State, Power, Freedom: European Political Theory – outline for teaching next year

One of the things I was looking forward to, now back in a Politics department, was to teach some political theory. So, this is the outline of a planned module for either final year undergraduates or MA students. It revolves around the themes of state, power and freedom, though responsibility, resistance, capitalism, punishment, sovereignty and governance are all in there too.

1. Existentialism, Freedom and Responsibility

2. Ideology and State Apparatuses

3. State, Production, Capitalism

4. The Punitive Society

5. ‘Society Must Be Defended’

6. The State and the State Mode of Production

7. The State and Self-Governance

8. Sovereign Power and Exclusion

9. The State of Exception

Week 1 is background, using Sartre. Weeks 2 and 3 are on Althusser and especially using the forthcoming translation of On the Reproduction of Capitalism; weeks 4 and 5 on Foucault from Discipline and Punish to governmentality; weeks 6 and 7 on Lefebvre (mainly using State, Space World) and weeks 8 and 9 on Agamben, with, inevitably, a bit of Schmitt. It’s only one term, but the idea is to provide an introductory set of readings in a department where most of the political theory is Anglo-American debates around ethics and justice. The idea is that all the texts can be situated in contexts relevant to their writing – so Sartre in relation to the French resistance and the Nuremberg trials; Althusser in relation to Stalin and the French left; Foucault in the work on prisons and other political activism; Lefebvre’s attitude to the modern world, the PCF and the state mode of production; Agamben in relation to Nazism, the camp and the war on terror. Some of this is close to my own previous research; some is related to current work; some other stuff is newer – I’ve never taught Althusser or Agamben before. Of course, huge amounts are left out, and its both French and male-centric, but I think it would give a reasonable sense of some of the key figures and debates.

This entry was posted in Giorgio Agamben, Henri Lefebvre, Jean-Paul Sartre, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to State, Power, Freedom: European Political Theory – outline for teaching next year

  1. Pingback: Foucault’s Last Decade – Update 13 | Progressive Geographies

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