Course Archive

Spring Programme

Philosophy, Formalization & Truth as Creative Process

3 April - 5 June, 2023, Parrhesia, Berlin

Three courses and a workshop taught in person and online via Zoom. For any questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Payment may be made by credit card (via Paypal), Paypal, or offline Bank Transfer.

When: 3 April - 5 June 2023

Where:  Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding 

How: All courses are taught in hybrid format (in person and on Zoom). Video recordings are made available for those unable to attend. Course readings can be accessed online before the school begins. Links to the Zoom classroom are sent out prior to the course starting. All payment must be made via credit card or Paypal account during enrolment. Also it's worth noting that Berlin (CMT+1) is 10 hours behind Melbourne time and 6 hours ahead of New York.

Enrolment Fees

Courses Waged Unwaged/Student
Freud Talk Only €7 €4
Workshop Only €25 €12
Talk and Workshop €30 €15


Four-hour Workshop

1–5 pm Saturday

13 May

On the Production of Biography: Karl Marx & György Lukács

Lecturers: Michael Heinrich & Patrick Eiden-Offe

Venue: Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding



Two-hour Talk

7–9 pm Monday

5 June

Disrupting Collective Destinies: Freud on History, Myth and Repetition

Lecturer: Cindy Zeiher 

Venue: Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding



The Intensive course runs for 2 hours per day for 5 days

Mon-Fri 7–9 pm

3-7 April

This course has concluded
The Philosophy of Alain Badiou: The Dialectic of Formalization

Lecturer: Magdalena Germek 

Venue: Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding


The Weekly courses run for 2 hours per week for either 4 or 5 weeks

4 Tuesdays

25 April - 16 May

Care Ethics and Capitalism: Theodor Adorno & Theories of Care

Lecturer: Estelle Ferrarese

Venue: Hopscotch Reading Room (first week)  & Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding (last three weeks)


5 Wednesdays

19 April - 17 May

Speaking Freely, Speaking Truly: Michel Foucault on the Politics and Ethics of Parrhesia

Lecturer: Richard Dienst 

Venue: Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding


5 Thursdays

20 April - 18 May

Global Politics Today

Lecturer: Steven Corcoran

Venue: Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding



Course, Talk, and Workshop Descriptions

On the Production of Biography: Karl Marx & György Lukács

1-5pm Saturday, 13 May 2023

Lecturers: Michael Heinrich and Patrick Eiden-Offe

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Biography is a very old and still immensely popular genre. We find biographies of politicians, artists, revolutionaries, entrepreneurs and poets, and even of things, rivers and cities on the market today. For a long time, biographies were held to have a rather conservative reputation: they seemed to reproduce the ideological outlook according to which history is made by great men, thus enabling history to be written as the history of these great men. But this reputation got turned around for emancipatory purposes a good while ago: in the abolitionist, workers’ and women’s movements, biographies were written of people who were said to have no real history of their own. And, of course, the lives and histories of the leaders of these movements also became subjects of biographical encounters. This turning around raises difficult questions: for example, is it possible to write the biography of Karl Marx without reproducing the stereotype of the great man, and if so, how? Here, the political question becomes a poetic one, in the literal sense: it is a question of how to do it, of how to write a biography that, at a certain point, has to turn against conventions of its own genre.

After a brief historical introduction to biography, the workshop will address, in a first section, some general problems of biography writing. Then, in a second section, we will discuss particular problems regarding the cases of Marx and Lukács, drawing on Michael Heinrich’s biography of Marx, and Patrick Eiden-Offe’s work in progress on the life of Georg Lukács.


Patrick Eiden-Offe is a literary and cultural historian and theorist. He has written on the intersection of poetics and politics in a wide range of topics, from Hegel via the poetry of the early worker’s movement to classical modernity’s encounter with fascism. Currently, he is engaged in writing a biography of the Hungarian literary theorist, political philosopher and revolutionary Georg Lukács.


Michael Heinrich is a political scientist and mathematician. He was professor of economics at HTW Berlin until 2016, and served as managing editor of PROKLA, a leading German journal for critical social science, until 2014. For several years, he was also a collaborator on the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA). Heinrich’s work has essentially centred on Marx's Critique of Political Economy and the development of his thought. Two of his works, Introduction to the Three volumes of Karl Marx's Capital, and How to Read Marx's Capital, are available in English. He is currently working on a four-volume biography of Marx's life and the development of his work titled Karl Marx and The Birth of Modern Society. The first volume appeared in German in 2018, followed by the English translation in 2019.



Disrupting Collective Destinies: Freud on History, Myth and Repetition

7-9pm Monday 5 June

Cindy Zeiher


For Freud, memories of the past serve as affective markers for the cultivation of myth: we stick to historical signifiers in order to understand the antagonisms of the present. From a Freudian perspective however, history is not so reliable, but the myths accompanying its structure are. Accordingly, we can appreciate how patterns of history and its ‘witnessing’ provoke mythic memories. This seminar explores Freud’s ‘anthropology’ as a feminist intervention attuned to the particular suffering of patriarchal ‘authorities’.


Cindy Zeiher is a Lacanian psychoanalyst in training and teaches critical and psychoanalytic theory at the University of Canterbury Aotearoa/New Zealand. Her writings explore Freudian-Lacanian interventions and interpretations relating to contemporary questions of subjectivity and ontology. She recently completed a book manuscript interrogating musicologist/philosopher, Vladimir Jankélévitch’s radical refusal of politics from the perspective of Lacan’s theory of the speech-act. Her current project teases out on the (non)relation between music and philosophy. In addition, Cindy is a cellist and creative writer, sometimes combining both to express moods and curiosities via tone/sound-poem performances and recordings.


The Philosophy of Alain Badiou: The Dialectic of Formalization

Monday 3 - Friday 7, April 7-9 pm

Magdalena Germek


iceDiscourse today is haunted by interesting, new, apocalyptic crisis-markers that paint a dramatic picture of our world: as one of pre-/post-global pandemic times; of the potential outbreak of a new world war; of the emergence of AI; of the total digitization of the world; of planetary ecological crisis, and so on. The general conclusion seems to be that powerful new things are happening, radical things. Things that spell an end to that which was before and that announce new times. The question of radical beginning or radical end is the one that we will pursue here. What does it mean that there is a novel beginning or a radical end. For something new to emerge, is it necessary to destroy the old? How can we orient ourselves before the appearance of some novelty? Under such circumstances, does extant knowledge help or disorient us? How to address the rumor of the new? Is it true or ideological discourse and where to draw the line?

In this course, we will show how philosophy of Alain Badiou can help orient us within these discourses today. As Badiou was developing the essential concepts of his philosophy, there had also been much talk of radical ends and novel times: the end of grand narratives and beginning of postmodernism, the end of philosophy, of history, of big politics, and of the very idea of the world. His doctrine of the emergence of truths, and of a philosophy that is under the condition of those truths, aimed in part to steer us through these debates and propose something else.

The key operator, I contend, is what we might call Badiou’s “dialectic of formalization.” The dialectic of formalization announces a double procedure – an autonomous and creative procedure for the production of a new true form in the world and a process of formation of continuity in discontinuity. Moreover, the dialectic of formalization represents a connection between Badiou’s mature work and his early writings from the late 1960s. Even though in the 1960s and 1970s Badiou had not yet introduced the concepts of subject and truth in the sense that he understands them today, it is possible to support the thesis that there is an indisputable connection between Badiou’s early concept of formalization and his later concept of generic truth procedure.

The short course on Badiou’s philosophy will introduce those who are not acquainted with Badiou’s philosophy with his basic philosophical concepts and give those familiar with Badiou’s works a thought-provoking interpretation of his theory.

