VI. Proseminar Discussants

Those visiting with the students of Critical Theory and the Arts in the first few years include:

Paul Chan

Paul Chan was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Next to animation and video, drawings, and language-based works, he engages in discussions around art and its relation to the world, including politics and war, through poetry, critical writing, activism, theater, and most recently, book publishing.

Sven Lütticken

Sven Lütticken teaches art history at Vrije University Amsterdam and Freie Universität Berlin. Sternberg Press published his book, Idols of the Market: Modern Iconoclasm and the Fundamentalist Spectacle and Secret Publicity: Essays on Contemporary Art came out with NAi Publishers. His critical, historical and theoretical writings on modern and contemporary art and culture have been published widely in journals and other publications. Lütticken has a blog and calls himself a Sunday-curator.

Nicholson Baker

Nicholson Baker is an American writer of fiction and non-fiction whose books include House of Holes; The Anthologist; Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War Two, the End of Civilization; Checkpoint; Box of Matches; and Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper. Baker’s most recent work, Traveling Sprinkler, a novel, was published in 2013 by the Blue Rider Press.

Eric Foner

Eric Foner is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. He received his doctoral degree at Columbia under the supervision of Richard Hofstadter. Foner is one of a handful of writers to have won the Bancroft and Pulitzer Prizes in the same year. Foner’s publications have concentrated on the intersections of intellectual, political and social history, and the history of American race relations. His many works include Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War; Tom Paine and Revolutionary America; Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy; Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877; The Story of American Freedom; Who Owns History? Rethinking the Past in a Changing World; and The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.

Sarah Michelson

Sarah Michelson, a choreographer, makes work that poses questions about its own existence, the existence of dance as a medium, and the place of the dancer and choreographer within that medium. “4,” the fourth part of her Devotion series, was presented in a series of performances on the 4th floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Ira Katznelson

Ira Katznelson is currently the Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University. Katznelson is an Americanist whose work has straddled comparative politics and political theory as well as political and social history. His published works include Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time; Liberal Beginnings: Making a Republic for the Moderns (with Andreas Kalyvas); and When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America. Earlier books include Black Men, White Cities: Race, Politics and Migration in the United States, 1900-1930, and Britain, 1948-1968; City Trenches: Urban Politics and the Patterning of Class in the United States; Schooling for All: Class, Race, and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (with Margaret Weir); Marxism and the City; Liberalism’s Crooked Circle: Letters to Adam Michnik; and Desolation and Enlightenment: Political Knowledge after Total War, Totalitarianism, and the Holocaust.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History and Research Associate in the Population Studies Center at the History Department of the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a resident fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies (Princeton), the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Education, National Academy of Social Insurance, the Society of American Historians, and a member of the American Philosophical Society. His published works include The Undeserving Poor: From the War on Poverty to the War on Welfare; The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State; Why Don’t American Cities Burn?; Public Education Under Siege (as co-author); and The Undeserving Poor: America’s Enduring Confrontation with Poverty (2nd edition, forthcoming).

John Knight

For several decades, John Knight has been making art in situ at museums, galleries, and other institutions. In recent years, he has completed and presented works at Frieze London, Galerie Neu (Berlin), Greene Naftali Gallery, Portikus (Frankfurt), and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Melanie Gilligan

Based in New York and London, Gilligan works in a variety of media, including video, performance, text, installation, and music. Recent exhibitions include Transmission Gallery, Glasgow; Franco Soffiantino Gallery, Turin; and Interaccess, Toronto. Popular Unrest was co-commissioned and presented by Chisenhale Gallery, London; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver; and Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre. Gilligan is the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists and the Illy Present Future Prize at the Artissima Art Fair.

Albert K. Butzel

Albert K. Butzel, an attorney, has been one of the most distinguished environmental lawyers over many decades. He was central to organizing citizens against Consolidated Edison’s proposal to build on Storm King Mountain in Upstate New York, and prevailed in establishing this landmark case of environmental defense that became, in fact, the basis of much modern environmental law.

Kenneth Goldsmith

Kenneth Goldsmith, a poet, has done numerous books of writings, among other things – from teaching, to editing a book of Andy Warhol interviews, to giving a reading at the White House, to making collage works, to creating a web archive of avant-garde film and texts, Goldsmith draws practices from the visual arts into the world of poetry. He was named the Museum of Modern Art’s first Poet Laureate.

Sam Lewitt

Sam Lewitt’s work has been presented at the Swiss Institute, Miguel Abreu Gallery, Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Galerie Christian Nagel, and the Whitney Biennial. Lewitt received his BFA from the School of the Visual Arts and later participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program.

