Category Archives: Reading Groups

words and things

After his critique of the clinic, and as a prolegomena to his theory of power, Michel Foucault outlined a distinct regime of knowledge that pivoted upon a new concept of “representation” – a Kantian sense of the limits of mental representations and the promise of formal representations.  Modern knowledge, for the archaeological Foucault of Les Mots et Les Choses (translated as The Order of Things), is distinguished not only by its representational ethos, but by its agency in generating and congealing worldly relations: once words are thinkable as representation rather than as coincident with things, “discourse” is thinkable as a force of ordering things.


InterCcECT kicks off summer with a multi-session reading group on this crucial moment in Foucault’s thought.  Join us Monday June 1st at 4pm, in the garden at Moody’s Pub (red line: Thorndale).  We’ll be starting with the first three chapters from Part 1 of The Order of Things (Las Meninas, The Prose of the World, & Representing).  Contact us for the readings.

What are your summer ambitions?  As always, we welcome proposals and initiatives for events ranging from reading groups to field trips, works-in-progress sessions to pub afternoons.

In our sights:

Elizabeth Grosz, Nietzsche and Amor Fati May 6

Lee Edelman, with Lauren Berlant and Michelle Wright, May 7 & 8

Elizabeth Grosz, Deleuze and the Plane of Immanence May 8

Jon McKenzie, Remaking the Liberal Arts, May 12

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Promise of a New Day

“There exists a specific sensory experience that holds the promise of both a new world of Art and a new life for individuals and the community, namely, the Aesthetic.” – Jacques Rancière, Dissensus.

InterCcECT is pleased to announce two upcoming events aimed at warming up winter with some fiery thinking on aesthetics and politics.


First, 16 Feb, join us for a Rancière reading group. We will focus on two chapters that encapsulate his project of the past decade, “The Aesthetic Revolution and Its Outcomes” & “The Paradoxes of Political Art.”  4:30-6:00pm at The Map Room, 1949 N Hoyne Ave (Blue Line Western; Damen, Armitage, Western, and Milwaukee buses).  Contact us for readings.

Second, 17 March, we’ll host a workshop on contemporary theory with visiting critic Arne De Boever. The workshop is generously co-sponsored by Gallery 400; meet us there at 5pm.

Till then, a few highlights around town:

6 Feb, Elizabeth Freeman, Sex in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

12 Feb, Sector 22337, “Everything is Still Really Interesting”

19 Feb, Glenda Carpio, On Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety, or The Marvelous Sugar Baby”

6 March, Adam Kotsko, “Creepiness”

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The State and World History


What remains of the theory of the state, after the laments of sovereignty and the ecstasy of vitalism? We’re taking our dialectic to the streets, to Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and its culminating vision of world historical formations.

Join us Wednesday 20 August, 12 noon, at our favorite civic institution of late, the Wicker-Park/Bucktown Public Library meeting room. Contact us for the readings, and to propose future events, alternate locations, and different states of things.

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past dialectics and future destructions: Malabou’s plasticity

Catherine Malabou has rapidly elasticized possible futures for Continental Philosophy by reorienting our understanding of Hegelian thought around the notion of plasticity, “a capacity to receive form and a capacity to produce form.”
In her recent short work Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing: Dialectic, Destruction, Deconstruction, Malabou considers writing as a scene of plasticity and model of political and ethical action. Join InterCcECT for a reading group on these crepuscular illuminations of Derrida, Hegel, Heidegger, Freud, Levi-Strauss, and Levinas.

Thursday 17 October
Department of English conference room
UIC, 2028 University Hall
601 S Morgan St, 60607 (Blue Line: UIC Halsted)

Text available to Chicagoans upon request.

Mark your calendars now for our upcoming miniseminar with Joshua Kates, “Radical Empiricism Revisited,” at which we’ll explore the Kantian inflections of empiricism in Deleuze, Latour, and Luhmann as they oppose Derrida and early Foucault. Friday 22 November, 3-5pm, location TBA; paper to be pre-circulated.

What’s happening in theory this fall? Send us your event proposals and announcements, check out our calendar for recommended events, and connect with us on Facebook for frequent links and commentary.

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Renegade Aesthetics

The aesthetic resistance to theory. Aesthetic indistinction. The aesthetic that theorizes itself. The sensitivities and perceptions that exceed theoretical vision. (Not) knowing it when you see it. Autonomy.
Does the new aesthetic turn adequately grapple with whether there can even be such a thing as aesthetic theory? InterCcECT is excited to host a reading group on Renegade Aesthetics led by special guest Benjamin Morgan. We’ll be tackling selections from very recent works by Steven Connor (“Doing Without Art”), Sianne Ngai (Our Aesthetic Categories), and Jacques Ranciere (Aisthesis). Contact us for PDFs.

