Rebuilding Our Theoretical & Political Platforms: fall/winter 2017-18 seminars
View of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Contra Diction (speech against itself) at Kunsthalle St Gallen, 2015. Mixed media. Photo: Stefan Jaggi. Courtesy of the artist
View of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Contra Diction (speech against itself) at Kunsthalle St Gallen, 2015. Mixed media. Photo: Stefan Jaggi. Courtesy of the artist.

We are very pleased to announce our fall/winter 2017-18 lineup of seminars.
Over the course of the last three years The New Centre’s core instructors, together with other scholars who have joined us for specific projects, have been at the leading edge of new inquiries into the epistemological, ontological, and political consequences of technological transformations. This semester, a number of our Instructors are widening the discussion by offering seminars on the works and legacies of figures such as Paul Virilio and Gilbert Simondon.

The lineup of instructors for the Fall season includes Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Jason Adams, Elie Ayache, Ray Brassier, Levi Bryant, Peli Grietzer, Stefan Heidenreich, Yuk Hui, Katerina Kolozova, Davor Loffler, Alexandra Hedako Mason, Reza Negarestani, Mohammad Salemy, and Tiziana Terranova.

Now entering its fourth year of academic operations, The New Centre has added a number of new Board Members and planned a General Meeting on September 9, 2017. In addition, our Organizers Jason Adams and Mohammad Salemy will be holding a live information session about the activities of The New Centre on September 16. To sign up, please email us at access@thenewcentre.org.

In the last six months, we have updated The New Centre’s online platform, allowing easier access to our content. Our registration system is now fully automated, along with several other features that were previously manual. This update facilitates instant access to educational materials on our platform to newcomers. The next phase of expansion will include new functionalities for our community members, including the ability to organize, publicize, and hold their own events.

Starting with the 2017-18 academic year, The New Centre’s annual program will include three semesters, for Fall, Spring, and Summer. This expansion offers our Certificate Students and Researchers greater flexibility in selecting their courses. We are also introducing a new initiative called Seasonal Intensives, consisting of 3 to 6 credits taken within a single season. These grouped seminars would enable our Researchers who are not enrolled in a Certificate Program to develop a more comprehensive research practice and a shared final project for their seminars. For more information, please visit https://thenewcentre.org/programs/seasonal-intensives.

As part of our Certificate Programs, The New Centre is now offering one-on-one theoretical and practical consultation with our Instructors, on either a mentoring or tutoring basis. Our Researchers and Members can also access these services for an hourly fee. For more information, please visit https://thenewcentre.org/programs/consultation.

Another new initiative at The New Centre is the &&& Journal, which will be published annually to present the result of works conducted in the associated academic years by our Instructors and Certificate Students, as well as selected works by our Researchers and Members. The first volume of &&& Journal will be out in the Spring of 2018 and will contain works by the Certificate Graduates of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 academic years as well as unpublished works by some of our instructors.
This year, The New Centre will be embarking on a joint project with the University of Cologne’s Institute for Art Theory through which Stefan Heidenreich will lead a parallel seminar at both institutions to develop the theory, methodology, and necessary digital platform for a non-curatorial exhibition practice.

The year 2017 has seen an upsurge of interest in our programs and seminars with many new Members, Researchers, and Certificate Students joining the institution. We would like to thank all of our supporters and Friends, without whom we would have not been able to upgrade and expand our activities.

We would also like to congratulate the following Certificate Students for completing their core course requirements: Manuel Correa, Theodore Craig, Christian Crawford, Matthew Donovan, Michael Downs, Daniel Gamez, Jake Hamilton, Robyn Henderson Espinoza, Eyvind Kang, Jessika Kenney, Olivia Leiter, Kevin Mule, Ivan Niccolai, Sam Samiee, Giancarlo Sandoval, Maria Tsylke, and Dillon Votaw.

Join us today by becoming a Member, a Friend, or enrolling in one of our Certificate Programs. To apply in our rolling Certificate Programs please complete this form. All of our seminars are conducted online via Google+ Hangouts, enabling participants to engage with instructors from anywhere in the world. Our Certificate Students automatically become Members of The New Centre and thus receive all members’ benefits, including access to our twelve Re:search Groups, our Writing Centre, our Member Symposia, Reading Groups, and Roundtables, as well as opportunities to publish their research on the &&& platform.


To view the complete list of our activities, please visit List of New Centre Activities.

One of The New Centre for Research & Practice’s central mandates has been to provide new possibilities for our members and students, especially those who practice their work outside or in-between existing institutional frameworks. We help those transitioning between one degree and another, or between one institution and another, to expand their research networks beyond what can be offered by any single institution. Our members and certificate students enjoy access to face-to-face, real-time engagements with emerging thinkers and scholars, collaborating with them and with each other while producing new forms of knowledge.

To apply in our rolling Certificate Programs please visit our Programs section. All of our seminars are conducted online via Google+ Hangouts, enabling participants to engage from anywhere in the world. Our Certificate Students automatically become Members of The New Centre and thus receive all members’ benefits, including access to our twelve Re:search Groups, our Writing Centre, our Member Symposia, reading groups, and roundtable events, as well as opportunities to publish their research on our &&& platform.

If you prefer to become involved with The New Centre prior to applying for a Certificate Program, we recommend becoming a Friend or Member, or enrolling in any of our available seminars. Among other services, becoming a Member provides you access to our entire 2014–16 video archives, while Friends gain lifetime access to all of our member services.



Mission Statement

The New Centre for Research & Practice is conceived upon the idea that the space of knowledge is a laboratory for navigating the links between thought and action. Our pedagogical approach bootstraps the conventional role of the Arts and Sciences to construct new forms of research and practice alongside, within, and between the existing disciplines and technologies. The New Centre’s aim is a constructivist one, to assemble an environment, both virtual and actual, that inspires our members to invent alternate understandings that can be put into collective practice.

List of New Centre Activities

/// 2016

The New Centre for Research & Practice enjoyed a productive Spring/Summer 2016, which included participating in the Reinventing Horizons conference / book launch featuring Jason Adams, Katerina Kolozova, Patricia Reed, Mohammad Salemy, Nick Srnicek, and Tony Yanick, as well as organizing the Artificial Cinema exhibition in Prague; the screening of our certificate student Manuel Correa’s #artoffline documentary at the 2016 Rotterdam International Film Festival, the appearence of Victoria Ivanova, Matteo Pasquinelli, and Mohammad Salemy at Studium Generale 2016, Gerrit Rietveld Academie’s annual transdisciplinary theory program in Amsterdam; partnering with the 11th Gwangju Biennale 2016; organizing the #AGI Accelerate General Intellect conference featuring Amy Ireland, Nick Land, Reza Negerastani, Patricia Reed, and Peter Wolfendale and the Future of Mind panel at The New School for Social Research. Other New Centre events from Spring/Summer 2016 included informational sessions at Institute for New Connotative Action (INCA) in Seattle and Oregon Public House in Portland, online roundtables with Antoine Bousquet, Andrew McLuhan, Steven Shaviro, and Tiziana Terranova, as well as a reading group on the work of Isabelle Stengers. To view the complete list of our activities so far in 2016, please visit thenewcentre.org.

/// 2015

The New Centre for Research & Practice enjoyed a momentous 2015, which included a partnership with e-flux, three international conferences, twenty-two seminars, and twenty-three roundtables, reading groups, and emergency-response events. We also published our first e-book, and our organizers were interviewed for an edited collection, “Politics of Study”. In addition, we successfully placed several of our certificate students into a range of graduate degree programs, while welcoming a number of new certificate students into our program.

Over the course of Summer 2015, we partnered with e-flux to produce Superconversations, a series of responses to Supercommunity, as part of the 56th Venice Biennale. In July, we partnered with Université de Technologie de Graz & IZK Institute for Contemporary Art for the Knowledge Forms, Forming Knowledge conference, a two day conference at Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst & Medien (watch). And in August, we partnered with Deakin University (an institutional member of The New Centre) to produce Alien Aesthetics, a two day conference in Melbourne, concerned with xeno-visions, -sounds, and -mediations (watch).

