Literary and Critical Theory Slavoj Žižek
by
Jamil Khader
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 September 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0080

Introduction

Slavoj Žižek was born on March 21, 1949, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in the former Yugoslavia. Žižek studied philosophy and sociology as an undergraduate student and completed a master of arts degree in philosophy in 1975 at the University of Ljubljana, writing a 400-page thesis on French structuralism. In 1981, he earned his first doctor of arts degree in philosophy, writing his dissertation on German idealism. Four years later, Žižek successfully defended his second doctoral dissertation titled, “Philosophy Between the Symptom and the Fantasy,” a Lacanian reading of Hegel, Marx, and Kripke, which he completed under the direction of Lacan’s son in law, Jacques-Alain Miller, in Paris. Žižek is one of the most prominent members of the Ljubljana Lacanian School, a group of theorists who have been affiliated with the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis in Ljubljana since the 1970s. Žižek also cofounded the Liberal Democratic Party in Slovenia and ran as its candidate in the first multiparty presidential elections in the country in 1990, narrowly missing office. Later, he completely broke with Slovene public space and became engaged in global radical Leftist politics. He is currently a researcher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana; the International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in London; Eminent Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; returning faculty member of the European Graduate School; and visiting professor at the German Department of New York University. Since 1991 he has also held visiting positions at different universities in the United States and United Kingdom. He is also the editor of three major book series, including WO ES WAR, Short Circuits, and SIC Series. In 2012, Foreign Policy listed Žižek as one of its top influential 100 global thinkers, and in 2018 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid, Spain). Ever since the publication of his first book in English, The Sublime Object of Ideology, in 1989, Žižek has become known as one of the most provocative and innovative philosophers in the world. Žižek has developed a challenging dialectical materialist philosophical system that appropriates the late Lacan to reload and retrieve Hegel through Marxism, Christianity, and quantum physics in order to describe the structure of reality (ontology) and to articulate the basis for collective revolutionary change through a wide range of cultural, folkloric (jokes), literary, religious, political, scientific, and philosophical references. Žižek has published extensively, almost a monograph a year, on a wide range of topics, and has been engaged in many debates and controversies that attest to his commitment to reformulating the questions that philosophers, psychoanalysts, political scientists, activists, and the general public have been asking about common everyday notions about reality and its relationship to the subject. Žižek has consequently established a phenomenal presence in the lecture circuits, online, and in the media that has made him a household name and one of the most iconic international public figures and philosophers in the world.

General Overviews

Lucid and comprehensive book-length overviews that do not presuppose any prior knowledge of Žižek’s dialectical materialist philosophical system, its central themes, key Hegelian and Lacanian terms, and major intellectual and conceptual sources (Lacan, Hegel, and Marx) can be found in Myers 2003, Kul-Want and Piero 2011, Sheehan 2012, and Wood 2012. Myers 2003 approaches Žižek’s work by focusing on the question of identity and the subject; Kul-Want and Piero 2011 focuses on Žižek’s politics, and Sheehan 2012 focuses on the intellectual sources that influenced his work. Sheehan 2012 also provides brief summaries of many books by Žižek, while Wood 2012 provides book-by-book chapter summaries and analysis of Žižek’s work up to its publication date. More critical introductions, which are intended for more advanced audiences, are in Kay 2003, Butler 2005, and Parker 2004. Kay 2003 and Butler 2005 emphasize Žižek’s approach to the Real, and Parker 2004 examines the interrelationship among Žižek’s intellectual sources and the theories that shaped his work. Pound 2008 provides a useful general introduction to Žižek’s work for religious studies students and scholars.

  • Butler, Rex. Slavoj Žižek – Live Theory. London and New York: Continuum, 2005.

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    A sophisticated chronological account of Žižek’s philosophy and its overall goal in terms of the function of the master-signifier in the ideological field. Examines the master-signifier, through which the ideological construction of reality is presented as a seamless whole, in relation to the object a as a stand in for the Real and their relationship to the political act. Contains a useful chapter on Žižek’s debate with Judith Butler and Ernesto Laclau and a live interview with Žižek.

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  • Kay, Sarah. Žižek: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.

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    An advanced introduction to Žižek as the “philosopher of the Real.” Examines the manifestation of the Real in the cultural field, sexual difference, the ethics of psychoanalysis, and the political act. Shows that the value and importance of Žižek’s ideas must be understood in the overall context of his egalitarian politics and his rejection of cynical postmodernism. Provides a useful glossary of major Žižekian terms.

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  • Kul-Want, Christopher, and Piero. Introducing Slavoj Žižek: A Graphic Guide. London: Icon Books, 2011.

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    A brief graphic illustration of Žižek’s political thought through his analysis of the underlying ideological causes of the world’s crises and catastrophes. Illuminates Žižek’s position on the ecology, poverty, consumerism, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, and the law through the Hegelian notion of incomplete reality. Presents the liberating aspect of his philosophy in relation to the struggle for the commons, immoral (authentic) forms of ethics, and revolutionary ethics.

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  • Myers, Tony. Slavoj Žižek. Routledge Critical Thinkers. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.

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    A clearly written and accessible introduction to Žižek’s work for the uninitiated through an examination of the questions of identity and subjectivity that bind his work together. Offers a concise explanation of Žižek’s debt to Hegel, Marx, and Lacan and analyzes the political and ethical implications of the subject in its different hegemonic forms, including postmodern, ideological, gendered, or ethnic identities or subjects. A “Further Reading” chapter offers brief summaries of Žižek’s major individually authored books in English.

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  • Parker, Ian. Slavoj Žižek – A Critical Introduction. London: Pluto Press, 2004.

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    A polemical introduction to the intellectual sources of Žižek’s work (Hegel, Lacan, and Marx). Provides a useful biographical context for understanding Žižek and explains how the key concepts of each theory (history, subject, politics) relate to each other and why they are important to understanding Žižek’s work. Offers a useful summary of the existing critical responses to Žižek and the objections to his heterodox readings of Hegel, Marx, and Lacan.

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  • Pound, Marcus. Žižek: A (Very) Critical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 2008.

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    A comprehensive and systematic introduction to Žižek’s work for religious studies scholars that examines theological motif and themes in Žižek’s philosophical thought, psychoanalytic theory, and politics. Scrutinizes Žižek’s repeated references to Christ, Job, Saint Paul via Alain Badiou’s theory of the political act, the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in terms of Lacan’s formulae of sexuation. Explores the implications of Žižek’s work on enjoyment to anti-Semitism in the context of interreligious relations.

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  • Sheehan, Sean. Žižek: A Guide for the Perplexed. London and New York: Continuum, 2012.

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    A concise introduction to Žižek’s thought for the general reader through an easy and accessible explication of the major sources (Lacanian psychoanalysis, German Idealism, and Communism) that shaped his philosophy. Places Žižek’s thought in the larger context of these sources. References German Idealism beyond Hegel and relates Žižek’s Marxism to Lenin, Mao, Christianity in general, and Saint Paul in particular. Provides succinct summaries of varying lengths mainly of Žižek’s single-authored books in English.

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  • Wood, Kelsey. Žižek: A Reader’s Guide. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.

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    A lucid and comprehensive guidebook that provides book-by-book chapter summaries for Žižek’s single-authored books in English. An introductory chapter defines his key Hegelian and Lacanian terms (Absolute Knowledge, the Other, the split subject, fantasy, enjoyment, ideology, belief, the ethics of the Real, etc.) and outlines his major contributions to the discipline of traditional philosophy. Provides detailed summaries for twenty-four books and discusses the importance of the concept of singular universality to Žižek’s politics.

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Primary Texts

Žižek is arguably the most prolific and most widely read and watched philosopher of our time. Since the publication of The Sublime Object of Ideology in 1989, Žižek has authored, coauthored, introduced, and selected more than fifty books, edited several collections, and contributed dozens of chapters to collections edited by himself and others as well as prefaces, afterwords, and responses to numerous monographs and collections. He has published scores of articles in academic journals and other popular venues, including op-eds in major international newspapers. His publications include other genres such as letters, drama rewrites, and interview collections; he has even written the catalogue of the clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch (perhaps to reflect his belief that the attitude one mocks does still determine one’s behavior). He has also been the subject of various documentaries and films and has recorded commentaries of DVD film editions. His books have appeared in German, French, and Slovene, and his other works have been translated into twenty different languages. Over the years, Žižek has written extensively (and in several languages), and has been involved in innumerable public debates with different philosophers, critics, intellectuals, artists, and political activists, on a dizzying array of topics. These topics include continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, global capitalism, the global apartheid regime, leftist politics, the revolutionary Leninist act, ideology, the subject, communism, terrorism, the Iraq war, European and Arab anti-Semitism, Israel’s apartheid politics, the new alt right, Zionist anti-Semitism, opera, totalitarianism, cognitive science, political correctness, sexuality, racism, human rights, religion, new media, popular culture, cinema, love, ethics, pornography, Pokémon, environmentalism, and new age philosophy. More recently, he has made crucial interventions in response to global sociopolitical and cultural developments such as the refugee crisis in Europe, the 2016 presidential elections in the United States of America, transgenderism, and the # Me Too movement. He is one of the few philosophers in history to have utilized other forms of media (online magazines, news sites, television, film, webchats, video-sharing websites, lecture halls, and mass culture) and the interview format, including a self-interview, to clarify his positions and make his heterodox Hegelian dialectical materialist philosophy and anticapitalist politics more accessible to the general public.

