MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy promotes dialogue amongst practitioners and theorists about art discourse today. Highly relevant for both artists and writers, the course theorises art from a contemporary perspective embracing ideas in Continental philosophy, The Marxist intellectual tradition, as well as psychoanalytic and feminist theories.

This course is part of the Art Programme

Scholarships, Awards and Funding available:

The Trask Fund MRes Art Bursaries
Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships:
Home/EU | International
Jane Rapley Scholarships

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.

Meet Course Leader Christopher Kul-Want and students

Reasons to Apply

  • MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy enables you to pursue your studies whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities. You are expected to commit 30 hours per week to your studies; your taught input will normally be scheduled over a maximum of two to three days per week during term time. 
  • You’ll explore key issues including philosophy's relevance for the theorisation of art, politics, philosophy and art, philosophical approaches to contemporary art, and philosophy and art in a globalised context.
  • You’ll benefit from productive exchanges and development of ideas between MA Fine Art practitioners and MRes historians, theorists and philosophers. 
  • You’ll be introduced to the professional world of research and debate, supported by lectures from visiting scholars and philosophers. 
  • You'll gain skills in close textual analysis, comprehension, reconstruction and interpretation of philosophical arguments, while building expertise in critical analysis and reflection. 
  • Our graduates will be well placed to progress to MPhil or PhD research or for a professional future in academic institutions, the arts, and publishing. 


Course Leader

Christopher Kul-Want

Course Location

King's Cross, London

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course LengthFull time: 2 years (over 60 weeks)
Home/EU Fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £4,250 per year. Please note that fees for second year of study will be subject to inflationary increase.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

International Fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £10,110 per year.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

Start DateSeptember 2017
Autumn Term DatesMonday 25 September 2017 – Friday 8 December 2017
Spring Term DatesMonday 8 January 2018 – Friday 16 March 2018
Summer Term DatesMonday 16 April 2018 – Friday 22 June 2018
Application Route

Direct application

Content and structure

MRes Art allows you to address a specialist area of fine art research and to explore the relationships between your chosen specialism and the broader fine art community in the context of our Fine Art Programme.

Synergies in our Fine Art Programme - incorporating MA Fine Art, MA Art and Science, MA Photography, MRes Art: Exhibition Studies, MRes Art: Moving Image, and MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy - create a dynamic context for exploring practices and issues within contemporary culture.

In its extended full-time mode MRes Art gives you the flexibility to access London's richly varied opportunities for work and study while maximising your personal and professional development.

MRes Art prepares you to work particularly in the academic and research contexts of professional environments, to undertake PhD study, or pursue independent research. The course benefits from links with relevant professional and academic organisations in London and internationally and from the varied expertise of its research staff.

The three pathways provide a focus for your study while also enabling you to explore shared ground and questions of disciplinary territories and boundaries.

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy offers a close reading of relevant texts as well as detailed discussion to promote your understanding and knowledge of major debates and approaches within Continental philosophy and aesthetics, the Marxist intellectual tradition, and psychoanalytic theory concerning art. Key issues include philosophy's relevance for the theorisation of art, politics, philosophy and art, philosophical approaches to contemporary art, and philosophy and art in a globalised context.

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy supports and is shaped by:

  • Productive exchanges and development of ideas between MA Fine Art practitioners and MRes historians, theorists and philosophers
  • Leadership of a forum in the college for debate with practitioners and researchers of other subject perspectives (issues of aesthetics, for example) that have common interest and importance
  • Expansion of the theory and philosophy of art at CSM at PhD level (research in this area is already established and developing through a reading group in the philosophy of art organised by staff from fine art and research with PhD students' participation)

About the course

  • MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy lasts 60 weeks structured as two consecutive periods of 30 weeks each (i.e. two academic years) in its 'extended full-time mode.'
  • MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy is credit rated at 180 credits, and comprises four units. Unit 1 (40 credits) and Unit 2 (20 credits) run concurrently and last 15 weeks. Unit 3 (40 credits) follows after the completion of Units 1 and 2 and runs for a further 15 weeks to the end of year one. Unit 4 (80 credits) runs for 45 weeks, concurrently with Unit 3 to the end of year one, and then continuing to the end of year two.
  • All four units must be passed in order to achieve the MRes but the classification of the award of MRes is derived from the marks for units 3 and 4 only.
  • In year one we expect you to commit an average of 40 hours per week. In year two your study is predominantly self-managed but we expect you to commit an average of 20 hours per week. Across the two years, therefore, you're expected to commit an average of 30 hours per week.

