Email all work to me at

All films that are linked below, will direct you to UF Kanopy where you may see them for free. All film titles that are not linked below, you will have to find and see our your own. All linked readings will take you to a pdf. All readings that are not linked you will have to find on your own.

News on the March (formerly known as "Outburts")

Poor Richard’s Almanac:

BURT’S Prognostications, Prophecies, and Predictions

Ten minutes of birdsong from the English countryside

All beginnings are dangerous.--The poet has the choice of either raising feeling from one step to the next and thus eventually increasing it to a very high level--or else attempting a sudden onslaught and pulling the bell-rope with all his might from the beginning: both have their dangers: in the first case, that his audience may flee out of boredom, in the second, out of fear.

--Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human II, "Mixed Opinions and and Maxims," section 163, ed.

Gary Handwerk (Stanford UP, 2013), 67.

Please read the Class Policies now.

You will need to watch all assigned films on your own. You may rent, borrow, or purchase them (as downloads or discs).

Recommended Readings

Email all work for the course to me at

Pareidolia and apophenia

Oblique Perspective in Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors (anamorphosis); Jacques Derrida on oblique reading in Passion: An Oblique Offering

John Lee HookerCharlie Musselwhite

Help Me

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE (Please expect minor adjustments to be made in the schedule from time to time; all changes will be announced both in class and on the class email listserv; this webpage will also be updated) 6574

August 22:

Samuel Smiles vs. Walter Benjamin, or

Self-Help (or Self-Harm?) vs. Shelf-Help

Neoliberalese at the corporate university.

Quiz: Imagine this scenario. You are taking a class and your have two assignments. You know you only have enough time to do either (1) writing one really well or (2) writing both badly. Which would you do, 1 or 2?


"A sense of embarrassment often goes unnoticed as the source of a successful enterprise.

When I began, ten years ago, to create a more satisfactory order among my books, I soon came across volumes that I could not bring myself to get rid of but that I could no longer bear to leave where they were.

In this way, a motley collection came together over the years, a 'Library of Pathology,' long before I thought to actively build a collection of writings by the mentally ill--indeed, long before I even knew that books by the mentally ill existed. 

--Walter Benjamin, "Books by the Metally Ill: From My Collection" Selected Writings 2 (1),123-24.

Single white female CHARLOTTE SHANE Joanna Scutts, The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis led a generation of women to live alone and like it


Adam Phillips, Missing Out in Praise of the Unlived Life

Georges Perec, Species_of_Spaces_and_Other_Pieces"Brief Notes on the Art and Mannr of COllecting Books, 148-55

Moral Panic or Moral Picnic? Comstock, Anthony, Frauds exposed; or, How the people are deceived and robbed, and youth corrupted


Masha Gessen, "Donald Trump’s Very Soviet Fixation on Applause," New Yorker, Feb. 6, 2018

Seneca, "On the Shortness of Life"

Moral Treatment

Dorothea Lynde Dix, Remarks on Prisons and Prison Discipline in the United States

William Tuke

Occupational therapy

Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life.

Here is your first assignment, due tomorrow, August 23 by 5 p.m.

Create a word document with your last name as the title of your document. Write two discussion questions, numbered one and two, and three shots on 20 Feet from Stardom. Put your name at the top of the document. Just Your Name. Nothing else. Nothing. Else. Email your word document (as an attachment) to me at by 5 p.m. tomorrow, August 23.

August 24:

20 Feet from Stardom (dir. Morgan Neville, 2013)


Hidden Figures (2016)

Doris Duke (Usa, 1969) "I'm a Loser"

Due August 27 by 5 p.m. Two discussion questions numbered one and two, with your name at the top of the document, on Thomas Bernhard's The Loser, pp. 3-65. Just Your Name. Nothing else. Nothing. Else. Email your DQs in one word document with last name as the document title to me at

August 28:

Reading Reading:

