Spring 2013 Philosophy of Culture Syllabus
Goals of the Course
- To understand and critically assess a range of theories about the nature of culture and cultural criticism.
- To develop your own philosophical theory of culture and cultural criticism.
- To apply skills of ethnography and cultural analysis to comparative topics in Italian and U.S. culture.
This Philosophy of Culture course mixes readings and resources from
several disciplines, such as philosophy, cultural and physical
anthropology, literature, cinema, semiotics, and cultural studies, to
give students a sound introduction to philosophical issues in the study
of cultural and skill in giving cultural analysis. We study theories
from physical anthropology and evolutionary psychology on the emergence
of culture, as well as theories of cultural analysis and criticism that
emerges from the both the traditions of cultural anthropology and the
continental philosophical traditions of phenomenology, postmodernism,
and semiotics. The main goal of our study will be to develop a sound
philosophical theory of culture, and both read and practice cultural
For the Gonzaga-in-Florence version of this course a substantial
component of course material and course work (30-35%) will involve
Italian culture, especially cinema, literature and cultural criticism.
Selected Course Readings
- Diamond, Jared. 2005. Guns, Germs, and Steel. Norton, New York.
- Diamond, Jared. 1992. The Third Chimpanzee. Harper Collins, New York.
- Brockman, John. 2011. Culture Harper, New York.
- Freud, Sigmund. 1961. Civilization and Its Discontents. NOrton & Co., New York.
- Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures."" Basic Books, New York. (selections)
- Adorno, Theodor W. and Max Horkheimer. 2000. The Culture
Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. in The Consumer Society,
Editors Juliet B Schor and Douglas B Holt. 3-20. New York: The New
- Possible selections from Eco, Vattimo and Pernola.
- Baudrillard, Jean. 2000. The Ideological Genesis of Needs. The
Consumer Society, Editors Juliet B Schor and Douglas B Holt. 57-81. New
York: The New Press.
- Bordo, Susan. 2000. Hunger as Ideology. The Consumer Society,
Editors Juliet B Schor and Douglas B Holt. 99-117. New York: The New
- Dennett, Daniel. 2011. The Evolution of Culture. Culture:
Leading scientists explore societies, art, power, and technology, Editor
John Brockman. 1-27. New York: Harper.
- Hebdige, Dick. 2000. Object as Image: The Italian Scooter
Cycle. The Consumer Society, Editors Juliet B Schor and Douglas B Holt.
117-55. New York: The New Press.
- Schor, Juliet and Holt, Douglas, editors. 2000. The Consumer
Society, Editors Juliet B Schor and Douglas B Holt. New York: The New
- Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1 and Cinema 2. (selections)
- Selected Italian cinema, Neorealism and related secondary literature
- Pasolini, Piero Paulo. (selected works)
Students will be assessed on their achievement of the course goals through the following methods:
- 20% Reading quizes
- 20% Midterm
- 20% 1st paper
- 20% Final project
- 20% Final Exam
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