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Adam Kotsko
Kotsko graduation 2012

Full name

Adam James Kotsko

Presence at Shimer


Presence on Earth



Olivet Nazarene University 2002


Chicago Theological Seminary 2005


Chicago Theological Seminary 2009


Chicago period faculty

Adam Kotsko is a current member of the faculty at Shimer College, which he joined in 2011.

Kotsko is a frequent contributor to several blogs including "The Weblog" and "An und für sich".

Brief descriptionEdit

This brief description is released under the CC0 copyright waiver.

Adam Kotsko (b. 1980) is an American writer on theology, philosophy and popular culture, also known for his contributions to the blogosphere. His printed works include Why We Love Sociopaths (2012), Awkwardness (2010), and the authoritative Žižek and Theology (2008). Kotsko joined the faculty of Shimer College in Chicago in 2011, teaching the humanities component of Shimer's Great Books curriculum. Kotsko earned his BA at Olivet Nazarene University, and his MA and Ph.D. at the Chicago Theological Seminary. (from Shimer College Wiki)



  • Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television (2012)
  • Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation (2010)
  • Awkwardness: An Essay (2010)
  • Zizek and Theology (2008)
Articles (incomplete)

Writings about ShimerEdit



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Adam Kotsko (b. 1980) is an American writer, educator, and translator, working chiefly in the field of political theology. As of 2013, he is an assistant professor of humanities at Shimer College in Chicago. He is especially known for his interpretative work on Slavoj Žižek and Giorgio Agamben, as well as his writing on American popular culture.

Kotsko's better-known works include Why We Love Sociopaths (2012), Awkwardness (2010), and Žižek and Theology (2008). He has published three translations of works by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben.

Kotsko is also known for his blogging, now in its second decade. He posts chiefly on a group blog titled An und für sich, but continues to maintain his original blog, titled simply The Weblog.[1] Prior to the rise of blogging, he had maintained a blog-like website titled The Homepage.[1]

Early life and educationEdit

Adam Kotsko was born in Flint, Michigan, and grew up in nearby Davison, a trajectory he shares with filmmaker Michael Moore.[2][3] He has credited his school experiences in Davison with giving him a love of literature.[2]

Kotsko earned his BA at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois in 2002.[4][2] From there, he went on to the Chicago Theological Seminary, where he completed an MA in religious studies in 2005, with a thesis in the form of a translation and commentary on Jacques Derrida's essay "Literature in Secret: An Impossible Filiation".[5] He completed his Ph.D. in theology, ethics, and culture at CTS in 2009.[4] His doctoral dissertation was titled Atonement and Ontology,[6] and argued that an understanding of atonement theory requires a social-relational ontology.[7]

Intellectual and teaching careerEdit

Shimer’s approach admittedly may seem unrealistic. I believe, however, that it’s not a matter of “cost” in an abstract sense, but rather a matter of priorities. At Shimer, the priority is classroom instruction, and everything else takes a back seat to that.
—Adam Kotsko, 2012[8]

Soon after completing his doctorate in 2009, Kotsko began teaching at Kalamazoo College, a liberal arts college in Michigan.[9] Initially a one-year appointment, it was subsequently extended to two.[10]

In 2011, Kotsko was hired by Shimer College, a very small Great Books college in Chicago. He was one of three new Shimer professors hired that year, the school's largest intake of new faculty in more than a decade.[11] In his first year, he participated in a major reworking of the school's upper-level core Humanities courses. He has also served on numerous committees in Shimer's unusual self-governance body, the Shimer College Assembly; in April 2013 he was additionally elected parliamentarian of the Assembly.[9]

Kotsko is known for his writings on the interpretation of the philosopher Slavoj Žižek, whom he has credited for causing him to "break out of one particular intellectual ghetto and into another" by changing his self-identification from "non-Republican" to leftist.[2] His first published book was on Slavoj Žižek, titled Žižek and Theology, the first volume of T&T Clark's "Philosophy and Theology" series.[12] In a somewhat unusual circumstance for academic writers, it was published in 2008, before he had completed his dissertation.[1] In 2012, Kotsko published a more popular article on "How to Read Žižek" in the Los Angeles Review of Books,[13] which was republished in Italian by Internazionale.[14]