Thomas Bernhard, The Loser, pp. 3-65

Due August 29 Two discussion questions, numbered one and two, and three BIG WORDS, on Thomas Bernhard's The Loser, pp. 3-65. Put your name at the top of the document. Just Your Name. Nothing else. Nothing. Else. Email all work to me at

August 30:

Thomas Bernhard, The Loser, pp. 166-91

Due September 3: (You Know the Drill.) Two discussion questions on and three BIG WORDS, numbered one, two, and three. Put your name at the top of the document. Just Your Name. Nothing else. Nothing. Else. Email all work to me at

September 4:

Reading Reading:

Sheppard Lee, Written By Himself Vol. 1


Failure (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art) 

Due September 5: (You Know the Drill. I will no longer post due dates for DQs on the schedule below.)

September 6:

Reading Reading:

Robert Montgomery Bird, Sheppard Lee, Written By Himself Vol. 2

September 11:

Reading Reading:

Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is, pp. 3-76 

September 13:

Reading Reading:

Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is, pp. 77-97

First Paper (500 words) DUE Saturday September 15 by 11:59 p.m.

Click here for the assignment. Email all work to me at

September 18:

Required Readings:

Marcel Mauss and W. D. Halls, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies (free pdf here)

September 20:

Required Readings:

1."Counterfeit Money," by Charles Baudelaire follows p. 172

2.Charles Baudelaire, "The Good Dogs"; "The Eyes of the Poor"; "The Generous Gambler"; and "To Arsene Houssaye."

3. Jacques Derrida "Counterfeit Money "I: The Poetics of Tobacco," pp. 71-107

September 25

Required Readings:

1. Jacques Derrida "Counterfeit Money" II: Gift and Countergift, Excuse and Forgivenss," pp. 108-71

2. Jacques Derrida "The Counterfeit," in Parages, pp. 199-200

September 27:

Recommended Reading:

Friedrich Schlegel, "On Incomprehensibility"

Recommended Reading:

1. Avital Ronell, "The Uninterrogated Question of Stupidity." differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies.
8.2 (Summer 1996)

2. Fredriech Schlegel, Lucinde

October 2:

Required Viewing:

Paul de Man, "The Concept of Irony," in Aesthetic Ideology

October 4:

Required Readings:

Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener: A Tale of Wall Street

October 9:

Required Rereading:

Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener: A Tale of Wall Street

Anonymous, My Wife and the Wall Street Phantom (1870)

Recommended Viewing and Reading:

Office Space (dir. Mike Judge, 1999)

Sigmund Freud, "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming (Der Dichter und das Phantasieren)" (1908)

Gilles Deleuze, "Bartleby; or, The Formula," in Essays Critical and Clinical, pp. 68-90.

October 11:

Required Reading:

Nathaniel Hawthorne,  "Wakefield," in Twice-Told Tales, pp. 185-98.

October 16:

Required Readings:

1. Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"


2. Jacques Derrida, "Before the Law" 

Jacques Derrida,‎ Sandra van Reenen and Jacques de Ville (Translators), Before the Law: The Complete Text of Préjugés (2018)

Required Listening:

3. Franz Kafka, "Before the Law" (Orson Welles)

October 18:

Reading Reading:

1. Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"


2. Jacques Derrida, "Before the Law" 

Jacques Derrida,‎ Sandra van Reenen and Jacques de Ville (Translators), Before the Law: The Complete Text of Préjugés (2018)


"Before the Law: "Three Years on Rikers Without Trial" The New Yorker

"Kafka’s Last Trial" - NYTimes

Kakfa and Max Brod

Habeas Corpus / The End of Habeas Corpus

Max Brod's "readings" of Kafka's will in three postscripts Brod wrote to three successive editions of The Trial.