In Fall 2015, we continued this pattern initially in October, via our partnership with The Graduate Program in Media Studies at Pratt Institute, through which we broadcast a month-long seminar by Fernando Zalamea in Brooklyn entitled, “Grothendieck and a Theory of Contemporary Transgression” (watch). Finally, in December 2015, we partnered with e-flux to produce Machines That Matter, a conference held at e-flux’s headquarters in Manhattan.

In addition, throughout the year, we collaborated or partnered with a variety of institutions, including Center for Transformative Media at Parsons: The New School for Design, Department of Cultural Studies at University of Minnesota, Graduate Media Department at University of Buffalo, Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones Sociales (Bogota), Corporación Para el Desarrollo de la Educación y la Investigación Social (Bogota), FOAM Collective, Michigan Political Science Association, Newcastle University, Department of Philosophy at Aquinas College, Sydney School of Continental Philosophy, & Momenta Art.


Membership Overview


ACCELERATE ACADEMIA: As a member, you will become part of a research network through which to workshop ideas and develop practical knowledge in a manner that accelerates, intensifies and transversalizes existing academic frameworks. The New Centre is an expanding network of organizers, affiliates, members and friends from a vast array of fields and disciplines including digital pedagogy, computer programming and scholarship in the arts and sciences. We are coming together to assist those interested in seeking knowledge in arts, sciences and humanities. Our goal is to augment conventional research practices of reading and learning at the graduate level.

ECOLOGIZE KNOWLEDGE: As a member of The New Centre, you will gain access to connections, resources and services that ecologize what otherwise might remain isolated practices of knowledge production and distribution. The success of the membership drive will facilitate group research projects, the maintenance of affordable enrollment fees for graduate-level seminars, the offsetting of overall operating costs for the year, and the provision of more adequate payments to the instructors for their work. In addition, funds raised will be applied towards scholarships for those who deserve to study with us, but cannot afford our programs.

SHAPE THE FUTURE: As a member, you will ensure democratic control over The New Centre through voting participation in our annual general meetings, thereby assisting the Organizing Committee and the Board of Directors the future plans of the organization. Further, by becoming a Member or a Friend of The New Centre, you will directly contribute to the development and sustainability of the institution, while holding those of us involved with the day to day activities accountable for the quality of our work and the effectiveness of our actions.

Membership with The New Centre will engages you as a part of our mission to accelerate academia, ecologize knowledge and shape the future, both inside and outside the institution. Any additional funds raised beyond our initial goals will go towards recapacitating what The New Centre can do, including planning and holding an annual Summer Program, organizing symposia and conferences, launching a publishing platform and digital library, and organizing a working group to develop The New Centre’s website into an open-source and non-commercialized social media nexus.

The New Centre offers several levels of membership in addition to regular seminar enrollment, which together enable us to offer affordable graduate-level seminars, provide access to our archived seminar videos, plan and hold our summer school, organize symposia and conferences, facilitate group research projects, and enable members to distribute their materials on our mailing list, amongst other services. Aside from helping to support the operating costs of The New Centre, our paid memberships ensure democratic control over the institution by providing voting participation in our annual general meeting.


Seminar Enrollment

Seminar enrollment is available without prerequisites, and regardless of Membership, Friendship, or admittance into a New Centre Certificate Program. By being enrolled, you get a chance to closely work with your instructor and other enrolled students on the topic of the seminar. Enrollment will entitle you to access our video archive from the day you pay for the seminar until 8 weeks after the last seminar session. Enrolled students also get access to all the seminar material via Google Classroom. Credits and payments spent on all enrolled seminars can be rolled forward into a future certificate program application if they were taken within 12 months of the application being made.

Certificate Programs


The New Centre for Research & Practice is authorized as a Licensed Proprietary School (LPS) by the State of Michigan, USA, to provide graduate-level certificates of competency in a range of fields and disciplines. Our certificates are intended to complement, enhance, and intensify MA and PhD programs from existing accredited colleges and universities, as well as to recognize those enrolled in our seminars to broaden the scope of independent research and practice.

Presently, The New Centre offers certificate programs in Critical Philosophy, Curatorial Practice, Social & Political Thought and Transdisciplinary Research & Practice. The award of a graduate-level certificate from The New Centre requires the completion of twelve one-credit seminar modules. Once you are accepted as a certificate program student, any previously completed seminar module at The New Centre can be applied towards your certificate. Modules are transferable between programs to create a unique plan of study, to be approved by the Certificate Programmer. In addition, a program may require a project to be completed in order for a certificate to be awarded. The cost of each certificate programs is USD 2600.

Please contact info@thenewcentre.org if you would like to receive a copy of The New Centre's Student handbook.



To apply for our Graduate-level Certificate Programs, complete The New Centre's Application Form.

Art & Curatorial Practice

Programmer Mohammad Salemy

The New Centre’s Art & Curatorial Practice Program is one of the only international curricula responding to the challenges that cultural and economic globalization as well as planetary telecomputation have together created for the production and distribution of contemporary art and knowledge in the 21st century. The Program engages with the fields from a critical standpoint by encouraging students to question the institutional assumptions about the role of artists and curators with a focus on the epistemological and social ramifications of art making, exhibitions, their surrounding activities, and their political economy. Part historical, part conceptual, and part practical, the program encourages students to form their own critical approach by focusing on research topics and connecting specific materials from within the discourse of contemporary art to other fields of knowledge from the sciences and humanities. As part of its practicum, the program will include the publication of research and student-curated events and exhibitions. Rather than issuing stand alone certificates, The New Centre’s Art and Curatorial Practice complements existing, accredited MA/PhD programs at other higher educational institutions by introducing students to newer concepts and methodologies which have yet to be incorporated in art and curatorial curricula at accredited universities and colleges, thus preparing students for either entering these institutions or providing them additional knowledge and skills for professionally entering the field as artists or curators. Through their course of study, the students will meet and become part of the network of professional artists, critics, curators and thinkers who are currently involved in the fields of art and curatorial practice.

Critical Philosophy

Programmer Levi Bryant

The New Centre’s Critical Philosophy Program is devoted to developing philosophy adequate to the problems and questions posed by the 21st century. The rise of the Anthropocene, which threatens global catastrophe, developments in physics, neurology, and biology, transformations in global capitalism and the way in which the military, media, and economic systems are now intertwined and exceed the boundaries of nation-states have all generated new conceptual challenges for philosophy. These transformations have posed a set of questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, and ethics that cannot fully be addressed by the resources of traditional philosophy alone and require new philosophical concepts. Students in the Critical Philosophy Program will attend seminars in critical contemporary philosophy seldom taught in university graduate programs. In addition, students will take seminars devoted to the history of philosophy and how that history might be appropriated in terms of the present and future conditions. Above all, students will be encouraged to develop research projects of their own devoted to thinking ontology, epistemology, and ethics within the frame of the contemporary.

Media & Technology

Programmer Olivia Lucca Fraser

If, following a roughly dialectical bent, we take concepts to be what mediates and modulates our relation to the world -- the circuits of communication and control in which we find ourselves -- then 'media' and 'technology' are names for the concept's material existence. They are the forms of our efferent alienation from the world we inherit, both the paths of the world's past and future humanization, and the relentless volatilization of our present humanity. It is this material existence of the concept that our programme aims to investigate. Though the horizon of our research is certainly universal or global in its scope, our seminars will each be grounded in particular case studies of technological mediation, ranging from cryptocurrency to mathematical formalisms, pornography to AI, sound art to cyberfeminism. Neither purely reflective nor purely technical, the majority of our seminars will seek to combine theory and practice, many aiming to train the students not only to theorize about this or that techno-aesthetic assemblage, but to tinker with it, build it, exploit it, and adapt it for themselves. This may involve learning how to construct a diagonal proof in logic, programme a machine learning algorithm, or code digital soundscapes on the fly, to invoke just a few upcoming seminars.

