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For most people, Modern art “means” Abstract art, and Abstract art “means” Modern art. Yet, for all its fame as the signature style of Modern art, abstraction remains almost impossible to understand for most who encounter it. This course provides a key to the world of Abstract art. Through close analysis of the images themselves, we will see that most abstract artworks have a specific, defined content that can be surprisingly accessible.

February '23

Rico Franses


This course explores the concept of shame from the ‘fall’, one version of the onset of humanity, until the contemporary, when the difference between shaming and being ashamed also seems to be without difference. We’ll explore the concept of ‘shame’ through Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, paying mind to Freud’s drive theory and Lacan’s ethics of psychoanalysis to interpret Sophocles’s ‘Antigone’ and Mahasweta Devi’s ‘Draupadi’.

Rohit Goel

January '23


Over 8 sessions, we will examine how Manet, with his ground-breaking paintings such as 'Picnic on the Grass' and 'Olympia' articulates an entirely new understanding of the epoch within which he is living, the one to which we now give the name Modernity. 

November '22

Rico Franses

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This course will provide students with an introduction to interpretive methods in the social sciences and humanities.This iteration of Interpretive Methods foregrounds ‘psychologism’ and ‘historicism’ as blindspots to avoid regardless of what interpretive method you use to address the problem you want to resolve in your analysis.

Rohit Goel

November '22


This course develops a psychoanalytically inclined approach to film and photography centered on both media’s (non)relation to motion and stillness. We’ll analyze the Möbius strip-like character of motion in stillness that photography desires, as well as the stillness in motion that film wants.

September '22

Rohit Goel


If capitalism produces subjects that ‘rest’ on a vicious cycle of fatigue (lack) and busy-ness (excess), can we do anything to break this cycle? This course attempts to separate fatigue from work, and accomplish a subjective repose of creative action, human movement in stillness, a rested action.

Rohit Goel

August '22

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This course thinks critically about the Anthropocene and its presence in contemporary art, thought, and philosophy.We’ll consider how contemporary Anthropocene discourse tends to ‘screen nature screaming’, and thus obscures what may be wrong with how we redress not just interspecies relations in the universe, but also interhuman relations, since the two might be related, if not the same.

July '22

Rohit Goel


We’ll consider the history, logic, and limits of capital with the aim of rehoning the razor edge of critique. We’ll read foundational texts by Smith and Marx, the strongest historical work on the emergence of capitalism, as well as theoretical analyses of the logic and contradictions, the recurrent crises of capital.

January '22

Rohit Goel


We'll read Freud and Lacan, analyse visual modern art, and discuss current ethical and political topics. The course will teach students to understand the uniqueness of the human self as fundamentally split between conscious and unconscious.

Rohit Goel

September '21


Considering the COVID-19 pandemic one year after its ‘meteoric’ assault, what have we learned and unlearned about crisis and repetition in global capitalism? We’ll analyse the political, social, cultural, academic, and scientific approaches to our contemporary pandemic.

Rohit Goel

May '21


This course will focus on the history of imagination. We will use literature, philosophy, music, the visual arts, and cinema to think imagination both as noun (an idea or a faculty) and verb (how still and moving images are made and lived).

Aveek Sen

Feb '21


‘Improvisation’ is often understood as an anything goes practice. We'll treat improvisation as disciplined, informed listening, seeing, and responding. The course introduces participants to the history, politics, and methodology of improvisation.

Pravin Kannanur, Maarten Visser

Dec '20


Psychoanalysis is often thought of as an individual affair, independent of our relations to others. This course corrects this vulgar assumption and argues that psychoanalysis is first and foremost an approach to the contradiction of human nature that produces social links within and between people: feudalism, capitalism, hysteria, and communism.

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Over 8 sessions, we’ll undertake this historical analysis of art and value to develop a method for valuing art (‘what is good art?’) in our contemporary, a present time in which there seems to be no ground for aesthetic valuation outside of (capital) taste, social networks, ‘footfall’/‘accessibility’, and subjective ‘feeling’. 

May '22

Rohit Goel

Rohit Goel

March '22


Since the 1960’s, ‘cultural studies’ has taken off in academe as well as in politics, activism, the art world, governance, & ‘everyday’ life. This course lays the strongest possible ground built by our culturalist contemporary, nomos of the earth, while developing a continental psychoanalytic rebuttal.

