For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!

Critical Cultural Theory Seminar

Colloquium organized by the Critical Cultural Theory group of the Department of Philosophy | Organizing committee: Organizing committee: Katia Hay Rodgers, Stefan Niklas, Monique Roelofs, Aukje van Rooden, Maarten Coolen, Sybrandt van Keulen en Frank Rebel | Contact: Aukje van Rooden (

Whether we think of critical theory in the narrow or in the broad sense, culture is always central to it. For the thinkers around Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and also Walter Benjamin, the tradition that reaches from German idealism via Marx to Nietzsche, Max Weber and Freud forms the groundwork of a theory that is aware of cultural self-reflection as necessary part of philosophy and social theory. The same is true, more or less, for the thinkers of so-called postmodernism, poststructuralism and philosophy of difference for whom even more Nietzsche is the turning point, accompanied now by Heidegger. But it is well known that culture has several basic meanings: it means, normatively, a desirable state of human life, descriptively a way of living that allows for cultures in the plural, and sociologically a subsystem of society being specialized to world-interpretations or symbolic understanding.

A contemporary critical theory of culture, thus, has to deal with questions like: What do we need to still argue for a normative concept of culture or good life? How is it reconcilable with the liberal-democratic and “postmodern” pluralism of ways of living and thinking? How does critique work at all under conditions where there are no transcendent criteria any more? What is the distinct value of certain forms of art for philosophy and society? Can we learn something from certain cultural phenomena – be it from distinct art, pop-art or everyday life - about our epoch? And, finally, what is the specific value of the Humanities for societal self-reflection?

Giving an answer to such questions needs historical, systematic and interdisciplinary approaches at the same time. The colloquium is organized intermittently to bring together scholars from various academic disciplines and also non-academic professions.


Monique Roelofs on Arts of Address: Being Alive to Language and the World

Time and place: April 1, 2021, 16h-18h, via zoom

We are happy to invite you to the next Critical Cultural Theory Seminar on Arts of Address. Prof. Monique Roelofs will discuss her new book Arts of Address: Being Alive to Language and the World that has been published in 2020 with Columbia University Press

Modes of address are forms of signification that we direct at living beings, things, and places, and they at us and at each other. Seeing is a form of address. So are speaking, singing, and painting. Initiating or responding to such calls, we participate in encounters with the world. In readings of writers and artists ranging from Julio Cortázar to Jamaica Kincaid and from Martha Rosler to Pope.L, Roelofs demonstrates the centrality of address to freedom and a critical political aesthetics. Hume, Kant, and Foucault enter into conversation with Fanon and Anzaldúa. Drawing on a wide array of artistic and theoretical sources and challenging disciplinary boundaries, the book illuminates address’s significance to cultural existence and to our reflexive aesthetic engagement in it.

Monique Roelofs is Professor of Philosophy of Art and Culture and Chair of Critical Cultural Theory at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the relation between aesthetics and politics, with special attention paid to the dynamics of race, gender, coloniality, and the global. She is the author of Arts of Address: Being Alive to Language and The World (Columbia UP, 2020) and The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic (Bloomsbury, 2014). Roelofs has a new book in the works titled “Aesthetics, Address, and the Politics of Culture.” She is also coauthoring a book on aesthetics and temporality in Latin(x) America and coediting an anthology on Black Aesthetics.

Please contact to receive the zoom link and, if desired, the introduction and the first chapter of the book.

Philippe van Haute & Herman Westering on Psychoanalysis From a Philosophical Perspective
Time and place: January 25th at 16-18h, via zoom

The CCT group and RMA students working on a tutorial on psychoanalysis would like to invite you to the next Critical Culture Theory Seminar on psychoanalysis from a philosophical perspective. Prof. Philippe van Haute and Prof. Herman Westerink will present and discuss their new book, 'Three Essays', which will be published this year as part of Routledge's 'History of Psychoanalysis Series' called 'Reading Freud's Three Essays on Sexuality'. It focuses on Freud's 1905 text, which has been neglected despite its central academic importance to the development of psychoanalysis.

Professor Philippe van Haute is a professor at the Centre for Contemporary European Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen. Prof van Haute has published extensively on Lacan and Freud and is a founding member of the International Society of Psychoanalysis and Philosophy. van Haute's books include Against Adaptation (2001), A Non-Oedipal Psychoanalysis? (with Tomas Geyskens, 2012), and Deconstructing Normativity, (2016) co-authored by Professor Herman Westerink.

Professor Herman Westerink is an associate professor at the Center for Contemporary European Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen. He is also a member of the International Society for Psychoanalysis and Philosophy. He has published numerous books and articles on psychoanalysis, including A Dark Trace (2009) and The Heart of Man’s Destiny (2012) and is editor of the book series Sigmund Freuds Werke: Wiener Interdisziplinäre Kommentare (Vienna University Press). His work focuses on the intersections between mental health, religion, identity formation, and Freud.

Filmscreening and discussion: ‘The Toxic Reigns of Resentment’ by Jürgen Schaflechner and Sjoerd van Tuinen
Time and place: Feb. 5, 16h00-18h00, Oude Manhuispoort D.0.09, Amsterdam\

Filmscreening of the documentary 'The Toxic Reigns of Resentment' (directed and produced by Jürgen Schaflechner, Tim van den Hoff and Sjoerd van Tuinen) followed by an open discussion of the film with film director and anthropologist Jürgen Schaflechner (South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg) and philosopher Sjoerd van Tuinen (Erasmus University Rotterdam).
Summary of the film:
After the fall of the Soviet empire and the triumph of global capitalism, modernity appeared to keep its dual promise of liberty and equality. Only a few decades later, however, we witness an oppositional trend: A revival of nationalism paired with xenophobia, an increasing tribalization of politics, a public sphere oscillating between cruelty and sentimentality, and a Left caught up in wounded attachments. Social media, once the promise to give voice to the disempowered, link cognitive capitalism with a culture of trolling and hyper moralization. Algorithms programmed to monetarize outrage feed isolated information bubbles and produce what many call the era of post-truth politics.
How did we enter this toxic climate? Are these developments a response to the ubiquity of neoliberal market structures eroding the basic solidarities in our society? Has the spread of social media limited our ability to soberly deal with conflicting life worlds? And have both the left and the right given in to a form of politics where moralization and cynical mockery outdo collective visions of the future?
Featuring: Wendy Brown, Grayson Hunt, Rahel Jaeggi, Alexander Nehamas, Robert Pfaller, Gyan Prakash, Peter Sloterdijk, and Sjoerd van Tuinen

Katia Hay Rodgers on Laughter and Philosophy in Schlegel and Nietzsche
Time and place: Dec. 18, 2019, 14h00-16h00, Faculteitskamer, Oude Turfmarkt 147, Amsterdam

Katia Hay Rodgers (University of Amsterdam) presents a working paper discussing the role of laughter in Nietzsche’s and Friedrich Schlegel’s philosophies. It addresses this topic by reference to Kant, showing how both authors respond to and challenge Kant’s (but not only Kant’s) ‘prejudice’ (as Nietzsche calls it in his ‘Gay Science’) against laughter and joy. The main question being: in what ways are their responses similar and where do they differ? In order to address this question I pay special attention to the way in which they incorporate ‘laughter’ in their writings.

Howard Caygill on The Cynegetic Paradigm in Art, Politics and War
Time and place: Oct. 17, 17h00-19h00, PC. Hoofthuis, room 1.15, Amsterdam

In this lecture, Howard Caygill (Kingston University) will discuss what he coins the cynegetic paradigm in art, politics and war.