Radical Engagement/Mystical Refusal
Saturday December 18, from 12-3 PM EDT. Online. (See time zone converter if you’re in a different location to make sure you get the time right.)
In The Unfinished Conversation, Maurice Blanchot wrote of Simone Weil, “She does not give the outward impression of having been capable of the immobility that she recommends to thought. She was rather restless,” as her organizing the unemployed of the Paris suburbs during her teaching days, joining the anarchist Durutti Column to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and distributing leaflets in Marseilles under Vichy rule attest to. This seminar will focus on Weil’s political writings, especially her engagements with Marxist, anti-fascist, and anti-colonial thinking and practice, and explicate the roots of her responses in her own idiosyncratic political mysticism. The orienting question of the seminar is the following: how does Weil’s critical account of the radical traditions she inherited meet the contradiction of her theological refusal of imagining a revolutionary future and what can it teach us about our capacities for rooted radicalism today?
Facilitator: Scott Ritner. Scott’s research focuses on the critique of social oppression in its various contemporary forms. His scholarship is methodologically rooted in critical theory and Marxian political thought. His current work focuses on the writings of the 20th Century French radical philosopher and mystic Simone Weil. He is currently developing a book manuscript on Weil’s thought, entitled Revolutionary Pessimism: Simone Weil on Politics. Additionally, Professor Ritner is writing several independent journal articles and book chapters on the politics of listening, refugee subjectivities, precarious labor, and Simone Weil’s relationships to Marxism and feminism.
Scott received his B.A. in Government and International Relations from Clark University (2005), an M.A. in Russian Studies from the European University of Saint-Petersburg (2006), and his Ph.D. in Politics from The New School for Social Research (2018). He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics at SUNY Potsdam. with past positions at Clark, Hunter, and Temple.
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