Modes of Inquiry

Curse blog

SUA T.C-T Fall 2017 INQUIRY 100-03 (8055)

Office: Maathai 414. Office hours by appointment

Course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Gandhi 303B

MODES Inquiry online

We must compel the “frozen circumstances to dance by singing to them their own melody”

Karl Marx, “Toward the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law”

This course examines the various ways of studying, knowing, and understanding information and experience.  Specifically, we will examine how knowledge is developed in different areas of study.

Modes of Inquiry focuses on the AXIOMATIC (or formal deductive), PHILOSOPHICAL, HISTORICAL, OBSERVATIONAL (or empirical), IMAGINATIVE EXPRESSIVE, and INTERPRETIVE paradigms of discovery and understanding.  All parts of this course use modes of inquiry to explore selected topics and issues.

This course will help students approach the rest of the curriculum with a critical sense of the varying ways that knowledge and understanding are conceived and used by different disciplines.  When investigating problems and articulating insights, students will be able to choose among and combine different modes of inquiry.  Students will be able to understand the assumptions and limitations that underlie the various ways of inquiring used within disciplines, see that certain problems require using certain modes of inquiry, see that intellectual problems often require the use of many modes of inquiry, seeing the delineation and commonalities among the various modes of inquiry.

Course Objectives

Inquiry is the process of exploring questions.  Inquiry does not necessarily imply the finding of answers to those questions.  As we will discover, absolute answers, fact, or truth is elusive.  During the past two or three thousand years, humanity has developed a variety of different approaches to inquiry.  Some approaches are more suited to certain questions; some approaches are more suited to different questions.  These approaches have persisted and developed because they have been successful (to a greater or lesser extent) in fostering discovery and communication.  A person of broad education and intellectual breadth is distinguished by their ability to understand and use many different modes.

In this course, we will explore some important questions that humans have always asked. We will study SIX important modes or methods by which they have explored these questions.

  1. Axiomatic Inquiry:

This involves the method of argumentation, using inductive and deductive reasoning, logic, step by step reasoning and critical thinking. What counts as a good argument?  What is the format of an argument?

  1. Philosophic Inquiry:

This involves thinking about deep theoretical questions such as, What is reality? What is good? What is knowledge? What is reason? What are ethics?

  1. Observational/Scientific Inquiry:

This section deals with a presentation of some scientific paradigms and some critiques of science in general.  How do we come to understand the empirical world?  What is the substance of reality? What is the mechanism behind events? What can we observe? What can we measure?  Is objectivity possible?  What has been left out of the sciences?

  1. Historical Inquiry:

This section covers how we can look at history.  What happened in the past? How do we create the past?  What does the past have to do with how we view the world now?

  1. Interpretive/Social Scientific:

This inquiry focuses on how it is that we view the world and “interpret” our experiences based on our perspectives in the social world.

  1. Imaginative Expressive:

This inquiry involves aesthetic contemplation of things such as art, beauty, and creativity, as well as new and contemporary paradigms for imagining the world.  Additionally, we will discuss what constitutes meaningfulness, and how to know what it looks like when it happens.

At the end of the course, you should have an understanding of the scope of human questioning, and the various ways in which people have tried to find answers to these questions.


  1. To understand the assumptions that underlie the various modes of inquiry used within and across disciplines
  2. To understand that every mode of inquiry has its own strengths and limitations in the exploration of a given question or problem
  3. To be able to sustain a line of argument using one or more modes of inquiry
  4. To be able to articulate the commonalities and/or differences among various modes of inquiry


  • Complete common readings and any additional readings assigned specifically to you. Take notes.  Come to class prepared to raise challenging questions about the readings. Question the interpretative authority of the authors and also of your classmates and professor.
  • Attendance to films screening and participation after.
  •  Daily class reflections: You must buy a pack of flashcards and bring them with you to every class. At the end of each class period, I will give you 10 minutes to reflect on the reading/s and discussion. On your flashcards, please write down a few notes on the topic of discussion and/or transcribe one or two quotes from the readings (make sure you include first and last name of the author, title of the essay or book, and page number).
  • Create and maintain a blog. On your blog, you will write comments about the readings, class discussions, screenings, small assignments or other pertinent materials. You will also be asked to compose a creative piece (short film, music composition, etc.). The blog should be a creative space to share your ideas with others. Feel free to upload videos, music, photographs and links.
  • 3 Short Papers
  • Abstract and outline of your final presentation
  • Final presentation of blog: Blogs should be formatted in such a way that allows for a presentation in the classroom or small auditorium. Prepare an annotated bibliography of 10 sources.Students must have at least one source from each mode of inquiry
  • Final Paper


CR    Common Readings- Every student needs to do the reading and prepare for

class discussion

ARS   Assigned Reading to 1 student: The student who is assigned the reading

must prepare a 10-minute presentation on the reading and prepare to

engage with other readings or films scheduled for that day.


Shelley, M. 2003. Frankenstein.  London: Penguin Classics.

