This course is an interdisciplinary course where teacher and students will develop and improve interpretative skills and arrive at a deeper understanding of the self in the postmodern world through an intensive encounter with the interdisciplinary concepts of intertextuality, reflexivity, and sacramentality. In a recent issue of Le Nouvel Observateur, Jacques Julliard, in reviewing Bernard-Henri Lévy's book La pureté dangéreuse, makes us aware that the new dangers to democracy have ceased being political, and have become more social and economic. With this in mind, this course will add economic language as an aid in interpreting new texts. We will start with a preliminary study of the "other," the essential concept in understanding intertextuality, reflexivity, and sacramentality. We will then proceed to explore the three major ideas in a theoretical fashion, followed by more concrete examples in areas of economics, poetry, prose fiction, painting, and cinema. The final section of the course will focus on some problems of the self searching to resist the dehumanizing and despiritualizing forces in the postmodern world.
Through financial and market expert George Soros's theory of reflexivity, students will acquire greater understanding of economic language of finance and trade and apply it to the concepts of intertextuality, interdisciplinarity, and sacramentality, increasing their skills in interpreting texts in different disciplines, along with a better understanding of the self in the world. They will use economic language and literary analysis, along with philosophic and psychological reasoning. In his stock market tactics Soros uses his theory of reflexivity, a theory that fails in natural sciences, but succeeds in social sciences, where you have thinking participants. Participants try to understand their world, but their current thinking about the world affects the world they are trying to think about. It is a reflexive process with a cognitive function (trying to understand a situation) and a participating function (the situation being affected by your thoughts). In the Stock Market, fundamentals, like assets and earnings, affect stock prices, but stock prices themselves also affect the fundamentals (we do not think in this second function says Soros). We will relate Soros's reflexivity to theologian Richard McBrien's account of the catholic concept of sacramentality where all reality is sacred, imbued with the hidden presence of God, where one sees the divine in the human, the infinite in the finite, and the spiritual in the material. To bring sacramentality to all people searching for spirituality, we will study Norman Austin's idea of being and meaning in myth, where the "being" part of our existence is subjective and creative corresponding with the "meaning" part where we see ourselves objectively in the world when we try to make sense. The correspondence of being and meaning is sacramental, not materialmental. We will continue this study by relating reflexivity and sacramentality to the idea of intertextuality in literature, relating the literary text to its cultural and historical context, and by using one text, such as market vocabulary, to help us read texts in other fields, such as sociology, history, and philosophy. We will be using the language of economics and finance as an interdisciplinary language to provide more paradigms and to give us deeper readings of the other disciplines' texts.
This course will test the hypothesis that reflexivity, sacramentality, and intertextuality constitute ways of thinking about reality not usually conveyed by the term "critical thinking." Together they present a more manageable model of interdisciplinarity. Economics is seen as a symbolic activity to constitute world meaning through what we consume materially, while sacramentality is a symbolic activity to constitute meanings of the sacredness of nature. Intertextuality is then the interdiscipline tool that helps us correspond the self and bridge the material and the sacred.
2. Students will encounter various meanings of "text," and various structures of narrative in order to read and interpret according to various contexts.
3. Students will become familiar with critical terms that humanities scholars use for interpreting texts like intertextuality, figurative language, paradigms, culture, determinacy, formalist and intentional interpretation, etc.
4. By learning the language of finance and the stock market, along with other critical terms used by humanities
scholars, students will look more "scientifically" (in the sense of a more systematic observation of experiences rather than solely subjective) at the interpretations of narratives and be better equipped to see more paradigms to explore, such as tone, irony, word use, descriptions, pronoun, and gender to use in conjunction with new terminology and images, such as leverage, loans and collateral, hedging, deficit etc.
5. Students will see a text as an invitation
to "get in" and do research for success in graduate school and a scholarly
career, and identify disciplines that can help add meanings to texts in
their primary field.
King, Stephen. The Shining. New York: Signet, 1978.
Soros, George. The Alchemy of Finance. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1994.