Course rationale

The triangular relationship between art, critical theory and philosophy has in recent years become a vital transformative influence on artists and writers. There's a clear receptivity within art practice and discourse towards philosophy and, in turn, a keener engagement by philosophers with art in terms of both theory and practice. Among the indications of this are the frequency with which philosophers are now speaking at London's art venues such as the ICA, Tate and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, and a significant number of recent publications in the area.

Enlarging on these developments, MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy offers a unique context in which to carry out research in this field. Adopting an exploratory approach to research, the course probes the relationship between art, theory and philosophy in order to understand how the disciplines might interact with one another. It asks how these areas can inform each other's aims and aspirations in the context of social issues including subjectivity, psychological experience, politics and community.

At the core is the challenging notion, bequeathed by the Enlightenment not just to philosophy but also to thinking and theoretical writing, that art is not an object of knowledge but an agent of experience. For European philosophers writing in the wake of its legacy this thesis has entailed a completely new orientation towards the nature of aesthetic experience affecting not just approaches to art but the concept of subjectivity itself. Taking up this key legacy, MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy investigates a range of theoretical and philosophical ideas, approaches and positions.

Course outline

Embracing current debates shaping art criticism, art history and theory, aesthetics and philosophy, MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy investigates the relationships between these disciplines. Of particular importance is the relationship of both modern and contemporary art to Continental philosophy, the Marxist intellectual tradition, psychoanalysis, and feminist theory. In examining what modern and postmodern philosophers have said about art, the course asks how their ideas relate historically and conceptually.

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy aims to lead UK scholarship in the field through its academic activities (conferences, symposia and publications), serving as a platform for students to develop their interest and research towards MPhil and PhD study and facilitating research by its staff. A strong discursive component locates you in the professional world of research and debate, and this is supported by lectures from visiting scholars and philosophers. In pursuing the relationship between art, theory and philosophy the course aims to advance both art practice as a form of thinking and thinking as a form of practice, with the aim of producing qualified researchers, practitioners and writers who will contribute to art, visual studies and philosophy in a contemporary context.

The first year offers teaching in research skills while engaging you in the specialist subject of your pathway. At the same time you'll prepare for a personally directed programme of study - your research project. In the second year you'll pursue and realise your project. Your progress is supported through tutorials and critical discussions, and monitored through written assignments and presentations. Your realised project is the principal assessed work leading to the MRes qualification.

Unit 1 - Critical Perspectives

Unit 1 runs concurrently with Unit 2 and equips you to understand what philosophy and theory has said about art in the period from the Enlightenment to the present. Embracing primarily Continental philosophy and aesthetics, the Marxist intellectual tradition and psychoanalytic theory it builds your appreciation of the major issues and debates arising from philosophy and aesthetics particularly since Kant, while locating these issues within contemporary perspectives of art and theory.

Key areas of focus include Kant's concept of judgement; Hegel and the 'end of art'; metaphysics (Nietzsche); psychoanalytic ideas about the unconscious, fantasy, sublimation, desire and jouissance (Freud, Lacan, Kristeva, Zizek); feminist theory and philosophy (Kofman, Irigaray, Silverman); writing or écriture (Barthes, Derrida, Cixous); history and time (Heidegger, Adorno, Benjamin, Foucault and Rancière); singularity, multiplicity and the Event (Badiou and Deleuze).

The unit develops your ability to evaluate and progress your ideas about the theory and philosophy of art and encourages articulacy in critical discussion and writing.

Unit 2 - Thinking as Practice (Research Methodologies 1)

This unit, common to all courses within our Postgraduate Art Programme, helps you engage with the postgraduate and research community at CSM.

Unit 2 introduces the fundamental research skills that enable you to make informed decisions about appropriate methods to use in your chosen area of study and your professional future. The unit examines specific research skills and different kinds of research. Skills and knowledge areas covered include interviewing, literature search and review, archival skills, software for use in research and e-resources, feasibility studies, data analysis, referencing, citation and bibliographic conventions, and ethics. Seminars and workshops emphasise participation and the building of core research skills through practical exercises and small group projects.

Lectures ask how arts research and discourse is developed, shared and understood. The focus is on methods of learning, thinking, evaluation and interpretation as both practice based and theoretical forms of enquiry. The diversity of research activity at CSM provides a broad range of models and examples, with particular attention given to the place of practice in research projects.

