MUS 317D – The Enemy of Music: re-reading Rousseau in twenty-first century

Since the 1960s, scholarship has widely acknowledged the impact that Rousseau’s lifelong involvement with music had on his political and social thought, as well as his philosophy of language. Although preceded by other thinkers, Rousseau was the first to forcefully articulate a fundamental issue in Western art music: the place, legacy and eventually the legitimacy of the music’s linguistic substratum. Indeed, the history of Western art music could be entirely retold as the history of the complex relationships between language and voice: music is what is borne out from the will to escape from language. There is much to be gained from reconsidering Rousseau’s musical thought today, for we are still living in an age in which we conceive music and think about it along notions that Rousseau had identified with unprecedented clairvoyance. (Taught by Dr. Jacqueline Waeber)

Our seminar will explore Rousseau’s musical thought at the light of more recent cultural and philosophical productions, privileging the following themes:

The function of music and aural envronment in society (from Kafka to China Miéville)

  • The debatable notion of “authenticity” in folklore and rock music
  • The Lacanian conception of voice as lost object (Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More)
  • Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of “refrain” (ritournelle)
  • Issues on musical meaning and music as language (Adorno, Music and Language; Jean-Luc Nancy, Listening)
  • Music and memory, affect and expression (recent literature in neurosciences)
FR. 210, Lit 201.01, AMI 203.01, VMS 205.01 – Citizen Godard

The Honorary Oscar awarded in November 2010 to the Franco-Swiss director has enraged some in Hollywood and rekindled accusations of anti-Semitism. These virulent reactions indicate that is still difficult today to come to terms with the work of the enfant terrible of French cinema. This course explores the complex interactions of poetics and politics in Godard’ films. It covers the up-to-date filmography, from the French New Wave through the experimental phase of the Dziga Vertov group to the recent Histoire(s) du cinéma and Film socialisme, as well as includes his articles and essays. Drawing on various texts by the Jena Romantics, Brecht, Merleau-Ponty, Althusser, Benjamin and Blanchot, this seminar situates Godard’s work within its own moving theoretical and political contexts of production, while investigating its aesthetic, philosophical and ethical implications. What are the possibilities and limitations of cinema as modern art? What are the relationships between image and language, film and ideology? How do the poetic and the historical interact within cinema? What is cinema in the digital era of instant communication? We will explore these questions through the concepts of montage, cinéma engagé, archive and cinematic memory. We will also study the impact of Godard’s work on philosophers such as Deleuze, Rancière and Badiou who envisage cinema as a “thinking form”. This seminar is taught in English. (Taught Wednesdays 4:25 pm-6:55 pm by Professor Anne-Gaëlle Saliot ). Download a flyer for the course.