John Paul Ricco

Professor of Comparative Literature, Art History and Visual Culture


CCT Building, Room 3057, 3359 Mississauga Road North



Professor Ricco is an art historian and queer theorist, whose interdisciplinary research and writing draws connections between late-twentieth-century and contemporary art and architecture, continental philosophy, and issues of gender and sexuality, bodies and pleasures, pornography and eroticism. He is the author of two monographs: The Logic of the Lure (University of Chicago, 2003) and The Decision Between Us: art and ethics in the time of scenes (University of Chicago, 2014). He is currently completing the third volume in this trilogy on “the intimacy of the outside,” titled: The Outside not Beyond: pornographic faith and the economy of the eve. This is a project that seeks to advance an understanding of the ontological exteriority and essential anonymity of social attraction, encounter and departure, as the non-securable ground of freedom. It critically addresses representations of the stranger, foreigner, and anonymous passerby in politics and culture today.

Ricco is the editor of an issue of the journal Parallax on the conceptual theme of “unbecoming,” and co-editor of an issue of Journal of Visual Culture on Jean-Luc Nancy. He has served as Chair of the Editorial Board of Art Journal, and has contributed to such journals as: Culture Machine, Scapegoat, and World Picture. He is a 2015-16 Faculty Research Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute, working on a project on “The Collective Afterlife of Things.”

research interests

Aesthetics and Ethics
Queer Theory
Contemporary Art and Architecture
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Jean-Luc Nancy
Security and Freedom
Sexuality and Religion


Ph.D. University of Chicago
M.A. University of Chicago
B.A. New York University

Awards and distinctions

SSHRC Insight Research Grant, 2015-16.
Chancellor Jackman Faculty Research Fellow, Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto, 2015-16.
Top 50 Best Designed Books of 2003, American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA), for The Logic of the Lure (designed in collaboration with Liz Cosgrove, University of Chicago Press).
Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, Texas Tech University

selected publications

The Decision Between Us: art and ethics in the time of scenes (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
“Pornographic Faith: Two Sources of Naked Sense at the Limits of Belief and Humiliation,” Porn Archives, edited by Tim Dean, Steve Ruszczycky, David Squires (Duke University Press, 2014).
“The Separated Gesture: Partaking in the Inoperative Praxis of the Already-Unmade,” Nancy and the Political, edited by Sanja Dejanovic (Edinburgh University Press, 2015).
“Drool: Liquid Fore-speech of the Fore-scene,” World Picture, issue on “Abandon,” edited by John David Rhodes, April 2015.
“The Existence of the World is Always Unexpected: Jean-Luc Nancy in conversation with John Paul Ricco,” Art and the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Politics, Aesthetics, Environments and Epistemologies, edited by Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin (Open Humanities Press, 2015).


Jean-Luc Nancy: Retreating the Aesthetic
Late Barthes: Neutral, Mourning, Photography
Queer Theory, Ethics and Aesthetics
Visual Culture and the Politics of Identity
Art since 1945
Capital, Spectacle, War
Architectures of Vision

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