Tracie M. Matysik
Assistant Professor — Ph.D., 2001, Cornell University
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 512-475-7251
- Office: GAR 3.402
- Office Hours: Th 2-4 p.m.
- Campus Mail Code: B7000
She works in the field of modern European intellectual history, with a particular focus on the evolution of secularism as a social movement. At present she is working on a book manuscript provisionally entitled "Spinoza Matters: Pantheism, Materialism, and Alternative Enlightenment Legacies in Nineteenth-Century Europe." She is also producing an anthology of writings by women from across Europe who were influenced directly or indirectly by the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche.
Modern European and German history with a focus on European intellectual history and the history of sexuality.
T C 302 • A History Of The Self
TTH 330pm-500pm CAL 200
What does it mean to say “I,” and where does that “I” come from? Does the self, or the I, exist in the body, or is it something purely mental and immaterial? Do I have one self that stays with me over time, or do I constantly generate a new self with all my actions and thoughts? What happens if I lose my self? Or if part of my self is unconscious or beyond my control? Importantly, why does it matter how we understand the self? That is, what implications does our conception of the self and its stability or instability have for our understanding of political, cultural, and historical developments?
This course examines these questions and their evolution throughout the history of European philosophy and social theory from roughly1600 to the present, with special emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It asks how and especially why people have thought about the formation of the self – and its dissolution – over time, and about the changing historical circumstances that have motivated thinkers to return constantly anew to the matter. While we will work primarily with European philosophical and social-theoretical traditions, we will also read and discuss more literary and historical texts that help us to see what the stakes have been in historically-specific approaches to understanding the self.
René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy
Friedrich Nietzsche, selected excerpts and aphorisms
Hedwig Dohm, Become Who You Are!
Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id
Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (short excerpt)
Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage”
Michel Foucault, Technologies of the Self (excerpts)
Judith Butler, “Introduction” to Bodies that Matter
Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs”
Nick Mansfield, Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Harraway
Three short (3-4 page) papers 45% (each at 15%)
One oral report (10-15 minutes, with text)15%
Ten weekly response papers (1 page)10%
Final Take-Home Exam 20%
Class Participation 10%
About the Professor:
As a European intellectual historian, my academic interests reside at the intersection of philosophy, social theory, public activism, and theories of gender and sexuality. I have recently completed a book entitled Against Morality: Subjectivity and Sexuality in fin-de-siècle Central Europe, and am now working on the history of materialism from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. I have also begun a project that is a direct product of a teaching need: a collection of writings by women on the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche from roughly 1890 to 1930.
After receiving my Ph.D. in European intellectual history at Cornell University in 2001, and before arriving at the University of Texas in August of 2003, I was the grateful recipient of two post-doctoral fellowships. The first was a fellowship from the Mellon Foundation and awarded by the German Studies Department at Cornell, and the second was from the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. Since coming to UT, I have enjoyed teaching courses such as “History and the Unconscious,” and “Marx and Nietzsche,” as well as staples such as “Western Civilizations in Modern Times.” When I am not teaching, I am usually researching in Germany, sometimes in Berlin and more recently in the culturally-rich towns of Weimar, Jena, and Gotha.
Of course I do take time off from teaching and researching once in a while. And when I do get a break from work, I like to run, bike, and play with my dog (who doesn’t like to run or bike). My favorite, more sedentary activity in Austin is to visit the Alamo Drafthouse, where I will happily view almost anything they are showing.
T C 302 • A History Of The Self-W
MW 930-1100 CRD 007A
A History of the Self
TC 302, Fall 2009
Professor: Tracie Matysik
What does it mean to say "I," and where does that "I" come from? Does the self, or the
I, exist in the body, or is it something purely mental and immaterial? Do I have one
self that stays with me over time, or do I constantly generate a new self with all my
actions and thoughts? And how do social forces inform the shaping of the self? What
happens if I lose my self? Or if part of my self is unconscious or beyond my control?
Importantly, why does it matter how we understand the self? That is, what implications
does our conception of the self and its stability or instability have for our
understanding of political, cultural, and historical developments? This course examines
these questions and their evolution throughout the twentieth century. It asks how and
especially why people have thought about the formation of the self -- and its dissolution
-- over time, and about the changing historical circumstances that have motivated
thinkers to return constantly anew to the matter. While we will work primarily with
European philosophical and social-theoretical traditions, we will also read and discuss
more literary and historical texts that help us to see what the stakes have been in
historically-specific approaches to understanding the self.
Course Expectations: Reading: Each week there will be a substantial primary source
reading. Individual books are available for purchase at the University Co-op. Readings
that are not available for purchase at the Co-op will be available on E-Reserves.
The individual books to be bought at the University Co-op are:
Nick Mansfield, Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway (New York: New
York University Press, 2000).
Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, trans. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J.
Swensen (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1998).
Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id, trans. Joan Riviere (New York: Norton, 1989).
René Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. Donald
A. Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1999).
Participation: Regular attendance and participation in class discussions is required.
Absences will be excused only for documented family and medical emergency (doctor's note,
obituary, etc.), or religious holiday. One unexcused absence will be overlooked. Each
subsequent unexcused absence will result in a half-grade deduction to the participation
grade. No student attending less than twenty sessions without documented excuse will
pass the class. Please note: a strong participation grade is not dependent on attendance
alone, but on active and constructive contributions to class discussion and activities.
