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Recent Italian Philosophy

  • Module code: PH7903
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 7
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module involves guided study of a selection of major works of post-war Italian philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two or more related thinkers. The module will explore the tension in Italian philosophy between the claims of theology and radical politics, one expressed in the turn to bio-philosophy and bio-politics during the 1990s. Thinkers studies include Agamben, Cacciari, Negri  and Esposito. Topics will include: the place of contemporary Italian philosophy with respect to the history of philosophy, its place with respect to French and German philosophy, political theology, time, bio-philosophy and bio-politics. 

Aims

The aims of this module are to:

  • Provide students with an understanding of the distinctive features, issues and problems of contemporary Italian philosophy through knowledge of key texts, informed by critical awareness of current debates in the field.
  • Enable students to assess Agamben, Negri and Esposito's analyses of power, law, life and the body.
  • Enable students to assess competing interpretations of the significance of contemporary Italian philosophy.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand the distinctive features, issues and problems of contemporary Italian philosophy through knowledge of key texts, informed by critical awareness of current debates in the field.
  • Assess the emergence of a developed but internally distinct account of bio-politics in Italian thought.
  • Assess the competing demands of theology and radical politics in the constitution of post-war Italian philosophy.
  • Undertake the work of close textual analysis of demanding philosophical texts.
  • Comprehend, reconstruct and interpret philosophical arguments, and situate these arguments in the context of the history of philosophy and wider debates in European philosophy.

Curriculum content

The module includes:

  • Detailed philosophical analysis of Agamben's Homo Sacer project.
  • Examination of the relationship between the philosophies of time and power in Negri's philosophical work.
  • Assessment of the emergence of the central theme of biophilosophy in contemporary Italian thought.
  • Consideration of the relationship between Italian philosophy and the Church as well the radical politics of the PCI, Feminism and the Autonomy movement.

Teaching and learning strategy

This module will be taught by means of a mix of lectures and seminars, supplemented by individual tutorials and private study. Emphasis is placed on seminar-based discussion.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Seminars/lectures: 10 taught sessions (2.5 hours each) 25
Scheduled learning and teaching Group and individual tutorials (one scheduled hour plus office hours) 1
Scheduled learning and teaching Directed and Independent Learning 274
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to test a student's ability to meet the module's learning outcomes. Summative assessment involves two pieces of written work:

  • A 1,500-word exercise, normally submitted at or before the mid-way point of the module, worth 20% of the final mark.
  • A 3,500 to 4,000 word essay, worth 80% of the final mark.

The skills required to prepare these assessed elements will be developed in a variety of formative activities throughout the module, notably through class discussion, feedback on in-class presentations, and individual tutorials. Preparation of the final essay normally includes a scheduled tutorial with the module tutor.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Understand the distinctive features, issues and problems of contemporary Italian philosophy. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.
Assess the analyses of law, life and power in the work of Agamben, Negri and Esposito. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.
Assess the tension between the claims of theology and radical political movements in post-war Italian philosophy and the constitution of a bio-philosophy. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.
Undertake the work of close textual analysis of demanding philosophical texts. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.
Comprehend, reconstruct and interpret philosophical arguments, and situate these arguments in the context of the history of philosophy. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Exercises 1500 words 20
CWK Essay 3500 - 4000 words 80
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Giorgio Agamben,  Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life trans. D. Heller-Roazen (Stanford UP 1998)

______________, Means without End: Notes on Politics trans. V. Biretti (Stanford UP, 2000)

______________, Remnants of Auschwitz: the Witness and the Archive, (MIT 2000)

_______________, The Open: Man and Animal trans. K. Attell, (Stanford UP, 2001)

________________, Potentialities: Collected essays in Philosophy, trans. D Heller-Roazen, (Stanford UP 1999)

Roberto Esposito,  Biopolitics and Philosophy, trans. T. Campbell (Stanford 2008)

______________, Communitas: the Origin and Destiny of Community trans. T. Campbell (Stanford UP, 2004)

Antonio Negri, The Labour of Job, trans. M.Hardt (Stanford UP 2010)

___________, Insurgencies: Political Power and the Modern State,trans. M.Hardt (Minnesota UP, 2009)

____________, Negri on Negri (Routledge, 2004)      

Bibliography recommended reading

S. Benso & B. Schroeder (eds), Contemporary Italian Philosophy (SUNY Press, 2007)

G. Borradori, Recoding Metaphysics (North West UP, 1989)

J. Butler, Precarious Life (Verso 2004)

J. Cleves et.al., The Work of Giorgio Agamben on Law, Literature and Life, (Edinburgh University Press 2008)

L. De le Durantaye, Giorgio Agamben: An Introduction (2009)

P. Langford, Roberto Esposito: Law, Community and the Political (Routledge forthcoming)

G. Moliterno (ed.) Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Culture, (Routledge 2002)

A. Murray,  Giorgio Agamben (Routledge 2010)

Timothy S. Murphy,  The Philosophy of Antonio Negri: Vol. 1 Resistance in Dialectic, Vol. 2 Revolution in Theory (2010)

A. Norris, Dialectics, Metaphysics and Death: Essays on Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer, (Duke UP 2005)

P. Passant, The Empire's New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri, (Routledge 2003)

W. Watkin, The Literary Agamben (Continuum, 2010)

C. Wolfe, What is Posthumanism? (2010)

T. Zartaloudis, Giorgio Agamben, (Routledge 2010)

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