Works and approximate daily unfolding

Day 1:

Badiou, Logics of Worlds. Being and Event, 2, trans. Alberto Toscano, London, Continuum, 2009: Preface, Book I: Formal Theory of the Subject (Metha-Physics); Book V: The Four Forms of Change.

Day 2:

Badiou, “The Autonomy of the Aesthetic Process”, trans. Bruno Bosteels, in A. Badiou, The Age of the Poets: And Other Writings on Twentieth-Century Poetry and Prose, London and New York, Verso, 2014, pp. 111–131.

Day 3:

Badiou, Alain, Being and Event, trans. Oliver Feltham, London, Continuum, 2006. Introduction, Part I Being: Multiple and Void.

Day 4:

Badiou, Zachary Luck Fraser, and Tzuchien Tho, “The Concept of Model, Forty Years Later: An Interview with Alain Badiou”, trans. Zachary Luck Fraser and Tzuchien Tho, in A. Badiou, The Concept of Model, Melbourne,, 2007, pp. 79-106.

Badiou, The Century, trans. Alberto Toscano, Cambridge, Polity, 2007. 9 Seven variations; 11 Avant-garedes; 13 The joint disappearances of Man and God.

Day 5:

Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy, trans. Norman Madarasz, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1999. 1. Possibility; 2. Conditions; 6. Sutures; 10. Platonic Gesture; 11. Generic.

Badiou, Conditions, trans. Steven Corcoran. London, Continuum, 2008: I Philosophy Itself; II Philosophy and Mathematics



Magdalena Germek is an assistant at the Postgraduate School at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, where she obtained a PhD on the philosophy of Alain Badiou.

Germek is a member of the Založba /*cf. publishing house, a participant in the International Union of Left Publishers-IULP, and a member of the program committee of the International Hegel Association Aufhebung. She also cooperates with the informal organization of five non-profit Slovenian publishing houses Kooperativa THD, conceptualizing and organizing events.

Her current work focuses on the historical development of anatomy and the influence that philosophy and the visual arts has had on this development, paying special attention to the epistemological research of anatomical books and anatomical illustrations from the sixteenth century to the present day. Germek is guided by the idea of the necessity of substantive and methodological mutual communication between art, philosophy and science, which is why she collaborates with artists and scientists. She has written numerous reviews of various artistic projects (in the field of dance, performing arts and fine arts) and curated or co-curated different art exhibitions.




Care Ethics and Capitalism: Theodor Adorno & Theories of Care

4 Tuesdays: 25 April - 16 May 2023

Estelle Ferrarese 


This course aims to stage a dialogue between Critical Theory and the ethics of care. Care theories, which were conceived as a feminist response to the ultraliberalism under way in Anglo-Saxon countries, have yet to investigate the way in which they actually fostered this ultraliberalism. Indeed, despite the emphasis placed on work in their thinking, the majority of theorists of care, who almost never refer to Marxist feminism from the 1970s, leave the way care work is embedded in the capitalist order entirely unthought. Care work is deemed to be socially necessary work (as Tronto and Fischer’s famous definition makes explicit: ‘caring is a species activity’), but this work is not considered in its organization by and for a particular political economy. Its exteriority vis-à-vis the market - long total, now only partial - is thus not analysed as a condition of possibility for this same market but simply with a view to its consequences in terms of distributive and statutory justice for women. Within the constellation of care theories, it was during the 2000s, twenty years after they first emerged, that capitalism came to be a subject of focus due to a reflection on the international organization of care work and its influence on international migrations.

This course thus aims to think together from the outset care ethics and capitalism, or more precisely to think care as it is conformed by capitalism, and to evaluate its critical force.

This will be done around two themes: a reflection on the (gendered) processes of moral subjectivation in the capitalist form of life, and the question of whether it is possible to care for others on and through the market (with ethical consumption).


Week 1: The moral subjects of capitalism 1. Bourgeois coldness

Max Horkheimer and Adorno Theodor W., Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

(This book will then be used as a counterpoint in all the courses that follow)

Week 2: The moral subjects of capitalism 2. A gendered logic

Joan Tronto, Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care (New York: Routledge, 1993).

Week 3: Can we care for others on and through the market ? 1 Care against excess

Nancy Fraser, Cannibal Capitalism. How Our System Is Devouring Democracy, Care, and the Planet—and What We Can Do About It (New York, Verso, 2022).

Week 4: Can we care for others on and through the market? 2 Fair price and commensurability

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), Book 5



Estelle Ferrarese is professor of moral and political philosophy at Picardie-Jules-Verne University (France). She is Senior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France.
She has been Visiting Professor at the New School for Social Research in New York, Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation fellow at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin, and research fellow at the Marc Bloch Franco-German Center of Social Science Research, in Berlin.
Her books include: Le Marché de la Vertu. Critique de la consommation éthique, Paris, Vrin, forthcoming in 2023, Vulnerability and Critical Theory (Boston/ Leiden, Brill: 2018), La fragilité du souci des autres. Adorno et le care (Lyon: ENS éditions, 2018); English trans. Adorno and the Fragility of Caring for Others (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), Ethique et politique de l'espace public. Habermas et la discussion (Paris: Vrin, 2015). She is also the author of numerous articles on Critical Theory, forms of life, and vulnerability as a political category.


Speaking Freely, Speaking Truly: Michel Foucault on the Politics and Ethics of Parrhesia

5 Wednesdays: 19 April - 17 May 2023

Richard Dienst


In the final years of his life, Michel Foucault turned his attention to the practice of parrhesia—an ancient Greek term designating frank, fearless, and free speech. Foucault wanted to show how parrhesia migrated from political situations, where forthright speaking would be essential for democracy, to ethical and philosophical contexts where it would sustain particular ways of living and distinctive ways of speaking the truth. As Foucault explored these distinctions, he elaborated an immense range of questions about education and friendship, critique and dissent, care and courage, and many other essential ideas.

In this course we will read Foucault's final lecture course at the Collège de France, where he shows how the ancient texts still speak to contemporary theories of subjectivity, discourse, and truth. But that is not all: Foucault's analysis of parrhesia reaches a remarkable culmination in the figure of Diogenes the Cynic, whose extreme repudiation of norms puts politics, ethics, and philosophy itself into question. Here we can glimpse a radical parrhesia that continues to animate militant and aesthetic antagonism to the ruling powers of our own times.

Key readings:

  • Michel Foucault, The Courage of Truth
  • Maggie Nelson, On Freedom
  • plus essays and excerpts from Peter Sloterdijk, Giorgio Agamben, and others.

Week 1

We will begin by situating the lectures on parrhesia in the context of Foucault's larger project, and by situating Foucault in the arrival of "French theory" in the Anglophone world. We will examine the main philosophical and political contours of parrhesia in the first four lectures in The Courage of Truth (from 1 February to 15 February). Here Foucault describes a shift from the role of parrhesia in Athenian democracy to its emergence as an element of the "care of the self." We will also introduce some of the key ideas of Pierre Hadot, whose work on ancient philosophy partly inspired Foucault's approach.

Week 2

In the lectures from 22 February to 7 March, Foucault traces the unfolding of parrhesia as an ethical practice, centered on the major figures of Socrates and Diogenes. Alongside the classic questions—To whom do we speak the truth? From whom do we expect the truth?—we encounter the possibility that parrhesia does not operate according to the customary rules of social relationships. With the emergence of Cynicism in Foucault's account, we see that the challenge of parrhesia bears on the way we try to talk about life itself. Here we will introduce Giorgio Agamben's concept of the "form-of-life" and talk about how parrhesia recasts our understanding of ethical and political commitments.

