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Instructor Class Description

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Phillip S Thurtle
CHID 390
Seattle Campus

Colloquium in the History of Ideas

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.

Class description

CHID 390 Unreason: Madness and the Politics of Knowledge

Welcome to CHID 390. This CHID colloquium focuses on the theoretical and practical problems of interpretation and knowledge production. In this version of the course, we will study the relationship between knowledge, power, and bodies by investigating the topic of unreason. Western society loves and hates to reason. On one hand it upholds reason as the ultimate enlightenment value. The rise of scientific thought during the 16 and 17th centuries, for instance, is often referred to as the “age of reason”. On the other hand, it produces conditions of life and cultural artifacts that are anything but reasonable. Selfishness and greed, not reason, often seem to guide social policies; while spectacle, sexuality, and violence, not a desire to gather information, often seem to whet media appetites. Western society has been especially harsh with those who are believed to have unreasonable thoughts or bodies, marginalizing them through incarceration, hospitalization, poverty, or neglect. During the ten weeks of the class. we will read intellectual history, ethnographic analysis, writings of those deemed to have a mental disability, novels, comic books, cultural theory, and continental philosophy in order to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the role of unreason in the theoretical and practical problems of interpretation and knowledge. Come join me as we become a little more unreasonable and a little more informed about the politics of knowledge.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Phillip S Thurtle
Date: 10/28/2011