Single-Authored Books

The list of Žižek’s single-authored books is long and continues to grow as he publishes a volume almost every year. Heeding his warning against making sense of an author’s work by dividing it into phases, because periodization cannot account for the Real (the deadlocks and contradictions) any author struggles to overcome, Žižek’s texts are thematically divided into six main categories. First are introductions to and application of Lacanian psychoanalysis to a wide range of references to theory, philosophy, popular culture, and everyday examples; second are densely theoretical works that develop his dialectical materialist philosophy through a synthesis of German Idealism, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and Marxism; third are heavily theoretical critiques of hegemonic ideological discourses and the global crises facing humanity; fourth are writings that address current political, social, and cultural issues—these writings are generally less theorized interventions. Fifth are works that tackle religious beliefs and theology, paying special attention to the radical atheist core of Christianity, and sixth are books about art, including film, music, and opera. These texts demonstrate not only the extremely complex structure of Žižek’s main arguments and claims but also the continuity and systematic nature of Žižek’s oeuvre as evidenced by the dialectical way every new book repeats, revises, and extends a major philosophical or political issue or develops some abstruse aspect of examples raised in the previously published text. Although some readers have complained that Žižek’s texts are not books in the traditional sense, it is possible to see how these texts are structured around major arguments that are hinted at in the titles of the volumes.

Introductions to and Applications of Lacan

Žižek 2014 (his translated doctoral dissertation), Žižek 1991, and Žižek 1993 (cited under Dialectical Materialist Philosophy) offer very useful summaries and lucid introductions to Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytical theories and concepts through an application of Lacanian terms to a wide range of references to theory, philosophy, popular culture, and everyday examples. Žižek 1994, Žižek 1997, and Žižek 2006 present more complex analyses of Lacanian psychoanalysis in relation to other theorists and philosophers such as Hegel, Marx, and Freud.

  • Žižek, Slavoj. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture. Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press, 1991.

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    Provides a useful introduction to the ideas of the late Lacan of the 1960s and 1970s, especially the Real, object small a, sinthome, jouissance, and the decentered subject, and applies them to a wide range of references to cultural, literary, and artistic production. Examines the role of the gaze and the (maternal) superego in Hitchcock’s films and the relation between enjoyment, nationalistic ideologies, and racism in liberal democracies.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Metastases of Enjoyment: On Women and Causality. London and New York: Verso, 1994.

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    Uses Lacanian psychoanalysis to rework a Marxist critique of the Real of enjoyment. Analyzes the fantasy image of the ethnic Other (the Bosnian genocide) and the feminine subject in Western art, film, and cultural production in relation to the structural violence of the global capitalist system, which determines both. Includes a self-interview, in which Žižek clarifies his main ideas and indirectly responds to early criticism of his work.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Plague of Fantasies. London and New York: Verso, 1997.

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    Employs Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to examine the proliferation of phantasmatic support in the allegedly “post-ideological” late global capitalist society through “the twisted topology of object petit a.” Examines the major contours of the psychoanalytic idea of fantasy, relating it to jouissance, interpassivity, and cyberspace. Includes three appendices that examine the failure of representing the Real as seen in sexual difference in film, the subject in Schumann’s music, and Kantian ethics.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Enjoy Your Symptom! Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out. New York and London: Routledge, 2001.

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    Develops his dialectical materialist philosophy through his trademark synthesis of German Idealism and Lacanian psychoanalysis to distance Lacan from the poststructuralist and the deconstructionist critics who have reclaimed him for their “logocentric” camp. Organized into five major sections, each illustrates a major Lacanian theme and applies it to different artifacts from popular culture, literary texts, and films, including Charlie Chaplin, Rossellini, William Styron, Shakespeare, Hitchcock, and The Matrix.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. How to Read Lacan. London: Granta Books, 2006.

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    Explains Lacan’s “return to Freud” as nothing other than Lacan’s reinvention of Freudian psychoanalysis in light of Saussurean linguistics, contemporary scientific developments, and Hegelian dialectics. Each of the seven chapters juxtaposes an original passage from Lacan’s work that presents one of his key terms with another text from popular culture, philosophy, art, everyday experience, or ideological discourses, in order to comment on current social and political crises.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Most Sublime Hysteric: Hegel with Lacan. Trans. Thomas Scott-Railton. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2014.

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    Žižek’s doctoral thesis provides useful and clear summaries of key Lacanian and Hegelian ideas and concepts by laying out the general outlines of his Hegelian, Lacanian, and Marxist philosophy, which he reworked in Žižek 1989. Posits Hegel as the “most sublime hysteric” through a Lacanian analysis of the question of the Other’s desire, sketches a Marxist critique of capitalist ideology, and addresses debates about totalitarianism, democracy, and communism.

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Dialectical Materialist Philosophy

Žižek 1989 remains the most important gateway into Žižek’s dialectical materialist philosophy, especially his use of Lacan to reload Hegel, and Žižek 2006 presents his first attempt to flesh out a complete dialectical materialist philosophy and is considered by many to be one of his few magnum opuses. Žižek 1991, Žižek 1993, and Žižek 1999 continue to engage Hegelian dialectics through Lacanian psychoanalysis. Žižek 2012, Žižek 2014, and Žižek 2016 reconfigure this relationship, by decoupling Hegel from Lacan and privileging the former, and elaborate his dialectical materialist philosophy. Žižek 1996 and Žižek 2003 elaborate a dialectical materialist philosophy by exploring the work of other philosophers, including the German idealist philosopher F. W. J. Schelling and the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, respectively.

  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Sublime Object of Ideology. London and New York: Verso, 1989.

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    Žižek’s first book in English reworks the general outlines of his dialectical materialist philosophy and his leftist critique of ideology that he laid out in Žižek 2014 within the Lacanian analysis of the Real, Hegelian negativity, and the Marxist critique of commodity fetishism and alienation. Uses Lacan to revitalize Hegel and addresses the role the “sublime objects” of ideology and fantasy play in camouflaging the social antagonisms in contemporary democracy.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor. London and New York: Verso, 1991.

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    Žižek’s first lengthy treatment of Hegel’s philosophy in its dialectical materialist dimensions approaches the problem of the eruption of Real enjoyment (jouissance) in the context of the decline of state socialism circa 1991. Emphasizes the link between Hegelian negativity and the Lacanian Real and discusses the global triumph of liberal capitalist democracy, the universal and particular, and the importance of the Lacanian act to restructuring the symbolic order.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Tarrying With the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993.

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    Presents a dense philosophical illustration of Hegel’s negativity and Absolute Knowledge in relation to contemporary ideology critique (how fantasy is used to mask the real of social antagonism) through Lacanian psychoanalysis. Traces Kant’s, Hegel’s, and Lacan’s theories of the subject back to the Cartesian subject and explores the links among Hegelian negativity, the Freudian death drive, and the Lacanian Real. Rejects postmodern relativism and establishes Lacan as a prominent philosopher.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Indivisible Remainder: On Schelling and Related Matters. London and New York: Verso, 1996.

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    Develops a dialectical materialist philosophy, by reading the German idealist philosopher F. W. J. Schelling’s Die Weltalter (Ages of the World) with Hegel through Lacanian psychoanalysis to present a new mode of radical politics of emancipation. Examines the implications of Schelling’s ideas to some related matters in Lacanian psychoanalysis and quantum physics, including the consequences of virtual sexuality in cyberspace, the ideological function of cynicism, and the relationship between meaning and reality in quantum physics.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology. London and New York: Verso, 1999.

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    Rehabilitates the Cartesian subject against its postmodern detractors by offering a Hegelian-Lacanian theory of subjectivity, structured around the “indivisible remainder” and excremental excess at the core of subjectivity. Critiques Heidegger’s analysis of Kant’s theory of radical subjectivity, the French philosopher Alain Badiou’s idea of the event, and Foucault’s and Judith Butler’s theory of sexuality and the subject. Shows the importance of psychoanalysis for resisting new forms of subjection.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Organs without Bodies: Deleuze and Consequences. Routledge Classics Edition. New York: Routledge, 2004.

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    Reclaims the “secretly Hegelian” dialectical core of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s work by analyzing the parallels and disjunctures among Deleuze, Hegel, and Lacan. Links the popularity of the later “guattarized” Deleuze in postmodern theory to Deleuze’s critique of psychoanalysis and advocacy of identity politics and shows how Badiou restores Deleuze’s revolutionary potentialities. Examines the contradictions of Deleuze’s approaches to “becoming” in the realms of art, film, cognitive science, and politics.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Parallax View. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006.

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    Long considered Žižek’s magnum opus, which elaborates his dialectical materialist conception of Cartesian subjectivity in terms of the Real, the parallax gap or constitutive negativity at the core of being and reality, through German idealism and a reworking of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Examines the parallax gap in philosophy, cognitive science, and political philosophy through a discussion of the Muselmann, the subject and external reality, Nazism, Stalinism, global capitalism, and Bartleby’s politics.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. London and New York: Verso, 2012.

