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The central distinction around which this course is organized is that between force and power.  Force involves a logic of dominion in which physical violence or the threat of it, compulsion, and domination are the modes by which political authority is established, maintained and legitimized.  Genuine political power, on the other hand, involves what might be called a dialogic of communion in which words and deeds are brought together in an attempt to weave difference into community with an eye toward justice.

Traditionally, patriarchal authority has always operated according to a logic of dominion and force.  Yet, from its very beginnings and despite its continuing persistence, patriarchal authority has shown itself to be inherently unstable.  Although the roots of patriarchal authority can be traced to the earliest ancient Greek thinkers, they were also well aware of this instability.  The epic and tragic poets in particular gave voice to the dangers that come along with the logic of force on which patriarchal authority is based.  

Beginning with the ancient Greek texts of Hesiod, Aeschylus and Sophocles, the first half of this course traces the origins and limitations of patriarchal politics.  The second half of the course engages the feminist critiques of patriarchal politics by reading the work of Luce Irigaray in conjunction with Freud and Hegel and the works of Judith Butler and Julia Kristeva in dialogue with Sophocles.  

Tracing the history of patriarchal politics back to the Greeks and engaging these feminist critiques of that politics will allow us to uncover another possibility for politics operating already at the beginning of the tradition of patriarchal dominion.

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