Philosophy & Critical Theory

California: A World-Class Civilization

Instructor: Josef Chytry
OAK / PHCRT-300 / 15 sessions
Prerequisite: Writing 1 and Introduction to the Arts
June 1-July 6 (no class 6/11), Mon./Tues./Thurs., 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

California today ranks as the eighth economic power in the world, a timely reminder of the importance of California in the global order of the twenty-first century.

This course looks at California as a distinctive civilization comparable to other world civilizations. It provides a primarily historical account of the centuries of California history from the California of pre-European conquest to the full emergence of California as the most important state by 1962.

The course begins by tracing the development of a California “imaginal” from the Spanish conquest through the rule of the Californios, to its acquisition by the United States in 1848 and the effects of the Gold Rush of 1848-1850. It then follows the gradual emergence of distinctly Californian cultures in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California regions and the rise of California’s agricultural and industrial economy by 1900.

The class analyzes Californian progressive politics, the creation of Hollywood, and the growth of Californian arts, design, and architecture prior to the Depression. Students study the effects of the Depression and its consequences for Californian society in terms of literature, films, and the influence of European emigrés during the 1930s.

The impact of World War II and the Pacific theatre, along with the ensuing Cold War, provide the basis for a surge in California’s economy and the creation of a special California culture in the 1950s. The class finishes with a discussion on contemporary developments since 1962 and raises a variety of questions concerning environment, information society, gender, minorities, and the art of “many” Californias by 2000. (3 credits)

This course satisfies a 300-level Philosophy & Critical Theory requirement or a Humanities & Sciences Elective.

Animé-tion: Post-Humanism, Art Mecho, Political Ecology, and Cultural Economy

Instructor: Ignacio Valero
OAK / PHCRT-200 / PHCRT-300 /SSHIS-200 / SSHIS-300
15 sessions
Prerequisite: Writing 1 and Introduction to the Arts
June 1-July 2, Mon./Tues./Thurs., 6:30–9:30 p.m.

Fifteen years ago one could see Mao Zedong in Mickey Mouse Ears, a Zapatista Slogan, and a panel of a scene from Otomo Katsuhiro’s Akira sharing a common space on a crumbling wall. It was then war-torn Sarajevo, but it could be now an imagined Neo-Tokyo, New York, Cairo, Tripoli, Casablanca, Kabul, Athens, Rome, London, Madrid, Paris, Buenos Aires, Chiapas, Rio or Shanghai -- “Glocal” places implacably impacted by neoliberal hybrid modernities: economy, polity, and aesthetics.

Such icons and graffiti, and sundry other, could be read as mere satire, adult rage, youthful angst, a cry for help, or “just” pop culture. But, they could be also, an archaic postmodern, an expressive post-growth economy and a new aesthetic(s) of the common(s). They likely seem to be the projective screen of a passing order, hanging on desperately through the logos (and border-crossing) of a neoliberal techno-organic delirium, trying to confront the apocalyptic puzzles of the new millennium. Yet, more hopefully, they may be, too, the urgent global and local signatures, visuals and affects of vast new post-human orders struggling to emerge?

The course explores aspects of this conundrum through the artful visual socio-ecologies of Animé, a Japanese animation art form that tries to break through the thick ramparts of the local via a series of emotions, moving images, drawings, figures, illustrations, signs, machines, and reflections that resonate across a complex global audience. Universal themes of love, wisdom, nature, gender, beauty, war and peace, eroticism, youth, old age, combine with questions of human origins, survival, power, cultural diversity, change, identity, magic, religion, science/ fiction, vampire, zombie and cyborg aesthetics and technology, or pure entertainment -- to make it an apt research field for a contemporary interrogation of a political economy and political ecology of global cultural production: a post-human “Art Mecho” and then some. (3 credits)

Due to its interdisciplinary nature, this course satisfies a 200- or 300-level Philosophy & Critical Theory requirement, 200- or 300-level Social Sciences/History requirement, or a Humanities & Sciences Elective.

The following study-abroad course also satisfies a Philosophy & Critical Theory requirement:

Berlin Past/Present