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    Considered Žižek’s new magnum opus, which proposes a new quasi-ontology (“less than nothing”), by rearticulating dialectical materialist philosophy of subjectivity around the idea of the absolute, the incomplete status of reality, and object petit a. Aims at repeating Hegel through Lacanian psychoanalysis and explores Lacan through Hegel by discussing subjectivity, objectivity, sexual difference, the death drive, modern science, and philosophy. Links emancipatory politics to Lacan’s radicalization of Hegel’s negativity.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism. London and New York: Verso, 2014.

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    Proposes a radical revision of dialectical materialist philosophy in light of Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis, in which the act of negation, loss, or withdrawal generates what it negates as a result of the coincidence of the opposites (“absolute recoil”), in a way that overcomes transcendental philosophy without falling back into pre-Kantian realism. Critiques various contemporary theories of materialism and relates retroactivity to the question of communism and the overturning of capital.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Disparities. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

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    Develops a Hegelian-Lacanian dialectical materialist understanding of “disparity” as an irreconcilable “ontological difference,” rupture, and negativity that disrupts the smooth workings of capitalist-technological reality. Resists the domestication of Hegel by grounding the disparity between the subject and substance in the Lacanian idea of the disparity of the substance with itself. Explores disparity in its disruptive effects in philosophy, art, and theology-politics by examining object-oriented ontology, the abject, and divine violence.

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Ideology Critique

Žižek 2008b offers a lucid entry into Žižek’s immanent critique of different manifestations of ideology in relation to the contradictions of the global capitalist system, the crisis of liberal democratic governance, and the impotence of the left to offer any alternative political program. Žižek 2001 and Žižek 2008a focus on the problems of neoliberal democratic ideology and its postmodernist emphasis on multicultural politics, while Žižek 2010, Žižek 2014b, and Žižek 2018 highlight the contradictions of the global capitalist system. Žižek 2014a examines the ideological underpinnings of leftist theories of the radical political event, while Žižek 2017 sheds light on the problems in recent ontological theories.

  • Žižek, Slavoj. Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?: Five Interventions in the (Mis)Use of a Notion. London: Verso, 2001.

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    Critiques the ideological misuses and abuses of the term “totalitarianism” among pseudo-leftists and postmodern liberal academics in discussions of the Holocaust, Stalinist gulag and purges, Antigone’s fidelity, and multiculturalist tolerance. Shows how this prevents critical thinking and serves the interests of the liberal-democratic consensus and global capitalism. Analyzes modernism and postmodernism and debunks cultural studies for its historical relativism and for reducing universality to Eurocentric colonial domination.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. In Defense of Lost Causes. 2d ed. London: Verso, 2008a.

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    Examines the impasses of liberal-democratic ideology through a Lacanian-Marxist critique of the cynical postmodern dismissive attitude toward great causes. Shows the relevance of Marx and Engels by assessing the ideological mystification in current debates and tracing the legacy of various international revolutionaries, including the unfulfilled potential for universal emancipation in Mao, Stalinism, and populism. Outlines how the four main contradictions of global capitalism can be resolved through a reinvented communism.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Violence: Six Sideways Reflections. London: Profile Books, 2008b.

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    Analyzes multiculturalism as the hegemonic ideology of liberal democracies within the systemic violence of global capitalism. Demonstrates the inconsistencies of “tolerant reason” through an analysis of the 2005 Paris riots, the Abu Gharib torture scandal, the Danish cartoons controversy, Hurricane Katrina, and the Israeli military occupation in Palestine. Investigates three interrelated types of violence and explores the power of “divine violence” and Bartlebyan politics in future movements for change.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Living in the End Times. London: Verso, 2010.

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    Analyzes the four major antagonisms (ecological catastrophe, the biogenetic revolution, imbalances within the system itself, and the new global apartheid regime) that beset the global capitalist system through a combination of Lacanian psychoanalysis and Marxist critique. Examines the liberal response to these antagonisms in terms of the five stages of grief outlined by Elisabeth Kübler Ross. Proposes change through the creation of a new communist culture, divine violence, and Bartlebyean withdrawal.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Event: Philosophy in Transit/A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept. Brooklyn, NY, and London: Melville House, 2014a.

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    Traces the meaning, temporality, and trajectory of the term “Event” and examines different approaches to the Event in philosophy (Plato, Descartes, and Hegel), theology, politics, and psychoanalysis (the Lacanian registers). Argues that love is the ultimate event and questions the ideological belief in an authentic political Event that can affect a total transformation of the entire symbolic field in the “depressive conditions” of life under the global capitalist system.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism. London: Allen Lane, 2014b.

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    Employs a Lacanian-Marxist approach to diagnose the current structural economic and political changes in the global capitalist “paradise” and its decoupling from neoliberal democracy through an analysis of debt, cyberspace, emancipatory social movements, fundamentalism and capitalism, anti-Eurocentrism, and political correctness. Calls for reinvigorating radical leftist anticapitalist politics through the figure of the revolutionary master and the name of Communism qua class struggle and examines revolutionary violence in the appendix.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Incontinence of the Void: Economico-Philosophical Spandrels. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017.

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    Offers an ideological critique of new approaches to ontology by linking sexuality as a sign of the impossibility and the ultimate failure of every ontology to the Marxist critique of political economy. Outlines the philosophical foundations of his quasi-ontology in relation to new theories of reality as incomplete and the abolition of sexuality through techno-scientific inventions. Concludes that a future Communism is not without its libidinal contradictions.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Like a Thief in Broad Daylight: Power in the Era Post-Humanity. London: Allen Lane, 2018.

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    Analyzes the topsy-turvy state of things under the neoliberal global capitalist system, describing the revolution to transform the system “like a thief in broad daylight.” Addresses aspects of post-human capitalism that can discern people’s needs and desires, determine their rights, and redefine what it means to be human. Explores Hegelian concrete universality in debates about populist politics, the # Me Too movement and victimization, and the future of solidarity politics.

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Current Political, Social, and Cultural Events

Žižek offers lucid commentaries and analyses of major political, social, and cultural events. Žižek 2002 examines the ramifications of Al-Qaeda’s September 11 terrorist attacks, and Žižek 2009 revisits this issue in relation to the 2008 financial meltdown. Žižek 2004 looks at the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, and Žižek 2016 intervenes in the debate about the refugee crisis in Europe. Žižek 2012 and Žižek 2017 address new radical emancipatory movements around the world.

  • Žižek, Slavoj. Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates. London and New York: Verso, 2002.

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    Analyzes Al-Qaeda’s September 11 terrorist attacks in terms of their “spectacular effects” as the traumatic and intrusive Real. Uses a Lacanian framework to examine the leftist response to these events by exploring the ways in which ideological fantasy informs how multicultural tolerance obfuscates social antagonisms and how liberal democracies are fetishized in global capitalism. Discusses the policies of the Israeli military toward the Palestinians and the redemptive powers of the “simple ethical act.”

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle. New York: Verso, 2004.

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    Investigates the 2003 American invasion of Iraq and its ideological and political implications for US global hegemony through Lacanian psychoanalysis. Relates the inconsistent arguments for the war (“the borrowed kettle”) to the establishment of a New Right Order and the erosion of civil liberties in the United States to the rise of Christian evangelical and right-wing morality. Two appendices tease out the theoretical and philosophical premises of this political intervention and ground political action in Lenin’s authentic act.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. First as Tragedy, Then as Farce. London: Verso, 2009.

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    Analyzes the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the financial meltdown of 2008 as examples of the failure of liberalism at the ideological, political, and economic levels through a Marxist-Lacanian critique of the Real of capital and the fetishistic operation of ideology in an allegedly post-ideological world. Predicts that these crises will give rise to racist populism, increased poverty, and populist conservatives. Grounds a radical politics of the commons in the “singular universality of the proletariat.”

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Year of Dreaming Dangerously. London: Verso, 2012.

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    Develops a Lacanian-Hegelian-Marxist critique of the middle-class aspirations of the social unrest movements that marked the world stage in 2011, including the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, UK riots, Gezi Park protests, and the anti-austerity movements in Madrid and Athens. Shows how hegemonic ideology obfuscates the emancipatory potential of these movements and locates in them the distorted signs of a utopian future that should not be quickly romanticized.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror, and Other Troubles with the Neighbor. London: Allen Lane, 2016.

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    Responds to the November 2015 Paris terror attacks and the current refugee crisis in Europe within the broader dynamics of global capitalism. Rejects both the liberal leftist open-door immigration policy and the right-wing populist ban on immigration (the double ideological blackmail) and grounds change in a commitment to Western enlightenment values (egalitarianism, human rights, and the welfare state), an ethical duty toward the refugees, and a common class struggle that cuts across all cultures.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Courage of Hopelessness: Chronicles of One Year of Acting Dangerously. London: Allen Lane, 2017.

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    Examines the fundamentalist-terrorist threat, geopolitical tensions, new radical emancipatory movements in Europe, and the new global apartheid regime as manifestations of the same immanent contradiction of the global capitalist system. Rethinks the debates about identity politics, anticolonialism in the context of the debates about sexuality, and the universality of the Enlightenment ideals. Analyzes Trump’s rise to power and proposes bureaucratic socialism as a mechanism that can help regulate the commons.

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Theology

Žižek 2001 provides a very lucid and accessible study of the various manifestations of religious belief. Žižek 2000 and Žižek 2003 present more complex materialist interpretations of Christianity and its potential utility to Leftist politics.

