Critical Theory & Philosophy

Reading Guides + Reading Group

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Critical Theory & Philosophy Reading Group

Book Oblivion was founded with the idea that we would rescue books from oblivion and return them to the center of culture and conversation. One of the ways we do that is through our reading groups. Our Critical Theory & Philosophy Reading Group is designed for life-long adult learners wanting to read and grow outside of academia in an online group setting. We are systematically reading and discussing the best minds in literary theory and philosophy. This group includes written discussion forums, live video discussions, and access to a private Facebook group where we continue the conversation all month long.

We read one thinker each month with a particular focus on a single text -- the length of an article, single chapter, or an entire book. Each reading includes an introduction to the author and the work that synthesizes the writer's argument in relation to other works from our discussions. Additionally, there is a carefully curated list of further reading and resources included for each thinker. This list includes other works written by the selected author, secondary books, and online articles related to the author or subject. If applicable, there will also be a list of recommended fiction that directly or indirectly explores each thinker's ideas. We spend one month reading and engaging with a single thinker and meet together live in an online video chat on the last Saturday of the month. Participants are also invited to join our private Facebook group to engage with the material and one another throughout the month.


"Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher and philosophy begins in wonder."


2018 Reading List

  • January: Friedrich Nietzsche: Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense
  • February: Henri Bergson: Matter and Memory
  • March: Sigmund Freud: Creative Writers and Daydreamers
  • April: Martin Heidegger: What is Metaphysics?
  • May: Gaston Bachelard: Water and Dreams
  • June: Jean Paul Sartre - Nausea
  • July: Albert Camus - The Myth of Sysiphus
  • August: Kenneth Burke - Counter-Statement
  • September: Jacques Lacan - The Mirror Phase
  • October: Simone de Beauvoir - The Second Sex
  • November: Roland Barthes - Mythologies
  • December: Hannah Arendt - The Orgins of Totalitarianism
  • 2019 Reading List

  • January: Carl G. Jung - Approaching the Unconscious
  • February: Marshall McLuhan - Understanding Media
  • March: Maurice Merleau-Ponty - Phenomenology of Perception
  • April: Helene Cixous - The Laugh of the Medusa
  • May: Guy Debord - Society of the Spectacle
  • June: Jacques Derrida - Structure, Sign, and Play
  • July: Michel Foucault - The Subject and Power
  • August: Julia Kristeva - From One Identity to an Other
  • September: Paul Ricoeur - Approaching the Unconscious
  • October: Jean Francois Lyotard - What is Postmodernism?
  • November: Jean Baudrillard - The Precession of Simulacra
  • Decemeber: Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari - What is Philosophy?
  • 2020 Reading List

  • January: Jurgen Habermas - Modernity versus Postmodernity
  • February: Slavoj Zizek: Looking Awry
  • March: Paul Virilio - Open Sky
  • April: Gregory Ulmer - Electronic Monuments
  • May: Walter J. Ong - Language as Hermeneutic
  • To be continued..



      Jacques Lacan
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      2018 Readings
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    Your Instructor

    Jessica S. Manuel
    Jessica S. Manuel

    Jessica S. Manuel is a reader, writer, and college professor. Her work explores the intersections of contemporary theories and philosophies with classic and contemporary literature.

    She earned her B.A. in English with an emphasis in Critical Theory and a minor in Theological Studies from The Master's University. She went on to earn her M.A. in English (Literature) from San Francisco State University where she studied 19th-20th Century Literatures with a special studies emphasis in Critical Theory. After examining the intersections of psychoanalysis and contemporary literature, she wrote her thesis on Haruki Murakami's use of the unconscious in Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

    After earning her M.A., she continued her education at University of California, San Diego where she studied and earned certificates in teaching adult learners, literature, and online teaching and learning. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design at Clemson University.

    Jessica offers online adult literature courses and reading groups for life-long learners through Book Oblivion Academy and also teaches writing and literature courses at the college level.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    When does the course start and finish?
    This reading group meets once a month to read and discuss each thinker. Participants can join at any time and will remain a part of the group and have full access to the materials and live discussions for as long as their subscription is active.
    What if I can't meet for live discussions?
    Our participants reside all over the world and many are working professionals or students with difficult schedules. The live discussions are the heart of our group because of the various backgrounds and experiences each reader brings to the table, but the discussions are not mandatory. All discussions are recorded and uploaded into the course for later viewing for all course participants.
    Who is this reading group for?
    Most of our participants are uniquely motivated to read and learn. Some are newly retired, and others are working working professionals, college professors and administrators, business owners, graduate and undergraduate students. All walks of life are welcome. The one thing each person has in common is that they are in search of a like-minded community of readers that share a humble intellectual curiosity for ideas.

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