WORK AND PLAY
This course will explore some of the anxieties that build up at the borders of the “world of work,” particularly the borders between what is called “work” and what is called “play.” A central aim of the course is to get some handle on the fascism involved in the policing of these borders at the present moment—to get a handle on the fascism of the present moment this way. This aim determines the parameters of the course reading, none of which predates the rise of fascism in the early 20th-century, even though plenty of work and play happened before then. Reading will include texts on the relation between work, play, and unemployment by psychoanalysts (Freud, Klein, Reich, Winnicott) and by major figures of the Collège de Sociologie (Bataille and Caillois); on the questioning of the thesis of the “alienation of labor” in post-WWII French Marxism (Althusser); on “workerism,” the strategy of the “refusal of work,” and unpaid work in post-WWII Italian Marxism (Bifo; Tronti; Federici); on issues with Marxist accounts of “work” (Arendt and Foucault); and on “désoeuvrement” and “inoperativity” (Blanchot and Agamben). Fascist and neo-fascist problem-areas to be considered will include discourse in and around the professionalization of sports—particularly of men’s team sports, beginning in the early 20th-century; and of “extreme sports,” “esports,” and women’s team sports, beginning in the early 21st. Papers can be written on any topic where anxiety about “work” is near enough to a breaking point that a push from the theorists on the syllabus might help.