Alastair Renfrew on ‘Lenin and the Dialectics of Life’

Alastair Renfrew on ‘Lenin and the Dialectics of Life’, and a response by Peter Hitchcock

Tuesday November 10, 2015


Skylight room

Dialectical thought in the twentieth century became almost terminally weighed down by its association with the so-called dialectical materialism that became political and philosophical orthodoxy in the Soviet environment. As a necessary contribution to the broader process of recuperation of dialectical thought, this paper seeks to return to the mythologised source of Soviet orthodoxy in order to trace those aspects of the ‘real’ Lenin’s writing and political practice that lead away from (non-dialectical) dogma and towards a flexible, living, ‘dialogical’ dialectic.

Lenin facepalm

Alastair Renfrew is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Durham University. His main area of research specialization is literary and critical theory, particularly Mikhail Bakhtin and the so-called Russian Formalists; he has also taught and published on Russian and Soviet Cinema and on Russian and Scottish Literature. He is author of Towards a New Material Aesthetics (Legenda, 2006) and Mikhail Bakhtin (Routledge, 2015), and co-editor of the collection Critical Theory in Russia and the West (Routledge, 2010); he is currently working on projects on Lenin and on Dialectics and Dialogics.


 Peter Hitchcock is Professor of English at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is also on the faculties of Women’s Studies and Film Studies at the GC. He is the author of five books, including The Long Space, for Stanford University Press. His most recent publications include, “Accumulating Fictions” for Representations,“Immolation” for the Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights, “How to Read a Discipline” for Comparative Literature, “Culture and Anarchy in Thatcher’s London” for an anthology on Hanif Kureishi, “( ) of Ghosts” in The Spectralities Reader, “The Space of Time: Chronotopes and Crisis” for Primerjalna Knjizevnost, “Defining the World” inLiterary Materialisms and “Everything’s Gone Green: The Environment of BP’s Narrative” for Imaginations. Forthcoming articles include an essay, “Viscosity and Velocity,” for an anthology on oil (Cornell), and an essay on communism titled “The Leninist Hypothesis” for Poetics Today. Forthcoming book projects include a monograph on the cultural representation of labor, a monograph on worlds of postcoloniality, and an edited collection on the New Public Intellectual. He is currently working on two research projects: one about seriality in politics and culture; the other on the aesthetics of commodities and financial instruments.


This event is sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics

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