December '21

Rohit Goel

Rohit Goel

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We'll delve into the various ways - historical, speculative, performative, and practical -  in which categories such as observation, object, site, and the subject/amateur have been understood, revealing how we as individuals observe time and ourselves within the solar system.

November '21

Rohini Devasher


We'll critically analyze historiographic and artistic approaches to the archive, with a focus on its praxis – at once interpretive and creative, analytical and artistic – to rethink and do justice to past, present, and future times and spaces that constitute the contemporary.

July '21

Pallavi Paul, Rohit Goel

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Some music is more accessible, more easily the backdrop of other life activities. Paying mind to structure, harmony, and melody,  we’ll listen to select compositions of Bach (mathematical), Mozart (the angelic), and Beethoven (transforming the human).

Holger Jetter

April '21


Excavating foundational concepts and forms of cinema,  we’ll see and discuss ‘Westerns’, film noir, vérité and neo-realism, documentary, the experimental and avant-garde, as well as contemporary art installations of moving images. We’ll also attend to techniques of making and viewing.

Pallavi Paul, Rohit Goel

Jan '21


What is justice after conflict? We'll interrogate the literature on “transitional justice” to analyze how, after 1989, scholars and citizens alike have relegated evil to the past, permanently deferred justice to the future, and framed the present as a time between wrong and right.

Rohit Goel

Oct '20


An introduction to interpretive methods in the social sciences and humanities, we will learn to ‘read’ texts and images through contemporary thinking about narrative, ethnography, constructivism, Marxian critique, and psychoanalysis.

Rohit Goel

June '21

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Is the human body only pure, material presence? In this course, the contemporary dancer Padmini Chettur and the philosopher Rohit Goel question the supposition that our bodies are merely anatomical, asking: What is the matter with the human body?

Padmini Chettur, Rohit Goel

March '21


Through Bijoy Jain’s architecture and research practice and Rohit Goel’s Marxian and psychoanalytic philosophy, we ask: what is the relation between images and their built forms? Do images determine buildings, buildings images, or are they mutually constitutive?

Bijoy Jain, Rohit Goel

Dec '20


We tend to think of repetition as an insistent sameness, against which we create: ideas, art, love, science. This course is a philosophical, sonic, and choreographic investigation of repetition, pushing us to approach the concept  in unusual ways.

Padmini Chettur, Maarten Visser, Rohit Goel

Sept '20


Criticism has suffered a serious blow in late capitalism - in the humanities and social sciences, contemporary arts, journalism, indeed in everyday life. We'll resurrect histories of criticism to explain why critique has been absent and how it can be made present in our global contemporary. 

Rohit Goel

Aug '20


The contemporary dancer Padmini Chettur will present her decades-long oeuvre, interrogating the relation between the body, movement, and language. A pedagogy that combines writing, viewing, and listening, each class will consider two of her works with rigor.

Padmini Chettur

June '20


We'll explore the COVID-19 pandemic in global historical perspective, from the Black Death and the Dancing Plague to recurring economic busts, rounds of imperialism, fascism and populism, from the emergence of capitalism in the late 15th century till our post-Cold War contemporary.

Rohit Goel

May '20


This course considers contemporary theoretical and political debates on feminism. What is sex? What is the relation between sex and politics? What does sex have to do with identities (class, race, ethnic, caste, communal, religious, gender…)? 

Rohit Goel

March '20


We'll read Freud to grasp the universal structure of the psyche and move to Lacan’s interpretation of Freud to determine what desire is and how fantasy coordinates our desires in and of the world. With Marx, we map fantasy in the world of capitalist modernity.

Rohit Goel

Sept '19


‘Archiving’ has become a political, scientific, ethical, and therapeutic imperative of the contemporary human subject. A critical analysis of the production and enjoyment of contemporary ‘archives’, we'll rethink the relation between knowledge and change.

Rohit Goel

Jan '20


With Marxian and psychoanalytic methods, we'll identify symptoms of the contemporary to explore the relation between our postmodern contemporary's understanding of crisis as having passed while anticipating its recurrence in a future to come.

Rohit Goel

Nov '19

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Challenging the partition of modernity into the stuff of time and contemporaneity into that of space, we'll probe the temporal dimensions of the latter: 'When is contemporary…?'  To answer, we'll consider cases of contemporary art, dance, film, philosophy, and sound.

Rohit Goel


June '19

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