Critical Theory in Times of Crisis Working Group | Critical Theory and Sociopolitical Crisis: Then; and Then; and Now?

A discussion initiated by the Critical Theory in Times of Crisis Working Group, considering how Frankfurt School and related currents in critical theory have approached, adapted, and rethought the intellectual and practical aspects of their work in, and on, crises generated by authoritarian, fascist, and fascist-oriented movements (paying particular attention to the 1930s-40s; the late 1960s; and our current moment).

All are invited to attend.

To help start discussion, attendees are asked to read, beforehand, the following brief, recent pieces about critical theory in times of crisis:

Richard Wolin, “Our ‘Prophet of Deceit’: WWII-Era Social Scientists Explained Trump’s Appeal,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 30, 2016

Alex Ross, “The Frankfurt School Knew Trump Was Coming,” New Yorker, (December 5, 2016)

Wendy Brown, “The End of the World as We Know It,” Artforum (December 2016)

Attendees are also invited to consider reading four linked essays by Adorno concerning the case in defense of necessary impasses between critical theory and activist practice:

“On Subject and Object”

“Marginalia to Theory and Praxis”



These essays, later collected and grouped together in Adorno’s Critical Models, may be requested by writing to with the subject line “Adorno Essays.”

Professor Kaufman’s teaching and research emphasize several interrelated areas: 20th-21st-century American poetry and its dialogues with modern Latin American, German, French, and British poetry; romantic and 19th-century poetry and poetics; philosophical aesthetics, literary theory, and the history of criticism (esp. since Kant and romanticism); and Frankfurt School Critical Theory and the arts (poetry and the other literary genres; music; cinema; painting, etc.).