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Summer 2018 section

2018 Alice F. Holmes Summer Institute

ENGL 908 (3 credits)
Dimensions of Biopolitical Thought. Cary Wolfe, Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English, Rice University. June 25-July 6, 2018 (no class on July 4). This seminar will explore some of the different avenues into and out of biopolitical thought and the various inflections that the question of biopolitics has taken on over the past thirty years. We will explore questions of race and “state racism,” species difference and animality, religion, biological models of social life and the state that have been central to biopolitical thought (especially the concepts of immunity and autoimmunity), and the concept of the political itself as that has changed (if it has) under biopolitics, particularly in relation to new understandings of social complexity, neoliberalism, and the shift identified by Foucault from disciplinarity to governmentality.  Readings will likely include work by Foucault, Agamben, Esposito, Haraway, Butler, Derrida, Ranciere, and Luhmann, and we will also examine some works in contemporary art and film (Waltz with Bashir, End of Watch, the video installation work of Eija-Liisa Ahtila, etc.) that activate biopolitical themes. Students will be required to lead one class discussion of about an hour on an assigned text, and will complete a seminar paper of approximately 20 pages on an agreed upon topic.

 Interested students with questions about the course may contact Professor Wolfe at cewolfe@rice.edu.

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