Transregional Center for Democratic Studies

Wroclaw 2014 – Course Descriptions

New School students register for 2 courses and receive 6 credits. Other participants will receive Institute certificates.

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

Agnes Heller – The New School for Social Research, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy  

This course will discuss the relationship between modernity and forms of prejudice such as racism, anti-Semitism, class prejudices, prejudices against women, and sexual prejudices. We will first examine the individual and social conditions of prejudice in modern society before moving on to its concrete forms. We will then investigate how those prejudices undermine the norms and the normalcy of liberal democracies, and how they serve as ideological means for furthering different fundamentalist movements and establish totalitarian parties and totalitarian states.  In order to fully explore the notion of prejudice we will not only examine works of philosophy and political theory (Arendt, Gadamer, Foucault, Beauvoir) but also some of the preeminent works of modern literature (Lessing, Ibsen, Flaubert).  

James Miller – The New School for Social Research, Professor of Political Science and Liberal Studies  

In 2011, inspired, in part, by a series of avowedly democratic uprisings in the Arab world, the United States and several other countries experienced a spectacular series of ephemeral revolts organized by activists committed to prefiguring, through occupations of urban public spaces, a new world of social justice and radical democracy.  After reviewing some of the hopes aroused in 2011 by the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, this seminar will flash back to the origins of the modern democratic vision in the work of Rousseau and the experience of the Parisian artisans who experimented with forms of direct political participation at the height of the French Revolution.  Then, we will trace this tradition through Marx, Arendt’s paradoxical work On Revolution, and up to the present, asking ourselves: What have we learned about the global potential ‒ and limits ‒ of the radical democratic revolts of our own era?  

Elzbieta Matynia – The New School for Social Research, Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies  

Far from receding with the rise of liberal democracies worldwide, violence appears to be enjoying a spectacular rebound ‒ from the wave of revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East to dramatic acts of individual terror in Norway. This course explores classical theoretical propositions concerning the role of violence in bringing about social and political change ‒ from Marx, through Weber, Lenin, Gramsci, Arendt, and Benjamin, to more recent thinkers like Bourdieu, Agamben, Zizek, and Michnik.  We will look at different types of political violence, and revisit Arendt’s distinction between the justifiability and the legitimacy of violence. Conscious of the traditional forms of political violence ‒ wars, revolutions, and armed struggle movements ‒ we will pay close attention to the forms and consequences of structural violence, but also examine the forms of cultural and symbolic violence, such as language that routinely serves to legitimize violence. A separate session will be dedicated to the discourse on non-violence.

Jeffrey Goldfarb – The New School for Social Research, Professor of Sociology  

Modern media undermine democracy.  This is well known. Corporate media support corporate power, as Chomsky and Herman have analyzed in their “propaganda model,” while commercial media turn politics into a commodity, undermining the public sphere, as Habermas criticized in his classic, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Nonetheless, the media are necessary for contemporary democratic life. Thus, Habermas himself revised his critique of the media. In this seminar, we will analyze in close focus, the sociological dynamics that make this revision necessary. We will study the ways that media make democracy possible, by constituting a mediated public and by supporting and extending alternative politics. Specifically, we will study how “the politics of small things” are mediated and move public life. We will explore the big political consequences of mediated social interactions. 

Back to the Wroclaw 2014 information page

Application Instructions and Form


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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