Alenka Zupančič

Alenka Zupančič, Professor of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis at The European Graduate School / EGS.


Alenka Zupančič (b.1966) is a Lacanian philosopher and social theorist. She is a professor at The European Graduate School / EGS and at the University of Nova Gorica. As well, Zupančič is a research advisor and professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

She graduated in philosophy from the University of Ljubljana in 1990 and received her doctoral degree in 1995. Together with Slavoj Žižek and Mladen Dolar, Zupančič is one of the most prominent members of the "Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis." She is also a renowned Nietzsche scholar.

Important themes in Zupančič's work include: relations between sexuality, ontology and the unconscious; critique of the theory of subject; and the theoretical exploration of the Lacanian concept of the Real. Zupančič is co-editor of the book series and editor in chief of the bi-monthly periodical of psychoanalytic theory, philosophy, and cultural studies. She is on the advisory board of Philosophy and Society as well as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies of Southeastern Europe at the University of Rijeka, Croatia. Since the early nineties, Zupančič has continuously published her texts in numerous psychoanalytic and philosophical anthologies and academic journals including: Filozofski vestnikNew FormationsThe American Journal of SemiologyProblemiRazpolUmbr(a),Lacanian InkIdentitetiParallax, and others.

Numerous works of Alenka Zupančič have been translated into English, but the most influential is (2003). In this work, Zupančič explores several aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy, especially those that have found their way into our present (postmodern) condition: the death of God, the ascetic ideal, nihilism, and the relationship between Nietzsche’s philosophy and the notion of truth. She devotes particular attention to the spiritual hour that Nietzsche describes as “Noon” and claims that this is a time of “the shortest shadow” or a moment of splitting––when “One turns into Two.” According to Zupančič, the notion of the Two is extremely important in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche because it can be best described as the irreducible difference.

In her book on Immanuel Kant, (2000), Zupančič re-examines Kantian ethics with the aid of psychoanalytic vocabulary in which the Lacanian concept of the Real serves as the basis for the reinterpretation of Kantian ethics. The notion of the Real helps Zupančič to formulate her version of Kantian ethics, which she entitles “the ethics of the real.”

In (2008), Alenka Zupančič explores the inter-relationship between comedy and philosophy/psychoanalysis. Her claim is that this relationship is far from simple and it can be dated back to the lost second book of Aristotle’s that supposedly included the examination of the nature of comedy and the analysis of what is funny. Zupančič insists that comedy is inherently subversive and makes a distinction between “comedy” and “cheerfulness.” Unlike “comedy,” “cheerfulness” is described as something that is ideologically imposed and therefore fundamentally problematic. Her book provides numerous examples from both philosophy and popular culture (Borat, Hegel, George W. Bush, Freud, Aristophanes, etc.), and it describes how comedy is capable of letting the odd one in.

Alenka Zupančič’s latest book in English is (2008). The book revolves around the questions of Being, Freedom, and Comedy. In this work, Zupančič attempts to connect her earlier reinterpretation of Kantian ethics with her understanding of comedy and to outline a unique theory of the subject.

Her most recent work concerns the relationship between sexuality and ontology. According to Zupančič, Freud claims that sexuality is fundamentally problematic because it is impossible to describe it or to delineate it in precise and fixed terms. Therefore, the main characteristic of sexuality is its impossibility of being bounded or demarcated. As such, sexuality is important because it points outward toward a non-reducible ontological inconsistency.