Week 3

In his final lectures, Foucault gives the practice of parrhesia a new range, moving out of political and domestic spaces and out onto the streets. Perhaps speaking the truth requires a break from prevailing notions of philosophy, and opens onto the prospect of "another life" and "another world." We will try to draw out the possibilities raised by Foucault, questioning the limits of education, conversation, and community. More contemporary texts by Tiqqun, Claire Fontaine, and Endnotes may offer some further examples.

Week 4

It would be hard to talk about contemporary cynicism without turning to Peter Sloterdijk's Critique of Cynical Reason. In this session we will give an account of Sloterdijk's own approach to "telling the truth" and "changing your life," reading excerpts from his Critique as well as more recent works. Sloterdijk will thus offer one way to map the vicissitudes of the Foucauldian project, and indeed of "the theory movement" more generally.

Week 5

In our final session, we will discuss a rather different account of freedom and discourse today: Maggie Nelson's 2021 book of essays titled On Freedom. Addressing art, sex, drugs, and radical politics, Nelson provides not only a critical assessment of the philosophical ideas raised by the tradition of parrhesia, but a particular performance of "fearless speech" attuned to current controversies.

richard dienstAlexander_visiting_Diogenes_MET_120463.jpg


Richard Dienst is Professor Emeritus from the Department of English at Rutgers University, where he taught courses in theory, visual media, and literature. He is the author of three books—Still Life in Real Time: Theory after Television (Duke University Press), The Bonds of Debt: Borrowing against the Common Good (Verso Books), and Seeing from Scratch: Fifteen Lessons with Godard (Caboose Books)—as well as numerous essays on politics and culture.


Global Politics Today: 

5 Thursdays: 20 April - 18 May 2023

Steven Corcoran


France is erupting, again. The media tells us that the French are ‘unhappy’ with ‘Macron’s’ reforms. But this struggle for ‘happiness’, we know, is far from a local complaint. The last decade has seen a vast number of struggles form around the planet, announcing another path to that which the world, under the dictates of liberal capitalism and the hegemony of representative government, is currently rushing headlong down. Despite the new perspectives opened up by these struggles, the question of their duration is a pressing one. Whether we are talking about the various squares movements – from the Arab Spring to the Indignados in Spain and Syntagma Square in Greece – indigenous struggles around the world, or ecological movements, they generally tend to become deflated through some mix of governmental co-optation in forms of representation and outright repression. The upshot is a representation of them (the ‘unhappy’ French, the democracy-aspiring Egyptians) that becomes dominant precisely insofar as it is able to obscure their stakes and direction.

If this dominant representation can effectively prevail, it clearly has to do with the largely negative slogans around which these movements coalesce. Our challenge here is nonetheless to draw a different picture of these struggles. We aim to delve further into the perspectives they open up, their global thinking (after all, the proletariat is now everywhere), their attempts at creating forms of the common good, their eschewing of all forms of identity, and the way they define political organization in terms of instrumentation and not representation.

Week 1: Representative Government vs Democracy: Jacques Rancière on egalitarian history 

Week 2: The Hatred of Democracy and Logical Revolt

Week 3: The Communist Hypothesis: Alain Badiou on the idea that "there is One world"

Week 4: The Situation of Global Politics Today: Remarks on Contradictions, Organization, Strategy & Ecology.

Week 5: TBA

Key Readings: 

  • Bernard Manin, The Principles of Representative Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press., 1997)
  • Jacques Rancière, Dis-agreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans. Julie Rose (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2004).
  • Jacques Rancière, Hatred of Democracy, trans. Steven Corcoran (London: Verso, 2006)
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, with an Introduction by David McLellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).
  • Alain Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, trans. David Macey and Steven Corcoran (London: Verso, 2010).
  • Alain Badiou, The Century, trans. Alberto Toscano (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007), Chapter 6, ‘One Divides into Two’.
  • Alessandro Russo, The Cultural Revolution and Revolutionary Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020).
  • Alain Badiou, Greece and the Reinvention of Politics, trans. David Broder (London: Verso, 2018).
  • Jacques Rancière, What Times Are We Living In? trans. Steven Corcoran (Cambridge: Polity, 2020).
  • Andreas Malm, The Progress of This Storm: Nature and Society in a Warming World (London/New York: Verso, 2017)


Steven Corcoran’s philosophical work of writing, editing, translating has chiefly involved a discernment of artistic and political truths. He is the editor of The Badiou Dictionary and has edited/translated over 20 works of philosophy, including, among others, by Alain Badiou (Conditions, Polemics and The Idea of Communism), by Jacques Rancière (Dissensus, Hatred of Democracy, The Edges of Fiction, What Times Are We Living In?), by Frantz Fanon (Alienation and Freedom), and three recent works by Achille Mbembe (Necropolitics, The Earthly Community, and Brutalism). His current projects include a book on egalitarian political organization and imagination.



Autumn School Programme

October-November 2022, Parrhesia, Berlin

One 10-hour course and two evening talks. For any questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Payment may be made by credit card (via Paypal), Paypal or offline Bank Transfer. The two talks are also available via Eventbrite.

When: Tues 18 October - Tues 15 November 2022

Where:  Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding (courtyard). U-Bahn: U6 & U9 Leopoldplatz; S-Bahn: Wedding

How: All courses are taught in hybrid format (in person and on Zoom). Video recordings are made available for those unable to attend. Course readings can be accessed online before the school begins. Links to the Zoom classroom are sent out prior to the course starting. All payment must be made via credit card or Paypal account during enrolment. Also it's worth noting that Berlin (CMT+1) is 10 hours behind Melbourne time and 6 hours ahead of New York.

Enrolment Fees

  Waged Unwaged/Student
Single Talk €9 €6
Both Talks €18 €12
Course Only €85 €50
Course + Single Talk €91 €54
Course + Both Talks €96 €57



7:30-9:30 pm

Wed 26 Oct 


Colonial and Decolonial Violence: How Anticolonial Thinkers Reinvented the Politics of Force

Lecture by: Eraldo Souza dos Santos - Register via Eventbrite


7:30-9:30 pm

Mon 7 Nov


Is Enjoyment Antisocial? Marx and Freud as Critics of Ressentiment

Lecture by: Samo Tomšič  - Register via Eventbrite


6-8 pm

5 Tuesdays

18 Oct-15 Nov


Foucault and Derrida in Couples Therapy with Freud

Lecturer: Leon Brenner


Talk Descriptions

Colonial and Decolonial Violence: How Anticolonial Thinkers Reinvented the Politics of Force

Wednesday 26 October, 2022, 7:30 – 9:30 pm

Lecture by Eraldo Souza dos Santos

Register via Eventbrite

How effective is the politics of anticolonial violence against imperial domination? Is radical change possible without violent methods? Can we conceive of postcolonial societies without the monopoly on violence that has traditionally characterized modern states? What subjectivities do violence and nonviolence give shape to? 

From Gandhi to Fanon and beyond, these questions became key theoretical and practical problems to anticolonial thinkers in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. This lecture will retrace the process by which their political thought has radically reconfigured debates about political violence around the world from the 1920s onwards. 

For better or worse, as we will see, we inhabit a philosophical imaginary of violence that took shape during processes of decolonization. But what to do, today, with this tradition that weighs on our shoulders? What has been forgotten and could be recovered from these histories and theories of violence

Bio: Eraldo Souza dos Santos is a writer and scholar currently based between Berlin and Paris. In his current book project, he aims at offering the first global history of civil disobedience. His writing on the history and politics of social movements has appeared in The DiplomatThe Philosopher, the Washington PostWorld Politics Review, and elsewhere. (More here if needed).

