Christopher Norris seminar, TUESDAY 30 NOVEMBER, 5.30pm

Philosophy Event at Middlesex, Tuesday 30 November, 5.30pm

Christopher Norris: ‘Aesthetic Ideology Revisited’

* * Please note the day (Tuesday) and time (5.30pm, not 6.30) * *

Christopher Norris has published numerous books and articles on continental and analytic philosophy, fusing the philosophy of language and philosophy of science with deconstruction and literary theory. In works such as Derrida (1987) and Deconstruction and the ‘Unfinished Project of Modernity’ (2000), he argued that, contrary to widely-held opinion, deconstruction is fundamentally opposed to postmodernism and relativism. In Language, Logic and Epistemology (2004), he combined deconstruction with modal logic, while other works, such as Truth Matters (2005) and On Truth and Meaning: Language, Logic and the Grounds of Belief (2006), develop novel theories of truth and realism. His most recent books include a guidebook to Alain Badiou’s Being & Event (2009) and Re-thinking the Cogito: Naturalism, Reason and the Venture of Thought (2010). He is currently Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy at Cardiff University.

Place:  Room M013, Mansion Building, Middlesex University, Trent Park campus, Bramley Road, London N14 4YZ. NOTE ROOM CHANGE.

Tube: Piccadilly line to Oakwood station, free bus to campus.

All welcome.

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Public course on French feminism, starts Friday 26 November

Free public mini-course on French feminism by Rosa Nogues, starting Friday 26 November, 2010, 4pm.

Rationale: Feminist theory in France encompasses a field of thought much wider and more heterogeneous than that suggested by what has come to be known as ‘French Feminism’, a category coined by the Anglophone academy and mostly limited to the work of Cixous, Kristeva and Irigaray. The aim of this course will be to outline the different positions in French feminism at the time of the women’s liberation movement in France, and to explore some of the basic concepts and debates in feminist theory within the specific context of French feminist thought, such as the sex/gender distinction, the concept of difference, or the essentialism/constructionism debate. Pdf copies of texts will be made available a week in advance of each session. We will look at the work of key figures such as Simone de Beauvoir, Christine Delphy, Monique Wittig, Monique Plaza, Catherine Clément, Hélène Cixous, Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray.

Session I: Friday 26 November 2010, 4-6pm

Introduction to French Feminism

Reading: Simone de Beauvoir, Introduction to The Second Sex (1949); Christine Delphy, ‘Rethinking Sex and Gender’ (1993).

Optional reading: Monique Wittig, ‘The Category of Sex’ (1982); Hélène Cixous, ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ (1975).

Session II: Friday 3 December 2010, 4-6pm

Luce Irigaray

Reading: Irigaray, ‘The Little Girl Is (Only) a Little Boy’, from Speculum of the Other Woman; ‘This Sex Which Is not One’, from This Sex Which Is not One.

Optional reading: ‘An Ethics of Sexual Difference’, from An Ethics of Sexual Difference; ‘Women’s Exile’, in Ideology and Consciousness, no. 1 (May 1977).

Session III: Friday 10 December 2010, 4-6pm

Julia Kristeva

Reading: Kristeva, ‘Approaching Abjection’ and ‘From Filth to Defilement’, in The Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection; ‘Women’s Time’, in Signs, 7/1 (1981).

Optional reading: ‘From One Identity to Another’ in Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art.

For pdf copies of the texts, please email

Place: Room M222, second floor, Mansion Building, Middlesex University, Trent Park campus, Bramley Road, London N14 4YZ. NOTE ROOM CHANGE.

Tube: Piccadilly line to Oakwood station, free bus to campus.

This course is free and open to the general public. ALL WELCOME.

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Sean Sayers on Communism, Thursday 18 November, 6.30pm

Philosophy Event at Middlesex this week:

Thursday 18 November, 6.30 pm:

Sean Sayers on ‘Marx’s Concept of Communism’

Sean Sayers is the author of Marxism and Human Nature (1998, reprinted 2007), and numerous books and articles including Reality and Reason: Dialectic and the Theory of Knowledge (1985) and Plato’s Republic: An Introduction (1999). He was one of the founders of the journal Radical Philosophy (1972), and more recently, of the Marx and Philosophy Society (2003). He is founder and editor-in-chief of the Marx and Philosophy Review of Books. He teaches philosophy at the University of Kent.

Place: Saloon (M004), Mansion Building, Middlesex University, Trent Park campus, Bramley Road, London N14 4YZ.

Tube: Piccadilly line to Oakwood station, free bus to campus.

All welcome.

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Susan James on Spinoza, Thursday 11 November, 6.30pm & Marx course, Friday 12 November, 4pm

Philosophy Events at Middlesex this week:

Thursday 11 November, 6.30pm.

Susan James on ‘Spinoza, Rembrandt and Superstition’

Susan James is the author of Passion and Action: The Emotions in Early Modern Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1997), and is currently working on a book on Spinoza and politics. She lectures in philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. She will be discussing Spinoza’s political philosophy, with reference to the discussion of superstition in the Preface to the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus and the theory of passions in the Ethics.

 Place: Saloon (M004), Mansion Building, Middlesex University, Trent Park campus, Bramley Road, London N14 4YZ.

Friday 12 November, 4pm.

Meade McCloughan presents the fourth installment of his course on Marx’s Capital. For the latest details about the course, see

Place: The Green Room (M009), Mansion Building, Trent Park campus.

Tube: Piccadilly line to Oakwood station, free bus to campus.

All welcome to both events.

