Chiara T. Ricciardone 

 Photo:  Trav Williams

Doing things with words

With a Ph.D. in Rhetoric from U.C. Berkeley (2017), I work as a writer, scholar, and teacher. I am currently Provost and Faculty Member of the online Activist Graduate School. In the Fall of 2018, I will be a National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College, co-teaching a course on “How to Change the World: Theories and Practice.” 

How do we deal with difference?

My scholarly research centers on the problem of difference: a problem fundamental to the global era and its dream of democracy. Despite ubiquitous statements celebrating diversity, the unfamiliar still triggers intense discomfort, even violence. My research investigates this problem, a major theme of Post-Structuralist and feminist philosophy, by tracing conceptualizations of difference in Ancient Greece and its effects in our technological present. I am especially interested in the connections and disjuncts between existential experiences of difference, politicization of difference, and metaphysical concepts of difference. My areas of specialization include ancient Greek rhetoric and philosophy, Continental philosophy and Critical Theory, with further interests in feminist thought and ancient Greek medicine and politics.

My training 

is unusually interdisciplinary. I hold a BA in History with a minor in Interpretation Theory from Swarthmore College, where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa (2005); an MA in Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture from SUNY Binghamton (2009); a PhD in Rhetoric with the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory from UC Berkeley (2017). Among my honors and awards are the Frank E. Ratliff Fellowship in Classical Antiquity (2016-17), the Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship (2015-16),  the Dean's Normative Time Fellowship (2014-15), and the Mellon Discovery Fellowship (2009-12). I am an affiliate member of the Postclassicisms Network at Princeton University.


I am working on a volume of philosophical fiction titled Adventures of Nobody, which explores the possibility that the idea of the self is itself a fiction, and perhaps no longer a useful one. 

Also underway is a book titled Plato's Pathology, a revision of my dissertation, in which I argue that Plato's medical metaphors do not "cure" disease, but often induce it. By thus forcing his readers to confront uncomfortable differences, Plato aims to transform them into philosophical thinkers, suffering from a kind of "higher pathology" (Hebbel). The book considers Plato's diseases based on where they occur—whether in the city, psyche, body, cosmos, or argument—integrating analyses of Gorgias, Phaedo, Timaeus, Symposium, Phaedrus, Republic, Laws, and Sophist. The goal is to restore difference to its central place in Plato’s work. Linking Plato’s existential, political, epistemological, and metaphysical doctrines is the need to heal the dis-ease of difference. 

An article related to this project has been published as "'We are the Disease': Truth, Health, and Politics from Plato's Gorgias to Foucault" (Epoché 18.2, 2014). An essay on Socrates' last words has been accepted to Ancient Philosophy.

Inspired by

my upbringing in Egypt and Turkey, and especially by the wave of political action there in 2011, I seek to create novel connections between the historical past, the traditions of theory, and our political and technological present. In 2018, I was appointed Provost of the Activist Graduate School, set to launch online in 2019. In 2013, I co-founded Boutique Activist Consultancy, a social change think tank, where I bring my rhetorical skills and philosophical insight to the task of understanding and sparking democratic social movements. In 2017, I co-taught a seminar on "Technology and Social Change" for the radical Telluride Association Summer Program.