Reading Seminar on Culture Theory/Culture History: An Introduction to Cultural Analysis With Dr. Mark Liechty

- Mark Liechty

Discussion Type: Reading Seminar | Date: 21 May 2015 | Time: 11:00 AM


Reading Seminar on Culture Theory/Culture History: An Introduction to Cultural Analysis
With Dr. Mark Liechty

Organized by Martin Chautari

This six-session seminar course is designed to introduce students to a broad range of classic western sociocultural theorists and, through them, to some of the basic components of cultural analysis. Using the term “culture” in its broadest sense—to include social structure, power, agency, meaning, subjectivity, change/reproduction, etc.—the goal is to help students understand the conceptual dynamics at play in academic representation and what is at stake in how we conceptualize cultural/historical processes. From Marx, Durkheim, and Weber through Foucault and Bourdieu we will survey a wide range of sociocultural theorists and cultural historians whose work represents both radical and liberal viewpoints, structural and post-structural theories, etc. In this short course the goal is not to provide a comprehensive view of historiography, or a commanding grasp of any individual theorist, but to give students an appreciation for how any attempt to represent the human condition (as historians and social scientists do) is inevitably implicated in theoretical assumptions. The more we are aware of what our assumptions are (and the analytical tools available to us) the more constructively critical we can be as readers, and the more analytically astute we can be as writers.

Mark Liechty is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA. As a teacher he has specialized in graduate-level culture theory courses for both anthropology and history students. He is the author of several books on modern Nepali society that attempt to situate contemporary cultural processes in historical context. They include Suitably Modern: Making Middle Class Culture in a New Consumer Society (2003, Princeton University Press; reprinted in 2008, Martin Chautari), Out Here in Kathmandu (2010, Martin Chautari) and a forthcoming history of tourism in Nepal. He is one of the founding editors of the journal Studies in Nepali History and Society.

Application Process
Please submit a 800-word essay explaining (a) your previous educational background; (b) your research experiences and interests; and (c) how taking this course fits into your current and future academic plans. Please also include a one-page CV of yours with full contact details including your current email address and telephone numbers. Please submit the above in person at MC’s office (27 Jeet Jung Marg, Thapathali, Kathmandu) or by mail (GPO Box 13470, Kathmandu, Tel: 4238050/4102027) in a closed envelope that states ‘Application for Culture Theory/History Seminar’ on the front side. For applications sent online, please attach the requested essay and CV as one single file to a simple email sent to with ‘Application for Culture Theory/History Seminar’ on the subject line. The application deadline is 5:00pm on 23 April 2015. Successful applicants will be notified by 30 April 2015. They will have to enroll by 5 May 2015 by paying the course fee to Martin Chautari and picking up the reading packet.

Seminar dates: May 18, 21, 25, and 29, and June 1 and 4
Time: 11:00am – 1:30pm
Venue: Martin Chautari Seminar Hall, Thapathali, Kathmandu

Course fee: NRs 2,500

Eligibility Requirements: (i) You have to be studying at the MA level or have at least an MA degree in the social sciences; (ii) You should be willing to do all the assigned readings (see below) and come to the seminar prepared to discuss them; (iii) You should be able to read English proficiently.

1. Classic Social Theory/Theorists: Marx, Durkheim, and Weber on the Nature of Society

  • Marx, Karl. 1978. For a Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing. In The Marx-Engels Reader. Robert C. Tucker, ed., pp. 12-15. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. 1978 [1888]. Manifesto of the Communist Party. In The Marx-Engels Reader. Robert C. Tucker, ed., pp. 473-500. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Durkheim, Emile. 1997 [1893]. Chapters I1, II5, III1-2. In The Division of Labor in Society. New York: Free Press.
  • Weber, Max. 1978. The Types of Legitimate Domination. In Economy & Society (Vol.I). Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, eds., pp. 212-54, 262-66. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Weber, Max. 1978.  The Distribution of Power within the Political Community: Class, Status, Party. In Economy & Society (Vol. II). Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, eds., pp. 926-40. Berkeley: University of California Press.

2. Neo-Marxisms: The Frankfurt School, Gramsci, and Culture as Politics

  • Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W. Adorno. 1972 [1944]. The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. In Dialectic of Enlightenment, pp. 120-167. New York: Herder and Herder.
  • O’Connor, Brian. 2000. Introduction. In The Adorno Reader, pp. 1-19. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Gramsci, Antonio. 2006. State and Civil Society. In The Anthropology of the State. Aradhana Sharma and Akhil Gupta, eds, pp. 71-85. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

3. British Cultural Marxism: The Culture of Class

  • Thompson, E. P. 1963.  Preface. In The Making of the English Working Class, pp. 9-14. New York: Vintage.
  • Thompson, E. P. 1967. Time, Work-discipline, and Industrial Capitalism. Past & Present 38: 56-97. [Reprinted in Customs in Common. Pp. 352-403. New York: New Press, 1993.]
  • Thompson, E. P. 1971. The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century. Past & Present 50: 76-136. [Reprinted in Customs in Common. Pp. 185-258. New York: New Press, 1993.]

4. The French Annales School: Structure and the “Longue-durée

  • Braudel, Fernand. 1977. Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Braudel, Fernand. 1980. On History, pp. 3-22. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

5. Michel Foucault: Power and the Body

  • Foucault, Michel. 1995 [1975]. Chapters I1, II1, III1, 2. In Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage.

6. Pierre Bourdieu

  • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1998. Chapters 1, 2, and 3. In Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Mark Liechty

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