Andrew Pendakis

Faculty of Humanities

Andrew Pendakis

English Language & Literature
Assistant Professor of Theory and Rhetoric

Office: GLN 155

Current Courses
ENGL 2P70: Introduction to Literary Theory (D2)
ENGL 3P28: Rhetorical Analysis
WRIT 4P10: Language and Discourse: Theory and Practice (D3)

B.A. English, McMaster University
M.A. Theory and Criticism, University of Western Ontario

Ph.D English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University
Post-Doctoral Degree in English and Film Studies, University of Alberta

Research Trajectory

My research takes as its focus the stories told by contemporary societies about their own political pasts and possibilities. I am particularly interested in the history and theory of modern centrism, a discourse grounded in the idea that the middle or centre is the ideal site for the elaboration of political imagination and practice. Critique of Centrist Reason--the monograph I am presently working on--will not only map the bewildering semiotic density of the centre--one which ranges from age-old geometrical figures of metaphysical stability to contemporary ideas about the centre as a network of flexible exchanges--but simultaneously critique the way our cultural obsession with "middle ground" potentially forecloses alternative kinds of political possibility and practice. 

Though my own disciplinary origins are in literature, I did my Master's Degree at the Centre for Theory and Criticsm where I became deeply interested in philosophy.  There I wrote a Master's Thesis on the trope within European philosophy of thought as danger, one I traced through Plato, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Lacan. Later, at McMaster University, I wrote my Doctoral Thesis on 20th C liberal rhetoric (in Britain and America). My project was a discourse analysis of The Economist magazine from 1945-2008 one which forced me into a close encounter with the canonical figures of liberalism (Smith, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Bagehot) as well as political economy (and economic history). These were unexpected twists in the trajectory of my research, new passions which seemed to run against the flow of older attachments and interests. 

Though my research takes place at the intersection of philosophy, critical theory, and discourse analysis my origins methodologically lie in Hegel and in the line of thinking that passes through the proper names of Marx, Adorno, and Jameson. I see in this "dialectical" tradition a remarkable legacy which tries to balance five very different imperatives. All at the same time these thinkers aim at beauty (the adventure of a sentence), rigour (a genuine fidelity to conceptual precision), breadth (an omnivorousness of reading), skepticism (a kind of principled distance from every proposition) and justice (a tendency to see the world from the perspective of the suffering and the oppressed). Someone like Walter Benjamin, alive on the outskirts of institutions, swept up by the speed and danger of history, found a way to balance all five of these values while never ceasing to remember that its life and our responsibility to living it intensely that renders thought relevant in the first place. "Unalleviated consciousness of negativity holding fast to the possibility of what is better": this is how Adorno once framed the task of critical thought. 

Students! Students are engines: it is precisely their energy, curiosity, and hopefulness that makes the university a space of political possibility. I'm delighted to work with students interested broadly in critical theory, continental philosophy, or discourse analysis. Projects of particular interest to me are: discourse analyses of cultural phenomena ranging from Thatcherism to the suburbs; rhetorical analyses of contemporary economic realities (unemployment, austerity, neoliberal subjectivity, finance, entrepreneurialism, flexible factories, etc.); inquiries into the economic dimensions of literature; projects interested in the repressed political or libidinal economies of classical modern philosophy or what we might call philosophy as discourse (especially Machiavelli, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel); specific close encounters with Sartre, De Beauvoir, Althusser, Deleuze, Badiou, Negri, Malabou, Fanon, Zizek, etc. 

There is no separating ideas from questions about justice and the good life: in class I try to get my students to think from the perspective not just of everything de-potentiated by the shape of the world as it is, but from the perspective, so easy to forget, of those forced to live life on the margins of their own ambitions (refugees, the unemployed, victims of abuse, the poor, the addicted, etc.). From the echoes that still arrive to us from the historical violence of colonialism to the social and political possibilites interrupted by our attachments to addictive new technologies the task is to encourage students to ask existentially intense, dialectically precise questions about the world they live in. 

Classes I hope to live long enough to teach at least once include: The Rhetoric of Economics, Psychoanalytic Theory From Freud to Lacan, Marxist Cultural Theory, On The Political Biography, Cultures of Post-Industrialism, The Corporation as Discourse, Introduction to Dialectics, 20th C British Political Rhetoric, 20th C American Political Rhetoric, Cultures of Industrialism, Representations of Suburbia, Rhetorics of Philosophy, Cultures of Business, On Finance Journalism, Liberal Culture from Locke to Jefferson....

