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Warren Montag

Warren Montag (born March 21, 1952)[1] is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. He is known primarily for his work on twentieth-century French theory, especially Althusser and his circle, as well as his studies of the philosopher Spinoza.


Montag's work has focused on the origins and internal contradictions of political liberalism and individualism, and has demonstrated, following the suggestions of Étienne Balibar, the existence of "a fear of the masses" (or multitude) in the classic texts of seventeenth century liberal thought. More recently, he has shifted to a study of the emergence of the concept of the market in the work of Adam Smith. Montag received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. He has published three books and three edited collections, and has translated many essays by Althusser. In addition, Montag has published more than forty essays. He resides in Los Angeles and is married with two children, Jacob Montag and Elisa Montag.



Journal Special Issues

(Co-editor with Nancy Armstrong) differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Vol 20, n.3-4, 2009 ("The Future of the Human").


  • "Louis Althusser." The Encyclopedia of Continental Philosophy. Vol. 6, ed. Alan Schrift. London: Acumen Press, forthcoming.
  • “The Late Althusser: Materialism of the Encounter or Philosophy of Nothing?” Culture, Theory and Critique, Vol. 51, Issue.2, pp.157-70, 2010; Religgere Il Capitale: La lezione di Louis Althusser. Edizione Mimesis (Italian Translation), forthcoming; Problemi (Slovenian trans.), forthcoming.
  • "Interjecting Empty Spaces: Imagination and Interpretation in Spinoza's Tractatus Theologica-Politicus" Spinoza Now, (provisional title), ed. Dimitris Vardoulakis, University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming.
  • "Imitating the Affects of Beasts: Interest and Inhumanity in Spinoza," differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. Vol 20, n.3-4, 2009. (Italian translation forthcoming).
  • "War and the Market: The Global South in the Origins of Neo-liberalism." The Global South, April 2009, Vol.3, no.1.
  • "Locke et le concept d'inhuman." Multitudes. no.33, Eté 2008.
  • "Semites, ou la fiction de l'autre." (review essay) La revue internationale des livres et des idees. mai-juin 2008, no.5
  • "Tumultuous Combinations: Transindividuality in Adam Smith and Spinoza," Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 28(1)2007.
  • "El peligroso derecho a la existencia: la necroeconomia de Von Mises y Hayek." Youkali. 2 November 2006.
  • "Necro-Economics: Adam Smith and Death in the Life of the Universal," Radical Philosophy (November 2005), Youkali 1 April 2006 (Spanish translation), Critica Marxista 23, 2006 (Portuguese trans.).
  • "Jonathan Swift." Encyclopedia of British Literary History, Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • "Louis Althusser: the Intellectual and the Conjuncture." Marxism, Intellectuals and Politics, ed. David Bates, London: Palgrave, 2006. Abridged version in Il Manifesto. Nov. 9, 2006 (Italian translation).
  • "Foucault: the Immanence of Law in Power." Michel Foucault and Social Control, ed. Alain Beaulieu and David Gabbard, Lexington Press, 2005; French version Editions Harmattan, forthcoming).
  • "Foucault and the Problematic of Origins: Althusser’s Reading of Folie et déraison." Borderlands 4.2, 2005. Actuel Marx (French trans. 2004); Theseis (Greek trans. 2004).
  • "Who’s Afraid of the Multitude: Between the Individual and the State." South Atlantic Quarterly (Fall 2005). Slagmark n.39 2004 (Danish trans.); Quaderni Materialisti n.2 2004 (Italian trans.); Theseis (Greek trans. 2004).
  • "Spinoza's Spirit: the Concept of the Trace in Levinas and Derrida" Specters of Derrida, ed. Julian Wolfreys (SUNY Press, forthcoming). Oltrecorrente (Italian trans. forthcoming).
  • "On the Function of the Concept of Origin: Althusser’s Reading of Locke", Current Continental Theory and Early Modern Philosophy, ed. Stephen Daniels (Northwestern U P: 2006).
  • "Materiality, Singularity, Subject: Response to Callari, Hardt, Parker and Smith", Symposium on Louis Althusser, Rethinking Marxism(17:2, April 2005).
  • "Politics: Transcendent or Immanent? A response to Miguel Vatter," Theory and Event (7:4, 2004).
  • "Der neue Spinoza" Immaterielle Arbeit und imperiale Souveräinität ed. Thomas Atzert and Jost Müller (Munster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2004).
  • "La dialectique à la cantonade: Althusser devant l’art." Sartre, Althusser, Lukacs ed. Eustache Kouvelakis (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2004).
  • "Towards a Conception of Racism without Race: Foucault and Contemporary Bio-politics," Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy (2002).
  • "From the Standpoint of the Masses: Antonio Negri’s Insurgencies" (review essay) Historical Materialism 9 2002.
  • "Descartes and Spinoza" and "Althusser" The Edinburgh Encyclopedia of Literary Criticism and Theory 1945-2000, ed. Julian Wolfreys (Edinburgh: Edinburgh U P, 2002).
  • "Vers une conception du racisme sans race: Foucault et la biopolitique contemporaine", Foucault et la médecine ed. Philippe Artières et Emmanuel da Silva (Paris: Kimé, 2001).
  • "Gulliver’s Solitude: the Paradoxes of Swift’s Anti-Individualism", Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation 42:1 2001.
  • "The Pressure of the Street: Habermas’s Fear of the Masses", Masses, Classes, Counterpublics, ed. Mike Hill and Warren Montag (London: Verso, 2001)
  • "Spinoza and the Concept of the Shekhinah." Jewish Themes in Spinoza's Philosophy, ed. Lenn Goodman and Heidi Ravven. (Albany: SUNY Press, 2002).
  • Preface to Etienne Balibar, Spinoza and Politics (London: Verso, 1998).
  • "Althusser's Nominalism: Structure and Singularity 1962-1966." Rethinking Marxism 10:3 (Fall 1998).
  • "Spirits Armed and Unarmed: Derrida's Specters", Ghostlier Demarcations ed. Michael Sprinker (London: Verso,1999)(Spanish translation, 2002, Turkish translation 2004, Portuguese translation 2008, Italian translation 2009).
  • "Second Response to Carole Fabricant" (on Swift), Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 10:1, 1997.
  • "Response to Carole Fabricant" (on Swift), Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 9:1, 1996.
  • "The Universalization of Whiteness: Racism and Enlightenment", Whiteness: A Critical Reader, ed. Mike Hill (New York: New York University Press, 1997).
  • "The Soul is the Prison of the Body: Althusser and Foucault 1970-1975", Yale French Studies, Fall 1995.
  • "Beyond Force and Consent: Hobbes, Spinoza, Althusser." Marxism and Postmodernism: Essays in the Althusserian Tradition, eds. Antonio Callari and David Ruccio (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1995). (Korean translation 1998, Norwegian translation forthcoming).
  • "A Process without a Subject or Goal(s): How to Read Althusser's Autobiography", Marxism in the New World Order: Crises and Possibilities, ed. Antonio Callari (New York: Guilford Press, 1995) (Korean translation 1996; Greek translation 1998).
  • "Althusser and Spinoza Against Hermeneutics: Interpretation or Intervention?" The Althusserian Legacy, eds. E. Ann Kaplan and Michael Sprinker (London: Verso, 1993).
  • "The Workshop of Filthy Creation: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism." eds. Ross C. Murfin and Johanna Smith (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991, Second Edition, 2000).
  • "The Emptiness of a Distance Taken: Freud, Lacan, Althusser." Rethinking Marxism, Spring, 1991 (Korean translation, 1994).
  • "Spinoza: Politics in a World Without Transcendence", Rethinking Marxism, Fall 1989. (Swedish translations 2004).
  • "What is at Stake in the Debate on Postmodernism", Postmodernism and Its Discontents, (London: Verso, 1988). (Korean Translation 1990, Portuguese translation 1993).
  • "Macherey and Literary Analysis", Minnesota Review, Spring 1986.
  • "Lacan and Feminine Sexuality", Quarterly Review of Film Studies, Fall 1985.
  • "Marxism and Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Encounter." Minnesota Review, Fall 1984 (Korean Translation 1992).


