2019 - 2021 Courses
Tenure, a sabbatical, and -- most important -- the arrival of two new members to my family have pulled me away from regular updates to my site here. I'm now adding course syllabi, so under TEACHING above you can find the following, which I've taught since 2018.
Living a Democratic Life (Summer 2020). A special seminar for Outer Coast, a nascent two-year institution of higher education in Sitka, Alaska. Energetic and thrilling discussions of John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government. Reflecting on Black Lives Matter protests organized by Anchorage-based students. Facilitating reflection on “the power of the people” embodied – in virtual form – by the Student Body. Through this course, I delighted in helping to construct a self-reflective community, not just teaching students about the meanings and possibilities of democracy but collaborating on a more democratic way of being together, be that through playing Scribl.io or talking about the politics of ancient Athens.
Anti-Political Theory and Radical Study (Fall 2020). A new course I developed to complement Fred Moten's Flexner Lectures at Bryn Mawr College. Following Moten’s lead, I took my orientation from the jazz tradition, locating “study” in Black study and to “think[ing] study through jazz,” as Stefano Harney has put it, with the work of Moten, Fumi Okijii on Adorno’s critique of jazz, and Angela Davis on the blues tradition. Then I pivoted to Indigenous modes of study, examining Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s ideas of Indigenous resurgence as a way to envision decolonizing modes of study. Eli Meyerhof’s critique of the “romance of education” drew together these two modes of study as part of a broader articulating of a political project of study. His argument led to the social and anti-political dimensions of study in the writings and practice of Grace Lee and James Boggs and the practice and politics of feminist study in the work of Sarah Ahmed.
Ancient and Early Modern Political Philosophy (Fall 2020). A reprise of a beloved course, ranging from Herodotus's Histories to Machiavelli's Mandragola with some twists like this terrific pandemic performance of Aristophanes' Clouds and a day with Polybius's history of Rome.
Friendship, Virtue, and Democratic Practice (Spring 2021). A new course co-designed and co-taught with Molly Farneth of Haverford College, this course sought to bridge religious studies and political theory to examine the virtues and practices of friendship from Aristotle to contemporary feminist theorists like Sara Ahmed and Ann Russo. One of the best features of this course was a correspondence assignment, which paired students to write each other letters across the semester -- a project in part inspired by the amazing new book The Ferrante Letters and its experiment in "collective criticism.
Going on Together in the Anthropocene: Communities, Ecologies, Politics (Summer 2021). A seminar co-created and co-led with Ali Aslam of Mount Holyoke College at Deep Springs. This seven week intensive combined classics such as Hobbes' Leviathan, Locke's Second Treatise, and Marx's work with Black, Indigenous, and Feminist critical ecological writing. Oh yeah -- and Shakespeare's King Lear and Richard Powers' Overstory too!
How To Do Nothing (Fall 2021). A new Emily Balch Seminar inspired by Jenny Odell's terrific book by that title. This course draws on many of Odell's references -- classics like Melville & Thoreau as well as contemporaries like Robin Wall Kimmerer and Masanobu Fukuoka -- while thinking through the attention economy, refusal, and the politics of resistance.
The Power of the People (Fall 2021). A new iteration of a course I taught way back in Spring 2016, but with updates to include the new exciting Cruelty as Citizenship by Cristina Beltrán and Prisms of the People, a terrific new book examining power and organizing in the 21st century. This course traverses some familiar territory -- models of democracy from Robert Dahl to contemporary deliberative and participatory figurations -- yet feels wholly different now that "democratic backsliding" has become newly relevant in the wake of the rise of right-wing populism here and around the world.
Click over to TEACHING above and you can avail yourselves of these syllabi as well as syllabi from dozens of other courses I've taught since 2008.