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Columbia University The Discourse of The Whore Presentation Script

Create a 6 to 7-minute video presentation in which you provide an analysis and thoughtful response to Claire Nouvet’s essay The Discourse of the ‘Whore’: An Economy of Sacrifice. (Links to an external site.) (Link will open in new tab.)

Keep in mind that I am NOT looking for a summary of the essay (since we are all reading that essay, we all know what Nouvet says, so there’s no need to repeat the same content in your presentation; this is not a book report).

Rather, what I’m looking for is for you to actively and thoughtfully engage with this controversial, fascinating and dizzying essay, and that you do so with intellectual sophistication.

And there are a lot of interesting ideas and themes to wrestle with here. To list just a few of the most obvious ones:

  • The many roles in which language is put to various rhetorical, theological, economic and philosophical uses.
  • The function of “whore” as a kind of catachresis.
  • The various ways in which Nouvet believes Heloise keeps pulling the rug from under our feet.
  • The upending of various hierarchies and relationships: master/slave, lover/beloved, creditor/debtor, etc.
  • The multiple says in which the idea of property reflects various dynamics (as in ownership, what is proper or appropriate, etc.)
  • The multiple inversions of the wife/whore duality.
  • The questioning and collapsing of various other dualities and oppositions.
  • The relationship between the gift and obligation.
  • The ways in which Heloise turns classical and scriptural conceptions into secular ones and back again.
  • Heloise’s subversive ‘perversion’ of classical and liturgical authorities.
  • The various ways in which Heloise identifies disturbing implications for the interaction between love, obligation, freedom, sacrifice, ownership, dependence, respect, glorification, etc.
  • Freedom through submission?
  • The ways in which Heloise masterfully shifts her language in order to slowly and gradually position and check-mate Abelard (the logician!) into… compliance? Repentance? Confession? Contrition?
  • The economy of surplus-value (a conception through which, centuries later, Marx will criticize capitalism).
  • Aspasia’s ultra-philosophy in which Heloise introduces a distinction between philo-sophia (the love of wisdom) from wisdom itself.
  • The problematic of ‘being’ and ‘having.’
  • The subtle and complicated ways in which Heloise wrestles with the Euthyphro dilemma of love.
  • Love as disinterested?
  • The differences between Abelard’s scholastic rhetoric vs Heloise’s courtly rhetoric.
  • Self-renunciation as self-glorification?
  • Etc.

This assignment is not really about your own personal opinion about the Couvet essay. Rather, it’s about how well you can defend whatever thesis it is that you want to establish in your response to her essay. As such, what should be driving your project is the evidence, reasons and arguments that you can muster in order to create a coherent picture that should help your audience better understand how to understand the story of Heloise & Abelard.

I will do the video presentation you just create the script for me.

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