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Pittsburgh Summer Symposium in Contemporary Philosophy

Duquesne University

Department of Philosophy

Pittsburgh, PA


Call for Applications

We are pleased to announce the 2014 Pittsburgh Summer Symposium in Contemporary Philosophy, held at Duquesne University. Details for the program are as follows:


Formalism and the Real: Ontology, Politics, and the Subject

August 4–8, 2014


(Optional Participants’ Conference, August 2-3)


“The real can only be inscribed on the basis of an impasse of formalization.”  — Jacques Lacan, Seminar XX 


“We need a theory of the pass of the real, in the breach opened up by formalization. Here, the real is no longeronly what can be lacking from its place, but what passes through by force.” — Alain Badiou, Theory of the Subject 


Seminar Leaders:

Prof. Bruno Bosteels (Cornell University)Prof. Tom Eyers (Duquesne University)

Prof. Paul Livingston (University of New Mexico)


Course Description:

Philosophy in the twenty-first century has seen an extensive reconsideration of formalistic methodologies and theoretical structures. This is heavily influenced by the formalism developed by a number of mid-twentieth century French thinkers who rejected humanist philosophies of experience or consciousness typified by dominant forms of existentialism and phenomenology. Insights derived from Marxism, Freudianism, and philosophy of science were argued to undermine central tenets of the latter, including the priority of description and the emphasis on first-person experiences. Rather, stress was placed on the priority of construction, an emphasis on the concept, and a rethinking of the nature of knowledge and the object of science. The recent history of formalist approaches is framed in important ways by Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan. As is well known, Althusser rejected historicist and humanist readings of Marx in favor of a structuralist approach, which was amenable to the conception of science developed bythinkers like Jean Cavaillès, Gaston Bachelard, and Georges Canguilhem. Simultaneously, Lacan rejected ego-psychological readings of Freud, forming interpretive, theoretical, and clinical bases for psychoanalysis that drew on Ferdinand de Saussure’s structuralist linguistics and Claude Levi-Strauss’s structuralist anthropology. This led him to a methodological formalism, particularly when addressing the Real and the psycho-dynamics in which it is involved. The presence of Althusser and Lacan at the École Normale Supériere during this time formed the intellectual milieu in which students such as Alain Badiou, Jacques-Alain Miller, Étienne Balibar, and Jacques Rancière would begin to develop their own thought. An important forum for this was the journal the Cahiers pour l’Analyse (1966-69). The current project to translate itinto English has prompted a surge in research related to these themes. In the Cahiers, efforts were made to reconcile Marxist politics with a Lacanian account of the subject. Lacan’s notion of the Real was essential to this and, along with the other elements of his thought, came to be developed by Badiou to address political and ontological domains.

More recently, formalism in philosophy has expanded to address issues beyond these origins. For instance, formalistic reconstructions of Heideggerian and Husserlian thought have proved intensely productive and have problematized the opposition of philosophies of the concept to phenomenological philosophies. Moreover, recent efforts to address questions in aesthetics and politics with formal approaches has further expanded the boundaries of formalism’s theoretical scope. Paul Livingston’s book, The Politics of Logic: Badiou, Wittgenstein, and the Consequences of Formalism, examines the landscape of political criticism and change given the results and paradoxes of 20th century projects of formalization in mathematics and logic. Following this, his current project focuses on Heidegger’s philosophy, and will re-examine our inherited notions of sense and truth. After writing a book on Lacan’s concept of the Real, Tom

Eyers has analyzed the intellectual foundations of structuralism in 1930s and 1940s French epistemology and philosophy of science. He is presently writing a book entitled Speculative Formalism: The Poetics of Form in Literature, Science, and Philosophy which will bring that work to bear on poetics and literary theory. In addition to translating Badiou’s Theory of the Subject and Wittgenstein’s Antiphilosophy, Bruno Bosteels has devoted numerous books to Badiou and issues in political thought. In his recentMarx and Freud in Latin America: Politics, Psychoanalysis, and Religion in Times of Terror, Bosteels investigates ways art and literature provide insight into processes of subjectification at the core of Marxist and psychoanalytic concerns. This summer symposium will bring together interested graduate students, postdoctoral students, and junior faculty for a week of discussion, lecture, and close textual study. Together, we will pursue questions regarding formalism and its relation to the Real in contemporary ontology, politics, and theories of the subject and their consequences for understanding knowledge, history, state, language, art, and literature. Lacanian and Badiouian thought will form a key theoretical backdrop. Yet, we expect our studies will include work by a number of other figures, including Plato, Marx, Nietzsche, Frege, Freud, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Lautman, Bachelard,Canguilhem, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida, Macherey, Milller, Butler, Jameson, Žižek, Hägglund, and Malabou.