October 23:

Reading Reading:

Alexander Pushkin, Queen of Spades and

E. T. A. Hoffmann, Gambler’s Luck

October 25:

Reading Reading:

Stefan Zweig, Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman

October 30:

Reading Reading:

Bouvard and Pécuchet: A Tragi-comic Novel of Bourgeois Life

Gustave Flaubert, Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues


Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler, Chapters 1-11

November 1:

Reading Reading:

Fyodor Dostevesky, The Gambler, Chapters 12-17


Bouvard and Pécuchet: A Tragi-comic Novel of Bourgeois Life

Second Paper (500 words) DUE Sunday November 3 by 11:59 p.m. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Your assignment is to do a close reading of an assigned text. Focus on a passage or a scene and discuss it in detail. That passage or scene is your paper topic. Cite the text or film to make your points. Develop your thesis. The text or is your evidence. If you don't know what a close reading is and have never done one before, be sure to go to You may also ask me for clarification. You must also know how to write a research paper, or analytical essay. You will need a title for your paper and a thesis, an argument that you can state in one sentence. Your thesis should go at the end of your first paragraph. To make sure we share the same understanding of the assigned paper, please read before you begin writing. You may figure out your title before you write your paper, but usually, you only figure out your title after you figure out your thesis. And you figure out your thesis by writing your paper. What you think is your conclusion often needs to be moved up from the end of the essay to the front. Then you are ready to make your final revisions and add a new concluding paragraph. You may also have come up with a new title in the course of writing the paper. And then you are ready to proofread your paper. And then you will have finished writing your paper. Congratulations! :)

Email your paper (as an attachment) to me at Put your name in the subject title or header of your title. Put your name in your paper.

Grading: I will meet with you in person to discuss your paper with you. PLEASE BE ADVISED: If you didn't do the asignment, a close reading, your grade is an automatic E. If didn't put your name on your paper, it's an automatic E. If you didn't have a proper title, it's an automatic E. If you didn't have a thesis, it's an automatic E. One third of your grade will be based on your title; one third on your thesis; and one third on the rest of your paper.


November 8:

Reading Reading:

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire, pp. 11-190

November 13:

Required Reading:

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire, 190-315.

Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos by John Shade 2011 

Dmitri Nabokov, Original of Laura

Yuri Leving, ed. Shades of Laura: Vladimir Nabokov's Last Novel, The Original of Laura Oct 28, 2013

November 15:

Reading Reading:

Edgar Allen Poe, "The Purloined Letter" 

Recommended Readings:

Jacques Lacan, "Seminar on the Purloined Letter" 

Jacques Derrida, "The Purveyor of Truth"

November 20:

Reading Reading:

Valerie Solanas, SCUM Manifesto

November 22:

Reading Reading:

Jack Black,‎ You Can't Win

Joe Coleman (Illustrator),‎ William S. Burroughs (Foreword)

November 27:

Reading Reading:

Franz Kafka, "The Judgment," trans M. Hoffman; or read the Muirs' translation; or read Stanley Corngold's translation.

(Not really) Recommended Reading:

Stanley Corngold's essay on "The Judgment."

November 30:


December 4:

Reading Reading:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wall-Paper and Other Stories

Paper (50 words) due December 3 by 5:00 p.m. (please email it to me at

"Er lasst sich nicht lesen" THE MAN OF THE CROWD by Edgar Allan Poe (1850)

Messiness & Creativity: How a Messy Desk and Creative Work Go Hand in Hand

Finding Your Way into a Literary work: Reading as Invention (Inventio) and as Discovery (Why those two words?) Criticism is Creative (Writing).

"Wildered" Percy Shelley, Alastor, l.140

Etymology / Online Etymology Dictionary

Reading the Table of Contents

Gérard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation 

PDF is here. 

Table of Contents pdf of Introduction Here.

The Kafka Project

Kafka's Wound


FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Genealogy of Morals,Third Treatise

Martin Heidegger, selections from Being and Time and The Basic Concepts of Metaphysics; and "The Essence of Ground," in Pathmarks

Arthur Schopenhauer, "On Noise," in Studies in Pessimism

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Larry Siems (Editor) Guantánamo Diary 2015

Maurice Blanchot, The Instant of My Death 

How Guantánamo Diary Escaped the Black Hole

Friedrich Theodor Vischer, "A Rabid Philosopher"

Innocent and Guilty Prisoners: Eleven Years without Charges at Gitmo

eas Corpus in the U.S. (Infinite Detention: the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama on December 31st, 2011 / 2013)


Maurice Blanchot, "Literature and the Right to Death," in The Work of Fire, trans. Charlotte Mandell and Lydia Davis (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995), 300-43.

