Reading Course Help Request

I put this up on Facebook, but rightly I get much better responses when I post about Brad than anything else. Memorial’s grad program (henceforth on this blog: MUN for Memorial University of Newfoundland) requires students in the second semester of the first year to do a “reading” course, which I think is uncommon in the U.S., but more common elsewhere. Students choose a topic and then spend a semester reading a series of work with a prof of their choosing.

I’m excited by two of the topics students have chosen, but could use some help with articles/books/book chapters that might not be coming to mind right now.

1. One student is working on the concept of self-Other relation in 20th-century Continental Jewish philosophy (quite a lot of adjectives there, huh?), ending with selections from feminist responses/readings of this tradition. The three main figures we’ll be reading in the first part of the course will be Buber, Rosenzweig, and Levinas. I have Levinas well covered in terms of feminist responses (readings from Chanter, Irigaray, and Butler). But suggestions on Buber and Rosenzweig would be appreciated.

2. Spinoza and biopolitics: this started out as a project on Spinoza and contemporary feminism then Spinoza and race and finally just Spinoza and the biopolitical. This meets up with Hardt and Negri’s reading of him, but we’ll be reading closely the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (with reference, of course, to the metaphysics of the Ethics). There’s been a lot on biopolitics, but a critical analysis of Spinozism would be helpful.



    1. Thanks, that could be a secondary source on the first half of the reading course.

  1. Well, I would recommend Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy by Roberto Esposito.

    As for the Spinoza, Deleuze’s big book on Spinoza, Expressionism and Philosophy: Spinoza seems like a must. This book is also great because Deleuze spends much of the book dismantling Descartes. The sections on Spinoza from Michael Hardt’s dissertation might also be helpful, you can find them here:

  2. Let me suggest, for the first topic, a figure rather than a book/chapter. Margarete Susman was intimately acquainted, personally or philosophically, with both Buber and Rosenzweig and offers some insightful commentary on their works from a contemporary perspective. I’d list the works, but there’s a good bibliography and info to be found at:

    I thought of Susman particularly because of her own work on Feminism, on women in the legacy of Romanticism, and elsewhere. Questions of subjectivity are always lurking in Susman’s thought (the root of my own engagement with her work), and so it might also illuminate questions of self-other that are picked up in more detail by Buber and Rosenzweig.

    There is also Michael Eskin’s always provocative “Ethics and Dialogue In the Works of Levinas, Bakhtin, Mandel’shtam, and Celan” (Oxford UP, 2000). At least the first half should be of interest to your student, if not the book in its entirety.

    And if I can give one more suggestion from the more literary side of things, then let it be Marjorie Levinson’s work on Spinoza, starting with “A Motion and a Spirit: Romancing Spinoza” (Studies in Romanticism, 2007, 46:4). Levinson’s writing here is wonderfully lucid and generative, as ever. In particular, her discussion of Spinoza in relation to the contemporary terms of “materialism” might be at least tangentially related to your student’s interests in biopolitics.

    Thanks for keeping this blog, by the way–it’s always informative!

  3. Off the cuff: Peter Gordon’s book on Rosenzweig and Heidegger is excellent, Leora Batnitzky’s Idolatry and Representation may be of interest, Robert Gibbs wrote a book about Levinas and Rosenzweig, as did Richard Cohen, the former is better, in my opinion. And finally, Paul Mendes Flohr put together a collection of papers on Rosenzweig which would probably suit your needs quite well. Oh–it may be tangentially related, but Stephane Moses’ The Angel of History could be helpful. Hope this helps.

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