Seminar in Cultural Theory


The goal of this seminar will be to introduce students to some of the main themes of Frankfurt School critical theory via a careful reading of Horkheimer and Adorno's influential and experimental text, Dialectic of Enlightenment. The seminar will consist of two main parts. In the first part (roughly two-thirds of the semester), we will consider the preoccupations of text itself, and especially the author's interpretations of the European Enlightenment, bourgeois subjectivity, mass culture, and anti-Semitism. In order to enhance our understanding of their approach to these topics, we will read additional essays by the authors, as well as texts by some of the thinkers to whom they were indebted and a selection of relevant secondary literature. The second part of the course will be devoted to the reception history of Dialectic of Enlightenment, from its first publication in 1944 to its circulation as an underground bestseller in Germany in the 1960s and its powerful influence on the disciplinary self-understanding of North American German Studies in the 1970s and beyond. We will conclude with a consideration of some of the criticisms that have been leveled against the authors in the past few decades (e.g. left-wing elitism) as well as some of the claims that have been made for the continuing relevance of their analyses.
Course Attributes:

Section 01

Seminar in Cultural Theory
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