Theory Conspiracy provides a state-of-the-art collection that takes stage on the meeting and/or battlegrounds between conspiracy theory and theory-asconspiracy. By deliberately scrambling the syntax—conspiracy theory cum theory conspiracy—it seeks to open a set of reflections on the articulation between theory and conspiracy that addresses how conspiracy might rattle the sense of theory as such. In this sense, the volume also inevitably stumbles on the recent debates on postcritique. The suspicion that our ways of reading in the humanities have been far too suspicious, if not paranoid, has gained considerable attention in a humanities continuously questioned as superfluous at best and leftist and dangerous at worst. The chapters in this volume all approach this problematic from different angles. It features clear engaging writing by a set of contributors who have published extensively on questions of paranoia, conspiracy theory, and/or the state of theory today. This collection will appeal to readers interested in conspiracy theories, critical theory, and the future of humanities.
Theory Conspiracy: An Introduction
Frida Beckman and Jeffrey R. Di Leo
PART 1: Backgrounds
1. Being Catiline: Sex, Lies, and Coup d’états in the Liberal Order
Paul Allen Miller
2. Unsettling History: How an Egyptian Conspiracy Theory Turns Time into Place
3. The Kristeva File
4. A Portrait of Baudelaire as a Conspiracy Theorist
PART 2: Contemporary
5. Conspiracy and Ressentiment: The Vexed Politics of the Gilets Jaunes
6. Ugly Freedoms and Insurrectionary Conspiracies
Elisabeth R. Anker
7. Don’t Look Up, Birds Aren’t Real: Comedy and Conspiracy
Sophia A. McClennen
PART 3: Critical
8. Has Conspiracy Theory Run Out of Steam?
Clare Birchall and Peter Knight
9. A Reparative Chronotope of Critique
10. Conspiring with Theory: Popper, Antitheory, and the Epistemology of Ignorance
Jeffrey R. Di Leo
11. A Sketch of Conspiratorial Reason
'Conspiracy theories are shallow but run deep—borne of antiquity, perfected in modernity, and ubiquitous today as virtual intellectualisms of the most paranoid kind. They are a perverse philosophy of history about who controls what, or what controls whom. They concern less the 'Other' than the 'They.' For all these reasons and more, this volume is ever so urgent. In their impressively erudite and lively essays, the authors convened here demonstrate that committed reading is the only means we have to understand conspiracy theory in all of its bewildering plurality. They show you how to think conspiracies from within in order to critique them from without. Essential reading is an understatement to describe Theory Conspiracy.'
Andrew Cole, Princeton University, USA
'This highly engaging, original and timely collection of essays confronts the problems of living in an era of theory overload, a world in which images and figures cohere into elaborate accounts of how we live now. Even if those accounts don’t match reality, they nevertheless expose something of the Real. The events explored in this book—from Trump to Gilets Jaunes—are more worthy of critique, more fascinating, and more illuminating than the banalities of actuality. Theory Conspiracy is as entertaining as it is significant.'
Claire Colebrook, Penn State University, USA