240G-001 | CCN: 23606

Rhetorical Theory and Criticism

Worldliness: Concepts, Approaches and Problems

Instructor: Pheng Cheah,

4 Units

T 2:00-5:00pm, 7415 Dwinelle

The intensification of globalization in the past decade has led to a renewed interest in areas of study related to the idea of the world across the humanities and the social sciences such as cosmopolitanism, world literature, world cinema and world history.  However, the term world is often taken for granted in contemporary discourse.  What it signifies is far from clear.  It is generally defined in opposition to nation and taken to be a synonym for globe.  Careful reflection on its philosophical meaning is almost never undertaken.  As Heidegger observed, “elucidation of the world-concept [des Welt-begriffs] is one of the most central tasks of philosophy.  The concept of world, or the phenomenon thus designated, is what has hitherto not yet been recognized in philosophy”.  This seminar is an in-depth exploration of the idea of the world and the theoretical and methodological implications of various concepts of the world for different disciplines. 
            The first part of the course is a study of different philosophical understandings of the world from late eighteenth/early nineteenth century European philosophy to contemporary critical theory: spiritualist and idealist conceptualizations of the world (Kant and Hegel), the materialist account of the world (Marx and Lefebvre), and phenomenological theories of worlding and world-making (Heidegger, Arendt).  In the second part of the course, we will consider how certain concepts of the world have shaped fields of study such as world literature, cosmopolitanism, world history and world cinema and how a fuller understanding of the world can transform these fields.  We will focus on examples of postcolonial literature, social movements, politics, and world cinema that envision alternatives to the world made by contemporary global capitalism.  Themes and issues to be discussed include the following: the limits of understanding the world as a spatial category; the normative dimension of world and its connection to temporality in the idea of world history; the relation between the world and humanity; the phenomenological idea of worlding; the role of action, storytelling and narrative in the opening and making of worlds; the relation between cosmopolitanism, transnationalism and globalization; and the links and tensions between globe, world, earth and environment.
Required Texts:
Immanuel Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Project, in Practical
Philosophy, trans. and ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. Introduction: Reason in
History, trans. H. B Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, ed. C. J. Arthur (New York:
International Publishers, 1970).
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, in The Revolutions
of 1848.  Political Writings, Volume 1, ed. David Fernbach (Harmondsworth:
Penguin, 1973).
Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. Joan Stambaugh (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996).
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958).
Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide  (New York: Mariner Books, 2006).
Nuruddin Farah, Gifts (New York: Penguin, 2000).


[Readings will also include theories of world literature (Goethe, Auerbach, Damrosch, Moretti, Casanova), world cinema (Dudley Andrews), world history (Sanjay Subrahmanyam) and cosmopolitanism and globalization (Appadurai, Cheah, Habermas).  We will also discuss Jia Zhangke’s 2005 film, The World]