The Philosophy of René Girard: An 8-Week Course

Taught by Geoff Shullenberger, PhD.

The Scapegoat

Our promise

Master the key ideas of René Girard in 8 weeks

Develop your own work, and form lasting intellectual relationships, too.

René Girard

René Girard (1923-2015) was a historian, critic, and theorist in the tradition known as philosophical anthropology.

He is most well known for his ideas about desire, myth, the scapegoating process, ritual sacrifice, and Christianity.

Though aloof to the "postmodern" style associated with other postwar French intellectuals, Girard enjoyed a successful career in American academia. He taught at Duke University, Bryn Mawr College, Johns Hopkins University, and finally Stanford University.

Public interest in Girard's work has skyrocketed in recent years, given its power to explain many aspects of the "culture wars" gripping the West today.

René Girard


Geoff Shullenberger is a cultural critic and literary scholar.

He received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Brown University. He has taught literature, theory, and writing in university settings for fifteen years, and is now a Senior Lecturer at NYU.

His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals including Romance Studies and the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. He also contributes regularly to publications including the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Washington Examiner, the New Atlantis, and Tablet, to name a few.

Much of his current writing focuses on the circulation of critical theory outside of academia, especially on the internet, as well as the relation between academic theories and conspiracy theories.

In 2020, he started a blog and podcast, Outsider Theory, which tracks these phenomena.

Geoff Shullenberger


  1. Introduction to Mimetic Theory

  2. Rivalry, Resentment, and Conversion

  3. The Founding Murder, the Scapegoat, and Sacrifice

  4. Deciphering Myth

  5. The Scandal of Christianity

  6. Girard Contra Nietzsche and Freud

  7. The Persistence of Scapegoating

The Course Experience


When you enroll, you're given a 7-week reading list on the themes listed above. You're also given 7 pre-recorded lectures (videos as well as text and podcast equivalents). All course content is hosted within the course community.

Live discussion

If you enroll in a tier including discussion seminars, we meet as a group on Zoom every Wednesday for 8 weeks. From 1pm to 3pm Eastern, starting on June 23 and running until August 11, 2020.

The final seminar is the Proseminar, an optional public panel discussion (see past proseminars on Leo Strauss, Georges Bataille, and Deleuze and Heidegger).


After enrolling, you receive an email inviting you to join a private community forum, accessible only to participants in the course. This is where participants exchange ideas, ask questions, develop written work, and organize extra-curricular events.


Every course is hosted within the network, the world's only membership community dedicated to independent intellectuals working outside of institutions.

The course community is private, but it's embedded in a larger community with currently 300+ academics, bloggers, authors, podcasters, Youtubers, founders, and investors working on long-term intellectual projects.

Develop your work

Many participants bring or start research projects as a part of their course experience.

Producing your own work is not required, but many participants have found this to be a most rewarding aspect of our courses.

For particularly ambitious participants who could benefit from additional structure and support—something like an indie PhD supervisor—the Creator tier adds a series of private meetings with the lecturer.

Share your work

New posts in the "Share Your Work" channel now frequently solicit dozens of thoughtful and constructive replies. Members of the network routinely guest on each others' podcasts.

And the proseminar is an excellent opportunity to share with a public audience whatever insights you've won from 8 weeks of patient reading, thinking, discussing, and writing.

Reviews of Past Courses

Lief Bergerud

Leif Bergerud, PhD Student

"Geoff is insightful but unpretentious, welcoming but no nonsense, interdisciplinary yet precise... Helped to unlock the script I’m writing by deftly interpreting Girard vis-à-vis Kubrick."

Michael Gibson

Michael Gibson, Investor

"Avoided all the maddening, boring, and pretentious atmosphere that fogs difficult philosophy in an academic setting. Fire the pedantic scholars! Get the straight dope here!"

Raven Connolly

Raven Connolly, Podcaster

"My thinking was challenged and reshaped... Brings together intellectuals, artists, and entrepreneurs. Collaborations have outlasted the length of the course."

David Perell

David Perell, Writer

"I'm wildly impressed... A reaction to the intellectual claustrophobia of academia... I hope more philosophers can use the internet to pursue ideas that need to be discussed."

Maran Nelson

Maran Nelson, Founder

"I really enjoyed this course, and felt supported by the community Justin built up. Highly recommend to anyone on the fence! "

Alex Talan

Alex Talan, Composer

"I enjoyed the lectures and will be revisiting them in the future. The course discussions were well facilitated, encouraging an atmosphere of fellowship and open dialogue."


We also have a few scholarships. Apply for one here.



  • 7 Lectures (Video, Text, and Audio)

  • Private Course Forum

  • Network

  • Lifetime Course Updates



  • 7 Lectures (Video, Text, and Audio)

  • Private Course Forum

  • Network

  • Lifetime Course Updates

  • Live Weekly Discussion Seminars (8x)

  • Invitation to Public Proseminar



  • 7 Lectures (Video, Text, and Audio)

  • Private Course Forum

  • Network

  • Lifetime Course Updates

  • Live Weekly Discussion Seminars (8x)

  • Invitation to Public Proseminar

  • Private Tutorials with Lecturer (45m, 3x)

  • Review of Your Work + Feedback

Girard Study Guide Cover

Not ready to enroll?

Download the syllabus and get started for free.

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