Indiana University Bloomington

Fall 2016 Theme:

Thinking with Derrida: The Beast & the Sovereign


After last semester’s vivid scrutiny of Hannah Arendt’s masterpiece, The Human Condition, the Theory Center turns to the study of Jacques Derrida’s last seminar, The Beast and the Sovereign (vol. 2), delivered in 2002-03. In the weekly meetings of the reading group, we will follow the rhythm of the original seminar, making our way through the ten sessions of the book, thinking with Derrida as he in surprising ways engages with central questions from animal studies, political theology, biopolitics, and many other areas. Both the reading group and our November 4-5 symposium provide an occasion to discuss the wider legacy of Derrida, twelve years after his death.

All Center events are open to the public.

Symposium, Nov. 4-5, on

The Beast and the Sovereign

The symposium seeks to assess the significance of Derrida's seminar, place it in the context of his Ĺ“uvre, and explore the paths that his thinking opens in political theory, animal studies, and other fields of inquiry. Presenters include Katie Chenoweth (Princeton), Peggy McCracken (Michigan), and David Wills (Brown). Friday-Saturday, Nov. 4-5. For a detailed program, see here.


Spring 2017 Theme:
Struggling for Life: A Genealogy

The reading group will take up a genealogical analysis of the concept of life in Western thought. We will focus on questions of violence, self-preservation, and survival. Readings range from classical approaches to contemporary notions such as Derrida’s “life more than life,” Achille Mbembe’s “necropolitics,” Sloterdijk’s “Rules for the Human Zoo,” and Carlo Galli’s biopolitical global war, among others. Convened by Edgar Illas (Spanish & Portuguese). Details to follow.


To subscribe to the Center list, email In the subject line type:
Subscribe theory_listserv-l firstname lastname