Unit 2 is assessed by workshop assignments.

Unit 3 - Critical Practices (Research Methodologies 2)

Building on the introduction to research provided by Unit 2, Unit 3 - which is common to all three MRes Art pathways - increases your focus on in-depth understanding of research methods and how they're applied within the arts and humanities.

The unit aims to demonstrate the dynamic ways in which conceptual and theoretical frameworks can be developed through the application of research methodologies.

You're expected to relate your learning in this unit to preparation for your research project in the parallel part of Unit 4. Tutorial and workshop support helps you do this.

Unit 4 - Independent Research Project (IRP)

Unit 4 has two parts. Part One is undertaken in parallel with Unit 3 in year one. Part Two is devoted to independent study and the development and completion of your research project in year two.

Part One

Part One focuses on developing your research project proposal. It involves directed reading or viewing, the formulation of specific research questions and methods, and the production of a literature review (annotated bibliography) that forms part of your draft research project proposal. Your proposal's development is supported through increasingly student-directed seminars and group (as well as personal) tutorials, plus written guidance on the required contents of the proposal document. You'll explore issues of purpose, validity and feasibility in methodological and resource terms, negotiating external links, exchanges and access arrangements as required.

At the end of the year (weeks 28-30) draft project proposals, including the literature review, are presented for interim assessment, and you receive written feedback confirming your plans and /or advising revisions.

The second part, year two, begins with a group event (symposium) that also invites students of the previous and following cohorts, plus staff and peers from the other MRes pathways, to debate and feed back on project proposals and work in progress.

Part Two

All projects, including a commitment to the forms of your submission and appropriate ongoing supervision/tutorial arrangements, are agreed at the outset of year two.

A symposium shared across the MRes pathways presents and discusses all project proposals.

A student-directed group event involving invited professionals takes place early in the spring term (prior to the PhD applications point). This event builds your professional skills and provides a discussion forum challenging you to recognise and debate key questions arising from your research project work to date.

Throughout the second year you lead interim presentations about your research, in person and online, discussing progress, challenges and findings, and issues of form, audience and dissemination.

A third event at the end of year two presents and disseminates the project outcomes with the aim of making visible potential contributions to new research in the subject and generating publication.

At the end of Unit 4 you're assessed through presentation of your realised research project in the agreed forms, the project proposal document, and a report describing and evaluating changes and progress. Your marks for Units 3 and 4 determine the classification of your MRes award.


Course Leader for MRes: Art and Pathway Leader for Theory & Philosophy:Christopher Kul-Want

Pathway Leader - Moving Image: Dr Lucy Reynolds 
Pathway Leader - Exhibition Studies: Yaiza Hernández Velazquez
Pathway Leader - Exhibition Studies: Dr Lucy Steeds

Lecturer, Theory and PhilosophyDr Dean Kenning
Lecturer, Theory and Philosophy: Yaiza Hernández Velazquez
Lecturer, Theory and Philosophy: Karl Baker
Lecturer, Theory and Philosophy: Dr Maria Walsh
Lecturer, Theory and Philosophy: Dr John Cussans
Lecturer, Theory and PhilosophyDr Neil Chapman
Lecturer, Theory and Philosophy: Dr Kamini Vellodi
Lecturer, Theory and Philosophy: Dr Carrie Giunta
Lecturer, Theory and PhilosophyDr Jamie Brassett

Reader: Dr Joanna Morra


Our Postgraduate Art Programme offers valuable opportunities to build transferable professional knowledge and skills. The exchange of perspectives with others through shared units, reading groups and debates helps establish stimulating and productive networks.

The focus on proposing and developing a major independent programme of study is supported by a shared professional practice lecture series featuring guest speakers plus opportunities to attend symposia and critique work in progress across subject areas. The Postgraduate Art Programme has wide-ranging links with professional organisations, collections and galleries in London and beyond, and includes opportunities for interaction and networking according to your personal career direction.

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy gives you an advanced knowledge of research methods and familiarises you with the important features, issues and problems of philosophical aesthetics. You'll gain skills in close textual analysis, comprehension, reconstruction and interpretation of philosophical arguments, while building expertise in critical analysis and reflection. The location of the MRes within our postgraduate environment enhances your ability to relate philosophical analysis to art and cultural practices. In addition to further MPhil or PhD research, we envisage a range of professional futures for MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy graduates in academic institutions, the arts, and publishing.

