Rogue Thought

A conversation and award celebrating work that is still not altogether accepted as conventional scholarship, research, or even as art


Fields of Knowledge
  • Pedagogy
  • Performance
  • Philosophy / Theory

Organizing Institutions



Aaron Levy, Jean-Michel Rabaté


Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce the Slought Award for Rogue Thought on Friday, December 29, 2006 from 6:30-8:00pm. This year's inaugural award will honor Catherine Liu of the University of California, Irvine, an academic theorist whose work is noted for exceptional creative and intellectual integrity, yet who plausibly remains a rogue practitioner working across various genres and media. The Award for Rogue Thought celebrates work that is still not altogether accepted as conventional 'scholarship' or 'research,' or even as art.

Following the award ceremony and Catherine Liu's acceptance speech (read online), there will be a public conversation about this award and other forms of prestige and accreditation. Jim English of the University of Pennsylvania, will join Marjorie Perloff and Catherine Liu in a consideration of Pierre Bourdieu's challenge "to extend economic calculation to all the goods, material and symbolic, without distinction, that present themselves as rare and worthy of being sought after in a particular formation - which may be "fair words" or smiles, handshakes or shrugs, compliments or attention, challenges or insults, honour or honours, powers or pleasures, gossip or scientific information, distinction or distinctions, etc."

The Award for Rogue Thought has been conceived as a critique of the too-friendly mutuality of the contemporary prize economy, exemplified by the Tate Modern's Turner Prize and the MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program. At the same time, the award also attempts to suggest the possibility of an alternative. Although the recipient is being celebrated for her past achievements, the award is also an investment in the recipient's originality, insight, and potential. The recipient may be a writer, scientist, artist, social scientist, humanist, teacher, entrepreneur, or those in other fields, with or without institutional or academic affiliations.

This event has been organized in conjunction with the 122nd annual convention of the Modern Languages Association (MLA), from December 27-30, 2006 in Philadelphia. Marjorie Perloff, President of the Modern Languages Association and Professor Emerita of English literature at Stanford University, will preside over the award ceremony, with Avital Ronell, Professor of German, English, and Comparative Literature at New York University, presenting the award to Catherine Liu, as well as an honorable mention to Laurence Rickels, on behalf of Slought. The conversation will also feature remarks by Gregg Lambert and Gregory Flaxman, and will be introduced and moderated by Aaron Levy and Jean-Michel Rabaté of Slought. Following the conversation, there will be a reception for the Philadelphia launch of Rrrevolutionnaire: Conversations in Theory, a new collection of critical theory conversations from Slought Books, with an afterword by Catherine Liu.

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"Today the voyou [rogue] sometimes roams the roadways [voies] and highways [voiries] in a car [voiture], that is, when he or she is not stealing it or setting it on fire. Voyous might also, on an international scale, and this gets us right into the problematic of rogue states, be involved in drug trafficking, in parasiting, or actually subverting, as terrorists in training, the pathways of normal communication [voies], whether of airplanes, the telephone, e-mail, or the Web. In a word, of cyberspace."

-- Jacques Derrida, The Rogue That I Am

"The tension between the ever more complete and intimate way that prizes have come to occupy the fields of our cultural activity, and their continuous capacity to provoke our feelings of alienation or repulsion, is a complex one, which the Award for Rogue Thought seeks to explore in a number of different ways. It involves fundamentally the question of art's relationships to money, to politics, to the social and temporal. It involves questions of power, of what constitutes specifically cultural power, how this form of power is situated in relation to other forms, and how its particular logic and mode of operation have changed over the course of the modern period. It involves questions of cultural status or prestige. How is such prestige produced, and where does it reside? (In people? In things? In relationships between people and things?) What rules govern its circulation? It involves, indeed, questions about the very nature of our individual and collective investment in art -- questions of recognition and illusion, belief, and make-belief, desire and refusal."

-- Jim English, The Economy of Prestige

2010 Award for Rogue Thought

December 29, 2009, 7-8pm

Slought is pleased to announce that philosopher Simon Critchley and filmmaker Astra Taylor will share the 2010 Slought Award for Creative Thought. The award ceremony will be followed by a screening of Taylor's unreleased conversation with Critchley, as well as a public conversation between the recipients on the function of public intellectuals in American culture and politics.

Simon Critchley is the author, most recently, of Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance (2007), and The Book of Dead Philosophers (2009). Astra Taylor is the director of Examined Life, and Zizek!.

The event will be preceded by a special screening of "Beginning to End," a virtually unknown and rarely seen video of the great Irish actor Jack McGowran performing selections from Samuel Beckett's plays, prose, and poetry. This version was shot in the Mojave desert in 1971 (color, 58 min), and will be introduced by Charles Goldstein. Following that, there will be a reading of "Love in the South" by Michael Greenberg, followed by conversation with Patricia Gherovici and Judith Feher-Gurewich on his new book Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life.

Related publications

Theorists Avital Ronell, Gayatri Spivak, Anthony Vidler and others explore topics such as revolution, the politics of mourning and the unfilmable in a series of conversations.


Editors Srdjan Weiss, Katherine Carl and Aaron Levy survey perspectives on power and evasion, with essays by Samuel Weber and others on human rights, geopolitical conflict, and sovereignty.

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