Thinking with Bad Feelings

Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson

Associate Professor of English; Senior Fellow, Berkeley Institute

Thinking with Bad Feelings

Human life isn’t a safe space–and thankfully so. Bad feelings can lead to good thoughts, and losing one’s temper can be morally productive. This seminar will argue that human reactions like anger, hatred, envy, confusion, frustration, disgust, even guilt can help us attain self-knowledge. We’ll look at moments in literature and philosophy where “dangerous” emotions are seen as sources of real knowledge, including scenes from Homer’s Illiad, a few pages from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, a short essay by James Baldwin, and a few other readings. In our meetings we will talk together about how writers depict uncomfortable feelings and how “bad” feelings can be good and even praiseworthy. All the readings will be short and we’ll re-read them in the seminar together.

Dates: Thursdays on 10.18, 10.25, 11.1, 11.8
Time: 5:30-7:00 PM

Reading schedule:

10/18: Homer, Iliad, Book One. 
10/25: Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, pp. 4-11, 48-59.
11/1: James Baldwin, “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare,” pp. 65-68.
11/8: James Wright, “Saint Judas” and “Son of Judas”.

All readings can be found in the course reader.

Location: 2134 Allston Way

**This seminar is free and open to all UC Berkeley, GTU, and St. Mary’s College students.  For copies of the short readings, please contact director@events.org