Recent MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of student activity within the subject:

  • Jordan Silver who has gained a funded doctoral place in the Dept. of Art History, Film and Visual Studies, Birmingham University. He will also be undertaking a curatorial internship at the Museé d’Orsay, Paris during the summer
  • Lukas Slothuus has gained a funded doctoral place in the Dept. of Philosophy, Edinburgh University to research into contemporary modes of political resistance
  • Constanza Nunez-Melgar Molinari has gained a doctoral place at Kings College, London University to research into the philosopher Georges Bataille and ideas of heterology
  • Adonia Bouchehri completed a Masters in philosophy in the Dept. of Philosophy, Kingston University (2015), currently preparing a doctoral application
  • Niina Keks, runs Reclectic Emporium a design company specialising in furniture and photography 
  • Kimberly Shen currently works for the Arts Council of Singapore
  • Nathalie Czarnecki has created 'Miguel, I am Sofia', a contemporary cabaret telling the story of a Spanish boy's journey towards becoming a woman

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit the Student Jobs And Careers section.

Entry requirements

Entry requirement information

Selection to MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy is determined by the quality of your application (including a written indicative independent project proposal and supporting material). You'll also need to meet the minimum entry requirements as indicated below, but please note that these qualifications alone won't be sufficient to secure entry to the course.

Minimum entry requirements

We consider applicants who have already achieved an educational level equivalent to an Honours degree. You can demonstrate this educational level by:

  • Having an Honours degree or an equivalent academic qualification
  • Having a professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required
  • A combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning that, taken together, can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required

English language requirement

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you send us an English language test score together with your application to prove your level of proficiency. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please clearly indicate this on your application form. When you have received your test score, please send it to us immediately. The standard English language requirement for entry is IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in any one paper, or equivalent. For further information visit the Language Centre website.

Applicants who will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa should check the External English Tests page which provides important information about UK Border Agency (UKBA) requirements.

What we look for

We're seeking imaginative, resourceful individuals who are committed to exploring theory and philosophy.

Student selection criteria

Your application, indicative independent project proposal and supporting material will be assessed for:

  • Evidence of skills and experience appropriate to the proposed field of enquiry
  • Effective communication of the intentions, purposes and issues in the proposal
  • The level of contextual awareness and expression of perspective in the project proposal
  • The potential for realisation of the stated objectives within the timeframe of the course and envisaged resources
  • Awareness of the range and nature of challenges implied

Applicants may be selected for interview following submission of the application form, indicative independent project proposal and supporting work. The interview is used to evaluate the extent to which a candidate demonstrates:

  • The capacity for independent research
  • Appropriate background knowledge and critical abilities
  • Awareness of the cultural and social context within which their interests and work are situated
  • Appropriate communication skills
  • A readiness to participate collaboratively in debate and presentation

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form:

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history
  • Referee details (this course requires two, one of which should be an academic or professional reference).

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form.

Extra information required for applications to this course 

Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a confirmation email that includes links to where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Initial project proposal

To apply for this MRes we require that you write an initial project proposal. This proposal should demonstrate your critical understanding and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course (you will probably need to write between 800 and 1,000 words).

Summary of proposed project

Briefly describe what you are interested in undertaking and developing; describe the overall aims, objectives and rationale of the project.

Methods and resources

Briefly explain your proposed approach and the methods for structuring your project and ideas.

Highlight any problems you may encounter and how you hope to solve them.

Sources and references

Indicate key texts and sources. What resources will be involved? For example, access to archives, collections, specialist networks etc.

Any final points

Please briefly indicate any particular questions or further points in relation to your proposal.

Previous work

You’ll be required to submit digital examples of previous written work and/or documentary material relevant to your research interests.

Please note, you can submit text and as many website links as you need to, but the portfolio form does not allow you to upload files.

Start your application now

We advise you to submit your application as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required.

Deferred entry

Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

What happens next?

We read and consider all application forms and personal references. Please note we give particular attention to your initial project proposal and references.

Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your project proposal and documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview. For candidates applying for external funding, interviews will be scheduled prior to funding body deadlines.

Can't attend the interview

If you're a home/EU or international applicant unable to attend for interview, the MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy pathway leader would hope to discuss your application by telephone.

