CPLT/SEAS 205: Literatures of Southeast Asia
The literary fields (a theoretical concept) of Southeast Asia (a geographical concept) are of a very heterogeneous character, circling around ideas and images of nationalism and (post)colonialism. In this seminar some manifestations and aspects of these fields will be introduced – oral traditions, manuscripts, stories, novels, poetry: most of them (unfortunately) in translations – in connection with notions of canon, orality, modernity, close reading, language policies and philology. Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Sionil Jose, Shahnon Ahmad, Hikayat Hang Tuah, Nguyen Huy Thiep, A. Alberts, Cik Ait, etc.
CPLT 215A: Contemporary Critical Theory
The philosophy that answers to this distinction was handed down to us by the Greeks from Plato and Aristotle only. Both have given us an account of philosophy, but not without giving us also an account of the ways to it and of the ways to re-establish it when it becomes confused or extinct.
—Abu Nasr al-Farabi
For what is put into question is precisely the quest for a rightful beginning, an absolute point of departure, a principle responsibility.
The recent explosion of interventions around “biopolitics” and “necropolitics” — “Power,” Michel Foucault wrote, “would no longer be dealing simply with legal subjects over whom the ultimate dominion was death, but with living beings, and the mastery it would be able to exercise over them would have to be applied at the level of life itself”—is perhaps nothing more or less than a sign of the times. This form of power, Foucault couldn’t help telling us, was “completely new”: “For the first time in history, no doubt,” he also wrote, “biological existence was reflected in political existence.” Less sanguine about the newness of it all, in this seminar we’ll trace a history of what I’ll call “plural”—plurality, multiplicity, collectivity; this or that being’s being more than one, at once more and less than itself, itself plus or minus one; and the plural as a practice for the domestication and absorption of beings in a social field, where the plural is forced to become simple, and where it is thought based upon a privileging of simplicity. We’ll ask at least two questions (and who’s counting?): (1) How might we think this or that being, whatever being, as something that is more or less than itself, both more and less than itself (again), all at once other than itself and still, despite it all, what it is. And, (2) How might we think the social and the collective, whatever collective, in relation to its coerced organization, coordination, subordination, and, to borrow yet another word from Foucault, “governmentality.” Taking these questions a starting point, we’ll read and study Derrida, Heidegger, Aristotle, al-Farabi, Aquinas, Spinoza, Deleuze, Fanon, and others. We’ll keep our ears attuned to the texts we read—studying them at a painfully, disorientingly slow pace. To learn to read slowly, and then slower than that, is our principle intention: “to go aside, to take time, to become still, to become slow,” Nietzsche wrote. And with it all, our stake is, at least, but not only—and, again, who’s counting?—philosophical. Something like—but not quite—a “re-establishment” of philosophy, if philosophy is there to be “established” at all, during a time of its confusion and loss.
To prepare for the first day of class, please read: Jacques Derrida, “Différance,” in Margins of Philosophy, tr. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).
CPLT 277: Introduction to Linguistic Theory and Analysis
This course is a graduate level survey of contemporary theoretical Linguistics. The scope of the course is broad: we will cover the core subfields (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics), but additionally we will explore Sociolinguistics (e.g. How does language reinforce social biases?) and aspects of Language and Cognition (e.g., When I utter a sentence, how does my interlocutor really interpret what I am saying?). The students will have a chance to investigate their own languages of interest /specialization as well as to construct their own language.