This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.
This course aims to investigate philosophical discourses on and literary representations of stupidity. Since the publication of Avital Ronell "Stupidity", critics have increasingly focused on this question that was for long pushed out of serious investigations. This course will interest pre-college students who want to pursue further study in Literature or Philosophy in particular, as well as those with a broader interest in both.
What does it mean to be stupid? From Socrates' famous assertion that those who know, know that they do not know, or rather know nothing, to Sarah Palin's recent assertion that her experience in foreign affairs derives from the fact that Alaska is close to Russia, stupidity, and its most effective counterpart, mediocrity, have always abounded in literature. Not until Avital Ronell's "Stupidinty" did stupidity start to receive a rigorous philosophical investigation. This course proposes to "read" stupidity in some of its most famous representations, as well as to discuss theoretical texts that problematize it in its appearances in culture and politics. Literary readings will include such authors as Aristophanes, Moliere, Blake, Austen, Stendhal, Whitman, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Dostoievsky, and Henry James. Theoretical and philosophical readings will include such thinkers as Plato, Benjamin, Adorno, Frye, Derrida, Paul de Man, Sloterdijk, Zizek and Ronell. Tentative films include Herzog, the Dardenne Brothers, the Coen Brothers, Haneke, and Von Trier.
Students will become familiar with important concepts such as irony, cynicism, ideology, and mediocrity; literary readings will span from Ancient Greece to early 20th-century America, and students will become familiar with different genres throughout time. Students will also be able to discuss questions concerning stupidity in philosophical terms.