SPR19:HUM415

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HUM 415-01 Contemporary Culture SPR 2019
T/Th 11-12.15 in HUM 582
Sean Connelly, Ph.D.
Contact: connelly@sfsu.edu
Office location/ hours: in Hum 416 on M 12.30-1.30 and T 10-11

The Project
Humanities 415 studies forms of contemporary culture including the novel, film, poetry, visual culture, and music as a means of assessing the present. To that end we will use concepts drawn from political economy and formal analysis to interpret literary and cinematic fiction.

Our circumstances are the product of capitalism, a mode of production— i.e., a way of organizing social life– that has colonized every space on the planet including the human psyche in a quest for ever-increasing profits.

Since its first appearance several centuries ago, many people have argued that this system depends upon the exploitation, objectification, and alienation of humans, animals, and a finite natural world.

Among the criticisms of global capitalism and its cultures is the tendency to

promote different forms of violence (imperialist, criminal, and structural)
enrich the few at the expense of the many
generate spectacles wherein the social is experienced as a virtual realm of appearances
distort our consciousness of the past and visions of the future, which seem to dissolve into the fog of a “Permanent Now”.
promote “the Market” as the measure of all things

The purpose of this course is to think about capitalism critically, to defamiliarize what we take for granted. Only by interrogating the common sense generated by capitalist social relations will we gain the power to imagine post-capitalism.

Learning Outcomes
Students who do the work will complete the course with a solid foundation in the formal analysis of literature and film, a general knowledge of contemporary history, and a toolkit of theoretical concepts and methods with which to explore the relationship between culture and ideology.

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Basic Etiquette aka The Bare Minimum
ARRIVE ON TIME,  work completed, with a hard copy of the assigned text. All homework assignments should be typed and include name/date/course.

Electronic devices
On its own, a cell phone is not an adequate tool with which to pursue a college education. The course blog, for example, is best viewed on a computer. Unless I specifically request it, NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES should be used during class.

Intellectual Honesty
CHEATING DESTROYS TRUST between teacher and student. If you can’t trust your teacher, then you deserve a new one. If you can’t trust your students, etc.

As a general rule any ideas/words that are not your own should be cited. Yet intellectual honesty encompasses more than actively avoiding plagiarism. For example, reading a wikipedia entry rather than an assigned novel or allowing others to do your work for you are examples of cheating.

See http://www.sfsu.edu/~vpsa/judicial/titlev.html

Accessibility
If there’s anything I should know about you as a student, please talk to me RIGHT AWAY and I’ll do my best to help. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email dprc@sfsu.edu).

Other Resources
The SAFE Place – (415) 338-2208; http://www.sfsu.edu/~safe_plc/
Counseling and Psychological Services Center – (415) 338-2208; http://psyservs.sfsu.edu/
Additional information on rights and available resources: http://titleix.sfsu.edu

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The Work: Grading Rubric
Effort and Engagement (Attendance, verbal participation, in-class work) 25%

4 Keyword Tests (Responses to keywords) 5% each for a total of 20% 2/11, 2/27, 3/18, 4/8

Film Analysis Presentation (group presentation and written formal analysis) 30% 5/1, 5/6, 5/8, 5/13

Final Exam (A test on 5 of 8 keywords) 25% 5/15

Students are expected to complete the assigned readings, think about what they read, and actively participate in class discussion. Without a documented excuse, late work will not be accepted.

Important Dates
2/12: KW1
2/17: Last day of Drop/Add
2/19 Kingdom Come completed
2/27: KW2
3/12: Day of the Oprichnik completed
3/19: KW3
3/22: CR/NC Deadline
4/9: Psycho-Politics completed
4/11: KW 4
4/23: Severance completed

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REQUIRED Texts
Buy HARD COPIES with the ISBNs listed below.

