Friedrich Nietzsche, artist-philosopher, first modernist, and first postmodern philosopher, called himself a "posthumous man" and said his readers were yet to be born. Nietzsche struggled physically to write, struggled financially to be published, and suffered the isolation of a self-exiled nomad. Born before his time, virtually unread in his lifetime, he and his writings have influenced nearly every interesting mind since his death. A consummate stylist, Nietzsche saw philosophy as an art form; under his pen philosophy danced over systematizing and rules of argumentation, becoming essay, epigram, aphorism, parable, performance, and puzzle.
Nietzsche's writings have intrigued artists and writers since his death in 1900. Today, more than ever, he speaks to us and shapes intellectual discourse. His Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music shaped both modernist experimentation in ritualized theater performance, and, through its establishing of the aesthetic tension of Apollonian and Dionysian forces, established a context for modernist aesthetic debate. His work placed the artist in the center of aesthetic metamorphosis; that is, the artist became a "work of art," shaping 20th century artists' self-conception. Finally, his philosophical annexation of issues of styles and language, his "dancing philosophy" and his self-description as "artist-philosopher" made possible the post-modern theories most influential today. We will consider major writers strongly marked by Nietzsche's work, including Rilke, Mann, Hesse, Yeats, Bataille, Foucault, Blanchot, Derrida, and Iriguaray, as well as visual and performing artists.
Students in this program will read, discuss, and write about Nietzsche's major works. Each student will be responsible for the formal oral presentation of a major Nietzsche interpreter and for a public reading and analysis of a passage from Nietzsche's work. Groups of students will create presentations/performances based on major concepts in Nietzsche's writings. Students must be prepared for difficult readings, sustained hard, independent work, and high expectations. Students will complete a body of creative or analytical work reflecting their encounter with Nietzsche, and with the works under study this quarter, submitted in their portfolio at quarter’s end.
Students who wish to take another course while taking this program may negotiate a 12-credit option in consultation with program faculty.
previous college-level humanities study.
Course Reference Numbers
aesthetics, literature, philosophy, the arts and humanities.