After Critique

In 2009, Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus observed that Marxist and psychoanalytic ways of reading still seemed to both unify and dominate fields of humanistic inquiry. Framing the “hermeneutics of suspicion” as hegemonic (despite their often counter-hegemonic aims), they wondered about the persistence and purchase of these reading practices under then-novel political conditions: “Eight years of the Bush regime may have hammered home the point that not all situations require the subtle ingenuity associated with symptomatic reading.” As we near the end of Trump’s first(?) term and continue to stare into the abyss of a COVIDian world, one could argue that this misalignment between political conditions and forms of critique has only intensified. Or one could argue precisely the opposite. 


Without taking a firm position for or against symptomatic readings, this year’s iteration of IHUM’s psychoanalytic reading group will question this discourse of misalignment and the forms of thought that it has catalyzed, focusing specifically on the symptom as an epistemological problematic. The symptom—as index, effect, and absent center—will allow us to narrow our focus, tracking the evolution of one particular flashpoint in an otherwise vast, interdisciplinary ensemble of conversations. How has symptomatic thinking been formalized and institutionalized, and under what political and economic conditions? What does symptomatic thinking assume and occlude? Why and how have recent and contemporary thinkers employed, interrogated, and elaborated the symptom and its others? What happens when we historicize the symptom as a figure of thought? What events and conditions have catalyzed its putative, periodized decline?


Finally, if much of the critique of critique has focused on the perceived irrelevance or insularity of academic work, we will also think through the efficacy—both political and clinical—of symptomatic thinking. As such, readings and guests will come from across the humanities and social sciences, but also from clinical psychoanalytic practice. This group should be of interest to students of critical theory, literary criticism, cultural studies, interdisciplinarity, continental philosophy, and psychoanalysis.
For more information please contact [email protected]
Schedule of meetings
Meetings will take place once per month, on Wednesdays, from 5:30 – 7pm. The provisional schedule for the year is as follows.
Fall Semester
Wed. 9/16, 5:30-7pm
Wed. 10/14, 5:30-7pm
Wed. 11/18, 5:30-7pm
Wed. 12/9, 5:30-7pm

Spring Semester
Wed. 2/17, 5:30-7pm
Wed. 3/17, 5:30-7pm
Wed. 4/14, 5:30-7pm
Wed. 5/12, 5:30-7pm