All texts and discussion will be in English.


We invite current graduate students, postdoctoral students, and junior faculty in philosophy orrelated disciplines to submit an application composed of a C.V. and a short letter of intent (500words maximum) to

The deadline for applications is Friday, April 25th, 2014.

We expect to respond with notifications regarding acceptance to the symposium by Thursday, May 1st, 2014 to help facilitate summer plans. The seminar will be limited to 30-40 participants. For more information as it becomes available, we have created a website for the symposium:

Participants’ Conference (August 2–3):

In order to facilitate a further exchange of ideas and research, a participants’ conference will be held the weekend before the seminar begins. Applicants who receive notice of acceptance as participants will be asked – if interested – to submit an abstract of up to 500 words on any theme related to the topic of the seminar. The participants’ conference will take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3, 2014.

Financial Information:

There will be a $200 registration fee for each participant of the seminar. This money will be used for event expenses like a conference dinner, celebration, daily coffee, etc. Please note that participants will be responsible for arranging their own housing as well as financing most of theirown meals for the duration of the symposium. However, with respect to lodging, we expect alimited number of arrangements with graduate students will be available on a first come, first serve basis.


James Bahoh, Dept. of Philosophy, Duquesne University,

Martin Krahn, Dept. of Philosophy, Duquesne University,

Jacob Greenstine, Dept. of Philosophy, Duquesne University,

Dave Mesing, Dept. of Philosophy, Villanova University,



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Call for Papers.

Studies in Social and Political Thought Annual Conference 2013: Debt and Obligation.

Keynote Speakers: Keith Ansell-Pearson, Costas Lapavitsas

University of Sussex, June 20-21


The global economic crisis has brought the question of debt sharply into focus. From the indebtedness of the individual by means of easy credit, to the universalisation of private debt in financial instruments and the financial stranglehold of whole countries by sovereign debt, debt and the obligation that comes with it dominate the structure of contemporary society and economy. Austerity programmes are implemented by governments around the world, often with disastrous social consequences and without popular support. The narratives of “living within one’s means” and “giving back what is owed” are dominant among the international organisations and power centres that promote these austere solutions. Even democratic legitimation is superseded by the obligation of paying one’s debts, to the extent that technocratic governments replace democratically elected ones for fulfilling that purpose. A “hard but fair” solution is advanced by many in government and elsewhere, where debt reduction seems to be given an almost moral quality, and as such connected to a moral obligation and duty.

The old definition of justice as “telling the truth and giving back what is owed” as given by Cephalus in Plato’s Republic, seems, therefore, to have prevailed–at least in part. For the truthfulness of this justice is hidden, since as Cephalus admits, it is the wealthy that are the major beneficiaries of this type of justice, considering they already have the means of living by it. On the other hand, the concepts of debt and obligation are the cornerstones of many ethical theories and philosophies, from Kant’s categorical imperative and deontological ethics in general to Nietzsche’s genealogical critique of morality. Moreover, a great part of political philosophy and theory is preoccupied with the question of the obligation to the state and what gives it legitimacy. But how are these ethical and political issues put into practice? Depending on one’s point of view there can be either a moral obligation that supports the state’s legitimacy, or one that directly opposes it. In particular, should one follow the moral narrative of paying one’s debts under any circumstances or are there instances where one has an obligation to resist debts placed upon them? Is there such a thing as a just debt? These questions, it could be claimed, have not been given enough critical attention, and theoretical discourse has passed them by.