James Hansen

Dr. James Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He has held this position since 1981. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. Professor Hansen is best known for his research in the field of climatology, his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in 1988 that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to avoid dangerous climate change. In 2009 his first book, Storms of My Grandchildren, was published.

Christopher Williams

Christopher Williams is a conceptual artist. “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness,” the first major museum survey of his work, was recently exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Joshua Freeman

Joshua Freeman is a professor of history at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY) and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of In Transit: The Transport Workers Union in New York City, 1933-1966, Working-Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II, and American Empire, 1945-2000: The Rise of a Global Power, The Democratic Revolution at Home.

Michael Morse

Massachusetts-born bassist, composer, arranger, and teacher Michael Morse studied with Gary Peacock, Warren Grim and Rudolf Watzel. Among the jazz greats with whom he has performed and recorded are Brian Barley, Bob Mover, Lee Konitz, Roswell Rudd, Charles Ellison, Claude Ranger, John Vidacovich, Jane Fair, Terry King, Steve Hall, and Kirk MacDonald. He is a practitioner of the dark art of music sociology, and teaches at Trent University, as well as writing books and articles in the field.

Sebastian Ziedler

Sebastian Ziedler is a faculty member of the department of the history of art at Yale University. Before joining the faculty at Yale he was a predoctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute and taught classes at Barnard College and at the University of California, Berkeley, on modern sculpture, Cubism, Surrealism, Picasso, Georges Bataille and on theories and methods of art history, among other subjects. He is writing an intellectual biography of the art critic Carl Einstein, on whom he edited a special issue of October magazine.

David Salle

David Salle is a painter. Major exhibitions of his work have taken place at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Castello di Rivoli (Torino, Italy), and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is Professor of Political Science and Hobarth and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of several books, including Blog Theory, The Communist Horizon, Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies, Zizek’s Politics, and Solidarity of Strangers.

Jasper Bernes

Jasper Bernes is a poet and writer. He has published a poetry collection, Starsdown, and has written articles for numerous journals, including Reclamations, Aufgabe, Xantippe, Jacket, The New Inquiry, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Literature Program at Duke University.

Claire Bishop

Claire Bishop is a frequent contributor to Artforum and the author of Installation Art: A Critical History, and Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. She is the editor of Participation, and teaches Art History at CUNY Graduate Center.

Tan Lin

Tan Lin is the author of Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe, BlipSoak01, Ambience is a Novel with a Logo, Heath (Plagiarism/ Outsource) and Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking. His work has appeared in journals including Conjunctions, Artforum, Cabinet, New York Times Book Review, Art in America, and Purple. His video, theatrical, and LCD works have been shown at the Marianne Boesky Gallery, Yale Art Museum, Sophienholm Museum (Copenhagen), Ontological Hysterical Theatre, and as part of the Whitney Museum’s Soundcheck Series.

Jefferson Cowie

Jefferson Cowie teaches labor and working-class history, with research spanning a number of areas including politics, social history, and popular culture. His books include Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor, which received a Philip Taft Prize for Best Book in Labor History; as co-editor, Beyond the Ruins: The Meanings of Deindustrialization; and, most recently, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, which received a number of awards, including the Francis Parkman Prize for the Best Book in American history from the Society of American Historians, the Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians, and the best book award from Labor History. He is the co-author with Nick Salvatore of a forthcoming book on the New Deal, The Long Exception.

Michael Smith

Michael Smith is an influential figure in performance art, video art, and installation art. He has an extensive exhibition history that includes works shown in venues as varied as Franklin Furnace, The Kitchen, Caroline’s Comedy Club, CBGBs, Dance Theatre Workshop, Cinemax, the Whitney, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the New Museum, the Pompidou Center, and, in recent years, sites in São Paolo, Copenhagen, Milan, and London, among others.

Tony Conrad

Tony Conrad is an American avant-garde video artist, experimental filmmaker, musician/composer, sound artist, teacher and writer. His work has been shown at numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is a distinguished professor in the department of Media Studies at SUNY Buffalo, where he has been a faculty member since 1976.

Mark Dudzic

Mark Dudzic serves as National Coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer. A long-time union activist, he joined the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers (now part of the United Steelworkers) in 1979 when he helped to organize the precious metals refinery in Northvale, NJ where he worked as a melter/caster. In 1985, he was elected president of Rahway, NJ Local 8-149 OCAW. Throughout the 1990’s he served as president of the OCAW District 8 Council, the largest District in the OCAW. Dudzic was a founding member of Labor Party Advocates and, upon the death of his friend and union brother Tony Mazzocchi in 2002, he was appointed Labor Party National Organizer.

