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Bennie Ricardo Brown



pratt bio 2

Teaching and Past Courses:
While education contains within it certain assumptions about
discipline, education itself should never become a form of punishment
and control. There is nothing romantic about seeing college as a moment
when one can take time to explore concepts and texts that one may not
have after college. This is actually a very practical view of one’s
brief college experience. Unfortunately, we all recognize that the
corporatization of the academy is relentless and the practical value of
education is being lost to the finacialization of our everyday lives.
So, the goal of my courses is to go somewhat against the grain and
allow you some time and space to critically engage concepts and texts
that will challenge many of conventional ideas about ourselves and
society as a whole.

In my courses we usually read ‘primary’ or ‘original’ works rather than
commentaries, so that you can begin to come to your own understandings
and interpretations. All of my courses are only a semester and so can
really only serve as introductions that lay the ground for you to
pursue your own interests in what are extensive and varied bodies of
work. So the primary purpose here is to allow you to begin an
engagement that can fortunately last a lifetime. We examine texts,
visual and audio recordings as artifacts in which past and present
social relations are crystallized – not because they are ‘great works’
but because these authors/works mark changes in our systems of
knowledge and the limits of truth by raising fundamental problems that
the contemporary sciences of life and society seek to address address.
We do this not only through texts, but by examining the expressions of
social relations through images, sounds, and texts.

In a nutshell, the purpose of my courses is not to make you an expert
in a narrow academic field, but to allow you the chance to read, see,
and listen to works that you might be curious about, but did not think
that you had the time and space to study.

My courses, as with my research, fall under three general headings:
Cultural Studies, Sociology, and Critical Theory.

Past Courses:
Cultural Studies
    Introduction to Cultural Studies.
    Controversies in Cultural Theory:
Postmodernism, Science Studies and the Social Text Affair.
    Spaces, Movements, Identities (now
titled Spaces of Power).
    Star Trek: Technologies (co-taught with
Prof. Ivan Zatz).
    Methods of Cultural Analysis.
    Cultural Studies Praxis Course I: From
Work to Text.
    Cultural Studies Praxis Course II:
Siting Culture.
    Introductory Sociology: The Ends and
Uses of Society.
    Sociology and Society: An Introduction
to Sociological Theory.
    Sociology of Music/Sound/Noise.
    Perception and Creativity.
    Political Institutions: State, Civil
Society, and Community.
Critical Theory
    Science and the Origins of Race.
    From Phrenology to Eugenics and the
‘New’ Genetics
    Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud.
    Foucault and Critical Theory.
    Societies of Control.
    The Uses of Terror.
    Marx and Nietzsche (co-taught with Prof.
Sameetah Agha).

My research can be described as critical explorations of the genealogies of
systems of knowledge. The various subjects that I have and am still
exploring all have to do with central questions from Critical Theory:
How is it that we come to desire our own domination and what is the
relation between our domination of nature and our domination of
A list of work is available on my site:

This work includes studies of:
    Materialism from Epicurus to Marx and
    Sociology of Science: Theories and
Systems of Classification of Human Variety in Sociology, Biology, and
    Critical Theory on Authority, Power, and
    Environmental Studies;

Personal Note
I do not write autobiographically, though I am not adverse to remarking
in class on various aspects of my past that might be relevant to our
discussions. I was once asked about this by students putting together
an Institute-wide seminar and wrote this piece for them, which though
the passage of time would lead me to slightly modify, I would generally
still agree with:
‘Diversity and Narrative or Against Autobiography.’

I have use the words ‘I’ and ‘my’ more often in this short description
than in most of my writings combined!

Blogs and Social Media
Until Darwin:


Introductory Lectures on Cultural Studies:


‘Remember that here work
is not for work’s sake but is only a means.’ — G. I. G.

Bennie Ricardo Brown

B.A., Simon’s Rock College of Bard,
Environmental Studies.

Graduate Fellowship in Geography, Syracuse University,
Cultural & Historical Geography.

M.Phil., Ph.D., The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Sociology (with concentration in Cultural Studies).