Studies in Literary Criticism and Theory : The Refusal To Work: Scarcity, Affect, Laziness

Course Number: ENGL 236
Prerequisites: Graduate Standing
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 236
Quarter: Winter 2013
Instructor: Boscagli, Maurizia
Day(s): R
Time: 11:00 AM - 1:50 PM
Location: SH 2617

The Refusal To Work: Scarcity, Affect, Laziness

Under neoliberalism work has become scarce, precarious, and unprotected. At the same time it has become the central locus of psychic and emotional investment, often at a high price: see today’s collective psychopathologies, for example mass depression. The seminar focuses on the social costs of this new conjuncture and the cultural and affective horizon it puts in place by addressing three key issues: 1) work and happiness; 2) the politics and aesthetics of precarity; 3) laziness and the refusal of work, from Jules Lafargue to Italian autonomia, as forms of resistance. Can precarity become a form of non-representational, non-identitarian politics whose force is exactly its plasticity? Could postwork be a way of reimagining life, of reclaiming the common, and making possible a new futurity?

We will read the work of contemporary critics (Manuel Castells, Toni Negri, Silvia Federici, Isabelle Stengers, Catherine Malabou,, Franco Berardi, Felix Guattari, Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler), artists and art critics (Keti Shukrov, Hito Steyerl), and watch films by the Dardenne brothers, Ken Loach, Marcela Zamora, and a documentary by artist Victor Muniz.

Enrollment in INT201RW is by permission of instructor; please contact Professor Boscagli for an enrollment code:

This seminar is sponsored by the University of California Humanities Research Institute as part of the UCHRI ongoing project on "Changing Conceptions of Work".