Reading Groups

Current  |  Past


Asian American Studies

The reading group aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to read and discuss both canonical and recently published work in Asian American Studies. Given the growing interest in American Studies, the increasing number of Asian American Studies graduate affiliates, and the lack of graduate level seminars in Asian American Studies, the reading group provides a structured space for reading and discussing topics in Asian American Studies, designed by and for graduate students and faculty.
Contact: Andrew Hahm ([email protected])


Avant-Garde Film

This group watches and discusses 20th century works of avant-garde experimental cinema. Drawing from the archives of the New York Film-Makers’ Cooperative (the world’s oldest and largest distributor of avant-garde film), this group will look at the better-known “classics” of the genre—including works by Maya Deren and Jonas Mekas—alongside more recent discoveries of historic material by under-represented artists like Edward Owens, Storm DeHirsch, and José Rodriguez-Soltero. These filmmakers represent a rich and visually diverse history of cinema that has largely been overlooked; they challenge the mainstream conventions of filmmaking, often depicting marginalized experiences of reality. Many of these works are abstract or non-narrative, featuring daring interventions etched, painted, or glued onto the surface of the film itself. Contact: Julia Curl ([email protected])


Black Atlantic Fictions

This reading group brings into conversation black writers across the globe whose work problematizes the neat narratives of borderlands to locate the black aesthetic bodies in different histories and spaces.
Contact: Ijeoma Odoh ([email protected])

Comparative Ancient Poetry

How do we define and compare “Antiquity” across different civilizations? How do ancient literary dialogues still shape and influence modern cultural interactions? Through the lens of comparative poetry and poetics, we will consider these and further questions while examining the literature of ancient civilizations from Greece to China.
Contact: Julia Pare ([email protected])  



Harmony has assumed a central role in many strains of thought since antiquity. Reading seminal texts on the Greek science of harmonics, we will listen for its resonances across modern disciplinary divides.
Contact: Marcel Camprubi ([email protected])


Knowledge, Empire and the "Brokered World": Locating the Intermediaries and the Go-Betweens

This reading group explores intermediaries and go-betweens across colonial and postcolonial histories, drawing from a diverse range of studies and texts from the history of science, art history, subaltern studies, anthropology, environmental humanities, and gender and sexuality studies.
Contact: Jonathan Baldoza ([email protected])

Narrative and Story across Disciplines

Join us if you are curious about narrative and the human mind! We are a duo from classics and cognitive science leading discussion meetings biweekly, in person. We discuss how narrative shapes and is shaped by the human experience and how, for millennia, people have crafted stories to teach, to entertain, to persuade, and to express shared identities. We will have a mix of pre-selected readings and ones we select together.
Contact: Jamie Wheeler, [email protected]


Performative Postsocialisms

What is post-socialism, how is post-socialism performative, and what is post-socialist performance? Animated by these questions, this reading group examines texts and artworks pertaining to territories marked by state socialism. This reading group aims to rethink post-socialism and its cultural production away from the post-Cold War frame of “rupture” from the socialist past and belated transition to “happy” capitalism. We will examine the continuity of global socialisms and leftist imaginaries and consider the ways in which the legacy of historical socialism can be generative of alternative futures and temporalities in the bankruptcy of the neoliberal present … beyond the desire for freedom of speech and identity politics. The readings will be considered in relation to art/film/performance. 

Contact: Darja Filippova ([email protected]))



What's New in Ottoman-Turkish Studies?

This reading group will discuss books published in the last decade in Ottoman – Turkish Studies that bring in fresh perspectives – either in methodology or in the content matter.
Contact: Duygu Coskuntuna ([email protected])


After Phenomenology

After Phenomenology wants to engage more broadly with and dive more deeply into intellectual traditions that come after the Phenomenology of Spirit by Hegel. In short, the shadow of Hegel looms over our methods of thinking and reasoning. What does it truly mean to write after Phenomenology or to think post-phenomenologically?

Asian American Studies

This reading group aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to read and discuss works in Asian American Studies. Topics include race relations, diasporic communities, and food culture.

