Ioan Davies' Teaching Site

Course Outline: Sociology 6130.03/SPTH6609.03: The Critique of Everyday Culture

The Critique of Everyday Culture

Professor Ioan Davies
Thursday, 5:30 - 8:30,
2000 Vari Hall.

e-mail: idavies@
Office: 326 Founders.
Phone: 736- 5148.

This course will be perambular, archival, global and parochial, kinetic, sensual, traumatic, emotional. We will try to think about the everyday as an invention by others within which we have to negotiate our sense of the quotidian: clocks, railways, computers, printing presses, all the timetables of history.

The hands on the clock in the Jewish Quarter run backwards
And you too go backwards in your life slowly
Climbing Hradcany and the evening listening.
In the pubs they are singing Czech songs (Apollinaire, Zone, 1911)

We will think about the stories to be retold, mis-told, forgotten. We will scratch around in the ruins for gems and dung. We will alternately read theorists, watch films, read novels, listen to music, establish the ambience of place, but also for entire class-times, go to places in Toronto and explore the meanings of the connections. The course will be argumentative and, I hope, creative. We will, I hope, explore not only the ruins but also the meanings of the ongoing significations. We will place ourselves as students, ‘specialists', voyeurs as the actors, imaginators of practices of which we are only vaguely a part.

Suggestive Reading:

Walter Benjamin - Illuminations, Selected Writing
Andre Malraux - The Voices of Silence
Michel de Certeau - The Practice of Everyday Life
Derek Sayer - The Coasts of Bohemia
Michel Leiris - Rules of the Game
Henri Lefebvre - Everyday Life in the Modern World
Mikhail Bakhtin - Rabelais
Naoki Sakai, Subjectivity and Translation

Thursdays: 5:30 - 8:30

Grading: One essay, or the equivalent (CDROM, Video, etc)


This is a suggested outline for this course, taught as a half-course in the Fall-Term, 1999. (The Numbers refer to the sequences of the classes).

1 & 2: Introduction: The Spaces of Place. The phenomenological language of being, moving, looking, connecting, eating, playing, consuming, etc in the city: Simmel, Benjamin, Lefebvre, de Certeau, Leiris.

3: The language of body & class, of race, of belief: Mikhail Bakhtin

4: Andre Malraux, Michel Foucault, Guy Debord, Clifford and the objectification of being.

5, 6, 7: The literary sense of space, time, narrative, presence: Joyce, Calvino, Walcott, Kafka, Berger, Rushdie, Ann Michaels

8: Traveling Bodies: the saga of Mami Wata

9, 10, 11: Three Cities. Dublin, Berlin, Prague

12: Exploring Toronto: (i) the Skydome and its neighborhood

13: Exploring Toronto: (ii) Museums

14: The physical contours of the everyday and John Berger's sense of the presence of history

Ioan Davies. I. ix. 1999

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Send comments to: Ioan Davies

Professor of Sociology and Social and Political Thought,
York University, 4700 Keele Street, North York (Toronto), Ontario, Canada, M3J 1P3