Readings in Daoism: The Zhuangzi and Movement

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

This seminar will take a two-pronged approach to The Zhuangzi: the intellectual and analytical reading of the text and the physical and somatic practice of Zhuangzi’s Dao. One of the foundational texts of the Daoist tradition and, arguably, the greatest piece of Chinese literature and philosophy, The Zhuangzi defies all categorization. Instead, it invites readers to probe through its layers of myth, fantasy, jokes, short stories, philosophy, epistemology, social critique, and political commentary. One meeting each week will consist of a slow, careful reading of the text that will allow us to explore the core questions of Zhuangzi’s philosophy: What is being? What is knowledge? What is the nature of human nature? The other meeting each week will explore The Zhuangzi as a manual of practice that focuses on the body as a laboratory of physical knowledge and experience. Here we will explore the kind of movement that is, in Zhuangzi’s terms, both deliberative and spontaneous. This part of the course will be a collaborative experiment with Emily Devine’s improvisation class in the Dance program. No prior experience in dance or philosophy is necessary.