Syllabi Included here are syllabi for all the courses in my regular rotation, as well as a few (listed below under Other Syllabi) that I developed in graduate school but haven't taught since. When I'm developing courses, I learn a lot from looking at other people's syllabi, so I try to give a sense below of why I structured each course the way that I did and say something about what I'm trying to accomplish.
Courses at CSUN: Introduction to Philosophical Thinking [syllabus] I teach this course regularly as part of the GE curriculum at CSUN. It's built as a kind of progressive conversation that moves from "What is a philosophical education?" to "What do we owe each other?"—where the latter is understood as a question about social equality and justice. The course is essentially historical; I cover all the major areas of philosophy and use mostly 'canonical' thinkers. But the goal is to show how philosophy is an ongoing process that 'progresses' especially when it makes contact with everyday life. In that sense, my goal is to show that philosophy is not, and indeed should not be, a detached or abstract, "merely theoretical" exercise conducted from the armchair.
History of American Philosophy [syllabus] All students who graduate from California universities are required to take at least one course in the history of American institutions and ideals, and I developed this course so that students could satisfy that requirement through the Philosophy department. I wanted to take the opportunity in this course to introduce students to the distinctively American philosophical traditions (e.g., transcendentalism and pragmatism), while challenging the idea that these traditions more or less 'adapt' European philosophy to the American context. To that end, the course is designed to show how what we now call "American philosophy" emerged out of and in conversation with indigenous and African-American intellectual traditions native to the United States, and so it places the development of American philosophy in the broader context of the social and political struggles of the 19th- and 20th-centuries. The syllabus linked here is a sample syllabus meant to show how this kind of narrative might be presented to students at the 300-level.
Advanced Philosophy of Mind [syllabus] When I first taught this course, I built it around ongoing debates about conceptualism in the philosophy of perception. In the next iteration, I plan to re-conceive it around various theories of 4-E (extended, embodied, enactive, ecological) cognition.
Kierkegaard and Nietzsche [syllabus] This course takes a close look at Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and it attempts (1) to give a clear, if broad, sense of what each of these thinkers is trying to accomplish in their writings, while (2) challenging some common misconceptions about each by placing them in conversation with one another.
Existentialism [syllabus] I've taught this course a few times now. It's essentially a broad overview of existentialism, divided into three main sections. The first includes writings from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, and Dostoyevsky, and centers on the various ways in which conditions of meaninglessness might yield an experience of anxiety. The second section, centering on Sartre and Beauvoir, tracks what I take to be a different strand of existentialism according to which a "meaningful" life is possible as a product of creative human action. In the third section, I show how the previous views become somewhat complicated by material, economic, political, or social realities--developing that concern out of writings from Beauvoir, Du Bois, Fanon, and Ellison.
Continental Philosophy [syllabus] This course introduces Continental philosophy as a distinctive philosophical tradition animated, broadly, by skeptical concerns about the modern 'subject'. I structured it so that Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche are treated as initiating a series of questions or concerns about identity, subject-formation, and social and political recognition, and we then track reverberations of their questions in phenomenology, post-structuralism, and Critical Theory. In addition to Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche, we cover material from Alexandre Kojeve, Franz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler, Hannah Arendt, and Gloria Anzaldúa.
Phenomenology [syllabus] This is an "introduction" to phenomenology, but it's taught at the 400-level. It covers key figures of classical phenomenology—Husserl, Stein, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre—and ends with a section on 'critical' phenomenology. In this last section, I try to show how the resources and conceptual tools we developed in the first part of the course can be used to interrogate various social and political questions that are not always thought to be within the purview of phenomenology. We look, for example, at Lisa Guenther's work on the phenomnology of solitary confinement and at Sara Ahmed's "queer phenomenology."
Philosophical Methods and Research [coming soon] This is a new course for majors that is meant to prepare them for our Senior Thesis Seminar. It is designed to serve as a kind of “philosophy of philosophy,” with an emphasis on engaging in high-level philosophical research. We start by looking at how philosophers use different methods to address philosophical problems in different ways: What does it mean, for instance, to approach a text historically or analytically? How does “genealogy” differ from other forms of conceptual analysis? Against this background, we then discuss how to conduct philosophical research, how to structure philosophical arguments, and how to effectively read and critically engage with philosophical texts through writing, with a view to putting these into practice.
Contemporary Social and Political Problems [coming soon] This course centers on the philosophy of crime and punishment. It includes an historical section looking at how philosophers from Beccaria to Marx have thought about crime and criminality. We then turn, with Foucault, to a genealogy of criminality and the prison system. The goal, touching in the second half of the course on contemporary work in political philosophy and critical theory, is to develop a philosophical account of mass incarceration.
Critical Reasoning [coming soon] This is a GE critical thinking course, but I want to avoid the standard strategy of building the course around detecting informal fallacies and analyzing argument structure. My goal, instead, is to treat it as a kind of skills lab for responsible, critical citizenship, broadly conceived. So, we'll focus partly on logic and argument structure, but also try to push past the language of 'logic' and ask questions like: How and why might people disagree? Is it rational to believe conspiracy theories? What kind of evidence is it reasonable to accept at face value? What are the sources of bias and how can we avoid them? Is there always an "objectively right answer"? Why should we care about the truth?
Other Syllabi: Philosophy and Linguistics [syllabus] I taught this course twice at Eugene Lang College in New York. It's an advanced seminar in the history and philosophy of linguistics, and it traces the development of the latter discipline out of early Romantic German anthropology (e.g., out of Herder and Humboldt). We cover the historical development of the science of linguistics from American descriptivisim, through Saussurean structuralism, and up to Chomsky's generative grammar. The main focus, however, is philosophical: How do questions about language connect with questions about mind? about meaning? about knowledge? about human community?
Introduction to Feminist Theory[syllabus] I developed this course for a job interview, so I've never taught it, but it's designed as a seminar-style introduction to feminist theory. It covers various theories about the metaphysics of sex and gender. Feminist Epistemology[syllabus] Like the course above, this was developed for a job interview, so I haven't had a chance to teach it. The course is an intermediate course on epistemology using a feminist lens. I try to take a pluralist approach in this text, using material from both 'analytic' and 'Continental' traditions.