Social & Political Thought

Programmer Jason Adams

The New Centre’s Social & Political Thought Program is designed to intensify students’ capacities for comprehending and disturbing power relations as they exist today, in the increasingly undemocratic, markedly unequal, globalized world of the early 21st century. The seminars proceed by way of juxtaposition, generating divergent readings of the classic texts of political theory through a historically-informed and future-oriented encounter with more recent social & political thinking. The Social & Political Thought Program is distinguished however, not only in its synthesis of genres, but also in its affirmation of practice: mobilizing both classic and contemporary political thinking to question dominant assumptions about contemporary events in all of their legal, rhetorical, technological, aesthetic, economic and spatio-temporal ramifications. Just as the old is brought into a nexus with the new, so too is theory brought together with practice. And while the conventional liberal and communitarian, radical and critical threads of social and political thought are engaged throughout the coursework, the program emphasizes breadth of understanding across tendencies, as much as depth of fluency in any one tendency.

Transdisciplinary Research & Practice

Programmer Tony Yanick

The New Centre’s Transdisciplinary Research & Practice Program aims to explore the interfaces between the arts, sciences, and vernacular knowledge by engaging with strategies that capture complexity, cultivate new ecologies of knowledge, and affect individual and collective transformations. This program offers theoretical and practical support to enhance and realize issue-based transdisciplinary projects unrestricted by the constraints of any one discipline. The program provides support and access to resources and community, offering seminars that cannot fit into a discipline-specific program, but are at once between, across, and beyond all disciplines. This program is ideal for those interested in research across specializations and professions; including graduate students designing theses and dissertations and undergraduates seeking to enhance their skills in research methods, qualitative research, interdisciplinary / multidisciplinary / transdisciplinary approaches from a range of perspectives, and arts-based or community-based researchers.

Seasonal Intensives

The New Centre for Research & Practice is excited to announce a new initiative called Seasonal Intensives. Enrolees in our Seasonal Intensives are distinct from our Certificate Students in that they receive intensive participation in five credits —fifty hours— worth of seminars. Seasonal Intensive are designed for those want to go beyond registering in a single seminar but without committing to one of our year-long Certificate Programs. Those enrolled in Seasonal Intensives are eligible to roll over their credits into a Certificate Program, at any point along the way, or afterward up to 12 months from the starting of their study with their credits and payments counted towards the total cost of the Certificate.

For more information please contact the Student Services.


As of September 2017, The New Centre will offer one-on-one Consultation sessions with its Instructors for the purpose of tutoring and academic advice. Our Researchers and Members can book these tutoring sessions with our available Instructors in order to discuss questions and topics of interest that relate to their area of research. In addition, our Organizers and faculty are also available to provide academic advice, helping our Researchers and Members in articulating or achieving their career goals. These Tutoring and academic advice consultations can be booked for 160 USD per hour. Our Certificate Students receive two hours of free Consultation as part of their requirements.

For more information please contact the Student Services. < /br>

Art & Meaning I:
Mood, Vibe, System, and Data Geometry

Instructor: Peli Grietzer
Program: Art & Curatorial Practice
Credit(s): 1
Date: January 24, 31, February 7, 14
Time: 4 PM EST

Peli Grietzer: Art & Meaning: Mood, Vibe, System, and Data Geometry
This seminar constructs a mathematically informed interpretation of a classically romantic literary-theoretic thesis: that a work of art can aesthetically communicate an ineffably complex holistic understanding of the real world, which we might call the work’s ‘aesthetic meaning.’ Drawing on a generalization of ‘deep learning’ (“artificial intuition”) systems and on elementary algorithmic information theory, we describe a kind or aspect of aesthetic meaning—‘ambient meaning’—that may have a special resonance with Modernist and avant-garde approaches to aesthetic meaning, as well as with the concepts of aesthetically sophisticated cultural-materialist thought of the kind that theorist like Sianne Ngai, Jacques Rancière, or Raymond Williams practice.

‘Ambient Meaning,’ as we’ll call it, is the sensible ('sensate') representation of a virtual, diffused, immanent structure -- the representation, by a work of art, of some systemic real-world structure akin to a mood (Heidegger), cultural logic (Jameson), sensorium (Rancière) or even ideology (Althusser/Ngai). In part I of this seminar, we will familiarize ourselves with the fundamentals of deep learning theory and information theory, and offer the hypothesis that the ‘ambient meaning’ of a work of art is, mathematically, the lower-dimensional manifold structure of the work's imaginative landscape in intersubjective input-space.

(The seminar requires no prior mathematics or computer science background, but patience for deductive reasoning is recommended.)'

Image: Endogen Depression 2013 (The Box, La) Installation View Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Layers of Generativity:
Axial Age, Modernity, Technological Civilization, (Reconstructing Futures II)

Instructor: Davor Löffler
Program: Media & Technology
Credit(s): 1
Date: March 3, 10, 17, 24
Time: 2:00 - 4:30 PM EST

Davor Loffler: Layers of Generativity: Axial Age, Modernity, Technological Civilization, (Reconstructing Futures II)
When, where, and why did the mode of abstraction “philosophy”, esp. “the universal” as a relational point of collective commensurabilization appear? Why are there distinct epochal structures of mathematical renderings of the world? What causes time regimes such as the cyclical, oscillatory, absolute or linear to emerge and what are the differences in their ontogenerative potentialities? How does the cumulative increase of depths of abstraction relate to historical types of aesthetics, subjectivity, and cognition? How can the apparent coevolutionary relation between media, economy, metaphysics and world-relations be conceptualized? These questions can be answered through the formalization of the evolution of culture and mind. The examination of the “Early Expansion of Cultural Capacities” (Haidle et al.) surfaced a formal pattern of macroevolution: each historical stage of reality structure appears as the abstraction and operative recursion of the previous reality structure. The pattern of recursion continues beyond early evolution and unfolds as civilizational history. This course will examine history under the notion that stages in cultural complexity can be conceptualized as matrices of event-realization, wherein each stage forms a layer of generativity which is recursively integrated by the following one, unfolding a new continuum of events and relations. The Greek Axial Age is characterized as the “Zenon-Matrix” of event-realization, which is recursively integrated in Modernity, and which is defined as the “Laplace-Matrix” of event-realization. With the emergence of the technological civilization, we are witnessing another recursion in which the “Laplace-Matrix” of Modernity is abstracted and recursively integrated, rendering genetic spaces into objects within the “Conway-Wolfram-Matrix”. The extrapolation of the ontogenerative pattern of recursion not only allows for a “deep futurology” as the macroevolutionary informed derivation of future temporalities and world-relations, but also for asking the question whether the force that chiseled history through humankind into the world will at some point detach from its medium again, instantiating another major evolutionary transition.

Introduction to Forensic Audio

Instructor: Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Program: Art & Curatorial Practice
Credit(s): 1
Date: March 31, April 7, 14, 21
Time: 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST

View of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Contra Diction (speech against itself) at Kunsthalle St Gallen, 2015. Mixed media.
The seminar focuses on my research & practice as an artist: the architectural aesthetics of sound and voice and its application to politics and law. The seminar will focus on new methodologies and novel forms that can potentially be developed to respond to the prevalence of surveillance technologies. Through the exploration of listening practices the participants will focuses on the forensic use of acoustics, language and phonetic dimensions of legal or political issues. The seminar will also explore the changing role of the image and its proximity to sound in the age of the Internet and mass distribution of signal.

Image: View of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Contra Diction (speech against itself) at Kunsthalle St Gallen, 2015. Mixed media. Photo: Stefan Jaggi. Courtesy of the artist.

Photography, Social Media & the Politics of Platform Homosexuality

Instructor: Mohammad Salemy
Program: Media & Technology
Credit(s): 1
Module: 1
Date: TBA
Time: TBA

DESCRIPTION:“Yes, we copy normal relations, we either occupy the place of the subject or that of the object, but we copy them in any case. Today's homosexual does not embody polymorphic desire: he moves univocally beneath an equivocal mask. His sexual objects have already been chosen by social or political machination, and they are always the same. If, to boot, consciousness gets involved in political struggle, then the heterosexual and exogamic tendencies of today's homosexuality will become a caricature, and we will see more and more cases where a dick can only make love to a head and a head to a dick.” – Guy Hocquenghem (1973)
What happens to male homosexuality in the age of cybernetics and social media? From the heydays of newsgroups of the early internet to the dating sites of the 1990s, gay men have been quick to utilize the spatial possibilities of the cyberworld to construct new forms of “being social in the world” which often both contradicts and compliments their physical existence. With an eye on this history, this seminar explores how digital photography, mobile computing and social media have together transformed the practice and performance of homosexuality on the global stage. Drawing from the fields of anthropology, philosophy, queer studies & art, the seminar speculates not only on the future of male homosexuality but also how, as always, transformations of the category of game ay will have consequences for all other forms of sexuality.

