2019 Annual Graduate Student Symposium


Multi-Faith Centre, 569 Spadina Ave

Main Activity Hall, room 208


Keynote Lectures by

"Freedom Now Suite" by Rinaldo Walcott, University of Toronto (Thurs April 18th)

"Inexpressible Opacity: Theodicy, Sad Affects, and Dissimulation" by Anthony Paul Smith, La Salle University (Fri April 19th)

Negativity, Pessimisms, and Sad Affects in the Study of Religion
The Graduate Student Association at the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion invites students, scholars, and members of the public to a graduate symposium that explores the significance and relevance of forms of theoretical negativity for the study of religion. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, 18 April 2019

1:00 PM – 2:45 PM

Session 1: Negativity and the Political

  • Bitter Privation: Arendt, Heidegger, and the Boundaries of Politics
    Kiegan Irish (Institute for Christian Studies) 
  • How Do Action, Religious Desire and the Constitution of Public Space Inform Each Other?

Galina Școlnic (University of Windsor)

  • Against Positivity: Deterritorialize Deleuze

Jacob Vangeest (University of Western Ontario)

  • Altar to an Unknown God

Denson Staples (Harvard University)

3:00 – 5:00 PM

Session 2:  Antiblackness and Antisociality

  • Black Paul: An Afro-pessimistic Reading Of Galatians 6:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:27-28

JP Sloan (Duke University)

  • “I Believe in Afro-Pessimism:” The Sincere Affect of Negativity in College Policy Debate
    Timothy Byram (Yale Divinity School) 
  • Towards a Trans Pessimism
    Siobhan Kelly (Harvard University) 
  • The Things You Would Mourn if Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera Appeared at Your Séance
    Adrián Emmanuel Hernández-Acosta (Harvard University)

5:30-6:30 PM

Keynote: “Freedom Now Suite”

Rinaldo Walcott (University of Toronto)

Friday, 19 April 2019

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

Session 3: On the Matter of Affect

  • Reparatively Re-reading Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick
    Bevin Blaber (University of Chicago) 
  • The Turn From Affect: Spinoza’s Reasoned Approach

Allison Murphy (University of Toronto)


  • From Affect (Back) to Expression: Reading Schaefer with Merleau-Ponty

Andrew Tebbutt (University of Toronto)

1:30 – 3:00 PM

Session 4: Critical Negativity and Psychoanalysis

  • Goethe, Wagner, and the Frankfurt School: Thinking about German-Jewish Dialogue at the End of History

Emily Jane Pascoe (University of Toronto)

  • Walter Benjamin and the ‘End’ of History: Theology, Philosophy, and the Impossibility of ‘Truth’ as a Possible Hermeneutic in the Study of Religion

Daniel Theodore Fishley (McGill)

  • Shattered Subjects and Illusions of Love: Could Negativity Be Our Redemption?

Lucie Robathan  (McGill)


3:30 – 5:00 PM

Session 5: Logics of ‘Non’

  • Acheiropoieta: On Stillness, Conversion, Sight

Kyle Thomas Hinton (Independent)

  • Unfolding Dissymmetry: On the Restricted Usage of Non-Philosophy

Jeremy Smith (University of Western Ontario)

  • Pessimist Grammars: This, That, and the World

Tim Snediker (UC Santa Barbara)

5:30-6:30 PM

Keynote:  “Inexpressible Opacity: Theodicy, Sad Affects, and Dissimulation”

Anthony Paul Smith (La Salle University)