In the case of applicants unable to attend for interview and unable to discuss their application by telephone, a decision regarding the offer of a place on the course will be made on the basis of a review of the application materials. We keep notes about decisions made following the initial application review and the interview process.

Selection is by two members of staff (normally the pathway leader and one other), and offers of places are made on the basis of our selection criteria. Applicants are informed of the decision via either the School Office or the International Office.

Applicants are informed of the decision via either the Student Administration or the International Office.

Open days

Open days are a great opportunity to meet staff and students and to find out at first hand about courses, teaching and student life. Visit the open day section for dates to book your session. Bookings can only be made online, not by phone or email.

Course curriculum

The introductory seminars and lectures this year are concerned with the philosophy of art as developed through three inter-related traditions: European / ‘Continental’ philosophy (from Kant to the postmodernists) as well as the Marxist and psychoanalytic intellectual traditions.

Initially, these seminars and  lectures revolve around the ideas of the three so-called ‘masters of suspicion’ and founders of modern thought: Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. With these thinkers in mind we shall explore previous philosophical traditions and ideas, particularly that of the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. We shall consider these thinkers in connection with their legacies as developed through the Frankfurt School, especially Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, and also Martin Heidegger’s philosophy.

Thereafter, we shall study in more depth psychoanalytic and Continental post-structuralist philosophy from the period of the events and demonstrations of 1968 and after through the ideas of three thinkers: Gilles Deleuze, Julia Kristeva and Slavoj Žižek. Drawing on examples of art and films as a counterpoint to the issues at stake these lectures are informed by contemporary debates about art. Each of the lectures draw upon primary texts that can be sourced through the internet and are contained in my book, ‘Philosophers on Art, From Kant to the Present, A Critical Reader’ (Columbia University press, 2010). Additionally, my book ‘Introducing Continental Philosophy: A Graphic Guide’ (Icon Books Ltd. 2012) is a helpful introduction to the ideas of the lectures.

The course is augmented by public events and lectures at the college also listed below. These are organised by the Art & Philosophy research group at Central Saint Martins.

Download the schedule of seminars (Word, 94kb)

Archive: Gender without Borders

An interdisciplinary series of lectures presented by faculty teaching on the MA Gender without Borders at Kingston University, as well as a few other experts in the field.

Simone de Beauvoir: existentialism and politics

15 January 2016
Stella Sandford

Listen to a recording of the lecture

Diffractive Pedagogies

20 January 2016
Helen Palmer

Helen Palmer, lecturer in English at Kingston University, and author of the forthcoming book Queer Defamiliarisation, presents the lecture 'Diffractive Pedagogies'. The talk addresses the translation of concepts into creative practice, using multi-media such as film, art, dance, and music.

Listen to a recording of the lecture

Beyond the Bedroom: the violence of motherhood in EL James' 50 Shades of Grey trilogy

28 January 2016
Sara Upstone

Listen to a recording of the lecture

Assembling Samira & Travel: queering sexual humanitarianism through experimental ethnographic filmmaking

3 February 2016
Nicola Mai

Listen to a recording of the lecture

An Ethics of Opacity: Fearing Difference in the 21st Century 

11 February 2016
Shannon Winnubst 

Professor Shannon Winnubst teaches women's and gender studies at Ohio State University and is currently visiting Utrecht University. She is author of the book Way too Cool. She presents a lecture entitled 'An Ethics of Opacity: Fearing Difference in the 21st Century.' Shannon is a visiting lecturer, representative of the kind of speakers who will be invited to present seminars in conjunction with the MA Gender without Borders at Kingston University.

Listen to a recording of the lecture

On Making Your Suffering Mine

25 February 2016

Professor Vron Ware teaches in the Criminology and Sociology department at Kingston University. She is author of several books, including Beyond the Pale, and she will lecture on the topic 'On making your suffering mine.' Vron Ware is a distinguished member of the faculty, well known for her work on whiteness, gender, and the military. She is one of the key members teaching on the MA Gender without borders at Kingston University.

Listen to a recording of the lecture



Archive: The Speaking Body is Today's Unconscious

Kingston University and London Society - New Lacanian School in collaboration with Art and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins presents The Speaking Body is Today's Unconscious seminar series.

