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New Undergraduate Course Supplement 2022

ENGL 55.25 Friends, Enemies, Lovers: Community and Civil War

Equality, freedom, justice–we tend to think of these values as bringing about reconciliation and unity, as foundational to political communities. But surprisingly, the most canonical thinkers in political theory have favored a different set of concepts: strife and civil war. For Plato, Hobbes, Marx, Arendt, Freud, Lenin, Schmitt, and many others, it is not the social contracts of government and laws that hold people together, but love and hate, the most intense passions of our closest human relationships. Of course, these passions are highly unstable, which leads us to many of the most profound paradoxes of philosophy and art: Why are tragedies dangerous to public morale and yet indispensable for public education? What do we do when families are torn apart by unreconcilable beliefs? How can a foe be a better friend than your friends? Similarly, the idea of “fraternity,” so central for modern revolutions and the birth of the nation, is fraught with enmity and quarrel. This course will pursue these problematics in key texts of philosophy, literature, and contemporary critical theory, and bring the philosophical paradigm of civil war to bear in relation to US and German culture.

Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:TMV; WCult:W

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