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Бакалавриат 2017/2018

Человек и сверхчеловек: репрезентация высшего человека в культуре и философии

Лучший по критерию «Полезность курса для расширения кругозора и разностороннего развития»
Лучший по критерию «Новизна полученных знаний»
Статус: Курс по выбору
Направление: 45.03.01. Филология
Когда читается: 2-й курс, 3 модуль
Формат изучения: без онлайн-курса
Преподаватели: Платт Джонатан Брукс
Язык: английский
Кредиты: 4

Course Syllabus


"Man and Superman: Representation of the Supreme Being in Culture and Philosophy" stems from the following comparative observation. The actions of Rodion Raskolnikov—the protagonist of Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment (1866)—have inspired a number of texts that address, develop, and re-cast the questions that Dostoevsky raises about the scope of individual power in modern society. These include: 1) Social questions: Is there such a thing as a superior individual? What traits must one have to become such an individual and who endows him/her with this title? What kind of social environment inspires (or deludes) people with the ideal of the Superman? 2) Philosophical questions: What marks the threshold between man and god? What power founds human law? Can superhuman will overcome mere human desire? Is action only pure if it is free of rational thought? 3) Moral questions: What (if anything) are the obligations of the Superman to others? Does the Superman relate to others differently from ordinary men? What is the meaning of the Superman’s confession? 4) Political questions: How well do different political systems succeed in realizing human (or superhuman) potential? What forms of modern power promote the myth of the Superman? Is the Superman necessarily a revolutionary? Can he alternatively be a model worker or, even, a keeper of the peace? Taking Crime and Punishment as our starting point, the course goes on to examine representations of the superior individual in monumental European texts from the nineteenth century to the present day——works of philosophy, literature, cinema, and politics.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To trace the evolution of representations of the superior individual through a rich tradition of literature, film, philosophy, and political culture.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Students analyze several philosophical representations of the superman and read literary, dramatic, and cinematic texts through the filter of these theories.
  • Students trace and articulate the development of the literary idea of the Superman from Shakespeare, Stendhal and Dostoevsky through Jünger and Camus, identifying differences in the work of each of those authors.
  • Students ask thoughtful questions about the place of the individual in modern society, as illuminated by the modern myth of superhumanity.
  • Students relate the broad social, moral, and political questions of the class to our contemporary reality.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Crime and Punishment and the archetype of the superman from antiquity to the present
    The concept of superman in the Dostoevsky novel
  • William Shakespeare, Macbeth
    Power, supermanship and gender in Shakespeare
  • Alexander Pushkin, “The Queen of Spades” and Mozart and Salieri
    Gambler, artist, musician as an outstanding being
  • Arthur Schopenhauer, selections from The World as Will and Representation; Friedrich Nietzsche, selections from The Genealogy of Morals
    19th-century German takes on supermanlihood
  • Albert Camus, The Stranger and selections from The Myth of Sisyphus
    Camus and the existential being of the French atheist mode
  • Stendhal, The Red and the Black
    Julien Sorel as Napoleon
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, selections from Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Søren Kierkegaard, selections from Fear and Trembling and The Sickness unto Death
    Nietzsche vs Kierkegaard
  • Andrei Platonov, Happy Moscow and “On the First Socialist Tragedy”, and Vladimir Lenin, selections from What Is to Be Done
    Man under socialism
  • Ayn Rand, selections from We the Living and The Fountainhead
    Russian-American humanism
  • Ernst Jünger, selections from Storm of Steel and “Total Mobilization”
    Supermanly Fascism?
  • Man and Superman in Movies
    Boris Ingster, Stranger on the Third Floor (1940); Fritz Lang, Woman in the Window (1944); Jacques Tourneur, Out of the Past (1947); Carol Reed, The Third Man (1949); Alfred Hitchcock, Rope (1948); Robert Bresson, The Pickpocket (1959); Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver (1976); Darren Aronofsky, Pi (1998)
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Attendance, preparedness, and participation
    Students are expected to attend all lectures and seminars. For each seminar, students will write a short text (400 words, due the evening before the seminar) on an assigned topic (listed in the syllabus). During the seminars, students construct close analytical arguments in small groups based on the course readings. All readings should be read in the original whenever possible.
  • non-blocking Midterm paper
    At home, write 750-1000 words in English, conducting a close analysis of one fictional text from the syllabus. You may build off class discussions, but you must go further in your argument.
  • non-blocking Final paper
    At home, write 1250-1500 words, in English, examining the philosophical foundations of one fictional text or film, relying on one or more of the philosophers we have discussed. Formulate your own title. You are urged to build off your presentation and midterm paper.
  • non-blocking Presentation
    Each student will make one 10-minute presentation (in English). Students will sign up for a presentation slot during the second class. The presentation should make a concrete argument based entirely on the assigned text and should not include any “background” information or context.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.2 * Attendance, preparedness, and participation + 0.4 * Final paper + 0.2 * Midterm paper + 0.2 * Presentation


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Evdokimova, S., & Golstein, V. (2016). Dostoevsky Beyond Dostoevsky : Science, Religion, Philosophy. Brighton, MA: Academic Studies Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1350430
  • Leiter, B. (2014). Nietzsche on Morality (Vol. 2nd ed). New York: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=864876

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Francev, P. (2014). Albert Camus’s The Stranger : Critical Essays. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=805815
  • Murnane, B. (2018). Ayn Rand and the Posthuman : The Mind-Made Future. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1813594
  • Rosenshield, G. (2013). Challenging the Bard : Dostoevsky and Pushkin, a Study of Literary Relationship. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=604840