Marx’s Capital: The Basement Tapes
The 2015 Institute on Culture and Society (ICS)
Sponsored by the Marxist Literary Group (MLG)
June 24-28, 2015, Georgetown University
The first volume of Capital was the only one completed by Marx and published during his lifetime. Volumes II and III were published by Engels, some ten years after Marx’s death, from unfinished manuscripts; Theories of Surplus Value was published after Engels’s death. Volume I has, with good reason, assumed renewed currency in the years since the global financial crisis of 2007-8, but the “later” volumes — written before Volume I was prepared for publication — have remained largely the province of specialists. This is unfortunate, not only because these volumes begin to fill in the system of which Volume I is a sketch, and not only because some of Capital’s alleged blind spots and deficiencies are preemptively addressed there, but because some of Marx’s most potent and controversial thinking on political economy emerges in these pages. In a departure from recent practice, this year’s Institute on Culture and Society will center on an intensive series of reading groups on the posthumous volumes of Marx’s Capital. Accepted papers may take the form of considered responses to some aspect of Capital, to be circulated in advance of the Institute but intended as preparation for discussion in the reading groups rather than as material for direct discussion. Alternatively, papers may take the more traditional form of round-table presentations of 5-8 minutes, on any topic that bears substantially on issues relevant to Marxist theory and practice, from Heraclitus and the dialectic to race and capital accumulation. Both kinds of papers will be listed on the program by presenter’s name and presentation title. Additionally, the Institute welcomes the participation of non-presenters. In addition to roundtable proposals and paper proposals of both kinds, we invite proposals to lead reading sessions discussing particular sections of the posthumous volumes of Capital, or questions, issues, problems, or connections raised by them. The aim of this Institute is not only to study these volumes in depth, but to move them out of the exclusive province of specialists and to open them up to a diversity of approaches, interpretations, valences, and relevancies. In recent years articulations with feminism and queer theory have become a particular strength of the ICS, and engagements with research on race, postcolonial history, and other vectors of inequality are warmly encouraged. Please send reading group session proposals (title, section or sections to be discussed, discussion facilitator or facilitators, and a very brief justification), paper proposals of either kind (title and 250-word abstract), roundtable proposals (title, presenters’ paper proposals, and a very brief justification), or intention to participate without presenting to MLGICS2015@gmail.com by February 1, 2015.