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Alex Dubilet

Senior Lecturer/Dual Appointment, Political Science

Alex Dubilet is a Senior Lecturer in the Departments of English and Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014.

Dubilet works across the fields of contemporary continental philosophy, critical theory, political theology, philosophy of religion, modern and contemporary political theory, history and theory of Christianity mysticism, critical study of secularity and secularism, and film and film theory.

Against the two dominant ethical paradigms – Emmanuel Levinas’s ethics of the other and Michel Foucault’s ethics of self-cultivation – Dubilet’s first book, The Self-Emptying Subject: Kenosis and Immanence, Medieval to Modern (Fordham, 2018), theorizes an ethics of self-emptying, or kenosis, one that reveals the immanence of an impersonal and dispossessed life without a why. Rather than align immanence with the enclosures of the subject, The Self-Emptying Subject engages the history of Christian mystical theology, modern philosophy, and contemporary theories of the subject to rethink immanence as what precedes and exceeds the very difference between the (human) self and the (divine) other, between the subject and transcendence. By arguing that transcendence operates on life in secular as well as religious domains, the book challenges a dominant distribution of concepts within contemporary theoretical discourse, which associates transcendence exclusively with religion and theology and immanence exclusively with modern secularity and philosophy.

Dubilet is currently working on two solo projects: 1) an exploration of the way contemporary continental philosophy’s theorizations of immanence, the world, and desubjectivation can transform critical debates on secularity and secularism; 2) a reexamination of the persistent critical import of early 20th century debates on political theology, focused especially on the thought of Georges Bataille.

Dubilet is also engaged in several on-going collaborative projects: 1) an edited volume reevaluating the interrelation of German Idealism and political theology (with Kirill Chepurin); 2) a reassessment of Russian 19th century intellectual thought through the lens of contemporary philosophical concepts, especially those of immanence, nothingness, and utopia (with Kirill Chepurin); and 3) a set of theoretical engagements with the films of Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne that explore the nature of work, attachment, and futurity in post-‘89 Europe (with Joshua Craze).

Dubilet is also a co-translator into English (with Jessie Hock) of François Laruelle’s General Theory of Victims (Polity Press, 2015) and A Biography of Ordinary Man: On Authorities and Minorities (Polity Press, 2018).

Some of his published work is available at: https://vanderbilt.academia.edu/AlexDubilet

He is currently a co-organizer of the Contemporary in Theory Working Group at Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University.

Dubilet teaches courses such as “Critical Theory,” “Special Topics in Critical Theory” “Problems in Literature: Living an Ethical Life,” and “Problems in Literature: Rhetoric of Revolution.” He also teaches political theory courses in the Department of Political Science, including “Radical Political Theory,” “Contemporary Political Theory,” “Power and Resistance,” “Politics of Capitalism,” and “Religion and Politics.”