Sepoy revolt at Meerut, 1857


Is Enjoyment Antisocial? Marx and Freud as Critics of Ressentiment

Monday 7 November, 7:30 – 9:30 pm

Lecture by Samo Tomšič

Register via Eventbrite

The talk will examine the intersection of psychoanalysis and the critique of political economy from the perspective of the respective encounter and engagement of Marx and Freud with the antisocial tendencies of the capitalist ‘social’ condition. The critique of capitalist antisociality seems to be a significant common ground between Marx’s mature critique of economic liberalism and Freud’s pessimistic vision of the modern cultural condition. An important meeting point between the two contexts, critical and clinical, is the concept of the drive, and notably its ‘capitalist vicissitude’, which consists in its fixation on a useless surplus-object and fuels its aggressive and eventually destructive actualization. Departing from this shared problematic, the presentation will then engage more extensively with ressentiment as the privileged affective expression of capitalism’s antisocial tendencies, and comment on the proliferation of antisociality in the shift from economic liberalism to neoliberalism, and finally to our present-day catastrophe capitalism.

Bio: Samo Tomšič is a Slovenian philosopher based in Berlin and Hamburg. He is currently interim professor of philosophy at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg and research associate at the Humboldt University Berlin. His research areas comprise political philosophy, critical theory, and theoretical psychoanalysis. Recent publications include The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan (Verso 2015) and The Labour of Enjoyment. Towards a Critique of Libidinal Economy (August Verlag 2019/2021).  


Course Description

Foucault and Derrida in Couples Therapy with Freud

Tuesdays 6-8 pm. Weekly from 18 October – 15 November (5 evenings)

Course by Dr. Leon Brenner


Michel Foucault’s innovative approach to madness in Madness and Civilization greatly impacted the antipsychiatry movement of the 1960s and gave rise to the contemporary field of ‘mad studies’. It ignited a long dispute with Jacques Derrida and eventually drove Foucault to harshly criticize Derrida in the second edition of his book, deeply affecting their friendship. In response, Derrida rebuked the novelty of Foucault’s project in a series of essays, finally subordinating it to the same discourse it came to denounce: psychoanalysis. In this lecture we will discuss key factors in Foucault and Derrida’s long polemical argument over the question of madness. ​​By doing so, the intersection of Foucault's theory of madness with Freud’s psychoanalysis will be shown to be very fruitful territory. In particular, there will be a focus on Foucault’s philosophical elaboration of a constitutive exclusion underlying the discourse on reason and unreason, as well as his insistence on that exclusion’s singular relationship with madness. This notion will then be developed in psychoanalytic terms augmenting the constitutive gesture that Freud attributed to the plurality of subjective structures elaborated in his metapsychology.

Week 1, Tuesday 18 October: Foucault’s archaeology and the history of madness

Week 2, Tuesday 25 October: Structuralism, closed-sets and constitutive exclusions

Week 3, Tuesday 1 November: Derrida’s post-structural polemic and Foucault ‘strikes back’

Week 4, Tuesday 8 November: Freud’s hospitality to madness out of the hospital

Week 5, Tuesday 15 November: The future of madness—Lacan and subjectivity

Suggested course reading

  • Brenner, L. S. (2020). The autistic subject: on the threshold of language. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Derrida, Jacques. (1994). “‘To do justice to Freud’: The history of madness in the age of psychoanalysis.” Critical Inquiry, 20.2: 227–66.
  • Derrida, Jacques. (2001). “Cogito and the history of madness.” Writing and Difference. Routledge. 36–76.
  • Foucault, M. (2006). History of madness in the age of reason. Routledge.
  • Freud, Sigmund. (1915). Repression. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914–1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works (pp. 141–58).
  • Freud, S. (1924). The Loss of Reality in Neurosis and Psychosis. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIX (1923–1925): The Ego and the Id and Other Works (pp. 181–8).
  • Freud, S. (1925). Negation. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIX (1923–1925): The Ego and the Id and Other Works (pp. 233–40).
  • Lacan, J. (1997). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book III, The Psychoses (1955–1956). Norton & Company.
  • Jonas, Eric. (2015). “Historicity and Alterity: Revisiting the Foucault-Derrida Debate.” Constellations, 22.4: 586–98.

Dr. Leon S. Brenner is a psychoanalytic theorist and psychoanalyst from Berlin. Brenner’s work draws from the Freudian and Lacanian traditions of psychoanalysis, and his interest lies in the understanding of the relationship between culture and psychopathology. His book The Autistic Subject: On the Threshold of Language, is a bestseller in psychology in Palgrave Macmillan publishing in 2021. He is a founder of Lacanian Affinities Berlin and Unconscious Berlin and is currently a research fellow and lecturer at the International Psychoanalytic University (IPU) Berlin and the Hans Kilian und Lotte Köhler Centrum (KKC) at the Ruhr Universität Bochum. You can find more online lectures with Leon here.



Spring School Programme

May-June 2022, Parrhesia, Berlin

Three 10-hour courses taught in person and online May-June 2022

All courses are 10 hours in length and will be taught in person and on Zoom. Significant discounts apply for those enroling in multiple courses. For any questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

When: 2 May  – 2 June 2022

Where: Tues/Thurs courses: Gerichtstraße 45, 13347 Berlin Wedding (im Hof);
Wed course: diffrakt - Crellestraße 22, 10827 Berlin Schöneberg. 
All courses are also ONLINE


How: All courses will be taught in a hybrid format (in person and on Zoom). Video recordings are made available for those unable to attend. Course readings can be accessed online before the school begins. Links to the Zoom classroom are sent out prior to the course starting. All payment must be made via credit card or Paypal account during enrolment. Also it's worth noting that Berlin (CMT+1) is 10 hours behind Melbourne time and 6 hours ahead of New York.

Enrolment Fees

Courses Waged Unwaged
1 €80 €50 
2 €105 €68
3 €120 €80


Each Course runs 2 hours per week for 5 weeks

Tues 1–3 pm

Starts 3 May

New Dawns Beyond Empire: Indigenous Europe and counter-hegemonic rationalities

Lecturer: Dr Anne Dippel, invited guest, artist Joulia Strauss 


Wed 7–9 pm      

Starts 4 May.    

Manifesto of (Counter-)Memory in an Age of Neoliberalism and Decolonization

Lecturer: Dr Gal Kirn


Thurs 7-9 pm  

Starts 5 May

The 'Pathology of Freedom': Colonialism and Psychiatry after Frantz Fanon

Lecturers: Dr Elena Vogman and Dr Marlon Miguel


Solidarity Event

Mon 2 May 8–10 pm

Ukraine   2 May, 8 – 10 pm, Roter Salon
"Freiheit & Würde: Solidarität mit der Ukraine!" series, Roter Salon der Volksbühne.
Ukrainian Activism: Countering Russia’s War
Talk with Vasyl Cherepanyn (Head of the Visual Culture Research Center / Kyiv Biennial), Joulia Strauss (Avtonomi Akadimia, Athens) and Steven Corcoran (Parrhesia, Berlin).
Hosted and moderated by Alexander Karschnia (Völksbühne)
Donations will go to the Kyiv Biennial's Emergency Support Initiative - Paypal acc.: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Course Descriptions

Course 1

New Dawns Beyond Empire: Indigenous Europe and Counter-Hegemonic Rationalities

Tuesdays 1-3 pm (3 May, 10 May, 17 May, 24 May, 31 May)

Dr Anne Dippel, invited guest, artist Joulia Strauss.



