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About us

The London Critical Theory Summer School is a major event in the calendar of activities for the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. It was established by Professor Costas Douzinas, founder of BIH and a professor in Birkbeck's Department of Law, in 2010.

Since that time, it has become one of the world's leading summer schools, combining theoretical thought at an advanced critical level with a sense of the political urgency of the times. Now under the directorship of Professor Jacqueline Rose and Professor Esther Leslie, it provides an intensive two-week programme of study for an international group of students and early career academics with acclaimed critical thinkers from around the world.  

We are very grateful to the Open Society University Network for generously sponsoring five places at the 2022 Summer School which are available for students from member organisations. 


"The key to our Summer School is that theory is engaged theory, that is, its aim is to show how theory, and the necessity of sustained reflection which it demands and enacts, can contribute to progressive, dissident thought and being in the modern world. In short, at a time when the idea of resistance has become more pressing, the role of critical theory in elaborating a more just future has never felt more necessary."

Jacqueline Rose, Co-Director, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and Professor of Humanities at Birkbeck.

"Everyday life is full of shocks and hurts, possibilities that open up and those that suddenly close, even if these are unequally distributed. The two weeks of the Summer School provide a certain relief - a time to think deeply, to rage and turn rage into concept, to express and exchange hopes and fears, while learning together and from each other."

Esther Leslie, Co-Director, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck.


Our eminent list of tutors have included:

  • Etienne Balibar, Emeritus Professor at Paris X Nanterre and Anniversary Chair of Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London
  • Wendy Brown, UC Berkeley
  • Susan Buck-Morss, CUNY Graduate Center, NYC
  • Drucilla Cornell, Professor at Rutgers University in Political Science and a Professor Extraordinaire at the University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Costas Douzinas, Professor of Law at Birkbeck, University of London
  • Stephen Frosh, Professor of Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London
  • Paul Gilroy, King's College, London
  • Lewis Gordon, Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut
  • Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor of Human Rights and Political Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London
  • David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Derek Hook, Duquesne University
  • Esther Leslie, Professor in Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London
  • Catherine Malabou, Kingston University
  • Laura Mulvey, Senior Professor of Film Studies at Birkbeck, University of London
  • Jacqueline Rose, Professor of Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London
  • Boaventura de Sousa Santos, University of Coimbra and University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Eyal Weizman, Professor of Spatial and Visual Culture at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Forensic Architecture, Research Agency at Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Slavoj Žižek, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities

Central to its success is the presence of the participants from various parts of the world. Students joining the 2020 Summer School came from 25 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, UK and the USA. For the 2021 online Summer School, the list expanded to include Bangladesh, Chile, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.