Kent Law School

Critical perspectives research led teaching

Intense and collaborative experience at Kent Summer School in Critical Theory

28 September 2017

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PhD students and early career researchers enjoyed an intense and collaborative experience at this year's interdisciplinary Kent Summer School in Critical Theory (KSSCT) held in Paris.

For two weeks in June and July, junior scholars were immersed in critical thought with seminars led by Professor Patricia Williams from Columbia University and Professor Timothy Campbell from Cornell University.

Now in its third year, the Summer School is co-organised by Kent Law Lecturer Connal Parsley and Kent Law Professor Maria Drakopoulou. Connal said: 'The KSSCT is unique because of its intimate, collaborative and intensive format. The participants work with a renowned scholar for a full two weeks on a single topic, enabling a deep and enduring pedagogical experience that all the participants (including the professorial staff) find extremely valuable.'

At this year's event, hosted at the University of London Institute, Professor Williams focused on the contribution of visual media to the construction of legal knowledge for her seminar on 'Seeing and Surveillance: Law, culture and notions of justice.' And Professor Campbell explored the contemporary milieu, under the rubric of biopower, for his seminar on 'Attention, Ethos, Life: Practices of the Self in the Contemporary Milieu.'

Participants in both seminars, which ran in parallel during the day, came together for evening lectures by Professor Williams and Professor Campbell. Other joint evening events included a roundtable on 'Law, Life, Culture and Nature' held in collaboration with Sciences Po Law School with Professor Louis Assier-Andrieu, Professor Julie Saada and Professor Mikhail Xifaras together with Professor Alain Pottage from the London School of Economics. A second roundtable on 'Making Postcolonial Worlds' featured the participation of Professor Karin van Marle (University of Pretoria) and Dr Emilio Dabed (Columbia University).

Connal said: 'Anticipation is already building for next year's summer school. People are keen to know who will be conducting the seminars. Several participants this year had also taken part before and we hope to welcome them back again.'

The Kent Summer School in Critical Theory was created to offer a unique intellectual experience for all those participating and contributing outside of the formal institutional frame. Each year up to 40 scholars from all over the world are selected to attend. And each year the seminars are led by thinkers who are invited for the contemporary significance of their work and their ability to enrich the ethos of the school.

Professor Drakapoulou said: 'We believe it is increasingly important to proliferate and defend spaces for critical thinking in the contemporary academy. Equally important is the maintenance of spaces within the PhD and early career calendar to pursue the kind of academic practice that engenders genuine and sustained intellectual activity.'

Junior scholars who attended this year's event enjoyed the intellectual challenge and intensive format:

  • "Better than I had imagined and I have a new energy and commitment to my own research and all of our shared commitments to engaged and critical scholarship."
  • "Really excellent from the teaching to the other students and the organisation. Far exceeded my expectations!"
  • "a wonderful and inspiring two weeks"
  • "very intellectually stimulating"
  • "What I found particularly worthwhile was to follow one inspirational lecturer/thinker over several days"
  • "I also really appreciated the course approach and political visions, to counteract the neoliberal trend in academia."
  • "I think there was a sense of intellectual honesty and genuine interest among all the participants. It was refreshing to see this when nowadays it is all about marketing"
  • "Great readings, great discussions"
  • "my favorite part of the experience was the intense nature of the seminars."
  • "a wonderful format"
  • "four hours four days a week is intense, but great for this kind of summer course."
  • "it really expanded my understanding of a particular body of scholarship"
  • "I appreciated the opportunity to connect with scholars from around the world who are interested in similar problems and questions. I also was grateful to encounter new texts and ideas"
  • "The most valuable aspect was the seminar leaders and the peer interactions. I liked the intellectual concerns introduced, and participants’ wide range of backgrounds."

More information (including details of next year's event and how to apply once the date is confirmed) can be found on the Kent Summer School in Critical Theory website.

Professor Patricia Williams
Professor Timothy Campbell


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Last Updated: 12/09/2017