From 5th to 8th of September I will be attending the London Summer School in Intellectual History. The event is organized jointly by Queen Mary University of London and University College London. During the four days participants will have a chance to meet a number of distinguished scholars in the field of the history of political theory, including professors David Armitage (Harvard) and Quentin Skinner (QMUL) who will give keynote lectures. It will also be a chance to take part in masterclasses and to present participants’ own research.
“Quentin Skinner. Historical method and the republican liberty” is the first Polish book that may serve as an introduction to work and thought of the famous British intellectual historian. Edited by Janusz Grygieńć (Toruń), the book comprises of four translations of Skinner’s essays and eight chapters that comments on various aspects of his methodological approach and his historical recovery of the “lost treasure” – the neo-Roman concept of freedom.
You can buy the book soon through the publisher website.
Situated in the heart of London, the University of Westminster, proud of the diversity of its staff and students, is one of the most open academic institutions in the city.
London, as one of the world’s most important academic centres, is a place of the most interest for every student of political theory. In a few following posts I will share my experience from the last couple of months I have spent in London, presenting places that have turned out to be the most attractive from my perspective.
Most of the places I will write about are located in the central London. I will begin, however, with Queen Mary. Its campus is located a few miles east of City of London.
The annual Queen Mary University London symposium in the humanities and social sciences, held at the Institute of Historical Research, was an intellectualy spectacular if organizationally modest event. So quite the opposite to many conferences in Poland.
The discussion organized by the Institute of Historical Research drew so large crowd that there were no seats left in the quite big room at the University of London’s Senate House. The topic was the newest book by Richarda Bourke, etitled The Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke. The comments for the book were offered by Rachel Hammersley (Newcastle), Joanna Innes (Oxford), Robert Travers (Cornell), and Donald Winch (Sussex). The debate was chaired by Quentin Skinner, who – as I have already learned – is an excellent moderator.
I could not miss that event. I would go for Slavoj Žižek’s lectures (2-4 December, 2015) even if their topic was not Hegel, but Kinder Surprise egg. That is so because what is fascinating about Slovenian philosopher is his unmistakable mode of looking at reality – from awry, as says the title of one of his books – that enables him to draw dazzling conclusions on almost every topic.
Charles Taylor, who has turned 84 just last month, easily makes it to every list of the most influential living philosophers. His most acclaimed book, “Sources of the self”, placed him among communitarian thinkers, but his scope is much wider than that. Not only he has written much on social and political philosophy, but also on the intellectual history, on philosophy of social sciences and, especially, on religion. Two months ago all these contribution were recognized when he, along with Jürgen Habermas, was awarded John W. Kluge Prize for lifetime achievement in the study of humanity.
His Quebec lecture at the London School of Economics on 1 December was entitled “Democracy, Diversity, Religion” (it can be downloaded from LSE website), and aimed at showing how the experience of the Canadian province in managing its very diverse minorities can help address similar problems in other Western societies. (As it turned out, Taylor is sceptical about the possibility of generalizing the Québécois solutions.)
The embedded lecture by Professor Gayatri Spivak concluded a conference entitled Doing and Thinking Democracy Differently that took place at the University of Westminster on 7th of November 2015. The conference was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Study of Democracy whose most well-known member is perhaps Chantal Mouffe.
Panel discussions during the day was mainly concerned with new social movements. Some of the most interesting papers were presented during panel chaired by Chantal Mouffe. Researchers from UK, Greece and Spain spoke about the protest movements in their native contries.
G. Spivak, one of the most important academics in the postcolonial studies, the author of well-known essay Can the Subaltern Speak?, gained considerable fame with her English translation of Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology. An influence of Derridean deconstruction on Spivak was obvious in the London lecture. Unfortunately, it made her speech very difficult to follow. A good keynote lecture on a conference like that should be more accessible.