Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
240G-001 | CCN: 23517
Ruins of History
Instructor: Samera Esmeir,Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann
Date / Time: Tuesday 4pm-7pm
What is historical time? In this course, we seek an answer to this question by reading the works of German historian and theorist, Reinhart Koselleck, along with a range of writings on history and temporality from Ibn Khaldun to François Hartog to contemporary anthropological, postcolonial and literary scholarship on eschatology, catastrophe, tradition, trauma, remembrance and resilience. Departing from the modernist conception of time as linear and progressive, we begin by investigating the historical making of this understanding, and its partial synchronization of the world, but devote most of the seminar to unpacking other ways of relating to time, inhabiting and remaking the world, being attuned to the ongoing presence of the past, and anticipating the future. By attending closely to Koselleck’s theory of historical times, while presenting it next to other writings on historical and non-historical temporalities, we aim to shed light on the plurality of times that inform different forms of life, beyond the present. Finally, during times of ongoing destruction, the readings in this seminar will help orient us to the ruins of history as not merely the remains of a more holistic past existence, but as sites of obstinacy and possibility. The principal writing assignments are weekly summaries and a research paper.