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Jun 29, 2020

Phillip E. Wegner is the Marston-Milbauer Eminent Scholar and Professor of English at the University of Florida and the director of the Working Group for the Study of Critical Theory. He is the author of numerous essays and five books, Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity (California, 2002); Life Between Two Deaths: U.S. Culture, 1989-2001 (Duke, 2009); Periodizing Jameson: Dialectics, the University, and the Desire for Narrative (Northwestern, 2014); and Shockwaves of Possibility: Essays on Science Fiction, Globalization, and Utopia (Peter Lang, 2014); and Invoking Hope: Theory and Utopia in Dark Times (Minnesota, 2020); as well as the editor of a new edition of Robert C. Elliott’s The Shape of Utopia: Studies in a Literary Genre (Peter Lang, 2013). In 2017, he was honored as the recipient of the Society for Utopian Studies Lyman Tower Sargent Award for Distinguished Scholarship. We discuss his latest book, Invoking Hope (Minnesota, 2020), with a focus on the sixth chapter, "Repetition, Love, and Concrete Utopia in 50 First Dates."

Full bio at:


From University of Minnesota Press:

With Invoking Hope, Wegner provides an innovative lens for considering the rise of right-wing populism and the current crisis in democracy. He discusses challenges in the humanities and higher education and develops strategies of creative critical reading and hope against the grain of current trends in scholarship.


This is a book that banishes intellectual lethargy forever, so dazzling are the close readings that flesh out its world-scale philosophy and so forceful is its polemic—a polemic on behalf of knowledge itself as much as theory, commitment, and a responsibly grounded, even necessary, account of hope.

Bruce Robbins, author of The Beneficiary


With originality and humor, Phillip E. Wegner extends Fredric Jameson’s tradition of dialectically reappropriating formalisms, showing how even the most seemingly static structures can be deployed to think diachronically and reinvigorate our abilities to historicize. This fearless book is exactly what we need now.

Sianne Ngai, University of Chicago


Invoking Hope is a major intervention by our leading theorist of utopia—a manifesto for the crisis of the present and the possibility of a better future. Drawing on a mix of Western Marxism and Badiou, Phillip E. Wegner argues for the necessity of a positive hermeneutics and the imagination of possible futures. In the Pandora’s box of the present, Wegner finds the hope that emerges last but promises everything.

Christopher Breu, Illinois State University