Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Slought Foundation Seminar in Contemporary Culture

ENGL 294.402
fulfills requirements:
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

This unique 2008-2009 undergraduate seminar will provide students with an opportunity to participate in a curatorial project at Slought Foundation, a non-profit cultural organization affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. This year-long course will combine critical theory and practice by providing students with classroom instruction as well as hands-on experience in realizing a major publication about contemporary culture.

In the first semester, students will explore the concept of “post-history” in the work of Braco Dimitrijevic, a renowned conceptual artist whose writings and visual practices (recently displayed on the façade of Fisher-Bennett Hall) question the whims of history, the vagaries of chance, and the fickleness of celebrity. What catapults certain people into the historical limelight, for instance, while others remain a mere "casual passerby"? The class will explore the concept of "post-history" as well as the related concept of the “post-human” through the work of authors, filmmakers, and theorists such as Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, Mary Shelley, Werner Herzog, Achille Mbembe, and Francis Fukayama. The second semester will culminate in a contribution to the publication about Braco Dimitrijevic as well as participation in the editorial process. The publication will consist of newly commissioned essays as well as “Tractatus Post Historicus,” a seminal work by the artist from 1976.

Course requirements include the completion of assigned readings, and a final paper. Familiarity with contemporary culture is encouraged, but not required. Please note that students will be expected to occasionally meet outside of class to assist with the publication process and participate in museum visits. Enrollment in this seminar is limited and permission from the instructor is required. To apply, please submit a brief letter outlining your experience and interest in this course, including contact information, school affiliation, and grade level, to Aaron Levy, c/o Department of English/FBH, as well as by email to