Advanced Problems in the Rhetoric of Political Theory
158 | 001 | CCN: 21642
Instructor: Nate Atkinson
Location: Dwinelle 223
“Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity”
― Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
The spectacle is an important and contested concept in political theory. By many accounts, the spectacle is antithetical to the political; it overwrites, short-circuits and otherwise degrades reasoned deliberation, and transforms potentially active citizens into passive consumers of products, policy and identity. However, critics of this account argue that it overlooks the spectacle’s potential as a basis public formation, and as a mode of political action.
In this course, we will engage with the concept of the spectacle as discussed in texts from rhetorical and political theory. Our readings will include foundational meditations on the spectacle by Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard, as well as more recent interventions by Jonathan Crary, Jacques Ranciere, and others. In addition to these theoretical readings, we will examine the efforts of artists and activists who engage with the spectacle in order to better understand this contested term in theory, and in practice.
* This course satisfies the Public Discourse concentration