Spring 2017 Undergraduate Course Descriptions
This course will focus on the first and certainly the most complicated term in critical theory: mimesis. In Greek, the word refers to the acts of miming or imitation, but beginning with Plato's attack on poetry in The Republic, mimesis has come to define art and representation in all their forms. Art, in this deeply influential account, imitates the real, but is not real itself.
We will follow the development of the idea of mimesis from ancient Greek philosophy to post-structuralism, and trace out the many different resonances of the term: realism, theatricality, identification, emulation, doubling, repetition. We will also attend closely to the way accounts of artistic mimesis shade into discussions of imitation in social contexts, and to how a term originally used to define art becomes an important concept in psychology and gender theory.
Readings will include theoretical texts by Plato, Aristotle, Diderot, Brecht, Auerbach, Barthes, Girard, Freud, and Butler, among others. We will also read literary works by Ovid, Shakespeare, and George Eliot, and view Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona.
Required Texts (Available at the Campus Store)
Plato, Republic (Hackett)
Aristotle, Poetics (Hill and Wang)
Shakespeare, Hamlet (Simon and Schuster)
Eliot, Scenes of Clerical Life (Oxford)