School of Humanities Complex

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Is Theory Critical?: First Annual Critical Theory Institute Conference

Department: Humanities Commons

Date and Time: May 23, 2015 - 9:00 AM

Event Location: Langson Library (Morning of May 22); HG 1030 (other events)

Event Details


Friday, May 22nd | 9:30 AM-6 PM (lunch provided)
Saturday, May 23rd | 10AM-5:30 PM


To see full program, click HERE.

In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the seminal Johns Hopkins conference on “The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man,” better known by its published title of The Structuralist Controversy, as well as of the 50th anniversary of the founding of UC Irvine as an institution where “critical theory” has been key to the intellectual development and reputation of the campus, we would like to take stock of where theory has been and where it might still go. We aim, in lieu of a celebratory and inevitably nostalgic gathering for a high theory that is no more, to ask harder and indeed more relentlessly critical questions about critical theory. This is not, however, as so many such occasions have been, simply to celebrate, uncritically as it were, the legacy of theory, which as many have argued has indeed become endemic to virtually all scholarly work undertaken today in the humanities, the arts, and qualitative social sciences. In this regard, the very success of critical theory is the very source of its diffusion and disappearance into an increasingly wide array of differing critical practices and “studies.” Hence, our phrasing of the conference agenda in response to the question: is theory critical? And by “critical” we understand the adjective both in the sense of whether there is still a “need” for theory in the current historical conjuncture and in the sense of whether theory is or is even able to live up to the claim of engaging in the specific work of critique. Phrased otherwise, what are the limit conditions for a critical theory in the 21st century?

Speakers include: Geoffrey Bennington, Jonathan Culler, Robert Doran, Irving Goh, Peggy Kamuf, Ethan Kleinberg, Jacques Lezra, Lisa Lowe, David Palumbo-Liu, Steven Mailloux, Catherine Malabou, J. Hillis Miller, John Carlos Rowe, Stuart Sim, David Simpson, Avery Slater, Gayatri Spivak,  Xudong Zhang

All events held in Humanities Gateway 1030 except Friday morning events in Langson Library.

Friday, May 22, 2015
9:30 am: Continental breakfast
“Through Discerning Eyes: Origins and Impact of Critical Theory at UCI” exhibit open for viewing with curators in the Muriel Ansley Reynolds Gallery
10:00 am: Retrospective: Critical Theory at Irvine
11:00 am: Discussion: Morphing Memory: the Critical Theory Archive at UC Irvine
12:00- 1:30 pm: Lunch and tour of the CT Archive collections, Verle and Elizabeth Annis Reading Room and Patio, hosted by the UCI Library
1:30-3:30 pm: Opening Panel: Is Theory Critical?
4:00-6:00 pm: Wellek Lecture (#3) by Catherine Malabou, “Metamorphoses of Intelligence”
6:00 pm: Buffet dinner hosted by School of Humanities

Saturday, May 23,
Coffee/tea/juice provided
10:00 am – 11:30 pm: Panel and discussion
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Buffet lunch for all conference participants in HG 1010 and courtyard
12:30-2:00 pm: Panel and discussion
Panel: Over the past forty years, many performing artists, visual artists and writers claim to have learned
2:15-3:45 pm: Panel and discussion
3:45-4:00 pm Coffee break in HG 1010 and courtyard
4:00-5:30 pm: Concluding discussion

PDF Attachment: Conference Flyer