Political Theory and Aesthetics

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1 Political Theory and Aesthetics Government 6815 (Spring 2016) Cornell University Kramnick Seminar Room T 4:30-6:30 Professor Jason Frank White Hall 307 Office Hours: W Course description: How should we understand the relationship between aesthetics and politics, and how has this relationship been conceptualized in seminal works of modern and contemporary political theory? This seminar will explore these questions by emphasizing the contested role of aesthetics in both democratic theory and the modern history of democratic politics. We will read works by Hobbes, Rousseau, Burke, Wollstonecraft, Kant, Schiller, Whitman, Arnold, Nietzsche, Sorel, Schmitt, Jünger, Kantorowicz, Benjamin, Arendt, Lefort, Rancière, and several other contemporary political theorists. Course requirements: This is a political theory graduate seminar. Grades will be based on a research paper (20-25 page) due at the semester s end (65%), a short (7-8 page) written response to one week s reading (15%), a minute oral discussion of another student s written response (10%), and general seminar participation (10%). Written responses will be circulated electronically NO LATER than 5:00 p.m. on the Sunday before seminar meets. These papers should provide a close and critical account of the week s reading, focusing on one or two central arguments. Written responses are meant to provoke seminar discussion, so please avoid summary and feel free to be (thoughtfully) contentious. The papers must include direct citation of the reading discussed (with notes). Each seminar will begin with another student s minute discussion of the written response. These oral presentations should also avoid summary and instead pose a series of textually supported critical questions that can facilitate a broader seminar discussion. A sign- up sheet for both presentations and discussions will be available the first day of class.

2 Books Available at University Bookstore: Required: Theodor Adorno, Et al., Aesthetics and Politics (Verso) Hannah Arendt, Lectures on Kant s Political Philosophy Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (Penguin) Ernst Jünger, On Pain Immanuel Kant, The Critique of the Power of Judgment (Oxford) Christoph Menke, Force: A Fundamental Concept of Aesthetic Anthropology Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator Jean- Jacques Rousseau, Politics and the Arts: Letter to M. D Alembert on the Theater Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man (Oxford) Carl Schmitt, Political Romanticism (MIT) George Sorel, Reflections on Violence (Cambridge) Simonetta Falasca- Zamponi, Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini s Italy Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic Weekly Readings Material marked * is available on blackboard. Week 1 (February 2): Introduction: Approaches to Politics and Aesthetics F.R. Ankersmit, Political Representation: The Aesthetic State * Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, 1-7* Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic, 1-31* Luc Ferry, The Revolution of Taste * Martin Jay, The Aesthetic Ideology as Ideology: or, What Does it Mean to Aestheticize Politics? * George Kateb, Aestheticism and Morality: Their Cooperation and Hostility * Phillip Rieff, Aesthetic Functions in Modern Politics * Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just (selection)* Week 2 (February 9): Sovereignty, Aesthetics, and Form Clifford Geertz, Centers, Kings, and Charisma: Reflections on the Symbolics of Power * Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (selection)* Ernst Kantorowicz, The King s Two Bodies (selection)* Claude Lefort, The Image of the Body and Totalitarianism *

3 Claude Lefort, The Question of Democracy * Eric Santner, The Royal Remains: The People s Two Bodies and the Endgame of Sovereignty (selection)* Alexai Yurchak, Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty * Week 3 (February 16): February Break Week 4 (February 23): Rousseau, Authenticity, and Citizenship Jean- Jacques Rousseau, Letter to M. D Alembert on the Theater Jean Starobinsky, Jean- Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction, 3-32* Week 5 (March 1): Authority and the Sublime: Burke and Wollstonecraft Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Man (selection)* Week 6 (March 8): Aesthetic Judgment: Kant Immanuel Kant, The Critique of the Power of Judgment, Dieter Henrich, Aesthetic Judgment and the Moral Image of the World, 3-58* Week 7 (March 15): Utility and Play: Schiller s Aesthetic State Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man Paul de Man, Kant and Schiller * Josef Chytry, The Aesthetic State: A Quest in Modern German Thought, xxxi- 9, * Week 8 (March 22): Democracy and Aesthetics Mathew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (selections)* Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (selections)* Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (selections)* Walt Whitman, Democratic Vistas *

4 Week 9 (March 29): Spring Break Week 10 (April 5): Politics Beyond Good and Evil: Nietzsche Christoph Menke, Force: A Fundamental Concept of Aesthetic Anthropology Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in an Extra Moral Sense * Friedrich Nietzsche, The Greek State * Friedrich Nietzsche, Homer s Contest * Week 11 (April 12): Aesthetic Critiques of Liberalism, Left and Right George Sorel, Reflections on Violence Ernst Jünger, On Pain Week 12 (April 19): Aesthetics, Occasionalism, Decisionism: Schmitt Carl Schmitt, Political Romanticism Carl Schmitt, The Age of Neutralizations and Depoliticizations * Week 13 (April 26): The Aesthetics of Power: Fascisms Walter Benjamin, Theories of German Fascism * Simonetta Falasca- Zamponi, Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini s Italy, 1-118, F.T. Marinetti, The Manifesto of Futurism * Eric Michaud, The Cult of Art in Nazi Germany, xi- 83 * Jean Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue- Labarthe, The Nazi Myth * Film Screening: Leni Riefenstahl s The Triumph of the Will Week 14 (May 3): Western Marxists and Emancipatory Aesthetics Theodor Adorno, Et al., Aesthetics and Politics Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope (selection)* Week 15 (May 10): Aesthetics, Action, and Judgment: Arendt Hannah Arendt, Action * Hannah Arendt, What is Freedom? * Hannah Arendt, Lectures on Kant s Political Philosophy Optional Final Class (May 17): Politics and Spectacle Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator

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