With the emergence of ever-more sophisticated technology, events happening in remote corners of the world and in cosmopolitan centres are beamed into our living rooms and onto our computer screens almost instantaneously. These events usually involve wars, suffering and disasters. Some critics argue that the proliferation of stories and images of catastrophe has overwhelmed viewers, and that we (in Western nations) are suffering from 'compassion fatigue'. While this is a contested issue, what is certain is that technology has changed our sense of ourselves as citizens - we no longer see ourselves as citizens simply of nations, but of the world.
This course, jointly offered through Philosophy and Gender, Sexuality and Culture, begins by asking: what is our responsibility, as global citizens, towards the suffering of others? How should we understand issues of justice and responsibility in an increasingly global world? On what terms does suffering or violence find representation? Why do some lives appear to matter more than others? How do language, media presentation and discourse shape our understanding of contemporary issues such as 'terrorism'? Where do national identities take shape around a sense of victimization or of invulnerability? In this course, we consider these and other issues, as they are addressed by philosophers and by cultural critics. As well as introducing students to critical frameworks for thinking through these complex questions, the course also aims to help students become aware of their own values and practices as global citizens.
Reading for the course might include texts by Judith Butler, Wendy Brown, Susan Sontag, Marianne Hirsch, Mieke Bal, Wendy Hesford, Drucilla Cornell, Slavoj Zizek, Veena Das, Frantz Fanon, and Hannah Arendt
This course will count in the Philosophy major and in the core list in the Gender, Sexuality and Culture major
Indicative Assessment2000 word essay 45%, for each 750 essay, 20%, oral presentation, 15%
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 30 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 18 hours of lectures, and 12 hours of tutorials; and, b) 100 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Preliminary ReadingJudith Butler, Precarious Life, Introduction
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