Renowned Philosophers Named Visiting Scholars

NEW YORK – Renowned philosophers Judith Butler and Cornel West have been named the inaugural Presidential Visiting Scholars at The New School for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Presidential Visiting Scholars program brings major thinkers of the highest standing to the university to teach unique courses, collaborate on research or creative initiatives, deliver lectures, and participate in public programming and other special projects.

Two of the most significant American philosophers of our time, Butler and West will lead seminars and lectures at The New School for Social Research (NSSR). Butler, author of The Force of Nonviolence and known internationally for their work in gender theory, will lead the intensive graduate seminar, Contemporary Feminist Philosophy, from September 28-October 22, 2021. West, author of the contemporary classic Race Matters, will join NSSR during the Spring 2022 semester. He will deliver one lecture open to the public and two lectures open to New School community members. He will also meet with Philosophy MA and PhD students for open discussion.

Dwight A. McBride, President of The New School, commended the selection of Butler and West as Presidential Visiting Scholars: “We are honored to launch this important program with the visionary scholars Judith Butler and Cornel West, who are renowned for constantly challenging the status quo, making them ideal selections as our inaugural Presidential Visiting Scholars at The New School. This new way of bringing outstanding academics to our campus will enrich the intellectual opportunities for our students, who will be able to engage with some of the most inspiring, provocative, and groundbreaking thinkers in the world.”

“Judith Butler and Cornel West are important and bold thinkers in philosophy on issues of gender and race and social change, and we are so honored to host them at The New School for Social Research,” says Will Milberg, Dean and Professor of Economics at The New School for Social Research. “Their appointments as inaugural Presidential Visiting Scholars continue a rich tradition of welcoming luminary intellectuals—from Eric Hobsbawm to Jacques Derrida to bell hooks—to our university. I hope our Presidential Visiting Scholars will enjoy being part of our intellectual community, and I encourage New School faculty and students to take advantage of opportunities to engage with them.”

The Presidential Visiting Scholars are distinguished academics who join The New School faculty by special invitation for a short period of time. These scholars are known for their bold research, pedagogical innovation, and ground-breaking work in domains that are among The New School’s prominent strengths. Through their engagement, the Presidential Visiting Scholars support and extend The New School’s academic distinction and commitment to inclusive excellence.

Judith Butler
Judith Butler is well-known for their theories of the performative nature of gender and sex, and their work has been influential in the areas of critical theory, gender and sexuality studies, social and political thought, and literature. They are the Maxine Elliot Professor Emeritus in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley from 1993-2021.

Butler is the author of several books, including Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (1993), Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000), and, most recently, The Force of Non-Violence, (2020). Their books have been translated into more than 27 languages and they have received 13 honorary degrees.

From 2015-2020, they were a principal investigator of a Mellon Foundation Grant that supports the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs on whose board they now serve as co-chair. Butler is active in several human rights organizations, having served on the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and presently on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace.

They were the recipient of the Andrew Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities (2009-13), were elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2018, and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019.

Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.–a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

West is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary, where he teaches on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as courses in Philosophy of Religion, African American Critical Thought, and a wide range of subjects. He is the former Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.

West has written 20 books and has edited thirteen. He is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at nineteenth- and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies. He is a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, CNN, C-Span, and Democracy Now.

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