Seminar in Textual Studies
Speech Communication 604
Seminar in Textual Studies

Instructor: Ben Attias
Office: SP 229
Email: hfspc002@huey.csun.edu
VOX: 885-2876
FAX: 885-2663
Fall 1995


Course Introduction:

This seminar will examine the ways in which human beings construct our reality through the making of meaning from experience, specifically through the production, performance, articulation, interpretation, and consumption of texts.


There is nothing outside the text. [l n'y a pas de hors-texte].
--Jacques Derrida

text, as I use the word, is not the book.... it is not limited to the paper which you cover with your graphism. It is precisely for strategic reasons ... that I found it necessary to recast the concept of text by generalizing it almost without limit, in any case without present or perceptible limit, without any limit that is. That's why there is nothing "beyond the text." That's why South Africa and apartheid are, like you and me, part of this general text.... [T]he text is always a field of forces: heterogeneous, differential, open, and so on....
--Jacques Derrida


The category "text" is, of course, a sign with a history. At one time, or so we are told, "text" was a very tidy and specific category, corresponding only to written documents such as books, treatises, manuscripts, etc. Etymologically, however, we learn that the root of "text" is the same as that of "textile" and "texture" -- a Latin word meaning to weave. Recent and not-so-recent developments in the field of textual studies have encouraged a return to the etymological meaning of the metaphor, interpreting all discourse and action as part of a general process of weaving in which human beings create and re-create (or, more precisely, produce and reproduce) our identities, communities, institutions, ideologies, societies, cultures, and worlds.

In this course, we will view texts as symbolic expressions of identity, difference, experience, culture, community, and meaning, proceeding with the assumption that culture consists of an ongoing system of meanings, practices, and institutions in which personal and communal experience is articulated in diverse and dynamic forms. These "articulations" interact within ongoing, permeable symbolic systems that reflect, enable, and constrain cultural meanings, realities, and identities.

Because of the nature of the discipline as a whole, students should expect to take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of texts, confronting key issues in rhetoric, philosophy, anthropology, economics, psychology, linguistics, literature, and performance studies which have marked the history of textual studies. It will not be possible to adequately "survey" this history in one semester; we will instead concentrate on exploring rigorously a few strands of conversation which are particularly important to the future of textual studies.

The format of the course will be comment, presentation, response, and discussion. My comments will introduce and situate the readings, interpreting key issues in the conversation and outlining theories of textual production and consumption that develop therein. Each student will be expected to deliver one formal presentation (5-7 pages) analyzing a set of readings and making an argument that intervenes creatively in the conversation. Additionally, students will be responsible for one short response (3-5 pages) to one of the presentations. Presentations and responses will begin the 3rd week of class.

The course will culminate in a final project which will make a theoretical and critical intervention in the field of textual studies. I expect papers to address some of the key theoretical issues that arise during the semester, as well as to involve critical readings of texts in students' own areas of research interest. These papers will be presented in a mini-conference which will be scheduled near the end of the semester.



Required Readings:

604 Reader and Sourcebook, available at Tam's Copy Center.
Julian Pefanis, Heterology and the Postmodern
Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings 1927-1939
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Michel Foucault, The Foucault Reader
Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman Native Other


Syllabus: Readings should be read before the class day on which they are assigned. Presenters will turn in their presentations the Tuesday before they are due, and will be responsible for distributing copies to their respondent. A rough draft of the presentation may be turned in a week in advance for critical feedback. Both presenters and respondents should distribute copies of their presentations to students the day they are delivered.

Recommended readings are not required, although they will inform some of my comments. They should be consulted for further research into particular areas of interest (in your copious free time, I know...). If all goes well, copies of the recommended readings will be available at the Aronstam Library.


Course Schedule:

Aug 30: Course Introduction. The meaning of "text." Textual Studies as a category of knowledge. Issues in the performance of identity, institution, and culture.

Readings:

Eduardo Santiago, "The Night Rodney King Kissed Me"
Recommended:

Stanley Fish, "Is There a Text in this Class?"
Jacques Derrida, "But, Beyond.... (Open Letter to Anne McClintock and Rob Nixon)"

Sept. 6: The End of History and the Critique of Enlightenment.

Readings:

Pefanis, 1-20.
Friedrich Nietzsche, "On Truth and Falsity in an Extramoral Sense"
Karl Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach"
Karl Marx, "The Commodity"
Sigmund Freud, "A Note On the Mystic-Writing Pad"
Sigmund Freud, "Negation"
Jacques Lacan, "Freud, Hegel, and the Machine"

Recommended:

Immanuel Kant, "An Answer to the Question: 'What Is Enlightenment?'"
Foucault, "What Is Enlightenment?"
G. W. F. Hegel, "Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness: Lordship and Bondage"
Karl Marx, "Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic and Philosophy as a Whole"
Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel
Peter Heckman, "Nietzsche's Clever Animal: Metaphor in 'Truth and Falsity""
Nietzsche, "Thus Spake Zarathrusta"
Jacques Lacan, "A Materialist Definition of the Phenomenon of Consciousness"
Related URLs:
Descartes on Method
Marx & Engels Online
The Max Stirner Page
The Nietzsche Page
The Nietzsche Society
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
Summary of Hegel's Phenomenology
Heidegger Links
Wandering with Lacan
Sept 11: Internet Training Session (Optional).

