Aesthetics and the Critique of Political Theology

The project Aesthetics and the Critique of Political Theology examines works of art and modes of aesthetic reflection as vehicles for critique of political theology and draws connections among European political-theological traditions, the critical work of Frankfurt and twentieth-century French and Italian thinkers, and Latin American aesthetic practices and political upheavals.

In addition to fostering faculty and graduate student exchanges, the new cooperation is developing bilingual graduate and undergraduate courses on political theology in Latin American and European contexts that will be offered as part of Northwestern's Critical Theory Certificate Program.


Peter Fenves is Professor of German, Comparative Literary Studies, Jewish Studies and Critical Theory at NU. He has published widely on critical theory and political theory, including his monograph, The Messianic Reduction: Walter Benjamin and the Shape of Time (Stanford University Press, 2010).


Eduardo Sabrovsky is Professor at the Instituto de Humanidades, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile. His research and teaching focus on political theology and Chilean politics. His publications include De lo extraordinario: Nominalismo y Modernidad, which examines the political-theological problem of “the exception,” and Chile, tiempos interesantes, an analysis of the current Chilean situation.  

Visiting Pre-Doctoral Fellow:                              

Rodrigo Farías Rivas studied Psychology and Philosophy at the Pontificia Universidad 
de Chile. He’s a Clinical Psychologist and graduated from Philosophy with a
thesis dealing with the possibility of a theoretical continuity between Wittgenstein and
Lacan. In 2016 he began his doctoral studies in the joint Ph.D. Programme in Philosophy 
offered by Diego Portales University in Chile and Leiden University in the Netherlands,
with a research project dealing with Nietzsche and Lacan. More precisely, Rodrigo is
currently interested in conceiving a feasible concurrence between nihilism as a historical
logic of denaturalization and
 jouissance as the ultimate force driving unconscious
subjectivity. Rodrigo can be contacted at

The group works closely together with the Mellon project Circulating Anarchisms and Marxisms in the Andes at Northwestern and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, and the Mellon project "Technologies of Critique" led by Paul North at Yale and Willy Thayer at the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Chile.

Complementary workshops, lectures, seminars, and roundtables are organized and offered in conjunction with:

Background Reading:

Mouffe, Chantal. "Carl Schmitt and the Paradox of Liberal Democracy." In Chantal Mouffe, ed., The Challenge of Carl Schmitt, 38-53. London: Verso, 1999.

Sabrovsky, Eduardo. "Carl Schmitt, enemigo de sí mismo." Revista de Filosofia 29.47 (2017): 551- 574.

Sabrovsky, Eduardo. "Philosophy in Latin America: Some Introductory Remarks." Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 45.1 (2014): 1-11.

Schmitt, Carl. Political Theology, trans. George Schwab. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Strauss, Leo. "Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political." In Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab, 97-122. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.


  • November 10-13, 2017 | Northwestern
    Professor Sabrovsky participated in Transformations of Critical Theory, the inaugural workshop of the Critical Theory in the Global South Project. On November 13, he and Professor Fenves led a teach-in for graduate students on the theme "Carl Schmitt: As his Own Most Enemy."

Professor Sabrovsky convenes the "Carl Schmitt: As his Own Most Enemy" teach-in

Professor Fenves responds to Professor Sabrovsky

  • November, 2017
    The translation of Professor Sabrovsky’s book, De lo extraordinario, is underway. Javier Burdman, doctoral candidate in Political Science at Northwestern, is undertaking the translation.

  • March 20-24, 2017 | Santiago, Chile
    Professor Fenves visited the Instituto de Humanidades at Universidad Diego Portales (UDP) in Chile to initiate the Mellon collaboration with Professor Sabrovsky.

Professor Fenves at UDP