The Body and the Imaginary

21 January 2016
Pierre-Gilles Gueguen

Pierre-Gille Guéguen’s talk discusses the art of Francis Bacon in the context of his relationship with his ‘symptom-partner’ Georges Dyer. The talk is oriented by conceptual innovations, such as the sinthome, introduced by Lacan in his teaching in the late 1970s. Pierre-Gille Guéguen is a psychoanalyst who lives and works in Paris. He is a member of the École de la Cause freudienne.

Listen to a recording of the lecture

The Symbolic and the Body

4 February 2016
Marie-Helene Brousse

Listen to a recording of the lecture

The Real and the Body

18 February 2016
Vicente Palomera

Pierre-Gille Guéguen’s talk discusses the art of Francis Bacon in the context of his relationship with his ‘symptom-partner’ Georges Dyer. The talk is oriented by conceptual innovations, such as the sinthome, introduced by Lacan in his teaching in the late 1970s. Pierre-Gille Guéguen is a psychoanalyst who lives and works in Paris. He is a member of the École de la Cause freudienne.

Listen to a recording of the lecture


Public lectures on philosophy, politics and the arts, 2014/15

Art and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins in Collaboration with the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University.

Book your free place on the event page.

Use! Value! Exchange! Inside and Outside Relations of Exchange
Peter Osborne (CRMEP, Kingston)

20 November
Venue: E002, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins
Followed by a reception to mark the 20th Anniversary of the CRMEP

Listen to the talk:

Borrowing its title from the 2010 film by Phil Collins centred on the teaching of a class on Marx’s Capital to young people in eastern Germany, after reunification, this talk will reflect upon the revival of interest in Marx’s critique of political economy, its continuing – indeed, increasing – relevance to the social experience of capitalist societies, and the possibilities of a new philosophical interpretation of Capital, centred on its complex structure of temporal categories. In particular, drawing on Walter Benjamin’s deployment of a proliferating variety of forms of cultural and political use-values (entertainment-value, exhibition-value, consumer-value, cult-value, connoiseur-value, authority-value and, crucially, education-value – Lehrwert), attention will be paid to the dialectic of use-value and exchange-value internal to the commodity form and the problematic of the political function of cultural use-values.

Relinquishing the Transcendental? Speculative Realism in Question
Catherine Malabou (CRMEP, Kingston)  

4 December 2014              
Venue: E002, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins

Listen to the talk:

Is contemporary continental European philosophy preparing itself to break with Kant? An attack upon supposedly indestructible structures of knowledge is occurring: finitude of the subject, the phenomenal given, a priori synthesis. “Relinquishing the transcendental” is the leading project of postcritical thinking in the early twenty-first century, in particular as it appears in Quentin Meillassoux’s book After Finitude. Some questions it seemed could never be raised after the Critique of Pure Reason are reappearing with a renewed force: Was Kant genuinely able to deduce categories instead of imposing them, to prove the necessity of nature, to found the difference between “a priori” and “innate”? Should we consider, on the contrary, that the “problem of Hume”—the existence of an irreducible contingency of the world—was never settled by the Transcendental Deduction? Such a claim implies that we have provided a sufficiently convincing concept of the irregularity of the laws of nature and of the possibility of a totally different world. Does After Finitude elaborate such concepts
Realism and Psychosis
Simon Morgan Wortham
 (LGS, Kingston)            
18 December 2014     
Venue: E003, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins
Followed by a reception to launch Simon Morgan Wortham, Modern Thought in Pain: Philosophy, Politics, Psychoanalysis (Edinburgh University Press)

In ‘Judiciousness in Dispute’ Lyotard gives us an image of the seventy-four year old Kant beset by a near-permanent head cold. Here, while the mind, through a sheer effort of will, has the capacity to overcome a variety of ailments, thought nevertheless causes it severe pain, a pain to which it is not just opposed, but which indeed accompanies its very operation. To the extent that this ambivalent relationship to pain is insurmountable, the ageing philosopher’s inflammation of the head is linked to what Kant himself describes as an involuntary spasmodic state in the brain, that is, a certain inability to maintain concepts, or to secure the unified consciousness of related representations, which Lyotard wants to suggest is fundamental or necessary, rather than merely contingent upon an ailment contracted late in life.

