“Althusser Today” Conference – December 3, 2016



More Althusser quotes

In the context of Fredric Jameson’s class, Althusser or Lukacs?, we held  a one-day conference Althusser Today on Saturday December 3rd, 2016.  We had three visitors who shared their views on the works of Althusser: Caren Irr, Professor of English from Brandeis University; Warren Montag, Brown Family Professor of Literature from Occidental College; and Jason Read, Associate Professor of Philosophy from University of Southern Maine.


Audio available on request

Fredric Jameson “Spectroscopies of Ideology: Althusser & Bachelard”

This talk examines the link between Bachelard’s philosophy of science and Althusser’s epistemology, which are much more extensive than is normally encapsulated in the phrase “epistemological break”.

Caren Irr “Ideology, Image, Information: Using the Althusserian Apparatus”

My talk examines the practice of Althusserian ideology critique, asking how and why it has fallen into disrepute in some corners and how the practices it involves might be reattached in a new configuration.

Warren Montag “Althusser and the Concepts of Materiality and Materialism”

From his early text “On the Materialist Dialectic” to the late “Underground Current of the Materialism of the Encounter,” the reference to materialism remained a constant in Althusser’s work. In the light of Althusser’s arguments, I will examine the theoretical and practical function of the opposition between the material and the non-material and of the materialism that produces this opposition.

Jason Read “Conscienta Sive ideologia: The Spontaneity of Ideology in and after Althusser”

In this presentation I will examine the spontaneity of ideology in Althusser, tracing its origins in Marx and Spinoza, showing how Althusser develops a materialist concept of ideology. After tracing Althusser’s thoughts, I will examine the continued effect of this problem in Balibar’s consideration of universals and Macherey concept of “infra-ideology”.

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Conference Summary


Caren Irr (Duke PhD ’94) is Professor and Chair of English at Brandeis University. She is the author of Toward the Geopolitical Novel: U.S. Fiction in the 21st Century (Columbia 2013), Pink Pirates: Contemporary American Women Writers and Copyright (Iowa 2010), and The Suburb of Dissent: Cultural Politics in the United States and Canada during the 1930s (Duke 1998). Her current research examines orphan stories and ideologies of capitalist crisis.

Fredric R. Jameson is Knut Schmidt-Nielsen Professor of Comparative Literature, Professor of Romance Studies (French), and Director of the Institute for Critical Theory at Duke University. Jameson is the author of numerous books, most notably, Marxism and Form (1971), The Political Unconscious (1981) and Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991, recipient of the MLA Lowell Award). His more recent works include The Antinomies of Realism (2013, recipient of the Truman Capote Award), The Ancients and the Postmoderns (2015), Raymond Chandler (2016), and An American Utopia (2016).

Warren Montag is Brown Family Professor in Literature, English and Comparative Literary Studies at Occidental College. Montag teaches eighteenth-century British and European literature with particular reference to political philosophy; he also teaches twentieth-century European critical theory. His publications include The Other Adam Smith (2014), Althusser and His Contemporaries: Philosophy’s Perpetual War (Duke University Press, 2013); Louis Althusser (2003); Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and His Contemporaries (1999); The Unthinkable Swift: The Spontaneous Philosophy of a Church of England Man (1994); (coeditor) Masses, Classes and the Public Sphere (2001); (editor) In a Materialist Way: Selected Essays by Pierre Macherey (1998); and (coeditor) The New Spinoza (1997).

Jason Read is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. He is the author of The Micro-Politics of Capital: Marx and the Prehistory of the Present (SUNY 2003) and The Politics of Transindividuality (Brill 2015/Haymarket 2016).