Franz Kafka, In the Penal Colony or here. The German is here. Note the frequent use of the word "Urteil," meaning "verdict," "judgment," or "sentence," the same word Kafka used as the title of The Judgement aka The Verdict (Das Urteil). 

Richard Thieberger, "The Botched Ending of In the Pelany Colony,The Kafka Debate. Ed. Ange Flores

Michel de Montaigne, "Of CoachesEssays, Book Three, Chapter Six.

Jacques Derrida, Death Penalty Seminar, Vol. 1, Session Eleven, pp. 270-83.

Michel de Montaigne, "To His Father: On the Death of La Boétie," in Complete Works of Montaigne, Trans. Donald Frame, 1276-88.

Seneca, "On the Shortness of Life"

Maurice Blanchot, "The Last Word" in Friendship (1971; trans 1997)

Maurice Blanchot, "The Very Last Word" in Friendship (1971; trans 1997) 

Jean-Jacques RousseauReveries of a Solitary Walker, "Second Promenade"

Maurice Blanchot, "Idle Speech," from Friendship.

Jacques Derrida, "Fichus" and selected letters written by Walter Benjamin that Derrida discusses in "Fichus."

Jacques Derrida, "Force of Law"

Walter Benjamin, "Critique of Violence"


Reading Reading:

Friedrich Theodor Vischer, The Rabid Philosopher and Auch Einer: Eine Reisebekanntschaft (in English); Heimito von Doderer, "Eight Attacks of Rage" and "The Torture of the
Little Leather Pouches," in A Person Made of Porcelain and Other
; Seneca, "On Anger"Friedrich Theodor Vischer, "A Rabid Philosopher"

Recommended Reading:

Jörg Kreienbrock, Malicious Objects, Anger Management, and the
Question of Modern Literature



Class partly about understanding history through film, understanding film history and history in relation to a decade or a period, and partly showing repetition and cultural stagnation in the present. We will put into question: what is film? What is history? How does film allegorize rather than document history?

What is an ideologue? What is an intellectual? What is fake news? How do you decide if a source is reliable? Glenn greenwald at the Intercept versus Jimmy Dore show versus Max Keiser Report versus Alex Jones at infowars

Have a group of students lead for each week on the film--cover itin depth for two classes--and be experts on the film research, divide it up--in the film, listen to the commentary, compile a bibliography. Be experts on the film., ocys on formal aspects that define these films and their relation to violence, sexuality, sexism, misogyny, misanthropy, and nationalism.

Turn in your notes to me a week in advance. Be prepared to bring in the information you've learned as it is relevant to discussion.

Get the DVD yourselves.

Build to a reasearch paper using your notes and biblio to discuss one film you have led on, if you wish,and one filmyou havenot.



Apocalyse Now


Avital Ronnel, Loser Sons

Kathy Acker, Don Quixote

Jack London, "To Build a Fire"--sabotage

CIA Manual for Purposeful Stupdity

William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
T.S. Eliot, "The Wasteland"
William Empson, "Obscurity and Annotation"

Thomas Bernhard, Extinction
Thomas Bernhard, Correction
Franz Kafka, The Verdict
Franz Kafka, Before the Law
Edgar Allen Poe, The Man of the Crowd

Edgar Allen Poe, William Wilson

Stefan Zweig, Amok
Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Wakefield
Vladmir Nabokov, Pale Fire





Edouard LevéSuicide and Auto-Portrait


Hart Crane, selected poems

Sigmund Freud, A Child Is Being Beaten
Paul Roazen, Brother Animal: The Story of Freud and Tausk

Samuel Beckett, From an Abandoned Work

James Joyce, "The Dead"

Shepard Tone