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NEW DATE: The Humanities and the Idea of the University: Tuesday 7 December 2010

The workshop on the Humanities will now take place on Tuesday 7 December 2010, 11am-6pm, Saloon (M004), Ground Floor, Mansion Building, Middlesex University, Trent Park campus, Bramley Road, London N14 4YZ.


11.00  Christian Kerslake: Introduction: Philosophy, the Humanities and the University

11.30  Andrew McGettigan: How will Willetts’s ‘New Providers’ affect the Arts and Humanities? Independents, For-Profits and External Degrees in the Proposals for Higher Education

12.00  Dave Hill: Education and Resistance in/under Capitalism

12.30  Discussion

1.00   Break for Lunch

2.00   Johann Hoiby, Alfie Meadows, Maria-Louise Rosbech: Student Reflections

2.45   Andrew Goffey: Stupidity in the University

3.15   Matthew Charles: Philanthropy and the Image of the University

3.45   Discussion & Coffee

4.30   Mark Kelly: Resisting the Bureaucratisation of the University

5.00   Marina Vishmidt: The Humanities and the Location of Value in the University

5.30   Discussion

* * *


Do current government plans for cuts in funding in higher education signal the end of Humanities education as we know it? The proposal to increase tuition fees threefold, if carried through, will hit Humanities subjects particularly hard. There is every chance that subjects like Philosophy, History and Literature could rapidly disappear from the UK university system as a whole. Working-class students are likely to be deterred by the new level of debt from applying to university to study the Humanities, and the market will eliminate programmes and departments unable to recruit students prepared to enter the new system.

Two years after the banking crisis convulsed the economy and revealed deep flaws in the global financial system, the Coalition government has dismissed demands for economic reform, opted to cut public services, and now ventures the hope that young people will miraculously agree to a debt three times larger than the one pledged by current students. Could such demands, made so soon after the crisis of 2008, betray symptoms of what Slavoj Žižek calls the ‘perverse’ underside of politics as it is now carried out in capitalist societies? Or is it just that there is a new division between the debtless and the endebted, with those who do not know debt ceasing to understand those who do? How can students, parents and teachers combine to reverse the plan to enchain students in a system of debt founded on an irrational economy? If the Humanities are at the sharp end of the cuts, how can they in particular be defended?

In the light of the current threat, an urgent re-think is required to review the bases, principles and values of Humanities education. What are the Humanities, and what are they for? What is a university, and what is it for? Is it possible to stipulate that Humanities education is an essential component of what a university does, or should be doing? How can the links be reinforced between Humanities education and principles of universality and equality?

In her recent book Not for Profit: Why Democracy needs the Humanities (Princeton, 2010), Martha Nussbaum argues that “thirsty for national profit, nations, and their systems of education, are heedlessly discarding skills that are needed to keep democracies alive. If this trend continues, nations all over the world will soon be producing generations of useful machines, rather than complete citizens who can think for themselves”. She presents a case that Humanities education is essential to the cultivation of critical thinking, reflection and empathy with others. How, then, to effectively defend Humanities education? At this current juncture, is it possible to effectively defend the Humanities and higher education without also calling for an overall reform of the economy?

How deep do the cuts have to go for the demand for systematic economic reform to make itself felt at the collective level? What could History, Philosophy and Literature do to help awaken such a demand? Could student politics become a new flashpoint in this changed atmosphere? Thinking ahead, what would happen if the study of Philosophy and History were gradually excluded from the university system as a whole, becoming concentrated in a few elite institutions? Would the Humanities be forced into a counter-cultural position, having to exist outside the academic system?

In the past five years Middlesex University has abandoned teaching and research in two key Humanities subjects, History (closed in 2006) and Philosophy (admissions stopped in 2010). It appears to be on course to reduce all of its Humanities provision. This workshop will be a forum for lecturers and students to discuss the future of Humanities at Middlesex and in the UK in general.

The workshop is co-organised by Andrew Goffey ( and Christian Kerslake ( Attendance is free, but please register at

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Education on Trial: Join the Mutiny

Those interested in the campaign to Save Middlesex Philosophy may be interesting in attending Mutiny: Education on Trial at ULU tomorrow (Thursday, 4 November 2010) from 18.00 – 23.30.

Mutiny is about activists coming together to share ideas and practical skills. The audience define the event. So we are actively seeking speakers, school students, contributors, artists, primary school teachers, professors, trade union leaders and members, historians, social scientists, filmmakers, students and everyone who wants to fight the cuts! So join the mutiny!

Mutiny will discuss the future of education and help mobilise a huge and united march. University of London president Clare Solomon will host the Mutiny event on Thursday, November 4 at The Venue, ULU, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY.
A representative from the savemdxphil campaign will be speaking, along with an evening of debate and entertainment, including:

6pm – Speed Debating hosted by Mutineer Deborah

7 – 7.45pm: Schools Not For Sale
Comedian Grainne Macguire – A Level Lecturer Matthew Beggs – School Students Against the War – Primary school teacher Jess Horsfall gives us a 3 minute ‘braingym’ – Sh!t Theatre perform

8 – 8.45pm: University Challenged
Vicky Baars from NUS LGBT on campaigns & cuts – Bertie and Victoria from Really Open University – Ally Moss from the Middlesex Occupation – Alison Brumfitt performs poetry

9 – 9.45pm: Radical Education
Exclusive video interviews on radical education – Academic Gareth Dale – Academic Debra Benita Shaw on London freeschools – Activist Helen talks on autonomous students’ network

10pm – David Clinch – performs Shelley’s ‘The Mask of Anarchy’

Get tickets in advance on
Tickets also available on the door.

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