Dictionary of the Possible

Dictionary of the Possible

Over the course of a year Shifter in collaboration with Avi Alpert will host a series of public discussions, each concentrated on unraveling a keyword – a term that carries with it both a sense of urgency and agency in our present climate. By inviting artists, writers, activists, philosophers and others to propose terms and lead discussions, we will open up our editorial process to the motivations of others.

The yearlong series will culminate in Shifter’s 22nd issue Dictionary of the Possible. This dictionary will catalog the keywords taken up for discussion over the course of a year, accompanied by a list of questions provoked during each discussion. Rather than providing static definitions we envision a dictionary that continually incites discussion.


Saturday, Dec 6, 4-6 pm
The Bark Room at the New School
2 West 13th Street, Room M101
Discussion Leaders: Amanda Parmer, Avi Alpert & Rit Premnath
Recommended Reading:
Emily Apter, “Women’s Time” in Theory
Elizabeth Grosz, The Hetero and the Homo: the Sexual Ethics of Luce Irigaray, from “Engaging with Irigaray” edited by Carolyn Burke, Naomi Schor, and Margaret Whitford
Saskia Sassen in conversation with Homi Bhabha, Immigrants and Citizens in the Global City
Henry David Thoreau, Selections from “Walden”
Eve Sedgewick Kosofsky, Introduction: Axiomatic, from “Epistemology of the Closet”
Lauren Berlant and Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Holding Up the World, Part III: In the Event of Precarity

Previous Discussions:


Saturday, Nov 15, 4-6 pm
Discussion Leaders: Henry S. Turner & Edward Schexnayder
Recommended Reading:
Jacques Camatte, “Decline of the Capitalist Mode of Production or Decline of Humanity?”
Frederic William Maitland,“Moral Personality and Legal Personality”
Henry S. Turner,“Lessons From Literature for the Historian of Science (and Vice Versa): Reflections on ‘Form'”
George Bataille,“The Sacred Conspiracy”
Barbara Johnson,“Anthropomorphism in Lyric and Law”
Mollie Painter-Morland,“Rethinking Responsible Agency in Corporations: Perspectives from Deleuze & Guattari”
Henry S. Turner,“Toward an Analysis of the Corporate Ego: the Case of Richard Hakluyt”


Saturday, November 1st
Discussion Leaders: Mimi Winick & Thom Donovan
Recommended Reading:
Fred Moten “Black Mo’nin'” pg. 59, from Loss edited by David Eng
Jalal Toufic, The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster
Gauri Viswanathan, “Spectrality’s Secret Sharers: Occultism as (Post) Colonial Affect,” in Beyond the Black Atlantic: Relocating Modernization and Technology. Ed. Walter Goebel


Saturday, October 25th
Discussion Leaders: Shadi Harouni & Rit Premnath
Recommended Reading:
Julia Bryan-Wilson (p.4) & Okwui Enwezor (p.33) from Questionnaire on “The Contemporary” edited by Hal Foster
Comrades of Time by Boris Groys
Introduction to What Was Contemporary Art by Richard Meyer


Saturday, October 18th
Discussion Leaders: Gabriel Rockhill and Avi Alpert
Recommended Reading: Avant-Garde and Neo-Avant Garde: An Attempt to Answer the Certain Critics of the Avant-garde by Peter Bürger

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