institute directors


style is the answer to everything --
a fresh way to approach a dull or a
dangerous thing.
to do a dull thing with style
is preferable to doing a dangerous thing
without it.

—Charles Bukowski, Style


One does not only wish to be understood when one writes; one wishes just as surely not to be understood.

—Friedrich Nietzsche


Dr. Antonio Garcia is the founder and organizer of the International Žižek Studies Conference (est. 2012) held biennially, the executive director for the Zizekian Institute for Research, Inquiry, and Pedagogy, and co-editor with Rex Butler for the Žižek Studies book series published with Peter Lang. Dr. Garcia received his BSed in French education from the University of Georgia and his PhD from Indiana University, Bloomington. He has worked closely with Kristopher Holland since the two met in 2008 at Indiana University.


From an early age, it was evident that Antonio would pursue the world in special ways given his particular interests as a young child. While some kids were playing with G.I. Joe, Antonio was spending hours each day in the basement of his home where his lab was set up. Before Antonio knew Lacan or Žižek, he was reading about Freud, Edison, Tesla, and other scientists and inventors. His aunt worked at the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA where he would visit as a child. Each visit to his aunt’s house or lab was usually accompanied with a small gift of swabs, latex gloves, and various other things that made him feel like he was a scientist like his aunt. When he was in the 5th grade he was admitted into the Georgia Magnet Program to study science and German. Despite his state test scores showing above average abilities in organizational thought and reasoning, he appeared anything but organized. What many didn’t see until much later in his life was that Antonio’s mind was organized in what must have seemed like chaos to others.  


Antonio was not an amazing student in school and was placed in remedial classes at an early age. When he entered the first grade he couldn’t read, so he was placed in a different class with other kids that couldn’t read. He had little interest in fiction books, but he would devour any book with pictures and application to the world like UFO’s, dinosaurs, and so on.  He was not devoid of creative thinking or artistic expression. In old boxes of family memorabilia, one is sure to find his artwork, his costumes (or pictures of), and much more.


Although Antonio wanted to be a doctor, he struggled immensely with mathematics. In his freshmen year at UGA, however, he discovered that he had a natural talent for teaching. “I look back at all of my teachers and think of the times I struggled. I think what kind of teacher would I have needed to do better?” This philosophical ideal became the hallmark of his pedagogy, which was based on a comedic style, trying to connect with the students in the class, and attempting to make the irrelevant more than relevant. But his intense personality and unorthodox style of teaching made him somewhat of a polemic.


His unique weaving together of popular culture, colloquial language, and various disciplines makes him stand out amongst other junior scholars. Often stated by his colleagues and mentors, he is one of the most diversely read scholars they have encountered. It is not unusual for him to bounce from social theory to psychoanalysis to quantum theory and then to the field of popular culture. As a student who became a teacher, he wanted to be able to bring not only interest and excitement to the content but also relation and palatability to difficult material. Dr. Garcia is the kind of scholar Terry Eagleton describes when he says, “To be inside and outside a position at the same time – to occupy a territory while loitering skeptically on the boundary – is often where the most intensely creative ideas stem from.”

Influenced By

Slavoj Žižek, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, C.G. Jung, Erich Fromm, Martin Heidegger, J.P. Sartre, JJ Rousseau, Bertrand Russell, Arthur Schopenhauer, Frederich Nietzsche, Bjork, Tool, Henry Rollins, Depeche Mode, Anais Nin, Louis C.K., George Carlin, and Quantum Physics/Theory.

Key Areas of Study

Continental philosophy, Žižek studies, theoretical and clinical/applied psychoanalysis, multi/cultural theory, legal studies, philosophy/theory of education, objectivist philosophy and Ayn Rand, history of psychiatry, anti-psychiatry, mental health, and social work.

Key Publications

Garcia, A. (Ed.). Žižek and Education Vol .1:Zizekology and Educational Theory (January 2018).

Garcia, A. (Ed.). Žižek and Education Vol 2.: The Pervert’s Guide to Education (December, 2018)

Garcia, A. Education in the End Times (January, 2018).

Garcia, A., Holland, K., & Agra, K. (Eds.), Materialism and Materiality: Essays in Žizek Studies. (January, 2017.)

Garcia, A. Holland, K, & Gabbard, D. Welcome to the Intellectual Red Light District: The Art of Alienation and Allegory. (January, 2019)

Current Projects

Theoretical: Constellar Theory

Research Project: “The Subjective ‘Deplorable’ Home Environment as Reason for Child Removal Under Social Services: Evaluating Case law, Policy, and Social Service Protocol to Establish an Objective Determination as Proper Cause.”

