SURVIVAL READING TACTICS THROUGH FINANCE AND TRADE LANGUAGE

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

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.

OBJECTIVES:

1.Students will arrive at deeper understandings of reflexivity, sacramentality, and intertextlity, which will be a framework that creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

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.
 
 

REQUIRED TEXTS: Camus, Albert. The Stranger Trans. Kate Griffith. Washington DC.: UP of America, 1982. DuBois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Penguin, 1989.

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))

Barthes, Roland. "Work and Text." In Image, Music, and Text. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977. (handout)

Baudelaire, Charles. The Flowers of Evil. Paris: Garnier- Flammarion, 1964. (handout)

. Poems in Prose. Paris: Livre de Poche, 1964. (handout)

Clifford, James. "Ethnographic Surrealism." In Predicament of Culture. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1988. (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)

Johnson, Barbara. "Poetry and Its Double: Two Invitations au voyage," in The Critical Difference. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980. (pp. 23-51, 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)

O'Connor, Flannery. "Parker's Back," in The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Michael Meyer, ed. Boston: St. Martin P., 1993. (on reserve) Films:

Blood of a Poet. Jean Cocteau.1930.

The Shining, Stanley Kubrick. 1979.

The Crime of M. Lange. Jean Renoir. 1936.

Paintings:

Matisse, Henri. "The Open Window," "Luxe, calme, et volupté." in Henri Matisse: A Retrospective. John Elderfield, ed. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1992.. COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

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 form. (40%)
 
 

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%)

COURSE OUTLINE:

PART I. The Role of the "Other" in Intertextuality, Sacramentality, and Reflexivity

Meeting 1: Intertextuality and theories of the "other."

Issues: The foreigner as national alien, others as alterity that we accept, and the other as radical alterity that we do not find normal. The new threats to democracy from social and economic fields. The integrist factions and racial cleansing. Disciplines outside your specialty as "other." Intertextuality as a reversal of history from a supporting context to history as a major text.

Texts:

Guillaume et Baudrillard, Figures d'altéruté. (Introduction - on reserve)

Richard McBrien, "Sacramentality." pp. 9-13.(Hand-out)

Questions for response: Examples of "other" in your life. Could your "other" be someone else's "others"? Is this method of inquiry philosophic? How is it intertextual? Why is it important to maintain the concept of radical alterity? What role does intertextuality have in keeping history going?
Meeting 2: Strategy and tactics and textuality. Issues: Strategy and tactic distinctions. Reading as a poaching tactic. The role of memory. Work vs. text (according to Barthes a "work" is a book that you want to put on the shelf recorded as something finished while "text" is a book (any fiction or artistic piece) that you live and experience and do not think about in linear terms).

Text:

Michel de Certeau, ch. 1. (handout)

Roland Barthes, "Work and Text." (handout)

Norman Austin, "Introduction." (On reserve)

Questions for response: How do the other Certeau distinctions, like museum/memory, map/itinerary, place/space parallel with strategy/tactics? How does Barthes' work/text fit in? Which concepts could be considered as traditional others? To whom is God an "other?"
Meeting 3: The alchemy of finance and the theory of reflexivity. Issues: The inadvertent in the stock market. Cognitive Functions (Participants' efforts to understand a situation). Participating Functions (the situation being influenced and defined by the participants' thinking). Stock prices and fundamentals (assets, earnings per share), with stock prices as the influence on fundamentals. Loans and collateral. Currency, exchange rate, and interest rates as factors that affect the prevailing bias and underlying trends of the market.

Texts:

Soros, chs. 1-6.

Guest speaker from the stock world.

Questions: How does your loan policy affect your status in collateral? Which term is usually considered the "subject" or primary term? Which term is usually the "other?" Why do interest rates affect the overall economic flow? How can the overall flow affect interest rates? What examples of currency, strong and weak, can you give from other fields than the language of finance?
 
 
PART II. Reflexivity, Sacramentality, and Intertextuality
 
 

Meeting 4. Toward an alchemy of sacramentality.

Issues: Reflexivity and sacramentality. Being and meaning in myths and stories. The self as subject and object.

Sacrament as the helping process to bridge the gap of being and meaning, the "I" and the "me."
 
 

Texts:

Austin, ch. 1, ch. 6. (on reserve)
The Stranger. Camus "Killing an Arab." The Cure (London, 1979 - song) Questions: From religious, stock market, and feminist inquiries, how can one look at sacramentality as reflexivity in the quest of being and meaning? How is Austin's interpretation affected if we focus on Meursault as an Algerian? If we treat Meursult's and Raymond's attitude on women? Or, if we treat the passages that the American translation has censored? Meeting 5: Reflexivity and Intertextuality. Issues: Intertextuality as a method of using one text to help read another text, and as a method of reversing "text" status, giving history and culture which were former background texts to literary works, a major text focus with the literary texts in the context mode.

