HUMS 211, Fate and Chance in Art and Experience

Meeting Time: 
W 3:30-5:20p

Course Description

This seminar is co-taught with Sheila Heti. It discusses shifts in how the unchosen is conceived and how it is valued, across a range of contemporary fields and historical models–from Greek tragedy to contemporary performance art, from Protestant aesthetics of fate and grace to the I Jing and its interpreters, from mathematical and physical approaches to chance to the rise of astrology. Students consider when and where we ourselves operate with a belief in something like fate. The goal to explore whether and how a contemporary concept of fate may come into focus.

Led by:

Professor Noreen Khawaja specializes in 19th and 20th century European intellectual history, and particularly on the shifting status of religious ideas and norms in late modernity.

Her research examines the fate of metaphysics, the relation between critique and reform, the nature of realism, as well as the philosophical, historical, and aesthetic features of the secular.

Her first book, on existentialism, The Religion of Existence: Asceticism in Philosophy from Kierkegaard to Sartre, was published with the University of Chicago Press in 2016. She is currently working on two major projects. The first is a monograph on the relation between theory and philosophy in the humanities, with particular focus on the study of religion. The other, longer work looks at the emergence of authenticity as a cultural ideal from the early Surrealists to the present day.