Keywords and Key Concepts

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Keywords and Key Concepts
Bruce Robbins

Two former heads of the Literary Theory seminar as well as the present head (myself) and several of its key participants over the past years will be participating in a high-level theoretical discussion of key concepts at use in the humanities at the present time. The immediate occasion is the publication in September of a revised edition of Raymond Williams’ “Keywords,” with Jonathan Arac, former head of the Literary Theory seminar, as one of the leaders of the team revising it and one of the speakers. The plan is to set the Keywords team in conversation with the Political Concepts team, affiliated with Columbia (as well as Brown, The New School, and CUNY), represented by Akeel Bilgrami, the other former head of the Literary Theory seminar, as well as Etienne Balibar, our star speaker for the past years, and Ann Stoler, head of the Political Concepts collective. The point is simply to bring these two projects to each others’ attention and to stimulate conversation in the Columbia community about the usefulness of theoretical concepts and how that usefulness changes over time, as represented by the necessary changes to Williams’ classic of the 1970s.