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BASS Politics and Sociology / Course details
Year of entry: 2023
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Course unit details:
Identity, Power & Modernity
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
2. Capitalism and Modernity: Karl Marx
3. Power/Knowledge and Discipline: Michel Foucault
4. Biopower and Sexuality: Michel Foucault
5. Media and Perception: Marshall McLuhan
6. 'Race' and the Black Atlantic: Paul Gilroy
7. Brands and Commodity Culture: Naomi Klein
8. Sensation and the City: Georg Simmel and Walter Benjamin
9. Markets and the Neoliberal Individual: Wendy Brown
10. Empire and Multitude: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
This course examines identity and power in contemporary culture, focusing on themes of technology, sexuality, the city, the commodity, neoliberalism, and racialisation. The first part of the course explores the understanding of modernity developed by Marx and Foucault, an experience that Marx describes as one of continuous change, where 'all that is solid melts into air'. The course then turns to consider a series of substantive themes in the analysis of contemporary culture (listed below), exploring each through the work of one prominent social theorist: Marshall McLuhan, Walter Benjamin, Georg Simmel, Naomi Klein, Paul Gilroy, Wendy Brown, and Antonio Negri.
On completion of the course students will:
- be familiar with contemporary debates in identity and power
- have developed advanced skills in reading primary texts
- be familiar with advanced critical thought on the nature of modernity
Teaching and learning methods
Lecture-style material will be delivered weekly through a mix of up to one hour pre-recorded (i.e. asynchronous) content and one hour live (i.e. synchronous) lecturer-led classes. Additionally, weekly one hour small-group tutorials will be delivered on-campus as long as government guidelines allow, otherwise they will be delivered online.
- Compulsory weekly reading notes (1 point penalty for each two non-submissions); students select a set on which to receive formative feedback
- 1 assessed coursework essay (3000 words, 50% of mark)
- 1 online open book exam (2 answers, 1250 words per answer as guidance, 50% of mark)
These texts are indications of the reading undertaken on the course:
Foucault, M. (1980) 'Right of Death and Power over Life', in The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, London: Penguin.
Benjamin, W. (1978) 'Naples', in Reflections, New York: Schocken Books.
Gilroy, P. (1993) 'One Nation Under a Groove', in Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Cultures, London: Serpent's Tale.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||2|
|Independent study hours|
|Nicholas Thoburn||Unit coordinator|
Tuesday 14:00 - 17:00