The Project Year – Interview with student Pranab Singh (2006)

Pranab Singh
Pranab Singh

Apart from the Academy Year (AY) programme, the Project Year (PY) is yet another experience that students can have here at ECLA. With a unique curriculum, structure and goals, the PY is certainly an interesting subject. With the aim of presenting this programme through the eyes of one of its students, I talked to Pranab Singh, a PY student from Nepal, about his current project.

As Pranab describes it, the PY is different from the AY in that it has no lectures and at the end of the academic year students present individual projects. For the first term the curriculum focused on Freud, while the second will be devoted to the theme of Innocence and Experience with poetry readings alongside Dostoevsky. The third term is the time to actually write the academic papers, after having chosen a topic and submitting the proposal in the Fall and deciding on methodology and conducting research during the Winter. Pranab has already decided on his approach. He is interested in aesthetics; however, he prefers to address this by focusing on what beauty is and not necessarily stopping at a philosophical approach. With this in mind, the readings on Freud brought him a new perspective on beauty, different from what philosophers argue. Pranab aims even further: “I’ll try to discuss beauty in any aesthetic experience, in terms of advertising, commercialization of beauty and lifestyle”.

Pranab intends to pin down the ideas of aesthetics and apply them to current realities. First on his reading list is Plato’s Symposium, which he was able to learn about by also attending the AY lectures, followed by Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Comparatively, they should aid him in first shaping “a coherent idea of beauty, starting from the fact that much of how beauty is perceived has platonic undertones. To the philosophers, there is always something better and greater beyond it”. How Freud can be introduced to the modern man’s aesthetic experience is one step closer to explaining current notions of beauty.

Concerned with applying ancient ideas to the contemporary world, Pranab has chosen to devote his Project Year at ECLA to aesthetics, although other students tackle completely different topics. Their projects include: the issue of authenticity in Heidegger’s Being in Time (Mariel Miranda, USA), historicity in Foucault (Márton  Farkas, Hungary), the psychoanalytical reading of a novel (Miriam Gagoshashvili, Georgia), the close reading of Aristotle’s Ethics in regard to the practical meaning of philosophy (Aurelia Iatco, Moldova), Sergei Eisenstein’s journey through Europe in the 1920’s and his interaction with Berlin’s artistic community (Natalia Ryabchikova, Russia), the use of theatrical elements in films, as found in Lars von Trier’s works (Natalia Roman, Romania) and finally, free verse poetry (Nicole Busse, USA).

By Clara Sigheti (’07, Romania)

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