Current Offerings

FALL 2021


PHIL 5050.002 | Dr. Michael Kelly | (100% online, asynchronous learning)

‘Aesthetics’ is as old as philosophy, though its modern disciplinary form emerged in the 18th century. After discussing some classical modern texts, we’ll focus on Black Aesthetics, which has a long history but which has taken on a new vibrancy and relevance in the last few years. What is Black Aesthetics, a question that philosophers, artists, and others answer in many different, mostly complementary ways? Black Aesthetics entails a critique of modern aesthetics because of the racism (colonialism and sexism) in its conceptual foundations. Is it also a new form or mode of doing aesthetics? Might this new form also be an invitation and a challenge to the rest of contemporary aesthetics to rethink what it’s doing and thinking? We’ll read Hume, Kant, Gikandi, Douglass, Du Bois, Davis, Morrison, Baraka, Lorde, Taylor, and more.

Caribbean Philosophy

PHIL 5050.001| Dr. Eddy Souffrant | Monday 2:30–5:15PM (100% online, including some synchronous learning)

We shall consider the nature of Caribbean Philosophy and explore its critical and expansive aspects with the works of Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé, Frantz Fanon, Édouard Glissant, Jean Price-Mars, David Scott, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, and Sylvia Wynter.

Religious Experience

PHIL 5050.090| Dr. Will Sherman | Monday 5:30–8:15PM (face-to-face)

How are we to understand accounts of extraordinary dreams, visions of angels, out of body sensations, and other religious experiences that may seem bizarre and impossible? This question has motivated a number of philosophers and scholars of religion, and the concept of “religious experience” has been central to a debate about how we define and think about religion. This course will introduce us to a number of approaches to religious experience: William James’s pragmatism, phenomenology from Merleau-Ponty to Sara Ahmed, literary approaches, neuroscientific explanations, and historical critiques of the very notion of experience. Along the way, we will encounter a wide array of narratives of religious experiences, ranging from medieval mystical visions to contemporary sightings of UFOs.

Biopsychosocial Health

PHIL 6050.091 | Dr. Shannon Sullivan | Tuesday 1:00–3:45PM (face-to-face)

How is human health transactionally constituted by biological, psychological, and social factors? "Transactional" here means that the bio, the psycho, and the social of biopsychosocial health are not separate and additive, but instead co-constitute each other in dynamic ways. This course will examine these questions both philosophically and empirically/psychologically. It will be team-taught (with Dr. Jeanette Bennett of the Department of Psychological Science) and cross-listed with the PhD program in Health Psychology. The course will examine empirical and applied research pertaining to the promotion and maintenance of health, the prevention and treatment of illness, and the examination of health behaviors. We will focus particularly on the impact of stress on health. Throughout the course, we also will ask meta-questions about what counts as "good health" and how, for example, that concept often is implicitly shaped by social dynamics related to white privilege, male privilege, and class privilege. While the empirical readings will emphasize the biological underpinnings of health, students in PHIL 6050 are not expected to be or to become experts in analyzing or conducting empirical studies on health, as Health Psychology students might be. The assignments for PHIL 6050 students will include an in-class presentation and leading discussion on the day’s readings, plus a final term paper in which each student researches philosophically a health-related topic with the benefit of their new understanding of empirical studies related to biopsychosocial health.

Theories of Resistance

PHIL 6050.002 | Dr. Elisabeth Paquette | Tuesday 5:30–8:15PM (100% online, including some synchronous learning)

Taking as its starting point the conception of “being human” developed in the work of decolonial theorist Sylvia Wynter, we examine the relation between dominant conceptions of the political subject-human and structures of knowledge production, as well as the impact such conceptions have in the contemporary context. Doing so provides a framework for theorizing the tools necessary for resisting dominant and oppressive structures that operate through a process of dehumanization. We will also consider the ways in which cartography and archives broadly construed operate either as perpetuating dominant structures, or as creating resistant terrains in the works of Katherine McKittrick, C. Riley Snorton, and Tiffany Lethabo King respectively. The course culminates in the development of a collective and nuanced account of Wynter's conception of ceremony, as the foundation for liberation in the 21st century. 

Philosophical Methods & Analysis

PHIL 6120.001 | Dr. Ruth Groenhout | Monday 2:30–5:15PM (hybrid)

This course is an introduction to the various methods of doing philosophy, examining both the various philosophical traditions as well as the reading and writing skills necessary for success in a philosophy graduate program. Because the MA program at UNC Charlotte is an Applied Philosophy program, the focus of this class will be on significantly different approaches to various applied issues in philosophy, beginning with historical approaches, the analytic/continental divide, and concluding with alternative approaches that fall outside these three major categories. Members of the department will also visit the class, to introduce their approaches to these various methods as well as their analysis of specific issues in topics such as health care ethics, feminist theory, Africana philosophy and other prominent approaches.

Feminist Theory and Its Applications

PHIL 6320.001 · Dr. Emek Ergun · Wednesday 5:30–8:15 (100% online, including some synchronous learning)

This graduate-level course is an interdisciplinary and transnational survey of the diverse body of feminist theories that analyze gender as a performative social construct in its intersections with other structures of power such as race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nationality, ability, and religion. That is, our examination of gender takes a relational and intersectional approach. Conceptualizing feminism as a plural and heterogeneous political platform, the course examines the significant conversations and debates in contemporary feminist theory. Students engage with foundational and cutting-edge works by a transnational body of feminist thinkers, analyze the theoretical perspectives they propose, discuss the commonalities and differences between them, and situate them within a wider social/historical/intellectual terrain. The readings are not always in agreement with each other, but they are drawn together by their joint search for answers to the causes and consequences of gender differences, hierarchies, inequalities, and injustices. Throughout the course, we will consider the relationships between feminist theories, contemporary women’s movements, and other political movements. We will also examine our own assumptions, those of the theorists, the explanatory power and limits of their perspectives, and the relationship between feminist thought and practice. Following the organization of our textbook, Feminist Theory Reader, which will be supplemented by some outside readings, the course is divided into four thematic units: (1) Theorizing Feminist Times and Spaces; (2) Theorizing Intersectionality and Difference; (3) Theorizing Feminist Knowledge and Agency; (4) Imagining Otherwise / Solidarity Reconsidered.

Master's Research Paper

PHIL 6999.001|Dr. Gordon Hull | Wednesday 12:30–3:15PM (100% online, including some synchronous learning)

Students begin with a previously submitted course paper and spend the semester revising it. The goal is for each student to produce a polished, professional paper worthy of submission to a philosophical journal. Additional reading and research on the topic is conducted, and multiple steps of revision and presentation of work in progress to the class are included.