Professor Bernard E. Harcourt
Jerome Greene Hall, Suite 603
POLS UN 3912 Sec. 2
Course day/time: M 4:10 – 6:00 pm
Course location: 711 International Affairs Building
Teaching assistant: Charleyne Biondi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tuesday 2:00 – 4:00pm (please make appointment with Ghislaine Pagès)
This seminar will serve as a capstone to the study of justice and social change through the Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil and Political Rights at Columbia College. It will be limited to 18 students maximum, who, as a prerequisite to the seminar, will have followed the course offered by the Holder Initiative called “Power, Rights, and Social Change: Achieving Justice.” The goal of this seminar is to serve as a bridge from classical theories of justice and social change to contemporary writings on just societies.
The seminar will discuss very contemporary texts, mostly published in the last two to three years, on what we should do to make our society more just and how we should engage in social change. By focusing on the most contemporary readings, and discussing current political crises, the seminar will serve as a book end to the students’ study of justice from antiquity to modernity in the course “Power, Rights, and Social Change: Achieving Justice.”
The seminar will serve as an advanced research seminar for the students, who will be using the readings, supplemented by their own research, to construct their own theory of a just society and social change in a 16- to 20-page paper.
Students wishing to take this course will have to have taken the course “Power, Rights, and Social Change: Achieving Justice,” POLS UN3173, or an equivalent course.
Students who wish to take the seminar should send a paragraph describing their background and reason for wanting to take the seminar. Please send this information to Professor Harcourt by email and copy Ghislaine Pagès.
Preference for admission to the seminar will be given to juniors and seniors.
Students will be required to read the assigned materials, attend the weekly seminar, and participate in seminar discussion.
Students will be required to make a 10-minute presentation on one of the principal texts we read in the seminar.
Students will be required to write a research paper of 4,000-5,000 words.
During the semester, the students will have to, first, submit a document detailing their topic and describing their research; then, submit an annotated outline of their research paper; and finally submit the final draft of their research paper. Each of these steps will be graded; the first two steps will be returned to the students promptly to allow them to continue to work on the final paper.
The final grade for the course will be determined in the following manner:
Seminar Attendance and Participation (20%)
Oral Presentation of Seminar Text (15%)
Topic Selection and Description (10%)
Annotated Outline (15%)
Final research paper (40%)
Statement Regarding Academic Integrity
Each student in this course is expected to abide by the Columbia University Code of Academic Integrity. Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit must be the student’s own work. The complete Faculty Statement on Academic Integrity can be found at: https://www.college.columbia.edu/academics/integrity-statement
and the Columbia University Undergraduate Guide to Academic Integrity can be found here: https://www.college.columbia.edu/academics/academicintegrity
Any violation of the Academic Code of Integrity will be forwarded to the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards and will result in a failing grade for the course.
Bargu, Banu. Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons. Columbia University Press, 2016.
Butler, Judith. Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. Harvard University Press, 2015.
Clover, Joshua. Riot. Strike. Riot.: The New Era of Uprisings. Verso, 2016.
Harney, Stefano and Fred Moten. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. Minor Compositions, 2013.
Mouffe, Chantal. For a Left Populism. Verso Books, 2016.
Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (New York: Penguin, 2014)
No laptops will be allowed in seminar unless you have accommodations to use a laptop.
Critique and Praxis 13/13
During the academic year 2018-2019, I will also be giving a graduate seminar on related themes of political change and practice, called Praxis 13/13. It will be meeting on select Wednesday evenings throughout the academic year (schedule here). The seminars are open to the public, so please feel free to join us. Please email Ghislaine Pagès (email@example.com) to tell her you will join. There is no requirement to orally intervene in the seminar, there are usually over 100 people there.
Week #1: Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Justice January 28, 2019
In our first seminar, we will introduce the notion of just societies in relation to the tradition of critical theory. We will do a very close reading of the Horkheimer article, placing it in its historical context by means of Amy Allen’s preface to her book, The End of Progress. Please read these two texts very closely. They are difficult, so please read them carefully.
Amy Allen, “Preface,” to The End of Progress : Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory (Columbia University Press, 2016)
Max Horkheimer, “Traditional and Critical Theory” (1937)
Week #2: Populism February 4, 2019
Jan-Werner Müller, What Is Populism? Univ. Pennsylvania Press, 2016 (selections)
Nadia Urbinati, “Political Theory of Populism.” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 22 (forthcoming 2019)
Ernesto Laclau, On Populist Reason. Verso, 2007 (selections).
