On behalf of the academic directors, welcome to the Kent Summer School in Critical Theory 2017. An initiative of the University of Kent, the KSSCT is supported by the Kent Law School and its interdisciplinary Centre for Critical Thought.

We are excited to announce that the school will run from 26 June to 7 July 2017 June at the University of London Institute in Paris, and we are honoured that this year, Professors Timothy Campbell (Cornell, USA) and Patricia Williams (Columbia, USA) will each lead an intensive two-week seminar.

The KSSCT now enters its third year, in previous years having hosted intensive seminars from Professors Samantha Frost (Illinois, USA), Peter Goodrich (Cardozo, USA), James Martel (San Francisco), Davide Tarizzo (Salerno, Italy), and Bernard Stiegler (IRI, Pompidou Centre, France), as well as guest lectures from Professors Davina Cooper, Geoffrey Bennington, Roberto Esposito and Iain MacKenzie. Full information about the 2015 and 2016 schools can be found in the archive links.

We are also pleased to announce that this year we will hold a special roundtable event in collaboration with Sciences Po Law School, on the theme of “Law, Culture, Life and Nature”. More information about this event can be found in the ‘Lectures’ section.

We hope you will be able to join us in Paris this summer!

Maria Drakopoulou and Connal Parsley


We believe it is increasingly important to proliferate and defend spaces for critical thinking in the contemporary academy. Equally important is the maintenance of spaces within the PhD and early career calendar to pursue the kind of academic practice that engenders genuine and sustained intellectual activity.

For two weeks in Paris in June, a small group of junior scholars will work intensively with thinkers carefully selected from year to year, for the contemporary significance of their work and their ability to enrich the ethos of the school. The school has been arranged to create the conditions for an intimate and intensive collaboration between students and teachers, outside the formal institutional frame, so as to bring together participants who may not otherwise encounter each other.

Successful applicants will work with just one of the seminar teachers for the duration of the school, but will also have the opportunity to hear lectures by each of the seminar teachers, in addition to other invited guests. Participants will of course also be able to make the most of the school’s location in Paris.


Timothy Campbell

Timothy Campbell teaches in the Department of Romance Studies at Cornell University, USA. In addition to his translations of Roberto Esposito’s Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy (Minnesota, 2007), Communitas: The Origin and Destiny of Community (Stanford, 2010), and Carlo Diano’s Form and Event, he is the author of Wireless Writing in the Age of Marconi (Minnesota, 2006), Improper Life: Biopolitics and Technology from Heidegger to Agamben (Minnesota, 2011), and most recently The Techne of Giving: Cinema and the Generous Form of Life (Fordham, 2017). Along with Adam Sitze, he co-edited Biopolitics: A Reader (Duke, 2013). He is also the editor of “Commonalities”, a series on political philosophy published by Fordham University Press.


Patricia J. Williams

Patricia J. Williams is a graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard Law School. She is the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University. Her book, The Alchemy of Race and Rights was named one of the twenty-five best books of 1991 by the Voice Literary Supplement; one of the “feminist classics of the last twenty years” that “literally changed women’s lives” by Ms. Magazine; and one of the ten best non-fiction books of the decade by Amazon.com. Other books include Seeing a Color-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1998), and The Search for a Room of My Own (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2004). Her 1988 article, ‘On Being The Object of Property’, remains one of the most cited pieces ever published in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. As a parallel career, Professor Williams has pursued journalism. She has authored hundreds of essays, book reviews, and articles for journals, popular magazines and newspapers. Her award-winning column, “Diary of a Mad Law Professor,” has appeared monthly in The Nation Magazine for two decades.



Timothy Campbell - Attention, Ethos, Life: Practices of the Self in the Contemporary Milieu

Timothy Campbell

Is it possible to think practices of the self that are equal to the challenges of the contemporary milieu? In this seminar, we will attempt to do just that. We’ll begin by sketching the most important features of the contemporary milieu, under the rubric of biopower. Through readings from Foucault, Agamben, and Deleuze (amongst others), we will size up the biopolitical and ethical situation we face, in order to see where fault lines may appear in present day biopower. Doing so will help set the scene for the second part of the seminar, when we’ll consider potential practices of the self across a variety of thinkers and texts, including Foucault’s later lectures as well as works from Kenneth Burke, D.W. Winnicott, Jacques Lacan, Lyotard, and Deleuze; practices that may actually prove capable of confronting biopower today. If we had to find names for such practices of the self, we could do worse than opt for attention and ethos.

