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The Future of Theory?

Dialogues on cultural theory, contemporary life, and criticality as a source of enjoyment


Fields of Knowledge
  • Pedagogy
  • Philosophy / Theory


Aaron Levy


Program in Comparative Literature and Theory at the University of Pennsylvania

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "The Future of Theory," a dynamic and participatory event series about contemporary art and life featuring distinguished theorists and cultural critics. The series sought to broadly recast the role of the public intellectual while showcasing innovations in interdisciplinary scholarship. Audiences were invited to assume a critical orientation towards contemporary life, and to consider criticality itself as a source of enjoyment.

The first event in this series took place at Slought in November 2002 and featured Jean-Michel Rabaté and Gregg Lambert in a conversation on the future of Theory. Gregg Lambert's characterization of current theoretical positions around "the event" as a repetition of the hysteric's relation to authority, and Jean-Michel Rabaté's insistence that there is an inherent critical productivity in hysterical questioning provide both the starting point for and the premise of this volume. Playing the role of a hysterical Socrates, Jean-Michel Rabaté argued for the need to question language and its relation to culture, and admonished the audience to think critically and inventively and to "launch processes without worrying where they will end."

Two more events in the series took place in 2003 with Jean-Michel Rabaté transitioning from conversant to moderator. In February, Krzysztof and Ewa Ziarek discussed the event and its future in art and technology, and in May, Dorothea Olkowski and Gregg Flaxman explored the future of feminism, phenomenology and philosophy.

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Gregory Flaxman is a doctoral student in the Program of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2000, he published an edited collection entitled "The brain is the screen: Deleuze and the Philsoophy of Cinema." He is currently at work on a project addressing the relationship of art and complexity theory.

Gregg Lambert, Professor of English & Textual Studies, Syracuse University, has written and published on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, contemporary literary theory, aesthetics, and the fate of the Humanities' disciplines in the contemporary university. Publications include "Non-Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze" (Continuum, 2002) and "Report to the Academy" (Critical Studies in the Humanities, Davies 2001). Forthcoming in 2003 from Continuum is "The Return of the Baroque: Art, History, and Theory in the Modern Age."

Dorothea Olkowski is Co-Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She is the author of Gilles Deleuze and The Ruin of Representation and co-editor of Gilles Deleuze and the Theater of Philosophy, Merleau-Ponty, Interiority and Exteriority, Psychic Life and the World, and an additional forthcoming collection on Maurice Merleau-Ponty. (Text ©1999 Cornell University Press).

Jean-Michel Rabaté is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania and a Senior Curator of Slought. He has published around 15 books on Beckett, Bernhard, Pound, Joyce, psychoanalysis and literary theory.

Krzysztof Ziarek is Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches 20th century poetry and poetics, philosophy and literature, aesthetics, and literary theory. He has published Inflected Language: Toward A Hermeneutics of Nearness. Heidegger, Levinas, Stevens, Celan (SUNY 1994) and The Historicity of Experience: Modernity, the Avant-Garde, and the Event (Northwestern UP, 2001), and has co-edited a collection of essays entitled Future Crossings: Literature Between Philosophy and Cultural Studies (Northwestern UP, 2000).

Ewa Plonowska Ziarek is Professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches modernism, feminism, and literary theory. She is the author of The Rhetoric of Failure: Deconstruction of Skepticism, Reinvention of Modernism (SUNY, 1995), An Ehtics of Dissensus: Feminism, Postmodernity, and the Politics of Radical Democracy (Stanford, 2001). She has published numerous articles on Kristeva, Irigaray, Derrida, Foucault, Levinas, Fanon, and literary modernism.