To round off the conference, and give all RAIO attendees a chance to engage with contemporary debates about reading, interpretation and critique, Tuesday afternoon will end with an informal two hour seminar. Through discussion of two pieces of criticism (which frame 1984 to the present moment), we hope to foster a broad discussion about the aesthetic, social and political cross sections that underwrite debates about reading and, even more so, hope to encourage reflection of the methods of reading that inhere in our paticipants’ own research.

The first of these is Rita Felski and Elizabeth S. Anker’s introduction to their ultra recent collection Critique and Postcritique which can be read here: Their introduction gives a lucid genealogy of critique in the humanities and social sciences, its perceived inaccessibility, and begins to map out the landscape beyond critique.

The second short piece is ‘Post-Critical’ by Hal Foster which presents a robust defence of the critical enterprise. Taking issue with recent thinkers who cite critique as an outmoded practice, Foster argues that its abandonment signals the market’s besiegement of academia, and states the urgency of critique in our time of crisis. ‘Post-Critical’ by Foster can be found here: (Use the orange ‘active your online access’ tab at the top of the page to sign in via your institution — please get in touch with us if you experience trouble gaining access).

Steven Connor has kindly agreed to offer some of his own thoughts on this subject to start us off, and we’ll be circulating handouts with images, quotations and questions ahead of the session to help focus everyone’s responses.

Some questions to consider ahead of the seminar include:

— Are the methods in critique’s toolbox (close reading, sceptisism, political affiliation, antagonism, defamiliarization) detachable from critique itself?
— What are the opportunities for political engagement in postcritical interpretation?
— Is critique only subject to questioning in times of crisis? Is it a response to, or (dare we say) a symptom of crisis?