Shimer College

Adam Kotsko

Adam joined the Shimer faculty in 2011 after completing his PhD at Chicago Theological Seminary in 2009 and teaching for two years at Kalamazoo College. He teaches a range of courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

In addition to being a Shimer faculty member, Adam is an e-mail addict – if you wish to contact him, you can expect a quick reply. During the current semester, he is typically available in his office between 11:30 and 1:00 on Mondays and Fridays for in-person or phone conversations.


Assistant Professor of Humanities

In Brief

I’ve been writing in some form almost every day since I started writing my own comic books in middle school.

Why Shimer?

What initially attracted me to Shimer was the curriculum. What made me fall in love with Shimer, though, were the students. Already on my campus visit, I was impressed by how committed, inquisitive, and active Shimer students were. No one is simply putting in their time or waiting for things to be handed to them—Shimer students take active responsibility for their own education and for their college community. That attitude carries over into the rest of life, too, helping them to achieve amazing and surprising things, to think creatively about life and work as well as ideas.


Ph.D., Theology, Ethics, and Culture
Chicago Theological Seminary, 2009

M.A., Religious Studies
Chicago Theological Seminary, 2005

B.A., English
Olivet Nazarene University, 2002


Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Interests

Currently I’m working on two projects: a study of the devil’s place in the history of Christian theology and the light that can shed on political reflection, and a book on creepiness in pop culture.

Other Interests

When I need a break from academic work, I play the piano, walk the dog, watch old TV shows with my girlfriend, go out to eat too often, and overanalyze Mad Men.

Research Activity

Articles reflecting on Shimer College

“The Immersion Method,” Inside Higher Ed, May 3, 2012. (link) [A general discussion of Shimer’s pedagogy and the value of a Great Books approach.]

“Focusing on Job Skills Limits Students’ Prospects,” Chronicle of Higher Education (letter to the editor), October 30, 2012 (link) [An argument that Shimer’s curriculum and pedagogy are actually much more “practical” than narrow career-oriented forms of education, given the flexibility demanded in the contemporary job market.]

“The Courage to Be Ignorant,” Inside Higher Ed, December 3, 2013 (link) [A reflection on my experience of teaching Humanities 1: Art and Music and on the value of teaching outside the area of one’s expertise more generally.]



Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television (New York and London: Zer0 Books, 2012). (Amazon link)

Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation (New York and London: Continuum/T&T Clark, 2010). (Amazon link)

Awkwardness (New York and London: Zer0 Books, 2010). (Amazon link)

Žižek and Theology (New York and London: Continuum/T&T Clark, 2008). (Amazon link)

Selected Other Publications

“How to Read Agamben,” Los Angeles Review of Books, June 4, 2013. (link)

“Don Draper, the Devil and Democracy: An Interview with Adam Kotsko” (interview with Tom Cutterham), Review 31, May 10, 2013. (link)

“How to Read Žižek,” Los Angeles Review of Books, September 2, 2012. (link)

“The Bond of the Awkward,” The Guardian, January 1, 2011. (link)