Image: Berghenk Experience, Installation, Rens Mors, 2016

Theory & Object:
Philosophy of Science in the twentieth century, from Carnap to Grünbaum

Instructor: Reza Negarestani
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 3
Date: March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20
Time: TBA

Image: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors Even, Marcel Duchamp, 1923

This course provides a survey of motivations, trends and directions in the philosophy of science in the twentieth century. During twelve sessions, we shall engage with both introductory materials and in-depth issues when necessary. In addition to underlining the pertinence of philosophy of science today, we shall focus on trajectories which specifically engage with the problems of modern philosophy from Hume and Kant to Wittgenstein and Russell and in doing so, they also point to new problems and conceptual territories hitherto hidden to or ignored by general philosophy. To this end, we will closely examine the works of such leading figures as Carnap, Hempel, Reichenbach, Stegmüller, Putnam and Grünbaum.

Image: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even; Marcel Duchamp, 1923

Marx & Philosophy I & II

Instructor: Ray Brassier
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 2
Date: Saturdays, January 20, 27, February 3, 10, 17, 24, March 3, 10
Time: 10 AM EST

Ray Brassier: Marx & Philosophy
Marx’s analysis of capital continues to haunt contemporary theoretical discourse. As capitalist globalization enters its world-dissolving phase, Marx’s account of the logic of capital provides cognitive traction on this process. Understanding the theoretical and political stakes of his analysis remains an urgent contemporary task. This course will try to reconstruct the movement linking Marx’s critique of philosophy to his critique of political economy by elucidating the fundamental concepts of Marx’s critical theory: alienation, practice, labour, production, commodity, fetishism, value, contradiction. We will examine Marx’s relationship to Hegel and Feuerbach as well as the ongoing controversy between Hegelian and anti-Hegelian interpretations of his work. Lastly, we will consider the stakes of the distinctions between humanism, anti-humanism, and post-humanism in contemporary philosophy and critical theory.

Image: Karl Marx Monument by Ljubiša Milovanović, Saxony, Germany

Kant’s Circle of Revenge:
A close encounter with Critique of Pure Reason

Instructor: Reza Negarestani
Program: Critical Philosophy
Credit(s): 3
Date: October 15, 22, 29, November 5, 12, 19, 26, December 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
Time: 1:00 – 3:30pm EST

Reza Negarestani Kant’s Circle of Revenge
Throughout this course, Jay Rosenberg's succinct yet fairly accurate observation that "Kant is hard to access" shall be our presupposition in engaging with the work of Immanuel Kant.

This seminar promises a close reading and engagement with one of the most significant works in the history of philosophy. Over the course of twelve sessions, we shall tackle the hydra of philosophy which is the Critique of Pure Reason. In our engagement with Kant's magnum opus, we will investigate the historical context within which it has been written. Using Marburg School's motto 'Back to Kant' as our guiding principle, this course offers a syncretic perspective on Critique of Pure Reason through commentaries of neo-Kantian figures such as Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp as well as more contemporary exegeses by the likes of Wilfrid Sellars, John Niemeyer Findlay, Jay Rosenberg and Sebastian Rödl.

Image: Martin Isaac, 2016

The Reality of the Derivatives Market

Instructor: Elie Ayache
Program: Social & Political Thought
Credit(s): 1
Date: Sunday, March 11, 18, 25, April 1
Time: 11 AM EST

Elie Ayache: The Reality of the Derivatives Market
1. We present the Black-Scholes-Merton model of derivative pricing, the problem it has solved and the problem it has created (known as ‘the volatility smile problem’). This problem is very challenging, not only computationally but also theoretically and philosophically. It is the reason why critical thinkers of finance who are not familiar with it have a narrow view of the derivatives market and its meaning, especially in relation with the future.
2. We investigate the foundations of abstract probability theory. The concept or ‘random variable’, introduced by Kolmogorov in 1933, and its success in formally showing the strong law of large numbers, point to a conception of randomness that lies deeper than the intuitive view of randomness and random generators. It shows distinctions that thought has to make, when it thinks the world, between what we call the ‘concrete’ and the ‘real’. It is at this level of the archaeology of thinking that the category of money emerges. Money is an alternative way of wiring the logic of the concrete and the real, hence an alternative way of introducing the matter of contingency inside the formalism of possibility and probability.
3. We extend the argument from money to the material exchange of derivatives and their pricing technology. When the advent of the Black-Scholes-Merton model is interpreted as a technological revolution which involves actors (market-makers) and technological means (writing of derivatives), it is shown that the market, thus understood in its full writing capacity, recaptures the full concreteness of the world, and hence of the future, in ways that escape abstract probability theory. The consequence, however, is to give a new meaning to the word ‘reality’, which may be incompatible with the one issuing from possibility and probability.

Image: Luc Tuymans, Sniper, 2009, Oil on canvas

Social Networks:
From Metaphor to Diagram to Machine

Instructors: Tiziana Terranova & Mohammad Salemy
Program: Media & Technology
Credit(s): 1
Date: February 27, March 6, 13 & 20
Time: 1 PM EST

Tiziana Terranova: Social Networks: From Metaphor to Diagram to Machine
What difference does the 'social' make to the network and the network to the 'social'? Social Network Analysis is usually considered by critical media studies as a regressive ontology of the social, which it reduces to quantifiable relations between individuals and which can be then dismissed to a material enactment of the ideology of neoliberalism. The course proposes a different interpretation of SNS which combines a media archaeology of the stratifications of Internet protocols (from TCP/IP to HTTP to the Open Graph) with a genealogy of social network analysis as a model of society according to a genealogy of the descent (herkunkf) and emergence (entstheung) of the social network as model and medium. The course traces the genealogy of the social network from structural anthropology and sociometry to mathematical studies of the spread of 'contacts and influence' in populations towards the more recent turn towards big-data based network science and social physics.

It considers the ways in which this genealogy/archaeology can be seen to produce a shift from the deployment of the social network as metaphor to diagram and finally machine in contemporary hypersocial media assemblages. Is it possible to force an interpretation of the social network which does not reduce it to a manifestation of an underlying neoliberal ideology but also as diagram of relationality inducing a widespread experimental and speculative form of reasoning transversal to humans and machines? Can the networked social be seen as less a collection of individual and more like an entangled milieu entailing the proliferation of 'differences without separability' in Denise Ferreira de Silva terms?

Image: HANNE DARBOVEN Ein Jahrhundert-ABC, 1970-2004

Past Seminars

Outer Edges:
21st Century Spatial Metapolitics

Instructor: Nick Land Module: 1 & 2 Date & Time: Sundays: June 12th, 19th, 26th, August 14th, 21st, 28th, & September 4th 10:30AM - 1:00PM EST

This Seminar is concerned primarily with the tradition and prospects of geopolitical anarchy snd its related literature, as exemplified by the principle of Dynamic Geography theorized by Patri Friedman. The other significant theorists of this tendency whose work will be reviewed and discussed are Robert Nozick, and Scott Alexander. The object of the seminar is the cultural current that counterposes dissociation in space to resolution in time. ‘Metapolitics’ – in this sense – designates the strategic perpetuation of ideological irresolution into (fractured) space. Geography is thus advanced as an alternative to dialectics.

Central preoccupations of the seminar will include: Universality, particularity, peculiarity, singularity; the ‘meta-’ function in philosophy; cognitive investment of space; exit and voice; nationality as an epochal construct; spatial subtexts in the conception of property; politics and diplomacy; boundaries, borders, and frontiers; seasteading and space colonization.

The course consists of two modules, each of four weeks. The first module will concentrate on political philosophy, the second will ramify the discussion into historical and science fictional / futurological territory.

