CFP: What is the Question of Critique?

London Conference in Critical Thought 2014

Goldsmiths, University of London

27-28 June 2014


 ”What is the Question of Critique?”


Stream organisers: Andrea Rossi, Diana Stypinska, and Chris Witter

This stream revolves around the question of how – in what way and in what contexts – critique’s status, potential and techniques are to be interrogated today. To ask this question means first raising the question of critique, questioning the normative frameworks and assumptions that inform contemporary critical practices. It implies scepticism towards the moral imperatives that invariably follow from attempts to authoritatively secure the problem of what critique ought to be and do. Raising these questions, however, does not necessarily entail embracing some form or another of radical relativism. Contingency may well represent the conditions of possibility of the critical task in the present. Critique, perhaps, can only be preserved by an unremitting work of self-elaboration – one which, hopefully, would not recoil into intellectual narcissism, but would locate critical openings fostered by the present.

The aim of the stream is not to define the nature of critique in general – as an abstraction or a universal – but to explore its contemporary emergence and possible points of application. We thus intend to provide a forum for open-ended investigation of this problem from all sides – whether that be the possibilities and limits of social movements, the role of intellectuals, a questioning of academia as an institution capable of producing critique, or some as yet unanticipated object of enquiry.

For this reason, we invite speakers to produce, not papers, but frameworks through which to convene participatory discussions involving all attendees (i.e. the ‘audience’). The role of the panellists will be to delineate a domain of problems, spheres of intervention and objects of inquiry on the basis of which to set out and chair collective discussions (ideally in the form of interconnected workshops running throughout one day).

Possible areas of discussion include:

  • What are the most pressing questions of critique today? What is critique demanding of us in the present?
  • What terrains of struggle and/or critique exist or are coming into being today?
  • What is the relation between the critic and the critique they advocate?
  • How are the forms of critique determined by contingent historical and social contexts?
  • Is the very act of questioning a form of political engagement?
  • Can aesthetics be a site of critical resistance? Is aesthetic energy exhausted in its questioning of the present?
  • What are the possibilities and limits of critique with regards to popular culture?
  • Is academia still a site of critique/still capable of producing critique? What is the role of critical intellectuals in the 21st century?
  • What is the relation of critique to everyday life?
  • What is to be done? (Can we actually expect critique to answer this question?)

Please send abstracts for 20-minute papers to with ‘Question of Critique’ in the subject line.

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