Ellen MacKay

11:15a-12:30p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

TOPIC: "Truth and Beauty/Lying and Ugliness"

This course will investigate the anxieties unleashed by representation as a copy or a counterfeit of truth. Beginning with Plato’s allegory of the cave, we will focus on the way philosophers have wrestled with their dread of imitation. Manifestations of this fear are diverse, and range from Eve’s betrayal of Adam, to science fiction’s fear of sentient robots, to Ovid’s telling of the myth of Echo and Narcissus, to Keats’ famous injunction “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all / Ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

The challenge and the pleasure of this course will be reckoning with the way art represents its own dissimulation from a variety of critical perspectives. Among the thinkers we will consult in this pursuit are Aristotle, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Donna Harraway, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Judith Butler, Immanuel Kant, among others. Key texts include Othello, Rousseau’s Confessions, and Being John Malkovich.

In addition to several short essays, this course will include two exams, at least one in-class presentation, and some in-class writing exercises.