Kent Summer School in Critical Theory

Kent Summer School in Critical Theory

For PhD students and early career researchers from all critical disciplines. To be held 26 June to 7 July 2017 at the University of London Institute in Paris.


“[A]n intense and amazing experience of interdisciplinary formation”

“[The KSSCT] broke me out of my academic/institutional shell, and re-energized my interest in academia and my doctoral studies”

“[A] phenomenal experience”

“It exceeded my expectations. I expected to be challenged, but I found that I learned more, and was able to contribute more, than I expected. … The two week duration meant that we could get really immersed in the material.”

— From previous participants

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 CampbellTimothy 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. WilliamsPatricia 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 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 PovertyMeans without EndThe Use of Bodies.
  • Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
  • Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward HistoryA 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 TruthThe Government of Self and Others; “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”; Security, Territory, Population; “What is an Author?”; “What is Critique?”; “What is Enlightenment?”
  • Jacques Lacan, AnxietyThe Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960
  • Michael Lambek, ed. Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action
  • Jean-François Lyotard, Driftworks
  • Plato, ApologyLaches
  • 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.