Each module of the two-part seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. During this period material blogged the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Based upon the set readings, online news and commentary, and ongoing class discussion, students will be expected to contribute ~400 words of content to the seminar blog on relevant topics. (This will additionally be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion). The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word extended essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: Mark Rothko, Red on Maroon Mural, Section 74, 1959

#Accelerate I:
The Accelerationist Reader

Instructor: Mohammad Salemy & Jason Adams Guests: Diann Bauer, Benjamin Noys, Nick Srnicek, & Ross Wolfe Credit: Module: 1 of 2 Date & Time: September & October 2014

Beyond Price & Profit:
Art, Finance & the Question of Value

Instructor: Victoria Ivanova Module: 1 Date & Time: March 22, 29, April 12, 26 Wednesday, 3:30pm - 6:00pm EST

How can the art sphere function as an experimental ground for producing and circulating financial logics that deviate from those of financial capitalism? This seminar explores different theories of financialisation and how these may be applied in understanding the relationship between contemporary art and finance. Particular attention will be given to socio-cultural analyses of finance and the possibilities that these may open up for art as a platform for speculative modulation. Apart from textual references, the seminar will be based around a series of case-studies from the art field, both historical and current, while each session will involve a guest-speaker whose practice or current project is targeting different aspects of art’s potential as a vehicle for socially valuable financial paradigms.

22 March 2017 — Session 1

Deloitte and ArtTactic (2016) Art and Finance Report.

Ivanova, V (2016) Contemporary art and financialisation: two approaches. In: Finance and Society, 2(2): 127-37.

Knorr Cetina, K. and Preda, A. (2012) Introduction. In: Knorr Cetina, K. and Preda, A. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Finance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1-12.

29 March 2017 — Session 2
with special guests, João Enxuto and Erica Love

Gupta, V. (2015) Programmable blockchains in context: Ethereum’s future.

Projansky, B. and Siegelaub, S. (1971) The artist’s reserved rights transfer and sale agreement.

12 April 2017 — Session 3
with special guest, Alexandra Pirici

Appadurai, A. (1988) Introduction: commodities and the politics of value. In: Appadurai, A. (ed.) The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Martin, R. (2012) A precarious dance, a derivative sociality. In: The Drama Review, 56(4): 64-79.

26 April 2017 — Session 4
with special guest, Emily Rosamond

Dowling, E., Harvie, D. (2014) Harnessing the social: state, crisis and (big) society. In: Sociology, 48(5): 869-886.

Rosamond, E. (2016) Shared stakes, distributed investment: socially engaged art and the financialisation of social impact. In: Finance and Society, 2(2): 111-126.

Image: Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, 2007

Integrative Objects:
The invention of Philo-Fiction

Instructor: Anne-Françoise Schmid Date & Time: Oct 5, 12, 19, 26, 2016 2:30-5:00pm

“This way of working leads us to consider the new objects of science no longer as complex, but as ‘integrative’. The complex object corresponds more or less to the stage of the open work, where the creation of a discipline of itself no longer allows us to apprehend the objects which it works with, but requires the interpretation of others. This state of affairs supposes the convergence of disciplinary perspectives upon partially-given objects—just as the Klavierstücke are always the work of Stockhausen, but only become audible through the intermediary of a performer who is not only implicitly the ‘translator’, but explicitly the ‘composer-translator’. The ‘new objects’ have very different characteristics. They superimpose fragments of knowledge according to a discipline+1. They also comprise the non-knowledge of each discipline in relation to these objects: disciplinary non-knowledge which, by iteration, allow us to reformulate in each discipline the knowledge that it masters and the non-knowledge that it constructs. The only unity these objects have, a partial and momentaneous unity, is that of the intentions of particular researchers, which never entirely encompass them as a whole. Ultimately these objects are no longer manipulable; they are not constructed in a phenomenological distance which separates the researcher from his or her object. They are radically non-synthesizable. Just as the concept of ‘uncertainty’ has passed from the margins of science into its heart, that of the non-synthesizable is beginning to afford a certain methodological access to created objects (GMOs, the product of nanotechnology, of synthetic biology, etc.) and objects of study (obesity, depression) which involve numerous disciplines and which do not converge. We need to invent scientific methods that will allow the construction of methods of invention within this non-synthesis.”

Fiction and philosophical invention are not the same. The first is an operator which permits passing from one real punctum to another, the second concerns philosophical knowledge and its structure. But is it possible, and now necessary in the new ways of philosophical writing, to associate the two. These new affinities are the theoretical and practical topics of this course.

As already suggested, these connections are new and not given and can be forged indirectly. The role of what Anne Francoise Schmid calls the Integrative Objects is to render them possible with entire new varieties of fiction, not only in the site of literature, science or art, but also in the tradition of philosophy. The unexpected associations these operations provide appear in a generic space, and need our labor for their articulation.

Philo-fiction is made possible by three conditions:

  • A point of exteriority –Integrative objects are not immediately visible, but absolutely necessary

  • Generic and Ordinary Human, Order and Resistance – Painting is not possible in an exclusively ordered space (see Maurice Matieu, the mathematician and painter), but creating new relations between philosophy and science requires an order. The philosophies which concern the “ordinary” are searching for the same gestures which connects science and philosophy. In return, Fiction enables the passage from order to resistance and to the shift in potentialities.

  • The Architecture of Knowledge versus the Architectonic –Architecture often comes first, with repetitious rhythms and rhetorical constructs (see Vitruvius against ancient and modern rhetoric). However, architectural operations are not sufficient for philosophical constructions which require a combination of both empirical-a priory and transcendental materials with a ratio of 2 to 3.

The seminar is both a review of existing literature regarding the connections between philosophy and fiction and a forum for generating new associations between the two realms. Throughout the seminar, students will work individually and collaboratively to work on three practical exercises:

  • Writing a philosophical fiction

  • Describing a philosophical invention

  • Inventing a link between one to another

The seminar is composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. Readings will be set for each week, and students will be expected to write 400 words on some aspect of the week’s topic in advance. During this period material written by the participants about the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Both the reading list and the student's responses will be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment on, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion. The final assessment will consist of an extended essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: Stock photography, Hour glass concept by Julieta Aranda


The Stack to Come:
Synthetic Sensing/ Intelligence (and The New Normal)

Instructor: Benjamin Bratton Module: 2 Date & Time: Tuesdays, September 20, 27, October 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov 1, 8, 2016 4:00 – 6:30pm EST

This 8 session seminar will explore the design philosophy of systems at diverse scales: from planetary-scale computation (through Bratton’s recent book, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty) to molecular-scale sensing/intelligence (though his recent work and research with D:GP at University of California, San Diego).

Our condition is one that links seemingly distant and different things, one into another. Ecological flows become sites of intensive sensing, quantification and governance. Global computing infrastructure spurs platform economics and creates virtual geographies in its own image. Cities link into vast discontiguous urban networks as they also weave borders into enclaves or escape routes. Addressing systems locate billions of entities and events into unfamiliar maps. Interfaces present vibrant augmentations of reality, standing in for extended cognition. Users, both human and non-human, populate this tangled apparatus, an accidental megastructure that Bratton, calls The Stack.

The seminar will include a discussion of The Stack and several discussions, with invited guests, and demonstrations of recent design projects and technical research programs. Some presentations and discussions may also intersect with design development at D:GP at UCSD and Bratton’s seminar at SCI_Arc.

The course consists of two modules, each of four weeks. Each module consists of two lectures and two sessions of extensive discussions

Each module of the two-part seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. During this period material blogged the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Based upon the set readings, online news and commentary, and ongoing class discussion, students will be expected to contribute ~400 words of content to the seminar blog on relevant topics. (This will additionally be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion). The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word extended essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: James Clark, Mountain Lion Diorama, 1955, Hall of North American Mammals

Maths & Ideas:
From Antiquity to Renaissance

Instructor: Reza Negarestani Module: 2 Date & Time: October 29, Nov 5, 12, 19, 26, December 3,10,17, 2016 1:00-3:30pm EST

This course provides a basic introduction to mathematical thinking and elementary mathematical concepts. We will survey the history of mathematical discoveries from the antiquity to the end of Renaissance by analyzing case studies and situating them in the context of advances in philosophy, logic, physics and technology. For example, how developments in banking system, bookkeeping methods and maritime navigation advanced the theory of magnitudes which in turn contributed to developments in Kinematics and what is now called linear algebra. By looking at different case studies and examining thoughts and methods behind these discoveries, the course aims to portray mathematics in a different light as a field where intuitive thinking, formal rigor and creative experimentation come hand in hand.