  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Fragile Absolute, or, Why Is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? 2008 ed. London and New York: Verso, 2000.

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    Interrogates the return of religious practices in postmodern culture and theory and uses a Lacanian dialectical materialist approach to recover the subversive core of Christianity for leftist politics today. Examines various parallels between Christian theology and Lacanian psychoanalysis and applies Lacan’s theory of sexuation to the difference between Judaism and Christianity, the Law and love. Grounds leftist politics in a commitment to political love rooted in a community of outcasts.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. On Belief. London: Routledge, 2001.

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    Focuses on different manifestations of belief and transgressions in postmodern culture and theory through a Lacanian Marxist analysis that shows the extent of the ideological deception and manipulation of the subject in the global capitalist system. Grounds the Christian notion of rebirth in the Lacanian ideas of subjective destitution and the repetition of a Real antagonism that inevitably lead back to Lenin and the consequences of assuming the revolutionary act.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.

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    Fleshes out his version of materialist Christian philosophy, locating the “dwarf” of materialism (God’s impotence) that animates and pulls the strings of Christianity through Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian dialectical materialism. Relates the status of those who are excluded from the global capitalist system to St. Paul’s idea of a struggling universality and charts the way out of the ideological manipulation of global capitalism through the Lacanian Act.

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Art: Film, Music, and Opera

Žižek 2000 is a very lucid and brief introduction to his approach to film studies, while Žižek 2001 presents a more substantive engagement with the debates in this field. Žižek 2016 offers complex readings of Wagner’s operas as well as the work of other composers.

  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David Lynch’s The Lost Highway. Seattle: The Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, University of Washington, 2000.

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    A brief engagement with film theory through a Lacanian analysis of David Lynch’s film The Lost Highway. Rescues the film from New Age and postmodernist readings and analyzes it as an example of the “art of the ridiculous sublime,” by which the unbearably laughable naiveté of the fundamental fantasy that supports life in global capitalist culture is revealed in its traumatic horror, clearing a space for traversing the fantasy.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Fright of Real Tears: Krzysztof Kieślowski Between Theory and Post-Theory. London: British Film Institute, 2001.

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    An extended and substantive critique of the debate between theory and post-theory in film and cultural studies through a Lacanian-Hegelian analysis of the shift in the Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s work from documentary art to fiction that registers his “fright of real tears”—that is, the effects of the repression of Real trauma or the intrusion of the transgressive Real. Analyzes the shift in ethical terms and explains his work’s universal appeal through different Lacanian ideas.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Wagnerian Sublime: Four Lacanian Readings of Classic Operas. Köln: August Verlag, 2016.

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    Presents different Lacanian-Marxist readings of Wagner’s operas, especially Parsifal, that show the working of the sublime in Wagner’s work. Analyzes the way Wagner uses various artistic and aesthetic strategies not only to undermine his opera’s explicit ideological content but also to point in Brechtian learning-play mode to the invention of a new configuration of the Social. Explores how other composers rewrite Wagner to resolve the deadlocks in their works.

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Article Collections

Žižek has published dozens of articles in academic journals and other venues, more recently on the Philosophical Salon—a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books—in which he deals with major academic problems and debates as well as contemporary social, political, and cultural events through his dialectical materialist philosophy and anticapitalist politics. Although his earlier articles were up to a certain point harder to access, most of his recent work is now easily accessible. However, the following collections make these earlier articles as well as chapters from published books more accessible to readers and demonstrates not only the depth and breadth of his writings but also the arch in which his dialectical materialist philosophy and anticapitalist politics has taken to congeal. Wright and Wright 1999 provides a useful introduction into Žižek’s application of the Lacanian Real in the areas of culture, woman, and philosophy. Žižek 2005 presents articles that are grounded in the application of Lacan and Hegel as well as Lacan and Marx in the critique of ideology, while Žižek 2006 focuses on the articles that develop Žižek’s political thought.

  • Wright, Elizabeth, and Edmond Wright, eds. The Žižek Reader. Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

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    A collection of fourteen articles and chapters representing a wide range of topics that revolve around the question of the Lacanian Real in three main areas in Žižek’s work: culture, woman, and philosophy. Displays the centrality and versatility of the Real throughout these diverse topics and demonstrates Žižek’s recursive elaborations of his key themes and ideas in the context of the theoretical debates in the 1990s.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. Interrogating the Real, Selected Writings. Vol. 1. Edited by Rex Butler and Scott Stephens. London: Continuum, 2005.

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    The first of two volumes of Žižek’s collected writings contains fifteen articles and chapters that deal with genetics, popular culture, Wagner’s operas, sexual difference, and anti-Semitism. Presents a selection of chapters taken from different books by Žižek and organized in chronological order (1991–2006) that shows how his arguments and examples are repeated in a way that gives them new meanings and nuances every time.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj. The Universal Exception, Selected Writings. Vol. 2. Edited by Rex Butler and Scott Stephens. London: Continuum, 2006.

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    The second volume of Žižek’s selected writings brings together a broad selection of Žižek’s work that mainly focuses on current ethico-political issues such as the fetishization of liberal democracy, the contradictions of “really existing socialism” and global capitalism, and the possibilities of revolutionary struggle. Emphasizes Žižek’s preference for an alternative “third type” of sociopolitical organization. Includes a glossary of the major terms and names referenced in the essays.

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Letters and Drama Rewrite

Žižek and Tolokonnikova 2014 and Žižek 2016 present Žižek’s experimentation with different genres, including letters and drama, in which he presents his dialectical materialist philosophy and anticapitalist politics in a less formal style. Žižek 2016 reflects an interesting choice on Žižek’s part to represent his change of heart about Antigone’s revolutionary subjectivity, not in another theoretical format but in a more creative, dramatic style. Žižek and Tolokonnikova 2014 reveals the sympathetic side of Žižek, who comes out as clearly concerned about the fate of comrades in the struggle. Žižek and Tolokonnikova 2014 also exemplifies the large body of work in Žižek’s oeuvre that he has coauthored and collaborated on with a growing number of philosophers, theologians, political scientists, and other scholars in the context of controversies and debates in these fields. These works offer Žižek space to engage these scholars and develop his ideas for different audiences and fields of expertise.

  • Žižek, Slavoj. Antigone: The Three Lives of Antigone. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

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    A deliberately anachronistic rewrite of Sophocles’ classic play Antigone, conceived as an “ethico-political exercise.” Grounded in Žižek’s changing approach to Antigone and his interest in alternate endings, this rewrite offers three alternative endings to the resolution of the major conflict between Antigone and Creon in a way that reflects on the contemporary impasses of the left’s humanitarian politics. Produced by Broom Street Theater, Madison, Wisconsin, January 2018.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj, and Nadya Tolokonnikova. Comradely Greetings: The Prison Letters of Nadya and Slavoj. Trans. Ian Dreiblatt. London and New York: Verso, 2014.

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    An exchange of letters spanning from August 2012 to March 2014 with Russian punk band Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova. Presents a Hegelian response to Tolokonnikova’s Nietzschean Dionysian arguments regarding a wide range of topics, including liberal democracy, geopolitical tensions, artistic subversion, fundamentalism, and the erratic excesses of the global capitalist system. Emphasizes the universality of the struggle and links the radical emancipatory struggle to the figure of the new Master.

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Interview Collections

Žižek has given scores of interviews in different media, including academic journals, newspapers, and public and social media, in which he clarifies and elaborates his dialectical materialist philosophy and anticapitalist politics. Many of these interviews coincide with the publication of a new book and relate to Žižek’s interventions in different disciplines, while recent interviews focus more on his position on contemporary political and cultural events. He has also experimented with the self-interview format and has conducted several webchats, in which he directly responded to questions from readers about his political positions. Žižek and Daly 2004 is a very good place to start for readers who are unfamiliar with his work, since he tends to explain his major ideas in an informal and lucid style, using various examples in different forms to elucidate the major aspects of his thought. Žižek and Park 2013 is also indispensable for understanding Žižek’s politics.

  • Žižek, Slavoj, and Glyn Daly. Conversations with Žižek. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2004.

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    An excellent introduction to Žižek’s thought by Žižek, comprising five in-depth conversations conducted in 2002 in which Žižek lucidly elaborates on his key ideas about a wide range of topics. Relates highly theoretical issues to contemporary political and cultural events, distinguishes his materialist Lacanian position from common postmodern and poststructural theories, sheds light on his “vulgar” and encyclopedic style, and presents significant new directions or revisions in his work at the time.

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  • Žižek, Slavoj, and Yong-june Park. Demanding the Impossible. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013.

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    A series of thirty-four interviews that were conducted over the course of two days at Žižek’s home about his political philosophy. Analyzes the current predicaments of the global capitalist system, surveys alternatives to the current system, and focuses on the need to reconfigure “the limits of the possible and the impossible” in relation to the idea of the revolutionary event in the radical emancipatory struggle today.

