LIT 281S.01 /FR 366S.01 / WST 210S.01 – Simone de Beauvoir: Literature, Philosophy, Feminism

The course will discuss Simone de Beauvoir as feminist theorist and French intellectual, focusing on two major topics: (1) the relationship between literature and philosophy in Beauvoir’s works, and in existentialism in general, and (2) Beauvoir’s understanding of women’s oppression, sex, gender and sexuality. What did Simone de Beauvoir think a philosophical novel was? Is there a connection between her philosophical views, her feminism, and her choice to define herself as a writer rather than as a philosopher? What did Beauvoir think literature could do? We will study a wide range of texts by Beauvoir, including novels, memoirs and travel writing, and, of course, The Second Sex. In addition to Simone de Beauvoir’s works, and relevant commentaries on them, we will read texts by philosophers and theorists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and many others. The class will be taught in English, but graduate students in French will be expected to do all the reading in French. Taught by Toril Moi.

ENG 241S – Romantic Aesthetics: Kant, Hegel, Marx, Deleuze (CTM)

According to a well-known–and largely accurate–narrative, the study of “aesthetics” was invented in the eighteenth century, and then consolidated in the Romantic era. This course is intended to provide both an introduction to this narrative of the emergence of aesthetics as a realm of study, as well as a re-reading of the emergence of aesthetics in the light of more recent aesthetic theory, such as Theodor Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory and Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy. Thus, in this course, we will focus on both the three classical categories of eighteenth-century and Romantic theory–the beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime–as well as Romantic (para)aesthetic categories that have increasingly come to the fore in recent literary and media criticism (“monstrosity,” “atmosphere,” “media”). We will also consider both the Marxist tradition that sees Romantic aesthetics as the starting point for more recent conceptions of art (e.g. “autonomous” art vs. the activist art of the avant-garde), and the Deleuzian tradition that traces a quite different path out of Romanticism. While the course will focus on aesthetic theory, we will also parse this theory through case studies drawn from Romantic-era literature and art. Texts will include selections from Romantic-era authors such as David Hume, Edmund Burke, Uvedale Price, S. T. Coleridge, P. B. Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Keats, G. W. F. Hegel, Friedrich Schiller, and Karl Marx, as well as selections from more recent authors such as Peter Bürger, Theodor Adorno, Jean-François Lyotard, Slavoj Žižek, Friedrich Kittler, and Gilles Deleuze. Taught by Robert Mitchell.