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Power and Feminist Agency in Capitalism: Toward a New Theory of the Political Subject

The CEU Campus
Monday, May 6, 2019, 5:30 pm

The Department of Gender Studies

Public Lecture Series 2018-2019


In this talk, Leeb brings German critical theory and French psychoanalytic thought into conversation to analyze power and socio-political change in capitalist societies. She develops the idea of the moment of the limit, which refers to those moments when power structures fail to completely subordinate the working classes, women, and minorities, and transformative agency becomes a possibility. she also develops the idea of the political subject-in-outline, as the agent of socio-political change, which moves within the tension of a certain coherence, necessary for agency, and permanent openness, necessary to counter the exclusionary character of a political collectivity based on an identity. Finally, Leeb shows that we need both theory and practice for transformative agency, and that the suffering caused by capitalism is what spurs on social change.


Claudia Leeb is an Associate Professor in political theory in the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at Washington State University. She works at the intersection of early Frankfurt school critical theory, feminist theory, and psychoanalysis to address questions of power and socio-political change. She is the author of The Politics of Repressed Guilt (2018, Edinburgh University Press), Power and Feminist Agency in Capitalism (2017, Oxford University Press), Working-Class Women in Elite Academia (2004, Peter Lang Publisher), and Die Zerstörung des Mythos von der Friedfertigen Frau (1998, Peter Lang Publisher). She has articles published in Political Theory, Theory & Event, Perspectives on Politics, Constellations, Social Philosophy Today, The Good Society, The Berlin Journal of Critical Theory, Open Cultural Studies, Philosophy & Social Criticism, and Radical Philosophy Review. She has also contributed several book chapters to anthologies on Frankfurt school critical theory.