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Films and Documentaries

Žižek is one of the few contemporary philosophers who has managed to use films, documentaries, and video sharing sites (YouTube) to disseminate his dialectical materialist philosophy and anticapitalist politics among wider audiences around the world. He has thus been the subject of a couple of documentary films and has collaborated with various filmmakers on films in which he expounds his thoughts about fantasy and ideology in some popular Hollywood films. In addition, countless recorded lectures, debates, and news interviews can be accessed on video sharing sites and other social media venues. He is also a sought-after commentator in popular media on many current political and cultural events, which has put him in the spotlight of international media. A large part of this international popularity and fascination with Žižek has to do with his “larger than life” image and the way his conversational and expressive style, which combines provocative and cutting-edge philosophical ideas, jokes, and references to popular culture, has been popularized in banal phrases that turned him into a cultural icon like Elvis Presley, or an entertaining comedian (due to his body language, accent, and tics whose source is an organic disease). In Taylor 2005, Žižek himself comments how for some “making me popular is a defense against taking me seriously.” Taylor 2005 provides a very useful general introduction to Žižek’s life and ideas, while De Beaulieu, et al. 2010 focuses on Žižek’s politics. Fiennes and Žižek 2006, Fiennes and Žižek 2012, and Wright 2004 draw on Žižek’s writings to discuss movies, ideology, and the Lacanian real, respectively.

  • De Beaulieu, Susan Chales, Jean-Baptiste Farkas, and Slavoj Žižek. Alien, Marx & Co.—Slavoj Žižek im Porträt. 58 minutes. 2010.

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    A documentary film that stiches together Žižek’s Bartlebyean politics and his ontological view of reality in various episodic conversations about Hegelian dialectics, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and different Marxist and Leninist concepts. Discusses a wide range of topics, including interpassivity, Buddhism, Leninist politics, irrational bureaucracy, revolutionary temporality, and many more. Critiques American multicultural ideology of tolerance and “micropractices of power,” which as a result of his “Balkan vulgarity” leaves him out of place.

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  • Fiennes, Sophie, and Slavoj Žižek. The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. 150 minutes. 2006.

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    Drawn from Žižek’s scattered writings about cinema and film, this documentary film serves as a general psychoanalytic introduction to film studies and a revaluation of cinema, by showing the extent to which cinema, which “tells you how to desire,” is the “ultimate pervert art.” Analyzes numerous clips from a long list of great movies through Lacanian concepts and theories such as cinematic fantasy, partial objects, sexual relationships, subjectivity, desire, materiality, and cinematic form.

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  • Fiennes, Sophie, and Slavoj Žižek. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. 136 minutes. 2012.

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    Based on Žižek’s writings on ideology, this documentary film illustrates the nature of ideology, “the trash can that we eat from all the time,” through a Lacanian psychoanalytic analysis of numerous film clips and other objects. Uses the metaphor of “ideology glasses” to demonstrate not only how cultural artifacts serve hegemonic ideologies but also how a presumed escape from reality and ideology into cinema, illusion, or dreams gets us deeper into ideology.

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  • Taylor, Astra. Žižek! The Movie. 69 minutes. 2005.

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    A tour documentary that functions as a useful introduction to Žižek’s life and philosophy. Follows Žižek’s public appearances around the world. Presents his philosophical theory of the universe in terms of quantum physics and the idea of love and surveys major philosophical and political problems through a wide range of examples. Comments on the ramifications of his international celebrity status and refuses to play anyone’s objet petit a.

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  • Wright, Ben. Slavoj Žižek: The Reality of the Virtual. 74 minutes. 2004.

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    A filmed conversation recorded in a single day that introduces Žižek’s Lacanian key ideas especially the Real, which is virtual but still has real effects, and applies it to numerous political, cultural, scientific, and psychological examples. Insists on reinscribing the Real as a form of pure difference that substitutes neutrality and tolerance for a concrete universal perspective that realigns the emancipatory struggle around the fundamental antagonism.

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Critical Studies

The early commentary on Žižek’s work that appeared in the 1990s was scattered in a few mainstream journals on psychoanalysis, ideology, culture, and Marxism, as well as books on Lacan, contemporary continental philosophy, and materialist theories. Some of these texts cited him as a major authority on Lacan, while others paid attention to some specific philosophical and political ideas in his work, and yet others associated him with cynical postmodernism and cultural studies. In general, these studies grappled with various aspects of his philosophical and political thought, without giving the true core of his dialectical materialist philosophical matrix due consideration. As Žižek’s work became more familiar to academics and the general public, it began to receive more attention from academics in a wide range of fields, and the field of Žižek studies began to take shape. This reception was still colored by the early fascination of the popular press and mass (dis)infotainment media with the Žižek phenomenon (his Eastern European origins, persona, mystique, tics, and “celebrity” status) and focused on Žižek’s analysis of ideology and his utility to cultural studies. His texts, nonetheless, continued to inspire a variety of reactions and interpretations that reflect his wide-ranging interventions and their contentious meaning and relevance. The second millennium thus ushered in a new phase of scholarship in the field of Žižek studies that began to pay more attention to the rigorous philosophical core of his work and treat the foundations of his dialectical materialist philosophy as a distinct philosophical system in its own right. Moreover, scholars and critics began also to apply his ideas to a wide range of fields, including psychoanalysis, philosophy (dialectical materialism), politics (historical materialism), ethics, literary and cultural studies, media studies, education, organization studies, religious studies, legal studies and international relations, and others. Monographs, edited collections, doctoral dissertations, and special journal issues proliferated, culminating in the publication of an academic international journal dedicated to the study of Žižek’s thought and politics, International Journal of Žižek Studies.

Monographs

Monographs that examine specific areas of Žižek’s work are growing in number, but accounting for the complexity of Žižek’s thoughts in monograph form remains a daunting task, due in part to Žižek’s complex theoretical and philosophical matrix, which requires true mastery of his intellectual and theoretical sources from scholars before they can critique it. Scholars, nonetheless, have examined the major areas in Žižek’s oeuvre, including philosophy, psychoanalysis, politics, theology, media, and education. They have provided important biographical and intellectual contexts for understanding Žižek’s philosophical debts, clarified many of his positions and elucidated them, and used his ideas as a launching pad for their own theories. By far, however, Žižek’s political thought has received the most critical attention from scholars in the field.

Philosophy

Sharpe 2004 represents early efforts to articulate a coherent account of Žižek’s ontology strictly within his Lacanian psychoanalytic matrix in a lucid and accessible language. Johnston 2008 is a seminal critical exploration of the main themes in German Idealist philosophy that have informed Žižek’s thought, but the transcendental materialist theory sketched in the book is the author’s own independent theory and is merely indebted to Žižek and his Lacanian analyses. His work remains, nonetheless, central to later treatments of the subject. Carew 2014 provides a useful and objective explication of Žižek’s dialectical materialist philosophy and theory of subjectivity by delineating its intellectual context especially, Lacanian psychoanalysis and German Idealism, and the key concepts and principles that define Žižek’s ontology. Pfeiffer 2015 situates Žižek’s materialist philosophy in the context of Marxist debates about the materialism-idealism divide and compares his theory to other contemporary materialist theories in the field. Johnston 2018 illuminates the premises of Žižek’s dialectical materialist philosophy through a substantive critique of Žižek 2012 and Žižek 2014 (cited under Dialectical Materialist Philosophy) within their debate about Hegel’s position on the primacy of either material facticity or the negativity of the void in the beginning of metaphysics.

  • Carew, Joseph. Ontological Catastrophe: Žižek and the Paradoxical Metaphysics of German Idealism. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, 2014.

    DOI: 10.3998/ohp.12763629.0001.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Outlines Žižek’s original theory of critical metaphysics, which explains reality as both realist and idealist. Identifies the relationship between self-relating negativity in Hegel and the death drive in psychoanalysis as the basis for his theory of the subject’s ontological catastrophe, by which the subject’s freedom emerges out of the tensions and antagonisms of nature and its material ground in a way that coincides with death, disorder, and the void.

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  • Johnston, Adrian. Žižek’s Ontology: A Transcendental Materialist Theory of Subjectivity. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv47w9tnSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Develops a Hegelian-inspired transcendentalist materialist theory of subjectivity based on the author’s disagreement with Žižek’s synthesis of German Idealism and Lacanian psychoanalysis and its implications. Draws on Kant and Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel to sketch a theory of subjectivity formed in the tension between the subject’s material conditions and its subjective freedom across different forms of temporality in the context of the debates about the mind-body relationship and the nature of freedom.

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  • Johnston, Adrian. A New German Idealism: Hegel, Žižek, and Dialectical Materialism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.

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    An extended engagement with Žižek’s approach to Hegel’s speculative dialectics as elaborated in Žižek 2012 and Žižek 2014 (cited under Dialectical Materialist Philosophy) and an examination of the premises underpinning Žižek’s “materialism sans materialism” philosophy. Explains how Žižek’s ontology is grounded in the structures and dynamics of quantum physics and string theory, Hegel’s idea of self-relating negativity, and the denial of any predictive powers to Marxism and historical materialism.

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  • Pfeiffer, Geoff. The New Materialism: Althusser, Badiou, Žižek. New York: Routledge, 2015.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315748375Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Identifies Žižek’s dialectical materialist philosophy with the “new materialism” school, which resolves the traditional materialism-idealism divide, by reworking Althusser’s structuralist critique of certain brands of Marxist materialist philosophy and politics. Devotes two chapters to Žižek’s materialism and shows how Žižek successfully overcomes the problems characteristic of Althusser’s philosophy by proposing a new theory of the act and avoiding the problem of idealist formalism through a revitalization of Hegel’s from a Lacanian-Marxist perspective.

