MA/PhD Session Schedules
Summer and Fall 2020

SUMMER SESSION: July 25 - Aug 20, 2020

FALL SESSION: October 2-24, 2020

MORNING SEMINARS: 3-4:30 pm, Central European Time (9-10:30 am Eastern Standard Time)

AFTERNOON SEMINARS: 7:00-8:30 pm, Central European Time (1-2:30 pm Eastern Standard Time)

We will hold question and answer sessions on the day between seminars at a time to be announced.

Summer 2020 - Schedule

Date

PAS Students

LMVT Students

Jul
25-27

Alenka Zupančič / Mladen Dolar

Passions (Zupančič) and What Is Authority? (Dolar)

Slavoj Žižek / Siegfried Zielinski

The Rise of Obscene Masters - Slavoj Žižek Materiology & Variantology - Siegfried Zielinski

Passions – Alenka Zupančič

 

Taking into account the double-sidedness of passion, its swaying between passive and active, between cold and burning, between solitude and bonding, the seminar will navigate among different faces and paradoxes of passion, which are also of some philosophical interest. It will take its staring point in an ancient figure of a controversial passion, Antigone, and look at her contemporary revivals (for example Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire). It will also look into some other contemporary forms of passion, and into their relationship to what Freud called “beyond the pleasure principle”. Within the perspective of these general interrogation the seminar will also address several particular questions, such as questions of kinship, of violence, of power and of sexuality. Another key focus of the seminar will the question (and narrative) of the “End”, of its different figures and of the passions it arouses. We’ll be looking (critically) into the notions of the “end of history” and the “end of ideology”, and into how they contrast with the notion of the “end of the world”, which seems be making its way back to the fore of our imaginary. 

 

What Is Authority? On Authority Related Matters – Mladen Dolar

 

Authority is a tricky concept. To follow Hannah Arendt – the title of the seminar is borrowed from her classical essay – what defines the proper domain of authority is a double negative: it cannot be reduced to the use of external means of coercion and violence, and on the other hand it is also irreducible to persuasion, argument and reasoning. Authority is thus exerted at the point with no proper coverage in either force or reason, yet it is not simply external to either and can be conceived at the point of their inner intersection. The traditional way of dealing with this paradoxical entity was to base authority in transcendence, and the advent of modernity was coterminous with the downfall of all traditional authorities and their reduction to immanence. Hence the predicament of modernity, the impossibility of establishing a proper authority (“authority has vanished from the modern world,” says Arendt) and the propensity to set up ersatz authorities, often with calamitous consequences. Several vocabularies can be used to circumscribe the locus of authority, and the seminar will take up some classical approaches and clues, without the ambition to be exhaustive: from La Boétie’s path-breaking manifesto on voluntary servitude (around 1550), a harbinger of modernity, to Carl Schmitt’s reflections on sovereignty, followed by Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben. It will address the very modern problem of the authority of reason that should be sustained on its own grounds, from Kant’s path-breaking set-up of the Enlightenment to the contemporary proponents continuing on that path (Brandom, Pinker etc.). Finally, it will try to shed light on the problem of authority from a psychoanalytic perspective, through the lens of what Freud designated as the three impossible professions: governance, education and psychoanalysis. All three are impossible precisely because they have the problem of authority at their core, something that is impossible to sustain and at the same time something impossible to be rid of.

 

The Rise of Obscene Masters – Slavoj Žižek

 

Traditionally (or in our retroactive view of tradition, at least), shameless obscenity worked as subversive, as an undermining of traditional domination, as depriving the Master of his false dignity. In the 1960s protesting students liked to use obscene words or make obscene gestures to embarrass figures of power and, so they claimed, denounce their hypocrisy. However, what we are getting today, with the exploding public obscenity, is not the disappearance of authority, of Master figures, but its forceful reappearance – we are getting something unimaginable decades ago, obscene Masters.

