A four-part seminar with Ross Douthat

What is decadence? Does our civilization qualify as decadent? Can decadence be sustainable? Can it be escaped without catastrophe? An investigation of these and other questions, covering the political economy, popular culture and ideological situation of our possibly-decadent age.

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Meeting 1: The Concept of Decadence

Thursday, February 8


Jacques Barzun, Prologue to From Dawn to Decadence

Robert Nisbet, "Golden Ages" from Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Chapter 16 (online at Huxley.net)

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Meeting 2: The Political Economy of Decadence

Thursday, February 22


Robert Gordon, "Is Economic Growth Over?"

Peter Thiel, "The End of the Future"

David Graeber, "Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit"

Tyler Cowen, "The Complacent Class and Its Dangers" (from The Complacent Class)

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Meeting 3: The Culture of Decadence

Thursday, March 29


Mark Lilla, "The Truth About Our Libertarian Age"

Nicholas Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"

Mark Harris, "Are We At Peak Superhero?"

Kurt Anderson, "You Say You Want a Devolution?"

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Meeting 4: Life After Decadence

Thursday, April 12


Ben Kunkel, Introduction to Utopia or Bust

Nick Land. "A Quick and Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism"

Elon Musk, "Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species"