Essay Exam Feb. 17 19 Levi-Strauss, Cage, Krauss, Foucault, Agamben

Context Our readings have focused on how structures (more than personal agency and consciousness) operate in the formation of meaning, subjectivity and agency, cultural practices, social systems, art, and power. We’ve looked at things like myth/kinship, language, silence, grid, originality, sexuality, and power. A common theme for the authors (in varying degrees) is the way that structural forces can ‘enable’ operations of meaning but can also ‘restrict’ them.

A critical diagnosis of structuring-forces (such as these) thus involves: (a) explaining what they are and how they operate, (b) identifying how they can be enabling and/or restricting of meaning, and (c) trying out philosophical or artistic methods that to some extent engage with structural pressures in a transformative way. Doing all three requires some deep focus and creative agility. Question Work with 4 out of the 5 texts above to answer: First, what kind of structural operations does each author try to show, what are two-three of their main arguments about these, and why do they want to do this? In other words: What is their precise focus, what do they determine, and what are they trying to promote (perhaps even enact) by working on it? Second, in what ways do the authors make philosophizing more ‘artistic’ in order to accomplish these tasks, and do you think this is effective (in terms of their own purposes and also in terms of the development of the artist-philosopher ideal). Be specific. Remember to include an Introduction that sets up what the issue of structural analysis involves and states what your main points in regard to both sides of the question will be. Also, state how your discussion will be organized. As always, be sure to give textual evidence throughout the essay.