“Empire:  A Retrospective”


The Second Biannual Faculty and Graduate Students Colloquium

Organized by

The Graduate Program for Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh

November 18-21 2010

 This conference will address the 10th anniversary of the publication of  Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s seminal book Empire, the first volume of a trilogy that saw its completion in October 2009 with the publication of the third volume, Commonwealth.  The second volume, Multitudes, came out in 2004.

However, we are not italicizing the word “Empire” in the conference title because we want to address the questions raised by the books much more than glossing the texts themselves.  The response in the academic world to the trilogy has been extremely fertile, causing, among other things, a rediscovery of Italian political thought, a questioning of historical and cultural categories related to postmodernity, and the reframing of the political stakes implicit in theoretical interventions. The dialogue that other critics have opened with Negri and Hardt – sometimes sympathetic, sometimes skeptical or outright polemical – will also be a fundamental part of the conference.  Figures such as Jameson and Zizek are only the tip of the iceberg. Furthermore, current historical developments in the international arena, also directly  addressed in the trilogy, have pushed us in the last decade us to reflect once  more on the political and cultural form “empire”, and  we feel there is no better moment for this discussion to take place.


We are looking for graduate student papers that will address the following topics:



We need to receive 500- words abstracts by April 20, 2010.  All submissions should be attached via e-mail to the following address, with names and university affiliations.  The papers will be rendered anonymous for the review process.


We will give our responses by May 10.  Those graduate student participants chosen from outside the University of Pittsburgh will receive a $300 scholarship from the Graduate Program for Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh in order to help defray traveling costs. 

Both Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have agreed to give the final keynote address. 

The format of the conference will include 4 panels, each anchored by an external, invited scholar able to address authoritatively the issues at hand.

We are looking forward to receive graduate student submissions at your earliest convenience.