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PHI 120 — Épater la Bourgeoisie: Two Centuries of Western Cultural Criticism

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 7 weeks
Date(s): Oct 11—Nov 29
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Oct 13
Unit: 1
Tuition: $370
Instructor(s): Frederick M. Dolan
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on November 22
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Oct 11—Nov 29
7 weeks
Refund Date
Oct 13
1 Unit
Frederick M. Dolan
Please Note: No class on November 22
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Many of our greatest philosophers, intellectuals, novelists, poets, artists, critics, and more recently, filmmakers have something in common: contempt for the middle class. Although from ancient times the presence of a strong middle class was commonly associated with positive values such as political stability and enlightened attitudes, modern elites tend to see in middle-class life hypocrisy, superficiality, vapidity, narcissism, selfishness, and corruption. And although for a long time this attitude seemed more characteristic of Europeans than Americans, the decades following the 1960s have seen the "Europeanization," in this sense, of American intellectuals. What is the source and meaning of this animus, and how should we evaluate the criticisms to which it gives rise? In this course, we will explore leading originators and exponents of anti-bourgeois sentiment such as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, Søren Kierkegaard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Friedrich Nietzsche, Marcel Proust, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Martin Heidegger, Herbert Marcuse, Samuel Beckett, J.D. Salinger, Allen Ginsberg, Luis Buñuel, and Francis Ford Coppola, among others. We’ll also give some thought to how more recent attacks on the middle class relate to this now centuries-old tradition.

Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Frederick M. Dolan’s interests include political and moral philosophy, theories of interpretation, and aesthetics and the philosophy of art. He received a PhD from Princeton.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.