Rural space and urban landscapes, river settlements and seashores, deltas and deserts, oases and wastelands, digital spaces and dreams of Mars colonization – humans live with, through and in spite of other living beings, creating infrastructures that can be ethnographically recorded and measured. What is humanity? What is nature, what does culture include or exclude, and what are natures-cultures? Do we live in a universe or is Earth a pluriverse? Through digitalization, humans have created further new dimensions and are shaping network worlds, consuming finite energy sources such as rare earths?’ In this course we will discuss these questions by travelling back in time, thanks to a reading of David Graeber and David Wengrow’s recently published and much-discussed book The Dawn of Everything. Selected chapters will serve to guide us through what anthropology—at the borderlands of philosophy, the humanities and science—can offer our contemporary understandings of the world.

Week 1.  Introduction: Getting together

On Indigenous Europe – Indigeneity as a vector of dissolution of Empire. A discussion with invited guest, artist Joulia Strauss

What is cultural anthropology? And how does it help to orient us politically? The first session opens with a short introduction on the disciplinary thinking specific to cultural anthropology, broached through a discussion between anthropology and art. We aim to discuss the epistemological and politico-artistic scope of concepts such as ‘indigeneity’ and ‘nature’, backdropped notably by the logics of Empire-building at work in the European provinces of the world.

To situate the topics of the next sessions, we end with a summary of the main argument of Graeber and Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything.

Week 2. Chapter 1 of The Dawn of Everything, ‘Farewell to Humanity’s Childhood. Or, why this is not a book about the origins of inequality’.

What does thinking of origins imply? How do we detect inventions of traditions? And how do we analyze complex systems where humans play a pivotal role?

Week 3. Chapter 2, ‘Wicked Liberty. The indigenous critique and the myth of progress. Or, why this is not a book about the origins of inequality’.

What do concepts of indigeneity entail, and what does it mean to relativize and relate culture-specific points of view? Taking this chapter’s historical examples together with contemporary developments, I want to shed light on how dialogue between different cultural and societal orders is possible or made impossible. How did the story of dialogue and critique between indigenous and non-indigenous societies evolve? And how did it happen that at a certain point Western cultures came to perceive themselves as superior to other cultures, and then come to dismiss this view today?

Week 4. Chapter 6, ‘Gardens of Adonis. The revolution that never happened: how Neolithic peoples avoided agriculture’.

This session is devoted to understanding the intersection between theoretical reasoning and practices of agriculture and foraging. How are we to understand foraging and agricultural practices and tools as modes of theoretical reasoning, and what light do the former shed on the latter? 

Week 5. Chapters 8 and 9, ‘Imaginary Cities Eurasia’s first urbanites’ – in Mesopotamia, the Indus valley, Ukraine and China – and how they built cities without kings’ as well as ‘Hiding in Plain Sight: The indigenous origins of social housing and democracy in the Americas’.

What is a narrative and how do they relate to arguments? How do anthropologists weave facts together into a compelling narrative? In this last session we focus on sensibilities towards narratives told and towards those who tell narratives. These last two chapters provide rich examples through which to analyze how arguments are made.

David Graeber and David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (London: Penguin, 2021)


Course 2

Manifesto of (Counter-)Memory in an Age of Neoliberalism and Decolonization

Wednesdays 7 - 9 pm  (4 May, 11 May, 18 May, 25 May, 1 June)

Lecturer: Dr Gal Kirn (Research Associate, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia)


Image: Partisan printshop Divača (unknown author, 1944). Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary History, Ljubljana


A manifesto is a public statement that religious, political or artistic movements issue to render their intentions or views easy for people to ascertain. The most famous and widely translated manifesto is undoubtedly Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto (1848). This very form was taken on by different political parties and most prominently by avant-garde movements of the twentieth century. More recently, there has been a proliferation of engaged and scholarly texts that carry the word manifesto in their title.

This course aims to set the phenomenon of the manifesto against the field of memory, or rather of counter-memory: since the manifesto and memory evoke a rather contradictory pairing. Where memory is often conceived as that which is concerned with remembering the past, and is at least apt to organize social ties, a collective memory or a sort of ritualization, the manifesto is perceived as the expression of a striving for a (different) future, one that cuts with existing social ties and puts forward a plan about how to change the past and the future. In so doing, it radically redefines the field of its intervention by, for example, destroying/erasing museums, monuments or past canons. 

The course aims to elaborate a set of theses that combine both the manifesto and counter-memory. Counter-memory, in spirit of Deleuze and Guattari, is a specific modality that is occupied with thinking not the duration and spatiality of a nation-state, but rather with formalizing and remembering a rupture. This is not to say that there has been no manifesto of memory. Marx himself established a thesis that linked the memory of violence (yesterday's victims) and the future of these victim's (necessary) victory.

In the course we will articulate a set of theses (approximately two per session) that are inspired by, echo, refract and elaborate on the fragments of Marxian and critical thought concerning counter-memory. We shall go from Karl Marx and Walter Benjamin to the more recent texts of Susan Buck-Morss, Enzo Traverso and Michael Rothberg (multidirectional, beyond perpetrator-), including Todor Kuljić (manifesto for memory of left), Ann Rigney and Anna Reading (memory activism), and calls for 'mnemonic solidarity'.

The course will also examine a few general hypotheses concerning the so-called end of history and touch on the following topics: what might a new subject of memory be? What is the central cohesive element of the culture of memory? Have (counter-)monuments still a role to play? These hypotheses shall be supplemented by various case studies that are most notably related to 'post'-socialism-colonialism. 

Week 1: Short Introduction to the History and Today’s Renewed Popularity of the Manifesto Form.

The first session aims to present a brief history of the manifesto and to explore how memory can be read together with the seemingly opposed idea of a manifesto. A manifesto is often perceived as one of a particular group's most 'originary' moments or documents. As a document, it is often that which functions to promote, organize and disseminate a group's activities. In the second part of the lecture, we will look at selected passages from specific manifestos, notably those that relate to questions of past and future, history and memory (Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto; Benjamin's Theses on History), as well as at manifestos from non-Western contexts (Andrade; Mignolo; liberation manifestos).


  • Oswald de Andrade. Anthropophagic Manifesto. 1928 (1991 trans.)
  • Walter Benjamin, ‘On the Concept of History’ Selected Writings, Vol. 4: 1938–1940. Michael W. Jennings  and Howard Eiland (eds) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2003), pp. 389–400.
  • Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, 18th Brumaire, Communist Manifesto See Marx-Engels Archive online.
  •  Susan Buck-Morss and Emily Jacir, ‘The Gift of the Past’, in DOCUMENTA (13) Catalog 1/3: The Book of Books edited by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Bettina Funcke.
  • Archive/Counter-Archive ( 

Week 2: Counter in Post-Times: Counter-Memory-Archive-History

This session will discuss the creation of a new European memory project based on an anti-totalitarian ideology that has excluded and/or demonized revolutionary and anticolonial history. As will become clear, the current predicament has been long signalled by the prefixes 'anti' and 'post' (post-socialism, post-colonialism, post-modernism, etc.). In the lecture's second part, we delve into key theoretical references that inspire our elaboration of counter-memory (Deleuze and Guattari, Rockhill, Kirn, Mirzoeff, Buck-Morss, Benjamin). Taking into account the modality of counter, can we speak of the existence and reconstruction of an alternative, underground or aleatory history? Or of a memory or archive? Or of subversive currents that aim for a living memory of the world that is more inclusive than the prevailing one? 


