“Men learn while they teach." —Seneca
The joy of teaching for me is the opportunity to continue to learn. My courses develop the capacities I find essential in daily life: discussion, close textual readings, the formulation of questions, and meaningful writing. These skills helped the ancient Athenian democracy function in the time of the Sophists, and are relevant again in today's new media landscape. By incorporating a variety of voices, styles, media, and assignments in my syllabi, I help students discover ways to engage with differences—both within themselves, and with each other.
Technology and Social Change
I co-taught this seminar with Micah M. White for the Telluride Association Summer Program, a free and self-governing program for rising high school seniors, at the University of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the summer of 2017. In the course, we challenged the common understanding of technology by probing five currents of technological change: transformations of language, war, social media, techniques of the self, and the potential event known as the Singularity. We examined authors writing in or on the distant past and speculating on the imminent future, with perspectives from the most critical to the most utopian, coming from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds.
Plato and his Readers
“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato" (Alfred North Whitehead).
This advanced seminar pairs important Platonic dialogues with influential interpretations of them. We will engage equally with Plato and thinkers from a variety of modern traditions, including analytic philosophy, hermeneutics, post-structuralism, post-colonial theory, and literary studies. The overarching goal is to reflect on the practice of interpretation.
Has critique run out of steam, as prominent theorist Bruno Latour has claimed, and if so, why? Has deconstructionist theory paved the way for a post-truth, “fake news” world? What was critique, anyway—and what might it still become? To answer these questions, this introductory course surveys more than two centuries of critical theory, broadly understood as rigorous thinking aimed at changing the world.