 

Materiology & Variantology – Siegfried Zielinski

Jul
28

ASSESSMENT / BREAK

Jul
29-31

Alenka Zupančič / Mladen Dolar

Passions (Zupančič) and What Is Authority? (Dolar)

Slavoj Žižek / Siegfried Zelinski

 

The Rise of Obscene Masters - Slavoj Žižek Materiology & Variantology - Siegfried Zielinski

Passions – Alenka Zupančič

 

Taking into account the double-sidedness of passion, its swaying between passive and active, between cold and burning, between solitude and bonding, the seminar will navigate among different faces and paradoxes of passion, which are also of some philosophical interest. It will take its staring point in an ancient figure of a controversial passion, Antigone, and look at her contemporary revivals (for example Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire). It will also look into some other contemporary forms of passion, and into their relationship to what Freud called “beyond the pleasure principle”. Within the perspective of these general interrogation the seminar will also address several particular questions, such as questions of kinship, of violence, of power and of sexuality. Another key focus of the seminar will the question (and narrative) of the “End”, of its different figures and of the passions it arouses. We’ll be looking (critically) into the notions of the “end of history” and the “end of ideology”, and into how they contrast with the notion of the “end of the world”, which seems be making its way back to the fore of our imaginary. 

 

What Is Authority? On Authority Related Matters – Mladen Dolar

 

Authority is a tricky concept. To follow Hannah Arendt – the title of the seminar is borrowed from her classical essay – what defines the proper domain of authority is a double negative: it cannot be reduced to the use of external means of coercion and violence, and on the other hand it is also irreducible to persuasion, argument and reasoning. Authority is thus exerted at the point with no proper coverage in either force or reason, yet it is not simply external to either and can be conceived at the point of their inner intersection. The traditional way of dealing with this paradoxical entity was to base authority in transcendence, and the advent of modernity was coterminous with the downfall of all traditional authorities and their reduction to immanence. Hence the predicament of modernity, the impossibility of establishing a proper authority (“authority has vanished from the modern world,” says Arendt) and the propensity to set up ersatz authorities, often with calamitous consequences. Several vocabularies can be used to circumscribe the locus of authority, and the seminar will take up some classical approaches and clues, without the ambition to be exhaustive: from La Boétie’s path-breaking manifesto on voluntary servitude (around 1550), a harbinger of modernity, to Carl Schmitt’s reflections on sovereignty, followed by Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben. It will address the very modern problem of the authority of reason that should be sustained on its own grounds, from Kant’s path-breaking set-up of the Enlightenment to the contemporary proponents continuing on that path (Brandom, Pinker etc.). Finally, it will try to shed light on the problem of authority from a psychoanalytic perspective, through the lens of what Freud designated as the three impossible professions: governance, education and psychoanalysis. All three are impossible precisely because they have the problem of authority at their core, something that is impossible to sustain and at the same time something impossible to be rid of.

 

 

The Rise of Obscene Masters – Slavoj Žižek

 

Traditionally (or in our retroactive view of tradition, at least), shameless obscenity worked as subversive, as an undermining of traditional domination, as depriving the Master of his false dignity. In the 1960s protesting students liked to use obscene words or make obscene gestures to embarrass figures of power and, so they claimed, denounce their hypocrisy. However, what we are getting today, with the exploding public obscenity, is not the disappearance of authority, of Master figures, but its forceful reappearance – we are getting something unimaginable decades ago, obscene Masters.

 

Materiology & Variantology – Siegfried Zielinski

Aug
1

ASSESSMENT / BREAK

Aug
2-4

Catherine Malabou

What is a Body Schema? A Reading of Merleau-Ponty's "Phenomenology of Perception"

Casey Reas, Rainer Kohlberger, and Gene Kogan

Arts & AI

Through a reading of Merleau-Ponty’s major work, we will try to put his definition of the body schema in perspective with contemporary visions of the body in neuroscience, psychoanalysis and critical theory/philosophy.

Discussion will feature Casey Reas, Rainer Kohlberger, and Gene Kogan.