  • Louis Althusser, "On Marx and Freud." Rethinking Marxism, Spring, 1991.
  • Louis Althusser, The Spontaneous Philosophy of Scientists and Other Essays, (London: Verso, 1990).
  • Michel Pêcheux, "Discourse: Structure or Event?" Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1988).
  • Pierre Macherey, "History and Novel in Balzac's The Peasants." Minnesota Review, Spring 1986.

External links

Montag sites and homepages
Online publications
Interviews and talks

Endnotes and references

  1. ^ birth date is from LCNAF's CIP data
  2. ^ This journal describes itself in the following manner as:
    "an online peer-reviewed journal in which work focused on Althusser in the broadest sense--- readings of his texts, as well as the texts of those who worked with him, comparative analyses, applications of his theory--- would appear, thus encouraging debate and discussion. We would also provide space in every issue for reviews of the latest scholarship on Althusser. Finally we will include an archives section in which we would publish previously unpublished texts by Althusser...Our objective is to establish a global community of those working on Althusser.
  3. ^ First published in "Out of Line" (Greece); Montag had several weeks earlier delivered a presentation to the Nicos Poulantzas Society in Athens entitled "Intellectuals and the Iraq War: the Crisis of the U.S. Left," and a presentation on Althusser and Foucault in Thessaloniki. Here is the republished version as it appeared in 2005 at the e-journal website of "borderlands"
  4. ^ Montag discusses Spinoza in this piece first published in November 2009. Included in the discussion are Gábor Boros, Herman De Dijn, Moira Gatens, Syliane Malinowski-Charles, Teodor Münz, Steven B. Smith. The conversation revolved around the following sets of questions:
    • 1. To what extent is Spinoza’s interpretation of scriptures and revealed religion relevant today?
    • 2. Could Spinoza be called a reductive naturalist?
    • 3. What do you think about the attention Spinoza’s theory of emotions is receiving today from psychologists and cognitive scientists?
    • 4. What do you take to be the advantages and disadvantages of Spinoza’s separation of political and religious authorities?
    • 5. Do you think that Spinoza’s denial of free choice makes morality impossible?
    • 6. What do you make of Spinoza’s favourable comments on democratic regimes? What do you think Spinoza thought of the multitude? Why do you think so many Marxist philosophers have found inspiration in Spinoza?
    • 7. What do you make of Spinoza’s claim that the right of individuals is limited only by the extent of their power to be, to think and to act? In particular, how do you reconcile his equating power and right with his conception of political sovereignty?
  5. ^ Scholars On Spinoza Now: Politics, Religion and Democracy

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