The Politics of Everyday LIfe

Term: Spring 2010

Subject Code: GPOL

Course Number: 6899

This seminar explores a variety of works on everyday politics.  How should we think about daily life as a site of politics?  Can the ordinary offer insights into the political?  How does attending to daily practices allow us to rethink classic arguments offered by Marx and Freud on the underlying depth structures shaping order and change?  In what ways are small scale everyday changes linked to, or constitutive of, large scale transformations?  Finally, how are issues of affective investment and significance manifest in the everyday?  Put differently, in what ways does the surface of life carry with it political depth?  These questions will be explored through a variety of classic and contemporary texts on the everyday from Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life to Christopher Bollas’s The Evocative Object World or from de Certeau’s Practices of Everyday Life to Sarah Nuttall’s Entanglements.  Readings will also be drawn from fields beyond the social sciences where there has been considerable attention to space, place, and the design of everyday things.  For example, Langdon Winner’s classic essay “Do Artifacts have Politics?” Daedalus 109 (1980), Steven Harris and Deborah Berke ed., Architecture of the Everyday, and James Young, At Memory’s Edge.  Throughout, we will try to blend theoretical and empirical explorations.

 


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