Carceral Studies Reading Group

This group offers a space for interdisciplinary study, discussion, and engagement on the prison and abolition, through the scholarly field of carceral studies and through the writings of prisoners themselves.

Childhood, Law, and the State

This reading group will meet roughly every other week to explore the historical and present-day relationship between law, the state, and the social category of childhood. We will place special emphasis on how notions of innocence and dependence regulate structures of citizenship, racial and sexual difference, carcerality, and political economy.

Feminist Generations

How should we tell the history of feminist thought, especially the controversial, American feminism of 1960 to 1980s? How profoundly do the “biological” resonances of terms like “generation,” “genealogy,” or even "waves" shape and delimit their conceptual possibilities as historiographical models? We cast these questions forwards and backwards, considering feminist thinkers of the 1960s and 1980s (especially the controversial case of Shulamith Firestone), contemporary scholars of queer kinship and reproductive technologies, and evolving historiographical methods for parsing feminist pasts.

Islam after Liberalism

This reading group seeks to study the place and future of Islam in the modern world, while also placing modern Islamic thought and practice in conversation with liberalism and the various social, economic, and political challenges it poses to Islam and Muslims.

Modernism and the Masses

This group convenes virtually each month to discuss the love-hate relationship between Modernism and popular culture, exploring the topic across different European traditions and examining how high art and mass culture came together in places like the stadium, the comic book, and the textile industry.

Operative History and Architecture

The group will read the work of Manfredo Tafuri, paying particular attention to his conception of “operative history,” his translation of Marxism from critical theory to bear on architecture, and his depictions of architecture and capitalism.

Post- and Decolonial Theories

This reading group brings together works of the most prominent scholars working on post- and decolonial theories


After Critique
This reading group interrogates the alleged downfall of the “hermeneutics of suspicion” and “symptomatic reading” as dominant modes of critical thought. What are these modes, are they actually declining, and if so, what comes after them?
Agency in the Anthropocene
This collaborative discussion group reexamines questions of action, choice, and other elements of agency with a historical focus and an interdisciplinary set of readings.
Art and Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century
This reading group will convene virtually once a week to discuss both primary and scholarly texts related to art and culture in the long nineteenth century.
Asian American Studies
This reading group aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to read and discuss works in Asian American Studies. Topics include race relations, diasporic communities, and food culture.
Black Feminism(s): Theory, Praxis, and Poetics
We explore the changing terrain of Black feminist thought through poetry, theory, history, and current activism. Our theoretical lens is invested in Black Marxism, Black queer studies, Black geographies of space and time, and black radical thought.
Chasing Ghosts: Hauntedness as Theory and Practice
Hauntedness has become a familiar expression of what it means to reckon with trauma, belatedness, and historicity. This group will explore its capacity as a frame for understanding both self and world.
Derrida and Post- Phenomenology
One way of reading the transformative early work of Jacques Derrida is to understand that work as a complex response to, and reformulation of, the German phenomenological tradition – notably the writings of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger – in light of its political and philosophical shortcomings. We expect to read the most influential…
This group discusses current theoretical debates within the field of “Diaspora Studies,” focusing on how and why “diaspora” has emerged as a viable framework to study personal identities, community ethics, patterns of migration, etc. We will read ethnographies and histories of “diasporic” populations and host some guest speakers.
Imperial Sound Media
This reading group, “Imperial Sound Media,” examines technologies that facilitated the sonic development of colonial empires in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with an emphasis on phonograph and radio.
The mysticisms reading group brings together texts from a range of traditions, periods, and origins in order to consider how encounters with the ineffable are put into words.
Race, Citizenship and the State
This reading group explores the interconnections between racial formation and state power, examining themes such as carcerality, labor and migration.
Receptions of Latin Literature 2020-2021
A group that meets monthly to discuss topics in the reception of Latin literature, in all its manifold genres, in European and American culture.
This reading group is concerned with the technical. It addresses the work of tools, the manipulation of matter, the function of machines. It tackles what it means to “know” technically, and the relationship between human subjects and technical objects.
Theorizing Women in the Ancient World
Reading secondary scholarship on feminist and gender theory alongside primary texts from the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, ca. 500 BCE–500 CE


