On behalf of the academic directors, welcome to the Kent Summer School in Critical Theory 2016. 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 for the second time in 2016, from 13 to 24 June at the University of Kent’s centre in Paris, and we are honoured that this year, Professors Samantha Frost (Illinois, USA), James Martel (San Francisco, USA) and Bernard Stiegler (Centre Pompidou, France) will each lead an intensive two-week seminar.

Last year marked the inaugural meeting of the KSSCT, featuring intensive seminars from Professors Peter Goodrich (Cardozo, USA) and Davide Tarizzo (Salerno, Italy), and guest lectures from Professors Davina Cooper, Geoffrey Bennington and Roberto Esposito. Full information about the 2015 school can be found at the Archive link. We are thrilled that the school is running again in 2016, and 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.

Samantha Frost

Samantha Frost teaches political theory and feminist theory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  Her early research focused on elaborating the philosophical, ethical, and political implications of Thomas Hobbes’s materialist metaphysics, work that took systematic form in Lessons from a materialist thinker: Hobbesian reflections on ethics and politics (Stanford UP, 2008). Subsequently, she worked to articulate how materialist conceptual frameworks transform thinking; this work was most visible in the volume she co-edited with Diana Coole, New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics (Duke UP, 2010).  More recently, she has undertaken training in molecular and cellular biology so as to be able to think more substantively about the materiality of the subject. Biocultural Creatures: Towards a New Theory of the Human (forthcoming Duke UP, 2016) is the beginning of that project.  The University of Kent CCT seminar begins the work of elaborating and extending that ontologically-oriented rethinking of the human.


James Martel

James Martel teaches political theory in the department of political science at San Francisco State University. He is the author of several books, most recently The One and Only Law: Walter Benjamin and the Second Commandment (Michigan, 2014). This course will be based on a book that is forthcoming entitled The Misinterpellated Subject, to be published by Duke University Press. He writes on questions of law, anarchism, political theology, critical race studies, and political theory and philosophy.


Bernard Stiegler

Bernard Stiegler is director of the Institute for Research and Innovation (IRI) at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, a Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmith College in London, and a professor at the University of Technology of Compiègne where he teaches philosophy. Before taking up his post at the Pompidou Center, he was program director at the International College of Philosophy, Deputy Director General of the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, then Director General at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM).

Bernard Stiegler has published widely on philosophy, technology, digitization, capitalism, and consumer culture. His numerous writings include the three volumes of Technics and Time; Acting Out, three volumes of Disbelief and Discredit, two volumes of Symbolic Misery and of Constituer l’Europe, among many others.

Professor Stiegler has a long term engagement with the relation between technology and philosophy; not only in a theoretical sense, but also in situating them as practices within industry and society. He is one of the founders of the Paris-based political group Ars Industrialis, which calls for an industrial politics of spirit and explores the possibilities of the technology of spirit in bringing forth a new “life of the mind”. He has published extensively on the problem of individuation in consumer capitalism, and is currently working on the new possibility of an economy of contribution.

Seminars

Samantha Frost - Matters of perception: objects and materialities of affect

Samantha Frost

This seminar will constitute an experiment in ontological thinking about the human. It will draw on theories of materiality, post-humanism, the environment, affect, feminism, zoosemiosis, and various fields of the life sciences to push against the ideas of subjectivity and politics elaborated in theories of biopolitics. Through our readings and discussion, we will consider how the social and material environments that enter and transform human bodies might be thought as the matters or objects of non-neurological forms of perception. By extension, the response of human organisms to those forms of perception will be considered as specifically material and variously durable forms of affect. Focusing on the materiality of perception and affect and expanding what falls under their rubric, we will explore how to trace linkages between the aspiration to transform lived environments and the possibility of democratic forms of politics.

Indicative Reading List
Selections from works by Giorgio Agamben, Stacey Alaimo, Georges Canguilhem, David Chamovitz, Mel Chen, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Philippe Descola, Roberto Esposito, Alexander Galloway, Felix Guattari, Tim Ingold, Eduardo Kohn, Hannah Landecker, Becky Mansfield, Jose Munoz, Michel Serres, Michael Taussig, Jacob van Uexkull, Alexander Wehiliye, and Elizabeth Wilson.

James Martel - How to be a bad subject: misinterpellation and the anarchisation of the soul

James Martel

In Plato’s Republic, we are told that there is an analogy between the City and the Soul, that our interiority is as multiple and potentially disharmonious as the collectivity that forms the polis. Nominally, the purpose of the Republic is to produce an order that controls and regulates this potential anarchism. We are told that the philosopher king must rule the city and that reason must rule the soul. On the collective level, this advocates for some kind of archism; some rule or command, however benign or all-knowing the leadership. On the individual level, this amounts to a form of interpellation (as defined by Louis Althusser) that produces a form of subjectivity that is indeed subject, for being under the command of a central authority. Thus, as law is produced in the community, a subject is produced who is ready to obey and internalize that law. In this course, we will examine a way to subvert and complicate this form of authorization, a way that allows the anarchist subject—the intended object of interpellation—to resist that process via an operation that could be called misinterpellation.

