Theory Underground
Tough on anti-intellectualism, tough on the causes of anti-intellectualism

24 May 2024  7:00pm

Event type: discussion

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Anti-intellectualism is rampant in the United States, and it is spreading. So much so that anti-intellectualism can now be counted as America’s greatest cultural export. Theory Underground’s European tour brings a cast of “American Idiots” to London as unofficial counter-ambassadors of this movement.  

What are the roots of today’s American anti-intellectualism? Commentators observing the rise of populism circa 2016 lamented the intellectual poverty of Donald Trump’s voting base and its demagogues. Today, a backlash against all sorts of ‘critical theories’ perversely leads to a proliferation of intellectual narratives which don’t stand the test of time. Attempts to combat anti-intellectualism thus often only breed more. 

Theory Underground’s David McKerracher, Ann Snelgrove-McKerracher, and Bryce Nance, together with their London colleagues Helen Rollins and Nina Power reflect on a variety of issues stemming from the current stalemates of intellectual life, inviting a discussion with the audience.

The event will also be the London launch of Theory Underground’s volume Underground Theory which brings together texts by 31 authors, spanning names from Slavoj Žižek to warehouse workers in the US. The volume reflects on education, politics, theory, and history, with an emphasis on critical media theory and the failures of the neoliberal university.

Theory Underground is a teaching, research, and publishing platform by and for dropout workers with earbuds and burnt out post-grads who want to understand “The Situation” as a means towards figuring out the conditions of possibility for The Good Life. The emphases of research at Theory Underground are critical media theory, critique of political economy, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, existentialism, and post-marxism.

  • David McKerracher

    David is the founder and organisers of Theory Underground.

  • Ann Snelgrove-McKerracher

    Ann is a co-instructor at Theory Underground. She is interested in the question of the ‘Good Life’.

  • Bryce Nance

    Bryce Nance always wanted to go to college. Not for a degree or career, but to be “a man of letters”.

  • Nina Power

    Nina Power is a philosopher and critic.

  • Helen Rollins

    Helen Rollins is a writer and filmmaker interested in the intersection between art and philosophy.

  • Underground Theory

    Underground Theory is a collection of timely and cutting edge essays by working class nobodies who are just trying to think, plus some big-named renegade academics who see the value in David McKerracher’s timenergy theory, Mikey (of The Dangerous Maybe blog)’s working class education work, or the general idea of radical grass roots experiments that have institutional support.

  • Timenergy by David McKerracher

    Why are we so tired all the time? Why do our attempts to change habits and accomplish goals continuously fall apart? Why is everyone so anxious, stressed, and lonely?