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University of Bath

Standing Seminar of Critical Theory

A series of cross-disciplinary joint activities to be developed across the South West Doctoral Training Partnership around critical theory for the 21st Century.

A hand reaches for freedom
Can critical theory offer new hope for the future?

This new collaborative activity emerged among postgraduate research students led by Dr Ana Dinerstein from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences at the University of Bath.

It is a cross-disciplinary space where students and academic colleagues across the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP) can meet and freely discuss the theoretical and ethical underpinnings of their research felt missing. Critical theory, stemmed from the Frankfurt School and the Marxist tradition, Feminist, and post/de/colonial studies, lies at the intersection of these students’ and academics’ respective subfields and research objects.

Critical theory, for this group, is not simply a set of ideas that can be applied to understand reality, but an active theorising process that enables reflection on current social practices to generate improved understandings and thus contribute to beneficial change.

The aim of the Standing Seminar of Critical Theory (SSCT) is to create a forum for students and staff to engage with, learn and debate critical theories through workshops and online resources. The SSCT will reinvigorate a sense of community and purpose in the SWDTP for PhD students and academics. It is viewed as a long-term and hopefully permanent initiative which will be passed on to future generations of PhD students across all SWDTP partner institutions.

This community will bring together existing strengths in critical theory across a range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities to coalesce into a key area of thematic strength, making a timely intervention into the most acute problems posed by today’s world, and enabling new practices for a world in crisis.

Inaugural event

Critical theory in a closed and violent world (15 May 2019) with John Holloway, Werner Bonefeld, Ana Dinerstein, and Theo Papadopoulos

Planned activities for 2019-2020

  • Three workshops (Bath, Bristol and Exeter)

  • One conference

  • Three reading groups

Previous activities

Unfunded

Funded by the SWDTP and student-led collaboration

The mini conference Critical theory Today: in Conversation with John Holloway brought together well-known critical theorist Professor John Holloway (University of Puebla Mexico), Dr Ana C Dinerstein (University of Bath), Dr Maria Nikolakaki (University of Peloponnese, Corinth), Dr Theo Papadopoulos (University of Bath), early career academic F. Harry Pitts, (Management, University of Bristol) and Josie Lyn (PhD GPE, University of Bath). This event discussed the role of critical theory and its potential to inform meaningful social change and academic enquiry today and was the kick-starter for the proposed initiative.

Funded by the SWDTP and academic-led collaboration

Marx in the Key of Hope (2016): This event explored the work of Marx and Marxists with the aim of building collaborative networks between academia and society, with public and local practitioner engagement. The method used was ‘activist research’, a mode of intellectual inquiry whereby learning, theorising and discussion proceed cooperatively with the hope of bringing about change and developing new kinds of social relations in the context of current controversies, challenges and alternatives.

Through a mutual co-production of knowledge informed by academic research, open discussion, local practitioner expertise and public experience, the work of Marx and Marxists will be read in new ways and shared in new forms with new audiences, in order to be put to new uses.

Project team

SWDTP MREs pathway leads

  • Magnus Feldman (GPE, Bristol)

  • Nazrul Islam (GPE, Exeter)

  • Luisa Enria (International development, Bath)

  • Michael Donnelly (Education, Bath)

  • Andrés Sandoval (AQM, Bath)

  • Jutta Weldes (Politics & International Relations, Bristol)

  • Sheena Vacchani (School of Management, Bristol)

  • Ute Leonards (Psychology, Bristol)

  • Chris Boyle (Education, Exeter)

  • Pepe Romanillos (Human Geography, Exeter)

  • Michael Bloomfield (Conflict and Security, Bath)

Other

  • Christine Hawskeller (Department of Philosophy, Exeter)

  • Aimee Middlemiss (PhD, Exeter)

  • Bice Maiguachca (Politics, Exeter)

  • F. Harry Pitts (Management, Bristol)

  • G. Schwartz (Management, Bristol)

To find out more about this project or join the mailing list, please email Tara Jessop.