Aug
5

ASSESSMENT / BREAK

Aug
6-8

Elie During

The Orbital Condition

Avital Ronell

The Tyrannical Soul: From Plato to Kafka & the Film Strip

The seminar will address critical issues underlying the contemporary imagination of spaceflight by following a particular thread: the experience of microgravity (or “zero-G”) considered as a spiritual exercise, a gnostic discipline or subdomain of what Blumenberg wittingly described as “astronoetics”. In the context of a massive revival of interest in the ecological and political challenges raised by space exploration and the prospects of extraterrestrial colonization, such an inquiry into the philosophical meaning of orbital weightlessness requires a special blend of gravity and playfulness, literality and abstraction. We will be navigating between case studies taken from the abundant literature on the human aspects of astronautics (astronauts’ biographies, sci-fi novels, neuroscientific studies of non-gravitational experience), and a hefty collection of theoretical works (from Plessner to Sloterdijk and Latour) dealing with the wider metaphysical and anthropological significance of the “Space Age”. Here the focus will be on the specific problems posed by the emergence of homo ingravitus as a plausible paradigm for the future evolution of the human species. We will try to substantiate the following claim: at the heart of the matter is a certain transformation of the gaze heralded and prefigured by a series of experimentations in the field of visual and performing arts, from Malevich to recent explorations of holographic space and the sensorium of the expanded body. Briefly stated, what is at stake is a floating gaze emancipated from the very notion of viewpoint. This does not require that we embrace vast expanses of space, nor that we yield to the melancholy of “Earthrises”: the so-called “overview effect” can be achieved at home as much as on board the ISS by reflecting, for example, on neuropsychological findings about multi-stable perception, or the use of axonometric projection in architectural drawing. When it comes to realizing an “orbital view” of our current condition, zero-G and its terrestrial counterparts function like magnifying lenses. They may also help us reach a better understanding of what is at stake in the cosmic pessimism expressing itself in much of the philosophical literature on space exploration.

 

The seminar itself being a multistage rocket of sorts, it will stack several launching components on top of each other, and most likely use them in parallel in order to reach escape velocity. We may also describe these components as “modules,” provided that they are not considered as self-contained units.

Pressed by contemporary ruthlessness we want to learn from philosophy, literature, film and the arts how to configure the tyrannical temptations of the human frame. The marginalization of Plato’s “democratic soul” will lead an investigation into patriarchal crime scenes double-headed by Freud and the Ancients in their effort to manage human waywardness, sadistic excess, incessant trespass and violent slams. Melanie Klein’s thinking of the “bad breast,” destructive drives, and the premises of reparative justice will power our discussions of lawless abandon. Above all, participants will be supplied with materials for their projects and intellectually-pitched aspirations.

Aug
9

“BEING MUSIC” WORKSHOP WITH MICHAEL SCHMIDT

Aug
10-12

Jean-Luc Nancy

The Subject and "Ça"--"It." 

Benjamin Bratton

The Return of the Real: Pandemic and Demystification

What comes before, or perhaps after, the I, and what is the link between this and drives: Eros and Thanatos?

What is to be learned from the pandemic and how should these lessons inform the conception and construction of what comes next? Instead of simply applying theoretical truisms, how might the interruption conjure a different vocabulary and tool-kit? The sense of emergency remains palpable. But instead of naming this moment a “state of exception,” we should see it more as revealing “pre-existing conditions.”  The consequences of poor planning (or no planning), broken social systems, and isolationist reflexes are explicit. Vigilance should be held not against the “exception” on behalf of familiar norms, but against the return to those dysfunctional norms after the coast is declared clear. We must keep the focus trained on the pathologies revealed and in doing so wilfully inhabit the difficult ramifications of change. That said, the pandemic moment has not been Philosophy’s shining moment, as many responses have been reflexive, tone deaf, or worse. This seminar will attempt to consider what signals, traces, and bits of evidence can be gathered and formed into more durable concepts. Among these is an _epidemiological view of society_ that focuses less on the individual vs. society, but on the enmeshed whole through which each of us lives. Each organism is a transmission medium for information—from ideas to viruses—and is defined by who and what each is connected to and disconnected from. Over these months we are witnessing the largest experiment in  comparative governance we are likely to see in our lifetimes. The virus is the control variable. How different systems respond will change how political cultures evaluate their traditions. Per Jean-Luc Nancy, touching is always touching at a distance. Testing is  the sensing layer of the governing epidemiological models. Without them the models are guesswork, but do we see them this way? Smart City infomercials have taught us to think of sensors as exotic expensive chips, and social democratic politics to think of public health in terms of non-technological therapeutic care. Each misses a significant part of the picture. Deployed well, testing and sensing are the same thing. What now? This moment should be a death blow for the populist wave of recent years, but will it be?  The human ability to bend facts to favored narratives remains incredible. The global contagion and the varied responses by different societies have exposed ideologies and traditions as ineffective, fraudulent, and suicidal. The pre-existing conditions now exposed clarify the need for a geopolitics based not on self-undermining prisoner’s dilemma tactics in the face of common risks, but on a deliberate plan for the coordination of the planet we occupy and make and re-make over again. Otherwise, this moment really will be a permanent emergency.
Aug
13