Butler, O. 1979. Kindred. Boston: Beacon Press.


1st WEEK

Thursday, Sept. 7th

Levitin, Daniel J. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload: “Organizing our homes: Where Things Can Start to Get Better.” (CR) 36 pgs

Harvey, David. “On Contradiction” “The Moving Contradictions: Technology, Work and Human Disposability”.  Seventeen contradictions and the end of Capitalism. (CR) 11 pgs.

Watts, Alan W. The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness [selection, copy provided in class]. (AR) 3 pgs.

2nd Week

Tuesday, Sept. 12th

Freire, Paulo. “Society in Transition”. Education For Critical Consciousness.  (AR)

McAllister, Matthew. “Consumer culture and new media: commodity fetishism in the digital era”. Media Perspectives for the 21st Century. (CR)

FILM: Joe’s Violin by Kahane Cooperman 24 min.

Assignment: Create your blog and write your first entry by Sunday!

Thursday, Sept. 14th

Slouka, Mark. “Listening for Silence: Notes on the Aural Life”.  Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. (AR)

Hegel, G.W.F. The Phenomenology of the Spirit. “Self-consciousness: The Truth of Self Certainty” and “Freedom of Self-Consciousness: Stoicism, Scepticism, And The Unhappy Consciousness” [selection]. (CR)

Ollman, Bertell. “Putting Dialectics to Work: The Process of Abstraction in Marx’s Method” (selection) (AR)

Deep Listening exercise [in class]

Opening Art Show Soka University Gallery: Artists Sebastián Chillemi and Pablo Salvadó.  Sleeping in the Forest. Dreamscapes of nature and society. Reception: 5:30- 7:30 p.m.

3rd Week

Tuesday, Sept. 19th

Marx. “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”. The Marx-Engels Reader. [selections]. (CR)

Stockfelt, Ola. “Adequate Modes of Listening”. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. (AR)

How Does a Turntable Work? 3 min

Assignment:  Second entry in your blog is due by Sunday!

Thursday, Sept. 21st

Brecht, Bertolt. Galileo. (CR) Scene 1 to 8.

Brecht, Bertolt. “The Epic Theater and Its Difficulties”. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. (AR)

Galilei, Galileo. Octavo: Sidereus Nuncius. (AR)

4th Week

Tuesday, Sept. 26th

Brecht, Bertolt. Galileo. (CR) Scene 9 to 13.

Manovich, Lev. “Principles of New Media.” The Language of New Media. (CR) 22 pages.

Thursday, Sept. 28th

Vertov, Dziga. “The Council of Three”, “The Birth of Kino-Eye”, “The Essence of Kino-Eye”, “On the Organization of a Creative Laboratory”, “The Man with A Movie Camera.” [CR]

FILM: Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera [selection]

Deep Listening Exercise [in class]

SUA Community Cinema:  Presents Last Men in Aleppo, by Feras Fayyad. Pauling 216 7 p.m.

Assignment: Third blog entry- report on “Deep Listening Exercise” is due by Sunday!

5th WEEK

Tuesday, October 3rd

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein [first half of the novel] (CR)

Thursday, October 5th

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein [second half of the novel] (CR)

Halberstam, Judith. 1995. “Making Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”. Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters. (AR)

6th WEEK

Tuesday, October 10th

Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception (CR)

Reich, Steve. It’s Gonna Rain. [recording]

Hugh Le Caine “Dripsody” [recording]

Stockhausen “Gesang Der Junglinge” [Song of the Youths] [recording]

The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” (1966) [recording]

Thursday, October 12th

Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception (CR)

FILM: Magic Trip (2011) [film selection screened in class]

Eisler, Hanns and Theodor Adorno. “The Politics of Hearing”. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. (AR)

Assignment:  Fourth blog entry is due on Sunday!

7th WEEK

Tuesday, October 17th

Dery, Mark. Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture: “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate and Tricia Rose.” (AR)

RECORDING: Sun Ra and His Arkestra, Jazz In Silhouette.

Thursday, October 19th

FILM: The Last Angel of History by John Akomfrah (45 minutes)

SUA Community Cinema: Presents Shalom Italia by Tamar Tal Anati  Community Cinema, 7

p.m. Puling 216

Assignment: FIRST SHORT ESSAY is due on Brightspace by midnight on Sunday!!!

8th WEEK

Tuesday, October 24th

Bilger, Burkhard. “The Possibilian”. The New Yorker. 4/25/2011 (CR)

FILM: The Brain with David Eagleman: What is reality? BBC.

Malabou, Catherine. What Should We Do with Our Brain?: “The Central Power in Crisis.” (AR) 23 pgs.

Thursday, October 26th

FILM: The Last Angel of History, dir. John Akomfrah (1996) 45 min.

RECORDING: A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

Assignment: Fifth blog entry is due on Sunday! Brief description of your final project.

9th WEEK

Tuesday, October 31st

Fanon, Frantz. “The Fact of Blackness”. Black Skin, White Masks. (CR)

Assignment: SECOND SHORT essay is due!


