What does it mean to be critical today? This course pursues this question by reviewing the terms of a prominent contemporary debate on critique across the social sciences, law and humanities. It will work with students to reflect on and refine the implicit and explicit dimensions of their own critical position.
One of the most influential strands across disciplines for the last decades has been the performativity approach, which has assigned classical capitalist critique a self-defeating gesture of producing and empowering that which it seeks to contest (Latour, Callon). Performativity denies the stylized opposition between capitalism and its opponents as well as between realism and social constructivism. By some, performativity has been experienced as liberation from the foreclosed accusation of anti-capitalism, allowing for change in the small and concrete. For others, however, the position of 'anti-critique' amounts to an 'alliance' with power/ economics (Mirowski and Ni-Kah 2007) or owes its discrete charm to the influence of neoliberalism itself (Noys 2014). A core aspect of the course are the terms on which performativity can count as 'critical', falls short of, conditions or redefines critique. Course sessions will also examine emblematic scenes of critique in the modern imaginary such as the topos of the Emperor's New Clothes, and from there explore the (post)modern and post-crisis relations between power, knowledge, economy and critique. The course does not require a set position of critique but rather seeks to provide perspectives in which to reflect students’ work. The 3-day course is available to PhD students across the social sciences, law and humanities and will be limited to 12 participants.
Please see the Critique course from 2016 for an indication of curriculum and format.