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Political Theory Reading Group

Reading Group

The Reading Group in Political Theory is a term-time weekly meeting of the staff and postgraduate students (both research and taught) working in political theory, also open to colleagues and students from other areas in politics, and from any other discipline. It often welcomes the participation of speakers from other Universities.

The Reading Group started as an experiment in conversation between colleagues in the political theory cluster with very different interests and approaches to the subject. Even when disagreeing profoundly and not fully understanding each other, we carry on enjoying these conversations.

Over the years, the Reading Group has become the focus of our research culture, an opportunity to exchange ideas and look at political and theoretical issues from many different perspectives. Thanks to the participation of colleagues and speakers from a variety of disciplines besides politics (philosophy, law, classics, economics, history, business, English, theology, geography, the arts), the Reading Group provides an invaluable opportunity for interdisciplinary explorations and dialogue.

The format of the Reading Group varies from week to week. The standard format is for one member of the group or an external speaker to briefly introduce a pre-circulated text, followed by a (more or less heated and controversial) discussion on any issue that seems relevant to the text itself. Often, however, we have internal or external speakers (academics and postgraduates) presenting their own papers. The format of this meetings following the same format: pre-circulated papers, a brief introduction, and an open and wide-ranging discussion. Occasionally, the Reading Group takes the form of a workshop with more than one speaker, or a symposium about a published book.

The Reading Group gives an opportunity to research students at Exeter to present their own work or to discuss texts in which they are interested. It helps them to discover new texts and a variety of ways of looking at familiar subjects. It is a way of socializing postgraduates into the discipline by exposing them to different texts and detailed discussions about them. Master students in political theory are required do a presentation at the Reading Group as part of their degree. This may be intimidating for some, but they all find it an interesting and formative experience. And even the senior staff finds it still a stimulating and refreshing experience.

Meetings are usually on Wednesday around lunch time, in Amory B105, unless otherwise indicated in the programme. But, please, check the exact time and place for each meeting. Meetings on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations will be in person only. Other meetings will be in hybrid format and occasionally online only. The Zoom link will be circulated in advance of the meeting. 

Wednesday 18 January, 12.45-2.00 – Amory 105

Andreas Karoutas (Exeter, Politics) “‘What calamities! What horrors!’ Dystopia(s) and the Post-foundational Promise”

Wednesday 25 January, 16.00-17.30, Bateman Lecture Theatre / Building One 

Lecture by Prof. Marlies Glasius (Amsterdam), presenting her new book on “Authoritarian Practices in a Global Age”

This event is organized in collaboration with the Exeter Global Authoritarianism Research Network, and together with other Centres.

From 15.00 to 15.30, in the Bateman Lecture Theatre, there will be a brief presentation of the Global Authoritarianism Network and of a new research collaboration between our Centre and other University Centres on “States, Rights, Constitutions”, followed by coffees/teas. Please, come along.

[CANCELLED] Wednesday 1 February, 14.30-16.30, Constantine Leventis Room / Building One

Seminar by Prof. Chris Armstrong (Southampton), “Biodiversity Offsetting: For and Against”.

This event is organized in collaboration with the Exeter Biodiversity and People Research Network.

Wednesday 8 February – 12.45-2.15 – Amory 105

Readings from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (§1-38, but particularly: §1-30; main themes: Learning Language / Meaning in Use)

Wednesday 15 February 12.45-2.00 – Amory 105

Readings from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (§ 89-140, but particularly §90-110: main themes: Language Games / Rejecting Metaphysics / Rejecting Philosophy)

Wednesday 22 February, 12.45-2.15 – Speaker/Topic TBC 

Wednesday 1 March, 12.30-13.45 – Readings from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (§ 243-300; but particularly §250-280; main themes: Private Language / Pain and Psychology)

Wednesday 1 March, 15.00-17.00 – Lecture Room TBC  

Prof. Simon Tormey (Bristol) will give a talk on a sociological interpretation of “populism”

This is a SPSPA Departmental Seminar

Wednesday 15 March, 12.45-2.15 – Amory 105

Kate Townsend (Exeter, Politics), “The Child’s Right to Bodily Integrity”

Wednesday 22 March, 12.45-2.00 – Amory 105

Mathura Umachandran (Exeter, Classics) will introduce a discussion of the first part of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (“The Concept of Enlightenment”)

Wednesday 29 March – Amory 105

Alex MacLaughlin (Cambridge), Topic TBC


Download as PDF:  PTRG Programme Spring 2023