Dylan Riley

Microverses Book Cover (Painting by Richard Diebenkorn)

Dylan Riley

Microverses: Observations from a Shattered Present

Dylan Riley’s (Sociology) Microverses: Observations from a Shattered Present comprises over a hundred short essays inviting us to think about society — and social theory — in new ways. Covid lockdown created the conditions for what Adorno once termed “enforced contemplation.” Riley responded with the tools of his trade, producing an extraordinary trail of notes exploring how critical sociology can speak to this troubled decade. Microverses analyses the intellectual situation, the political crisis of Trump’s last months in office, and love and illness in a period when both were fraught with the public emergency of Covid.

Riley brings the theoretical canon to bear on problems of intellectual culture and everyday life, working through Weber and Durkheim, Parsons and Dubois, Gramsci and Lukács, MacKinnon and Fraser, to weigh sociology’s relationship to Marxism and the operations of class, race, and gender, alongside discursions into the workings of an orchestra and the complicatedness of taking a walk in a pandemic.

Invitations rather than finished arguments, the notes attempt to recover the totalizing perspective of sociology — the ability to see society in the round, as though from the outside — and to recuperate what Paul Sweezy describes as a sense of the “present as history.”



Dylan Riley (Sociology) is the author of The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe: Italy, Spain, and Romania 1870-1945. He has published articles in numerous journals, including the New Left Review, of which he is a member of the editorial committee. 

Donna Jones (English) is the author of The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy: Négritude, Vitalism and Modernity, which received the Jeanne and Aldo Scaglione Prize in Comparative Literary Studies.

Colleen Lye (English) is the author of America's Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945, which won the Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association of Asian American Studies. She is coeditor of After Marx: Literature, Theory and Value in the Twenty-First Century.

Alexei Yurchak (Anthropology) is the author Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation. His current book project explores the political, scientific, and aesthetic histories of Lenin’s body, which has been maintained and displayed for a century in the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow.

Cosponsored by the Social Science Matrix.



This event is both in-person at the Social Science Matrix (820 Social Sciences Building) and online. Please register to attend, whether in-person or remotely.

Dylan Riley

820 Social Sciences Building


Matrix is located on the 8th floor of the Social Sciences Building (formerly Barrows Hall), on the southern edge of the UC Berkeley campus.

The elevator to our entrance is located on the east end of the building. You can alternately take an elevator to the seventh floor and come up the stairs.