Disability Studies
Drawing on and building upon the growing interdisciplinary field from which we take our name, the Disability Studies Working Group provides an opportunity for students and faculty across the university to approach bodily difference, non-normativity, ableism, and other related concepts from a variety of lenses. 
Global History of Science
We study the history of inquiry in regions outside Europe and the US in order to understand the universality, or lack thereof, of "science" as a concept.
Inventory, established in 2009, is a literary translation project run by Princeton graduate students across disciplines. The group seeks to examine the art and practice of literary translation through collaborative workshops and through the publication of an annual journal. The workshop focuses on craft and provides a forum to present translations in progress. The journal catalogs original translations of poetry and prose from any language into English, provides critical texts on the subject of translation, and offers suggestions of translation work left to be done.
Post-Punk and Cultural Studies
Post-Punk and Cultural Studies listens in on the dialogue between the post-punk artistic production and cultural studies scholarship that flowered in late-1970s England. In each session we will consider exemplary texts from the respective, radical fields. 
Psychoanalysis Beyond the West
This group interrogates the ability of psychoanalysis to understand non-white, non-bourgeois subjecthood. As both social theory and therapeutic practice, how has psychoanalysis been developed outside of affluent Western contexts, and to what ends? How might we account for the political and epistemological stakes of these developments?
Receptions of Latin Literature
This group examines the reception on Latin literature in European and American culture, taking a broad view of reception studies which encompasses the intellectual history, literature, and visual arts of later periods. This spring we will focus on the figure of Seneca the Younger.
Theory Reading Group is a forum for discussions of recent theoretical texts. We will focus on the issues of de/coloniality and think about contemporary politics of knowledge, power, and being.


Black Studies & The Black Radical Tradition
This reading group explores the politics, stakes, and development of Black intellectual traditions alongside movements for racial, gender, class, and sexual justice.
Critical Moving Image
An experimental and collaborative reading group designed to facilitate investigations into the operative, transdisciplinary potential of the moving image.
Ethnography: Knowledge, Form, Innovation
We will engage in a cross-disciplinary exploration of ethnography, both as a genre of writing, and as a method of social inquiry.
Film and Media Theory
This group comprised of professors and students conducts close readings of early critical works in film and media studies. The main texts for this year are Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema I and II.
Inventory is a literary translation project that examines the art and practice of literary translation through workshops and an annual journal. The journal catalogs original translations, provides critical texts on translation, and thoughts on the state of the field.
Migrations, Borders, and Global Crisis
This group examines the global refugee crisis by assessing the social implications of precarity and disposability. It inquires into how the many ways of thinking, analyzing, and visualizing migration interact with politics, policy, and cultures of social justice.
Queer Cultures
Focusing on the intersection of sexuality and representation, this reading group considers the stakes of aesthetics and artistic practice in queer theory and politics. We will discuss theoretical texts alongside art, literature, cinema and performance.
Race and Psychoanalysis
This group focuses on the theory, history, and practice of the “talking cure,” inviting both scholars and practicing psychoanalysts to lead discussions around a precirculated text. The theme for this year will be “Race and Psychoanalysis.
Social Philosophy
We will study recent work on social ontology and epistemology. Important questions include: Do social entities, such as races and genders, exist? Are they socially constructed? Are there facts which are only knowable to certain social groups?
Speaking of Science
Organized by Princeton Citizen Scientists, this reading group serves as a site for monthly discussion about science communication. We will explore diverse methods of outreach and education, providing a site of engagement for scientists and humanists alike.
A forum for discussions of recent theoretical texts. This semester's theme is Global Decoloniality, and we will consider contemporary politics of power, knowledge, and being.
Writing and The Politics of Language
This reading group aims to put together a variety of texts that discuss the relationships between (a) writing, text and the idea of «language», (b) literacy, the print vernacular and its empowering/disempowering implications for linguistic and literary communities, (c) print cultures in the creation of utopian/dystopian drives, as well as different theories surrounding liberty and subjection/control of linguistic forms.


