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Discourse and Discord: Architecture of Agonism from the Kitchen Table to the City Street

In an era of cultural conservatives and the liberal elite, Occupiers and Tea Partiers, civil uprisings and government crackdowns, perhaps the one point of agreement today is there’s no shortage of disagreement. But if that’s true, then why isn’t there more debate—not online flame wars, not the televised jockeying of political candidates, but live, in-person dialogue?

That question was a starting point for this three-day symposium on agonism in the public sphere. A term unfamiliar to many, agonism describes an approach to politics that embraces difference and disagreement as an important part of democracy. As a series of talks, workshops, actions, and playful experiments, Discourse and Discord aims to explore the structures or “architectures”—whether it’s the built environment, online technologies, songs, or recipes—that can draw people together for genuine dialogue and debate. It also reinforces the notion that democracy thrives on and even requires an agonistic foundation: the friction of varied publics and participation by people of different minds, views, and beliefs.

Join with a range of other unlike-minded people to debate and discuss, disclose and expose—and find out what happens when you move beyond agreeing to disagree.

Tickets for free events are available at the Hennepin lobby desk one hour before each program.
To register for workshops, call 612.375.7600. All lectures will be webcast on

Pro+agonist: The Art of Opposition

A new book and deck of cards by Marisa Jahn explores the productive possibilities of agonism, a relationship built on mutual incitement and struggle. Illustrated in black and blue—the colors of a good bruise—Pro+agonist: The Art of Opposition brings together writings by interdisciplinary thinkers, artists, scientists, CEOs, crackpots, war strategists, psychotherapists, and philosophers who raise questions about the importance of political dissent, the function of discord in discourse, the rules of escalating conflict, the roles of parasites within systems, and more. Readers will emerge with a greater understanding about how to duke it out and an appreciation for taking it to the streets. Cosponsored by Northern, Walker Art Center, and REV-. Limited supply available at the symposium. The book is also available for download.