TEXTS ON RESERVE AND HANDOUTS:
Austin, Norman. Meaning and Being in Myth. University Park: Pennsylvannia SU Press, 1990. (Introduction, Chapters 1 and 6. - on reserve))
Baudelaire, Charles. The Flowers of Evil. Paris: Garnier- Flammarion, 1964. (handout)
. Poems in Prose. Paris: Livre de Poche, 1964. (handout)
Certeau, Michel de. The Practice of Everyday Life. Stephen Rendall, trans. Berkeley: U of California P, 1984.
(chapters, 1,2,6 - handout)
Guillaume, Marc and Baudrillard, Jean. Figures of Alterity. Paris: Gallimard, 1993. (chapter 1, on reserve)
. "Apostrophe, Animation, and Abortion," in A World of Difference. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1989. (pp. 184-199, - on reserve)
Lentricchia, Frank. Ariel and the Police. U of Wisconsin Press, 1988. (Introduction, Chapter on Stevens - on reserve)
McBrien, Richard P. Catholicism. San Francisco: Harper, 1994. (handout)
Blood of a Poet. Jean Cocteau.1930.
The Shining, Stanley Kubrick. 1979.
The Crime of M. Lange. Jean Renoir. 1936.
1. Students are expected to come to every class and participate in class discussions. (20%)
2. Short and informal responses (150-200 words) to the weekly readings which can be based on the questions posed in the course outline. Four of these responses will be in paragraph form where students will make an observation and support it from the readings. The other weekly responses can be in the form of notations that students make as they read the required texts. These notes can be used in class discussions. (30%)
3. A longer paper (10 pages) or research
project where students will use the language of economics and finance to
explore a theme or idea in another discipline, or use another discipline
to explore a theme in finance and trade. For example, how have concepts
like long and short runs, leverage, hedging, commodities, stocks and bonds
helped you analyze events from other disciplines? How have the concepts
of reflexivity, prevailing bias, underlying trend, loans and collateral
helped you understand Richard McBrien's concept of sacramentality? Do not
feel limited by these suggestions. Choose a subject in which you have interest.
At the fourth meeting, we will meet with the reference librarian who will
acquaint you with research techniques in the DSU library. Please check
in with me as you gather data. One half of the project will concern research
techniques while the other half will concern arranging the paper in coherent
5. A final essay-discussion where students synthesize ideas in the course and point to a future area of investigation. Here, you will try to form a more syncretic self, juxtaposing different visions of yourself with some opinions of where you will go next. For example, choose one of the major concepts of the course and explain how it helped you arrive at fuller interpretations of several readings (3 or 4) in the course. Has the course changed the way you interpret texts? (10%)
PART I. The Role of the "Other" in Intertextuality, Sacramentality, and Reflexivity
Meeting 1: Intertextuality and theories of the "other."
Richard McBrien, "Sacramentality." pp. 9-13.(Hand-out)
Roland Barthes, "Work and Text." (handout)
Norman Austin, "Introduction." (On reserve)
Guest speaker from the stock world.
Meeting 4. Toward an alchemy of sacramentality.
Sacrament as the helping process to bridge
the gap of being and meaning, the "I" and the "me."
O'Connor. "Parker's Back" (on reserve)
Meeting 7. Rhetoric, Poetry, and Management Skills.
Johnson, "Apostrophe, Animation, and Abortion,"
Matisse, "The Open Window."
Meeting 10: "Sacra" mental vs. "material" mental view in W.E.B. DuBois.
and the event in history. Little history (the long durée and cultural history) vs. big history (the big events).
Discipline as defining and confining.
How does Lentricchia's inquiry into Stevens's life transform the traditional interpretations of "Sunday Morning?"
Can a capitalist attitude towards spirituality
increase the spiritual as interest increases capital? What is Stevens'
reflexive attitude to commodities?
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.
Meeting 14: Renoir's collective as an alternative to the corporation.
Issues: Film as metaphor of the collective process and the Popular Front in the 30s France. Foucault's prison society and the panopticon. Metaphor\metonymy, strategy\tactics, place\space, object\subject, hero\union.
Jameson, Postmodernism. (chapter on economics - on reserve)