cover of book

Subject Lessons: Hegel, Lacan, and the Future of Materialism
edited by Russell Sbriglia and Slavoj Zizek
contributions by Todd McGowan, Alenka Zupancic, Adrian Johnston, Kathryn Van Wert, Nathan Gorelick, Molly Anne Rothenberg, Mladen Dolar, Andrew Cole and Borna Radnik
Northwestern University Press, 2020
eISBN: 978-0-8101-4139-1 | Paper: 978-0-8101-4137-7 | Cloth: 978-0-8101-4138-4
Library of Congress Classification B825.S879 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 146.3


Responding to the ongoing “objectal turn” throughout contemporary humanities and social sciences, the eleven essays in Subject Lessons present a sustained case for the continued importance—indeed, the indispensability—of the category of the subject for the future of materialist thought. 

Various neovitalist materialisms and realisms currently en vogue across a number of academic disciplines (from New Materialism and actor-network theory to speculative realism and object-oriented ontology) advocate a flat, horizontal ontology that renders the subject just another object amid a “democracy of objects.” By contrast, the dialectical materialism presented throughout Subject Lessons maintains that subjectivity is crucial to grasping matter’s “vibrancy” and continual “becoming” in the first place. Approaching matters through the frame of Hegel and Lacan, the contributors to this volume—many of whom stand at the forefront of contemporary Hegel and Lacan scholarship—agree with neovitalist thinkers that material reality is ontologically incomplete, in a state of perpetual becoming, yet they do so with one crucial difference: they maintain that this is the case not in spite of but rather because of the subject. 

Incorporating elements of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary and cultural studies, Subject Lessons contests the movement to dismiss the subject, arguing that there can be no truly robust materialism without accounting for the little piece of the Real that is the subject.

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