The Misadventures of Critical Thinking

March 7, 2008

12:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. | Neville Scarfe Building, Room 310

Professor Jacques Rancière, Emeritus Professor of Aesthetics and Politics at the University of Paris VIII

Principally organized by the Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education (CCIE) as part of the CCFI Noted Scholars Lecture Series. Co-sponsored by the Department of English, Critical Studies in Sexuality, Centre for Culture, Identity, and Education and the Centre for the Study of the Internationalization of Curriculum Studies. Poster design adapted from original by Donal O Donoghue.

Abstract:  Gramsci once said that the soviet revolution was a revolution against Marx’ Capital , because Marx’s book had become the book of the Bourgeois scientists. The same thing may have occurred with the forms of social critique, which, forty years ago, denounced the mythologies of the commodity, the fallacies of consumer society, and the empire of the spectacle. They were supposed then to unmask the machineries of domination, so as to provide those who fought against them with new weapons. Apparently they have turned to exactly the contrary: a nihilist wisdom of the reign of the commodity and the spectacle, of the equivalence of anything with anything, of anything with its image and of the lie of any image. I will try to analyze the mechanism of this reversal and to trace it back to the original tension between the logic of social and cultural critique and the logic of emancipation.

Bio: Jacques Rancière is Emeritus Professor of Aesthetics and Politics at the University of Paris VIII where he taught from 1969 to 2000.  He continues to teach, as a visiting professor, in a number of Universities, including Rutgers, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Berkeley. His work has been translated into 14  languages, and has been subject to numerous special issues, symposia and critical commentaries. His latest titles to appear in English translation are Disagreement, Politics and Philosophy (1998), Short Voyages to the Land of the People (2003), The Philosopher and his Poor (2004), The Flesh of Words (2004), The Politics of Aesthetics (2005), Film Fables (2006), and The Hatred of Democracy (2007).