Thinking in Dark Times JCU Critical Theory Seminar Series

Thinking in Dark Times

Critical theory seeks to identify the contradictions, crisis tendencies and lines of actual or potential conflict in contemporary society, and to demarcate and politicize possibilities for more progressive, socially just, emancipatory and sustainable forms of life. The JCU Critical Theory Seminar is an open space to work through ideas, make sense of the world, and imagine new possibilities. Each seminar involves a brief introduction of readings by a presenter, followed by an open-ended discussion of the readings in relation to contemporary socio-cultural and political dynamics. All are welcome to join informal discussion of contemporary and classic critical theory texts in an effort to make light in dark times. 

The rise of racist nationalism, the demise of liberal democracy and citizen rights, the expulsion of growing numbers of people from the ranks of legitimate life, the cultural and technological legitimation of inequality, and the gloomy subjectivity of ecologically assured destruction hark back to the dark times that gave rise to the Frankfurt School of critical theory, and to Arendt’s appeal to critical thought as our primary defense against the banality of evil. In the context of the entrepreneurial university, meanwhile, thinking (and reading) is increasingly an externality. This seminar aims to foster citizenship through critical thought and discussion of the contemporary moment, and relations among culture, politics and technology. This year’s topic addresses the question ‘what ideas are good to think with in our current dark times’?