POETIC THINKING

The heedless recklessness or hopeless confusion or complacent repetition of ‘truths’ which have become trivial and empty—seems to me among the outstanding characteristics of our time. What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing.

  

—Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

The heedless recklessness or hopeless confusion or complacent repetition of 'truths' which have become trivial and empty—seems to me among the outstanding characteristics of our time. What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing.

  —Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

ABOUT

POETIC THINKING

is a creative, collaborative platform aiming to nurture scholarly and creative communities. Drawing on existing experience with blogging, it explores new possibilities for the sharing of intellectual and artistic work. Poetic Thinking was developed with the Stanford University Poetic Media Lab at the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) and a revolving team of students.

The project began with the urgent need for community space outside both commercial social media and the classroom. In this immediate context, Poetic Thinking aims to encourage students to write and discuss course materials and new ideas openly. More broadly, Poetic Thinking is envisioned as a platform that can serve any community of learners and creators who wish to remain independent of the demands and abuses, which are often experienced in commercial social media.

Hannah Arendt’s concept of “thinking without a banister,” which emphasizes the importance of free personal and communal reflection, is the formative principle of the Poetic Thinking platform.

Building on Arendt’s idea, the project strives to construct an uninhibited and critical public sphere in which everyone gathers together in an open exchange without “falling over one another.”

In this spirit, expanding the conventional bounds of research papers and ‘academic writing’ is likewise vital to the project. On the Poetic Thinking platform, critical analyses and creative contributions—such as questions, visual art, poetry, video, and other inventive forms of contemplation—are assigned equal importance.

This nonhierarchical approach to different types of practice and diverse modes of generating and sharing knowledge mirrors the project’s egalitarian ethos; above all, the Poetic Thinking platform is designed to cultivate equality, inclusion, and respect.

Poetic Thinking continues to grow with experience, with the contributions of new students, and as new, inspiring pedagogical projects appear.

—Amir Eshel

COURSES

Stanford courses such as “Hannah Arendt: Facing Totalitarianism” and “Myth & Modernity” use the Poetic Thinking platform as a learning and engagement tool.

Stanford courses such as "Hannah Arendt: Facing Totalitarianism" and "Myth & Modernity" use the Poetic Thinking platform as a learning and engagement tool.

HANNAH ARENDT: FACING TOTALITARIANISM

Like hardly any other thinker of the modern age, Hannah Arendt’s thought offers us timeless insights into the fabric of the modern age, especially regarding the perennial danger of totalitarianism. This course offers an in-depth introduction to Arendt’s most important works in their various contexts, as well as a consideration of their reverberations in contemporary philosophy and literature.

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MODERN NOTIONS
OF THE 'HOLY':
HÖLDERLIN, HEIDEGGER, CELAN

This course explores the question, “What may we call ‘holy’ in the modern era?” by focusing mostly on three key writers and thinkers, who “in various ways, and in different times” raised this question: Friedrich Hölderlin, Martin Heidegger, and Paul Celan.
 

 

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WORLD WAR II:
PLACE, LOSS, HISTORY

A consideration of how the Second World War still goes on today in the form of haunted absences and vivid representations. Studying literature and art in detail, the seminar will center on some of the places where those absences and representations gather: Portbou, Pearl Harbor, Auschwitz, Guadalcanal, London, Berlin, Hamburg, Rome, Omaha Beach, Peleliu, Monte Cassino, Hollywood.
 

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MYTH & MODERNITY

This course focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first century German literature and philosophy, forms of aesthetic innovation therein and the manner in which various works confront modern technology, social alienation, and manmade catastrophes and the concept of the future.

 

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FRANZ KAFKA:
LITERATURE
& THE MODERN HUMAN
CONDITION

This class will address major works by Franz Kafka and consider Kafka as a modernist writer whose work reflects on modernity. We will also examine the role of Kafka’s themes and poetics in the work of contemporary writers.

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IN PRACTICE

The Poetic Thinking platform was designed collaboratively by students working with the Poetic Media Lab.

The Poetic Thinking platform was designed collaboratively by students working with the Poetic Media Lab.
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    Phone

    Posted by Ravi Smith ’22 as part of the course “Myth and Modernity” taught in Spring 2020. 

    Posted by Ravi Smith ’22 as part of the course “Myth and Modernity” taught in Spring 2020. 

    Posted by Jason Zhao ’21 as part of the course “Myth and Modernity” taught in Spring 2020.

    Posted by Jamie Leonard ’21 as part of the course “Myth and Modernity” taught in Spring 2020. 

    Posted as part of the course “Myth and Modernity” taught in Spring 2020.

    Posted by Nic Fort ’20 as part of the course “Myth and Modernity” taught in Spring 2020.

    POETIC THINKING TODAY:
    AN ESSAY

    To learn more about the philosophy of the project, see Poetic Thinking Today by Amir Eshel. Available from the Stanford University Press and in German from Suhrkamp Verlag.

    POETIC THINKING would not have been realized without the collaboration of the many Stanford students who have participated over the years. Special thanks are due to Brian Johnsrud, Daniel Bush, Cody Chun, John Coyle, Ravi Smith, Courtney Hodrick, and Amber Moyles as well as the many others who have used the Poetic Thinking platform and contributed to its development.

    Additional thanks and recognition go to the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) and the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. The support of the Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford has also been essential. 

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