Chantal Mouffe, For a Left Populism. Verso Books, 2016, pp. 1 - 50.
Week #3: Left Populism February 11, 2019
Chantal Mouffe, For a Left Populism. Verso Books, 2016, pp. 50 - 112.
Federico Finchelstein, From Fascism to Populism in History. University of California Press, 2017 (selections)
Week #4: Abolition February 18, 2019
Allegra McLeod, “Prison Abolition and Grounded Justice,” 62 UCLA L. Rev. 1156-1239 (2015)
Tommie Shelby, “Rethinking Prison Abolition,” work-in-progress chapter.
*** Submit Topic Selection and Description Essay in class ***
Essay should be 500 words long and contain two main sections: a first paragraph that summarizes the topic of your research, followed by a few paragraphs describing in more detail what you plan to research and write about.
This assignment will be graded and returned to you promptly, as well as feedback on your seminar participation.
Week #5: The Undercommons February 25, 2019
Stefano Harney and Fred Moten. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. Minor Compositions, 2013, chapter 0 to 4.
Heather Love, “The Stigma Archive,” paper presented at SCT Cornell University.
Week #6: The Undercommons and Abolition March 4, 2019
Stefano Harney and Fred Moten. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. Minor Compositions, 2013, chapters 5 to 7.
Allegra McLeod, “Law, Critique, and the Undercommons,” in A Time for Critique, eds. Didier Fassin and Bernard E. Harcourt (Columbia University Press, 2019)
Week #7: Assembly March 11, 2019
Butler, Judith. Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. Harvard University Press, 2015, chapters 1 to 3.
Hardt & Negri, Assembly (Oxford, 2017) (selections)
*** Spring Break ***
Week #8: Political Disobedience March 25, 2019
Judith Butler, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. Harvard University Press, 2015, chapters 4 to 6.
Bernard E. Harcourt, “Political Disobedience,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 39(1), Autumn 2012, pp. 33-55.
*** Submit your Annotated Outline of your Research Paper in class ***
This outline should articulate the structure of the paper and describe each section. It should also contain a complete bibliography. The document should be about 1,500 to 2,000 words. This assignment will also be graded and returned to you promptly.
Week #9: Addressing the Question: “What Is To Be Done?” April 1, 2019
Please reread Bernard E. Harcourt, Critique & Praxis: A Pure Theory of Illusions, Values, and Tactics, and an Answer to the Question: “What Is To Be Done?” New York: Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought. Open Review Edition: First draft dated September 1, 2018.
Week #10: Weaponizing the Body April 8, 2019
Banu Bargu, Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons. Columbia University Press, 2016, read introduction to chapter 3.
Mohandas Gandhi, Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha) (New York: Dover Publications, 2001) (excerpts)
Week #11: Nonviolent Action April 15, 2019
Banu Bargu, Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons. Columbia University Press, 2016, read chapter 4 to conclusion.
Karuna Mantena, The Power of Nonviolence, Aeon (2016)
Week #12: Using the Courts & the Future of the Death Penalty April 22, 2019
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (New York: Penguin, 2014)
Bernard E. Harcourt, “Abolition in the U.S.A. by 2050: On Political Capital and Ordinary Acts of Resistance,” in The Road to Abolition ed. Charles Ogletree and Austin Sarat New York: NYU Press, 2008.
Jack Greenberg, Litigation For Social Change: Methods, Limits, and Role in Democracy (New York, 1974) (excerpts)
Week #13: Creating Autonomous Zones April 29, 2019
Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. Autonomedia, 2004 (selections)
Mauvaise Troupe Collective, The ZAD and NoTAV: Territorial Struggles and the Making of a New Political Intelligence (Verso 2018) (selections)
Week #14: Eras of Social Change May 6, 2019
Joshua Clover, Riot. Strike. Riot.: The New Era of Uprisings. Verso, 2016.
E. P. Thompson, “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century.” Past & Present, no. 50, 1971, pp. 76–136.
**Final Paper due (4,000 – 5,000 words) on May 13, 2019 at 11:59PM**