The key theorist for this course will be Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche provides both a critique of the contemporary subject and a means by which to subvert and destroy that subjectivity. In part, he does this through his own radical take on theology. Because for Althusser the original subject (and source of interpellation) is God, a critical theology is required to address the occult theology that underlies the political subject. By providing us with a figure like Zarathustra, who appears messianic but who refuses to save (i.e interpellate) the subjects that he encounters, Nietzsche goes to the heart of the interpellating process and negates it. Nietzsche also offers a sense of what the subject is (if we can continue to use that ambiguous word) after she emerges out of the failure of interpellation. For Nietzsche, the subject is always multiple, always in conflict with herself. Yet rather than seeking to overcome this complexity in favor of some imposed harmony, Nietzsche welcomes that multiplicity as constituting the very self that the process of interpellation seeks to colonize and control.

We will examine texts by Nietzsche, Kafka, Benjamin and Fanon, in order to look at how interpellation can be resisted in ways both theological and political, as well as what understandings of subjectivity emerge when that great organizing principle of the self is disrupted. We will ask whether such individuals remain subjects of the law, or what law becomes when it is not correlated with interpellated identities. That is, we will learn what law becomes when it is anarchized, both at the level of the collectivity and the individual.

Indicative Reading List
Plato The Republic
Kafka Parables
Benjamin Critique of Violence
Althusser, Ideology and the State, in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays
Jacques Ranciere, On the Theory of Ideology: Althusser’s Politics, in Althusser’s Lesson
Judith Butler, The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection
Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals and Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Machiavelli, The Discourses
Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Bernard Stiegler - From German ideology to the Dialectic of nature:
 Reading Marx and Engels in the age of the Anthropocene

Bernard Stiegler

This course will be dedicated to an interpretation of Marx’s and Engels’s philosophy of technics in the light of phenomenological (Husserl and Heidegger), post-phenomenological (Derrida, Simondon), anthropological (Leroi-Gourhan, Merlin Donald) and scientific questions – mainly thermodynamics and biology according to theories of entropy and negentropy (Schrödinger).

The aim of the course is to reconsider the contemporary forms of capitalism in the light of what will be described as a general organology, itself constituting the political question of a “pharmacology” (in the Derridean sense of the word “pharmakon”). The Anthropocene is often apprehended as the transformation of anthropogenesis by the capitalist industrial revolution. The process of automation provoked by the digitalization engages an acceleration that we will try to consider according to the concepts of Gestell and Ereignis, interpreted with the help of Rudolf Bœhm’s analysis.

Indicative Reading List
Marx and Engels, German ideology
Engels, Dialectic of nature
Husserl, The origin of geometry
Heidegger, Time and being
Heidegger, Identity and difference
Leroi-Gourhan, Gesture and speech
Merlin Donald, Origin of the modern mind
Schrödinger, What is life?

Lectures

Samantha Frost - Ten theses on the subject of biology and politics

More information coming soon

Samantha Frost

Iain MacKenzie - Critique in an Age of Indifference

Dr. Iain MacKenzie is Co-Director of the Centre for Critical Thought at the University of Kent, and Senior Lecturer in the department of Politics and International Relations. His work centres on the idea of critique as a form of practical, theoretical and creative activity that reaches beyond the indifference that necessarily results from the mere to-and-fro of opinion. Regarding the classics of modern political thought and the contemporary classics of feminist political theory as rich sources of inventive, conceptually challenging and analytically powerful critical material, Dr MacKenzie’s work aims to bring this archive to bear upon contemporary social and political life. His books include The Idea of Pure Critique (2004, Continuum), Politics: Key Concepts in Philosophy (2009, Continuum), and, with R. Porter, Dramatizing the Political: Deleuze and Guattari (2011, Palgrave).

James Martel - Unburied Bodies: Sovereign power, human rights and the subversion of the corpse

There are in numerous examples, both in literature and real life, where a dead body, perceived to be an enemy of the state, is left unburied, unattended to and in plain sight. Recently in the United States, we have the example of Michael Brown left dead in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. In literature, there is the famous example of Polynices, left unburied by his uncle Creon in the play Antigone. Normally such a display is seen as a sign of the state’s power, its contempt for its enemies, and an example of the state’s trampling of human rights (which are in turn seen as a bulwark against this kind of power). In my talk I will make a different claim; that in leaving bodies unburied, the state is demonstrating not its strength but its vulnerability. Working off Walter Benjamin’s insight that the corpse is the body when it is freed from projections of identity and agency, I argue that the unburied body possesses a subversive power, a power to break with projection of state authority and interpellation. Rather than argue that this is a vindication of human rights, I will argue that the very idea of human rights partakes in the language and imagery of sovereignty, a projection which is equally resisted by the dead body as the idea of absolute state power. The unburied body offers an opportunity to see the state at its most vulnerable. it shows the counter power of human beings, not as bearers of universal principles and rights (of which the state is then necessarily the protector) but of their own agency, their possession of an anarchic power that is visible each time the state shows both its contempt for its victims and its inability to project beyond a body that is animated by its own phantasms.

James Martel

Bernard Stiegler: Questions of neguanthropology

More information coming soon

Bernard Stiegler

Venue and Timing

The KSSCT will be held 13 to 24 June 2016 at the University of Kent’s centre in Paris, at Reid Hall, 4 Rue de Chevreuse, very close to the Jardin de Luxembourg.

Costs

The fee for the 2016 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

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).

Please email your application documents to kssct2016@kent.ac.uk.

Dates and deadlines

The deadline for applications is 21 March, 2016.

Successful applicants will be notified by 28 March.

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

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message