Antonio Garcia

Athens, GA

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Executive Director

“Dr. Garcia is a rarity in the field of education in that he combines his interest in pedagogy--the practice of teaching--with a deep interest in (and knowledge of!) critical theory. Indeed, contrary to the prevailing wisdom that theory and practice are mutually exclusive, Dr. Garcia insists upon the imbrication of the two, the result being not only a philosophy of pedagogy, but also a pedagogical philosophy. In this, he is much like the figures he works on: figures like Freire, Foucault, and Žižek.”

Russell Sbriglia, Assistant Professor of English at Seton Hall University


(Jessica Robertson): There's quite a bit of humor in your work. Do you think the public often misinterprets it or worse yet, writes it off as extreme eccentricity?

(Björk): Probably, but then again, I'm sort of doing my own thing. I've been quite lucky and I'm not trying to please anyone, and yet people are still interested in me. I don't expect people to get me. That would be quite arrogant. I think there are a lot of people out there in the world that nobody gets. I guess I'm quite used to not being understood rather than being understood. But then again, if I turn on the news and I see a chess player, an athlete or a politician, I don't really get them [laughs].

—Interview with Björk in 2007

Brian R. Gilbert

Chicago, IL

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Director of Archives | Design & Development


Brian R. Gilbert has worked as secondary high school teacher and school administrator in Chicago since 2004. Although he began his career as a social studies teacher, Brian has spent much of the last 8 years teaching computer science with a special emphasis on computer programming and graphic design. In addition to his work in the classroom, he is a doctoral candidate at DePaul University in Chicago, USA. Drawing on the philosophical corpus of Slavoj Žižek, Gilbert’s dissertation develops a method of teacher reflexivity that challenges teachers’ understanding of reality qua the Lacanian Real. The result is a radical re-interpretation of education where true thinking can only begin the moment educators let go of traditional notions of the self.


Beyond his doctoral research, Gilbert has committed himself to the philosophical examination of teacher’s (mis)recognition of “what is real” and how shifts in this thinking can radically alter what we call education–an endeavor that has led to the development of a negative ontology of teaching. Following Žižek, Gilbert links this negative ontology to reveal the limitations of a broad range of educational and theoretical positions. To this end, he notes, the very way a teacher perceives a problem is always-already the problem itself. Gilbert’s hope is that by forcing teachers to experience the disquieting positions of lack that are the stain of subjectivity itself, teachers can be forced to search for a radical pedagogical position­ (beyond traditional and critical pedagogy)–even if this involves the thorough decimation of our own position.

Influenced By

Slavoj Žižek, Michele Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx, Deborah Britzman, Georege Orwell, Trent Reznor, Henry Rollins, Stanley Kubrick, René Magritte, Kevin J. Burke

Key Areas of Study

Philosophy of Education, Slavoj Zizek, Subjectivity, Negative Ontology, Psychoanalytic Theory in Education

Key Publications

A Teacher's Plea for Žižekian Violence: A Clockwork Orange & Education (Anticipated 2018)

Hacking the 'Matrix': Teacher Ontology in the Abyss of the Žižekian Real. (In Press) in Ng-A-Fook, S. Pratt, B. Smith, & L. Radford (Eds.), Hacking Education in a Digital Age: Teacher Education, Curriculum, and Literacies. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

A Negative Ontological Reading of Critical Pedagogy and Other Fantasmatic Visions of Teaching in A. Garcia (Ed.). Žižek and Education Vol .1 Zizekology and Educational Theory (January 2018).

Current Projects

Theoretical: Negative Ontology & Education

Research Project: Crash & Compile, How Hacker's Pathologies can Expand Teachers' Ontological Horizons

David Gabbard

Boise, ID

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Director of Research | Pedagogy

Led to his intellectual pursuits by his recognition of his own stupidity while serving a 4 year enlistment in the U.S. Army in what was then West Germany, Gabbard entered the graduate program in Educational Foundations at the University of Cincinnati in 1987 within two weeks of his military discharge. That program provided him with a rich multidisciplinary background from which to begin developing his critique of state mandated compulsory schooling. In his dissertation, Gabbard drew heavily from Michel Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge in explaining the discursive forces functioning within the oeuvre of educational discourse that led to the “silencing” of Ivan Illich, the once widely read and discussed author of Deschooling Society and numerous other theologically and philosophically driven critiques of the certainties of our present. While his work shares some of the same concerns as his contemporaries who identify with Paulo Freire, a friend of Illich’s, Gabbard credits Illich's influence for first setting his work apart from the more popular Freireans.

Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed appeared a year before Deschooling Society. Both books drew strong interest from people interested in educational issues. In the end, Freire drew and has retained far more followers than did Illich. Today, it is rare to find Illich’s books required in any doctoral program related to education. Those of Freire and others inspired by his work, on the other hand, are quite common. For many reasons other than those offered by Illich, Gabbard’s critique of public schools challenges their benevolence in ways that Freireans don’t. While Pedagogy of the Oppressed and other works by Freire offer critical pedagogy as a reform model, Gabbard contends that schooling needs to be replaced by a new approach to “collective learning” that he hopes to develop in collaboration with other members of the Institute through what he identifies as Žižek’s Transnational Leitkultur Project.

Influenced By

Ivan Illich, Michel Foucault, Noam Chomsky, Slavoj Zizek, Keith Richards

Key Areas of Study

Transnational Leitkultur Project, Big History, Collective Learning, Global Capitalism as Pathogen

Key Publications

Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of  Schools 2nd Edition (2010)

Kenneth J. Saltman & David Gabbard, Eds. New York: Routledge. 

Education Under The Security State (2008). David Gabbard & E. Wayne Ross, Eds. New York: Teachers College Press.

Knowledge & Power in the Global Economy: The Effects of School Reform in a Neoliberal/Neoconservative Age. 2nd Edition (2007). David Gabbard, Ed. New York: Routledge

Current Projects

Gabbard first took up the topic of Leitkultur in collaboration with Sarah Ritter, with whom he co-authored “The Market, Multiculturalism, and Leitkultur: Taking Up Žižek’s Challenge” (2014). Since that time, he has integrated Žižekean ideas into the negative work of his critique of compulsory schooling. With Žižek, Gabbard views the Transnational Leitkultur Project (TLP) as a universal positive project, though he also treats it as an intergenerational and, therefore, a pedagogical project that will, hopefully, displace global capitalism. Ultimately, he believes the TLP provides the basis for a philosophy of collective learning that transcends traditional philosophy of education. 

Kristopher Holland

Cincinnati , OH

Director of Art | Publications

Dr. Holland practices art and philosophy. His current research interests are philosophical inquiry methodologies, arts-based research, creative technologies, and art & design teacher education. He is presently researching the role inquiry and creative technologies play in educational curriculum within PK-12 Schooling with projects connected to Hughes STEM High School and the Nelson Mandela International School in Berlin, Germany.  He collaboratively runs an afterschool arts-based inquiry program and participates in the Hughes STEM HS Summer Scholars Program as a curriculum advisor and educator.  He also directs the biannual Berlin Summer Arts Inquiry program in collaboration with the Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin running again in 2017. He is the Director of Visual Arts Education State Licensure for the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. His conceptual art work The Habermas Machine was cited in James Rolling Jr.’s Arts-Based Research: A Primer, published in 2013 and exhibited in 2015. His forthcoming books include To The Derridean Sun: Deconstruction as Experience, the co-edited volume Materialism and Materiality: Essays and Articulations from the 2016 Biennial Žižek Studies Conference, the co-authored On Being a Fatal Theorist: Jean Baudrillard’s Strategy for the Anthropocene, and An Artist-Educators Inquiry Handbook for Saturday Art Programs. By combining the fields of philosophy and art education his work seeks to spark agency for students in the creative fields for social change and educative innovation.

Key Areas of Study

Philosophical Inquiry Methodologies, Arts-Based Research, Creative Technologies, Art & Design Teacher Education

Key Publications

To The Derridean Sun: Deconstruction as Experience 

Materialism and Materiality: Essays in Zizek Studies

Essays and Articulations from the 2016 Biennial Žižek Studies Conference

On Being a Fatal Theorist: Jean Baudrillard’s Strategy for the Anthropocene

An Artist-Educators Inquiry Handbook for Saturday Art Programs

Director of Social Media

George Elerick is an actor, lecturer and activist. He has a new book coming out entitled The Revolution Fetish (Zero Books) in 2018. He lives in California with wife and two kids. 

Key Publications

Elerick, G. (2011). Jesus Bootlegged.

Elerick, G. (2018). The Revolution Fetish.

George Elerick

Los Angeles, CA

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