PHIL 3380-050: Contemporary Continental Philosophy

This summer marks the eleventh year of the Summer Institute in Continental Philosophy. The Summer Institute is a unique initiative of the Department of Philosophy and Humanities, as it is both a course designed for undergraduate students interested in majoring in philosophy and a lecture series open to the public.


May 8, 2023 – August 9, 2023

Professor: Devin Zane Shaw, Ph.D.


Thursdays, 6:30pm–9:20pm

Room: Anvil Office Tower AOT 910/911

Office Hours: By appointment

Summer Institute 2023: Living Existentialism

Course Description

The theme for the Summer Institute in 2023 is “Living Existentialism.”

Existentialism, as it is commonly understood, is a philosophical movement that asserts the centrality of freedom, responsibility, and practical engagement in human endeavors, which had its heyday in post-World War II France. The inner circle of existentialists includes Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus, though Camus rejected the label. There are many other philosophers and writers that could be considered existentialists, such as Boris Vian, Richard Wright, or Maurice Merleau-Ponty. If we expand the geographical boundaries, we could include Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, and Frantz Fanon. Some critics include nineteenth-century European philosophers Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche or novelists such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Franz Kafka as proto-existentialists.

Although the heyday of existentialism has long passed, courses on Existentialism remain popular with college and university students. This has given rise to enough specialization in the field that it is possible to talk about Sartre Studies, Beauvoir Studies, or Fanon Studies. The scholarship on existentialism, however, has been troubled by the fact that a philosophy that is taught as applicable to our lives today has seemingly had no prominent living adherents for decades.

Hence the question, which existentialist scholars commonly ask: are we historians of existentialism, or are we existentialists? Another way to ask the same question is: who is a living existentialist? Many scholars and students cannot answer the question, and while they may have encountered scholarship on existentialism, it would not have been framed as living existentialism.

As a response to this problem, a number of existentialism scholars have consciously sought to embrace existentialism as a living philosophy of freedom, responsibility, and liberation. Lewis R. Gordon, who has embraced the term Black Existentialism, may be one of the most prominent. Manon Garcia’s We Are Not Born Submissive draws on Beauvoir extensively in a contemporary critique of patriarchy. And three editors—LaRose Parris, T Storm Heter, and the instructor for this course—launched a Living Existentialism series in 2020.

We will engage with three authors who are living existentialists: Lewis R. Gordon, Mabogo Percy More, and T Storm Heter. Gordon and More revisit Sartre’s work—especially Being and Nothingness—to develop a critique of racism. Both maintain that there is a continuity between the “early” and “late” Sartre as an antiracist philosophy. At the same time, they present Being and Nothingness as a living document, replete with concepts—such as bad faith and contingency—that illuminate existential antiracist practice. Heter pursues a similar existentialist and antiracist path in his examination of “white listening” to Black and Creole music and theory.

The course will consider the following themes: How is antiblack racism in bad faith? What is the relationship between racism and contingency? How do race and racism—which are both often considered as grounded in what we see—affect how we listen?


Prerequisites: 9 prior credits in Philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Enrolment Requirements: Douglas students who have met the prerequisites can enroldirectly.

PHIL 3380: Continental Philosophy is open to all post-secondary students with 9 credits in Philosophy (or suitable equivalents) and may transfer as third-year credit to universities across British Columbia, including UBC and SFU.

Students currently enrolled in a BC post-secondary institution do NOT need to apply for admission to ϼ in order to take this course. Students mayapply to enrollinto PHIL 3380 by completing and submitting the enrolment form and accompanying documents to Don Reimer, Associate Registrar, as per instructions on the form. All applications will be reviewed by the instructor. Please contact Dr. Shaw with any questions.

Keynote Address

June 22nd, 6:30pm–8:00pm
NW location TBA
“The Africana Existentialism of Mabogo P. More”
T Storm Heter


Mabogo P. More is one of today’s most important existential philosophers. Like no other thinker, More has developed an Africana existentialism rooted in the Black Consciousness philosophy of the South African Anti-Apartheid activist and thinker Steve Biko. In his latest book, Sartre on Contingency: Antiblack Racism and Embodiment, More shows how the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre provides an ontological basis for resisting racism. More’s existentialism is situated and embodied; it draws on the Africana philosophy of Frantz Fanon, the Negritude poets, Lewis R. Gordon, and the anti-Apartheid philosophies of not only Steve Bantu Biko, but also Chabani N. Manganyi.

In this talk, I will explore how More’s Sartre on Contingency fits within the totality of his broader philosophical project of Africana existentialism rooted in the Black Consciousness movement.


T Storm Heter is author of The Sonic Gaze: Jazz, Whiteness and Racialized Listening (Rowman and Littlefield, 2022), and executive editor of Sartre Studies International. He is professor of philosophy at East Stroudsburg University, where he teaches courses in Africana Philosophy, Jewish Philosophy, and Philosophy of Hip-Hop.

A reception will follow the Keynote Address

Required Readings

These required textbooks are available at the ϼ Bookstore:

  • Lewis R. Gordon, Fanon and the Crisis of European Man: An Essay on Philosophy and the Human Sciences (New York: Routledge, 1995). ISBN: 0415914159.
  • Mabogo Percy More, Sartre on Contingency: Antiblack Racism and Embodiment (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538157046.
  • T Storm Heter, The Sonic Gaze: Jazz, Whiteness, and Racialized Listening (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2022). ISBN: 978-1538162620.

It is assumed that participants in the course will have a readily accessible copy of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Additional readings may be supplied on Blackboard in PDF format.

