The Experience of Spectacle in Contemporary Society
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students
Department: Humanities
Course Number: NHUM 3107
Course Format: Seminar
Location: Online
Permission Required: No
  • Aesthetics
  • Philosophy
  • Cultural Studies
We look at the phenomenon of spectacle from diverse but interrelated perspectives and try to understand what is at work in our "spectacular experiences" experienced through the arts. We read theoretical and philosophical texts to understand what spectacle is, its dynamics, and its sign language. Is spectacle what a culture considers worthy of collective and aesthetic representation? If so, how does an artistic spectacle such as film differ from other types of spectacles such as sports? As we pose these questions and others, we examine various pertinent issues: imagination (the beautiful and the sublime), ecstasy-participation, technology, feelings and catharsis (violence and discharge of emotions), the unconscious and transference (individual and collective), and alienation. The course is designed to be interactive; our readings are blended with our artistic experiences of spectacle. We view multimedia works and film, analyze a performance or exhibition, and discuss them in light of the theories covered in class.
Course Open to: Degree Students