Professor Tracy Strong
TAs Caleb Scoville, SSB 349 Kyle Haines, SSB 349, M3-5
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Politics and the Artistic Vision
In this course, I should like to raise the question of the relationship and differences between politics (and political theory) and art (and aesthetic theory). We thus need to think about what kind of activity politics is, what kind of activity art is, about the way in which political actors relate to their “audience,” about who or what that audience might be, and about the political effects that art can have. Some sense of the dynamics of this can be found in this citation from the French philosopher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty:
The painter and the political man shape others more than they follow after them; the public at whom they aim is not given, but is rather only the public that their work will bring into being.
Some sense of the difficulties comes in this passage from Kierkegaard’s Journals:
The new development in our time cannot be political, for politics is the relationship between the community and the representative man. In our times, humans are becoming far too reflective to be satisfied with being merely represented.
This is a course that seeks to explore the relationship between the aesthetic and the political. I wish to look at a number of different aesthetic moderns — drama, novels, film, some music — as well; as some theoretical writings in order to see what they can teach us about politics.
You are asked to buy the following books and to bring them to class on the day we will be discussing them. Assignments must be read before class.
Shakespeare, Richard III, King Lear
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner
André Malraux, Mans’ Fate
Samuel Beckett: Endgame
A book of xeroxed readings available from University Readers
Class requirements include a take-home midterm due May 6 and a final paper due the day of the exam, attendance, and participation.