E 392M • 1968 in Theory
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
[M]emory speaks from today. It speaks from the point of view of a constructed identity, a political identity in the old sense of the term: a citizenship conferred and not easily canceled; a shared identity, participation in the creation of one's own life and in the invention of a culture. It is this identity that tries to create for itself a memory and that must reinterpret the past.
--Luisa Passerini, Autobiography of a Generation: Italy, 1968
1968 was a year of extraordinary political and social changes around the world. "1968" is also a figure for a collective shift in consciousness that actually took place over a period of years extending from the mid-sixties into the next decade. In this course we will study those years of rebellion, utopianism, transformation and failure through the bifocal lenses of poststructuralism and deconstruction, related bodies of theory that emerged during that era. Together they allow us to see from a distance, while also making out (some of) the fine print.
Our goal will be to understand both the theory and its cultural matrix. In this course, we will study 1968, give or take a few years. We will also study the philosophers, writers, and critics who embraced the social changes of that era by theorizing them in original, sometimes radical ways. Their discourses have profoundly altered the world of literary studies, the arts and humanities in general, and the social sciences. It is impossible to understand the current shape and situation of these disciplines without some grasp of '68 in theory. This course will serve as an advanced introduction to key figures of poststructuralism and deconstruction--as well as several theorists who anticipated those movements--including Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, Hélêne Cixous, Catherine Clément, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Jacques Derrida, Franz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, and Jean François Lyotard.
Provisional reading list (full texts or excerpts):
Ali & Watkins, 1968: Marching in the Streets
Kurlansky, 1968: The Year that Rocked the World
Ross, May '68 and its Afterlives
Williams, ed., May Day Manifesto
Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays
Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text
Cixous, "Laugh of the Medusa"
Cixous and Clement, The Newly Born Woman
Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
Derrida, Writing and Difference
_______, Of Grammatology
_______, Margins of Philosophy
Fanon, Wretched of the Earth
Foucault, Discipline and Punish
_______, History of Sexuality, Vol. 1
ffrench and Lack, The Tel Quel Reader
Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman
Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language
_______, About Chinese Women
_______, Seminar, Book XX
Lyotard, Libidinal Economy