Radical Imaginaries

A conversation with Gabriel Rockhill and others on transformative politics and aesthetics


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Politics / Economics

Organizing Institutions



Jean-Michel Rabaté

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to announce Radical Imaginaries, a conversation with Gabriel Rockhill and others on transformative politics and aesthetics. The conversation will take place on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 from 6:00-8:00pm and will bring together scholars in political theory, intellectual history, comparative literature and aesthetics.

Rockhill's two books, Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy (2017) and Interventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics (2017), frame this conversation and propose new theoretical coordinates for understanding the contemporary. Counter-History of the Present questions the widespread belief that we are living in a democratized and globalized era connected by a single economic and technological network. Tracing this belief to the oppressive dynamics of neoliberalism, global capital, and technico-democracy, Rockhill argues that it fails to account for the experiences of billions of people around the world. He instead puts forth a counter-history that resists the narratives of this imperial mission and develops a new grammar for historical and political imaginaries.

Interventions in Contemporary Thought is a collection of essays that rethink the state and stakes of contemporary theory. Resituating theoretical work against discourses of culture and power, Rockhill develops an alternative historical model for understanding intellectual developments. The model dismantles the sequential historical narrative from Foucault's structuralism to Derrida's post-structuralism and reassesses the work of Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou, and Cornelius Castoriadis. The book seeks to modify the framework for thinking about the historical relation between aesthetics and politics.

read more

Gabriel Rockhill is a philosopher, cultural critic and public intellectual who teaches at Villanova University and directs the Atelier de Théorie Critique at the Sorbonne. In addition to numerous essays and public opinion pieces, he has written and edited nine books on issues ranging from aesthetics and politics to historiography and contemporary theory.

Warren Breckman is the Rose Family Endowed Term Professor of modern European intellectual and cultural history at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Karl Marx, the Young Hegelians, and the Origins of Radical Social Theory (Cambridge, 1999) and Adventures of the Symbolic (Columbia University Press, 2013). He has also published articles on the history of philosophy and political thought, consumer culture, modernism, and urban culture.

Antonio Vázquez-Arroyo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University. His interdisciplinary research engages contemporary political questions in reference to the history of political thought. He has written on Theodor W. Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, liberalism and neoliberalism, the intersections between catastrophes, violence, and political life, and US imperialism. His book, Political Responsibility: Responding to Predicaments of Power, was published in 2016.

Jennifer Ponce de León is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on intersections between radical left politics and contemporary cultural production. Her writings have appeared or are forthcoming in American Quarterly, Live Art in L.A. and e-misférica. She is currently completing Radical Politics Across the Arts of the Americas: Engagement & Experimentation in the New Millennium. The exhibition currently on display at Slought, Resurgent Histories, Insurgent Futures, is related to the research for this book.

Jean-Michel Rabaté is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. One of the founders and curators of Slought Foundation in Philadelphia, he is a managing editor of the Journal of Modern Literature. Rabaté has authored or edited 38 books on modernism, psychoanalysis, contemporary art, philosophy, and writers like Beckett, Pound and Joyce. Recent books include The Pathos of Distance, Think, Pig! Beckett at the limit of the human, and Les Guerres de Derrida.

"Man [...] has forgotten how to hope. This hell of the present is at last his kingdom."

— Albert Camus