We are, therefore, seeking papers that will engage theoretically with the concepts of debt and obligation, and explore their relationship with the social, economic, or political spheres. In keeping with the interdisciplinary ethos of SSPT we will accept papers from all related disciplines including politics, sociology, history, political economy, and philosophy. We will also accept papers that do not deal exclusively with the main topic of the conference but are engaged with issues in the general area of social and political thought.


Possible theoretical frameworks and topics include, but are not limited to:

Moral Obligation / Political Obligation / Debt from an Economic, Sociological, Historical or Philosophical Perspective / Crisis & Debt / Deontological Ethics / Kantian Ethics and Political Theory / Hegel / Contract Theory / Recognition & Self-Recognition / Nietzsche, Morality, Guilt and “Bad Conscience” / Marxism & Marxisms / Theories of Biopolitics / Instrumental Reason / Critical Theory / Post-Colonialism / Discourse and Democratic Theory / Structuralism and Post-Structuralism / Soft and Hard Power / Hegemony / World-Systems / Sovereignty / Legality and Legitimacy

Please send abstracts of 350 words to by Sunday, 5th May 2013.

These should be formatted for blind review, including a cover sheet with name, contact details, institutional affiliation, and paper title. Successful applicants will be notified by 12th May 2013. Finally, all selected papers will be considered for publication in a future issue of SSPT.

A fee of 5 pounds will be applicable, and all delegates will receive a free copy of SSPT.

A PDF version of this CfP is available here.




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Social Justice


Materialist Feminisms in an age of Neoliberalism; or, Would the critique of patriarchal capitalism please stand up?

A special issue of the online journal Politics and Culture (

***Please Note: In addition to article-length contributions, we also solicit shorter interventions, provocations, or position papers (1500-2000 words) for two themed discussions 1) experiences and direction from elders in this work and 2) experiences and demands from junior scholars.

Liberal inclusion. Globalization and neoliberal crisis. Neoconservative backlash. We know that feminism has had many lives. We are especially attuned to the forms of imperialist, settler and liberal “feminism” that have motivated a great many social projects, most recently the ostensible concern over the status of women in Afghanistan that has played so well as a rationale for war. And yet, we live amidst a rapidly accelerating culture of neoliberal individualism, combined with the virulent cult of persecuted white masculinity that marks the neoconservative shift, the backlash against supposed minority gains, and the dogged attack by the state and corporate elite on the material and social protections won through decades of struggle. The need for anti-capitalist feminist foment has never been so dire.

From early noted thinkers such as Lucy B. Parsons, Rosa Luxembourg and Emma Goldman, to Marxist Feminist scholars such as Maria Mies, Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Giovanna Dalla Costa, Angela Davis and Sylvia Federici, to anti-racist and anti-colonialist scholars such as bell hooks, Himani Bannerji, Patricia Monture Angus, Vandana Shiva, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Andrea Smith, to theorists such as Zillah Eisenstein, Wendy Brown, and Nancy Fraser, “structuralist” or “materialist” feminisms draw a lineage that views economics, capitalism and political struggles specifically through the lenses of gender, race and class, and anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal, anti-heteronormative and anti-racist agendas. While the distinctions are far too subtle and complex to enumerate here, critical to Marxist, socialist, anarchist, materialist and other kinds of structuralist feminism is the notion that ending gender-based oppression requires (among other things) a reckoning of capitalist, colonial and patriarchal histories and organizations of power. We invite a forward-looking conversation that draws trajectories in the body of work we might broadly think of as structural or materialist feminisms.

Topics for consideration may include:
* In a neoliberal age in which the ecological collapse wreaked by capitalism’s rapacious appetite appears as an urgent horizon framing cultural politics, what is to be gained or lost by prioritizing gender as a category of analysis? What is the task ahead for materialist feminism?
* The contemporary backlash
* Where is the work of structural feminism taking place? Do you observe or practice it in the university, in the streets, in your creative work, in your everyday life relations and survival?
* Identity politics vs. anti-capitalist struggle: whose schism?
* Women and the gift, women for the land, women and the spirit
* Queer materialisms
* Is there a materialist feminism outside of struggle? And is there a struggle?
* From “Marxist feminism” to transnational, anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-colonial feminist?  There is a story that has been told many ways many times and yet not told nearly enough: history and future of structural feminisms? Revisiting feminist theory, women’s studies, institutionalization, ghettoization, backlash, disciplinarity

****In addition to article-length contributions, we also solicit shorter interventions or provocations (1500-2000 words) for two themed discussions 1) experiences and direction from elders in this work and 2) experiences and demands from junior scholars.