Indicative Reading List
Giorgio Agamben, The Highest Poverty; Means without End; The Use of Bodies.
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History; A Grammar of Motives
Judith Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself
Emanuele Coccia, Sensible Life
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
Gilles Deleuze, Foucault
Forti, Simona. The New Devils
Michel Foucault, The Courage of Truth; The Government of Self and Others; “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”; Security, Territory, Population; “What is an Author?”; “What is Critique?”; “What is Enlightenment?”
Jacques Lacan, Anxiety; The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960
Michael Lambek, ed. Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action
Jean-François Lyotard, Driftworks
Plato, Apology; Laches
D.W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality

Patricia Williams - Seeing and Surveillance: Law, culture and notions of justice

Patricia Williams

We live in a visual world.  Yet for law, the printed word is foundational. Emphasis on “the book” in legal culture shapes our notions of what is recognized as legitimate, and what sort of evidence deemed admissible in law.  But just as the moveable printing press stretched the moral, religious, and governmental ligaments of how civilizations were constituted, so we face a radically new technological revolution, grounded in a massive shift from print to pictograph.

The seminar will focus on how visual media contribute to the construction of legal knowledge as well as our sense of fairness and justice. From amateur streaming of police-citizen encounters to CCTV, from selfies to surveillance drones, from biometrics to Google-earth, we live in much-too-interesting times. Community is evolving within newly-imagined topologies of race, gender, identity and phenotype.  Powerfully idiomatic visual–often “viral”–regimes are redirecting our affective relations to concepts of neighbor, neighborhood, nativism, citizenship, alienation and belonging.  We will ask how knowledge and seeing are linked; and how our gaze is directed—whether by cognitive capacity, social force (including tabloidization or terror), or algorithm. We will compare rhetorical conventions in verbal and visual accounts of the same cases. This will include study of the narrative elements of constructing “sides”—how heroes and villains are made, as well as the complexities of truth-telling and neutrality, of incitement, exposure, iconoclasm, and public order.  We will discuss the comparative professional ethics of law and media, including the roles and representational responsibilities of lawyers, legislators, bloggers, photojournalists, filmmakers, cartoonists, graphic artists, politicians, police, and citizen-observers.

Indicative Reading List

Simone Brown, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, Duke University Press, 2015
Colin Dayan, The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons, Princeton University Press, 2013
Diane Dufour, ed., Images of Conviction: The Construction of Visual Evidence, Le Bal, Paris, 2015
Roberto Esposito, Persons and Things, Theory Redux, 2015
Shoshana Felman, The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century, Harvard Press, 2002
Thomas Keenan and Ayal Weizman, Mengele’s Skull: The Advent of a Forensic Aesthetics, Sternberg Press, 2012
Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look:  A Counterhistory of Visuality, Duke University Press, 2011
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, Picador, 2004
Victor Navasky, Naming Names, Hill and Wang, 1980

We will also consider a number of court cases, movies and law review articles



Timothy Campbell - The Comic Self

In this lecture I will use two frames for making sense of Foucault’s notion of care of the self: the comic and the biopolitical, with the latter understood principally in terms of health. For the comic, I employ a (Kenneth) Burkean reading of comedy as corrective in order to read care of the self with and against Foucault, especially where he thinks care of the self and parrhesia together in The Courage of Truth. What does a techne associated with a comic self look like? Once done, I’ll turn to the biopolitical frame to read care of the self as constituted by an immanent notion of health. By bringing comedy and (biopolitical) health together in terms of practices of the self, we can, I hope, begin to pry apart the grip that biopower holds over both care and the self.

Patricia Williams - Litigating without Words: visible apprehensions and the legislation of fear


Roundtable - Law, Life, Culture and Nature

In collaboration with Sciences Po Law School, this roundtable will feature the participation of

  • Professor Louis Assier-Andrieu (Sciences Po, Law)
  • Professor Alain Pottage (LSE, Law)
  • Professor Julie Saada (Sciences Po, Law)
  • Professor Mikhail Xifaras (Sciences Po, Law)

Roundtable - Making Postcolonial Worlds

With the participation of

  • Professor Karin van Marle (Pretoria, Jurisprudence)
  • Dr Emilio Dabed (Columbia, Centre for Palestine Studies)

Venue and Timing

The KSSCT will be held 26 June to 7 July 2017 at the University of London Institute in Paris, at 11 Rue de Constantine, 75007 Paris, France (please note the change of venue from previous years)


The fee for the 2017 school is £850. This amount covers seminar tuition and several drink and lunch receptions. Attendees will cover their own travel, accommodation and subsistence fees. Limited financial assistance will be available in the form of scholarships for a small number of excellent applicants who would otherwise not be able to attend. You can find more details about this in the apply section.


