The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University of London

Research Centre based in Sociology and run jointly with the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University, London

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Gramsci and Philosophy Reading Group (31 October 2017, Istituto Italiano di Cultura)

gramsci prison notebooks

A reading group on Gramsci and Philosophy hosted by the Italian Cultural Institute and moderated by Alberto Toscano (co-director, CPCT)

Tuesday 31 October 2017
Istituto Italiano di Cultura
39 Belgrave Square


On the occasion of the first exhibition of Gramsci’s prison notebooks (Quaderni del carcere) outside of Italy, we will be discussing Part III, Section 1 of the English-language translation Selections from the Prison Notebooks, ‘The Study of Philosophy’ (ed. and trans. Quentin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1971), pp. 321-377 (with reference to the original Italian of the Quaderni).

The reading group is free and open to all but due to limited numbers you must register by emailing

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Thomas Khurana (Essex): The Art of Second Nature (21 June 2017)


A CPCT lecture on the theme of Concepts of Life / The Life of the Concept

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


RHB 137a

With a response from Josh Robinson (Cardiff).

The lecture delineates a modern conception of second nature that takes shape around 1800. Instead of just repeating, once again, the ancient topos that habit is a second nature, this modern conception makes use of a different paradigm for the understanding of cultural self-production, namely the work of art. According to this conception, the development of a second nature is not a question of mere habituation, but rather an essentially creative and expressive process whereby we take up nature and reorganize it in such a way that it points beyond itself and becomes expressive beyond subjective mastery. The formation of culture and the production of a second nature is thus revealed as an aesthetic practice, a complex dialectical exercise, and a social practice of objectification. This conception of second nature which the lecture will trace back to Kant, Schiller, and Hegel not only allows us to grasp the relationship between spirit and nature more adequately than some of the neo-Aristotelian conceptions that dominate the current philosophical debate. It also opens up an instructive critical perspective on our contemporary aesthetic self-understanding.


Thomas Khurana is Lecturer of Philosophy at the University of Essex. Previously, he has taught Philosophy at the University of Potsdam, Goethe-University Frankfurt/M., and the University of Leipzig. He was a Heuss Lecturer at the New School for Social Research, a Humboldt fellow in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and is the recipient of a three-year Heisenberg fellowship by the German Research Foundation. His most recent book is Das Leben der Freiheit: Form und Wirklichkeit der Autonomie (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2017).

Josh Robinson is Lecturer in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University. He works primarily on twentieth-century and contemporary poetry, and on the theoretical implications of the study of literature, and is the author of a forthcoming book on Adorno’s aesthetic theory.

Free and open to the public.


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Benjamin and Leibniz: On Expression. A conference at Goldsmiths on 27-28 June 2017.

WB Benjamin Leibniz copy

Hosted by the Walter Benjamin London Research Network and the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths. Supported by the London Graduate School and the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University.

***Free and open to all, but please register here.***

Keynote Speaker: Professor Peter Fenves, Northwestern University

‘The idea is a monad—that means briefly: every idea contains the image of the world’, writes Walter Benjamin in The Origin of the German Mourning Play. ‘Expression’, in the writing of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, denotes an isomorphic relation between the universe and its components, or monads. Every monad contains an image, or reflection of the universe; ‘each simple substance has relations which express all the others, and (…) consequently it is a perpetual living mirror of the universe (§56, Monadology). This conference seeks to reanimate Benjamin’s encounter with Leibniz, and considers, particularly, the manner in which Leibniz’s concept of expression informs Benjamin’s thought.

As Gilles Deleuze writes in Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, the concept of expression, rediscovered by Spinoza and Leibniz, ‘already had behind it a long philosophical history, but a rather hidden, and a rather forbidden history’. Walter Benjamin’s engagement with Leibniz’s philosophy was an enduring one as well. Explicit references to Leibniz’s philosophy may be found from Benjamin’s doctoral dissertation on early German romanticism to his final text, the ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’. Yet the Leibniz-Benjamin encounter might be considered a hidden one too, and—from the dearth of critical commentary on the subject—the scope of Leibniz’s influence on Benjamin may appear equally forbidding. Whence the furtive nature of those themes appropriated from Leibniz in Benjamin’s writing, and to what extent might ‘expression’ be the sign under which less visible dimensions of such themes can, paradoxically, be made legible?

Both the concept of expression—as a point of convergence between the philosophy of Leibniz and Benjamin—and its bearing upon their philosophy more generally, have gone underinvestigated. This conference will bring together researchers working on different aspects of expression in Benjamin and Leibniz’s philosophy, and will investigate the role played by the themes of expression and monadology in and between disciplines in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Organized by Noa Levin (CRMEP, Kingston University) and Christopher Law (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Please visit for more information on the programme, abstracts, and directions.




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Benjamin Noys (Chichester), “The Cosmogony of Revolution: Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters and Anti-Neurosis” (Neurosis, Poetry, and the Present, 18 March 2017)

The following text was first presented at Neurosis, Poetry, and the Present, a workshop organized by Daniel Katz and Benjamin Noys at CPCT on 18 March 2017.  

The Cosmogony of Revolution: Diane de Prima’s Revolutionary Letters

Benjamin Noys (Chichester)


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