Contradictions Conference – April 11-13, 2018


Presenters: Slavoj Žižek, Mladen Dolar, and Alenka Zupančič.

Jameson Gallery, Friedl 115, Duke East Campus


Conference Summary


Audio transcript of conference available on request


Perhaps the best way to identify an epoch is to search for the “contradictions” (antagonisms) that traverse it.  This series will focus on three of them which define our historical moment: the inconsistencies and tensions of sexual politics (transgender movement, MeToo, etc.); the philosophical tension between scientific naturalism and a dimension supposed to escape it; and the controversies about the forthcoming (ecological, economic, social) apocalypse – is the threat real or just a projection of our inability to deal with the new situation?

April 11

Slavoj Žižek – Ernst Lubitsch I: From Indirectness to Ratatatata

Mladen Dolar – Endgame of Aesthetics, from Hegel to Beckett

April 12

Alenka Zupančič – Apocalypse is disappointing

Mladen Dolar – The Slaughterhouse of Language

April 13

Alenka Zupančič – Sex is disappointing

Slavoj Žižek – Ernst Lubitsch II: Cynicism, Humor, and Engagement

Culminating Discussion moderated by Fredric Jameson


Presenter Biographies

Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is Senior Researcher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana and Co-Director (International Director) of the Birkbeck Institute for Humanities at the University of London.  A philosopher and cultural critic, his work traverses Hegelian philosophy, Marxist criticism of ideology, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and Communist political activism.  He is the author of over thirty books, including Sublime Object of Ideology (Verso 1989), Less Than Nothing: Hegel and The Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (Verso 2013), Incontinence of the Void (MIT Press 2017), and the forthcoming Reading Marx (with Agon Hamza and Frank Ruda, Polity Press 2018).

Mladen Dolar

Mladan Dolar is Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana.  His principal areas of research are psychoanalysis, modern French philosophy, German idealism and philosophy of music.  He has lectured extensively at the universities in USA and across Europe, he is the author of over hundred papers in scholarly journals and collective volumes.  Apart from a dozen books in Slovene, his book publications include most notably A Voice and Nothing More (MIT 2006, translated into six languages) and Opera’s Second Death (with Slavoj Žižek, Routledge 2001, also translated into a number of languages).  He is one of the founding members of what has become known as ‘the Ljubljana Lacanian School’.

Alenka Zupančič

Alenka Zupančič is a research advisor at the Institute of Philosophy of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and professor at the European Graduate School, Switzerland.  Notable for her work on the intersection of philosophy and psychoanalysis, she is the author of numerous articles and books, including Ethics of the Real: Kant and Lacan; The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two; Why Psychoanalysis: Three Interventions; The Odd One In: On Comedy; and, most recently, What is Sex?