Gauss Seminar in Criticism Discusses “Neoliberalism’s Frankenstein”

September 21, 2018

The first Gauss Seminar in Criticism in the academic year 2018-19 will be presented by Professor of Political Science Wendy Brown (UC Berkeley) whose scholarship focuses on neoliberalism and the political formations to which it gives rise. The seminars under the general title of “Neoliberalism’s Frankenstein,” will comprise a lecture on Tuesday, October 2 and a seminar on Wednesday October 3.

Tuesday October 2, 5:00 PM – Betts Auditorium

Lecture: “Society Must be Dismantled”: Markets, Morals, and Freedom

The recent resurgence of the right wing in the West is often said to be a rebellion against neoliberalism. This lecture challenges that idea by uncovering the roots of libertarian, xenophobic, patriarchal, nationalist thinking within neoliberalism itself. Orderly, pacified, rule-abiding subjects secured by patriarchal families and free markets, themselves subtended by lean, strong states—this was the neoliberal dream. But white male supremacism helped turn that dream into a nightmare.

Wednesday October 3, 12:00 PM – Reservation required

Seminar: “Speaking Cakes and Whispering Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Undoing Democracy with Religious Liberty and Free Speech”

The seminar extends the argument in Professor Brown’s Gauss Seminar from the previous day that neoliberalism aims to replace “society” and democracy with markets and morals. It examines two recent Supreme Court decisions: Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and National Institute of Family Life Advocates, DBA NIFLA, et al. vs. Beccera, Attorney General of California. It focuses on the Supreme Court majority’s use of religious liberty and free speech, entwined with market discourse, to challenge equality policies as “totalitarian.”

The seminar is open primarily to members of the Princeton University community. Remaining spaces will open to the public a week before the seminar. To reserve a spot, please email both Andrew Cole ( and Jeannine Pitarresi ( The location will be communicated to all registrants several days before the seminar.

Wendy Brown is the Class of 1936 First Chair Professor of Political Science at University of California-Berkeley. She works on the history of political theory, feminist theory, contemporary critical theories of law, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Continental theory, and contemporary American political culture. Her books, which have been translated into many languages, include Manhood and Politics: A Feminist Reading in Political Theory (1988), States of Injury: Power and Freedom in late Modernity (1995), Politics Out of History (2001), Edgework: Essays on Power and Knowledge (2005), Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire (2006), and Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2010).

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