  • Kwame Anthony Appiah. “Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Same as the Post- IN Postcolonial?” Critical Inquiry, 17, 2 (1991): 336–57
  • Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. What is Philosophy? (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994).
  • Gal Kirn, The Partisan Counter-Archive: Retracing the Ruptures of Art and Memory in the Yugoslav People's Liberation Struggle (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020).
  • Todor Kuljić, Manifest sječanja za levico (Belgrade: Clio, 2022).
  • Gabriel Rockhill, Counter-History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).
  • Enzo Traverso. Left-Wing Melancholia: Marxism, History, and Memory. New York City, Columbia University Press, 2017.

Week 3: Further Elements of a Manifesto of Counter-Memory

This lecture will present a short list of (hypo)theses that will form the core of our manifesto. We will look closely at recent proposals (Rothberg, Rigney, Reading, Traverso, Kuljić) and treat the following questions: what is the new subject of memory? What is the central cohesive element of a culture of memory? Our theses will be supplemented by various case studies. 


  • Jie-Hyun Lim, ‘Postcolonial Reflections on the Mnemonic Confluence of the Holocaust, Stalinist Crimes, and Colonialism’, Mnemonic Solidarity: Global Interventions, edited by Jie-Hyun Lim and Eve Rosenhaft (New York: Springer 2021), pp. 15–45.
  • Gal Kirn, The Partisan Counter-Archive: Retracing the Ruptures of Art and Memory in the Yugoslav People's Liberation Struggle (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020).
  • Anna Reading, 'A Manifesto for Activist Memory Studies', Handbook of Memory and Activism. (forthcoming, Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Anne Rigney, 'Remembering Hope: Transnational activism beyond the traumatic', Memory Studies, 11, 3, (2018): 368-380. doi:10.1177/1750698018771869
  • Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory (Stanford: SUP, 2009)

Week 4:  Art and Curating in the Age of Decolonization: What Kind of Counter-Memory? Guest lecture by the Nyabinghi Lab

This session will present some recent artistic and curatorial interventions that excavate, reconstruct, defragment and retrieve emancipatory fragments, stories, events, and audio and visual material of the (semi-)forgotten past and present—a past and present related to oppressed, subaltern subjectivities and possible strategies. We will look at examples of the 'partisan counter-archive' (Kirn) and invited guest the Nyabinghi Lab will provide us with a decolonial and art-curatorial perspective.  

  • The Nyabinghi Lab website
  • Micheal Rothberg, The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators (Stanford: SUP, 2019)

Week 5: Iconoclast events and the legacy of Western Colonialism

Following the political work and protests of Black Lives Matter, various iconoclast events, as well as political and theoretical discussions, have unfolded that focus on the ongoing legacy of European and Western colonial history. This legacy continues to haunt public spaces, museums, statues, and official memory discourses. This session will look at some striking public actions and present some key critical voices (Preciado, Mirzoeff, Scott, etc.)



Course 3

The ‘Pathology of Freedom’: Colonialism and Psychiatry after Frantz Fanon

Thursdays 7-9 pm  (5 May, 12 May, 19 May, 26 May, 2 June)

Lecturers: Dr Elena Vogman (Bauhaus Universität, Weimar) & Dr Marlon Miguel (Bauhaus Universität, Weimar)



The publication of Frantz Fanon’s Psychiatric Writings (Writings on Alienation and Freedom, [2015] 2018) marks a turning point not only in the history of critical psychiatry but also in the way we can approach the theory and history of decolonial thought. Reading colonial violence through the prism of mental illness implied for Fanon an understanding of mental illness as a ‘pathology of freedom’. This course explores a series of Fanon’s crucial decolonial concepts in their entanglement with the methods and tools of institutional psychotherapy: a clinical and political movement that emerged in the context of Second World War and the extermination policy aimed at psychiatric patients. Fanon’s collaboration with the resistance fighter and revolutionary doctor François Tosquelles at the Saint-Alban psychiatric clinic in Lozère in 1953 and his subsequent implementation and transformation of institutional psychotherapy in the Blida-Joinville clinic in Algeria both form central ‘scenes’ for our analysis. These scenes will be accompanied and deepened by a close reading of a number of texts and visual materials. We will also explore the role of different media and art practices, such as filming and photography, writing and publishing, drawing and sculpture for the formation of the so-called milieus of healing crucial to the practice of both Fanon and Tosquelles.             

Week 1. Introduction: Decolonial Perspectives on Psychiatry

In this first session, we will introduce Frantz Fanon’s trajectory, from his encounter with the Catalan psychiatrist François Tosquelles and the institutional psychotherapy developed at the Saint-Alban clinic to the work undertaken in Algeria. How do Fanon’s methods relate to institutional psychotherapy and simultaneously displace it against the backdrop of the violence of colonial war?


  • Nancy Luxon, ‘Fanon’s Psychiatric Hospital as a Waystation to Freedom’, Theory, Culture & Society 0(0), pp. 1–21, 2021, DOI: 10.1177/0263276420981612

Week 2. Apocalypse and Milieus of Reconstruction: The Tools of Institutional Psychotherapy

François Tosquelles showed how the experience of the apocalypse, or the ‘end of the world’, is recurrent for persons suffering from psychosis. But far from a simple delirium, this experience is an organic psychosomatic reaction that seeks to create a coherent form of life that would enable the individual to endure. Tosquelles, along with Georges Canguilhem, understands himself as part of a tradition extending from Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan that radically challenges notions of the normal and the pathological, of order and disorder.


  • Translated excerpts from François Tosquelles

Week 3. Mental Illness as a ‘Pathology of Freedom’ (Fanon)

Fanon adopts from the French psychiatrist Henri Ey the idea that mental illness implies a ‘pathology of freedom’. To understand this statement and grasp the meaning of ‘freedom’, we propose to introduce a constellation of figures (such as Ey, Louis Le Guillant and Marcel Mauss) and concepts (such as ‘milieu’ and ‘atmosphere’).


  • ‘Day hospitalization in psychiatry: Value and limits. Part two: doctrinal considerations)’,  Frantz Fanon: Writings on Alienation and Freedom, ed. by Jean Khalfa and Robert J.C. Young, trans. by Steven Corcoran (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 495-509.

Week 4. The ‘Pathology of Atmosphere’ and How Media Produce Milieus

After having conceptualized mental illness as a ‘pathology of freedom’, Fanon relates it to the ‘bloody atmosphere’ of the colonial war in Algeria. How does mental illness relate to this colonial atmosphere? And what role do media play in reconstructing a ‘healing milieu’? In this session, we will analyze how Fanon reintroduces the media work already practiced in Saint-Alban, and in particular the importance of film for his method. We will also watch a film made in the context of his work with refugees from the Algerian war (J’ai huit ans).


  • ‘Colonial War and Mental Disorders’, in Wretched of the Earth, chap. 5, trans. by Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press, 2005), pp. 181-233.

Week 5. The Two Faces of Violence

Considering 'madness' a 'pathology of freedom', Frantz Fanon never ceased to radically transform the methods of institutional psychotherapy in Algeria and Tunisia, thereby revealing the subjective and objective scarification of colonial violence. In this concluding session we will discuss the different modalities of violence through the prism of Fanon’s case studies as well as through Achille Mbembe’s reading of Fanon. Central to this session will be Christopher Chamberlin’s talk, '"The Conflict is the Patient"': In his late clinical writings, Fanon emphasized the political and ethical value of antagonism in the therapeutic program he instituted in the psychiatric hospital, going so far as to assert that 'the conflict is the patient'. This lecture explores the implications of a practice that treats (in the sense of facilitating) conflict through an analysis of Fanon’s case histories of 'psychosomatic' patients.


  • ‘Fanon’s Pharmacy’, in Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics, trans. by Steven Corcoran (Durham: Duke University Press), pp. 117-155.


