amor mundi

Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Syllabus for Peace In Pieces This Fall at SFAI

HUMN-237-01 | Fall 2017
Peace in Pieces: Histories, Theories, and Practices of Nonviolent Politics

Instructor: Dale Carrico; e-mail:
Thursdays, 4:15-7pm Room: MCR; August 30-December 6, 2017
Course Blog:

Rough Basis for Grade: Attendance/Participation, 15%; Co-Facilitation, 15%; Reading Notebook, 15%, Midterm Precis/Toulmin, 3-4pp., 20%; Final Paper, 5-6pp., 35% (subject to contingencies)

Course Description:

The arc of the moral universe is a longing... and it bends from just us. In this course we will read canonical texts in the theory, history, and practice of nonviolent resistance and world-making. This course is provoked and inspired by stories and strategies of reconciliation connected to traditions of nonviolent politics. But is this "non-violence" simply an alternative, at hand, or another fraught artifact we are making under duress? We will take seriously and look critically at the subtle and structural violences that ineradicably shape everyday life. We will consider legible testimonies to violation, in a variety of textual forms, while simultaneously considering the cultural ideals of persuasion which often accompany definitions of violence and its limits. We will both take up and take on the many paradoxes of nonviolent activism and violent order that complicate the teaching of what passes for peace. The State as site of violence and alter-violence. Nonviolence, interfaith dialogue, and freethinking. Spontaneity and training. Assembly, occupation, Black Bloc. Prerequisite: ENGL-101 Satisfies: 3-Units of Humanities; Critical Studies Elective, Liberal Arts Elective

Week One | Thursday, August 31


Week Two | Thursday, September 7
Howard Zinn, Introduction to Thoreau on Civil Disobedience and Reform
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
Henry David Thoreau, A Plea for Captain John Brown

Week Three | Thursday, September 14

Karuna Mantena, The Power of Nonviolence
Correspondence of Count Leo Tolstoy with M. K. Gandhi

Week Four | Thursday, September 21

Screen film, "Iron-Jawed Angels,"dir. Katja von Garnier

Week Five | Thursday, September 28

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam
Ella J. Baker, Bigger Than A Hamburger 

Week Six | Thursday, October 5

A simplified Toulmin Schema
Also: Karl Rogers and Rogerian Synthesis

Week Seven | Thursday, October 12

Gene Sharp, selections From Dictatorship to Democracy
Arundhati Roy, War Is Peace
George Ciccariello-Maher, Planet of Slums, Age of Riots
[Midterm grading]

Week Eight | Thursday, October 19

Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, A Third Reconstruction

Week Nine | Thursday, October 26
Must Eichmann Hang? [In-class Handout]

Week Ten | Thursday, November 2

Angela Davis, selections from Are Prisons Obsolete? Chapters 1, 2, 6

Week Eleven | Thursday, November 9

Carol Adams, An Animal Manifesto

Week Twelve | Thursday, November 16

Final Paper Workshop

Week Thirteen | Thursday, November 23

Thanksgiving Holiday

Week Fourteen | Thursday, November 30

Judith Butler, Notes Toward A Performative Theory of Assembly, chapters 1-3 [purchase the book]

Week Fifteen | Thursday, December 7

Judith Butler, Notes Toward A Performative Theory of Assembly, chapters 4-6

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bannon May Be Out But White Supremacy Is Still In

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that obscenity is officially gone, but I honestly expect we'll discover in months to come that like Manafort and other rats who have been sacrificed to Trump's sinking stinking shit ship Bannon still has Trump's ear whenever he really wants it and may even still be on the payroll in some informal advisory capacity. Also, it pays to recall whenever the faces we put on structural evils fall to our resistance we cannot mistake their defeat for the defeat of the structural social evil they have symptomized. With the Trump administration (and America more generally) there are many more faces of white supremacist cishet patriarchal greedhead militarist evil who still need to go. Keep your eyes open, and keep up the fight.


I've handed in my grades, dealt with the now-inevitable student e-mails complaining about these grades, written letters of recommendation, and now I have just under two weeks before my Queer Manifestations graduate seminar and an undergraduate course surveying (and pressuring) the canon of nonviolent politics begin at SFAI in the City. I've got syllabi to prune and polish and an optimal public transportation route to SFAI's new graduate campus at the Fort Mason Art Center to figure out in upcoming days. But despite that, I'm treating these days as a brief but welcome break from work. Just finished Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140 (which felt like a lovely coda after the six week "Green Rhetoric" intensive I just completed) and now starting N.K. Jemisin's much garlanded Broken Earth trilogy. Reading for pleasure again, what a concept! Anything to distract me from the dreadful deathly demoralizing drip drip drip of daily news is bolstering for my sanity.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Trump Is Indeed Presidential -- For Republicans

