Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Alexandria 2018-2019

“… to begin always anew, to make, to reconstruct, and to not spoil, to refuse to bureaucratize the mind, to understand and to live life as a process — live to become…” -Paulo Freire

In 2013, the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences was founded by scholar Karim Yassim-Goessinger as an autonomous, independent organization that brought together students from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to study various fields of knowledge (mainly arts and culture, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences) in a horizontal, pedagogical set-up highly dependent on discussion-based courses (a method popularized by the Brazilian scholar Paulo Freire). In addition to its year-long study program, CILAS also offers individual thematic courses spanning the four main fields of study, which are open to the public and not restricted to students enrolled in the year-long program. In 2018, myself, Yassim-Goessinger, Batool ElHennawy and Hussain El-Hajj founded CILAS-Alexandria. An offshoot of the original CILAS for the Alexandria community.

Course Example: 

Why Do I Love You?: The Structures of Beauty *Syllabus*

Course Description: "Why do I Love You? (The Structures of Beauty)” is a theoretical course aimed at understanding what gives us the sense that something is beautiful and what this sense has to do with how we understand art. The Enlightenment led to a strict categorization of the beautiful as an autonomous “aesthetic” realm but this severed category was new. This course will look at the development of the “autonomous aesthetic realm” to understand what holds this strict categorization and look at how institutional, neurological, and conceptual structures have contributed to the development of an imaginary realm of autonomous art. We will look at how social, historical, and political context, the development of philosophy, our neurological constitution, and history have affected the way this mysterious sense of beauty moves inside of us. The course will look at the development of the museum and curatorial practices, the big western thinkers on art and beauty, “The Fate of Art” by J. W. Bernstein, the effect of class structures on desire, post-colonial theory, and at what neuroscience has revealed to us about the way the brain understands love and want. We will find ways of communal learning through defining a methodology of collective participation, this could be through rounds of sharing, creating a diagram, exchanging letters to one another, etc. Through the semester we will explore the question: can art show us what is really beautiful?

Closing Exhibition, Khalas *pamphlet*