Courses: Are We Modern? (WRPRH127B01)

Spring 2012

Why do we call ourselves modern? In an era of globalization, when it becomes increasingly difficult to contrast a modern world with one that is "primitive" or "uncivilized," what kinds of values and investments do we still have in the notion that we-whoever we are-are modern? Are we modern because we are scientific? Technological? Democratic? Capitalist? Secular? The conceptual geography of debates about modernity and modernism touch upon nearly every field in the humanities and social sciences, and underlie many debates in contemporary politics and popular culture. In this course, rather than attempt a systematic overview, we will look carefully and closely at two texts that shed extremely interesting light on what it has meant, and what it could mean, to be modern: Giambattista Vico's The New Science, written in the 17th century, and Bruno Latour's Cult of the Factish Gods, published just last year. Between these two texts, we will seek to engage our own presuppositions through a critical investigations into the nature of the modern, using Vico and Latour as lenses through which to think and write about a variety of issues facing contemporary society.

Prerequisites: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of College writing.

Fulfills: HU FW Limit:15


Writing Program (Web site)

Taught By

Joshua Ramey (Profile)


Haverford, Stokes 119

Meeting Times

TTh 1:00-2:30