Call for Papers: What Critique?

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Organized by the Amherst Reading Group for Continental Philosophy,

University of Massachusetts Amherst

It has been more than a decade since Bruno Latour asked whether ‘critique has run out of steam’–whether the ubiquity of ‘being critical’ has not rendered ‘critique’ redundant. Admittedly, critique is often spoken of in university discourse as though its meaning were self-evident, though its concept is not made explicit. The persistence of critique in its various forms nevertheless indicates a perennial need and dissatisfaction with prevailing modes of thought. But what is critique? In its original Kantian formulation, thoroughgoing critique concerns examining presuppositions and immanent limits of thought and its objects–and post-Kantian thinkers developed this line of thought in the various ways that have resulted in the curious situation at present.

This conference intends to address the question of critique by way of a number of concerns: What is the relation between critique and criticism? What are the stakes of critique and uncritical discourse? Is critique a method or does method risk dogmatism? Does a critical project concern merely dismantling foundations or uncovering and clarifying foundations? Can/must critique be applied to itself in order to avoid being mere criticism or dogmatism? What is the relation between critique and speculative thought? Does critique belong to Modernity, or is such a belief in itself an uncritical assumption? What is the relation between critique and secularism? Above all, what coherent and precise account of ‘critique’ can be given in light of its various guises and practices today?

The aim of this conference is to clarify the concept of critique by considering and developing its actual practices in various disciplines. The Amherst Reading Group for Continental Philosophy invites papers addressing, but not limited to, the role and conception of critique involved the following domains:

  • Literary criticism/theory & aesthetics/aesthetic theory
  • Political economy, political theory & political theology
  • Philosophy & history of philosophy
  • Marx/Marxism, psychoanalysis & critical theory
  • Deconstruction, structuralism & post-structuralism
  • Feminism & queer theory
  • Critical race theory & post-colonial theory
  • History/methodology of the humanities, social & natural sciences

Please submit paper-abstracts (not exceeding 250 words) and a short bio to umasscontphil@gmail.com by February 15th, 2016 for consideration. The conference will be held on April 23, 2016 in Amherst. Submissions from graduate students and recent PhDs are especially welcome. Confirmed Keynote Speaker Luis Guzman (New School) will be presenting “Negativity, Skepticism and Critique in Hegel”.

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