Thursday, November 2nd

Fanon, Frantz. “The Fact of Blackness”. Black Skin, White Masks. (CR) (discussion continues)

Class discussion of final projects!

Community Cinema Presents: Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary by John Scheinfeld. Pauling 216 7 p.m.

10th WEEK

Tuesday, November 7th

Cage, John. “The Future of Music: Credo”. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. “Silence.  (CR)

Oliveros, Pauline. “Some Sound Observations”. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. (AR)

RECORDINGS: Carlos, Wendy. Switched on Bach (1968), Sonic Seasonings (1972)

Thursday, November 9th

Szwed, John F. Space is The Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra. (CR)

VIDEO: Sun Ra Night Music (1989)

FILM: Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, by Robert Mugge

Assignment: Albums

11th WEEK

Tuesday, November 14th

Presentation: Albums

Thursday, November 16th

Cage, John. “Lecture on Nothing”.

RECORDINGS: Riley, Terry. In C [recording]

12th WEEK

Tuesday, November 21st

Butler, Octavia E. Kindred First half of the novel (CR)

Thursday, November 23rd


Continue reading Kindred.

13th WEEK

Tuesday, November 28th

Butler, Octavia E. Kindred (CR) Discussion of the novel

Thursday, November 30th

      Discussion final projects

14th WEEK

Tuesday, December 5th

Winter, Alison. Memory: Fragments of a Modern History.

RECORDINGS: Feldman, Morton. Rothko Chapel.

Reynols & Pauline Oliveros. Pauline Oliveros in the Arms of Reynols

SUA Community Cinema Presents: I’m Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck, Pauling 216, 7 p.m.

Thursday, December 7th

Assignment: Sixth blog entry is due by Sunday!!

15th WEEK



Bauman, Zygmunt. 2003. Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bond. New York: Polity.

Bilger, Burkhard.  2011. “The Possibilian.” The New Yorker.

Brecht, Bertolt. 1966. Galileo. New York: Grove Press.

Cage, John. 2004. “The Future of Music: Credo.” Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. London: Continuum.

  1. “2 Pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance.” Silence: Lecture and Writings By John Cage.

Middeltown: Wesleyan University Press. 1961. “Lecture on Nothing”. Silence: Lecture and Writings By John Cage. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Carlos, Wendy.1968. Switched on Bach. [recording]

Chanan, Michael. 1995. Repeated Takes: A Short History of Recording and Its Effects on Music. London: Verso.

Chaplin, Charles. 1936. Modern Times. [film]

Charters, Ann. Ed. 2003. The Portable Sixties Reader. New York: Penguin Compass.

Cox, Christoph and Daniel Warner. Ed.2004. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. London: Continuum.

Eisler, Hanns and Theodor Adorno. 2004. “The Politics of Hearing.” Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. London: Continuum.

Ellwood, Alison and Alex Giney. 2011. Magic Trip [film]

Fanon, Frantz. 1994. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Weidenfeld.

Feldman, Morton. 1991. Rothko Chapel. UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus [recording]

Fjellestad, Hans. 2004. Moog [film]

France, David.2012. How to survive a Plague [film]

Freire, Paulo.1974. “Society in Transition”. Education for Critical Consciousness. London: Bloomsbury.

Frenkel, Nestor.2004. Buscando a Reynol. [film]

Guzman, Patricio. Nostalgia de la Luz [film]

Halberstam, Judith. 1995. Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters. “Making Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Harding, Sandra.2008. Sciences from Below: Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities. “The Incomplete first Modernity of Industrial Society”. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Harvey, David. 2014. Seventeen contradictions and the end of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  1. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hegel, G. W. F. 1977. Phenomenology of the Spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hendy, David.2013. Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening. New York: Harper and Collins.

Huxley, Aldous.1954. The Doors of Perception. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.

Jelin, Elizabeth.“The Minefields of Memory”.

Leary, Timothy. 2003. “Turning on the World.” The Portable Sixties Reader. New York: Penguin Compass.

Marker, Chris. La Jetée [film]

Marx, Karl.1978. The Marx-Engels Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Nancy, Jean Luc.2007. Listening. New York: Fordham University Press.

Oliveros, Pauline.2005. Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice. Lincoln: iUniverse.

Ollman, Bertell.2003. Dance of the Dialectic: Step in Marx’s Method. Urbana: University of Chicago Press.

Reich, Steve. 1965. It’s Gonna Rain [recording]

Reynols & Pauline Oliveros.

  1. Pauline Oliveros in the Arms of Reynols [recording]

Riley, Terry.2009. In C [recording]

Ross, Alex. 2007. The Rest is Noise. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Singer, Peter. 1983. Hegel: A Very Short Introduction. London: Oxford University Press.

Shelley, Mary. 2003. Frankenstein. London: Penguin Classics.

Sterne, Jonathan. 2003. The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Wolf, Tom. 1968. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.



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