Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism

2014-2015 Speaker Series

Each year The Speaker Series brings in several visiting guest lecturers. Speakers over the years have included Jean Baudrillard, Lauren Berlant, Peter Brooks, Norman Bryson, David Carroll, Anthony Cascardi, Wlad Godzich, Jean-Joseph Goux, Elizabeth Grosz, N. Katherine Hayles, Linda Hutcheon, Martin Jay, Michael Hardt, Agnes Heller, Barbara Johnson, David Farrell Krell, Murray Krieger, Arthur Kroker, Dominick LaCapra, Jerome McGann, J. Hillis Miller, Chantal Mouffe, Christopher Norris, Mark Poster, Richard Rorty, Charles Scott, Thomas Sebeok, Kaja Silverman, Gayatri Spivak, Bernard Stiegler, Samuel Weber, Hayden White, Slavoj Žižek, and many others.

Upcoming speakers:


David L. Clark

(McMaster University)

"Goya’s Scarcity"


Although often heralded as a passionate denunciation of the mayhem of the Peninsular War, Francisco de Goya’s The Disasters of War (1814-1820) was not published during the artist’s lifetime. My wager is to treat Goya’s desistance not as evasive but as intrinsic to the Disasters itself, now seen as an artistic practice and experiment in living that takes on ruin without necessarily metabolizing it. Goya releases his images by denying them refuge in the visibly social. In what ways are traces of this abstention legible in the aquatints themselves? The fact that the prints remained uncirculated during Goya’s lifetime threads together life and work, wartime and the aesthetic, survival and ruination in ambiguous but mortalizing ways, and puts to us that, for a time, for the decade that they took to engrave, and then for the remainder of his life, the inventor and then the archivist of the series learned to live alongside disaster. In their queerly inoperative status, designed for publication but unpublished, powerfully executed but sheltered in a place of non-power, the Disasters might then be treated as a kind of transitional object: something Goya cherished, loved even, in any case, something he toiled over yet avoided working through, a “thing” that he could and in fact needed to hold away from public consideration and consumption. The ferocious use and abuse of the Disasters in recent years–perhaps most famously at the hands of the British avant-garde “shock” artists, Jake and Dinos Chapman--suggests that the prints have become a transitional object for others as well, passionately attached to in the mode of being defaced and knocked about precisely because there is something strangely indestructible about “Goya.” My paper concludes by considering contemporary examples of what it means to commit violent acts in concert with and against the inanimate, i.e., to do “great deeds with the dead.”


Saree Makdisi


"Palestine and the Politics of Difference"

May 21, 2015

Past Speakers include:

Richard Doyle
By The Way, Which One's Pink? On the Minimal Conditions for a Transmission of Philip K. Dick's Valis Event(s)
April 8, 2015

Cary Wolfe
Autoimmunity, Social Theory, and 'The Political’
April 2, 2015

Gary Genosko
Discourse Is (Not) the Enemy: Félix Guattari and Pathic Understanding
March 19, 2015

David Ferris
Politics of the Useless: The Question of Art in Benjamin and Heidegger
March 5, 2015

Norman Franke
Chronotopoi of the Good Life: Bakhtin and Bloch on Goethe’s Bildungsroman and the Carnivalesque
March 3, 2015

Rosi Braidotti
Four Theses on Posthuman Feminism
February 6, 2015

Sean McGrath
Principles of Schellingian Analysis
February 5, 2015

Eric Cazdyn
The Non-Coincidence of the Future
November 27, 2014

Frances Dyson
Sound, Sense, and Sensing
November 11, 2014

Françoise Meltzer
The Ethics of Ruins: Berlin 1945
October 29, 2014

Andre Pietsch Lima
On creative processes (Simondon/Deleuze)
October 15, 2014