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  • Sharpe, Matthew. Slavoj Žižek: A Little Piece of the Real. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004.

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    Discusses the Lacanian ontological premises underpinning Žižek’s philosophy of the Real, including the Cartesian subject, ideology, and the Lacanian Real, in relation to his radical, emancipatory politics. Examines Žižek’s theory of ideology and scrutinizes the philosophical foundations of Žižek’s social theory. Looks more critically at Žižek’s work within debates about the Frankfurt School theorists and, more generally, Western Marxism and in light of his views on the global capitalist system and leftist politics.

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Psychoanalysis

Despite the importance of Lacanian psychoanalysis to Žižek’s work, there is no coherent account of his psychoanalytic theory yet. Jones and Motoh 2014 provides a useful and accessible book-length introduction to the reasons Lacan became central to Slovenian psychoanalysts in general, and the significance of Lacan for Žižek in particular. Wells 2014 offers a more critical examination of Žižek’s psychoanalytic theory in relation to urgent political questions that vex contemporary leftist and emancipatory politics.

  • Jones, Irwin, and Helena Motoh. Žižek and His Contemporaries: On the Emergence of the Slovenian Lacan. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.

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    A lucid introduction to the Ljubljana School of Psychoanalysis and to Žižek’s key role in making “Slovenian neo-Lacanianism” popular around the world. Examines the reasons the abstruse Lacan became the central intellectual source for Slovenian psychoanalysts, overviews the genealogy of Lacan’s major teachings, and explores how Žižek and his colleagues (the “troika” which includes, in addition to Žižek, Malden Dolar and Alenka Zupančič) reworked Lacanian ideas in their interventions in the field.

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  • Wells, Charles. The Subject of Liberation: Žižek, Politics, Psychoanalysis. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.

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    A critical elucidation of the implications of Žižek’s psychoanalytic theory to collective social liberation. Examines Žižek 1999 (The Ticklish Subject, cited under Dialectical Materialist Philosophy) in depth and clarifies Žižek’s position on emancipation in relation to the impasses of hysteria and perversion of the privileged universal subject and postmodern identity politics. Elaborates on the ramifications of the hysteric position regarding the application of Lacan’s four discourses to the prospects of solidarity and emancipatory leftist politics.

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Politics

Dean 2006 provides a jargon-free general introduction to Žižek’s political thought as a complete system in its own right, while Sharpe and Boucher 2010 focuses on the shift in Žižek’s political thought from radical democracy to revolutionary politics. Johnston 2009, Bjerre and Laustsen 2010, and McMillan 2012 analyze different dimensions of Žižek’s radical revolutionary politics, including his views on emancipatory leftist politics and communist and socialist politics in particular. Vighi 2010 highlights the universal dimension and applicability of Žižek’s political philosophy and defends Žižek against various charges about the practicality of his approach. Homer 2016 offers a contradictory opinion by criticizing Žižek’s pragmatic politics and his allegedly conservative and reactionary positions. Various studies compare Žižek’s politics to the political thought of other influential philosophers: Vighi and Feldner 2007 contrasts Foucault’s discursive approach to reality and politics with Žižek’s theory of the Lacanian Real; Johnston 2009 compares Žižek’s politics of the act with Badiou’s politics of the event; and Vadén 2014 looks at Žižek’s approach to the idea of the revolution in light of Heidegger’s political views. Brockelman 2008 examines Žižek’s theory of revolutionary change through his ambivalent relationship with Heidegger’s writings on technology.

  • Bjerre, Henrik Jøker, and Carsten Bagge Laustsen. The Subject of Politics: Slavoj Žižek’s Political Philosophy. Penrith, CA: Humanities E-books, 2010.

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    A lucid general introduction to the theoretical foundations of Žižek’s revolutionary and emancipatory politics in the context of his unconventional reading of classical philosophies of subjectivity. Analyzes the fantasmatic character of ideology and outlines Žižek’s diagnosis of four major themes in postmodern societies, including the fall of the father, nationalism and ethnic conflicts, multiculturalism, and terrorism. Provides a useful summary of the debate about Žižek’s politics and views on violence.

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  • Brockelman, Thomas. Žižek and Heidegger: The Question Concerning Techno-Capitalism. London: Bloomsbury, 2008.

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    Investigates Žižek’s critique of global capitalism and his theory of radical politics as a response to Heidegger’s approach to modern technology in the context of his philosophy of finitude. Explores the ways in which Žižek’s work diverges from Heidegger and its implications for an ethics of living in the modern world, domination, and human freedom. Traces the various tensions that beset Žižek’s critique of Heidegger, especially his views on techno-capitalism and revolutionary change.

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  • Dean, Jodi. Žižek’s Politics. New York; London: Routledge, 2006.

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    A very lucid and jargon-free account of Žižek’s political thought as a systematic theory of politics that is structured around the idea of enjoyment (Lacan’s jouissance). Shows the links among ideology, fantasy, and enjoyment through a discussion of racist and ethnic ideological fantasies, the excesses of socialist bureaucracies, and postmodern cynicism. Examines Žižek’s Bartleby politics of withdrawal and refusal and outlines his theory of revolutionary politics through his analysis of St. Paul’s Christian collectives and Lenin’s revolutionary Party.

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  • Homer, Sean. Slavoj Žižek and Radical Politics. New York; London: Routledge, 2016.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315629339Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rejects Žižek’s approach to politics for not being radical enough and for not articulating a positive alternative to the current political system. Outlines Žižek’s inconsistent position on politics in the Balkans and exposes his deeply held pragmatic approach as well as his allegedly conservative ideology. Compares Žižek’s politics of negation with Badiou’s “affirmationist” project by analyzing Žižek’s interventions on political violence (revolutionary terror), the Greek crisis, and Bartleby politics of withdrawal and refusal.

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  • Johnston, Adrian. Badiou, Žižek, and Political Transformations: The Cadence of Change. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv2dswkvSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A substantive comparison of the idea of radical revolutionary change in the philosophical and political works of the French philosopher Alain Badiou on the event and on Žižek’s views of the act. Examines these philosophers’ debt to Lacan, their approach to Hegel, and their resistance to the global capitalist order. Critiques their refusal to outline any specific preconditions for political transformation and claims that the Žižekian theory of the act is inconsistent. Žižek’s extensive reply appears in the appendix.

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  • McMillan, Chris. Žižek and Communist Strategy: On the Disavowed Foundations of Global Capitalism. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2012.

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    An impassioned defense of Žižek’s radical political philosophy, in which he offers a positive alternative to the global capitalist system in the name of the communist idea. Explores a range of strategic interpretations of the political that Žižek develops throughout his work, including radical democracy, the Lacanian act, Bartlebyean subtractive politics, the Leninist gesture, and the Communist solution. Outlines Žižek’s transformative theory of capitalism and the way in which his commitment to concrete universality can revitalize radical emancipatory struggle.

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  • Sharpe, Matthew, and Geoff Boucher. Žižek and Politics: A Critical Introduction. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2010.

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    Intended for academics, students, and the general public, this text traces a dialectical shift in Žižek’s political thought as a result of Schelling’s influence. Examines Žižek’s radical democratic stage associated with the Symbolic through a discussion of ideology, political subjectivity, and Žižek’s approach to various political regimes. Analyzes Žižek’s radical revolutionary politics structured around the Real through an exposition of postmodern perversion, as well as Žižek’s call for total revolution against global capitalism and his political theology.

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  • Vadén, Tere. Heidegger, Žižek and Revolution. Rotterdam; Boston: Sense Publishers, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-94-6209-683-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on course notes on Heidegger and Žižek, the book compares Heidegger’s response to the rise of the National Socialist Party to power in 1933 Germany and Žižek’s approach to the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. Two out of seven chapters trace Žižek’s debt to Heidegger, trace his idea of the revolutionary act to Heidegger’s notion of Werk, and show how Žižek’s theory of the subject can serve as a corrective to Heidegger’s philosophy.

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  • Vighi, Fabio. On Žižek’s Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation. London and New York: Continuum, 2010.

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    A dense elaboration and defense of Žižek’s historical materialist dialectics in terms of a political epistemology informed by Lacanian psychoanalysis through an analysis of the surplus of (unconscious) knowledge that makes the global capitalist system incomplete and inconsistent. Highlights the Christian subtext of Žižek’s dialectics, which makes it possible to formulate a subtractive Bartlebyean politics and to reimagine a process of sublimation where new social spaces of radical change can emerge through the universality of the “part of no part.”

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  • Vighi, Fabio, and Heiko Feldner. Žižek: Beyond Foucault. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

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    Intended for students, academics in social sciences and the arts, and Žižek and Foucauldian studies scholars, this book argues that critical theory would be better served by applying Žižek’s theory of the Lacanian Real to symbolic representations. Highlights the similarities and differences between Žižek’s and Foucault’s approaches to emancipatory politics, political change, and the representation of social reality through an analysis of Žižek’s theories of ideology critique and the political act. Explores the universal applicability of Žižek’s thought.