SCIENCE COLLOQUIUM “LEAVING EARTH” WITH CHRISTOPHER FYNSK, ELIE DURING, BENJAMIN BRATTON, AND XIN LIU

Aug
14-16

Miran Božovič

Philosophy and Literature

Fred Moten & Stefano Harney

The Damned and Les Damnés

The course will explore the implications of various literary works for the history of philosophy. Works discussed will include: 17th– and 18th-century Cartesian and Spinozistic novels by G. Daniel and Simon Tyssot de Patot; 18th-century erotic novels Thérèse Philosophe (1748) by d’Argens [?], and The Indiscreet Jewels (1748) by Diderot; two materialist novels Rameau’s Nephew (1774) and Jacques the Fatalist (1778) by Diderot, and his philosophical comedy D’Alembert’s Dream (1769); Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) and Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata (1889). Some of these works discover the most abstract and sublime metaphysical principles in entirely ordinary, everyday situations, that is, the principles for which even the thinkers who first established them were not always able to provide convincing examples. Other works try to answer the question: What might philosophy have been like in certain most distant and inaccessible eras of human history? Still other works raise the question: What sort of philosophical theory would have been likely to arise in the mind conscious of its departure from the body in the fleeting moment of death? Furthermore, some works tackle the question: What sort of metaphysical theory would be developed by the mind after its separation from the body, that is, in the long centuries of its disembodied existence? And, finally, some literary works constitute, in their own right, new and previously unknown chapters in the history of philosophy. In short, in the light of these literary works, the history of philosophy as we know it would have to be substantially revised if not entirely rewritten.

We will study together two texts: Lessons from the Damned by The Damned: Class Struggle in the Black Community and Les Damnés de la Terre by Frantz Fanon, with further selections from Walter Rodney’s Groundings with My Brothers.  Our purpose will be to rethink our relationship to those whose capacity for study has been denied and those whose capacity for study has been exalted.

Aug
17

ASSESSMENT / BREAK

Aug
18-20

Achille Mbembe

The Universal Right to Breathe

Achille Mbembe

The Universal Right to Breathe

In this seminar, we will revisit the concept of “necropolitics” forged in 2003 in the aftermath of 9/11. We will follow its multiple receptions in various contexts and examine the ways in which it has been deployed in various disciplines. We will finally assess its explanatory and interpretive potential in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic and its associated demand for a “universal right to breathe”.

In this seminar, we will revisit the concept of “necropolitics” forged in 2003 in the aftermath of 9/11. We will follow its multiple receptions in various contexts and examine the ways in which it has been deployed in various disciplines. We will finally assess its explanatory and interpretive potential in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic and its associated demand for a “universal right to breathe”.

Fall 2020 - Schedule

Date

PAS Students

LMVT Students

Oct
2-4

Christopher Fynsk, Sha Xin Wei, and others

Alternative Economies Alternative Ecologies (Alter-Eco)

Manthia Diawara

Alternative Ecologies, Alternative Economies (Alter-Eco) – Christopher Fynsk, Sha Xin Wei, et al.

Manthia Diawara

Oct
5

ASSESSMENT / BREAK

Oct
6-8

Sarah Nutall and Achille Mbembe

Daniel Birnbaum

Sarah Nutall and Achille Mbembe

Daniel Birnbaum

Oct
9

ASSESSMENT / BREAK

Oct
10-12

Judith Butler

Ben Frost and Richard Mosse

Judith Butler – Morning

Ben Frost and Richard Mosse

Oct
13

ASSESSMENT / BREAK

Oct
14-16

Karen Barad

Keller Easterling

Karen Barad

Keller Easterling

Oct
17

ASSESSMENT / BREAK

Oct
18-20

Peter Szendy

Carlos Amorales

How to Wear a Mask

Peter Szendy

“A kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual”. The “persona” was for Carl Jung the social face an individual presented to the world. The act of creating a persona by masking oneself, will be analyzed as a distancing move that allows individuals vantage points from which to observe and interact in social situations. In this sense, the act of masking oneself, will ultimately be seen as an act of self-exile from a surveying society, in which the limits between public and private realms have become porous. Through a series of artistic examples, in which the act of masking is exercised at different levels (within the self, through visual images and in written and musical languages), the usefulness of masking and wearing masks will be explored and discussed. This seminar will be based on the text “The Rhetoric of the Mask” by Carlos Amorales, published on the occasion of his midcareer survey exhibition, held this year at the Stedelijk Museum, in Amsterdam.

Oct
21

Creative Writing Workshop with Lars Iyer

Oct
22-24

TBA