In this writing seminar, we study how and why human beings come to be concerned with their own ways of living. What prompts a “way of life” to emerge as a problem for people who live in that way? In the name of what, and by what means, do people set out to reshape their lives? In our first unit, we make a close analysis of the Platonic dialogue Alcibiades, in which Socrates undertakes to persuade an ambitious young man that he must learn to govern himself if he is to succeed in his ambitions to govern other people. In our second unit, we take a closer look at how ways of life are governed by, embedded within, and fitted to the world in which one lives. We view the depictions of habitual life in Charlie Chaplin’s great film Modern Times. To support our thinking and writing on this film, we read a study of the ways that ordinary life came to be organized in the modern era. This is a topic that we explore in more depth during our course’s third unit, when we go to the library to research the techniques by which human societies attempt to direct and normalize the behavior of their members. Our point of departure for this research is Michel Foucault’s influential book Discipline and Punish. Finally, in our fourth unit, we study and practice some strategies for making conceptual innovations (that is, having new ideas) and presenting them in writing. Throughout its four units, this seminar’s technical aim is to provide intensive instruction and practice in college writing.
Full syllabus here.