Indiana University Bloomington

Spring 2016: Schedule of the Reading Group

Convener: Hall Bjørnstad (Dept. of French and Italian)

Unless noted otherwise, the reading group meets Fridays, 2 - 3:30 pm, at the College Arts & Humanities Institute, 1211 E. Atwater Avenue.

Sept. 2: Front Matter; "Session 1" (The Beast and the Sovereign, Vol. 2, 1 - 30).

Sept. 9: "Session 2."

Sept. 16: "Session 3."

Sept. 23: "Session 4."

Sept. 30: "Session 5."

Oct. 7: "Session 6."

Oct. 14: "Session 7."

Oct. 21: No meeting.

Oct. 28: "Session 8."

Nov. 4-5: Symposium.

Nov. 11: "Session 9."

Nov. 18: No meeting.

Dec. 2: "Session 10."

Dec. 9: Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am, Chpt. 3.

Thinking With Derrida: The Beast and the Sovereign

The Theory Center invites you to join us in the communal study of Jacques Derrida’s last seminar, The Beast and the Sovereign (vol. 2), delivered in 2002-03. The seminar is a rich meditation on the intersections between animality and human sovereignty, filtered through attentive readings of two very different texts: Martin Heidegger’s The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The seminar unfolds in a fascinating oscillation between the playful and the deadly serious, including surprising digressions that risk eclipsing the main questions for a while. As we move forward through the ten sessions of the seminar, issues related to questions of mourning, death, survival and the end of the world emerge with an urgency that has made commentators speak of a “testamentary” mode of exposition. This is a book like no other in Derrida’s immense œuvre.

An electronic version of the book is available at the IU Libraries (log-in required).


The Reading Group constitutes the intellectual heart of the Center and predates the Center by many years. Here are some of the major texts the group has studied:

Arendt, The Human Condition
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
Badiou, Being and Event.
Bergson, Matter and Memory.
Blumenberg,The Legitimacy of the Modern Age.
Cavell, The Claims of Reason.
Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe.
Deleuze, Cinema I; Difference and Repetition.
Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject.
Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Gadamer, Truth and Method.
Heidegger, Being and Time.
Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences.
Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception; The Visible and the Invisible.
Plato, The Laws.
Rancière, The Names of History.
Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf.