Session 4: Speaker: Dr Simon Glendinning (Wednesday 24th November)

For our next session, we are thrilled to welcome as a guest speaker Dr Simon Glendinning (LSE), who will be giving a talk entitled 'The Deepest Wounds: On Blows to Narcissism'.

The session will take place on
Wednesday 24th November in room G35, Senate House, between 6 and 8pm. All are welcome to attend.

Simon is Reader in European Philosophy at the London School of Economics, and Director of the LSE Forum for European Philosophy. He realised he could make a career in philosophy when he spent two hours successfully untangling the twisted strings of a stunt kite. Wittgenstein says that 'philosophy unties knots in our thinking; hence its results must be simple, but philosophizing has to be as complicated as the knots it unties'. Simon has a BPhil and a DPhil in Philosophy from Oxford University and has been exploring knots for a living since 1994. He is still not clear whether philosophy is a complicated education for grown-ups or just a simple occupation for grown-ups who never made it beyond childhood.


  1. Hi all,

    24th of November is a day of action against the cuts. It is a bit strange for a seminar that deals with politics, ethic and disappointment, not to respect the day.

    For more details:

  2. Please postpone the seminar.

  3. Hello to you both. We appreciate your comments, and have discussed the pros and cons of postponing this seminar, but – for a number of reasons – feel that the best course of action would be to go ahead with it. Our reasoning is essentially as follows: (1.) The session starts at 6pm, after the official NCAFC demonstration will have taken place (which we are considering attending ourselves); (2.) Although the Literary and Critical Theory Seminar is not obliged to take a political stance, we think it is worth noting that the press release for the day of action encourages students to take part in ‘peaceful and creative forms of political protest’. We believe that listening and responding to Dr Glendinning’s talk – which will inevitably engage with the issues at hand – fits this description. The event is not part of any official educational syllabus: nobody is getting paid for it, and attendance is purely voluntary, so in this case a 'walkout' would would be essentially meaningless. It is our view that protest can take a variety of different forms, and that maintaining precisely the kind of intellectual debate that the cuts are placing under threat is no less valid a form than any other.

  4. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for this. I am not convinced. An event that has been organised in advance, without the day of action in mind, doesnt suddenly become 'a creative way of protest' just because you've decided to call it that. It is a little bit like saying that instead of going to a rally, I’m going to stick to my original plan and go to my yoga class, only that it is not longer simply a yoga class, it is now 'a peaceful and creative way of protest'. A day of action means business-not-as-usual. Thousands of other students walked out of no-less intellectually stimulating debates yesterday.

    It is precisely the idea that we are doing our bit by staying in the seminar room and having an intellectual debate while things are happening outside - things that demand our urgent response – that makes the humanities so vulnerable to attack. It is this attitude that makes us and the disciplines we practice seem self-important, self-indulgent and irrelevant. You and I might think that by reading an extract from Badiou we are doing our bit for a better, fairer society. But frankly, the majority of people out there need a bit more convincing; they are not really sure why their taxes should pay for our own intellectual pleasure.

    You say the seminar is voluntary, that no one is being paid - so what? Numerous other voluntary, non-compulsory seminars were cancelled or postponed yesterday to respect the walk-out. Your seminar is hardly an avant garde, non-establishment event - you use UL facilities, target mainly UL students and advertise your events through UL. But even that is beside the point. The students who walked out yesterday didn’t protest against their paid lecturers or their universities. They made a symbolic gesture, a symbolic gesture that you and your fellow-organisers undermined.

  5. Hi Adi. Speaking for myself now (as I haven’t consulted the other organisers), I think that your obvious passion for the fight against the cuts is admirable. You argue very well, and make some valid points: I accept, for instance, that the suggestion about ‘peaceful and creative forms of protest’ was perhaps a bit of a stretch. However, in a way I regret mentioning it in the first place, as it only served to distract from what I cited as our primary reason for deciding to go ahead with the seminar: namely, that it was scheduled to take place AFTER the main protest was due to have happened. In other words, we thought that there would be room for both. I still stand by this position, but at the same time I’m happy to encourage any potential readers of this thread to make up their own minds about the matter. Like I said before, we did not take the decision lightly: we just felt that, given the time of day that the seminar was running, it would be preferable to go ahead as planned while accepting the possibility that some potential attendees might wish to continue with smaller protests into the evening.

    On a slightly more personal note (and I’m in two minds about whether I should mention this, for fear of derailing the argument by resorting to cheap anecdote), I ended up missing the seminar myself as I was caught in the police kettle for seven and a half hours. As such, I have to say that your points about us disrespecting the day and undermining the symbolic gesture of the protesters feel a bit unfair, to say the least. I was one of the protesters, and, to be honest, after the fourth hour or so of standing around in the cold watching bus stops get set on fire (one of the day’s slightly less dignified symbolic gestures), the prospect of doing some actual thinking about politics was all the more appealing. Does that mean I undermined the cause? It certainly didn’t feel like it at the time.

  6. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for this. Certainly, some of my comments were a bit harsh. Can I suggest that you dedicate one of the seminar sessions, if possible, to a discussion about how humanities and literature students could respond to what is happening? We could look at some of what is being done
    ('creative forms of protest' indeed) and think about them in light of the theory (Critchley, Badiou), for example.