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180092 KU Cavell / Thoreau: Round about Walden (2021W)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: German


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 14.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 21.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Hybride Lehre
Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 28.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Hybride Lehre
Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 04.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Hybride Lehre
Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 11.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Hybride Lehre
Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 18.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 25.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 02.12. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 09.12. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 16.12. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 13.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 20.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 27.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Based on David Henry Thoreau’s WALDEN, this KU (= course) tries to answer what Thoreau’s philosophy actually consists of. Often called an American transcendentalist, on closer reading of his texts this label turns out to be extremely problematic. Thoreau’s views are more like Spinoza’s philosophy of immanence than the Platonism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and other dualists from the group of American transcendentalists. In this course Thoreau’s text is confronted with Stanley Cavell’s book THE SENSES OF WALDEN [1972]. We will uncover Thoreau's concept of nature and his idea that only sensory beings can make sense of life. But we will also discuss what it means for philosophers to write books about books. Cavell’s circling of the main themes of Thoreau’s book will accompany this term’s discussions like a jazz-composition “round about Walden”.

This KU will be held in a classroom in a hybrid format. If you are a member of the following groups according to § 13c STStR(1), you are asked to contact the instructor of this course at the very beginning of term. You will be able to fulfill the requirements of the continuous assessment and an equivalent of our discussions in a digital environment instead:
1. Risk group members as defined by the COVID-19 Risk Group Ordinance of the Minister of Health;
2. Students who work as health and nursing staff;
3. Students who live in the same household with persons as per 1 and 2 or who care for persons as per 1;
4. Students with restrictions on freedom of travel (regional / national) or in isolation (quarantine) at the time of the examination / provision of the partial service;
5. Students who are subject to supervision and cannot attend on site due to school / kindergarten closings etc.

What does “hybrid teaching” mean in this KU? - Due to the size of the lecture hall and the maximum occupancy of the lecture halls due to COVID-19 regulations, there will be a division into (presumably four) groups this winter term. The assignment in groups will take place in our Moodle room at the first course unit. Since only the maximum number of participants can be present on site, on-site teaching will commence on October 21, 2021 (depending on the group you are in). – We will then meet alternately in lecture hall 3F for discussions while non-present participants will be able to view recordings of these meetings on Moodle.

NOTE: The first session will be an online-session in Moodle. Please do not come to the lecture hall. You will have access to our Moodle-room from October 14th.

Assessment and permitted materials

Your attendance (online and/or in the lecture room) is part of your final grade. You will be expected to hand in short written papers and participate in class discussions.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Erasmus students beware: This course is taught in German! You may write your assignments in English or French, but must be prepared to discuss matters in German, since most of your colleagues in the group will be German speakers.

The minimal requirement for completing this course is that you hand in seven assignments which are titled AUFGABE (= task) in Moodle. You will then be graded based on your submissions and your participation in our weekly class discussions. If you decide to write a BA paper in this course, the AUFGABEN-assignments will be reduced to four. You will, however, have to hand in a short exposé and a preliminary structure of your BA thesis during term instead.

By registering for this course, you tacitly agree to having all your electronic submissions checked by Turnitin.

You may miss two course units without consequence.

Your final grade will consist of the points you acquired in all written assignments (70 %) and your active participation (30 %). Thus you can earn a maximum of 50 credit points a term. Should your achievement be below or equal to 20 points or if you did not fulfill the minimal requirements, you will fail this course.

Examination topics

This is a course (= KUrs), thus no final exam.

Reading list

Cavell, Stanley (1992): The Senses of Walden. An Expanded Edition. Chicago u. London: University of Chicago Press.
Furtak, Rick Anthony; Ellsworth, Jonathan; u. Reid, James D. (eds.) (2012) Thoreau’s Importance for Philosophy. New York: Fordham Univ. Press.
Kucklick, Bruce (2001): A History of Philosophy in America: 1720–2000. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Thoreau, Henry D. (2007): I to Myself. An annotated selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau. Edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer. New Haven u. London: Yale University Press.
Thoreau, Henry D. (1992): Walden and other Writings. Edited by Brooks Atkinson. New York: Modern Library.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 29.11.2021 12:49