Thanks to the generous partnership of The Scholl Center, we will meet Friday 9 August, 2pm, at The Newberry Library, room B92.

What are you theorizing? InterCcECT happily announces your events and eagerly receives your proposals. And don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook.

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totality, represented: an InterCcECT reading group on Fredric Jameson

9781844674541-frontcoverJameson’s recent Representing Capital encounters Marx’s first volume through foregrounding the reading modes necessary to appreciate Marx’s writing modes, which are themselves not peripheral to the subject matter but essential.

Jameson writes “the central formal problem of Capital Volume I is the problem of representation: namely how to construct a totality out of individual elements, historical processes, and perspectives of all kinds; and indeed how to do justice to a totality which is not only non-empirical as a system of relationships, but which is also in full movement, in expansion, in a movement of totalization which is essential to its very existence and at the heart of its peculiar economic nature.”

Join InterCcECT for a reading of Jameson’s reading.
Friday, 28 June, 2pm
Bucktown / Wicker Park Public Library (Community Room, 2nd Floor).
1701 N Milwaukee, accessible via Blue Line Damen or Milwaukee, North, Damen, Western, and Armitage buses.

As always, to propose events write us us or connect on Facebook.

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the fantasy of democracy, the desire of communism

InterCcECT is delighted to announce a lecture by Jodi Dean, “The Communist Horizon,” Saturday 27 October, 4:30pm, presented at Gallery 400 with their generous support. Based on her book forthcoming in late October, the talk proposes new ideals for communism today.

In preparation, InterCcECT will host a reading group on excerpts from Dean’s recent book Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies, along with selections from the comrade anthology The Idea of Communism. Join us Thursday 4 October at The Newberry Library, room B82, 3pm. PDFs available upon request .

*this week in theory*
(highlights from our calendar, which contains additional details):

5 September Graeber’s Debt (History of Capitalism reading group)
5 September Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (German Philosophy reading group)
6 September Leibniz’s Exoteric Philosophy (Lecture by John Whipple)
7 September “Kristeva’s Severed Heads: Sadomasochism and Sublimation” (Lecture by Kelly Oliver)

What’s on your docket? As always, Write us to propose or announce events, and “like” us on Facebook for frequent links.

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Lukacs, Lacan, and the waning of summer

InterCcECT reminds you to attend our upcoming sessions on Lukacs and Lacan:

Monday 13 August, refine your sense of realism in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries by discussing “Realism in the Balance” and “Reportage or Portrayal” with special guest Annie McClanahan of UW Milwaukee’s Center for 21st Century Studies. 4pm, InterCcECT Salon in Bucktown; email us for PDFs and details.

Thursday 16 August, refine your sense of reality by discussing Seminar 3: The Psychoses, chapters 9 &10, 5pm at the Salon.

Close thy summer, open thy Kant: Critique of Pure Reason reading group begins Wednesday 29 August, 6pm, Bourgeois Pig cafe.

Also note: David Graeber’s Debt reading group, Wednesday 5 September, 1:30pm, UIC University Hall 1050.

Got good reads on your summer bucket list? We always welcome event proposals.

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realism in these times

What are the formal constructions of realism in art and literature? What, if anything, distinguishes the realism of nineteenth-century capitalism from the realism of twenty-first-century capitalism? What binds Breaking Bad to Balzac? InterCcECT, with special guest Annie McClanahan, turns to Georg Lukacs for renewed debate on realism in these times. Read “Realism in the Balance” and “Reportage or Portrayal” and join us Monday 13 August, 4pm, at the InterCcECT salon in Bucktown; contact us for details and PDFs.

Our continuing conversation on the realism-complex of psychosis convenes Thursday 2 August, 3pm for Lacan’s Seminar 3, Chapters 7-8.

We highly recommend the History of Capitalism Reading Group’s next session, Wednesday 1 August, 1pm, on Arrighi’s The Long Twentieth Century. Check our calendar for details on these and other events.

Have a summer reading bucket list? A fall mini-seminar wish list? InterCcECT welcomes your announcements and initiatives.

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Television Man

Coming 16 July to an independent bookstore near you: Adam Kotsko discusses his latest work, Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television. 57th Street Books, 6pm.

On another channel: our ongoing Lacan group reconvenes Thursday 19 July to explore Chapters 5-7 of Seminar 3: The Psychoses. InterCcECT Salon, Bucktown, 5pm. Contact us for details and PDF.
As always, consult our calendar for info on companion projects like the History of Capitalism reading group, the Levinas reading group, and Forgotten Chicago, and write to us to announce or propose events.

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