Graduate seminar: Life Itself

Engl 226/F&M 252 | UC Santa Barbara | Fall 2009



September 28:  Introduction
– Georges Canguilhem, “The Concept of Life,” A Vital Rationalist: Selected Writings from Georges Canguilhem
– Georges Canguilhem, “The Living and Its Milieu”
– Paul Rabinow and Carlo Caduff, “Life – after Canguilhem,” Theory, Culture & Society (2006)
– Sanford Kwinter, “The Gay Science (What is Life?),” Bruce Mau, Life Style
Proteus (Dir. John Greyson, 2003)

October 5:  Biopolitics
– Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended (Chapter 11); excerpts from History of Sexuality (“Right of Death and Power Over Life,” pp. 135-159)
– Giorgio Agamben, Means Without End: Notes on Politics (Part I) and “The Politicization of Life” (from Homo Sacer)
– Nikolas Rose, The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (“Biological Citizens”)

October 12:  Bio-Sovereignty
– Aihwa Ong, “Scales of Exception: Experiments with Knowledge and Sheer Life in Tropical Southeast Asia” and Neoliberalism as Exception (“Introduction: Neoliberalism as Exception, Exception to Neoliberalism”)
– Saree Makdisi, Palestine Inside Out (“Outsides”)
– Eugene Thacker, “Uncommon Life,” Tactical Biopolitics
– Catherine Waldby and Robert Mitchell, Tissue Economies: Blood, Organs, and Cell Lines in Late Capitalism (“Introduction” and “The Law of Mo(o)re”)

October 19:  Biocapital
– Melinda Cooper, Life as Surplus: Biotechnology and Capitalism in the Neoliberal Era (chapters 1-3 plus one chapter [your choice] from part 2)
– Kaushik Sunder Rajan, “Experimental Values,” New Left Review 45 (May-June 2007)
– Philip Thurtle, Rob Mitchell and Helen Burgess, Biofutures: Owning Body Parts and Information (DVD on reserve in Kerr Hall)
Coma (Dir. Michael Crichton, 1978)

October 26:  Biocapital, cont.
– Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Loic Wacquant, eds., Commodifying Bodies (1-8, 130-194)
– Lawrence Cohen, “The Other Kidney: Biopolitics beyond Recognition,” Body & Society 7: 2-3 (2001): 9-29
– Eugene Thacker, The Global Genome (Introduction)
– Nicole Shukin, Animal Capital (“Biomobility: Calculating Kinship in an Era of Pandemic Speculation”)

November 2:  The discourse on species
– Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (Chapters 1, 3)
– Nicholas Gane, “When We Have Never Been Human, What is to Be Done? Interview with Donna Haraway,” Theory, Culture & Society 23: 7-8 (December 2006): 135-158
– Sarah Franklin, Dolly Mixtures: The Remaking of Genealogy (“Origins,” Chapters 1, 3, 4)
Seconds (Dir. John Frankenheimer, 1966)

November 9:  Life management and care of the self
– Michel Foucault, Care of the Self (“Cultivation of the Self”)
– Joanna Zylinska, Bioethics in the Age of New Media (“Biopolitics Today: The Ubiquitous Practice of Life Management”)
– Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Control Societies”

November 16:  The New Vitalism
– Scott Lash, “Life (Vitalism),” Theory, Culture & Society 23: 2-3 (May 2006): 323-329
– Mariam Fraser, Sarah Kember, and Celia Lury, “Inventive Life: Approaches Towards a New Vitalism,” Theory, Culture & Society 22: 1 (2005): 1-14
– Richard Doyle, On Beyond Living (“Emergent Power: Vitality and Theology in Artificial Life”)
– Steven Brown, “The Determination of Life,” Theory, Culture & Society 23: 2-3 (May 2006): 331-332
– Cesare Casarino and Antonio Negri, In Praise of the Common: A Conversation on Philosophy and Politics (“Surplus Common: A Preface”)

Interlude: Friday, November 20
Colin Milburn seminar on the new vitalism
Reading: Milburn, “Nano/Splatter

November 23:  Death
– Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” Public Culture 15:1 (2003): 11-40
– Talal Asad, On Suicide Bombing
– Judith Butler, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (“Introduction: Precarious Life, Grievable Life”)
– Susan Sontag, “Regarding the Torture of Others,” New York Times (May 23, 2004)

November 30:  Plastic Power
– Catherine Malabou, What Should We Do With Our Brain?


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