameson.

6031: Readings in Philosophy II (Self)
An inquiry into the meaning and value of the self, as seen through various historical manifestations and interpretations of self, person, or individual; epistemology, ontology, psychology, and anthropology of the self; morality and politics; education of selves; commonplace and artistic selves.
Authors may include: R. Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy; T. Hobbes, Leviathan; C. B. MacPherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism; Rousseau, Emile; Flaubert, Sentimental Education; Bourdieu, The Rules of Art.

6040: Readings in Science and Technology
An examination of a particular area in science and/or technology, from historical, sociological, and philosophical points of view. Examples include: genetics and biology; bioengineering and biopolitics; electronic media and global communications.
Authors may include: S.J. Gould, D. Haraway, R. Levins, R. Dawkins, I. Stengers, B. Latour.

6041: Humanities Seminar
The finishing course of the M. Phil. degree, this seminar is a writing workshop for the journal by way of an examination of the nature of expression in an academic, institutional context. Students focus on the structure of their journal project and produce a substantial new contribution to it, often by way of introductions, conclusions, thematic bridges, etc.
Texts: B. Pascal, Penses; Bourdieu, Pascalian Meditations, and readings suggested by students.


Master of Philosophy in Humanities

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Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

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