Texts:

Clifford, James. "Ethnographic Surrealism." (handout)
Blood of a Poet. Film, Jean Cocteau. All That Jazz, film, Bob Fosse. (clips) Questions: Using psychological methodology, how can we use Clifford's definition of surrealism as an activity to explore one's personal and ethnic past? to explore the psychological traumas or "texts" that formed the artist in the film? Can you relate the trauma of Dargelos to your personal lives? How does Fosse's film help us read Cocteau's, and vice-verse? Meeting 6: Reflexivity and Sacramentality. Issues: Interdisciplinary method of economic speculation with philosophic reflection. Definition of alchemy.Christ as hero or example of the divine process. Reflexivity in the market, democratic states, and theology.

Texts:

Soros, Chs. 12-16.

O'Connor. "Parker's Back" (on reserve)

Questions: From a theological and political inquiry, how does Soros's concept of market and reflexivity help him define the activity of democracy and theology? Do these definitions conflict with yours? Give concrete examples of faith in the field of research. What kind of loans do you take in fields other than financial? What prevents Parker's tattoos from being sacramental? Why are prevailing biases beneficial and necessary in the stock market and theology?
 
 
PART III. Specific Applications of Reflexivity, Sacramentality and Intertextuality

Meeting 7. Rhetoric, Poetry, and Management Skills.

Issues: Poetry and rhetoric. Rhetoric as persuasion and figurative use of language. Poetry and management making decisions.

Texts:

Gwendolyn Brooks, "Mother." (handout)

Johnson, "Apostrophe, Animation, and Abortion,"

in A World of Difference.
Questions: Think about examples of science as looking for truth and creating truth. Does science inquire from a natural science point of view or a social science stance? Do you have examples of rhetoric that your company uses with its employers? Can cultural backgrounds of organizations influence the way they are managed?
Meeting 8: Marx and Baudelaire: Poetry and Capitalism Issues: Poetry and prose paradigms or domains of investigation. Comparison of Marx's goals in Capital with Baudelaire's in "Invitation to a Voyage." Poetry and capitalism operating under the same principles of interest.

Texts:

B. Johnson, "Poetry and Its Double," in Critical Difference. Baudelaire, "Invitation to a Voyage." (prose and verse poems - handout) Questions: Is the poetry/prose dialectic in a single work a sacramental, reflexive process? How does our genre analysis of poetry and prose as a reflexive process let us profit from reading the economic section of the newspaper? Can the economic values of Baudelaire and Marx be transformed to your personal lives? How does interdisciplinary study operate on the same basis as capitalist economy? Meeting 9: Matisse, Baudelaire and Marx. The voice as authentic speech. Issues: Voice (true subversive authentic speech) vs. written language (the legal language of the power class). Reading with "mise-en-abyme" and reflexivity. Poetry and painting as similar reading genre. Political aspects of poetry, prose, and painting. Lacanian interpretation.
 
 

Texts:

Matisse, "Luxe, calme et volupté."

Matisse, "The Open Window."

Questions: What role does childhood play in Matisse and Baudelaire? Are there further bourgeois interpretations of Matisse that less wealthy classes might not read? Does Matisse's distinction between design and painting compare with Johnson's relationship of poetry and prose? Are poetry and painting "voice" functions?
 
 
PART IV. The Voice of the Self in the Postmodern World.

Meeting 10: "Sacra" mental vs. "material" mental view in W.E.B. DuBois.

Issues: Long and short range economic goals. The long durée,

and the event in history. Little history (the long durée and cultural history) vs. big history (the big events).

Texts:

DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk. Questions: Whose view, DuBois or Booker T. Washington's, presents the long run view in economics? Whose view is sacramental? How does DuBois voice his being in the veils of oppression? What types of veils or barriers confront DuBois?
 
 
Meeting 11: Wallace Steven's Spiritual Commodities. Issues: Rhetorical figures, figurative language, and intentional criticism (using history and the author's life).

Discipline as defining and confining.

Texts:

Stevens, "Anecdote of the Jar," and "Sunday Morning." Lentricchia, Ariel and the Police, introduction and essay on Stevens. Questions: What kinds of "texts" could the jar represent?

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?
 
 

Meetings 12 and 13. King's and Kubrick's The Shining: Traditional vs. Postmodern Hell Issues: The modern horror story. Demonic imagery. The novel as genre. The narrator. Reification (reduction of reality to its visual images) as a danger to sacramentality. La mode retro vs. the real past or nostalgia vs. our real history. Monopolies vs. Multinational corporations. The hell of consumer society vacations. The retreat of the middle class to servant status.

Texts:

Stephen King's The Shining

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Questions: Whose story is the narrator telling? What kind of writer is the protagonist? What era of history is King exploring? In a philosophic vein, how has global multi-national capitalism changed the ways we view ourselves and our activities? Why does the film flashback to the twenties? Compare the endings of the film (ice) and novel (fire), and the father's writing vocation as commodity or reification?

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.

Texts:

The Crime of M. Lange. Jean Renoir.

Jameson, Postmodernism. (chapter on economics - on reserve)

Questions: (Philosophical sum-up) What are the paradoxes of the free market and the media? How does the self guard itself against the "prison" society? Does the self need an interdisciplinary attitude to survive in the world and "write" itself away from the panopticon?