Music Lawn 208, 4-6 PM.
Sept 13: The Great Transgression: The Violence of the Text. Communication as Contagion.

Required:

Pefanis, 21-58
Bataille, Part I

Recommended:

Bataille, Story of the Eye
Michele Richman, Reading Georges Bataille

Sept 20: The Critique of Anthropology and Materialist Economy

Required:

Bataille, Parts II & III

Sept 27: Ideology and Hegemony: The (Re)Production of Culture through Text

Required:

Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses"
Antonio Gramsci, "The Study of Philosophy"

Recommended:

Gramsci, "The Intellectuals"
Althusser, "Marxism and Humanism"
Althusser, "Contradiction and Overdetermination"
Stuart Hall, "The Relevance of Gramsci for the Study of Race and Ethnicity"
Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style
Laclau and Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy Chapter 3

Oct 4: Mass Culture and the Necessity of its Critique

Required:

Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Situationist International Anthology (selections)

Recommended:

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment
Situationist International, "Ten Days that Shook the University"
Situationist International Anthology, (more selections)
V. Vale, "Situationism"
John Erikson, "The Spectacle of the Anti-Spectacle: Happenings and the Situationist International"

Related URLs:

Situationist International Resources
SPUNK Resources
Oct 11: Postmodernism, Hyperreality, and the Political Economy of the Text

Required:

Pefanis, ch. 4
Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign (selections)
Frederic Jameson, "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism"


Recommended:

Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"
Jean Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death, (selections)
Meaghan Morris, "Things to do with Shopping Centers"
Meaghan Morris, "Banality and Cultural Studies"
Meaghan Morris, "Room 101, or a Few of the Worst Things in the World"

Related URLs:

Postmodern Culture (e-journal)
Panic Encyclopedia

Oct 18: Towards a Deconstructive Public Sphere: Exploding the Text

Required:

Jacques Derrida, "Force of Law: The Mystical Foundation of Authority"
Jacques Derrida, "The Ends of Man"

Recommended:

Walter Benjamin, "Critique of Violence"
Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction
Jacques Derrida, Limited Inc.

Oct 25: Disrupting Master Narratives: Feminist Interventions

Required:

Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex"
Hélène Cixous, "The Laugh of the Medusa"

Recommended:

Sigmund Freud, "Femininity"
Sigmund Freud, "Medusa's Head"
Jacques Lacan, Feminine Sexuality
Hélène Cixous, "We Who Are Free, Are We Not Free?"

Related URLs:

Women in Philosophy
Feminist Activist Resources
Cybergrrrl's Links
Nov 1: Time, Space, and Power: The Practice of Genealogy

Foucault Reader, 51-100, 170-256

Nov 8: Power and Resistance: Historicizing Sexuality. (Re)Inventing the self.

Required:

Foucault Reader, 292-339

Recommended:

Gayle Rubin, "Thinking Sex"
Pat Califia, "The Age of Consent: The Great Kiddy-Porn Panic of '77"
Pat Califia, "Genderbending: Playing With Roles and Reversals"
Michel Foucault, Herculine Barbin

Related URLs:

A Genealogy of Foucault
Police Free Gay Slaves
Nov 15: Micropolitics and CybeREvolution: The Political Economy of Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalysis of Political Economy. Technology and the Figure of the Cyborg.

Required:

Félix Guattari, Molecular Revolution (selections)
Donna Haraway, "A Manifesto for Cyborgs"

Recommended:

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
Félix Guattari and Antonio Negri, Communists Like Us
Brian Massumi, A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari

Related URLs:

Charles Stivale on Guattari's Molecular Revolution:
|PART 1|PART 2|PART 3|PART 4|
Charles Stivale's "Rhizomatics of Cyberspace":
|PART 1|PART 2|
CyberCulture
Deleuze and Guattari

Nov 22: No Class (Thanksgiving Holiday)

Nov. 29: The Empire Writes Back: The International Political Economy of Textual Production.

Required:

Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman Native Other

Recommended:

Arif Dilik, "The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism"
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?"
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Imperialism and Sexual Difference"

Dec. 6: Queering the Text

Required:

Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick, "Queer Performativity: Henry James's The Art of the Novel"
Lee Edelman, Homographesis (selection)
Rosemary Hennessy, "Queer Visibility in Commodity Culture"

Recommended:

Judy Butler, Gender Trouble
Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick, Epistemology of the Closet
Janet E. Halley, "The Construction of Heterosexuality"
Cindy Patton, "Tremble, Hetero Swine!"

Related URLs

Gender3
Radical Sex
Alternative Sexuality Resources
The Queer Resources Directory
CSUN lesbigay resources


This text © Ben Attias
Modified by: Ben Attias
Institution: California State University, Northridge
Modification Date: Friday, August 18, 1995
Modification Time: 12:01 AM
Please Send Comments, Suggestions, etc. to hfspc002@huey.csun.edu