Modernism and the Occult

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Culture and Media

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

Modernism and the Occult

Fall 2019

Taught By: Rachel Greenspan

Section: A

CRN: 7442

Credits: 4

In 1918, Max Weber claimed that the rise of modern reason had resulted in “the disenchantment of the world.” For Weber, modern disenchantment was evident in Western society’s disregard for “traditional” forms of magic, mysticism, and spirituality. But for all its emphasis on reason, modernity also brought about a ghoulish fascination with monsters, ghosts, and occult phenomena. This course explores the ways in which apparent boundaries between reason and enchantment, science and spirituality, human and non-human, are destabilized through modern writing practices. Focusing on techniques developed at the turn of the twentieth century, the course considers how modern communication technologies like the telegraph, telephone, camera, radio, and postal system developed alongside cultural practices like automatic writing, spirit photography, Ouija, and séances. All these techniques of inscription emerged in the context of colonial expansion and world war, haunting modern theories of trauma and the unconscious. Paying special attention to the relationship between technical media and spirit mediums, this course examines how (dis)enchanted communication technologies transmitted ideas across national borders and across ontological boundaries between the living and the dead. (C and M Tracks)

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Culture and Media (LCST)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: September 9, 2019 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 17, 2019 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

*Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 10:32pm 2/28/2020 EST

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday, Wednesday

Times: 12:00pm - 1:40pm

Building: Johnson/Kaplan 66 West 12th

Room: 407

Date Range: 8/26/2019 - 12/16/2019