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Theology

Kotsko 2008 provides a very useful introduction to Žižek’s theological turn within the overall trajectory of his work and his theoretical sources and also shows how Žižek can be useful for theologians and theology scholars. Rose 2019 also focuses on the utility of Žižek’s dialectical materialist philosophy for reconstructing the Christian mystical tradition. Sigurdson 2012 offers a useful and lucid explication of Žižek’s use of theological ideas in the context of his overall philosophical system, by comparing and juxtaposing his work on theology with those of the British literary Marxist critic Terry Eagleton. Løland 2018 presents a more critical account of Žižek’s theological turn by shedding light on his appropriation of St. Paul in the context of the larger debate on the relevance of the Pauline legacy in contemporary continental philosophy.

  • Kotsko, Adam. Žižek and Theology. London: T&T Clark, 2008.

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    Intended to meet the increasing demand for ancillary volumes on Žižek’s expanding oeuvre, this book offers a lucid chronological introduction to Žižek’s work, in general, and dialectical materialist theology in particular, within the larger context and trajectory of his overall work. Focuses his analysis on Žižek 2006 (The Parallax View) and assesses the utility of Žižek for theological studies, sums up various radical Orthodox responses to Žižek, and traces the parallels between his materialist theology and other similar theologies.

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  • Løland, Ole Jakob. The Reception of Paul the Apostle in the Works of Slavoj Žižek. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-91728-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A critical exploration of Žižek’s peculiar turn to Paul that contests his interpretation of specific ideas and themes of the Pauline epistles. Highlights the problems with Žižek’s consistent presentation of Paul via Badiou’s reductionist idea of the Christ-Event. Explores Žižek’s image of introspective Paul as a precursor for psychoanalysis and shows the limits of Žižek’s representation of Paul as a proto-Leninist and advocate of militant universalism and egalitarianism.

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  • Rose, Marika. A Theology of Failure: Žižek against Christian Innocence. New York: Fordham University Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctvdtpk9qSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the failure of the Christian mystical tradition and the way Žižek’s return to metaphysics makes possible a materialist reading of negative (apophatic) theology within the larger treatment of Christian theology in twentieth-century continental philosophy. Shows how Žižek reworks the relationship between ontology and desire underpinning negative theology through his appropriation of Hegel and Lacan. Explores the tension between cataphatic and the apophatic theologies through Žižek’s work as the basis for forming a genuinely revolutionary community, desire to imagine the end of capitalism as the end of the world, the destruction of the global order based on the extraction and circulation of capital desire to imagine the end of capitalism as the end of the world, the destruction of the global order based on the extraction, and circulation of capital.

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  • Sigurdson, Ola. Theology and Marxism in Eagleton and Žižek. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1057/9781137103116Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the theological turn in recent Marxist philosophy and the structural role theology plays in it by juxtaposing the perspectives of Žižek and the British literary Marxist critic Terry Eagleton on the uses of theology, especially Christianity, in their work within the larger context of their overall radical political philosophy of hope. Discusses how Žižek repackages faith as a moment of liberation from ideology through his use of Hegel and his heterodox interpretation of Christianity.

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Media

Taylor 2010 provides a very useful general introduction to Žižek’s approach to a wide range of media such as films and current events in the context of the various debates about his public persona and style that were the hallmark of the early phase of the reception of his work. Flisfeder 2012 zeroes in on Žižek’s Lacanian film theory in relation to cinema in particular within the debates in the field of films studies. Burnham 2018 brings attention to the utility of Žižek’s theories to digital culture studies, including the Internet, social and new media, selfies, and films in the context of the debate about the importance of psychoanalysis for understanding digital culture.

  • Burnham, Clint. Does the Internet Have an Unconscious? Slavoj Žižek and Digital Culture. London: Bloomsbury, 2018.

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    Examines the importance of Žižek’s particular combination of German Idealism, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and Marxist materialism for understanding how unconscious enjoyment, pathologies, and fantasies manifest themselves in digital culture, the Internet, and social and new media. Analyzes various aspects of digital culture and their aesthetic representations in light of numerous Žižekian concepts such as framing the event, immaterial materialism, interpassivity, sexual nonrelationship, and the nonexistence of the Big Other and considers their implications for a communist-digital politics.

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  • Flisfeder, Matthew. The Symbolic, the Sublime, and Slavoj Žižek’s Theory of Film. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1057/9781137110749Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers a useful and lucidly written introduction to Žižek’s distinctive psychoanalytic and dialectical film theory of ideology in the context of debates about post-theory in the field of film studies. Examines the ways in which Žižek uses cinema to develop his brand of ideology critique, discusses the utility of Žižek’s theory of subjectivity to cinematic spectatorship, and assesses its political significance for transforming the dynamics of socio-symbolic structures in contemporary society.

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  • Taylor, Paul. Žižek and the Media. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010.

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    An accessible introduction to Žižek’s critical approach to the media and its hidden political ontology that exposes the violent ideological mechanisms by which the mass media and its culture of spectacle obfuscates the truth within the debate about post-ideology. Applies Žižekian concepts and tropes such as the chocolate laxative, perversity, disavowal, ideology, and violence to various films and media events. Examines Žižek’s pleas for withdrawal and inactive theory for the revitalization of radical leftist politics.

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Education and Composition Studies

Wall and Perrin 2015 provides an accessible and lucid introduction to Žižek and the importance of his work for the field of education in general. Rickert 2007 offers a more theoretically advanced elaboration of Žižek’s ideas and their relevance for composition studies within the central debates in the field.

  • Rickert, Thomas. Acts of Enjoyment: Rhetoric, Žižek, and the Return of the Subject. Composition, Literacy, and Culture. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt6wrbt1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the implications of Žižek’s psychoanalytic theories of discourse, subjectivity, and the Real to the emphasis on radical social transformation through empowerment and critical thinking in the field of critical pedagogy and the cultural studies composition classroom. Investigates the merits of an alternative pedagogy grounded in Žižek’s notion of “ideological enmeshment” that encourages students to think self-reflexively about themselves in relation to the role of jouissance in ideology critique and the retroactive nature of meaning.

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  • Wall, Tony, and David Perrin. Slavoj Žižek: A Žižekian Gaze at Education. SpringerBriefs in Education. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-21242-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A brief and accessible introduction to Žižek’s theories and their utility to the field of education in relation to his ideological critique of commodity fetishism in the global capitalist system. Fleshes out the contours of a Žižekian critical pedagogy or gaze grounded in developing critico-ideological approaches to education and its economic underpinnings and challenging the grounds on which we engage through an understanding of the workings of fetishistic disavowal and a call to the Act.

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Edited Collections

The number of multicontributor edited volumes regarding Žižek’s work is becoming an important feature of scholarship in the field of Žižek’s studies. These collections can be divided into general collections that provide comprehensive overviews of the main fields that Žižek writes about, including philosophy, psychoanalysis, politics, ethics, religion, and so on and thematic collections that bring many scholarly perspectives to bear on Žižek’s treatment of a specific topic or his contribution to a specific field of study. These volumes provide useful starting points to explore the general contours of Žižek’s work, assess the critical reception and application of his work in diverse fields, and give an indication about future directions in the field of Žižek studies.

General Overviews

The works in this category provide useful resources for advanced readers to help them make sense of the diverse array of issues, topics, and themes that Žižek addresses in his oeuvre. Boucher, et al. 2005 is considered the first attempt to outline the main areas of investigation and research in Žižek studies and engage them critically, even though the main focus of the analysis is Žižek’s politics. Khader and Rothenberg 2013 also offers a similar broad overview of Žižek’s forays into different fields and disciplines, while introducing areas that were not covered in other collections such as religion, ecology, and postcolonial studies, and provides examples that clarify, elaborate, and develop key concepts in Žižek’s work. Hamza 2015 provides a range of articles, some of which critically engage Žižek and his work, while others are merely independent interventions in the same fields in which Žižek has written, without necessarily relating to Žižek.

  • Boucher, Geoff, Jason Glynos, and Matthew Sharpe, eds. Traversing the Fantasy: Critical Responses to Slavoj Žižek. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005.

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    The first collection to define the general contours of the field of Žižek studies and take his work seriously in an effort to dispel, with mixed results, the racial fantasy underlying the early negative Anglo-American reception of his work. Eleven articles identify Žižek with the Real and explore some of the major themes and topics in Žižek’s work. Includes a generous and polemical reply by Žižek to the contributors’ interventions.

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  • Hamza, Agon, ed. Repeating Žižek. Durham, NC; London: Duke University Press, 2015.

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    A collection of sixteen chapters by leading scholars in the field of Žižek studies and organized into four parts that relate to various philosophical, psychoanalytic, political, and religious aspects of Žižek’s work. Explores the possibility of repeating Žižek by reloading Žižek’s original impulse, struggle, and the disavowed assumptions of his work under different conditions and by identifying a homogenous content at its core, in light of the recent turn to Hegel over Lacan in Žižek’s work.

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  • Khader, Jamil, and Molly Rothenberg, eds. Žižek Now: Current Perspectives in Žižek Studies. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013.

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    Offers a useful and accessible context for understanding Žižek’s thought by leading and emergent scholars in the field of Žižek studies and provides a general assessment of the impact of his work on various disciplines, including philosophy, politics, religion, science, and ecology. Places discussions of the Hegelian critique of Marx, Žižek’s critique of religion and ritual, quantum physics, the Leninist act, Fanonian politics, and transcendentalist materialist theory of the subject in Žižek’s work in current debates in these fields.

