Self and Identity in a Postmodern World

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 



Being a “self” in this postmodern, neoliberalized world, as an emerging adult, while studying abroad presents an array of challenges for the development of identity. This course interrogates identity and self in the postmodern era of globalization and neo-liberalism. As we are increasingly globalized and connected, the traditional anchors of self and identity are losing their hold. This course explores some aspects of self and identity focused in particular on the study abroad experience of emerging adults. To start with, we will attempt to explore alternative models to the traditional Cartesian self, in particular examining the notion of the “empty self” that is filled with marketed notions of selfhood, and in the process contemplate whether the self is indeed a unitary, continuous, and coherent entity, or, indeed, is multiple, discontinuous, and contradictory. Using a relational approach to selfhood, we will then explore different facets and contexts in which the self-emerges, such as gender, race, social networking, spirituality, altered states of consciousness, and sexuality. We will explore what it means to be authentic on the one hand, and, on the other, what sorts of traps society and we ourselves erect that lead us down paths of self-deception. The study abroad experience will provide the focal point by which to analyze the different theoretical and conceptual positions explored. Students will be expected to synthesize the different perspectives in an analysis of their lived experience.