Papers from the Society for the Study of Biopolitical Futures

Humanities Corridor Seminar

A one-day colloquium to present works that evolved out of the initial meeting of the Society for Biopolitical Futures, and concluding with a roundtable discussion by Society presenters on the present state of biopolitical thought and its possible futures.

Event Date: 04-Nov-2014

November 4, 2014, 1:00pm - 5:00pm

Syracuse University

Humanities Center, Seminar Room (304 Tolley)

Humanities Corridor Seminar: "Papers from the Society for the Study of Biopolitical Futures"


Open to all faculty and students of Syracuse University and affiliated Corridor institutions.
Pre-enrollment required
Limited to 24 participants
Contact Mi Ditmar 315.443.5944 to register.


A one-day colloquium to present works that evolved out of the initial meeting of the Society for Biopolitical Futures, and concluding with a roundtable discussion by Society presenters on the present state of biopolitical thought and its possible futures.

On April 5 – 6, 2013, a group of scholars met at the Syracuse University Humanities Center for the inaugural meeting of The Society for Biopolitical Futures, supported by both the Humanities Center and by the Central New York Humanities Corridor project of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In the words of the Center’s Founding Director, Gregg Lambert, “the idea of the Society is loosely modeled ‘on the establishment and activities of the College of Sociology between 1937-1939.’ The College took as its `precise object of contemplative activity,’ according to the collective statement by its members `the name of Sacred Sociology, implying the study of all manifestations of social existence where the active presence of the sacred is clear. It intends to establish in this way the points of coincidence between the fundamental obsessive tendencies of individual psychology and the principle structures that govern social organization and are in command of its revolutions.’ Today, if there is any name that could serve to replace the sociological and anthropological notion of the `sacred,’ it is the current names of `bio-power’ and the `biopolitical.’ This association has both interesting and problematic consequences, which will be the subject of the Society’s collective research.”

This seminar will present new research from original members, Cary Wolfe and Timothy Campbell, from papers that were delivered this past summer at Life, in Theory: The 8th Meeting of the European Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, Turin Italy, June 2014. The presentation will be followed by a Roundtable and open discussion with participants.


The Syracuse University Humanities Center in the College of Arts & Sciences and 3CT, Rice University.


1:00-2:30: Papers by Timothy Campbell, Cornell University, and Cary Wolfe, Rice University (Chair: Gregg Lambert).

2:30-3:00: Break with refreshments in the Humanities Center Library (300 Tolley).

3:00-4:30: Roundtable discussion with Timothy Campbell, Cornell University, Cary Wolfe, Rice University Gregg Lambert, Syracuse University, and Karen Pinkus, Cornell University, and participants.


TIMOTHY CAMPBELL is Professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Studies. In addition to his translations of Roberto Esposito’s Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy (Minnesota, 2008) and Communitas: The Origin and Destiny of Community (Stanford, 2009), he is the author of Wireless Writing in the Age of Marconi (Minnesota, 2006), winner of the Media Ecology Association’s 2007 Lewis Mumford Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Technics. He recently completed his second book, Tecnica e biopolitica, which is forthcoming from Guerini. His current projects include a study of biopolitics and post-colonialism and an examination of Italian political cinema and contemporary thought. At Cornell he teaches courses on contemporary Italian philosophy, Italian cinema, and core courses in the Italian major.

GREGG LAMBERT is Dean's Professor of Humanities and Founding Director of the Syracuse University Humanities Center (2008 – 2014); Principal Investigator of the Central New York Humanities Corridor. Author of over eleven books and critical editions, Lambert has written and lectured extensively in philosophy and critical theory, particularly on the works of late-French philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida. His forthcoming books include a volume of his post-2001 writings on “the post-secular turn,” and long essay on the crisis of contemporary political philosophy, Philosophy After Friendship.

KAREN PINKUS is a Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is also a minor graduate field member in Studio Art, a member of the Advisory Board of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a member of the Climate Change Focus Group. Karen is on the editorial boards of diacritics and World Picture Journal. For diacritics, she edited a special issue on climate change criticism (43.1), thirty years on from the influential issue on nuclear criticism. A forthcoming book titled Fuel thinks about issues crucial to climate change by arguing for a separation of fuel (perhaps understood as potentiality, or dynamis, to use the Aristotelian term) from energy as a system of power (actuality, use). Fuel follows a series of literary, filmic and critical texts through the form of a dictionary (from “air” to “zyklon D”). Fuel engages with literature, art and critical theory as they are central to analogy and in turn, to fuel itself.

CARY WOLFE is the Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English, and founding Director of 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University. He publishes widely in areas such as animal studies and posthumanism, systems theory and pragmatism, biopolitics and biophilosophy, and American literature and culture. His books and edited collections include Animal Rites: American Culture, The Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (Chicago, 2003), the edited collections Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (Minnesota, 2003) and (with Branka Arsic) The Other Emerson (Minnesota, 2010), and, most recently, What Is Posthumanism? (Minnesota, 2010) and Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame (Chicago, 2012). He is founding editor of the series Posthumanities at the University of Minnesota Press, which publishes six books per year by noted authors such as Donna Haraway, Roberto Esposito, Isabelle Stengers, Michel Serres, Vilem Flusser, and many others.


The Central New York Humanities Corridor, generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a unique regional collaboration between SU, Cornell and University of Rochester, and the Schools of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium, in seven areas of research and humanistic inquiry. Each institution brings a vibrant and distinguished humanistic scholarly tradition to the collective work of the CNY Humanities Corridor. In the aggregate, the Corridor’s programs bolster the relationships, productivity and reciprocity common to the region’s humanities community, as well as heightened visibility, enhancing public engagement in its activities. The initiative is regarded as a highly visible scholarly presence in the region, if not nationally, as a new model of collaboration and resource sharing that can also be adapted to other regions and inter-university partnerships.