Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy


Brief Biography

Surti Singh is an assistant professor of philosophy at The American University in Cairo. Before coming to AUC, she was an instructor at DePaul University in Chicago, where she received her PhD in philosophy and MA certificate in women’s and gender studies. Her areas of specialization include 20th century continental philosophy, Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Aesthetics, and Feminism. Surti is a steering committee member of the Theory and Practice Workshop in the Humanities and Social Sciences at AUC, an initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and part of the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she serves as Book Review Editor for Adorno Studies. Previously, she served on the advisory committee for the Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies and organized the film series Double Lives: Rethinking Identity Through Cinema.

Research Interests

Surti’s research addresses a number of intersecting threads. First, she is investigating the relationship between aesthetics and politics in early critical theory, particularly through figures such as Lukács, Adorno, Benjamin, and Marcuse. She is currently focused on the notion of aesthetic resistance and its challenge to the limitations of various cultural and historical modes of rationalization. Her current book project explores this issue in the work of Adorno. Second, her work examines theories of the image and the imaginary within the frameworks of psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and social theory, particularly through figures such as Sartre, Debord, and Rancière. Her work takes up the relationship between the individual and society as it is mediated by the image, and how this impacts conceptions of subjectivity, political participation, and communication.Third, she is engaged with feminist theory, particularly the work of Irigaray, Butler, and Kristeva, and considers political subjectivities in Western and non-Western contexts, criticisms of the spectacle from the standpoint of a female imaginary, and melancholia and mourning in the cultural sphere. Lastly, Surti writes about contemporary art in Egypt, focusing on the legacy of modernist movements such as surrealism, pop art, and conceptual art in the region, as well as notions of subjectivity and politics in contemporary art production. She has published art criticismin Guernica, Jadaliyya, andLos Angeles Review of Books.


“The Abject and the Ugly: Kristeva, Adorno, and the Formation of the Subject.” InSubjectivity and the Political, edited by Gavin Rae and Emma Ingala. London: Routledge, forthcoming.

 “The Falsity of the Whole.” Review of Adorno’s Theory of Philosophical and Aesthetic Truth, by Owen Hullat.Syndicate Philosophy, forthcoming.

“Spectacle and Revolt: On the Intersection of Psychoanalysis and Social Theory in the Work of Julia Kristeva.” In New Forms of Revolt: Essays on Kristeva’s Intimate Politics,edited by Sarah Hansen and Rebecca Tuvel, 23-42. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2017.

“The Double Game of Egyptian Surrealism: How to Curate a Revolutionary Movement,” with Jonathan Guyer. Los Angeles Review of Books, April 17, 2017.

“The Spiritualization of Art in Adorno’sAesthetic Theory.” Adorno Studies1, no.1 (2017): 31-42.

“The Aesthetic Experience of Shudder: Adorno and the KantianSublime.” InTheAesthetic Ground of Critical Theory: New Readings of Benjamin and Adorno,edited by Nathan Ross. 129-143. London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015.

“Surrealist Visions: Three Contemporary Egyptian Artists Take the Self as Subjectin Exploring Post-Revolution Politics.”Guernica: A Magazine of Art and Politics, November 16, 2015.

“Historical Realities of Concept Pop: Debating Art in Egypt.”Jadaliyya, December 17, 2014.Republished by Ahram Online, December 19, 2014. Republished by Adorno Studies, January 19, 2015.


“The Subjective Turn in Contemporary Egyptian Art.” Art and Mediation: Affective and Socio-political Practices of Revolutionary Hopes and Despair, Middle East Studies Association, Washington, DC, November 18-21, 2017. (Invited)

“The Paradox of Play: Aesthetic Resistance from Lukács to Adorno.” Philosophy Department, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, June 19, 2017.(Invited)

“Vision and Form: Transparency and Opacity in the Spectacle.” Commodity, Politics,and Spectacle: The Situationist International and their Legacy in Word, Action, and Image, Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, April 9-13, 2017.(Invited)

“The Mental Image and the Spectacular Imaginary: Kristeva on Sartre.” The Kristeva Circle, Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden,October 13-15, 2016.

“Adorno on the Self-Reflection of Philosophy and Art.” 9th International Critical Theory of Rome Conference, Rome, Italy, May 5-7, 2016.

“Metaphysical Thinking in the Wake of Catastrophe.” A Workshop on Adorno and Aristotle, co-hosted with Robin Weiss. Theory and Practice in the Humanities and Social Sciences, American University in Cairo, Cairo,Egypt, November 8, 2016.

Courses Taught

PHIL 5120 Advanced Seminar in Feminist Philosophy

PHIL 5119 Advanced Seminar in Political Philosophy

PHIL 5112 Advanced Seminar in Aesthetics                                                             

PHIL 3004 20th Century Philosophy              

PHIL 3010 Philosophy and Art

PHIL 2111 Self and Society                                                   

PHIL 2116 Philosophical Anthropology                                            

PHIL 2117 Political Philosophy

PHIL 2100 Philosophical Thinking