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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

John E Toews
HIST 319
Seattle Campus

Nietzsche and the Nietzschean Legacy in Western Thought: Foundations of Modern Cultural Critique II

Critically examines the formation of modern Western politics, society, and cultures through a historical analysis of the thought of Freidrich Nietzsche and the thinkers, artists, and activists who assimilated and transformed the Nietzschean perspective during the twentieth century. Offered: jointly with CHID 319.

Class description

A historical and theoretical analysis of the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche as well as thinkers, artists and leaders of cultural movements who appropriated various dimensions of his thought during the 20th century, from Herman Hesse and Gustav Mahler to Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, from the Fascists and Socialists of the 1920s to to postmodern Feminists of the 1980s and 1990s.Emphasis will be placed on the relationship between the texts and historical contexts of Nietzsche and his "followers". What is distinctive about Nietzschean thinking on questions of personal and collective identity? How can a historical reconstruction of the situation in which Nietzsche and Nietzscheans wrote and acted help us to grasp the special relevance their thought might have for the way we think now about subjectivity and community, about language and meaning? The course hopes to conjure up distinctive voices from the past so they can enter as interlocuters into our conversations in the present.

Student learning goals

To provide both an intensive textual understanding and a broad contextual interpretation of the thinking of Nietzsche and his followers.

To examine the specific perspectives of the Nietzschean tradition on the cultural, social and political evolution of "Modernity" in Europe and America in the 19th and 20th centuries

To discern the distinctive "voices" presented in the texts of Nietzsche and his followers by situating those texts in the historical situations in which they were produced, received and transformed, and thus to create the possibility for an intelligent encounter between the dead and the living.

To connect the historical interpretation of Nietzschean thought to conversations in the present about language and cultural meaning, and about the formation of individual and collective identities.

To provide a venue for articulating and expanding the process of interpretation, critical engagement and dialogue through the formation of independent research projects and participation in focused oral interactions.

To learn to imagine and practice cultural analysis and critique as an activity grounded in historical consciousness.

General method of instruction

Lecture/Discussion with additional TA-led discussion sections

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 John E Toews
Date: 01/25/2010