Quixotic

In weekly Quixotic meetings, students discuss and debate a cultural object (e.g. a piece of writing, an artwork or a performance). In so doing, they expand their understanding of the diverse areas of knowledge that their peers are interested in. Any student can propose a topic for discussion.

We believe in rationality, tea and a barely controlled maelstrom of ideas.

Core Team: Ingrid Stevens, Philip Sänger, Radu Diaconescu

To propose a topic/cultural object for a discussion, to ask to be included in the mailing list, or for other contacting needs, reach out via

ucf.quixotic (at) protonmail.com .

 

Upcoming in the WS 2019/20:

Quixotic #11: Robert Reich’s Saving Capitalism (Thursday 6.02.2020, 15:30, @Alte Uni, Uniseum Meeting Room)
In his book Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, Reich argues that rising economic inequality results in widespread social distrust, which undermines the stability of the very economic system that its beneficiaries rely on. In a far-ranging, methodically constructed series of chapters, he discusses everything from wage inequality to perverse incentives and anti-trust, pleading that the flavour of capitalist dogma that has taken hold in the last decades is far from the only one possible. With decisive action, he believes, capitalism can be made right. (Reading here. Most important pages are marked in the table of contents.)
Chaired by: Radu

 

Past meetings:

Quixotic #1: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes (Friday 25.10.2019, 16:00, @Alte Uni, R01042)
We debut this semester’s Quixotic series with our namesake, discussing on the side of a few fragments from Cervantes’ book. (Reading here. Must be read beforehand.)
Chaired by: Philip, Ingrid and Radu

Quixotic #2: Everything is a Remix (Tuesday 29.10.2019, 16:00, @Alte Uni, last minute change: Uniseum Besprechungsraum, downstairs by the Uniseum entrance and the annoying jingle)
This week at Quixotic, we will watch together the full documentary on creativity, copyright and the media Everything is a Remix (runtime: 38 minutes). It is freely available on the Internet, so you can watch it beforehand as well, if you want to be extra prepared for the conversation.
Chaired by: Radu

Quixotic #3: Ed Snowden’s Permanent Record (Tuesday 5.11.2019, 16:00, @Alte Uni, HS1)
This week at Quixotic, we will discuss excerpts out of Edward Snowden’s recent book, Permanent Record. We will focus on passages in which Snowden discusses the history and purpose of whistleblowing. We will also examine Snowden’s analysis of the role of the people in relation to either authoritarian and democratic governments. We will examine these passages in the light of the US constitution and also consider recent constitution applicability debates, as well as the worldwide relevance of Snowden’s logic through the lens of the global reach of the internet. For context, we have also included passages from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. (Reading here not available anymore. Must be read beforehand.)
Chaired by: Ingrid

Quixotic #4: Musical Appreciation (Tuesday 12.11.2019, 16:00, @Alte Uni, R01036a)
We will be guided through a piece of music (it will be a surprise!) and discuss the context in which it was written, as well as the theory behind the composition.
Update after the fact: We listened to Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Brahms’s 1st Piano Concerto . We also recommend this and this recording.
Chaired by: Philip

Quixotic #5: David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs (Friday 22.11.2019, 16:00, @Alte Uni, Uniseum Besprechungsraum)
This week we’re talking about D. Graeber’s controversial 2013 essay and a few excerpts from the book of the same name, as well as responses to it. Graeber claims that about half of all work that is being done doesn’t really have any purpose and that this has devastating psychological effects on the people who have these bullshit jobs. The excerpts are mostly concerned with the analysis of our paradoxical conception of and relationship with work, which he believes is the reason we as a society are not objecting to the situation. (Readings here and here. Relevant excerpts in the book are marked. Must be read beforehand.)
Chaired by: Johanna

Quixotic #6: Anomalisa (Tuesday 3.12.2019, 20:00, @aka-Filmclub)
This week we’re heading together for a film evening at Aka to watch Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman’s one-of-a-kind stop-motion animation about a man who, alienated by the drudgery of his day-to-day, embarks on a strange journey to discover love and pet peeves. [We’re meeting in front of Alte Uni at 19:15 and going there together. You can also join us there. Be there early, because there might be a line.]
Following the Tuesday screening, we’re going to reunite on Friday at Alte Uni to discuss the movie.
Chaired by: Philip

Quixotic #7: Zardulu (Friday 13.12.2019, 16:00, @Alte Uni, Uniseum Meeting Room)
Despite our best efforts, what is likely to be our last meet-up before Christmas is still pretty holiday-appropriate. We’ll be talking about myths, myth-making and the lure of belief in stories. Our conversation will take its roots from episode 56 of the podcast Reply All, in which the hosts’ discovery that the ‘Selfie Rat’ viral video was a fake leads down a rabbit hole involving an enigmatic NYC-based artist.
(Podcast can be found here. Must be listened to beforehand. You only have to listen to approx. the first 30 minutes, as the rest is on another topic.)
Chaired by: Radu

Quixotic #8: Black Mirror (Thursday 16.01.2020, 16:00, @Alte Uni, R01036a) 
This week at Quixotic, we’re gonna be discussing politics, compromise and humiliation as seen in the first episode of the anthology series Black Mirror, named ‘The National Anthem’. It’s a dark thought experiment attempting to answer a question we’ve all asked ourselves: what to do as British prime minister when a terrorist who has kidnapped a royal demands that you have sex with a pig on live television?
Chaired by: Philip, Ingrid and Radu

Quixotic #9: Normative Analysis of US Taxation (Thursday 23.01.2020, 18:00, @Alte Uni, Uniseum Besprechungsraum)
In their 2019 book, The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay, Saez and Zucman (two Berkeley economists who have collaborated with French economist Thomas Piketty) break down taxes in the United States by category. The four main categories they identify are taxes on wealth, income, payroll, and consumption. We will briefly review the way these taxes are distributed among the different income deciles and normatively analyze tax structure. We will discuss how we think taxes should be distributed, how multinationals should be taxed, and discuss what it means for taxes to be fair. (ReadNormative Tax Analysis – Triumph of Injustice mandatory to read before session)
Chaired by: Ingrid

Quixotic #10: Transforming a World of Data into a World of
Intelligence (Thursday 30.01.2020, 17:00, Aula, KG I)

This week we’re heading together to the Aula, to attend a talk and Q&A session with Annette Green, a high level executive at the SAS Institute, one of the world’s leading software companies. The conversation will revolve around data science, artificial intelligence and the social impact of technology. The talk is part of UCF’s series Academia meets Industry.
Since the event already incorporates a discussion segment, we will not have a further meet-up afterwards to talk about it.
Chaired by: –

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