This list is still being updated (and will be throughout the course). That said the “required reading” won’t change.


Not required, but basically the go-to text on the subject at the moment:

Ronell, Avital. Stupidity. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2003.
(we will be reading an essay that appears in the book, that is required)



Avital Ronnell, “The Uninterrogated Question of Stupidity,” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 8:2, 1996, pp. 1-22.

David Jenemann, “Stupider and Worse: The Cultural Politics of Stupidity,” Parallax, 19:3, 2013, pp. 34-49.

Caitlin Haskell, “Knowing Stupidity,” Art Lies – A Contemporary Art Quarterly, Issue 66.

Claire Colebrook, “The War on Stupidity,” Parallax, 19:3, 2013, pp. 24-33.

Lisa Heldke, “Farming Made Her Stupid,” Hypatia 21:3, Summer 2006, pp. 151-165.

Tyson E. Lewis, “Rethinking the Learning Society: Giorgio Agamben on Studying, Stupidity, and Impotence,” Studies in Philosophy and Education 30:6, 2011, pp.585-599.

Ariel Evans, “Skolar cat hidez bahind hiz nollege: Methodologies of Stupid (NSFW),” Art Lies – A Contemporary Art Quarterly, Issue 66.

Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” The Atlantic, July/August, 2008.

Alexandre Singh & Brian Dunphy, “South Park” Causeries ed. Alexandre Singh, Rotterdam: Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, 2016 (forthcoming)

Jonah Lehrer, “Why Smart People are Stupid,” The New Yorker, June 2012.

Mieke Bal, “Not So Stupid,” Parallax, 19:3, 2013, pp. 50-69.

Robert Musil, “On Stupidity,” trans. Julian Le Vay, PN Review, 5:3, 1978, pp.5-10.

Robert Musil, “On Stupidity (part 2),” PN Review, 5:3, 1978, pp.39-41.

Genese Grill, “Musil’s ‘On Stupidity’: The Artistic and Ethical Uses of the Feminine Discursive,” Studia austriaca, 21, 2013, pp.81-94.

Decter, Joshua. “Stupidity as Destiny”, in Art is a Problem, Zurich: JRP|Ringier, 2014. (originally published in Flash Art, October 1994, 72–76).


Required for Presentations (if you’re doing the presentation on this topic you’ll have to read these, if you’re not doing the presentation then they are ‘recommended’ rather than ‘required’… this list is being updated!):

Patrick Langley, Ryan Trecartin: The Real Internet Is Inside You

Jerry Saltz, Zombies on the Walls: Why Does So Much New Abstraction Look the Same?

Chris Sharp, The Idiots

Justin Lieberman and Chris Sharp, Waxing Durr

John Roberts, Art After Deskilling

Laura Gascoigne, Mumbo-Dumbo: Cleverness and Stupidity in Conceptual Art

Birgit R. Erdle, Thinking in Times of Danger: Adorno on Stupidity



Aristophanes, The Clouds. Translated by Paul Roche in Aristophanes The complete plays. New York: New American Library, 2005.

Samuel Beckett: The Grove Centenary Edition. A four-volume edition of Beckett’s collected works.

Erasmus, Desiderius. Praise of Folly. Translated by Betty Radice. Harlow: Penguin Books Ltd., 2005.

Flaubert, Gustave. Bouvard and Pécuchet and the Dictionary of Received Ideas.

Translated by Mark Polizzotti. Champaign: Dalkey Archive Press, 2005.

le Feuvre, Lisa, Failure, London: Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art, 2010.

Goldsmith, Kenneth. Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

Hofstadter,  Anti-intellectualism in American Life

Kohl, Herbert. “Stupidity and Tears”, in The Herb Kohl Reader. New York: Newpress, 2009.

Pope, Alexander, The Dunciad

Svendsen, Lars. A Philosophy of Boredom. Translated by John Irons. London: Reaktion Books, 2005.

Toole, John Kennedy, A Confederacy of Dunces