Walter Benn Michaels
American literary researcher, and political philosopher. He has lectured at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (1974-1977, 1987-2001) and at the University of California at Berkeley (1977-1987). Since 2001 he has worked at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He was the author of the talked-about article Against Theory, which was published in 1982 on the pages of Critical Inquiry (written with Steven Knapp). This text provoked a long discussion in the United States on the subject of the theory of interpretation (the authors opposed the limiting convenience of academic reading practices and the pre-established criteria of proper interpretation). This outcry marked the official beginning of the school of ‘neo-pragmatism’. Michael’s work is concentrated on key questions for contemporary humanistic studies, such as the problem of race, ethnic and personal identity, and the differences between ‘memory’ and ‘history’. Michaels has written The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism (1987), Our America: Nativism, Modernism and Pluralism (1995), The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (2004) and The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality (2006), in which he analyses the phenomena of deepening economic disparities in society referring to the rules of cultural diversity – multiculturalism. At the Krakow festival, the researcher from Chicago gave a lecture entitled Multiculturalism Today, and took part in a discussion led by Jan Sowa, Gra w klasy. Polityka, społeczeństwo, kultura (Game of Classes. Politics, society, culture).