To what extent is post-Kantian thought in pain? In what ways is such ‘pain’ prolonged in philosophies that seek a radical departure from Kant? For instance, in seeking an exit from the subjective representation of objects (for Lyotard, the source of Kant’s ‘pain’)? Does speculative materialism risk a certain lapse into a psychotic state that—as both Lacan and Kristeva suggest—may be arrested only through the onset of phobia?
Philosophical Kafkas
Howard Caygill (CRMEP)  

15 January 2015
Venue: E003, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins

Listen to the talk:
Politics of Seeing: Freud, Ranciere and Art
Tina Chanter
29 January 2015                 
Venue: E002, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins

The Idea of a Multiversum: Logics, Cosmology, Politics                 
Étienne Balibar
12 February 2015               
Venue: E003, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins
The Sex of Natural History
Stella Sandford (CRMEP)

26 February 2015              
Venue: E002, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins

Clowning and Power
Peter Buse (LGS)
12 March 2015        
Venue: E003, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins

Re-educating the Educator
Peter Hallward (CRMEP)
26 March 2015                    
Venue: E003, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins
Followed by a reception to close the series.

Archive: Ten public lectures on philosophy, politics and the arts

Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy and The London Graduate School in collaboration with Art and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins.

This lecture series took place at Central Saint Martins from 31 January to 30 May 2013.

Philosophy and the Black Panthers

31 January 2013
Howard Caygill (CRMEP)

The talk will reflect on the role played by philosophy in forming and articulating the political tactics and strategies of the Black Panthers (originally, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense), the revolutionary African-Amercian organization formed in California in 1966. It will suggest that philosophy provided a position from which the Black Panthers developed a radical politics of race in the USA beyond the religious orientations of the Civil Rights movement and the Nation of Islam. Focusing on the work of Huey Newton, the talk will emphasise the role played by Plato, Nietzsche and Speech Act Theory in the formulation of a politics of visibility and a performative concept of cultural and political intervention. It will also critically consider the reflections of the French writer Jean Genet on the Black Panthers practice of resistance.

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The Singularity of Literary Cognition

7 February 2013
Sam Weber (LGS)

Whatever cognition is produced by the reading of literary – and probably more generally artistic – texts is sharply different from that produced by other disciplines. Most, if not all, critics will agree that a literary or artistic interpretation does not provide a universally valid meaning of the work or text being read, but rather something far more singular, more situationally bound, that arises from an encounter. Literary interpretations that matter are those that open the possibility of future encounters by sensitising one to the significance of hitherto neglected details or aspects, focusing as much on the 'how' as the 'what'. In this respect, literary encounters produce not so much knowledge as acknowledgement of the radical heterogeneity of texts. To that extent they can claim to provide an exemplary experience of singularity that is not without affinities to certain developments in contemporary science.

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A Thought of/from the Outside

21 February 2013
Étienne Balibar (CRMEP)

A well-known essay published by Foucault in 1966 on the work of Maurice Blanchot, La pensée du dehors, was translated into English in two different ways: ‘The thought of the outside’, and ‘The thought from outside’. This indicates a deep ambiguity concerning its possible interpretations. Together with the earlier essay on Bataille (‘Preface to Transgression’), the essay forms the metaphysical counterpart to the early ‘archeological’ work, beginning with History of Madness and ending with The Order of Things, centered on the ‘anti-humanist’ doctrine of the elimination of the subject. It is widely supposed that, in his later work, when studying apparatuses of power-knowledge, and when outlining a history of regimes of subjectivation and truth, Foucault had entirely reversed this orientation. The lecture will discuss the enigmatic notion of the ‘outside’ and its relationship to transcendental philosophy, assess the importance of a dialogue with Blanchot in the formation of Foucault’s philosophy, and argue that, contrary to established wisdom, it never ceased to frame the critique of subjectivity in Foucault’s work.

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Auto-Immune Narcissism

7 March 2013
Simon Morgan Wortham (LGS)

To what extent does sleep constitute a limit for the philosophical imagination? Why does it recur throughout the text of philosophy as a constant complication for Western thought, despite attempts to downplay its importance as purely physiological, or secondary to the question of dreams and dreaming? How does it change the question of dreams, for instance? This lecture asks such questions by turning to the work of Hegel, Bergson and Freud.

