While we tend to value courage Hannah Arendt even called it the highest political virtue historically the concept has veered from the noble to the dangerous. From Antigone to suicide bombers, courage has been construed as heroic and/or dangerously solipsistic. This series of seminars asks the question: What is the practice of courageous action in the 21st century? Courses are open to Sophomores and Juniors and are limited to 16 students. Students are required to attend three evening lectures on Mondays from 6-8. There will also be dinner discussions with guest speakers and students from other sections of the College Seminar.



HR 218

 Free Speech

Roger Berkowitz

 T  Th 11:50 am-1:10 pm




Cross-listed: Political Studies  An introduction to debates about freedom of expression. What is 'freedom of speech'? Is there a right to say anything? Why? We will investigate who has had this right, where it has come from, and what it has had to do in particular with literature. and the arts. What powers does speech have, who has the power to speak, and for what? Debates about censorship, hate speech, the First Amendment and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be obvious starting points, but we will also explore some less obvious questions: about faith and the secular, confession and torture, surveillance, the emergence of political agency. In asking about the status of the speaking human subject, we will look at the ways in which the subject of rights, and indeed the thought of human rights itself, derives from a 'literary' experience. These questions will be examined, if not answered, across a variety of literary, philosophical, legal and political texts, with a heavy dose of case studies (many of them happening right now) and readings in contemporary critical and legal theory. This course will be done in collaboration with other courses offered in Bard's international network. This course is part of the Courage to Be College Seminar and students will participate in common lectures in the Courage To Be Lecture Series sponsored by the Arendt Center.

Class size: 22



HR 227

dissent, ethics & politics

Helena Gibbs

 M  W 3:10 pm-4:30 pm

OLIN 304




Cross-listed: Litereature, Russian Studies  V clav Havel, in his seminal essay "The Power of the Powerless" (1978), defines Eastern European dissidents as "those who decided to  live in truth'."  This course will examine the various conceptions and strategies of political resistance in former Soviet Bloc countries, with a focus on the specific role of intellectuals and writers. Central to this examination will be the question of what it means "to say no to power," whether and how such an ethical position can be political in its effects, and the relevance of this question today, beyond the framework of totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe and Soviet Union. Readings will include a spectrum of philosophical, political, and literary texts by Havel, Jan Patočka, Milan Kundera, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, Danilo Ki , Mikl s Haraszti, Czeslaw Milosz, and Milovan Djilas; supplemental readings by Sophocles, Aristotle, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Tom Stoppard; as well as excerpts from Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, and others.  This course is part of the Courage to Be College Seminar and students will participate in common lectures in the Courage To Be Lecture Series sponsored by the Arendt Center. The core Seminar texts include Hannah Arendt, "Thinking and Moral Considerations" and Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be. Class size: 18



PS 284

 American Protest: disobedience, dissent, & resignation

Samantha Hill

M  W  11:50 am-1:10 pm

ASP 302



Cross-listed: Human Rights  What does it mean to engage in political protest? What motivates us to move into the public sphere of politics? How do we appear in public, and how does our sense of identity relate to our sense of self? This course strips down conventional notions of political protest within the American context to critically inquire after what motivates us to engage or disengage with politics. Today it seems that many social movements revolve around what we call identity politics, calling into question sex, gender, and race. If everything has become political, then is anything political? What does it mean to act from a moral center? What courage does it require? Key texts in this course will include: Paul Tillich's The Courage to Be, Erich Fromm's To Have or To Be, Hannah Arendt's chapter on "Action" from The Human Condition and essay "Civil Disobedience". We'll explore the practice of political resignation in Henry David Thoreau's Walden and essay "Civil Disobedience", Theodor Adorno's Lectures on Moral Philosophy (What it means to be an American-joiner), Emily Dickinson's poetry, Wendell Berry's "The Mad Farmer Liberation Front", and Sheldon S. Wolin on "Political Theory as Vocation" and invocation. We'll also look at the art of political dissent in Thomas Paine's Common Sense, MLK's letters, and the tradition of Conscientious Objection in American political history. This course is part of the Courage To Be College Seminar Series; students are required to attend three lectures in the Courage to Be Lecture Series sponsored by the Hannah Arendt Center. Class size: 22