Adam Kotsko

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Adam Kotsko
Adam Kotsko reception 2011.jpg
Kotsko in 2011
Born (1980-07-19) July 19, 1980 (age 41)
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisAtonement and Ontology (2009)
Doctoral advisorTed Jennings
Academic work
Sub-disciplinePolitical theology
Institutions Edit this at Wikidata

Adam Kotsko (born 1980) is an American theologian, religious scholar, culture critic, and translator, working in the field of political theology. He served as an Assistant Professor of Humanities at Shimer College in Chicago, which was absorbed into North Central College in 2017. He is chiefly known for his interpretative work on philosophers Slavoj Žižek and Giorgio Agamben, as well as his writing on American pop culture. Some of his better-known books include Why We Love Sociopaths (2012), Awkwardness (2010), and Žižek and Theology (2008).

Early life and education[edit]

Adam Kotsko was born on July 19, 1980,[citation needed]in Flint, Michigan, and grew up in nearby Davison.[3][4]

Kotsko earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, in 2002.[3][5] From there, he went on to the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), where he completed a Master of Arts degree 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".[6]

Kotsko completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree in theology, ethics, and culture at CTS in 2009.[5] His doctoral dissertation was titled Atonement and Ontology[7] and argued that an understanding of atonement theory requires a social-relational ontology.[8] A modified version of his dissertation was published by Continuum International Publishing Group in 2010 under the title of The Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation.[9]


After completing his doctorate in 2009, Kotsko taught for two years at Kalamazoo College, a liberal arts college in Michigan.[10][11]

Kotsko at the Shimer College commencement ceremony in Chicago in May 2012

In 2011, Kotsko was hired by Shimer College, a 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.[12] In his first year at Shimer, Kotsko participated in a reworking of the school's upper-level core humanities courses. He also served on numerous committees in Shimer's self-governance body, the Shimer College Assembly. In April 2013, Kotsko was elected parliamentarian of the assembly.[10]


Kotsko is known for his writings on 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.[3] His first book, which was published in 2008 was on Žižek, titled Žižek and Theology (the first volume of T&T Clark's "Philosophy and Theology" series).[13][14] In 2012, Kotsko published a more popular article, "How to Read Žižek" in the Los Angeles Review of Books.[15]

Kotsko has also published three book-length translations of works by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. He has also published and delivered a number of papers on Agamben.[16]

Kotsko has published three short books on popular culture, Awkwardness: An Essay (2010), Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television (2012), and Creepiness (2015). Each book draws out a specific theme found in contemporary American television shows; Awkwardness addressing the curious rise of "awkward humor" in the 21st century, Why We Love Sociopaths addressing the trend toward a certain type of deeply antisocial protagonist, and Creepiness uses a Freudian lens to distinguish a discomfiting strain of popular culture from the topic of the first book.

In 2015, Kotsko was the subject of controversy when he tweeted that all white people, regardless of their ancestry or whether their ancestors owned slaves, are "complicit" in slavery.[17] While the tweets were later deleted, Kotsko has said he stands by his statements.[17] Due to this controversy, Kotsko was named in an online "watch list" of college professors who discriminate against conservative students.[18]

In 2016, Kotsko published a book about the Devil in Christianity, The Prince of This World.[19]

In 2018, Kotsko published a book that examines neoliberalism through the lens of political theology, Neoliberalism's Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital.[20]

Kotsko blogs chiefly on a group blog titled An und für sich, but also posts on a personal blog, titled The Weblog.[14]


  • Žižek and Theology (2008). ISBN 0567032442.
  • Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation (2010). ISBN 0567185664.
  • Awkwardness: An Essay (2010). ISBN 1846943914.
  • Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television (2012). ISBN 178099091X.
  • Creepiness (2015). ISBN 9781782798460.
  • Agamben's Coming Philosophy, co-author with Colby Dickinson. (2015). ISBN 9781782798460.
  • The Prince of This World (2016). ISBN 9780804799683.
  • Neoliberalism's Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital (2018). ISBN 9781503607125.



  1. ^ a b Greenaway, Jon (May 23, 2018). "Review: The Prince of this World, by Adam Kotsko; Part One". TheLitCritGuy. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Kotsko, Adam (April 26, 2009). "Narrative CV: Adam Kotsko". An und für sich. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Norman Geras (2004-08-06). "The normblog profile 46: Adam Kotsko". Normblog. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  4. ^ Adam Kotsko (2010-03-19). "Red Toryism: The British Invasion". An und für sich. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  5. ^ a b "Adam Kotsko". Shimer College. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  6. ^ An Impossible Filiation by Jacques Derrida: Translation and Commentary. Worldcat. OCLC 76942979.. Text of translation.
  7. ^ Kotsko, Adam (2009). Atonement and Ontology (PhD thesis). Chicago: Chicago Theological Seminary. OCLC 456250141.
  8. ^ Adam Kotsko (2009-02-11). "My Dissertation: "Atonement and Ontology"". An und für sich. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  9. ^ Adam Kotsko (2010). The Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation. p. vii. ISBN 978-0567185662.
  10. ^ a b Adam Kotsko. "CVs: Adam Kotsko". An und für sich. Archived from the original on 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  11. ^ Adam Kotsko (2011-04-25). "An announcement". An und für sich. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  12. ^ "Shimer Hires Three New Faculty Members" (PDF). Shimer College. 2011-06-01. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  13. ^ "New Release: Zizek and Theology". T&T Clark. 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  14. ^ a b Adam Robinson (2009-06-15). "Another long interview (this time with Žižek brain Adam Kotsko)". HTML Giant. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  15. ^ Adam Kotsko (2012-09-02). "How to Read Žižek". Los Angeles Review of Books. Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  16. ^ Adam Kotsko (2013-05-21). "What St. Paul and the Franciscans Can Tell Us About Neoliberalism: On Agamben's The Highest Poverty" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  17. ^ a b, The Washington Times. "Adam Kotsko, white Shimer College professor: All whites 'complicit' in slavery". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2017-11-02. {{cite news}}: External link in |last= (help)
  18. ^ Hern, Thomas. "Adam Kotsko". Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  19. ^ Press, Stanford University. "The Prince of This World - Adam Kotsko".
  20. ^ Press, Stanford University. "Neoliberalism's Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital - Adam Kotsko".

External links[edit]