SPRING 2016

Contemporary Art and Post Media
Adjunct Professor
San Francisco Art Institute, Exhibition and Museum Studies MA
(Syllabus)

Some have argued that the rise of social media, ubiquitous computing and smart phones has resulted in an increasingly mobile, networked world and a new phase for contemporary art, particularly within the past ten years. Many new terms have been developed by art historians, curators, critics, and artists from the early 2000’s until now to explain this shift within contemporary art – including concepts such as post medium, formatting, dispersion, post media aesthetics, post media, radicant art, meme art, and circulationism. This course will review these discussions alongside an overview of the history of internet art, which has nurtured many of these conversations. How does social media affect the reception of contemporary art? How can new technologies generate platforms for the presentation of contemporary art? How can or should art criticism evolve to reflect these changes? In order to tackle these and many other important questions, this class will review writings by Sarah Cook, David Joselit, Nicolas Bourriaud, Domenico Quaranta, Lev Manovich, Boris Groys, Rosalind Krauss, Hito Steyerl, Ed Halter, Seth Price, and more. Assignments will prepare students for the types of writing necessary for professional museum work, such as press releases, extended wall labels, brochure essays, etc. 

SPRING 2012

Introduction to Comparative Literature: Necessary Fictions
Adjunct Instructor
Professor Gabriella Basterra
New York University, Department of Comparative Literature

We like to think of ourselves as acting freely, creating our own ideas and objects. In other words, we like to think of ourselves as subjects. The self-conscious and autonomous subject constitutes itself in relation to what is ‘other.’ But what is this ‘other’? The word ‘other’ does not always refer to another person: It may also refer to constitutive events, or ‘necessary fictions.’ These ‘others’ may be the addressees of our poems, the material and immaterial products of our imaginations, and indeed the otherness we find in ourselves. How do we relate to these ‘others’? How do desire, action, and ethical duty (but also fate, guilt, and the law), allow us to perceive ourselves as free? We will explore these and other questions as they have been posed in literary works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Plato, Ovid, Garcilaso de la Vega, Racine, Keats, Poe, Gautier, Baudelaire, Melville, Lorca, Kafka, Beckett, paintings by Da Vinci and Velázquez, and philosophical and theoretical writings by Kant, Hegel, Freud, Marx, Saussure, Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas. Though the tragic fate of Agamemnon or Oedipus appears inevitable, in our reading we explore how fate is a necessary fiction that enables action. Today we have transferred the power of fate onto other essentialized constructs such as the free market, advertising, or intelligence organizations which come to structure our desires and dictate the course of our lives. We will trace how inspiration may be found in negation by reading literary texts on the unknown contents of letters – as in Poe –or on endless waiting for what will never come—as in Melville and Beckett. Situated at intersection of the different discourses that comprise Comparative Literature – fiction, poetry, art, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and political theory – this class aims to problematize the notion of modern subjectivity. Our primary concerns will be at once ethical and poetic: How can what exceeds knowledge and representation signal itself in thought?

FALL 2011

Texts and Ideas: Animals & Humans
Adjunct Instructor
Professor Jacques Lezra
New York University, Department of Comparative Literature

“One might go so far as to define man as a creature that has failed in its effort to keep its animalness…” So writes the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. What sort of animal were we? Where, how, and by whom has the line between the human and the animal been drawn? With what consequences for our “human” understanding of the world? Of concepts like the “soul,” “society,” politics, the family? Is the line between the human and the animal drawn differently in different genres–in literary works, theological treatises, natural histories, paintings, films? We come at these questions from different angles, following them from antiquity to early modern responses to these questions, and in essays by contemporary philosophers and advocates. Readings: Genesis, Numbers, Euripides’ Bacchae, Plato’s Phaedrus, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Apuleius’ Golden Ass, Marie de France’ Bisclavret, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Montaigne’s “Apology in Defense of Raymond Sebond, Machiavelli’s Prince, H. G. Wells’s Island of Dr. Moreau and Island of Lost Souls, Derrida’s “The Animal that therefore I am,” selections from Boccaccio, Peter Singer, Giorgio Agamben, Donna Haraway.


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