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Soc. 555-01: Seminar in Social Theory

Mirror Sites:
CSUDH Habermas UWP

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: June 6, 2001
Latest update: October 14, 2001

Graduate Social Theory Readings
Week of October 15, 2001: Week 8
Guest Speaker for Wednesday, October 17, 2001:
Professor Munashe Furusas of Zimbabwe
7:00 P.M. in Room SBS A 232, CSUDH

  • Online Readings:

    • Wednesday, October 17, 2001:

      • Discussion Topics for Dr. Furusas' Lecture on Zimbabwe

      • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth Teaching essay.
      • Culture AND ImperialismTeaching Essay on Edward Said's critical reading of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and England's ideas of empire.
      • And Just Who Is Reconstructed? Deconstruction from the Periphery with Postcolonialism. Teaching Essay.
      • Homi K. Bhabha An overview by Benjamin Graves, Brown University, 1998. The question of the elitism of theory comes up: "There is a damaging and self-defeating assumption that theory is necessarily the elite language of the socially and culturally privileged. It is said that the place of the academic critic is inevitably within the Eurocentric archives of an imperialist or neo-colonial West." Here, the concept of theory and elitist is tied up with the issues of identity under colonization. And that leads us to . . . .
      • Jacques Lacan The Mirror Stage as Fromative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience.

  • Hardcopy Readings:

      Contemporary Social Theory, ed. by Anthony Elliott.

    • Chapter 3. "The Mirror Stage as Fromative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience," Jacques Lacan. Pp. 61-66.

    • Chapter14, "Truth, Semblance, Reconciliation: Adorno's Aesthtice Redemption of Modernity," Albrecht Wellmer. Pp. 196-207.

      This piece calls into question issues of:

      • What is art?
      • Who owns it?
      • Is it elitist?
      • What role does it play in truth, semblance, reconciliation?

      Consider the role that Wellmer's conclusion plays in issues of postcolonialism now before us:

      "The beauty of art does not stand for reason in its entirety; it is rather the case that reason needs art to illuminate it, for without aesthetic experience and the subversive potentiall it contains, our moral discourse would necessarily become blind and our interpretations of the world empty."

      Wellmer speaks of the beauty of Adorno's description of aesthetics, and of our need to read Adorno in layers. Can you relate this to the dilemma of identity within the constraints of a hostile dominant discourse? Can you imagine that the identity may need to be read in layers, each with a different mirror?

  • Some Suggested Measures of Learning: Comment on one of the following topics, or do something of your own choosing.

    1. Is there a role for "ordinary folks" in establishing discourse with the "Other"? or is that a role exclusively for "diplomatic experts"? and how does the expert become expert and which dominant discourse does he/she follow?

    2. Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa are very different places with very different structural contexts or "situations." Since none of us are experts on Africa, how do we manage to ask intelligent and sensible questions? What are the basics we need to know from the start?

      How have these brief discussions helped you to better articulate or express your understanding of postcolonialism, of our complicity through denial, of the anger that ordinary folks might have against the US shifted at all? Could you describe the role that theory plays in all this?

    3. Consider using poetry, art, storytelling, music, to share your feelings on these issues. Support that approach with Adorno's argument as Wellmer interprets it.