The course consists of two modules, each of four weeks.

Each module of the two-part seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. During this period material blogged the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Based upon the set readings, online news and commentary, and ongoing class discussion, students will be expected to contribute ~400 words of content to the seminar blog on relevant topics. (This will additionally be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion). The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word extended essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: Rafael, School of Athens, 1509-1511

Collapse & Reconfiguration I & II:
Introduction to Alt-Woke Praxis

Instructor: Alexandra Hedako Mason Date & Time: Saturdays, October 7 – November 25 1 PM EST

Social relations are determined by economic forces. Agrarian surplus sustained nation states, necessitated labor, and bore the development of innovative tools, which contributed to migration and collective learning across the planetary social sphere. Acceleration describes economic forces as a levelling process and this process as the primary driver for dynamic social transformation. Acceleration emphasizes the role that capitalism plays as a revolutionary-historical force, intensifies this process, and forces it to transcend the threshold of its monopolist barriers, to fulfill its imperative:the crisis of its self-destructive enclosure. As articulated most explicitly in Marx’s Capital Vol. III, acceleration is the process itself: capitalism- creates the conditions necessary for its collapse.

Acceleration-ism is a theoretical orientation, a political epistemology, and a post-vitalist topography of this unbound process of accelerated, self-destructive capital that flows through the nodes of economics, technology, culture/society, and politics in intersecting and intensifying feedback; the fractal-complex of these correlational and codependent domains propels history toward novel, alien plateaus: futurity. The fundamental tenet of accelerationism, the article of faith which underpins the discourse, is an understanding of history in which productive relations determine social and political relations.

Futurism is a misnomer as it implies an anticipation of futurity, when in reality the “future” has already arrived. Etymologists disagree over the exact origins of the polygenetic word “hip” within AAVE lexicon. Most chart its origins to the Wolof word “xipi”, which means: “to have your eyes open, to be aware.”

Cybernetics derives from the Greek κυβερνητική (kybernetikos) -- meaning “good at navigating” or “good at steering.” “Hip,” “hep,” and “woke” speak to a tendency to navigate the contours of this process through the lens of Blackness out of necessity -- to be aware so that one can survive. “Stay woke” implied that this tendency was an implicit, intuitive mode of existing.

“Woke” - a term we’ve always hated and have come to hate even more - represents an epistemology limited in scope as it only processes a time-space where there are no true futurities, due to the ways a capital-driven economy operates and all notions of a future are compressed into the present. “Woke” informs a reactivity and a nomadic entity connected to this modern mode of reactionary politics.

Within this seminar, we plan on exploring the concept of what it means to be "altwoke," through a series of readings and guest lecturers. Each invited speaker will help advance the coordinates that works together to construct a larger framework.

The first module will describe the nature of Collapse, the event horizon of this process, its origins, how we facilitate it further, and why anyone would advocate “accelerating the process” at all. Here we dispel the notion that the process is entirely blind as it can’t really function without the actors in its network who determine the interrelational causes which determine its direction over time. Instead our focus is more about aiding abetting the process via specific agents.

The second module will center around Reconstruction after the debris settles. Swapping out old frameworks for new ones, these are some potential new ways of thinking and being that we propose.

Curatorial Practice II:
Curating the Future

Instructor: Mohammad Salemy Module: 2 of 3 Date & Time: Dec 20, & January 9, 16, 30 12:00 - 2:20

Path Dependency & Semiotic Fatality

Instructor: Nick Land Module: 2 Date & Time: October 22, 29, November 5, 12, 19, 26, December 3, 10, 2016 10:30am – 1:00pm EST

The format of the Qwerty keyboard illustrates the production of a destiny. Even in the epoch succeeding the mechanical type-writer, and its specific design imperatives, the legacy layout of alphanumeric keys settled during the 1890s has remained frozen into place without significant revision. In the language of complex systems analysis, this is a special example of path-dependency, or irreducible historicity, characterized by irreversibility. Qwerty persists – arguably, as a suboptimal keyboard solution – due to identifiable ratchet-effects. Based upon this privileged model, the historical, technological, and economic process of ‘lock in’ through positive feedback is called QWERTY-nomics (and here simply ‘Qwernomics’).

This two-module course will (1) re-visit the late 20th Century debate on qwernomics as an illustration of central themes in complexity theory (and the cybernetics of positive feedback), then (2) re-open the discussion of Qwerty as a techno-economic manifest destiny, and thus a gateway into the workings of modern historical time.

The first module will reconstruct the theory of path dependency, with Qwerty as its key. The second module will be primarily devoted to the exploration of Qwerty as a semiotic fatality. How can Qwerty be most rigorously apprehended as an abstract object, or number pattern? What are the exoteric and esoteric consequences of this convention having been robustly installed within global history?

The most fundamental pre-requisites for the course are a Qwerty keyboard and a basic competence at alphabetical ordering (or alphabetical ordinal arithmetic).

Preliminary Readings
‘Clio and the Economics of QWERTY’ (1985), Paul A David

‘The Fable of the Keys’ (1990), Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis

‘10,000 B.C.: The Geology of Morals (Who Does the Earth Think It is?)’, from A Thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari
(Worth reading as a cryptic disquisition on the keyboard, among all its other merits.)

Image: Chinese typewriter,

Theory & method for a non-curatorial exhibition practice

Instructor: Stefan Heidenreich Date & Time: Monday, December 18 and January 8, 15, 22. 3:30 - 6:00 EST

The goal of the seminar is to prepare an uncurated, collaboratively organized art exhibition, to be held in 2018. The discussions about my text "Against Curating" led to the decision to set up a platform infrastructure for a new type of art exhibition. It includes social media, public participation in the selection process, collaborative and open discussions, and a globally distributed geo-located form of display. The research for the show will take a look at historical examples of non-curated exhibitions, namely the salon des refusés, the salon des indépendants, and artists' societies and Künstlervereine of the 19 century. Results of the research will help to launch a crowdfunding campaign and inform the design of the infrastructure and the display.

Deleuze & Guattari Beyond the State

Instructor: Levi Bryant Date & Time: Final Module: August 11th, 18th, 21st, & September 1st 6:30 - 9:00 PM EST

The hypothesis for this seminar is that the State is essentially a theological structure. In conceptualizing theology as a State structure we should take care to distinguish this structure from religion and the supernatural. Although many forms of religiosity are, in a sense, theological, the distinguishing mark of theology is not the presence of the supernatural or the divine, but rather that of the sovereign that overcodes all other elements of a particular social field. There are thus purely secular theologies as in, for instance, those forms of sociality organized around a sovereign leader, a master-signifier such as “the party”, or ontotheologies like Nietzsche's where all of being is subordinated to a key term such as the “will to power”.  

This structure is what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as “Oedipus” in Anti-Oedipus. Thus, Oedipus should be thought as much broader than a particular structure of the family or a psychoanalytic theory and instead as a theological form of thought that manifests itself in forms of labor, thought, science, metaphysics, politics, art, and, of course, religion. The thesis of this seminar is that it is essentially this theological structure of thought and practice that Deleuze and Guattari target in their politics.  Deleuze and Guattari strive to go beyond the State, and therefore propose an a-theism, an anarchism, or a form of thought, practice, and politics where the site of the overcoding sovereign is void or absent. Through a close reading of Nietzsche & Philosophy, Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature, and Anti-Oedipus, this seminar will explore the mechanisms by which the State is formed, how it functions, and why subjects become so ineluctably attached to these theological formations. Above all, we will look at the strategies of flight from the State and how these formations might be contested.

Participants in the seminar will be required to write one weekly post addressing some issue in that week’s reading or the prior week’s seminar discussion.  In addition, students will be required to respond to one other student's blog post each week. Blog posts and responses are to be posted every Saturday prior to the Tuesday seminar meeting to the classroom’s page .  At the end of the seminar, students will be required to write a 2000 – 3000 word essay dealing with some of seminar's themes or to produce a media or artistic artifact based on the issues discussed over the semester.  Students are free to propose other projects as well.  These projects will be due two weeks after the last seminar session.

