Jacques Rancière

Professor Emeritus

Université de Paris

Jacques Rancière (b. 1940 in Algiers) is Professor Emeritus at the Université de Paris (St. Denis). Jacques Rancière is known for his sometimes remote position in contemporary French thought; operating from the humble motto that the cobbler and the university dean are equally intelligent, Jacques Rancière has freely compared the works of such known luminaries as Plato, Aristotle, Gilles Deleuze and others with relatively unknown thinkers like Joseph Jacototy and Gabriel Gauny.

Jacques Rancière's books have covered pedagogy, the writing of history, philosophy, cinema, aesthetics and contemporary art. His critics have had a hard time defining him, placing him at different points as a philosopher, a literary critic, an art theorist and a Marxist. In Jacques Rancière's words, thought is just an expression of a condition, and his work does not belong to a discipline because it belongs to an attempt to break the borders of a discipline. Therefore like Michel Foucault, Jacques Rancière has returned to the archives in order to, in a sense, re-examine the practices of historiography pitting the ideas of Plato on labor time against the writings of a nineteenth-century worker about his own sense of time.

In The Future of the Image (2007), Jacques Rancière argues that, through the image, art and politics have always been intrinsically linked. Drawing on a series of art movements, filmmakers like Godard and Breson, as well as theoreticians such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Theodor Adorno, Roland Barthes, Jean-François Lyotard and others, Jacques Rancière claims that artists and theorists often suffer from mystical tendencies. Jacques Rancière believes that there is a bold choice to be made in art; either it can reinforce a move towards radical democracy, or it can remain mired in reactionary mysticism. Jacques Rancière argues against the idea that a revolutionary act is located within the art work itself; instead he argues that the revolution exists prior to the work of art. Revolutionary impetus exists rather in the worker's emancipation, in his chance to view a work of art versus work in itself. Jacques Rancière writes that what happens in the aesthetic regime of art is that artists create objects that escape their will.

Jacques Rancière's translated works are, among others: Reading Capital (1968), The Nights of Labor: The Workers' Dream in Nineteenth-Century France (1989), The Ignorant Schoolmaster; Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation (1991), The Names of History; On the Poetics of Knowledge (1994), On the Shores of Politics (1995), Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy (1998), The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (2004), The Future of the Image (2007), Hatred of Democracy (2007), and The Aesthetic Unconscious (2009). His most recent title, The Emancipated Spectator, was released in November, 2009.