University of Colorado at Boulder
Honors 4055 (880), TR 2:00-3:15
Fulfills: Critical Thinking Core
Honors Senior Seminar
Humanities Upper Division
Comstock x27656, Farrand 201
Hours: F 2:30-3:30
Lots more by appointment
Discourse Analysis and Cultural Criticism
(alias: Deconstructing our Culture/Reconstructing Our Lives)
Discourse analysis helps us to investigate the conventions by which we make meaning of our existence. How, that is, do we "read" the world and the discourses around us, and how does that reading shape our considerations and our actions? Deconstruction pokes around a little further and explores the vested interests or hidden contradictions in an ideological system by looking at that which has been marginalized in the service of its preservation. In other words, if one value is to reign supreme in a culture, what does it have to push the side in order to hold its place as king of the mountain? And, most fun of all, what would happen if we tried deposing the king and making the outcast the center?
In Western culture, for example, the effort to define the male as a source of power and clarity has often led to the casting of all potential sources of weakness onto the female, by characterizing women in terms of dependence and unreliable emotionalism. In a similar manner, our positioning of the human as the "crown of creation" has traditionally corresponded with a view of other species as so inferior that we can feel free to make them subservient to our needs and desires. Many emerging influences, however, such as the philosophies of deep ecology and non-violence, as well as the increasingly visible damage to our ecoshpere, have urged us to view ourselves as intimately interconnected with each other and all forms of life. Hence, we may want to question those traditional power hierarchies and try out new kinds of relationships based on different premises.
In this class, we'll study discourse analysis and deconstruction as a means of exposing and perhaps shaking up a bit prevalent cultural attitudes toward selfhood and sexual identity, the environment, and other species. As we read books which deconstuct our cultural patterns, we'll try to deconstruct their analytical premises in turn.
An important element of the class will be some outreach work on the part of each student. This aspect of the course is based on the assumption that when we offer our help where it is most needed, we often come to realize on a profound and concrete level what it means to be marginalized by a culture's dominant ideology, and what a pleasure it is to fool around with those boundaries. Class requirements:
Three analytical essays (4-6 pages)
Final analytical/synthetic paper (10-15 pages) In-class presentations
Outreach work (Journal optional)
Jan. 13 Introduction
18 Reading: Political Criticism, Eagleton
How does Eagleton define discourse analysis? What subjects and texts could be included in the category of "discourse"? Why does he see discourse analysis as crucial to our ability to understand and transform our social context? In what ways does he see the traditional humanities as having succeeded, and also as having failed, in accomplishing the education needed to be responsible citizens? Anything problematic in Eagleton's premises? 20 Readings: "Deconstruction," On Deconstruction, 86-89, Culler; "Post-structuralism," Eagleton According to Eagleton, how are dualistic hierarchies an inherent aspect of language and culture? How have the definitions of gender roles illustrated both the rigid exclusions and uneasy intermingling of terms that characterize ideologies of privilege and dominance? What does Culler mean by the "double movement" of deconstruction? How does that make the deconstruction of a dualistic hierarchy more deeply transformative than a mere reversing of the roles of dominant and marginalized positions ( so that it moves beyond what we might call "reverse sexism or racism")? Can you think of other examples of the dynamics described by Eagleton and Culler? 25 Writing and Logocentrism, pp. 89-110, Culler 27 Institutions and Inversions, pp. 156-179, Culler
Feb. 01 First Paper: Discursive Analysis of "Sex and Death in the
Rational World of Defense Intellectuals," Cohn 03 Discussion of papers 08 Discussion of volunteer service 10 Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson 15 Reading as a Woman, pp. 43-64, On Deconstruction, Culler 17 A Room of One's Own, Woolf 22 Introduction to Sexual/Textual Politics, Toril Moi Goodman's article on Kitty Dukakis 24 History of Sexuality, Foucault Mar. 01 !!! Second Paper !!! Close Analysis of Introduction to Child-Loving, Kincaid 03 Discussion of Last Paper 08 Discussion of Upcoming Paper 10 !!! Third Paper !!! Deconstructive Analysis of Text of Your Choice (Outreach Discussion in Class) 15 The End of Nature, McKibben 17 Discussion of Outreach Experiences 22 & 24 SPRING B-R-E-A-K 29 Introduction to Animal Liberation, Singer 30 Evening viewing: The Animals' Film (6pm, here) 31 Discussion of film (rewrites due)
Apr. 05 Ecofeminism, Gruen
07 Diet for a New America, Robbins 12 Diet for a New America 14 Gandhi the Man, Easwaran 19 Discussion of Final paper 21 !!! Incredibly Hard Final Paper Due !!! Synthesis of research and volunteer experience and discursive analysis of text related to outreach Beginning of Class Presentations 26 More Wonderful Class Presentations 28 " " " "
Final Exam Period: Presentations and Celebrations
Monday, May 9, 7:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Literary Theory, Eagleton (excerpts)
On Deconstruction, Culler
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson
A Room of One's Own, Woolf
History of Sexuality, Foucault
Diet for a New America, Robbins
Gandhi the Man, Easwaran
Notes worth Noting:
*More than two unexcused absences will lower your mark a letter *Xeroxed materials are on reserve in Norlin Library under my name
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 1995 09:24:32 -0700 (MST)