We are an interdisciplinary reading group and seminar series interested in critical and cultural theory and its relation to literature, the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and life. This year we'll be discussing the work of James Baldwin. An essayist, social critic, novelist and activist, Baldwin interrogates themes of race, sexuality, identity, and literary and cinematic representation throughout his work.  2020 has seen the United States and much of the world in a state of unprecedented crisis and unrest, with race at the forefront of the conversation. Set against a backdrop of a global pandemic, which itself exposed and accentuated the real consequences of racial and class inequality, the Black Lives Matter movement reached new levels of relevance in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. In the midst of the resulting global reckoning with racial injustice, many have turned to Baldwin in an attempt to make sense of the contemporary moment. 

We are based in the Leeds Humanities Research Institute at the University of Leeds, and we are affiliated with the Northern Theory School. Our goal is to promote theoretical inquiry across academic disciplines. To accomplish this goal, we read and discuss foundational theoretical texts and host researchers from within and without the university to present work related to theory and its application to the world.

Current Directors

Joseph Genchi (School of English), Izzy Jenkinson (School of English), and Craig McDonald (School of English)

Past Directors

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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