Structuralism, Poststructuralism & the Pure Form of the Subject

Instructor: Katerina Kolozova Date & Time: Saturday, November 25, December 2, 9, 16 1 PM EST

DESCRIPTION: The course will revisit some of the themes present in my publication from 2014, The Cut of the Real: Subjectivity in Poststructuralist Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press). We will focus mostly on the question of subjectivation. It will be based on a close reading of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault, and in particular of what I see as the amalgamation of their theses, namely Psychic Life of Power (1997) by Butler. We will do so through the lenses of de Saussure’s structuralism, Marx’s objectivism and Irigaray’s critique of the speculative reason. The crisis of the poststructuralist theory of the subject is tackled in The Cut of the Real, and so it will be addressed once again, in the original terms of the book, but also enriched with some readings from de Sausure, Marx and Irigaray. The perspective of Francois Laruelle’s non-philosophy is the method that pervades the entire book and will be one of the main methodological backdrops in the course as well. In that way, the course will function as yet a careful pedagogically conceived intro in Laruelle’s method.

Required Readings: Structuralism, poststructuralism and the pure form

Butler, Judith (1997) Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection. Redwood City CA: Stanford University Press.

de Saussure, F. (1959) Course in General Linguistics. Ed. by Charles Bally and Albert Reidlinger. Trans. from the French by Wade Baskin. New York: Philosophical Library.

Foucault, Michel (1991) Discipline and Punish. Translated by Alan Sheridan. London: Penguin.

___.  Nietzsche, Genealogy, History.” In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice:

Selected Essays and Interviews, edited by D. F. Bouchard. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977

Irigaray, Luce (1985) This Sex Which is Not One. Cornell University Press, 170-197.

Kolozova, Katerina. Cut of the Real: Subjectivity in Poststructuralist Philosophy. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), the first chapter.

Lacan, Jacques (1998) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, ed. by Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. by Alan Sheridan, New York & London: W. W. Norton and Company

Laruelle, F. (2012) Théorie générale des victimes. Paris: Fayard.

___.  (2000) Introduction au non-marxisme. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

___. (1989) Philosophie et non-philosophie. Liège: Pierre Mardaga.

Levi Strauss, Claude (1966) Savage Mind.Chicago University Press.

Lukács, G. (1971) History and Class Consciousness. Rodney Livingstone (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Marx, K. (1973) Grundrisse: Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy. Translated by Martin Nicolaus. New York: Penguin Books, 1973.

___. (1959) Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts 1844. Moscow: Progress Publishers (from the online version of the Marxist Internet Archive: 2000; 2007), URL (consulted April 2017): https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Economic-Philosophic-Manuscripts-1844.pdf

___. (1887) Capital: Volume I. Translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Frederick Engels. Moscow: Progress Publishing (from the online version of the Marxist Internet Archive: 1995; 1999), URL (consulted April 2015=7): https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/

Meillassoux, M. (2008) After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. Trans. from the French by Ray Brassier.  London: Bloomsbury.

Petrovic, G. (1983) “Reification,” In Tom Bottomore et al (eds.) A Dictionary of Marxist Thought.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Sohn-Rethel, A. (1978) Intellectual and Manual Labor: Critique of Epistemology. London: Macmillan.

Wittgenstein, L. (1922) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd, available at Gutenberg project.


Ontologies of the Fold:
Leibniz, Simondon & Deleuze

Instructor: Levi Bryant Date & Time: Thursday, November 2, 9, 16, 30, December 7, 14, 21, 28 6:30 EST

This seminar explores Simondon's concept of individuation and Deleuze's account of the fold as models of how being is to be thought. Responding to Graham Harman's object-oriented philosophy and his thesis that beings are withdrawn and never relate, it is argued that the concept of the fold avoids the twin perils of undermining and overmining by preserving the singularity of beings, while also accounting for their relatedness and providing a rich account of subjectivity. It is argued that beings are pleats or folds within being that integrate other beings in their ongoing processes of individuation. For example, a sun tan is a sort of origami where sunlight is pleated into the body producing a quality in the form of the shade of the skin. What emerges is a profoundly ecological conception of being where entities can never be thought in isolation, but rather must always be thought in communication and relation to other beings.

Students participating in the seminar will be required to present the material for one course in the form of questions that arose from the assigned readings on that day and will be required to write a 15 – 20 page essay on a topic of their own choosing related to the material. Readings will include Leibniz's Monadology, selections from the Discourse on Metaphysics, selections form Muriel Combes Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual, Deleuze's The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, and Foucault.

Complexity and Computation:
An Introduction to Measures, Paradigms and Programs

Instructor: Reza Negarestani Module: 1, 2, & 3 Date & Time: January 24 - April 10, 2016 11:00am - 1:30pm

This seminar is an introduction to two widely popular yet often culturally misconstrued topics, complexity and computation. Why are social sciences no longer tenable without an extensive restructuring around theoretical and applied dimensions of these two subjects? Why is in the absence of a systematic engagement with the all-encompassing consequences implied by the findings and advances in computation and complexity sciences, philosophy's regression to antediluvian platitudes inevitable? And at the same time, why should the vogue culture surrounding complexity and computation be approached with a critical vigilance and extreme caution? By presenting a survey of some of the key ideas in complexity sciences and computation which have direct implications for philosophical and political thinking, this seminar sets out to tackle and answer these questions.

Simondon & Technology

Instructor: Yuk Hui Date & Time: November 13, 20, 27, January 15 3:00–5:30pm EST

Simondon’s discourse on technical objects lays down the foundation for a philosophy of technology which aims to give a new ontological status to technical objects in order to establish a technological culture or a technological humanism. This consists of the effort to save technical objects from misunderstanding and ignorance of them as functional objects or mere utilities and understand the genesis of technical objects according to its own rationality and at the same time a problem and possible solution to alienation described by Marx. What underlies in Simondon’s ambitious project is the construction of a new metaphysical ground (against hylomorphism and substantialism) as well as a new philosophical anthropology described as a genesis of technicity. In this seminar, we will examine the main philosophical propositions of Simondon in On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (as well as in other writings and courses) and its significances for understanding the contemporary technological condition.

New Rationalism:
The Shape of Systems to Come | Reason & Time

Instructor: Reza Negerastani Module: 1&2 Date & Time: Sunday: January 11th, 18th, 25, February 1, 15, 21, 22- March 1st 11:30 AM - 2 PM EST

Promethean Democracy:
Speculative Governance on a Planetary Scale

Instructor: Jason Adams Date & Time: Tuesdays, December 5, 12, 19, 26 8:00-10:30 PM EST

Left critics of “democracy” often argue that, while they might constitute noble political experiments, the more direct forms of it seen in the antiglobalization and occupation movements are ultimately impossible to scale any level higher than relatively small, local groups, and that even representative democratic forms are best suited to nation-states, such that they cannot be expected to function on either macro-regional or planetary levels. Further, for some, the concept of democracy as such is habitually reduced down to its specifically liberal, capitalist form, or reduced to a strictly Western or otherwise privileged instantiation that cannot be apply universally. Yet, various forms of “global democracy” have been evolving for quite a long time, from many demographic and regional quarters, and with considerable tension and divergence over what it is accurately constituted by. In this seminar, we will explore radically democratic “delegative” alternatives to both direct democracy and representative democracy that are scalable on the level of the planetary and that draw upon the most promising aspects of both of the more well-known forms. Following an introductory session, each of the remaining three weeks will focus upon the practical potentialities of a single concept - sortition, isonomia, and diagonality - and will engage artists, theorists, and collectives concerned with the question of how to actualize them into actual decision-making structures on the level of the world as a whole.