Ukraine   2 May, 8 – 10 pm, Roter Salon
"Freiheit & Würde: Solidarität mit der Ukraine!" series, Roter Salon der Volksbühne.
Ukrainian Activism: Countering Russia’s War
Talk with Vasyl Cherepanyn (Head of the Visual Culture Research Center / Kyiv Biennial), Joulia Strauss (Avtonomi Akadimia, Athens) and Steven Corcoran (Parrhesia, Berlin).
Hosted and moderated by Alexander Karschnia (Völksbühne)
Donations will go to the Kyiv Biennial's Emergency Support Initiative - Paypal acc.: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Maidan (Independence Square), Kyiv, February 2014 



September Programme

September 2022, Parrhesia, Berlin

One 10-hour course taught in person and online via Zoom. For any questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Payment may be made by credit card (via Paypal), Paypal, or offline Bank Transfer.

When: Mon 19- Fri 23 September 2022

Where:  Gerichtstrasse 45, 13347 Berlin-Wedding (courtyard). U-Bahn: U6 & U9 Leopoldplatz; S-Bahn: Wedding

How: All courses are taught in hybrid format (in person and on Zoom). Video recordings are made available for those unable to attend. Course readings can be accessed online before the school begins. Links to the Zoom classroom are sent out prior to the course starting. All payment must be made via credit card or Paypal account during enrolment. Also it's worth noting that Berlin (CMT+1) is 10 hours behind Melbourne time and 6 hours ahead of New York.

Enrolment Fees

Courses Waged Unwaged/Student
1 €85 €50 
2 €110 €68
3 €125 €80


Each course runs for 2 hours per day for 5 days

Mon-Fri 6–8 pm

19-23 September

The Will to Learn: Ivan Illich, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou on the Equality of Intelligence

Lecturer: Steven Corcoran


Mon-Fri 3–5 pm

25-29 July

The Politics of Not-Speaking: A Non-Conversation with Heidegger, Schmitt, Fanon, Spivak and Derrida

Lecturer: Elad Lapidot


Mon-Fri 6-8 pm

25-29 July

Black Feminism: A Radical Introduction

Lecturers: Eva von Redecker & Bibi Stewart



Course Descriptions

The Will to Learn: Ivan Illich, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou on the Equality of Intelligence

Monday 19 - Friday 23, September 6-8 pm

Steven Corcoran


The Will to Learn: Ivan Illich, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou on the Equality of Intelligence

Learning is generally seen as a linear process aided by a teacher who has the knowledge necessary to guide the uncultivated mind. The crisis in education has thus set in, so the story goes, because of the challenges to knowledge in our ‘post-truth’, commodified  society. 

We will discuss three philosophers—Illich, Rancière and Badiou—who reconceptualize the question of education more radically. Providing us with precise conceptual tools, they show why this linear idea of education itself stultifies the learning process and impedes the path of intellectual emancipation. No wonder that the system of education runs counter to its stated principles. The exercise of intelligence, each argues, requires different conditions. 

Key works:

Jacques Rancière The Ignorant Schoolmaster

Alain Badiou Plato’s Republic

Ivan Illich Deschooling Society 

Lessons on the crisis in education from three contemporary philosophers

Wherein lies the crisis in education? 

Days 1 and 2 explore Rancière’s path-breaking work The Ignorant Schoolmaster. The book recounts the story of Joseph Jacotot, a French revolutionary and experienced teacher who made an important discovery while exiled in Belgium during the Restoration. At the centre of this story is the debunking of a certain pedagogical fiction – the linear model of learning. The main assertion repeated in this seminal work on the equality of intelligence is that the most perverse form of subjection occurs through the act of explaining itself. Yet what is teaching generally understood as if not a ‘giving of explanations’, that is a noble act of generosity through which the explainer enlightens the ‘explainee’ by giving him/her what they are lacking, that is, by bringing him/her to a higher level of knowledge and understanding? Jacotot/Rancière call for a radical break with the explanatory model – for them teaching is not about leading the ignorant, but of influencing the will, and most crucially of creating the conditions whereby the real problem of education is revealed: ‘not to transmit knowledge,  but to reveal an intelligence to itself’. Going beyond a critique of the explicative order and its dyad (the possessor of knowledge/the ignorant), they present the pedagogical relationship as one between two wills engaged in a process of verification of the fundamental equality of intelligences.

The notion of the ‘equality of intelligences’ is central to Rancière’s politics and aesthetics writings, to which we will create bridges. 

Days 3 and 4 explore Alain Badiou’s fascinating rewriting of Plato’s Republic. If, in Plato, the guardians have a specialized role that is allegedly best suited to ensuring justice in the ideal state, Badiou’s ‘hyper-translation’ updates the text: refuting any such specialized roles—which moves Badiou’s rendering of the guardian closer to a sort of Marxian polymorphous worker—it posits that each and every individual should be ‘equally involved in the state’. The ideal of justice and the welfare of the collective as a whole is the responsibility of each and every citizen. Here there are no philosopher kings because all citizens are philosophers and possess a shared view of the True. We will focus on the conditions that Badiou argues are needed for an education (‘by truths’), such as is suitable to this polymorphous figure of the guardian, and discuss how it diverges with current understandings of ‘democratic’ education.  

Day 5 discusses Ivan Illich’s work Deschooling Society. In an age where levels of student disaffection and anxiety are at unprecedented levels, where institutions are palpably betraying their own principles, where the commodification of education is progressing apace, Illich’s 1971 work has lost little of its relevance. We will discuss his claim that contemporary society, or learning, needs to be ‘deschooled’: the modern institution of the school runs counter to purpose and frustrates the will to learn, producing an alienation that is arguably more profound than that discussed by Marx. Illich maintains that the tenets of the modern school about what constitutes result in an institution that makes the school, not a place where learning can flourish, but a precondition for any position or privilege. The secular school gets caught in a self-justificatory logic: adherence produces a belief that is usually stronger than any confounding evidence; but should evidence leak through, then the performance of the ritual itself can be faulted (and calls made to intensify it). 

If schooling has become a perverse ritual or liturgy, inducing participants to overlook what they are actually doing, Illich seeks this development in the long history of the church within European society. The modern school is far from secular, the secular itself being a product of religious thinking.

Basing his arguments on a combination of institutional experimentation, sociological analysis, ecclesiology and philosophy, Illich, crucially, does not argue against schools per se, but rather for schools as places that are freely accessible to all and allow the organization of certain specific learning tasks that a person might propose to him- or herself. 

We will discuss his arguments around why ‘deschooling’ is necessary to the human adventure today and his proposals for shifting the educational process outside the usual forms of authority and hierarchy.


Course 2

The Politics of Not-Speaking: A Non-Conversation with Heidegger, Schmitt, Fanon, Spivak and Derrida

Monday 25 July - Friday 29 July 3-5 pm 

Lecturer: Elad Lapidot


Politics is all about speaking, that is about the social communication and discourses that generate and maintain social organization, the coordinated action of collectives. Aristotle famously established ‘logos’ (speech, discourse, rational communication) as the basis of the polis, the city, state or polity. Yet, even if speech opens up the dimension of politics, the actual political reality has been just as much connected or even predicated on not speaking. The biblical myth of the Tower of Babel narrates the beginning of human politics as arising from a rupture in communication.

This course will explore the notion of not speaking as a political, epistemological and social practice in twentieth-century theory, especially in view of decolonial discourse. We will look at texts that analyze conceptually but also actively perform the end of dialogue and the crisis of conversation in a paradoxical age of globally asserted epistemo-cultural fragmentation. From Martin Heidegger’s exchange with ‘the Japanese’ through Carl Schmitt’s anti-parliamentarism, including Frantz Fanon’s defense of anti-colonial violence, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s nonspeaking subaltern and Jacques Derrida’s one-language-that-is-not-his-own. Through these texts we will reflect together on logoclastic features in patterns, structures, and practices of dialogue and non-dialogue deployed in contemporary politics, from nonviolent boycotts to the violence of war.