Black Studies and the Black Radical Tradition
This reading group reviews contemporary theories of “anti-Black racism” and the relationship between Black studies and movements for racial, gender, class, and sexual justice.
Critical Writing and the Public Sphere
This group will read works of literary, cultural, and political criticism with attention to the relationship between critical style, and conditions of writing, reading, and publication. By delving into the criticism of the past, we aim to interrogate our own work as writers and intellectuals in the present.
Encounters with the State
In this group we’ll discuss concrete manifestations of the contested and elusive concept of ‘the state’ as well as how it (1) operates (or should operate) within and between disciplines, and (2) intersects with public uses of the concept today.
Environmental Humanities
The Environmental Humanities Reading Group meets monthly to discuss new texts at the intersections of ecology & culture. Readings encompass environmental justice issues, cultural responses to the Anthropocene, the coincident histories of capitalism and environmental degradation, and other areas of emerging interest.
A literary translation project run by Princeton graduate students across disciplines. Our annual journal catalogs original translations and offers critical texts on translation practice.
Late Medieval / Early Modern Thought
The topic for the 2017-2018 iteration of this group will be, “Dominion and Domination in the Early Colonialism.” The central normative concern is the logics of anti/colonialism and anti/subjugation of Native peoples in the "New World."
This interdisciplinary reading group will focus on how political and economic ideas categorized as neoliberalism have become manifest in domains as varied as the arts, architecture, foreign policy, and the family.
This group focuses on the theory, history, and practice of the “talking cure,” inviting both scholars and practicing psychoanalysts to lead discussions around a precirculated text. The theme for this year will be “Race and Psychoanalysis.
Speaking of Science
Join us for a monthly discussion about science communication. We will explore diverse methods of outreach and education, providing a site of engagement for scientists and humanists alike.
The Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality
The Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality (REN) Reading Group critically engages with a variety of texts on the topics of race, ethnicity, and nationality, with particular attention paid to our contemporary moment, historical time, and global context.
The Theory Reading Group is a forum where theoretical texts are chosen based on their immediate relevance to the debates of our contemporary world. This semester’s theme is Lacan’s Four Fundamental Concepts.
Thomas Mann and His World
An interdisciplinary reading group on the novels of Thomas Mann. Our investigations are open to diverse fields from music to philosophy to politics and may touch on Mann’s wartime years in Princeton.
The Universalism(s) Reading Group aims to foster interdisciplinary, critical, and timely discussion of the contested category of the “universal,” including its legacies of violence and emancipation, particularity and globality. Through short readings from diverse authors, we especially hope to reconsider the Marxist tradition in light of decolonial thought.


The Atheologies Reading Group, titled after a term from Georges Bataille, engages with texts grappling with the unstable boundary between transcendence and immanence, the challenge of relating to an absent God, and the place of divinity in everyday life.The group will begin in Spring 2017 with Paul North’s The Yield: Kafka’s Atheological Reformation.
Decoloniality: Prison Abolition
The Decoloniality Graduate Reading Group is a discussion group focused on reading hermeneutically along contemporary ethnographical, anthropological, and theological traditions. This year, the focus of the group will be Mass Incarceration and Prison Abolition.
Reception of Ancient Philosophy
Greek philosophy’s journey to early modern Europe is one of the most important stories in the history of thought. But it’s also one of the hardest to tell.


Biographical Writing in Early China
The Reading Group of Biographical Writing in Early China (ca. 1000 BCE-220 AD) is an interdisciplinary project that focuses on fundamental questions related to life writing in antiquity.


The Maimonides Reading Group explores The Guide for the Perplexed in a non-linear fashion with special attention to its hidden, doubled, and multiplied meanings.
Philosophical Topics in Early China: Military Thought
During the academic year 2014-15, the IHUM reading group Philosophical Topics in Early China will focus on one of the most important topics in Early Chinese texts, namely ‘Military Thought,’ or 'Philosophy of War.'