SPRING 2016

Literature and Critical Theory

April 16th - May 17th

Saturdays and Tuesdays

 

Session One: 4:30pm - 6:30pm

Session Two: 7pm - 9pm

 

Course convener: A. M. Awad

 

Philosophers have inquired about the purpose of literature for thousands of years. At times, they have given it a privileged access to truth; at others, they have banished it from the public. Modernity offers a new context for this tradition of inquiry. With the development of the social and natural sciences in the 19th century, some have argued that literature - and the humanities at large - are no longer valuable. But while the sciences have given us facts, describing the way things are, they have left us without answers to questions of meaning. How something works does not explain what it means.

 

In this seminar, we will ask whether literature offers us knowledge about the world in ways which modern science cannot. Our framework will be critical theory, a dazzling philosophical approach based on the works of Marx and Freud. In critiquing how our scientific knowledge has objectified the world, critical theory has invigorated the possibility of other forms of knowledge. What do these forms look like? How can we access them through literature and literary interpretation? Readings include Kafka (German), Borges (Spanish), Kanafani (Arabic), and a selection of contemporary authors, as well as theoretical texts by Lukacs, Adorno, Rancière, Jameson, and Mufti.

 

Tuition: 240 JDs. Scholarships available

Identity Politics: History, Theory, Critique

April 17th - May 18th

Sundays and Wednesdays

 

Session One: 4:30pm - 6:30pm

Session Two: 7pm - 9pm

 

Course convener: A. M. Awad

 

The rise of identity politics in Western liberal democracy has transformed how individuals relate to themselves and to their communities. Increasingly, such politics is affecting a variety of institutions, social movements, and individual mindsets in the Arab world. As the content and form of religious, ethnic, and gender identities are reconfigured, new ways of life are created and others are erased. The resultant tumult has led to profound identity crises in cities like Amman.

 

In this seminar, we will engage the history of identity politics - from its foundation in liberal democracy to its cultivation as a trope of liberation in the United Sates - before assessing its currency in the Arab world. From neoliberal development and the creation of neocolonial institutions to the strengthening of bourgeois individualism, what kind of world is identity politics enforcing, and what does it leave behind?

 

Theoretically, we will challenge the concept of identity itself, addressing the philosophical issues of essentialism, ontology, and community. In turn, we will grapple with the possibility of alternative frameworks for liberation. Reading material includes theoretical texts (Foucault, Fanon, Spivak, Butler, Said, and Massad); recent anthropological and political studies from the United States and Jordan; and media from everyday life.

 

Tuition: 240 JDs. Scholarships available

 

 

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