Speculative Research and Practice: Workshop with Steven Shaviro

Convened by Jennifer Gabrys

Speculative approaches to research and practice are emerging across multiple fields as a way to develop not simply descriptive engagements with topics, but rather to make propositions that invent new possibilities for research and practice. What types of speculation specifically materialize across these approaches, and what differences or similarities might be identified in the range of speculative projects underway? Steven Shaviro has discussed the ways in which a speculative realism developed through a Whiteheadian approach might be rather different from the speculative realism as articulated through object-oriented ontologies as outlined by Graham Harman and others. When working through a speculative approach, what are the contours or modalities of propositional engagements? Is emphasis placed on relationality, concrescence, processuality or essential objects? What are the consequences of thinking through and working with speculation in these different ways? In this seminar and in conversation with Steven Shaviro, we will think through what speculation enables along the lines of a Whiteheadian tactic of creating adventures for better problem-making; and how to cultivate approaches to speculation as a mode of research and practice tuned to invention. We will ask how these differing speculative approaches might specifically inform the work of the social sciences—and what difficulties might emerge in translating speculative philosophy to social and political concerns.


Steven Shaviro, “The Universe of Things,” Theory & Event 14, no. 3 (2011)

Steven Shaviro, “Without Criteria” in Without Criteria: Kant, Deleuze, Whitehead and Aesthetics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 1-12.

Bio: Dr. Steven Shaviro is DeRoy Professor at Wayne State University. He specializes in cultural theory, cultural studies, film and new media, postmodernism, and science fiction. Professor Shaviro received a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1981 and has since published widely on topics ranging from body horror to Whitehead. His books include Passion and Excess: Blanchot, Bataille, and Literary Theory, The Cinematic Body, Doom Patrols: A Theoretical Fiction About Postmodernism, Connected, Or, What It Means To Live in the Network Society, Without Criteria: Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Aesthetics, and, most recently, Post-Cinematic Affect.