|Semester and Year||SP 2012|
|Time||3:30 PM - 6:10 PM|
Same as COLIT-UA 800 001.
Long before the current vogue for eco-living, recycling, and repurposing, there have been people surviving with little fanfare on leftovers and discards, and theorists meditating on the revolutionary possibilities of refuse and junk. This seminar will introduce students to the work of Walter Benjamin, who is both a central figure in critical theory and an early, powerful commentator on the politics and aesthetics of the cast-off. We begin the course with Agnès Varda’s film The Gleaners and I , and we will continue to explore the relation between theory and the collecting and recycling of ideas, images, and objects, especially those that have been overlooked or abandoned. What, if anything, do ragpickers or dumpster divers have to teach us about subjects as large as theory, history, modernity, and the city? Our primary text will be Benjamin's expansive and unfinished work of citations and brief commentaries, The Arcades Project (1927-1940), but we will consider the work of other 19th and 20th century collectors and archivists. We will read widely from Freud, Marx, and the Frankfurt School, with additional materials ranging from the photographs of Eugène Atget to the films of Chris Marker. What did Benjamin and the moderns make of dross, and what can we glean from their thought for our own times?
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)