Day 1 Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen. Text von 1932 mit einem Vorwort und drei Corollarien (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2009 [1932]), 29; translated by Georg Schwab as The Concept of the Political (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2007 [1996]).

Day 2 Martin Heidegger, 'Aus einem Gespräch von der Sprache, zwischen einem Japaner und einem Fragenden', Unterwegs zur Sprache (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2003 [1959]), 84-155; translated by Peter Hertz as 'A Dialogue on Language, between a Japanese and an Inquirer', in On the Way to Language (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 1-54. 

Day 3 Frantz Fanon, ‘De la violence’, Les damnés de la terre (Paris : La découverte, 2002 [1961]), 37-103; translated by Constance Farrington as ‘Concerning Violence’, in The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1963), 35-106.

Day 4 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ in Cary Nelson/Lawrence Grossberg (eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 271–313.

Day 5 Jacques Derrida, Le monolinguisme de l'autre (Paris: Galilée, 1996); translated by Patrick Mensah as Monolingualism of the Other (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).


Course 3

Black Feminism: A Radical Introduction

Monday 25 July - Friday 29 July 6-8pm

Lecturers: Eva von Redecker & Abibi Stewart


Black Feminism: A Radical Introduction

Black feminism is sometimes reductively understood as tending to the specific problems of multiply marginalized groups, sorted by identity. There, the term ‘identity politics’ suggests an individualizing view of the social world – an impression confirmed by current discourses on identity politics and by neoliberal, reform-oriented appropriations of the term ‘intersectionality’. In contrast, this seminar will study Black feminism as a tradition of materialist social analysis and critique within which ‘identity' is not considered in isolation, but as a starting point and result of social struggles. As an ongoing articulation of the relationship between marginalized identities and resistance, Black feminisms hav always been embedded in broad emancipatory movements: abolitionism, workers movements, citizenship and migration. They might well provide a key perspective to connect them all.

We will read foundational texts of (mainly US) Black feminism in the context of social movements in which they were/are embedded. Sessions are thematically organized by sites of resistance, reaching from early abolitionism through reproductive justice to current border struggles. The goal of each session is to draw out and discuss analyses of the interplay of mechanisms of domination as well as the rich perspectives for transformation offered by the texts. 

Day1 Early abolitionism

In the first session we will read the landmark speech ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’, held by abolitionist and civil rights activist Sojourner Truth in front of an audience of white women suffragists. Truth articulates her experience as an enslaved Black women and criticizes the notions of docile femininity and protected motherhood within white feminist activism. In ‘Reflections on the Black Woman's Role in the Community of Slaves’, Angela Davis writes about the specific role of Black women in resistance struggles against slavery.  

  • Truth, Sojourner, 1991 (1851): ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ In: The Crisis. 106 (1), 31.
  • Davis, Angela, 1972: ‘Reflections on the Black Woman’s Role in the Community of Slaves’, in The Massachusetts Review, 13 (1/2), 81-100.

Day 2 Worker's movement

In the second session we will read the essay "An End to the Neglect of the Problems of Negro Women" by Claudia Jones, a Black feminist, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist leader in the CPUSA (Communist Party USA). In 1949, she addressed the American left in a class-based analysis of the triple oppression and super-exploitation of Black women, whom she saw as the “most oppressed stratum of the whole population” due to their specific positioning as mothers and breadwinners in impoverished communities (Jones 2011, 75). Frances Beal updates this analysis in her 1969 essay by showing how the racialized differences within genders help to uphoald and conceal capitalist domination.

  • Jones, Claudia, 2011: ‘An End to the Neglect of the Problems of Negro Women’, in Carole Boyce Davies (ed.) Beyond Containment: Autobiographical Reflections, Essays, and Poems. Banbury.
  • Beal, Frances, 2008 (1969): ‘Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female’, Meridians, 8 (2), 166-176.

Day 3 Identity, difference and reproductive justice:

In the third session we will speak about the meaning of "identity politics" and the role of difference in Black feminist and intersectional theory and organizing - and for emancipatory movements in general. The Combahee River Collective were the first to explicitly use the term "identity politics" to describe a main feature of Black feminist organizing. Audre Lorde's speech "The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House" continues this line of thinking with a strong argument against complacent versions of inclusion and diversity politics. Within feminist organizing, the insight in intersectional difference has led to a crucial revision of the struggle for reproductive rights. Instead of a narrow focus on abortion rights, the Black feminist agenda aims at overall reproductive justice.

  • Combahee River Collective, 1979: ‘A Black Feminist Statement’, in Zillah Eisenstein (ed.), Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism, New York/London, 362-72.
  • Lorde, Audre, 2007 (1984): ‘The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House’, in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley, 110- 114. 
  • Ross, Loretta J. (2017): ‘Reproductive Justice as Intersectional Feminist Activism’, in Souls. Vol. 19, No. 3 July-September 2017, 286-314.
  • Gumbs, Alexis Pauline (2016): ‘m/other ourselves: a Black queer feminist genealogy for radical mothering’, in Gumbs, Alexis Pauline/Martens, China/Williams, Mai'a (eds), Revolutionary Mothering, Oakland, CA, 19-31.

Day 4 Abolitionism and critiques of police violence

The fourth session will focus on more recent forms of abolitionist organizing and analysis. The INCITE!-Critical Resistance Statement marks a crucial moment of Black feminist intervention in the understanding of punitive institutions as well as the horizon of their overcoming. One crucial site of racist state violence is the police practice of racial profiling. Fatima El-Tayeb and Vanessa Thompson situate it in European colonial traditions and discuss the various contexts of activist resistance that have formed in the present conjuncture. The functioning of punitive institutions is closely linked with ableism. We trace these intersections by reading Vanessa Eileen Thompson’s analysis of policing the Black and differently abled body. Again, this account emphasizes the centrality of a Black feminist, inclusive and care-focused abolitionism.

  • Critical Resistance and Incite!, 2003: ‘Critical Resistance-Incite! Statement on Gender Violence And the Prison-Industrial Complex’, Social Justice, 30 (3), 141-150.
  • El-Tayeb, Fatima; Thompson, Vanessa Eileen, 2019: ‘Alltagsrassismus, staatliche Gewalt und koloniale Tradition. Ein Gespräch über Racial Profiling und intersektionale Widerstände in Europa’, in Baile, Mohamed Wa et. al: Racial Profiling. Struktureller Rassismus und antirassistischer Widerstand. Bielefeld, 311-328.
  • Thompson, Vanessa Eileen (2021): ‘Policing in Europe: disability justice and abolitionist intersectional care’, Race & Class 62(3), 61-76.

Day 5 Migration and border regimes

One key site of the racist segregation of life chances across the globe is the European border. As the world’s deadliest border, the Mediterranean naturalizes the fortification of a more and more militarized dispossession of mobility. Céline Barry traces how the pan-African legacy of transnational Black feminism inscribes anti-colonial praxis within Black feminism in Germany. The border feminism practiced by Black refugee women, lesbians, non-binary, inter and trans people promotes the unfolding of the Black Mediterranean as a space of resistant solidarity.

  • Barry, Céline (2021), 'Schwarzer Feminismus der Grenze. Die Refugee-Frauenbewegung und das Schwarze Mittelmeer’, Femina Politica – Zeitschrift für feministische Politikwissenschaft, (2-2021): 36-48.