(Please note: not all modules may be available)
LA 2001a Freedom is to Learn
LA 2019 Freedom is to Learn
These are the two compulsory modules in Modern Liberal Arts at level 5. They allow students considerable scope in the direction of their work. Each week introduces a new set of issues within which to discuss ideas surrounding freedom. Indicative content here includes assessing freedom within classic modern texts by Rousseau, Marx and Weber, and exploring the perspectives of cosmopolitanism, feminism, colonialism, Islamic philosophy, Orientalism, mastery and slavery, animals, art, literature, education, and love.
Are there still masters and slaves?
What is cosmopolitanism?
What is orientalism?
Is it a duty to be hospitable to strangers?
How much of a struggle is the work of love?
Rousseau, Corbin, Kafka, du Bois, Irigaray
We give a close and detailed reading of Rousseau’s classic text Emile. We explore its political, spiritual and educational significance, and ask if there is anything in this work that still speaks for the modern world?
LA 2017 Creator Images
In this module, we will explore painting as a form of thinking about the world and philosophizing (metaphysics). We will trace how images reflect the self and its sense of unified identity and also the loss of identity and the fracturing the self and communities. We will think about how the ways we respond to nature (landscapes) and ourselves (portraits) in painting carry within them certain geographic, culturally and historically conditioned ways of thinking. In an age where the concept of the Subject is deconstructed and identity is often multiple and fragmented, theologians, elders, painters and philosophers will help us to unravel the often mysterious negotiations we make between self and image, nature and our reflection of it.
Can we use our eyes to philosophize?
What is revealed in scripture and painting?
How does our viewpoint condition what we see?
Is it possible to relate to the Other?
What does diversity really mean?
Indigenous (‘Aboriginal’) peoples, painters, paintings, prophets
In tribal societies, all of life is infused with art and religion. At-one-ness/unity means that individual identity is inextricably entwined with both the land and with certain animals and plants. Traditional arts and craft are not seen as separated from their connection to the sacred and the land. We will explore this theme using pictorial languages of selected ‘Aboriginal’/First Australian tribes and Native American peoples.
LA2004 Disciplining the Soul
The soul has often been seen as the medium through which man is related to the creator. We will explore some of the most influential theories in the Western tradition that see the soul in this way, including those which focus on the soul and the city and the soul and God. But within many of these theories we find a moral value placed on the relationship between the soul and the body, a value expressed in terms of disciplining the soul through punishing the body. We will explore this relationship within religious, social, political and philosophical thought and look at some of its most ardent critics.
What is the soul?
What is the relation between the soul, the city and the ‘good life’?
How is the relation between the body and the disciplined soul to be comprehended?
Is punishment an inherent aspect of the disciplined soul?
How can we understand God, religion, mysticism and spirituality in relation to the disciplining of the soul?
Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Loyola, Al-Ghazali
In the first half of the session we will introduce ourselves to the themes and concepts that we will explore through the various thinkers and perspectives we will encounter during the module. In the second half of the session we will examine the question that underpins the module ‘What is the Soul?’ through Plato and Aristotle’s theories of the soul. We will begin to consider some of the differences between the meaning of ‘soul’ in ancient Greece and the more contemporary meanings that we might be more familiar with.
(Image: Desires of the Soul, Kelsey Brookes, reproduced with kind permission)
LA 2005 Music and Philosophy
This module explores the relation between music, freedom, nature, politics, and religion. By looking at the metaphysical and political dimensions of music as they have been understood in the Western tradition we see how music expresses and generates some of the most profound human experiences and ideas, including life and death, self and other, master and slave, God and man. But we cannot do this without also listening to music. To this end a large part of the module involves being encouraged to listen to some of the greatest musical achievements in Western history and culture, including those which it has marginalised in the course of its own development.
What is music?
Is music also politics?
What is the relationship between music and philosophy?
Should Wagner be played in Israel?
What was the music of slaves?
Du Bois, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Adorno, Odetta
We explore the relationship between Beethoven and the Enlightenment. We look in particular at how ideas of freedom and autonomy are played out both in Beethoven’s music and in his personal life. We will read some of Beethoven’s letters in relation to some of his music. Finally, we will compare the heroic ideals of his youth to the deeply felt struggles that he expresses in some of his late quartets.
LA 2006 Aesthetics
This module offers an introduction to the study of aesthetics. Within the liberal arts this most often means looking at the fine arts – painting, sculpture, music, poetry – and we will look at these from within a selection of historical periods. The module will also introduce students to key philosophical texts that underpin the study of aesthetics, giving particular attention to the period of German idealism in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The theoretical and philosophical studies are intended to provide a broad, historical sweep, but one which has contemporary relevance. The same holds true for the range of selected illustrative contents.
What is the relation between beauty and freedom?
Can there be a subjective truth?
Is aesthetics an elite sport?
Does beauty have a place in Abstract Expressionism?
What stops the photography of war scenes shown on TV from being sublime?
Kant, Hegel, Adorno, Martin Jay, Rosalind Krauss
The photographic practice of Gregory Crewdson uses photography to picture a changed nature that in turn implies changed forms of nurture. This week we consider if this re-enacts aspects of the relationship Schelling theorised as existing between Nature and the Unconscious.