Steve Fraser

Steve Fraser is an associate adjunct professor at Columbia University and has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Nation, and American Prospect. His many publications include Labor will Rule: Sidney Hillman and the Rise of American Labor and Every Man a Speculator: A History of Wall Street in American Life. Most recently he is the author of Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace.

Doug Henwood

Doug Henwood is a New York based journalist who edits the Left Business Observer and hosts a radio show on contemporary political and economic issues, Behind the News. He is the author of The State of the USA Atlas, Wall Street and After the New Economy.

Richard Foreman

Richard Foreman is the founder and artistic director of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater. He has written, directed and designed over 50 of his own plays internationally and in New York City. He has received several “OBIE” awards for best play of the year, as well as several for directing and ‘sustained achievement.’ He has received the annual Literature award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a “Lifetime Achievement in the Theater” award from the NEA, the PEN Club Master American Dramatist Award, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and in 2004 was elected officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France. His archives and work materials were recently acquired by Bobst Library at NYU.

Martin Jay

Martin Jay is an intellectual historian and Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. Among his many works are The Dialectical Imagination, Marxism and Totality, Adorno, Permanent Exiles, Fin de Siècle Socialism, Force Fields, Downcast Eyes, Songs of Experience, The Virtues of Mendacity, and Essays from the Edge. 

Mowry Baden

Mowry Baden is a sculptor and teacher. Articulating an internal awareness of movement and posture has always been the most important element in his work. Over the past forty-three years, he has developed various methods of decentering vision and interfering with habitual human gestures. He wants the viewer to enter the object, or the space, and have an experience that is visceral, internal, and sensorially cross-circuited.

Moishe Postone

Moishe Postone is a professor of history and a member of the Committee on Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago. His research and teaching focus primarily on nineteenth- and twentieth-century European intellectual history and critical social theory. His work has also considered the problematic of modern anti-Semitism and questions of history, memory, and identity in postwar Germany. Postone is the author of Time, Labor and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory.

Frances Fox Piven

Frances Fox Piven is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the co-founder of the National Welfare Rights Organization and the author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America, The War at Home, and Labor Parties in Postindustrial Societies. Her many other books include Poor People’s Movements, Regulating the Poor, The Breaking of the American Social Compact, Why Americans Don’t Vote, and Why Americans Still Don’t Vote, co-authored with her late husband, Richard Cloward.

Stefan Litwin

Stefan Litwin is a composer, pianist, and a George Kennedy Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina. He has worked with composers Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, Hans Zender, Herbert Brün, Frederic Rzewski, Johannes Kalitzke and Jörg Widmann; performed with renowned conductors Christoph von Dohnányi, Michael Gielen and Marek Janowski; and collaborated with musicians Aurèle Nicolet, Christian Tetzlaff, Irvine Arditti, Gustav Rivinius, Manuel Fischer-Dieskau and Ib Hausmann. He has a special interest in contemporary music.

Benj DeMott

Benj DeMott has written for the City Sun, Village Voice, and academic journals. In 1998, he helped start First of the Month—a “newspaper of the radical imagination” that is now an online journal. Since 2008, he has edited annual collections of writings titled First of the Year. First of the Year: 2010 was published by Transaction in the summer of 2011. DeMott is currently at work on this year’s edition.

Spyros Papapetros

Spyros Papapetros is a member of the history and theory faculty of the School of Architecture and the program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University. His work focuses on the relationship between architecture and the visual arts, and between architecture, psychoanalysis and the history of psychological aesthetics. His many writings include On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture, and the Extension of Life (forthcoming, University of Chicago Press) and, as editor, Space as Membrane,by Siegfried Ebeling.

Barry C. Lynn

Barry C. Lynn is the director of the Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Initiative, and is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. Lynn is the author of Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction and End of the Line: The Rise and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation. His articles have appeared in Harper’s, Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and The National Interest.

Paul Mattick

Paul Mattick is professor of philosophy at Adelphi University. He is the author of Social Knowledge: An Essay on the Nature and Limits of Social Science, Art in Its Time: Theories and Practices of Modern Aesthetics, Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics and the Reconstruction of Art (as editor), and Business as Usual: The Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism.



To read about admission and how to submit an application to the one-year MA program in CRITICAL THEORY AND THE ARTS, click here.  (Feel free to write or call us at the Department office with any questions or concerns about what goes into putting together an application: 212.592.2172,


Click here to hear Paul Chan read Adorno WIthout Quotation - by Robert Hullot-Kentor (8.7 MB .mp3)


What else is happening at the Department in 2014-2015


What else is happening at the Department in 2014-2015