Accommodation to suit a wide variety of budgets can be found at any number of locations in Paris. Applicants may consider looking at the Bureau de Voyages de Jeunesse (BVJ), which has various locations around Paris including one at Opera. Please contact the KSSCT administration using the form below if you would like suggestions for accommodation in Paris.

Applicants must provide

An application letter of no more than two pages, outlining your research and intellectual interests, why you would like to attend the summer school, and which seminar program you would like to attend.

A curriculum vitae (including details of teaching experience and publications, if any).

How to apply

Applicants should navigate to the Paris Summer School form on the University of Kent ‘Summer Schools’ application page, register as an applicant, and proceed according to the instructions.

Dates and deadlines

This year the KSSCT is operating a ‘dual deadline’ system. The first deadline for applications is 27 March, 2017. Outstanding applicants who have applied before this date will be notified in early April, to enable early travel and accommodation bookings. If you apply before this date you may also be notified of success in the second round.

The second deadline is Saturday 29 April, 2017.

All successful applicants will be notified by 8th May 2017.

A non-refundable deposit of £200 must be paid by 15 May to secure a place in the summer school, and the balance of the tuition fee will be due by 31 May.


Who is the summer school aimed at?

The KSSCT is intended for early career researchers and doctoral candidates who are engaged in critically inclined research and thinking in any discipline. In each year, specific scholars are chosen to conduct intensive two-week seminars, and these determine the primary scope and ‘content’ of the school in any one year.

In the past we have also admitted independent scholars and, exceptionally, students who are yet to commence doctoral studies, on the basis of the general strength of their application and the specific correspondence of their interests to one of the seminars.

Can I attend more than one seminar?

No. What makes the KSSCT different from other summer schools is its intense and collaborative nature. Each participant will attend one single two-week seminar, designed by a leading scholar as a coherent project. We are committed to this format, because it enables a more significant and sustained exposure to the work of the teacher, as well as cultivating the personal and affective dimension that is potentially a part of all intellectual encounters.

Each year, there will also be several evening events, such as lectures by invited guests, designed to bring the separate seminars together.

Whose seminar will I attend?

As you will read in the ‘Apply’ section of this webpage, you are required to explain which seminar you would like to attend and why. If your interests extend to more than one seminar, please let us know and you may be offered a place in either one. However, you can only attend one seminar in any one year.

What will my seminar involve? What preparation must I do?

We allow our invited seminar leaders complete freedom to design their seminar. They are given a basic template of two two-hour seminars a day, four days a week, which they can use to pursue a programme of study. This may involve lectures, discussion, close reading sessions, presentations by participants, field trips, or anything else.

You will see an indicative reading list in each seminar description (under ‘Seminars’ on this webpage). Successful applicants will be provided with a more detailed reading list, and any instructions, programme of classes, or other information about preparation required by the teacher.

What if I have missed the application deadline?

In this event, please contact the academic directors, whose email addresses you will find in the ‘Welcome’ section of this webpage. Under exceptional circumstances we may be able to consider a late application.

Is there any assessment or credit certification associated with the summer school?

No. The KSSCT is conceived as a space away from the formal administrative structures of the academy. However, participants have sometimes requested an official confirmation of their participation, which we are very happy to provide.

Must I be there for the whole two weeks?

The KSSCT is founded on a strong commitment to shared intellectual engagement. What makes the KSSCT different from other summer schools is its intense and collaborative nature. Each participant is an active member of a single two-week seminar, designed by a leading scholar as a coherent project. Whilst attendance records are not kept and attendees are free to do as they wish, we strongly recommend that participants give themselves the chance to experience the full benefit of this format.

Why has the KSSCT venue changed this year?

Scheduled renovations at the usual venue, Reid Hall, have made it unviable for the KSSCT this year. We are happy to announce the school will run at ‘ULIP’ (University of London Institute in Paris), at 11 Rue de Constantine, 75007 Paris, France.

Is there fee relief, or any other scholarship opportunities for attendees?

The KSSCT has a strong non-profit ethos. We do not receive corporate funding, and the fees payable are strictly to cover the running costs of the school. However, our budget does include provision for a small number of limited scholarships, available in the form of partial fee waivers.

If you would like to be considered for financial assistance, please also submit a one-page explanation of why this is required. Applicants are also encouraged to be creative in finding supporting funds from their home institution. Consider whether there might be professional development, research support, or ad-hoc funds available to you.

I have a question not listed here, can anybody help me?

If you need general information regarding the summer school, application requirements or process, deadlines, fees, scholarships, venue and so on, please consider the tabbed sections of this webpage.

For all other general enquiries, please use the contact form in the final section.

For all academic enquiries, please contact one of the KSSCT directors whose email addresses can be found in the ‘Welcome’ section of this webpage.

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