I have enduring peripheral interests/obsessions in the politics and history of Latin America and China, the films of Hitchcock, Malick and Tarr, as well as good Italian, Korean, and Chinese food. I spent two years teaching at the University of Bonn in Germany and one semester teaching at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, a school with which I still have close personal and professional connections as a Research Fellow. Feel free to drop in and discuss any or all of the above anytime. 


Courses Taught

Thatcherite Culture (University of Alberta)

Introduction to Postmodernism (Shanghai University of Finance and Economics)

European Intellectual History (Shanghai University of Finance and Economics) 

Representations of Suburbia (University of Bonn)


Selected Recent Publications

Co-editor (with Martin Kreiswirth and Imre Szeman), The John Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism, electronic edition, ongoing.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Dialectics of the (Swing) Voter." Brock Review (2016).Forthcoming. Print.  

Pendakis, Andrew. "Four Theses on Dialectics." Globalization, Culture, and Energy. Henan University Press (2016). Forthcoming. Print. 

Pendakis, Andrew. "Parts in Wholes (And Wholes in Pieces): The Myriad Afterlives of Culture." Criticism (2016). Forthcoming. Web and Print. 

Pendakis, Andrew. "Sovereigns of Risk: The Birth of the Ontopreneur." South Atlantic Quarterly (2015). Forthcoming. Web and Print.

Co-editor (and intro) Contemporary Marxist Theory: An Anthology New York: Continuum Press (2014). Print.

Co-editor, "The Politics of Alain Badiou." Special issue of Politics and Culture (2014).  Web.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Corporation." Fueling Culture: Politics, History, Energy. Ed. Imre Szeman, Jennifer Wenzel and Patricia Yaeger. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, (2016). Forthcoming. Print.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Alain Badiou and the Problem of Truth." Chinese Social Sciences Today.(2016). Forthcoming. Web and Print. (Translated into Mandarin by the publisher).

Pendakis, Andrew. "Canadian Cultural Studies" (with Imre Szeman). Oxford Handbook to Canadian Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2015).  Forthcoming. Print.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Jean-Paul Sartre." Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Post-Colonialism. Eds. Sangeeta Ray adn Henry Schwarz. London: Wiley-Blackwell (2015). Forthcoming. Print.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Ontology in the Age of Oil: Or, How to Run a Pipeline Through Heidegger." Petrocultures: Oil, Energy and Culture. Ed. Imre Szeman and Sheena Wilson. Montreal-Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press (2015). Forthcoming. Print.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Spectres of Form: Letters From an Absent Sovereign." Public. Issue 47. (2014). Web and Print.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Politics in the Wake of Actually Existing Zeal: Badiou and the Question of Political Affect" Politics and Culture. Issue 2 (2014). Web.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Frugal Powers: Detournement in the Age of Austerity." ti<. Vol 3, No 1. (2014). Web. 

Pendakis, Andrew. "Visions of Eternity: Plastic and the Ontology of Oil" (with Amanda Boetzkes). E-Flux. Journal # 47. (2013). Web.

Co-editor (with Sheena Wilson), "Sighting Oil." Special issue of Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies 3.2 (2012). Web and Print.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Franco Berardi and the Future of Capitalism: "We Must Run Along the Line of the Catastrophe" The Economy as Cultural System: Theory, Capitalism, Crisis. Ed. Todd Dufresne. New York: Continuum Press. (2012). Print.

Pendakis, Andrew.  "Alain Badiou." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Eds. Michael Groden, Martin Krieswirth and Imre Szeman. 3rd Edition. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Pres. (2012). Print.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Moderation and its Discontents". Mediations 26.1 (2012). Web.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Poor Plenum: Veblen and the Economics of Philosophy." Politics and Culture Issue 1. (2012). Web.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Joking Seriously: The Artful Political Science of Besti Flokkurnis." Meditations 26.1 (2012). Web.

Pendakis, Andrew. "This is Not a Pipeline: Thoughts on the Politico-Aesthetics of Oil" (with Ursula Biemann) Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies 3.2 (2012). Web.

Pendakis, Andrew. "Disparities of Flatness," Criticism: Vol. 51: Iss. 1, Article 9. (2009). Print.