The Modern and the Postmodern

开始时间: 04/22/2022 持续时间: Unknown

所在平台: CourseraArchive

课程类别: 人文

大学或机构: Wesleyan University(卫斯理大学)

授课老师: Michael S. Roth



第一个写评论        关注课程


In this course we shall examine how the idea of "the modern" develops at the end of the 18th century, and how being modern (or progressive, or hip) became one of the crucial criteria for understanding and evaluating cultural change during the last two hundred years. We shall be concerned with the relations between culture and historical change, and our materials shall be drawn from a variety of areas: philosophy, the novel, and critical theory. Finally, we shall try to determine what it means to be modern today, and whether it makes sense to go beyond the modern to the postmodern.

The Modern and the Postmodern traces the intertwining of the idea of modernity with the idea of art or culture from the late 18th century until the present. Beginning with the Enlightenment, Western cultures have invested heavily in the notion that the world can be made more of a home for human beings through the development of culture (and technology). Throughout this period there has also developed a strong, sophisticated counter-movement that sees the Enlightenment effort as a disaster – destructive of both art and of the world.

The Western idea of modernity is linked to but not the same as the idea of modernism. We will examine both in this class and then consider postmodernism in relation both to the philosophical idea of modernity and to the aesthetic considerations of modernism.

This course covers a lot of ground, historically, conceptually and aesthetically. There is much to read, and very different kinds of reading: from philosophy to novels, from theory to poetry. Not all students will like all the reading, but if you digest it all, you should have a clearer sense of the cultural history of our present.

Students should develop a historical, literary and philosophical understanding of some of the key themes of modernity and modernism in the West. They should learn to read classic and contemporary texts for their arguments, beauty and pertinence. They should see why these texts are “good to think with,” and, it is hoped, they will develop an appetite for further study in the areas covered by the course.


Week I:Why is philosophy relevant to modernity? What are cultural and intellectual history and how are they related to philosophy?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "Discourse on the Arts and Sciences"
Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?”

Week II: — What is Enlightenment?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "Discourse on the Origins of Inequality"

Week III: — From Enlightenment to Revolution
Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor” from 1844 Manuscripts
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto Begin reading Madame Bovary

Week IV: — Modernism and Art for Art’s Sake
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Week V: — Re-Imagining the World
Charles Darwin, “Struggle for Existence,” “Natural Selection” and “Sexual Selection” from The Origin of Species (6th edition)
Darwin, “Conclusion” from The Descent of Man

Week VI: — From Struggle to Intensity

Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, essay 2

Week VII: — Review

Week VIII: — Intensity and the Ordinary: Sex, Death, Aggression and Guilt
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

Week IX: — Intensity and the Ordinary: Art, Loss, Forgiveness

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Week X: — The Postmodern Everyday

Emerson, “Experience” or “Self-Reliance”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Selections from Philosophical Investigations

Week XI: — From Critical Theory to Postmodernism
Horkheimer and Adorno, “The Concept of Enlightenment”
Michel Foucault, selections from Madness and Civilization
“What is Enlightenment?,” Foucault Reader

Week XII: — Review
Review and Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
Jennifer Egan “Ask Me if I Care,” The New Yorker (March 8, 2010):
Jennifer Egan, “Out of Body” from A Visit from the Goon Squad
_____, “Black Box,”

Week XIII: — Postmodern Identities
Judith Butler, "Introduction" from Undoing Gender (2004)
Slavoj Žižek, “You May!” London Review of Books, vol. 21 (March 1999)

Week XIV: — Postmodern Pragmatisms

Rorty, “Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism” and Cornel West, “Prophetic Pragmatism” from Pragmatism: A Reader.
Anthony Appiah, “Cosmopolitan Contamination” from Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (2006), 101-113.
Bruno Latour, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Winter, 2004), pp. 225-248.



This course examines how the idea of "the modern" develops at the end of the 18th century and how being modern (or progressive, or hip) became one of the crucial criteria for understanding and evaluating cultural change during the last two hundred years. Are we still in modernity, or have we moved beyond the modern to the postmodern?


现代 后现代 现代与后现代 卫斯理大学



Democratic Development 关注

Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity 关注

Creativity, Innovation, and Change 关注

Introduction to Psychology as a Science 关注

The Camera Never Lies 关注

Visualizing Algebra (Entry-Level Mathematics) 关注

The Dynamic Earth: A Course for Educators 关注

The Ancient Greeks 关注

Conditions of War and Peace 关注

Early Renaissance Architecture in Italy: from Alberti to Bramante 关注