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Psychoanalysis: History, Theory, Practice

August 6 - September 3



1pm - 4pm


6pm - 9pm (closed)


Course convener: A. M. Awad


A hundred years ago, Freud predicted that psychoanalysis would follow the Copernican revolution and Darwin’s theory of evolution in dramatically reordering the role of the human in the world. Since then, psychoanalysis has come to influence the development of nearly every part of modern life: from political programs, cultural critique, and aesthetic practices to the basis of who we think we are.

In this intensive seminar, we will begin by surveying Freud’s primary work, along with that of his most important successors: Jacques Lacan, Melanie Klein, and Donald Winnicott. Having built a foundational understanding, we will engage a number of ways in which psychoanalysis was celebrated, appropriated, and critiqued by postcolonial scholars, art historians, and cultural critics. In turn, we will discuss the usefulness and limitations of psychoanalytic tools for our own time.

Throughout our classes every Saturday evening, we will also reflect on the dynamic of the seminar, figuring the relations between theory and practice, pedagogy and analysis, as we collectively orient our attention to Amman's relationship to the topic at hand. What critical tools can we develop from such an orientation? What collective practices can we extend outside the seminar?

In addition to psychoanalytic writing and case studies, the course material includes critical readings by Michel Foucault, Franz Fanon, Edward Said, and Eve Sedgwick; aesthetic media, including a film, an art installation, and two short stories; and objects from everyday life in Amman. (Readings are in English while discussions will be in English and Arabic.)

Tuition: 240 JDs. Scholarships available

Islam and Critical Theory

Session One

August 2 - August 30

Sundays and Tuesdays

5pm - 7pm

Session Two

August 3 - August 31

Mondays and Wednesdays

7pm - 9pm

Course convener: A. M. Awad

During the twentieth century, “Islam" was constructed to fit the structures of Western modernity: from Saudi Arabia, where the European nation-state is the framework for Islamic governance, to cities like Amman, where bourgeois culture dictates the form of religious practice. The past twenty years have intensified this process, as neocolonial and neoliberal development grew in size and scope.

The modern construction of Islam is supported by a particular intellectual tradition, which assumes that modernity is natural and desirable and that Islam must accommodate it. This tradition continues to operate not only in mainstream media and international development, but also in the social sciences. For the most part, it has been internalised by a spectrum of conservative, liberal, and secular Muslims today.

In this seminar, we will challenge the basis for this tradition. During the first half, we will dispute the assumption that modernity is natural and desirable, analysing its inherent limitations and internal contradictions using Critical Theory. What is the link between modernity and the catastrophes of colonialism, capitalist exploitation, and the devaluation of human life? In this inquiry, we will also reflect on the "Christian" character of secular modernity.

If modernity is not as natural or desirable as it seems, then how might pre-modern ways of life inform it? In the second half of the seminar, we will follow recent Arab scholars in using the history of Islam as a resource for a critique of modern life. Our focus will be on the role of governance, community, and morality. To what degree might pre-modern ways of life emancipate us from the stronghold of the present, including modern movements within Islam?

Throughout the course, we will grapple with a series of philosophical questions: what are the epistemological limits to accessing pre-modern ways of life? If access is granted, how might such ways of life transform the present considering our entrenchment within modern structures? Course readings include Weber, Adorno, Asad, Hallaq, and Massad; an array of news material; and anthropological studies from the United States and Jordan.

Tuition: 240 JDs. Scholarships available

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