Transregional Center for Democratic Studies

Wroclaw 2013 – Course Descriptions

D&D participants select 2 out of the following 4 graduate-level seminars: 



GSOC 5193 (CRN 1919) & GLIB 5500 (CRN 1955)

Elzbieta Matynia – The New School for Social Research, Sociology and Liberal Studies
Susan Yelavich – Parsons The New School for Design, Design Studies

At a time when shifting borders, ethnic cleansings, forced migrations, and related traumas are marking the lives of people in different parts of the world, this course examines the relationships between the social, the physical, and the political in our on-site case study of a city that under the post-war terms of the Potsdam Conference was changed from Germany’s Breslau to Poland’s Wroclaw. Exploring the democratic potential and performativity of public spaces and physical structures, the course is organized around the notions of palimpsest and heterotopia as manifested in modern Wroclaw. We will focus first on the palimpsestic features of the city, and explore its early writing, the modernist Weimar architecture of Hans Scharoun and Eric Mendelssohn, and then the erasure and re-writing evident in the building projects and propaganda of the Communist regime. The second part of the course will focus on heterotopia, understood as a space on the move, whose layered meanings create new opportunities for social actors, as demonstrated in Poland’s pro-democracy movements in the 1980s, and in its more recent accession to the European Union. To illuminate and discuss the intricate social dimension of the urban we will read texts in history, social theory, design studies, and politics.



PHI 6686 (CRN 1912) & GPOL 6686 (CRN 1940)

Richard J. Bernstein – The New School for Social Research, Philosophy

This course will pursue a number of themes that are central to Arendt’s thinking including the human condition, labor, work, action, politics, power, thinking, willing and judging.  We will roughly follow her intellectual development.  Readings will include selections from The Jewish Writings, The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, On Revolution, Between Past and Future, Crises of the Republic, and The Life of the Mind.



GSOC 5146 (CRN 1921) & GPOL 5146 (CRN 1958)

Jeffrey Goldfarb – The New School for Social Research, Sociology

The effervescent of significant social movements in recent years, from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movements, and their apparent failure to directly lead to immediate political change, has led from unbounded euphoria to despair. In this seminar, we will take a more sober, analytic and longer view. The center of our investigation will be a sociology of publics as they mediate between institutional politics and social movements. We will work on developing a framework for exploring the way movements shape public life, and affect the operations of political parties and the direction of state policy. We will consider social movements as they emerge from problems in established social, political and cultural institutions, and how work to change the social, political and cultural order of things. We will focus on understanding the power and the limitations of publics, and their relationship with movements, parties and states. The approaches to the public of John Dewey, Jurgen Habermas and Hannah Arendt will provide the fundamental groundings of our inquiry. The work of Fraser, Meyrowitz, Dayan, Touraine, Melucci and Jaspers, among others, will be used to extend the investigation.



GLIB 5512 (CRN 1956)

Carol L. Bernstein – Bryn Mawr College, English and Comparative Literature

In the latter part of the twentieth century, cultural memory attained a new prominence. Survivors of the century traumas – among them the Holocaust, the war in Vietnam, the genocide in Cambodia – testified about the concentration camps in Europe, the trauma of waging war in Vietnam, and the horror of living through a genocidal occupation. At times communicated in forms of art, cultural memory helps to preserve the immediacy of the events under scrutiny. In this course, we will examine questions of trauma and testimony, and of public memory and the politics it engenders. Texts will probably include: selections from Paul Ricoeur’s Memory, History, Forgetting; writings on trauma by Dominick LaCapra, Eric Santner, Dori Laub and Saul Friedländer; Primo Levi, Maurice Blanchot, Charlotte Delbo and Marianne Hirsch on the Holocaust; Samantha Power on genocide; Andreas Huyssen on the Dirty War in Argentina among other. We will also examine some of the short fictions and films related to these issues: Amitav Ghosh,  Dancing in Cambodia; a selection from Black Rain (a novel about Hiroshima), Tim O’Brien on Vietnam; Hiroshima Mon Amour and selections from Shoah.






The New School for Social Research
6 East 16th St., Rm 921, NY, NY 10003
212-229-5100 ext. 3136

Elzbieta Matynia, Director
212-229-5580 ext. 3137

Lala Pop, Program Manager,
PhD Student, Politics
212-229-5100 ext. 3136

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