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A Critical Theory of Sex

21 March 2013
Stella Sandford (CRMEP)

The sex/gender distinction has been fundamental to Anglophone feminist theory since the 1970s, in various different ways. Many feminists, seeing a direct political advantage in a vocabulary that allowed them to distinguish between what they saw as the biological reality of sex and normative masculinity and femininity, embraced ‘gender’ as a category of analysis. What is the relation of the sex/gender distinction and its theoretical vicissitudes to the social reality of everyday gendered lives? Has the sex/gender distinction ever made waves outside of feminist theory? In this lecture I will argue that the tendency of the popular cultural uses of the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ gives a false impression. The popular concept of sex is not the biological concept but its ideological deployment and as such the social reality of the idea of ‘sex’ is more important than its biological reality. Feminist theory requires a theoretically satisfying account of sex that is adequate to this social reality in order to oppose it. This is the role of a critical theory of sex.

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The Postconceptual Condition

18 April 2013
Peter Osborne (CRMEP)

It is nearly 35 years since Jean-François Lyotard published The Postmodern Condition, that ‘seemingly neutral review of a vast body of material on contemporary science and problems of knowledge or information’ that proved to be (in Fredric Jameson’s phrase) ‘a kind of crossroads’. Those, like Jameson, who took the road to postmodernism have long since had to retrace their steps or accustom themselves to life in a historical cul de sac. Yet the revival and deepening of discourses of the modern alone is insufficient to grasp the most distinctive features of the historical present. How best, then, to characterise our intellectual condition today?

This lecture offers a double displacement of Lyotard’s standpoint: from the postmodern to the contemporary and from ‘knowledge’ to ‘art’. Critically viewed, it is argued, contemporary art is postconceptual art. As such, it reflects and reflects upon a broader postconceptual condition of historical experience.

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Whither Materialism?

2 May 2013
Catherine Malabou (CRMEP)

I will examine Althusser's concept of class struggle in theory (‘Reply to John Lewis’ and ‘Lenin and Philosophy’) as a way of approaching current materialisms that do not explicitly refer to Marxist theory. Focusing on the relationship between philosophy and science, I will develop the example of neurobiology and the subsequent redefinition of the mind/body problem. To what extent is neurobiology a political field? Can we consider the philosophical insistence on the brain as a way to resist idealism?

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Duchamp à Calcutta

16 May 2013
Éric Alliez (CRMEP)

Duchamp à Calcutta: No, Duchamp didn’t go to Calcutta and it is a terribly bad pun, used here to refresh the tautological inquiry into Duchamp’s ‘meta-eroticism’ (a tautology since Duchamp, readymade included, is the meta-ironic specialist in precision ass and glass works –precision oculism). But it is a productive tautology if the whole Duchampian corpus can be rearticulated – via Lacan and against Lacan’s phallogocentrism – through the passage from the principle of contradiction to the principle ‘there is no sexual relation’; and from the latter to the transexuation of Rrose Sélavy, subverting the grammaticality of painting (‘the arrhe of painting’), ‘feminine in gender’. Duchamp à Calcutta, or, Duchamp du sexe.

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Spider Universe: Lars von Trier

23 May 2013
Scott Wilson (LGS)

This is a paper about the creativity of fear in film and philosophy, focussing on Lars von Trier and Gilles Deleuze. The former is a film maker who has a long history of psychotherapy and psychoanalytic treatment for phobic anxiety which he has used both critically and creatively as material for his films. The latter, we discover from his biographer Francoise Dosse, had a phobia for both milk products and schizophrenics. In this paper, the understanding of phobia developed in the cinema of von Trier will be deployed in order to disclose the link between a fear of milk and the figure of the schizophrenic and offer a different way of understanding the dynamic genesis of Deleuze’s philosophy, particularly his logic of sense. Neither exactly a structure nor a symptom, phobia is a problematic category in psychoanalysis. Here, psychoanalytic, schizoanalytic and neuroscientific accounts of phobia are discussed by way of elaborating a ‘gnomonology’ that articulates a critical and clinical understanding of cultural production, particularly in its engagements with scientific discourse.

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Vitalism or Voluntarism?

30 May 2013
Peter Hallward (CRMEP)

Over much of the modern period, social criticism has been associated with forms of emancipatory political theory, and has helped clarify what is at stake in various struggles to escape from forms of ‘enslavement to necessity’. In moments when this association has been challenged or disrupted (for instance, in Europe, at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century), emancipatory thinkers have sometimes sought more immediately ‘affirmative’ foundations, in appeals to religion, nature, authenticity or action. This talk will consider how far recent and contemporary critical theory might be understood as structured by a comparable disruption, and how far the central issue at stake might be interpreted in terms adapted from an old argument about how best to read thinkers like Bergson and Gramsci – as vitalist, or voluntarist?

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