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

Research Centre run jointly between the Departments of Sociology and English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths University, London

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Primitivism Now – a workshop (29.10)

in collaboration with The Writing and Society Research Centre, Western Sydney University

29 October 2019


Deptford Town Hall Council Chamber 

[please note the venue change from a previous announcement]

PRIMITIVISM NOW is a one-day workshop featuring speakers from a range of disciplines, from literary theory to philosophy, politics to art history. They will consider whether it is possible to think anew about primitivism, a field whose theoretical underpinnings have largely lain dormant since the poststructural and postcolonial critiques of primitivism in the 1980s and 90s. Continue reading

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Report: Two CHASE-funded events celebrating the work of Walter Benjamin at Goldsmiths — 10-11 May, 2019

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Screenshot from ‘A Berlin Childhood around 1900—A Project in Progress.’ © ‘A Christmas Angel’ (2016), Aura Rosenberg

On May 10-11th 2019, PhD Candidates Sofia Cumming (University of East Anglia, 2017 Cohort) and Federica Murè (Goldsmiths, 2018 Cohort) put together a programme of events centred on the work of Walter Benjamin (1892–1940). Continue reading

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Baudelaire and Philosophy—A British Society of Aesthetics Conference, 5-6 June 2019

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Baudelaire and Philosophy

An international conference supported by the British Society of Aesthetics and organised by the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought

Goldsmiths, University of London, 5-6 June 2019 

Charles Baudelaire is a pivotal reference for debates on modernity, criticism and poetics, though in the domains of philosophy and critical theory his work is often approached solely through the prism of contemporary commentary. Taking Baudelaire’s own references to philosophy seriously, this conference will also explore the complexity of the relation between the received understanding of Baudelaire as a prophet of modernity and his opposition to any idea of progress that would reduce poetic beauty to a vehicle for social and moral development. Baudelaire and Philosophy aims to do justice to the richness, complexity and ambiguity of Baudelaire’s critical and poetic writing, to explore his relation to philosophy and the philosophical, and to interrogate his place as a synonym for a certain idea of modernity.

PROGRAMME Continue reading

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Kevin McLaughlin (Brown) — Philology of Life: Benjamin’s Literary Critical Program (10 June 2019)

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CPCT and the Walter Benjamin London Research Network cordially invite you to

Philology of Life: Walter Benjamin’s Literary Critical Program

A talk by Kevin McLaughlin (Brown)

Monday, 10 June 2019
6:00 – 8:00pm
Richard Hoggart Building 137a, Goldsmiths
** followed by a wine reception

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Gabriele Pedullà, Machiavelli for Brexiteers (May 16)


‘Giving the Foreigners Citizenship’, or, Machiavelli for Brexiteers

Gabriele Pedullà

16 May


Professor Stuart Hall Building

Room LG01

A long and authoritative philosophical tradition, starting with Aristotle, asserted that cities have to be especially careful with foreigners, granting them citizenship only in exceptional cases, because the afflux of newcomers risks resulting in a threat to political concord and harmony. Against this opinion, in his Discourses on Livy Machiavelli offered a completely different reasoning: modern states should follow the model of Rome instead, where subjected populations and immigrants from abroad were constantly incorporated into the civic body, making the republic stronger, even if this process inevitably fuelled social conflicts. A lesson that is still valid today?

Gabriele Pedullà is associate professor of Italian Literature at the University of Roma Tre and has been visiting professor at Stanford, UCLA, the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Lyon), and Harvard. He is the author of In Broad Daylight: Movies and Spectators after the Cinema, Machiavelli in Tumult, and the novel Lame [Blades].

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The Dash— A Workshop with Rebecca Comay and Frank Ruda (May 25)

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25 May 2019

Room RHB 144

Richard Hoggart Building

In The Dash—The Other Side of Absolute Knowing (MIT Press, 2018), Rebecca Comay and Frank Ruda present a reading of Hegel’s most reviled concept, absolute knowing. Their book sets out from a counterintuitive premise: the “mystical shell” of Hegel’s system proves to be its most “rational kernel.” Hegel’s radicalism is located precisely at the point where his thought seems to regress most. Most current readings try to update Hegel’s thought by pruning back his grandiose claims to “absolute knowing.” Comay and Ruda invert this deflationary gesture by inflating what seems to be most trivial: the truth of the absolute is grasped only in the minutiae of its most mundane appearances. What if everything turns out to hinge on the most inconspicuous and trivial detail—a punctuation mark?

Rebecca Comay is a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto

Frank Ruda is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Dundee

Places are limited to so please register ahead of time with

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Chukrov and Tomsic on Marxism and Psychoanalysis (May 31)


Marxism and Psychoanalysis: Alliance or Conflict? 

From Soviet Psychology to the Present

Samo Tomsic and Keti Chukhrov

31 May 2019
Professor Stuart Hall Building Room PSH 305

The critique of psychoanalysis in Soviet Marxist philosophy and psychology was predicated on the secondary role of the unconscious and hence of ‘psychics’, in the construction of the social subject. Key studies such as Voloshinov’s Freudianism (1976) and Marxism and the Philosophy of Language (1929) and Leontiev’s Activity and Consciousness (1977), insisted that what functions as lack and alienation in psychoanalysis are in fact socio-economic categories and hence prone to dissolution under communism, having no stable ontology of their own. Consequently, the unconscious is simply that part of consciousness, which has not yet acquired awareness; indeed consciousness is nothing but an assemblage of socio-cognitive activity and labour, and therefore precisely an extension of social production. This classical mode of Marxist argumentation was subject to severe critique in the 1970s such as Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy (1974), Guattari’s Machinic Unconscious (1979) and Castoriadis’s The Imaginary Institution of Society (1975). In these texts desire and the unconscious were claimed as the irretrievable force of capitalism’s libidinal and phantasmatic nature. Meanwhile Lacan’s critique of philosophy’s reliance on consciousness in the 1960s was even stricter, calling the transparently rational subject a fatal error of philosophy. What, therefore, is left of the Soviet Marxist critique of psychoanalysis? This symposium will explore this question, specifically through a discussion of subjectivity and the social function of language, from these two drastically opposed standpoints. Continue reading

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CHASE-funded screening event ‘A Berlin Childhood around 1900 – A Project in Progress’

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CHASE-funded screening event ‘A Berlin Childhood around 1900 – A Project in Progress’

Friday, May 10  18:00 – 21.00 
Professor Stuart Hall Building LG01 – Goldsmiths, University of London

Attendance is free but registration is required, please register here:

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