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Philosophy and Politics

Bowman and Stamp 2007 and Feldner and Vighi 2007 explore different aspects of Žižek’s political philosophy by examining its presuppositions and methods and comparing his theories to other important philosophers and theorists in the field of cultural studies and continental philosophy. Hamza and Ruda 2016 is a dense investigation of Žižek’s dialectical materialist philosophy that demonstrates the seriousness of Žižek’s philosophy in its own right. These collections target advanced readers who have a good background in Žižek’s theories and include contributions by experts and specialists in Žižek studies as well as interlocutors who have been involved in various debates with him over the years.

  • Bowman, Paul, and Richard Stamp, eds. The Truth of Žižek. London: Continuum, 2007.

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    A controversial collection of critical responses to, provocations, and ad hominem attacks that aimed to assess the nature, effect, and truth of Žižek’s work, engage with its breadth and richness, and shape the future of the emergent field of Žižek studies. Contributors bring Žižek’s psychoanalytic categories to bear on his theoretical views and life and critically address the philosophical presuppositions of his work and their political consequences. Famous for Žižek’s reply in the Afterword.

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  • Feldner, Heiko, and Fabio Vighi, ed. Did Somebody Say Ideology? On Slavoj Žižek and Consequences. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007.

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    Explores the political, philosophical, and psychoanalytic foundations of Žižek’s work through an analysis and application of his theory of ideology. Examines different aspects of his political and philosophical theories; presents Žižek’s work in context by relating his work to other philosophers and movements such as Foucault, Badiou, and deconstruction; and applies Žižek’s theories to various films in relation to his analysis of the Act, national ideology, and sexual difference.

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  • Hamza, Agon, and Frank Ruda, eds. Slavoj Žižek and Dialectical Materialism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

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    A critical examination of Žižek’s use of dialectical materialism throughout his work as a method and practice, paying special attention to Žižek 2012 and Žižek 2014 (cited under Dialectical Materialist Philosophy) within the context of the cotemporary debates about materialist philosophy. Explains the meaning of the dialectic in his work, compares it with other philosophers, and distinguishes Žižek’s materialist philosophy from different forms of New Materialisms. Žižek’s Afterword offers a thorough critique of object oriented ontology as naïve realism.

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Theology and Law

Mitralexis and Skliris 2018 offers an important addition to the existing literature on theology in general, and Christianity in particular, in Žižek’s work by focusing on the atheistic and materialist aspects of Žižek’s musings on religion. Sutter 2015 makes a valuable and original contribution to the field of Žižek studies by exploring the topic of the law, which has not been systematically analyzed and discussed in the literature.

  • Mitralexis, Sotiris, and Dionysios Skliris, eds. Slavoj Žižek and Christianity. Transcending Boundaries in Philosophy and Theology. New York: Routledge, 2018.

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    A collection by both Žižek studies and Christian scholars that addresses Žižek’s thought on Christianity and theology, focusing on the meaning and significance of the Crucifixion and the community of the Holy Spirit in his work. Provides a comprehensive introduction to various aspects of Žižek’s dialectical materialist atheistic Christianity and links its emancipatory core with psychoanalysis and the communist idea and places it in dialogue with various theologians. Žižek’s Afterword analyzes the Book of Job.

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  • Sutter, Laurent de, ed. Žižek and Law Nomikoi: Critical Legal Thinkers. New York: Routledge, 2015.

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    This important collection brings together for the first time well-known Žižek scholars and legal theorists to examine the place of the law, especially the interrelationship between the law and its obscene remainder, in Žižek’s overall system of thought. Traces various aspects of Žižek’s Lacanian approach to the law through a discussion of the symbolic, the four discourses, the ethical act, and capitalist discourse. Žižek’s Postscript highlights how the obscene excess paradoxically subverts and sustains the law.

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Performance, Media Studies, Literature, and Education

The collections in this section testify to the growing interest in Žižek’s theories and work in various disciplines and show that their applications can no longer be confined to one or two disciplines. Chow and Mangold 2014 and Flisfeder and Willis 2014 offer lucid and accessible introductions to the fields of performance and media studies in general and serve as useful starting points of departure for beginner and advanced readers. Jagodzinski 2012 provides a more advanced analysis of film and cinema by focusing on diverse psychoanalytic theories, including Žižek’s theories. Lapping 2018 and Sbriglia 2017 extend the application of Žižekian theories to the fields of education and literary studies that cater to both unfamiliar and seasoned readers.

  • Chow, B., and A. Mangold, eds. Žižek and Performance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

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    A very useful introductory collection that examines the utility of Žižek’s theoretical work to theater and performance studies and practice. Examines Žižek’s media persona within disciplinary context and analyzes the many references in his work to various performative contexts. Applies and extends Žižek’s key themes and ideas to a wide range of genres in theater and performative arts, including stand-up comedy and Britain’s Got Talent. Žižek’s contribution discusses the link between performance, the traumatic Real, and the gaze.

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  • Flisfeder, Matthew, and Louis-Paul Willis, eds. Žižek and Media Studies: A Reader. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

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    A lucid and useful introduction to the field of Žižekian media studies that shifts the parameters of the field from the traditional psychoanalytic approaches to Žižekian theories of ideology critique in a post-ideological world. Provides a context for understanding Žižek’s media image and the impact of his theories on the field. Explores the relations among media, ideology, and politics and critically applies Žižek’s theories to popular culture, film and cinema, and social media and the Internet.

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  • Jagodzinski, Jan, ed. Psychoanalyzing Cinema: A Productive Encounter with Lacan, Deleuze, and Žižek. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

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    A specialized collection on the debate about the utility and the political ramifications of various psychoanalytical approaches in film studies, especially between Gilles Deleuze’s schizoanalysis and Žižek’s ideology critique as inheritors of the Lacanian legacy. Examines Žižek’s misreadings of Deleuze, compares their methodologies and key themes, and explores their political consequences through analyses of Hitchcock’s and other directors’ films, social movements, and the dynamics of lack, guilt, and ethics in their works.

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  • Lapping, Claudia, ed. Freud, Lacan, Žižek and Education: Exploring Unconscious Investments in Policy and Practice. Education and Social Theory. London and New York: Routledge, 2018.

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    Explores the importance of Freud’s, Lacan’s, and Žižek’s psychoanalytic theories of repetition, repression, and the death drive for understanding issues of policy and practice in the field of education. Relates Žižek’s analysis of ideology, enjoyment, and interpassivity to various aspects of educational policy and practice, including global citizenship and “mathematics for all” movement insofar as they are driven by unconscious investments in educational institutions and practices as well as idealized images of socio-political transformation.

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  • Sbriglia, Russell, ed. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature, But Were Afraid to Ask Žižek. Durham, NC; London: Duke University Press, 2017.

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    An important collection by established and emergent Žižekian scholars that demonstrates the vitality of, and need for, Žižek’s theories to the field of literary studies. Explores ways in which Žižek’s dialectical materialist philosophy can revitalize and develop new literary theoretical frameworks through new concepts and ideas, including materialism, the sublime, historicity, ideology critique, concrete universality, and eco-artificiality. Reworks and extends different Žižekian methods and ideas to the interpretation of various Western and non-Western literary texts.

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Other Reference Works

As Žižek’s work continues to evolve, scholars in the field will have access to different references, especially online resources, to keep up with the latest developments in his work and its critical study. Sharpe 2004 provides an accessible and useful general introduction to the early Žižek. Butler 2014 provides an important addition to the existing references and will prove invaluable in the study of Žižek’s terminology and philosophical work. The International Journal of Žižek Studies is an indispensable source at all stages in the study of Žižek’s work, while the Žižek Archives at Lacan.com offers a wealth of bibliographic information for the study of Žižek up to 2009.

  • Butler, Rex. The Žižek Dictionary. New York: Routledge, 2014.

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    A very important resource for readers unfamiliar with Žižek’s works. Comprises sixty-three entries by a wide range of scholars from different nationalities and backgrounds. Examines Žižek’s key concepts in relation to each other, his theoretical debts and approaches to various philosophers, and debates with various philosophers within the context of Žižek’s overall work and its development. Provides a cross-index and includes an entry on Žižek by Žižek himself.

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  • International Journal of Žižek Studies.

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    Launched in 2007, the IJŽS marks the inauguration of the field of Žižekian studies in the academy and is the only international, peer-reviewed, and open access academic journal that is entirely dedicated to the study of Žižek’s evolving oeuvre and its implications for a range of academic disciplines. Publishes general issues as well as various special issues in Žižekian studies. The journal has over 14,000 registered users around the world.

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  • Sharpe, Matthew. “Slavoj Žižek.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2004.

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    An early useful online introduction to Žižek’s life and work that approaches Žižek’s work as a complete philosophical system within its Lacanian psychoanalytic, Marxist, and German idealist sources. Presents Žižek’s key terms and concepts in accessible language and provides concise summaries of Žižek’s political philosophy and its underlying Lacanian-Hegelian ontology. Addresses Žižek’s practical philosophy and its ethical implications.

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  • Žižek Archives. Lacan.com.

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    Provides biographical context for understanding Žižek’s life excerpted from Myers 2003 (cited under General Overviews) as well as a comprehensive bibliography up to 2009.

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