(1) Two five-page papers. You will be responsible to define the topics of your papers,
but we will talk in class about how to do that. These papers will be written in phases,
consisting of outlines, rough drafts, and final drafts. Please see hand-out for more
(2) One oral report and text. Each student will be responsible to introduce one of our
authors to the class, and to provide a reading of the relevant text that situates the
text in the context of our general inquiry into the history of the self. Please see
hand-out for more details.
(3) Weekly Response Papers and Final Journal: These 1- to 2-page papers (and no more
than two pages!) are due at the beginning of each class session. Students should write a
minimum of ten papers, five of which must be written by October 8, and one of which must
be written already for August 31. These response papers will not be individually graded
throughout the semester, but rather will be marked on a ?system. A grade will be given
solely for the timely submission of the papers. To qualify towards the fulfillment of
this requirement, these papers must be ready for submission at the beginning of the class
session on the day that we are to discuss the relevant reading. Because these
reading-response papers are intended to aid in class discussion, I will not be able to
accept late submissions. At the end of the semester, students should compile these
papers and submit them in sum as a class journal. Students are welcome to revise the
papers in the course of the semester. A grade will be given to the final journal. A Note
on Writing Format: All writing assignments should be double-spaced and printed in
12-point font with one-inch margins. They should be well-written, spell-checked, and
proofread for grammar and content.
Grading (on +/- scale)
Two five-page papers 40% (each at 20%)
One oral report (10-15 minutes, with text) 10% for oral report / 20% for paper
Ten weekly response papers (1 page) 10%
A Final Journal or Take-Home Exam 10%
Class Participation: 10%
Special accommodations can be made if a student must miss class due to a religious
holiday. Please notify me as soon as possible and, in accordance with university policy,
no later than two weeks prior to the relevant holiday and anticipated absence.
Accommodations: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate
academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information,
contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-6441 TTY.
Academic integrity will be taken very seriously in this course. Students who violate
University rules on scholastic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties,
including the possibility of failure of the assignment, failure in the course, and/or
dismissal from the University. For an overview of University policy regarding scholastic
dishonesty, see the website of Student Judicial Services.
A Note on Classroom Etiquette:
* Please display basic respect for classmates' questions, opinions, and arguments. Especially in seminars, good discussion is dependent upon a general atmosphere of openness, tolerance, and respect.
* Please turn off all cell phones before coming into the classroom, and make an effort to avoid other distracting behavior (talking to one another, arriving late, departing early, etc.).
* Computers will be allowed solely for purposes of note-taking. Any violation of this policy by one individual will result in a general ban on computers in the classroom for all.
COURSE SCHEDULE (subject to change depending on the rate and direction of our discussions)
Week 1, August 26: Introduction
W: Introduction to Course, Discussion of Syllabus
Week 2, August 31-Sept. 2
M: Mansfield, 1-12
Eghigian et al., intro to the Osiris issue (on E-Reserves)
W: Library Day: Meet in PCL 1.124 (lower level)
Week 3, Sept. 7-9
M: NO ClASS -- LABOR DAY
W: Descartes, Meditations, pp. 59-81 (Meditations 1-3)
Mansfield, pp. 13-24
Week 4, September 15-17:
M: Descartes, Meditations, pp. 81-103 (Meditations 4-5)
W: Nietzsche, Genealogy, pp. 1-33
Mansfield, pp. 55-58
Week 5, Sept. 22-24:
M: Nietzsche, Genealogy, pp. 46-66
W: Kafka, "In the Penal Colony" (on E-Reserves)
Week 6, Sept. 29-Oct. 1:
M: Freud, Ego and the Id, pp. 3-36
W: Freud, Ego and the Id, pp. 37-62
Week 7, October 6- 8:
M: Kafka, The Trial
W: Schnitzler, Fräulein Else (on E-Reserves) (possibly to be replaced by
Hugo von Hofmannsthal, "Letter of Lord Chandos" (also on E-Reserves)
Paper Outlines Due (in-class peer review)
Week 8, October 13-15:
M: Kojeve (on E-Reserves)
W: Full Paper Drafts Due (in-class peer review)
Week 9, October 20-22:
M: Sartre , "A New, Authentic Way of Being Oneself" (on E-Reserves)
W: Camus, "An Absurd Reasoning" (on E-Reserves)
Full Papers Due (Final)
Week 10, October 27-29:
M: Lacan, "The Mirror Stage" (on E-Reserves)
Joan Copjec, "Supposing the Subject" (on E-Reserves)
W: Althusser, "Ideological State Apparatuses) (on E-Reserves) (possibly
to be substituted by Z(iz(ek)
Week 11, November 3-5:
M: Beckett, "Not I" (on E-Reserves)
Excerpt on trauma (on E-Reserves)
W: Foucault (on E-Reserves)
Week 12, November 10-12:
M: Foucault (on E-Reserves)
W: Fanon, Black Skin, White Mask, excerpt (on E-Reserves)
Week 13, November 17-19:
M: Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" (on E-Reserves)
W: Paper Outlines Due (in-class peer review)
Week 14, November 24-26:
M: Donna Haraway, "Cyborg Manifesto" (on E-Reserves)
W: David Cronenberg, Existenz
Paper Drafts Due (in-class peer review)
Week 15, December 1-3:
M: David Cronenberg, Existenz
W: Final Papers Due