Other Voices, v.2, n.2 (March 2002)
Text copyright © 2002, Aaron Levy, all rights reserved.
In recent years, the Theorizing series has presented an unusual program of lectures and discussions on contemporary theory and cultural interpretation.1 In 1995 the timely foundation of the University of Pennsylvania's Kelly Writers House presented us with an opportunity to create a new interdisciplinary forum on relatively neutral intellectual ground. In part because of this, the series has been able to draw both speakers and audiences alike from across the arts and humanities.
Over the course of five years, we have featured more than 37 speakers, including established names such as Slavoj Zizek, Daniel Libeskind, Steven Levine, Peter Stallybrass and Thierre de Duve. Up-and-coming theorists who have recently presented in the series include Tracey McNulty, Paul Hegarty, and Louis Schwartz. A listing of past and future speakers, and the archive itself, is available at the series' website.2
The success of the series lies in its ability to facilitate communication between heterogeneous systems of thought and to safeguard intellectual diversity without renouncing confrontation. The series highlights new and often contradictory intellectual tendencies. While speakers are invited to address a topic of their own choosing, they are reminded that work currently undergoing development is particularly suited to the open nature of the series and its audience. Speakers often address contemporary issues rather than engage in traditional, discipline-bound exercises.
We are often reminded of the lament that those within the academic fold no longer interact with the individuals and communities that surround them. The series enables theorists not just to present new work to their academic peers, but to engage a representative social body. Although the composition of the audience for the live event varies by speaker, it consistently includes students, faculty and staff from the University of Pennsylvania and neighboring academic institutions (e.g. Temple University, Villanova University, etc.), as well as individuals from beyond the immediate academic environs. Reaching out to this later audience has helped integrate the series into the social and cultural landscape of Philadelphia.
Over the past several years, the ultimate scope of the series has been increased to include a virtual audience and archive. Live broadcasts and recordings are made freely available through the Internet for both casual perusal and pedagogical endeavors. Correspondingly, individual talks now reach an increasingly diverse and often unexpected audience.
Other Voices is pleased to provide in this issue a selection of six presentations from the series. Each lecture is provided in its entirety in RealAudio format. Simply follow the link to begin downloading the appropriate file. If you do not already have RealAudio installed on your computer, please visit their site at www.realaudio.com to download the free player. Additional audio lectures as well as a full listing of past speakers are available at the series' website.
1. The series was founded and initially curated by Vance Bell in 1996, with the ad hoc assistance of others (notably Joshua Schuster) from 1996-1999. Since 1999 I have curated the series through Slought Networks, most recently in conjunction with Gregory Flaxman. In Fall 2001, the series was renamed Theorizing 2.0.
2. Theorizing.org, the official web site of the series, is maintained by Slought Networks. Founded in 1999, Slought Networks is comprised of a series of local and web-based initiatives emphasizing collaboration and theoretical engagement through art practice.