The Enlightenment and Its Shadows
MW, 4:40 - 6:55, LH 019
This course sets the stage for a great clash between ideas that have shaped our modern world. On one side, the side of what has been called the European Enlightenment, are thinkers that have put in question traditional values, be they social, religious, or philosophical, all in the name of a new order based on the principles of fully rational and critical thinking. On the other side, we find the critics and opponents of these rational thinkers. We will be interested in examining the form which this critique of rationality has taken. We will see that these critics of rationality do not oppose it, are not anti-rational or non-rational, but rather drive rationality to its limits. What this means is that if one follows the rules of rationality far enough, one reaches certain limits that result in interrupting rationality itself. We will be interested in the way that works from several different disciplines -- literature, poetry, philosophy, and psychoanalysis -- explore these moments of the interruption of rational thinking, showing that they contain new modes of meaning that were unavailable to the thinkers of the Enlightenment.
Readings include texts by Mendelssohn, Kant, Lessing, Novalis, F. Schlegel, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Nietzsche, Freud, and Kafka, among others.
All readings and discussion in English. Fulfills College A&H requirement. Course may be taken for intensive writing credit (with permission of instructor and the College of Arts and Sciences).
Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (Liveright, ISBN: 0871401185).
Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Norton, ISBN: 0393007693).
Franz Kafka, The Trial (Schocken, ISBN: 0805209999).
Heinrich von Kleist, Selected Writings (Hackett, ISBN: 0872207439).
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan the Wise, Minna von Barnhelm, and Other Plays and Writings (Continuum, ISBN: 0826407072).
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ (Penguin, ISBN: 0140445145).