Challenging collectivities

The future(s) of critical theory (2009)

First Graduate Conference in Frankfurt am Main, 19.-21 March 2009

Call for Papers
Whether or not “critical theory” constitutes a well-defined, easily identifiable and selfcontained
school of thought has been a matter of debate. For the organizers of this
conference, given the plurality of theoretical projects that consider themselves in the
tradition of the “Frankfurt School,” critical thinking cannot be reduced to one
academic ‘camp’ in any meaningful way. Rather than representing one coherent
philosophical paradigm, ‘critical theory’ embodies a diverse set of practices of radical
questioning exercised in various discourses including that of arts, social and political
sciences as well as radical political debate. Moreover critical theory is a highly selfreflexive
process. Thus, rather than being a sign of crisis or lack of orientation, the
increasing number of publications about the meaning and significance of “critique”
and “critical theory” in recent years point to a vibrant and diverse intellectual
community constituted around similar theoretical and political commitments. The
existence of different theoretical positions and disagreements within that community
can be best interpreted as an invitation to reconsider one’s own stance in relation to
other ways of critical thinking and to reflect on common grounds.
“The Future(s) of Critical Theory” Graduate Conference in Frankfurt aims to serve as
a forum for this ongoing debate. We invite PhD students and postdocs from the
humanities and the social sciences to discuss their work in relation to the challenges
posed by the current debates on the status of critical theory today. Critical theory
proves itself only in relation to its concrete object of investigation. We are therefore
equally looking forward to the presentation of empirical research as to theoretical
Contributions may include – but need not be limited to – the following themes:
__What is Critique? What makes critical theories critical? How critical is Critical
__C/critical Theory(ies): 1,2,3…many Generations of critical theory(ies); Critical
Theory and Post/structuralism; Critique, Genealogy, Deconstruction; Kant, Hegel,
Nietzsche; Postcolonial Studies, Feminism, queer.
__Methodologies of critique: Theory and Practice; Philosophy and Sociology;
Knowledge and Human Interest; Militant Investigation, Collective Theorization.
__Critique and the Good Life: Desire, Love, Intimacy, Affect, ‘The Private’ and of
course Friendship.
__Critical Theory, The Political and Politics: Democracies, Socialisms,
Liberalisms; Power and/or Domination; Law, State, Police and Sovereignty.
__Theorizing Capitalism: (Ir)rationality, Alienation and Reification; Old and New
Spirit of Capitalism; Redistribution or Expropriation; Reform or Revolution.
__Cultures of Critique: Sub-, Pop- and Mainstream- Culture (industries); Media and
Cultural Studies; Hegemony and Discourse; Narratology, Semiotics and Rhetoric.

Submission Information
Please submit abstracts of a maximum of 300 words to the following e-mail address: We accept proposals until the 31. November
2008. Languages of the conference will be German and English, abstracts can be
submitted in either language. Papers presented at the conference should not exceed the
duration of twenty minutes and will be followed by a brief discussion.
Papers will be selected through a blind review process therefore please do not mark
your name or other indications of the author on abstracts and make sure to clearly state
the title of your proposal in the email. Candidates will be informed by January 1st whether their paper has been accepted for presentation. The publication of a selection of conference papers is intended.

Keynote speakers
Keynote speakers are Bonnie Honig (Chicago), Axel Honneth (Frankfurt) and
Emmanuel Renault (Paris/Lyon).

For further information see