89993 - Policies of the Imaginary (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Sandro Mezzadra

  • Credits 6

  • SSD SPS/01

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Cinema, Television and Multimedia Production (cod. 5899)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale

  • Course Timetable from Nov 14, 2022 to Dec 13, 2022

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The course aims to offer an overall picture of political thought on the role of imagination, both in European and Western classical authors, as well as in other theoretical traditions. Drawing from this historical reconstruction, several relevant issues of the contemporary debate will be faced: from the relationship between social movements and imaginary to the most recent developments in the media field; from virtual reality to changes in the concept of public opinion; from the renewed public presence of religions to the metamorphosis of the cultural industry.

Course contents

The course aims at introducing the notion of imaginary emphasizing its political implications. It will start by discussing the different meanings of the notion, dwelling on its relations with the philosophical concept of imagination and on the critique of religion pursued by such classical authors as Spinoza and Marx (with a focus on the concept of ideology). It will then shortly discuss the developments in psychoanalysis, anthropology, and sociology with respect to the notion of imaginary, in front of the emergence of mass culture. The relevance of the global uprising of '68 will be also stressed from this viewpoint.

Against this background the course will focus on the perspective of "cultural studies" developed by Stuart Hall, emphasizing the peculiar contribution he made since the 1990s to the debate on “globalization”, often proclaimed to be “over” today in a conjuncture shaped by pandemic and war. In the second part of the course, we will focus on the work by Arjun Appadurai, an anthropologist who made outstanding contributions to the study of “globalization” from the angle of culture and imaginaries. The discussion of Modernity at Large, a classical book published in 1996, will introduce the analysis of Appadurai’s more recent works (on finance, violence, and “failure”) and more generally will allow an assessment of the current state of “globalization”.


Required readings for the exam:

David Morley & Kuan-Hsing Chen (eds), Stuart Hall. Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, London - New York: Routledge, 1996 (only the chapters authored by Stuart Hall).

Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis and London, University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Further readings will be suggested during the course.

Teaching methods

Lectures will be combined with seminars, with direct involvement of students and possible use of audio-visual materials.

Assessment methods

The exam will be oral. Students attending classes are encouraged although not required to present a paper (ca. 4000 words), to be discussed during the exam. Students are required to turn in the paper at least one week before the exam.

Teaching tools

The course presupposes a basic knowledge of the history of modern and contemporary political philosophy. Students who do not have such knowledge in their curriculum can refer to one of the following texts:

S.S. Wolin, Politics and Vision. Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2006
C. Galli (ed), Manuale di storia del pensiero politico, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011
A. Pandolfi (ed), Nel pensiero politico moderno, Roma, Manifestolibri, 2004

Office hours

See the website of Sandro Mezzadra