Kotsko has also published three book-length translations of works by Italian theologian Giorgio Agamben. He has also published and delivered a number of papers on Agamben. He has argued that Agamben's Highest Poverty, his translation of which was published in 2013, is "ultimately about confronting neoliberalism."[15]

At its best, awkward humour is more than entertainment – it is a lesson in solidarity.
—Adam Kotsko, 2010[16]

Kotsko has published two short books on popular culture, Awkwardness: An Essay (2010) and Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television (2012). Each book draws out a specific theme found in contemporary American TV shows; Awkwardness addressing the curious rise of "awkward humor" in the 21st century and Why We Love Sociopaths addressing the trend toward a certain type of deeply antisocial protagonist. Both books were greeted with general acclaim, with the Oxonian Review declaring that "Awkwardness is just what a work of philosophy should be",[17] and Scott Berkun describing Why We Love Sociopaths as "a second cousin to Postman’s classic Amusing Ourselves to Death."[18] Why We Love Sociopaths, however, also drew criticism for its admittedly[19] non-technical use of the term sociopathy.

The success of Awkwardness has led to Kotsko being cited as an authority on awkwardness in the press, including by US News and World Report.[20]

As of 2013, Kotsko reported himself to be working on a project on the Devil, as a follow-up to his 2010 work on redemption.[21] He has previously presented a paper before the American Academy of Religion on the ways that thinking of the Devil are informed by Agamben's writing.[22]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 ADam Robinson (2009-06-15). "Another long interview (this time with Žižek brain Adam Kotsko)". HTML Giant. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Norman Geras (2004-08-06). "The normblog profile 46: Adam Kotsko". Normblog. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  3. Adam Kotsko (2010-03-19). "Red Toryism: The British Invasion". An und für sich. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Adam Kotsko". Shimer College. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  5. "An Impossible Filiation by Jacques Derrida: Translation and Commentary". Worldcat. Retrieved 2013-05-24. . Text of translation.
  6. "Atonement and ontology". Worldcat. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  7. Adam Kotsko (2009-02-11). "My Dissertation: "Atonement and Ontology"". An und für sich. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  8. Adam Kotsko (2012-05-03). "The Immersion Method -- I". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Adam Kotsko. "CVs: Adam Kotsko". An und für sich. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  10. Adam Kotsko (2011-04-25). "An announcement". An und für sich. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  11. "Shimer Hires Three New Faculty Members". Shimer College. 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  12. "New Release: Zizek and Theology". T&T Clark. 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  13. Adam Kotsko (2012-09-02). "How to Read Žižek". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  14. "Internazionale: Sommario 985". 2013-02. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  15. Adam Kotsko (2013-05-21). "What St. Paul and the Franciscans Can Tell Us About Neoliberalism: On Agamben’s The Highest Poverty". Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  16. Adam Kotsko (2010-12-31). "The bond of the awkward". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  17. Tom Cutterham (2011-02-28). "Awkwardness". Oxonian Review. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  18. Scott Berkun (2013-03-16). "Why We Love Sociopaths: Book Review". Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  19. Adam Kotsko (2012). Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television. p. 2. ISBN 178099091X. 
  20. Aaron Guerrero (2013-05-01). "How to Deal with an Awkward Co-Worker". US News and World Report. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  21. Tom Cutterham. "Don Draper, the Devil and Democracy: An Interview with Adam Kotsko". Review 31. 
  22. Adam Kotsko (2012-11-18). "The Prince of This World: Thinking the Devil in Light of Agamben’s Kingdom and the Glory". 

External linksEdit

The above article is a biography of a living Shimerian, and is therefore governed by the Wikia and Shimer College Wiki policies on biographies of living people. All information should be verifiable from public sources. The article must not be defamatory or invasive of privacy. Please feel free to improve this page.

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