Theory Sessions

CSTC Theory Sessions presents: Metaphysics of the Book?


Since the advent of Gutenberg’s printing press in the sixteenth century, the medium of the book has mediated and transformed public spheres and private lives up to the present. During the last century, however, continental philosophers have not only read and written many books, but they have also used "the book" as a figure for something much more than bound pages and movable type. This presentation loosely follows the journey that "the book" has taken in recent continental philosophy, not as a mere physical object, but as a metaphysical image for the relationship between human beings and the world. This presentation draws from Lucien Febvre’s The Coming of the Book, Edmond Jabès’ Book of Margins, Jacques Derrida’s "End of the Book," Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s 'ontology of the book' in On the Line, Jean-Francois Lyotard’s figural book, Maurice Blanchot’s The Book to Come, and more, all in order to both challenge and further the age old notion that the world is, and always has been, a book. 

Maxwell Kennel is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. His recent book Postsecular History: Political Theology and the Politics of Time was published by Palgrave Macmillan in late 2021, and his dissertation "Ontologies of Violence" compares approaches to violence in the work of Jacques Derrida, Mennonite political theologians, and the work of Grace M. Jantzen. In 2021 he guest-edited a special issue of Political Theology and he is currently working on a project called "Critique of Conspiracism" that uses critical theories and political theologies to understand and critique conspiratorial thinking.  

The Theory Sessions are a student-run tradition at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism. They promote interdisciplinary research across the campus, providing students and faculty with the opportunity to present their work and engage in lively discussions. We welcome all topics and enjoy presenting an eclectic range of scholarship. We have held sessions from scholars in a wide range of disciplines such as computer science, medical science, philosophy, English literature, women’s studies, sociology, political science, visual arts, art history, psychology, history, and more. 

The presentations are 20 minutes long and are often on the core research topics of students and faculty at the Theory Centre. We also welcome students and faculty from other departments to submit their papers. Following the presentation, at least one designated respondent will initiate a discussion with the presenter. Anyone attending the session is welcome to join this discussion period. These will typically last 20-30 minutes.   

Theory Sessions facilitate an academically rigorous environment to present cohesive and cogent thoughts on subjects that our speakers are genuinely passionate about. Our sessions aim to bring forward meaningful and productive discussions. Theory Sessions provides a rich opportunity to develop papers for publication, prepare for conferences, and develop performance art or presentation skills. We encourage you to have fun and experiment in our community of curious and caring thinkers.  

Who can do Theory Sessions?

Students and faculty in the Theory Centre are given priority for sessions; however, we also encourage people from other departments to send us your work. We will make every effort to accommodate as many sessions as possible.  

If you are interested in presenting, please send an email with an abstract of approximately 200 words, and a brief 100 word bio to Please address your submission to Jevonne (Jevi) Peters and Chris Austin. Your abstract and bio will be used to announce your session to the university community.