Course Evaluation

1a) Two essays, each worth 35% of the final grade. Essays must follow accepted academic conventions and must each be around 3000 words in length. Each essay must directly address material found in the course texts and must demonstrate some degree of familiarity with secondary literature on its topic. A short essay proposal (no more than 250 words) must be submitted and approved for each essay before students may proceed with their writing.

  • First essay is due no later than June 15th at the beginning of class.*
  • *Unless you want to write about a topic in chapter 5 or 6 in More’s book. Then the paper must be submitted no later than June 22nd. This must be approved in advance.
  • Second essay is due July 27th at the beginning of class.

1b) A short essay proposal (~250 words), worth 5% of the final grade, must be submitted and approved for each essay before students may proceed with their writing.

  • First essay proposal is due no later than June 8th.
  • Second essay proposal is due no later than July 20th.

2) Research discussion, worth 20% of the final mark. This interview should be scheduled with the instructor sometime between August 8th and August 15th. It has no pre-set questions and will generally focus upon philosophical questions which arise out of student’s completed essay work.

Late Assignment Policy

I will accept at no penalty any work that is submitted after the deadline but before I finish grading the submissions from this class that were handed in on time. I only accept late work submitted after I have completed grading on-time submissions for full credit when we have made prior arrangements. I grade late work as I can fit it into my schedule and at a minimum with a 10-percent penalty. If an assignment is handed in more than two weeks overdue without prior arrangement, I may refuse to grant any credit, but I will assess this on a case-by-case basis.

Schedule (Subject to Change) Guest Speakers in Bold

May 11


May 18

Gordon, Fanon and the Crisis of European Man, Chapters 1 and 2

May 25

Gordon, Fanon and the Crisis of European Man, Chapter 3

June 1

More, Sartre on Contingency, Chapters 1 and 2

Guest Lecturer: Charlotte Sabourin

ϼ, Philosophy

June 8

More, Sartre on Contingency, Chapters 3 and 4

Guest Lecturer: Steven Taubeneck

UBC (Emeritus), Philosophy and German

June 15

More, Sartre on Contingency, Chapters 5 and 6

June 22

Keynote Address: T Storm Heter

June 29

More, Sartre on Contingency, Chapters 7 and 8

July 6

More, Sartre on Contingency, Chapters 9 and 10

July 13

Heter, The Sonic Gaze, Chapter 1

July 20

Heter, The Sonic Gaze, Chapter 2

Guest Lecturer: Jovian Radheshwar

ϼ, Political Science

July 27

Heter, The Sonic Gaze, Chapter 3

Guest Lecturer: Bill Angelbeck

ϼ, Anthropology

Aug 3

Heter, The Sonic Gaze, Chapter 4


The Summer Institute for Continental Philosophy is directed by four ϼ faculty, philosophers who have specialized in this area of Philosophy:

Dr. Devin Zane Shaw completed his PhD at the University of Ottawa. He is the author of three books, Philosophy of Antifascism:Punching Nazis and Fighting White Supremacy (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2020),Egalitarian Moments: From Descartes to Rancière(Bloomsbury, 2016) andFreedom and Nature in Schelling's Philosophy of Art(Bloomsbury, 2010). He has also published articles in the area of political philosophy.

Dr. John Bruin received his PhD from Guelph/McMaster with a dissertation on Husserl which was subsequently published by the University of Ottawa Press in 2001 under the titleHomo Interrogans. Dr. Bruin has also published articles on Heidegger.

Dr. Robert Nicholls (retired) completed his PhD at the University of Waterloo in 1988 with a dissertation entitledSense and Existence: Heidegger 1925-29. Dr. Nicholls has published essays on Nietzsche, Husserl and Heidegger, as well as in the areas of literary theory, philosophy of education and Eastern philosophy.

Dr. Mano Daniel (retired) completed his doctorate at the University of Waterloo with a dissertation on the work of Hannah Arendt. He co-edited the bookPhenomenology of the Cultural Disciplines, and has written papers in the areas of environmental sustainability; philosophy of biography; philosophy and public policy; and the nature of apology.

Past Summer Institutes

2022 Philosophy and Social Movements Guest Speaker:Dr. Joan Braune is a Lecturer in Philosophy at Gonzaga University, where she is active in the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies.

Marx and Marxism


Literatures of Commitment: Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre (Cancelled Due to Covid)

Scheduled Guest Speaker: Glen Sean Coulthard (Yellowknives Dene), associate professor in First Nations and Indigenous Studies and the Department of Political Science at UBC, and author ofRed Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition(2014).

Interpreting Nietzsche

Guest Speaker: Robert B. Pippin, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago.

Existentialism and Psychology

Guest Speaker: Andrew Feldmar, Practising Existential Psychotherapist,Vancouver, BC

After Heidegger: a Survey of Continental Philosophy

Guest Speaker: Professor Alan Schrift, F. Wendell Miller Professor of Philosophy at Grinnell College, Iowa

Heidegger's Nietzsche Volumes

Guest Speaker: Professor Patricia Glazebrook, Director of the School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Washington State University.

Heidegger's Essays: Basic Writings

Guest Speaker: Professor Raj Singh, Philosophy, Brock University

Marcuse:One-Dimensional Man

Guest Speaker: Professor Andrew Feenberg, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University

Heidegger's Being and Time

Guest Speaker: Professor Jeff Mitscherling, Philosophy, University of Guelph

Sartre'sBeing and Nothingness

Guest Speaker: Professor Bruce Baugh, Philosophy, Thompson Rivers University