Course Catalogue

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Course Catalogue WS 2023/24

Spaces and Paradoxes of the Political

Theory seminar
WS 21/22
Target group
Basic Studies

Dates - place & time

28.10.2127.01.22ThursdayWöchentlich11:00 - 13:00Filzengraben 8-10, Seminarraum KMW, 2.04
from-to11:00 - 13:00
LocationFilzengraben 8-10, Seminarraum KMW, 2.04

Seminar description

"To affect and to be affected is to be open to the world, to be active in it and to be patient for its return activity.”

In his conversations on a politics of affect, Brian Massumi emphasizes that these reciprocal affect activities of being in encounter and in relation sustain change. Affect is therefore meant (in a Spinozean reading) as a way of acting in a situation while being affected and affect at the same time. It is also central for realizing plays of power and ideology. Sara Ahmed examines with a cultural political focus how single and collective bodies as well as their surfaces are formed through contact and how fear and its politics work to exclude bodies from social spaces and restrict their movements. She argues that emotions as being relational “produce the very surfaces and boundaries that allow the individual and the social to be delineated as if they are objects.” Therefore, not feelings themselves but their objects circulate and create a social a psychic presence. How could we think affect, emotion, sensation of bodies and cognition in relation to social, political and cultural spaces? And if “the aesthetic” and “the political“ would not be understood as biased, as either/or, as Ariella Azoulay highlights, but by enriching and contradicting one another, thus the gazes of art within photography are operating in parallel. Interestingly the “civil” professional gaze of the viewer of an image which is part of another structure of time and place is addressed and confronted by the persons photographed a part of a “citizenry of photography”.

In the seminar we are focusing on these close connections between aesthetic/artistic and political actions, on the paradoxes within and in which ways spaces, their (invisible) borders and micropolitics are related and could be confronted. We will do readings, writing and have a closer look into exhibitions and events (excursions) connected. Together we will work on a glossary of what you consider of significance for the aesthetic and political and of affecting and being affected.

Subsequent changes / additions

Literature (selection):

- Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, Edinburgh 2004.

- Éric Alliez/Peter Osborne (eds.), Spheres of Action: Art and Politics, London 2013. Athena

- Athanasiou/Judith Butler, Dispossession: The performative in the political. Conversation with Athena Athanasiou, Cambridge/Malden 2013.

- Ariella Azoulay, A Political Ontology of Photography, London/ New York 2010.

- Zdenka Badovinac, Comradeship curating, art, and politics in post-socialist Europe, Independent Curators International, New York, 2019.

- Anneka Esch-van Kan et al. (eds.), Thinking– Resisting – Reading the Political, Zurich/Berlin 2013.

- Roberto Esposito, Communitas. The Origin and Destiny of Community, Irvine 2010.

- Michel Foucault, Ästhetik der Existenz. Schriften zur Lebenskunst, Frankfurt am Main 2007.

- Tom Holert, Knowledge Beside Itself. Contemporary Art’s Epistemic Politics, Berlin 2020.

- Dominik Landwehr (ed.), Political interventions (Edition Digital Culture 1), Basel 2014.

- Brian Massumi, Politics of Affect, Cambridge/Malden 2015.

- Chantal Mouffe, Agonistics thinking the world politically, London et al. 2013.

- Astrid Proll (ed.), Goodbye to London – radical art and politics in the 70’s, exh. cat. Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst Berlin, Ostfildern 2010.

- Dorothea von Hantelmann (ed.), I promise it´s political. Performativity in Art, exh. cat. Museum Ludwig, Cologne 2002.

Student office

Karin Cordes

Juliane Schwibbert

Katrin Seiniger

Claudia Warnecke

Heumarkt 14

50667 Köln

Tel.: +49 221 20189 - 194 /

119 / 187 / 249

Opening hours: Mondays + Tuesdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m.    -    4 p.m.

For enquiries or appointments, please call us, Mon - Thu 9.30 to 1 p.m., or send us an e-mail.

Summer semester 2024

Lecture period:
​​​​​​​Apr. 8, 2024 until Jul. 19, 2024

Winter semester 2024/25

Lecture period:
​​​​​​​Oct. 21, 2024 until Feb. 14, 2025

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