Please send 200 word abstracts and/or short queries to Alyson McCready ( or Mary Ellen Campbell ( by April 1st, 2011.

Submissions will be expected May 15th, 2011.
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Raya Dunayevskaya


Call for Papers:

‘Gender, Sexuality and Political Economy’ 
An  interdisciplinary workshop at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
24th-25th May, 2011

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Professor Floya Anthias (Roehampton University, UK)
Professor Rosemary Hennessy (Rice University, USA)
Professor Sylvia Walby (University of Lancaster, UK)
Dr. Jon Binnie (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Dr. Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez (University of Manchester, UK)

Workshop Themes:

This workshop aims to explore politics and cultures of gender, feminism(s) and sexuality from the angle of political economy. We see a divide between approaches which emphasise human action and agency and those focussing on persistent or ‘structural’ inequalities. While gender inequalities are more commonly theorised from within structuralist or materialist frameworks, less work has been undertaken exploring  power relations around sexuality in  connection with questions of political economy. This has implications concerning how to theorise strategies for change. We consider gender and sexuality as distinct yet closely connected categories. Yet in many sociological approaches they still appear as separate, with attempts to explain gender inequalities often marginalising heteronormativity, and work on sexualities having little to say about subordination of women.  In this workshop, we would like to bring work on gender and sexuality in dialogue. We hope the workshop will explore possible complementarities and overlaps (or incommensurabilities) between approaches within feminism(s), women’s studies, transgender studies, lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer studies. Our aim is to strengthen understanding of the current conditions for collaborative agency and coalitional struggles. The current socio-economic crisis of course provides an urgent context for discussion of such questions and for renewed interest in ‘older’ sociological questions and preoccupations.

The focus on the political economy could be regional (in any part of the world) or global. We would like to create a space for, among other, a debate of cuts in state expenditure, neoliberal programmes and policies, growth in class and socio-economically-based inequalities, resource wars and conflicts.

Please send an abstract of not more than 300 words to:
Susie Jacobs ( and Christian Klesse (

The deadline for submission of abstracts is Monday, 14th March, 2011.

The workshop will run for 1 1/2 days on 24th and 25th May at Manchester Metropolitan University, All Saints Campus.  The conference fee is £ 40 (£ 15 for postgraduate students), which includes coffees/teas and lunch on the second day.

We look forward to hearing from you

Susie Jacobs and Christian Klesse
Department of Sociology
Manchester Metropolitan University

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Kevin Anderson


Sunday December 11, 2010
2:00 PM

Speakers: Barbara Epstein and Kevin Anderson

A look at the contributions of Marxist and/or socialist humanists, and the causes, and consequences for the left, of the challenge emerging from the anti-humanism associated with structuralism and post-structuralism. What would it take to revive socialist humanism as a philosophy of the contemporary left? How does the legacy of Maoism from the New Left affect this? Among the thinkers to be discussed are the socialist humanists Raya Dunayevskaya, Frantz Fanon, Erich Fromm, and Jean-Paul Sartre, and E. P. Thompson; among the structuralists and post-structuralists, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Claude Lévi-Strasss, and Edward Said.

Barbara Epstein teaches in the History of Consciousness Department at University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Political Protest and Cultural Revolution: Nonviolent Direct Action in the 1970s and 1980s (1991) and most recently, The Minsk Ghetto, 1941-1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism (2008), both with University of California Press.

Kevin Anderson teaches in the Department of Sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Foucault and the Iranian Revolution (2005, coauthored with Janet Afary) and most recently, Marx at the Margins: Nationalism, Ethnicity and Non-Western Societies (2010), both with University of Chicago Press..

Location: NPML 6501 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 94609

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