We are a reading group and seminar series interested in cultural theory and the critical, interdisciplinary engagement it enables with the arts, politics, and social history. This will be the study group’s eleventh year. Each year, the group focuses on reading and discussing the work of one cultural theorist in meetings and events throughout the year. This year we have chosen to focus on US-American theorist Cedric Robinson. 

Robinson has risen to increased prominence in the last few years partly due to the 2021 republication of his 1983 classic Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition by Penguin Books, and the purchase that some of his concepts such as ‘racial capitalism’ and the ‘Black Radical Tradition’ have had within activist communities around the Black Lives Matter movement. Our reading group will provide an opportunity to look at this work in-depth but also to situate it in the context of Robinson’s entire oeuvre, taking in other concepts such as the ‘terms of order’ and ‘racial regimes’. Robinson’s work itself crosses disciplinary boundaries, beginning within the discipline of political science by considering the relationship between social movements and leadership. However, as the author of a recent biography on Robinson notes, as his work evolves “history” becomes “his chosen methodology or medium for theorizing”. As such, Black Marxism offers not only a critique of Western historiography but also a highly original analysis of the development (and entwined relationship) of both capitalism and racialism. Throughout this year, we want to encourage consideration of the epistemological heft of Robinson’s argument in the alternative models that it sets up to critique traditional historiography. Therefore, we will consider the relation between theory and practice in Robinson’s work, unpicking the practical ramifications of his writing, as well as the historical uses of these theories in practical contexts. We will engage with practice-led researchers and cultural objects that embody some of Robinson’s concerns, inspired by his final work Forgeries of Memory and Meaning which takes another disciplinary path into Film Studies.

We want to make this group as accessible as possible so please email us at quiltingpoints@gmail.com if you have any trouble accessing the reading or have any additional needs that we should be aware of.

Quilting Points is based in the Leeds Humanities Research Institute at the University of Leeds and is affiliated with the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies (CERS).

Current Directors

Poonan Sharma (School of English), Jack Rondeau (School of English), and Owen Atkinson (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies)

Past Directors

2022-2023: Ellie Wakeford (School of English), Freddie Coombes (School of History), and Marika Ceschia (School of English)
2021-2022: Ana GarcĂ­a Soriano (School of English), Evie Lewis (School of English), Ghada Habib (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies) and Michael Hedges (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies)
2020-2021: Joseph Genchi (School of English), Izzy Jenkinson (School of English), and Craig McDonald (School of English)
2019-20: Sam Ross (School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science), Izzy Jenkinson (School of English), and Sam Ridout (School of Music)
2018-19: Adrienne Mortimer (School of English), Clare Fisher (School of Performance and Cultural Industries), and Liam Wilby (School of English)
2017-18: Emma Parker (School of English), Hayley Toth (School of English), and Bethan Hughes (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies)
2016–17: Rachel Johnson (School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies), Dominic O'Key (School of Languages, Cultures and Societies / School of English), Sam Rae (School of Sociology and Social Policy)
2015–16: David Wingate (School of Earth and Environment) and Adam Roberts (School of Languages, Cultures and Societies)
2014-15: Ryan Topper (School of English) and Ben Chwistek (School of Classics)
2013-14: Stefan Skrimshire (School of Philosophy, Religion, and the History of Science) and Kasia Mika (School of English)
2012-13: Michael Kelly (School of History) and Arthur Rose (School of English)
2011-12: Arthur Rose (School of English)

Our Name

The quilting point is the word ______, with all these trans-significant connotations. Everything radiates out from and is organized around this signifier, similar to these little lines of force that an upholstery button forms on the surface of material. It's the point of convergence that enables everything that happens in this discourse to be situated retroactively and prospectively.
(Jacques Lacan, Seminar III)

Quilting Points, or points de capiton, are points of suture where there is a knotting together of words and their meanings.

The point de capiton is thus the point in the signifying chain at which "the signifier stops the otherwise endless movement of the signification" and produces the necessary illusion of a fixed meaning.

The wider symbolic implication is that there are certain obvious points of entry in ideas, identifiable by an illusory stability, that provide a means by which these ideas might be discussed, critiqued and evaluated. Quilting Points are therefore a means to examine ideas and their consequences.

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