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First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Self and the Call of the Other

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG49
Section 001
Instructor Judith Greenberg
Days MW
Time 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


Ovid’s story of Echo and Narcissus from  Metamorphoses  portrays the dangers of refusing to heed the call of the Other. Absorbed by his own image, Narcissus ignores the nymph Echo, who relies upon his words to speak. His solipsism leads to their deaths. This class takes Ovid’s story as a model for investigating how the self is shaped in relation to the other, a question considered by psychologists, writers, philosophers, filmmakers and literary critics. We will read psychological discussions of the development of the self or ego (Freud, Winnicott, Benjamin), literary portrayals of the self in relation to others (Woolf’s  Mrs. Dalloway , Joyce’s “The Dead,” Duras’  The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein ), and philosophical essays (Blanchot, Levinas). We will examine the breakdown in the connection between the self and the other due to trauma, reading essays in trauma studies (Caruth and Brison), and the ways in which colonialism and empire shape conceptions of self and other, reading novels (Forster,  A Passage To India ) and theory (Said, Spivak). We will also ask what problems arise specifically when women speak—how Echo finds a voice—viewing the films  Spellbound  and  Sunset Boulevard .


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Interdisciplinary Seminars (FIRST-UG)