 


JG Ballard, Kingdom Come (UK) 978-0871403193
Byung-Chul Han, Psycho-Politics (Korea/Germany) 978-1784785772
Ling Ma, Severance (China/US) 978-0374261597
Vladimir Sorokin, Day of the Oprichnik (Russia) 978-0374533106

eReader
Abbott, “Defining Narrative”; “Glossary”: abbottdefnarr AbbottGlossary

Bennett et al, eds. Capitalism; Class; Commodity; Fetish; Ideology; Modern; Narrative; Postmodernism; Race; Society ; TextUtopia from New Keywords : A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society

Debord, “Society of the Spectacle”: DebordSpectacle

Edgar and Sedgwick, “Capitalism”; “Class”; “Commodity”; “Commodity Fetishism”; “Determinism”; “Dialectics” from Key Concepts in Cultural TheoryCulturalTheoryKeyConcepts

Fulcher, Capitalism (excerpt): Cap

Hall, et al.  After Neoliberalism: After Neoliberalism

Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (excerpt): HarveyNeoLib

Hawkes, “Faust Among the Witches”: FaustWitches

Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto: ManifestoSec1

Marx, “The Fetishism of the Commodity”: fetishism

Marx, “The Power of Money”: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/power.htm

We Are Plan C, “We Are All Very Anxious”

Williams, “Dominant, Residual, Emergent”: WmsDRE

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Schedule

(note: this schedule of readings and screenings is subject to revision. )

UNIT ONE: INTRODUCTION

WEEK ONE
1/29
Introduction: Periodizing the Contemporary
Assignment for Thursday 1/31: Complete the Political Compass test and record your score; upload a recognizable headshot to ilearn; read “The Project” (see above) and Fulcher, Capitalism (excerpt)
Clip: Margin Call

1/31
Assignment for 2/5: read “We Are All Very Anxious”; “Defining Narrative”
Clip: Glengarry, Glen Ross

WEEK TWO
2/5
Due: “We Are All Very Anxious”; “Defining Narrative”
Clip: More
Assignment: Manifesto of the Communist Party (excerpt)

2/7
Due: Manifesto of the Communist Party (excerpt)
Clip: Young Karl Marx
Assignment: Kingdom Come

UNIT TWO: TINA OR TIA?

WEEK THREE
2/12
Due: Kingdom Come

2/14
Due: Kingdom Come
Clip:
KW1

WEEK FOUR
2/19
LAST DAY OF DROP/ADD
Due: Kingdom Come COMPLETED
Clip:

2/21
Due: Kingdom Come
Clip:

WEEK FIVE
2/26
Due: Kingdom Come; “After Neoliberalism”
Clip: Ferguson: From Occupied Territory

2/28
Due: Kingdom Come
KW2

UNIT THREE: FROM NEOLIBERALISM TO NEOFEUDALISM

WEEK SIX
3/5
Due: Day of the Oprichnik

3/7
Due: Day of the Oprichnik

WEEK SEVEN
3/12
Due: Day of the Oprichnik COMPLETED

3/14
Due: Day of the Oprichnik

WEEK EIGHT
3/19
Due: Day of the Oprichnik
KW3

3/21
WEEK NINE
SPRING BREAK

UNIT FOUR: NEGATION

WEEK TEN
4/2
Due: Psycho-Politics

4/4
Due: Psycho-Politics

WEEK ELEVEN
4/9
Due: Psycho-Politics COMPLETED

4/11
Due: Psycho-Politics
KW4

UNIT FIVE: THE END OF PROGRESS

WEEK TWELVE
4/16
Due: Severance

4/18
Due: Severance

WEEK THIRTEEN
4/23
Due: Severance COMPLETED

4/25
Due: Severance

UNIT SIX: DEMO

WEEK FOURTEEN
4/30
Due: Severance
Film Presentations

5/2
Due: Severance
Film Presentations

WEEK FIFTEEN
5/7
Film Presentations

5/9
Film Presentations

WEEK SIXTEEN
5/14
REVIEW

5/16
FINAL EXAM

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