Just Theory Lecture Series

Faculty and students after a lecture.

The Just Theory Lectures Series is an annual series of presentations hosted by and held within the Comparative Literature Department. These lectures bring some of the most well-known and influential thinkers working in the fields of literary criticism and philosophy to the department to present new research. These lectures are free and open to the public and bring together students and scholars from the larger UB community.


September 28 at 5:00pm in Clemens 708
Emma Bianchi, NYU
"Genos in Plato and Aristotle"

*CANCELLED October 19 at 5:00pm in Baldy 200G
Martin Hagglund, Yale
"Thinking Ecological Responsibility: Marx and Species Being"

November 2 at 4:00pm in Clemens 708
Jorge Gracia Critical Race Theory/ Critical Race Philosophy Seminar 
Falguni Sheth, Emory University
Anwar Uhuru, Wayne State University
Kristie Dotson, University of Michigan

Olga Szmidt event.

December 7th at 5:00pm in Clemens 708
“Passive Resistance in Narratives of Women’s Withdrawal from the Migrant Path” 
Olga Szmidt, PhD, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland 

The lecture is part of a larger project devoted to different practices and concepts of passive resistance in the culture of the 21st century. In this talk I will discuss passive resistance in context of Central and Eastern European women's resignation from migration path in the West.  I focus on the normativity of migration, experiences of impasse, suspension and understanding of the time at the border, as well as on the issue of autonomy in the migration experience. The central question is not so much whether such resistance is possible, but how it is performed in various narratives. Literary text and movies discussed include: Pani na domkach (A Cleaning Lady) by Joanna Pawluśkiewicz (2006); Last Call (2018), dir. by Hajni Kis; Lillian (2019), dir. by Andreas Horvath

BIO: Olga Szmidt is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Criticism at Jagiellonian University, Poland.  Currently she works on a project focused on the interface between Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and culture. Her interests include literary theory, modern philosophy of the self, contemporary world literature, and popular culture. She is the author of two monographs, including A Problem of Authenticity in 20th century Culture (2019), and a co-editor of Face in Trouble – From Physiognomics to Facebook, (2017).


February 15 at 3:30pm in Clemens 708
Nathifa Greene, Gettysburg College
“Circling the Silk Cotton Tree”

February 22  at 4:00pm in Clemens 708
Hiroki Yoshikuni,  Tokyo University, Japan.
"Storytelling without Humanity: on Paranormal Phenomena after the 2011 Tsunami in Japan"

February 29 at 4:00pm in Clemens 708
Will Bridges, UB Distinguished Visiting Scholar
"Epistemology of the Violets: Do Black Lives Still Matter for Japanese Studies?"

March 26-28 Donato Seminar-
Christopher Fynsk, European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland
March 26 at 3:30pm in Clemens 708
    First Lecture:
 "Return and Deportation",  Part One
March 27 at 3:30pm in Clemens 708
    Second Lecture
: "Return and Deportation", Part Two
March 28 at 3:30pm in Clemens 708
    Third Lecture
: "Blanchot's Post-war Political and Ethical Thought"

In Dionys Mascolo's Autour d'un effort de mémoire, published in 1987 (Maurice Nadeau), we find an extraordinary assertion concerning the impact of Robert Antelme's return from Dachau.  The experience shared with Antelme in the months after his return, Mascolo tells us, had the effect of rendering the group around him communist and jewish.  It "deported" them, he writes. Blanchot would later join that group and have a profound impact on the thinking that led to Mascolo's assertion.  Can we see in Blanchot's post-war political and ethico-political writings evidence of what he shared with that community?  Did Antelme's return and what he taught those he rejoined shape in some fundamental way Blanchot's political and ethical thinking (or what we might even call his own teaching)?  The answer to this question must remain speculative.  Even "teaching" is a problematic term here. But the experience of reading Blanchot after Mascolo and Antelme is both profoundly moving and instructive.

The first two lectures in this seminar will explore the nexus of writings pertinent for the questions posed here.  These include writings by Antelme, Mascolo, and Blanchot.  The third lecture will focus more particularly on Blanchot's post-war political writings, and statements on friendship and community.

April 4 at 4:00pm in Clemens 708
Tanya Loughead
“Politics of Maturity”

Dr. Tanya Loughead’s expertise is in the field of Contemporary Continental Philosophy. Her areas of specialization include: Phenomenology, Critical Theory, Critical University Studies, and Psychoanalysis.  Also: History of Philosophy, Feminism, Animal Ethics, and Queer Theory.  Loughead has published scholarship on the works of Sara Ahmed, Maurice Blanchot, Angela Davis, Emmanuel Levinas, Herbert Marcuse, and Simone Weil, amongst others. Her research blends the methodology of phenomenology with insights from critical theory to analyze the ideas that structure our world. Dr. Loughead is active in the American Association of University Professors and in 2023 was chosen to be the New York state AAUP Communication Director, which involves work on media relations, press releases and the NY state legislative agenda. 

About the talk:

What is maturity? In answering this question, philosopher Tanya Loughead shows how maturity has traditionally been defined in a conservative fashion—as a patriarchal, heteronormative, pro-nuclear family project. Politics of Maturity challenges existing notions of maturity by raising fundamental questions about society and its structure. Which structures and experiences help us to mature, and which ones block us from maturing? How can we redefine what it means to be a mature person at this moment of capitalist devastation and climate catastrophe? Politics of Maturity tackles maturity not merely as a problem of individual personality, but as a political and philosophical problem that requires revolutionary rethinking and redefinition. It understands maturity as a collective, liberationist enterprise that demands both broader perspectives and closer examinations of those structures hindering a freer, more egalitarian, and sustainable life. A radical re-envisioning of maturity must define “progress” anew and bare the ground to better cultivate critical, open-minded thinkers.

April 11 at 4:00pm in Clemens 708
Stephen Gingerich (Cleveland State University) new book, “This Side of Philosophy: Literature and Thinking in Twentieth-Century Spanish Letters” - Anthony J. Cascardi, UC Berkeley and Elizabeth Millan-Brusslan, DePaul University

April 25 at 4:00pm in Clemens 708
Akuavi Adonon, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana 
“A Land of Memories: Mexico City’s Original Peoples"

May 2 Book Seminar at 4:00pm in Clemens 708
Shannon Dowd (Niagara University) new book, "The Other Border Wars: Conflict and Stasis in Latin American Culture" Patrick Dove, University of Indiana and Yansi Pérez, Carleton College