LA 2007 Utopia & Tragedy
This module follows on from the level 4 module, Ancient ‘Canonic’ Tragedy, and continues to explore the theme of tragedy, but now the focus turns away from mythical and heroic figures to tragic states of society. The specific focus of this module is, therefore, utopias and dystopias as sites for ideological investigations of what counts as the socially normal and the socially deviant, and how this tension is played out through the experience of the tragic within a social collective.
Is it possible to imagine the future?
Is it possible to imagine the past?
Where is Utopia, and what might be lost if it could not be thought of?
What is the role of science in ‘science’ fiction, and ‘history’ in historical fiction?
Massacres are often described as ‘tragedies’ – what narrative assumptions lie behind this usage?
J. G. Ballard, Anthony Burgess, Ursula Le Guin, George Orwell, Mary Shelley
This week we feature the first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in order to carry our two related investigations into a) the significance of the text’s ‘monstrous’ formal structure – the multiple narratives of narratives – and b) the manner in which the monster gains an education of its own embodiment.
LA 2018: Theorizing the Holocaust (Shoah)
If we are to ‘think the Holocaust’ we must not only consider the particularities of the event but also the philosophical, political and ideological conditions from within which it emerged and within which it was carried out. This module will introduce us to some of the prominent thinkers of early 20th century Germany who were, in various ways, implicated in Nazism. We will consider how particular aspects of their thinking lend themselves to fascism in the context of what we now know to be the consequences of such thinking. This will lead us to explore philosophical perspectives on the Holocaust offered by more recent thinkers.
What are the principles of fascism?
How do the principles of fascism become manifest in particular political regimes?
How were concepts such as ‘humanity’, ‘truth’ ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ understood by Nazi theorists and philosophers?
How can social, political and philosophical thought be used and abused to bring about, and to justify, wrong doing and evil?
Can the philosophical inquiry of the ‘free man’ be dangerous?
Rosenberg, Heidegger, Schmitt, Fackenheim, Bauman
We will begin the module this week by introducing ourselves to the principles of fascism as set out in some of the doctrines of fascism in early 20th Century Europe. We will consider these in relation to the social and political situations from and through which they emerged. This provides the basis from which we will consider the relation between the potential inherent in the principles of fascism and the actual characteristics of a particular political regime in future weeks.
LA 2010 Theorising Education and Ecology
This module explores our relationship with nature and the environment. Starting with an overview of changes in understandings of this relationship in the nineteenth century following Darwin & Marx, this module moves to developing an insight into the thinking of twentieth century green theorists. If there is an environmental crisis, how do we understand and respond pedagogically? A consideration of such questions for policy and practice is examined within a context of contemporary debate around ‘education for sustainability’. The module concludes with a reading of visions of change in contrasting eco- utopian and dystopian versions, re-positing the question of education’s role in the realisation of such imagined futures.
What is environmental ethics?
What is mans’ place in nature?
What is the relationship between the human and the environment?
What is ‘deep ecology’?
What are Ecomarxism & critical ecopedagogy?
Marx, Freya Methews, Bonnett, Krishnamurti, Kahn
We will try to explore and reflect on the question of the interrelatedness of individuals/things at both a societal and ontological level, and to see how thinkers propose to teach us to reconceptualise the world in a more fundamentally integrated way.
LA 2011 Power of the Teacher
This module explores issues of power and domination, of master and slave, in the context of education, and in particular in the relationship between teacher and student. We ask whether the relationship between the student and the teacher can, or should, ever be democratic? Can and should students be given responsibility for their own learning and enlightenment? Does education always require a teacher? We will examine these questions by looking at the ways in which progressive educators, critical pedagogues and postmodernists can contribute to these debates. At stake always in these questions is the necessity or otherwise of the power of the teacher over the student.
Can education be democratic?
Must the teacher have authority?
Can learning be open?
What kind of freedom does an educational relationship require?
What is a teacher?
Freire, Habermas, Lyotard, Foucault, Gur Ze’ev
Some argue that teachers are merely paid agents of the state, doing whatever the state requires. If education is so tightly controlled what kind of freedom is left for teachers in their teaching? Is it the case that, as Althusser says, teachers are just ideological tools of the establishment?
LA 2012 Spirit: in ruins
This module examines the meaning of the concept of spirit in the Western philosophical and political tradition. It concentrates on two particular periods: Antiquity and the movement from immediate ethical life to the status of the ‘person’; and the notion of spirit as it is found in the period known as the ‘Enlightenment’. This takes us to thinking about the concept of spirit in ruins, with primary focus on the dramatic events of the French Revolution, its violence, its music, and its political and philosophical ideas.
What is meant by immediate ethical life?
What is a ‘person’?
What is the Enlightenment?
Can there be a universal concept of humanity’?
Is terror ever justified in political revolutions?
Antigone, Rose, Kant, Mozart, Beethoven, Hegel, Hugo, Zizek.
In this session we will explore the ways in which the difficulties of Beethoven’s life and music is relfected in the wider social and political revolutionary events of the time.