Terrence E Schenold
Basic theoretical issues in the comparative history of ideas as a disciplined mode of inquiry; examination of representative historical figures and problems. Primarily for majors.
Title: Peregrine Thinking: The Politics of Conceptions of "Thought"
Thought is non-productive labor, and hence does not show up as such on balance sheets except as waste. - Bill Readings, The University in Ruins
Aesthetics presents philosophy with the bill for the fact that the academic system degraded it to being a mere specialization. -Theodore Adorno, Aesthetic Theory
Writing in 1997 about the emergence of the "market university," Bill Readings lamented the invisibility of the activity of "thought" under the justificatory regime of market efficacy and productivity. What counts as productive labor has implications for the experiences of thinking in education most valued and oft incorporated in learning. But how, we should wonder, are the operative accounts of thinking limiting? How might they be re-imagined and re-configured, and what kinds of thinking would such changes foreground and background? Rather than attempting to identify which limiting theory or paradigm of thinking should be "presented with the bill" for our current state and bring it to account (whatever we may think about it)—a direct politics of thought-as-object, we will try to explore experiences of what we might call "peregrine thinking," those often recalcitrant, back-grounded, subtleties of thinking that are hard to make represent-able, much less accountable to the more simplified views of productivity we normally assume. The term peregrine comes from the Latin "peregrinus," which indicates something alien, exotic, or foreign, and has been used to describe individuals who have no rights of citizenship. Used in this context, "peregrine thinking" is suggestive of exiled or ignored "thinking"? that is either subsumed under more common categories of intellectual labor, or considered as illegitimate if this cannot be done in some expedient way.
The CHID390 junior colloquium is designed to focus our attention on the theoretical and practical problems of interpretation and knowledge production generally, and in this particular version of the course, we will explore different ways in which "thought"? has been characterized as an activity, and the consequences of those characterizations. Most of these, let’s call them "modes of thinking"? for now, have been considered errant, dangerous, purposeless, non-productive, non-serious, or even disavowed as something completely other-than-thought. We are often called to "think harder!"? about something when problems arise in the course of our education, but this usually means think with more precision using the knowledge-tools we have been given from a particular discourse or theoretical approach. During the nine weeks of the summer we will read some philosophy, novels, poetry, cultural theory, and experience some audio and game media in order to gain an enlarged understanding of the consequences of our conceptions of what counts as productive thinking.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Seminar-style: mini-lectures and guided discussion.
Class assignments and grading
1. Come to class prepared to *actively participate in discussion*. This means coming to class with the assigned work done and ready to share your thoughts and questions with the group.
2. Frame and *facilitate a discussion* on one of the readings or media during the quarter with a colleague in the seminar.
3. Contribute *creative, reflective writing* to the “stream of thoughts” online chain-conversation about the course materials and your everyday experiences during the summer.
4. Compose *three short written responses* to self-selected critical readings in the quarter.
5. Share research experience by *writing a critical précis* on a self-selected outside source related to the theme of the class. These documents will be circulated among the group and published in a PDF collection at the end of quarter with your essays.
6. Explore a topic in suggested to you by the class experience in greater depth by *writing an essay* incorporating materials from the reading as well as outside sources. These will be included in the PDF collection as well.