“Change life! Change society! These precepts mean nothing without the production of an appropriate space…New social relationships call for a new space, and vice versa.” —Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space
What is the founding spirit of Incite Seminars?
The founding of Incite Seminars was sparked by Glenn Wallis’s very personal response to the escalating social inequality, intensifying racial unrest, and eviscerating techno-consumer capitalism that he increasingly witnessed all around him. The catalyzing moment came at 2:30 AM on November 9, 2016 as Donald Trump and his destructive politics of right-wing, white supremacist, economic nationalism rose to power in America. It was a moment that vanquished all doubt concerning the brutish consequences of American delusion and ignorance.
Incite Seminars was thus founded on the conviction that critically-oriented education offers us a means to recognize, resist, and counter the forces of personal alienation and social division—forces such as hopelessness, bigotry, passivity, and self-delusion. For this reason, from the outset, Wallis conceived of Incite Seminars as a community of learners engaged in a vital practice. Each seminar would be an experiential immersion in self-reflection, self-formation, and social critique. Through reading, thinking, and discussion, participants will realize unknown intellectual potentials, enhance interpersonal communication, and discover creative, effective, and even dangerous ways of acting toward a genuinely just world.
Are you associated with INCITE! network of radical feminists of color?
No, not in any official capacity. Obviously, we share good taste in dynamic organization names. Incite Seminars supports their project and values their resources. Visit INCITE! for further information.
What is Incite Seminars
We aspire to be a member-driven, worker-run nonprofit cooperative. We are a motley group, by turns educators, scholars, writers, artists, activists. Some of us are long-established in what we do. Some of us are still discovering our powers as we go. What we all have in common is a conviction in the power of courageous dialogue to incite personal exploration and inspire community action. We are passionate about getting consequential ideas circulating in the real world. At this point, we do not offer any kind of credit, certificate, or degree. We do offer a rigorous and rebellious learning experience.
What are the seminars about?
Our seminars typically involve a combination of theory, practice, and activism. They draw on thinkers, themes, and texts from philosophy, politics, literature, psychoanalysis and psychology, history, religion and theology, the Black radical tradition, anthropology, anarchism, cultural studies, poetry, music, the arts, and more. For examples, please see our Archives.
What is a seminar?
A seminar is a style of education designed to facilitate intensive and in-depth study of the topic. It is a place where ideas are taken seriously. Unlike a lecture, a seminar involves sustained engagement with written or other material together with robust open discussion among the participants. For that reason, the optimal number of learners in a seminar is generally between to six to fifteen. (In the Zoom/Covid era, this number seems to be immaterial. We have had as many as 150 participants online. Even with the increased number of participants. our seminars are intimate, lively, and engaged.) Also unlike lectures, seminars are fueled by participants. The course facilitator ignites the fire. Participants fan the flames.
What happens in a seminar?
We come together, either in person or online. We focus on a chosen text, theme, thinker. We explore ideas, theories, and concepts. We assess practices, actions, rituals, and performances. Together, we read, think, listen, question, speak, respond, argue, and laugh. The environment is warm and nurturing but crackling with the risky unpredictability of new discoveries.
What is expected of the participants in advance?
We assume that you are a working adult with a busy schedule. So, we assign reading and writing accordingly. Given the variety of material we work with, it is difficult to nail down exact quantities. For example, for one seminar you might be asked to read three short poems and jot down your reactions in the margins. For another session, you might be asked to read fifty pages of dense philosophy and write a couple of pages of response. The work is always worked out with participants’ expressed desires and limitations in mind. Please see our Seminar Participation Guidelines.
We believe that something uncommonly dynamic occurs when we explore crucial ideas with other people. Dialogue centered on texts and other cultural material becomes an impetus for self-reflection and self-understanding. Such encounters enable each of us to glimpse into our ideological blind spots, to see and think more clearly. This ferments an acute awareness of social reality. It is here—where the personal collides with the social—that such education catalyzes the possibility of social change. At Incite Seminars we cultivate critical discernment, intellectual integrity, and moral courage. We are not content with the mere acquisition of knowledge. We are on the hunt for possibilities of transformation.
Who teaches the seminars?
Incite Seminars aspires to be an open forum of dialogue and learning. Many of our facilitators have been established experts in their fields. They have published numerous articles and books; they host podcasts with tens of thousands of listeners; they have won prestigious awards for their scholarship. Most, too, have Ph.D.s. All of us benefit tremendously from their willingness to descend the ivory tower and wander into the vulnerable, nomadic hinterlands of public education. We are deeply grateful for their participation.
For us to be the open forum that we aspire to be, however, we encourage “para-academics” to step into the role of facilitator. A para-academic is someone who occupies a strange position in relation to the institution of higher education—not quite inside, not quite outside, not even clearly beside. In short, a para-academic is someone who wishes (for instance) “to produce radical political, critical, or experimental research that is difficult to audit and gain immediate economic impact from.” (See Gary Hall, The Uberfication of the University.) We do not care about institutional affiliations or professional “credentials.” What we care about is your passion for a subject. If you would like to offer as session, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea.
Who are your participants?
Our participants are adults of all ages who have discovered the value of reading and thinking about serious ideas, and are discussing and exploring those ideas with others. Some of them are working professionals. Some of them are at the beginning of a career. Some are retired. Some want nothing to do with the conventional career treadmill, and are looking for alternatives. Many are passionate about finding ways to enact change in the world. All are curious about what’s out there in the world of ideas. We actively attempt to ensure that our spectrum of participants includes a broad, rich range of ages and racial, ethnic, religious, and educational backgrounds. Everyone will find an Incite Seminar warm and welcoming.
When do seminars meet?
We currently offer two types of seminars. One is an intensive one-day workshop. This session typically runs on a Saturday from 10am-1pm or from noon to 3pm. Occasionally, it meets on a weekday evening from 5-8 or 6-9pm. The second is the extended course of four-weeks or longer. This seminar meets once a week, usually from 6-8pm on a weekday evening. We also hold several groups that meet regularly and indefinitely.
Where are the seminars held?
As of March 2020 they have been online over Zoom. Previously, we met at The Bourse, 111 S. Independence Mall East, Suite 500, in Philadelphia. (That’s on 5th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets. Here’s a map.) When the COVID-19 lockdown is over, we will combine these two meeting formats.
What does a seminar cost?
For a one-session seminar, the cost is generally (though subject to variation):
- $30 – Member Ticket for Incite Seminars Patreon Supports at any level
- $45 – Non-Member (True Cost) Ticket
- $90 – Generous Supporter Ticket
- $15 – Student/Contingent Scholar/Activist Ticket
- Solidarity pay-what-you-can tickets are also available for those who cannot afford any of the above tiers. Please email us.
Can I contribute to Incite Seminars?
Glad you asked! Yes. The best way to support Incite Seminars is by making ongoing contribution through Patreon. All contributions go towards subsidizing seminar costs. You can also click one of the donate buttons at the bottom of this page to make a one-time deductible contribution. Any amount is greatly appreciated and goes a long way to helping us continue making our educational experiences available to everyone who feels they can benefit from them, provide fair compensation to our facilitators, and sustain a thriving community of Incite scholars.
Is it okay to contact you with any other questions I may have?
Please do! We are also open to any suggestions, recommendations, or requests you may have. Maybe you’d like us to come into your workplace or business to facilitation a reading group. (There’s a ton of research that shows how beneficial outside-facilitated workplace learning is.) Or maybe you’d like to form a small private group. Maybe you’d even like some individual sessions. Or maybe you have some other creative idea for us. We can accommodate it all! Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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One time donation to Incite Seminars