By far the majority of Republicans haven't stood for anything but white resentment and the infantile pleasure of reflexively pissing off liberals on every given issue whatever the merits for at least twenty years now, and Trump is precisely what looks "Presidential" from that vantage: He is the son of a Klansman and is a vulgar eugenicist reacting impulsively from moment to moment to perceived sleights while forever on the lookout for occasions to assert personal dominance, without anything like principles or a plan or even a sense of the day after tomorrow to guide him. His whole life and certainly his whole campaign modeled the Presidency with which we are now grappling: his voters have got what they wanted, though many of the worst of them clearly want even more of the worst of it. If you do not proceed on that understanding (and if that understanding isn't enough to get you out in protest now and into a voting booth as soon as possible) you probably cannot be reached or relied on as far as I'm concerned. The genocidal bigot and bully Andrew Jackson was similarly "Presidential." Trump Presidential is not so very far from war criminal W. Presidential less than a decade ago. None of this is the least bit surprising or unexpected.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wrapping the Present

Just ordered some new clothes for fall, something of an early birthday present to myself. At this point I've lost over sixty pounds this year and most of my shirts ensphere me like stadium domes and my trousers fall right down about my ankles without a belt clutching them tight. It all feels rather unreal, and distinctly strange spending hundreds of dollars on clothes I wouldn't have been able to wear for the last decade or even six months ago, really. I still superstitiously keep all my circus tent clothes folded in a drawer for the day when all that weight suddenly re-appears. Be all that as it may, I don't think I can maintain my professorial ethos while swimming in folds of fabric -- so a new wardrobe it needs must be. Of course, I'm still sticking to the changed eating and exercising habits that brought me to this pretty pass, and so there is the added perplexity that I might shrink still more in months to come, enough to render today's investment a bit moot. It's not like I'm skinny again yet -- as I was back in the days of the W. Bush administration, say. Man, these Republican assholes really wear me down to a nub.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Charlottesville Syllabus

Professor Walter Greason's Suggested Resources on Collective Racial Violence in the US Storified here. It is good this harrowing compendium of documentary video is made so handily and concisely available. Professor Greason says early on that a course he taught based on all the materials presented here was so traumatizing for students he subsequently separated the material into several different courses. Later in the thread, asked who should be taught this material he proposed: "Advanced students in junior high; most students in high school; everyone in higher education." Of course, far from everyone in higher education is confronted with this history. Traumatizing though it may be, in Trumpmerica conveying and processing this history with students is absolutely necessary work.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wake Up And Smell the Nazis

Hard to believe, but some, it seems, are only just now sniffing the white aynrancid wind.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday's Walk

Took a break from end of term grading to walk with Eric to a diner on Piedmont Avenue for omelettes, then walked further along to the beautiful Morcom Rose Garden where the trickle of the stepped waterfall and the faint perfume of roses in the air had hardly anyone to compete with for our attention -- since there was almost nobody else with us there in that truly magical place, and on a warm sunny blue-skied Sunday yet.     

Tolkien Snubs the Nazis

This is doing the rounds today, but I guess I found it a heartening reminder too.

Friday, August 11, 2017


For every substantial innovation, a thousand repackagings of failure and stasis as "innovation."

Tech + Company =

Appending the word "tech" to "company" rarely says anything about technology but usually signals everything about irresponsibility.

Monday, August 07, 2017

All the intelligence in so-called AI is in the people coding and using it.

Artificial Intelligence as a discourse functions primarily to deny responsibility for and disavow knowledge of the crimes, frauds, and abuses enabled and mediated by algorithms.

It Shouldn't Work -- But It Does

Republicans break government when elected so they can declare government broken to get elected.

Sunday, August 06, 2017


One Week To Go...

My last week of instruction beckons... All their midterms are graded, all the works are read, my lecture notes are just sketches and I'm on my last legs, but I am as ready as I ever will be to take on a last, vast avalanche of papers and final projects... and scarcely two weeks ahead I begin two brand new courses for the Fall in the City, a course on queer manifestos and another on conceptions of political "nonviolence" at the Art Institute. It's been months since I gave these upcoming courses any thought, immersed as I have been in the daily scrum of lecturing- preparing- and-grading my way through these bonkers intensives, and the minute I do give them thought I am immediately in a hot strobing panic to prepare anew... but I honestly can't divert my energy into the next teaching tasks until these summer intensives are done. Onward, here we go...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Still Teaching...

Two thirds through, my summer intensives have just two weeks to go now. Spent the weekend grading in addition to the usual reading and lecture prep, and there is a whole pile still left to grade for my other course... The expression "burning the candle at both ends" feels to me viscerally real these days... I've felt so tired while remaining so focused for so many days in a row by now it's like a burning sensation in my head. Definitely I hope I can distribute intensives across the two separate summer sessions in the future... The slow-motion technocolor trainwreck and killer clown crime spree that is the Trump/Republican administration is not exactly helpful, always strobing in the background as it is... I have learned a lot teaching new environmentalist and digital democracy texts for these freshly updated syllabi, though. And there are bright and earnest and funny and interesting students in both classes to give me a measure of pleasure and hope. Perhaps something in all this will strike a spark and I can return to making some kind of contribution to these discussions again...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Still True

Deregulatory "tech" disruption is nullification masquerading as a gift economy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Very Worried This Is Correct

Very worried that he is succeeding. Very worried about what we are in for.