pharmakomedia seminar

Spring Quarter 2012

This seminar surveys the history of drug literature and media from Plato to the present. We consider the pharmakon as a theoretical/philosophical idea-object that expresses our greatest hopes and deepest fears of media and their relationship to embodiment and consciousness. We study key texts by Thomas De Quincey, Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, William S. Burroughs, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Avital Ronell, Sadie Plant, Richard Doyle, and others.

A central premise of the class is that individual and collaborative writing exercises mobilize aspects of the pharmakon as a technology of language-production and deconstruction. Textual experiments will seek to induce, through the written word, what the French poet Arthur Rimbaud called the “systematic derangement of the senses.” Our experiments with and on the written word will extend experimentally, through various prescriptions and protocols, into additional media formats in order to expand, contract, and counteract their purported effects on body and mind.

Spring 2012
Professor: Trace Reddell, PhD
Tues 6-9:50pm | Shwayder Art Building 221 (The Node)
Office Hours:  Tuesday 3-5pm and by appt.
Office: Sturm 216B

Syllabus (pdf)

Session 01 (03-27-2012)
Writing games & experiments

Session 02 (04-03-2012)
De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) + Suspiria De Profundis (1845)
The palimpsest experiment

Session 03 (04-10-2012)
Baudelaire, On Wine & Hashish (1851)
Comparative pharmacology experiment

Session 04 (04-17-2012)
Benjamin, On Hashish (1927-34)
The protocols experiment

Session 05 (04-24-2012)
Derrida, “Plato’s Pharmacy” (1968), Dissemination
The pharmakon experiment

Session 06 (05-01-2012)
Burroughs, Electronic Revolution (1970)
Aural hallucinations experiment

Session 07 (05-08-2012)
Ronell, Crack Wars: Literature Addiction Mania (1992)
Set & setting experiment

Session 08 (05-15-2012)
Doyle, Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noösphere (2011)
Media trip report experiment

Session 09 (05-22-2012)
Strassman et al, Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys to Alien Worlds through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies (2008)
Entheomedia experiment

Session 10 (05-29-2012)
Final projects: The Get Experienced experiment

Final (06-05-2012) Final reports posted on the blog by 7:50pm