Image: Maasai Warrior, Rodrigo Galdino, 2016

Archeology of Abstraction (Reconstructing Futures I)

Instructor: Davor Löffler Module: 1 of 2 Date & Time: May 20, 27; June 3, 10 Saturdays, 2:00pm - 4:30pm EST

Module I: Archeology of Abstraction

DESCRIPTION: This seminar is based on the materials from the upcoming publication, “Generative Realities: On the Temporality and Metaphysics of Technological Civilization”

Starting around 1880, with the fusion of industry, capital and science, the sphere of human domestication expanded into the realm of sub-mechanical, sub-corpuscular, sub-organic, sub-conscious, and sub-phenomenal processes. The interface to this realm of generative processes was “information”. Cast into cybernetics, it first allowed for the rendering of all kinds of dynamic relations as accessible units, while later in the form of algorithmization, it proliferated an entirely new continuum of objects, agencies and ontologies. Today, these developments are eroding modernity’s phenomena at all of its fronts – social, economical, political, scientific, industrial, cognitive, metaphysical, temporal, anthropological – thus heralding the beginning of a new civilizational stage, a fundamental shift in human-world-relations. But where does it lead? To answer this question this seminar will travel back in time to where it all began. Based upon the recently developed cognitive-archaeological “Tübingen Model of the Expansion of Cultural Capacities” we will examine stages in early cultural and cognitive evolution (3Ma – 25Ka) for developmental patterns and principles that might help us to understand the current transformation of the human structures by locating it within the progression of civilizational expansions. This formalization of the outside of cultural and social evolution will enable us to extrapolate forms of mind, society, temporality and metaphysics that we can expect to emerge both during and after our existence.


Session 1: The Search for the Second Sun

Meillassoux, Quentin: After Finitude. An Essay on the Necessity on Contingency. London/New York: Continuum 2008
___pp. 5-7, 9-18, 27

Luhmann, Niklas: Introduction to Systems Theory. Cambridge/Malden,MA: Polity Press 2013 ___pp. 63-71

Mühlmann, Heiner: Nature of Cultures. A Blueprint for a Theory of Cultural Genetics. Wien/New York: Springer 1996
___pp. 2-12

Ogburn, William F./Thomas, Dorothy: Are Inventions Inevitable? In: Political Science Quarterly, 1922, Vol. 37, No. 1, 1922, 83-98
___pp. 83-98 (especially the list of 148 multiple discoveries pp. 93-98)

Simonton, Dean Keith: Multiple Discovery and Invention: Zeitgeist, Genius, or Chance? In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1979, Vol. 37, No. 9, 1603-1616
___pp. 1603-1605

Tennie, Claudio/Call, Josep/Tomasello, Michael: Ratcheting up the Ratchet: On the Evolution of Cumulative Culture. In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Vol. 364, 2009, 2405- 2415
___pp. 2405, 2407-2409, 2411-2412

Session 2: Operational Chains, Depths of Time and the Evolution of the Mind: The Tübingen Model of the Expansion of Cultural Capacities

Guest: PD Dr. Miriam Noël Haidle, Research Center “Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans”, Institute of Prehistory, Early History and Medieval Archaeology, Tübingen/Germany

Haidle, Miriam N./Bolus, Michael/Collard, Mark/Conard, Nicholas J./Garofoli, Duilio/Lombard, Marlize/Nowell, April/Tennie, Claudio/Whiten, Andrew: The Nature of Culture: An Eight-Grade Model for the Evolution and Expansion of Cultural Capacities in Hominins and other Animals. In: Journal of Anthropological Sciences, Vol. 93, 2015, 43-70

Haidle, Miriam N.: How to think tools? A Comparison of Cognitive Aspects in Tool Behavior of Animals and during Human Evolution. In: Cognitive perspectives in tool behavior, Vol.1, 2012 http://tobias-lib.uni-tuebingen.de/frontdoor.php?source_opus=6014
___pp. 196-198 (only cognigrams of animal tool use)

Lombard, Marlize/Haidle, Miriam N.: Thinking a Bow-and-arrow Set: Cognitive Implications of Middle Stone Age Bow and Stone-tipped Arrow Technology. In: Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2012, 237–264
___pp. 244-258 (only cognigrams and tables of bow-and-arrow-assembly)

Session 3: Formalizing Technogenesis / Noogenesis

Suddendorf, Thomas: The Gap. The Science of What Separates Us from other Animals. New York: Basic Books 2013
___pp. 91-111, 216 (Chap. “Time Travelers”)

Leroi-Gourhan, André: Gesture and Speech. Cambridge,MA/London: MIT Press 1993 ___pp. 237-255 (Chap. “Gesture and Program”)

Session 4: Probing the Threshold to Civilization: Coupled Minds, Excentric Insulations, Aesthetical Membranes

Tomasello, Michael: A Natural History of Human Thinking. Cambridge,MA/London: Harvard University Press 2014
___pp. 120-123, 133-141 (table on p. 140)

Mühlmann, Heiner: Nature of Cultures. A Blueprint for a Theory of Cultural Genetics. Wien/New York: Springer 1996
___pp. 11-24, 29-40

Sloterdijk, Peter: Foams. Spheres Volume III: Plural Spherology. Cambridge,MA/London: MIT Press 2016
___pp. 362-500 (Chap. “Anthropogenic Islands”)
___For a summary of this chapter see: Rouanet Freitag, Bárbara: The Trilogy Spheres of Peter Sloterdijk. In: IOP Journal, Vol. 21, 2011, pp. 73-84, pp. 79-83)

Donald, Merlin: The Exographic Revolution: Neuropsychological Sequelae. In: Malafouris, Lambros/Renfrew, Colin (Ed.): The Cognitive Life of Things. Recasting the Boundaries of the Mind. Cambridge/Oxford: Oxbow Books 2010, 71-79

Contemporary Readings of Hegel

Instructor: Ray Brassier Module: 2 Date & Time: Sunday October 9, 16, 23, 30 and November 6, 13, 20, 27 10:00am – 12:30pm EST

Hegel famously characterized philosophy as its own time comprehended in thought. Today, 185 years after Hegel’s death, several contemporary philosophers have enlisted Hegel in their attempts to comprehend our time in thought. What is striking however is that these philosophers invoke Hegel as the inspiration for radically antagonistic comprehensions of our present. Since the spontaneous comprehension of our present is as a time of catastrophic crisis it is unsurprising that the comprehension of crisis should be riven by a crisis of comprehension. The power of Hegel’s thought, and its contemporary salience, so this course will argue, is that crises of comprehension must yield comprehensions of crisis that obligate their critical overcoming.

The necessity at issue is rational and it is precisely the status of rational necessity that is at stake in these antagonistic reactivations of Hegel. The claim that Hegelian rationalism is committed to converting crises of comprehension into their comprehensive overcoming will be tested against those who emphasize the conciliatory, integrative aspect of Hegel’s rationalism at the expense of traumatic discontinuities, but also against the attempt to convert Hegel’s thought into a tragic meditation on the impossibility of rationally overcoming trauma. We will trace the schism between these integrative and disintegrative reactivations of Hegel back to conceptual issues about the status of rationality, metaphysics, critique, dialectics, and the absolute in Hegel’s thought. We will also try to understand how these conceptual antagonisms give rise to fundamental political antagonisms, not only between social democratic reformism and revolutionary communism, but also between communism as a possible object of affirmation and communism as an impossible lost object of mourning.

The course consists of two modules, each of four weeks.

Each module of the two-part seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. During this period material blogged the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Based upon the set readings, online news and commentary, and ongoing class discussion, students will be expected to contribute ~400 words of content to the seminar blog on relevant topics. (This will additionally be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion). The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word extended essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: Contemporary Hegel by Arkan Ehonis, 2013-2016

Curatorial Practice III:
Curating the Future Now!

Instructor: Mohammad Salemy Module: 3 of 3 Date & Time: Saturdays: February 3rd - March 5th 12:00 PM - 1:45 PM EST

The 20th century, particularly after the Second World War, witnessed the emergence of a new class of cultural producers named curators who worked with with artists, museum officials, and private collectors to organize art exhibitions. Through an ongoing process of self-specialization, curators began to play a decisive role not only in the production of art, but in shaping the function of the individual artist as well. Over the course of the last two decades, in turn, many universities have begun to offer curatorial studies programs, focusing on the development of the curator’s role in constructing associations between art, artists and audiences, as well as elaborating the significance of exhibitions as the key space for approaches to contemporary art and society.

This seminar is the final module of the Curatorial Practice series of seminars.* It will consist of 6 strictly hands-on workshops which continue the work of the seminar from the previous module. Participants will collaborate closely with the instructor in small groups, and at times will work on an individual basis, in order to utilize the cybernetic strategies developed in the previous module.** The seminar will assist in the further development, installation & presentation of the planned exhibition and conference in March at Prague’s TranzitDisplay. In addition, the seminar will focus and contribute to the production and publication of the events’ catalogue.

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