Spring 2009


Core Courses

Critical Theory 200
The Force of Critique: Kant and Marx

Pheng Cheah

“Critique” is commonly taken as an intellectual or theoretical activity. This course explores the original connection between critique, causality and practical force in the writings of Kant and Marx. We will begin by examining Kant’s assertion of the primacy of practical philosophy and his understanding of moral freedom as the causality of ideas in the 2nd Critique before exploring in more detail the importance of the power of aesthetic judgment in the architectonic of Kant’s critical philosophy. We will then consider Marx’s materialist critique of the idealist understanding of freedom and its connection to the aesthetic and spiritual realm and his understanding of the revolutionary force of critique. If time permits, we will look at how the Frankfurt School attempts to redeem aesthetics by reconnecting it to revolutionary force. No prior knowledge of these authors will be assumed.

Texts include: Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, trans. and ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1999); Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, ed. Paul Guyer (Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 2001); Karl Marx, Early Writings, trans. Rodney Livingstone and Gregor Benton (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992); Karl Marx, The German Ideology, trans. C. J. Arthur (International Publishers); Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).

Elective Courses

History 280
Reason and History in Modern European Thought

Martin Jay
Mondays, 2-4 pm, 3104 Dwinelle

This course will address two interrelated questions: in the intellectual history of modern Europe: 1) what are the ways in which history has been understood to be rational? 2) in what ways has the concept of reason been understood to have had a history? We will read texts by Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Habermas, Sloterdijk, and others, who have tried to answer these questions.

Film Studies 240
Toward a Critical Theory of Media: The Frankfurt School and Film

Tony Kaes
Tuesdays, 2-5 pm
226 Dwinelle

This seminar will focus on the critical writings on film and photography by Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, and Theodor W. Adorno in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. We shall engage in close readings of both classical and lesser-known texts, as well as complicate our readings with pertinent examples from film history. We will try to contextualize their arguments by relating them to the contemporaneous theories of Georg Simmel, Bert Brecht, Ernst Junger, Sergei Eisenstein, et al. We shall also study the influence and legacy of critical media theory in Guy Debord, Jean-Luc Godard, Alexander Kluge, and Harun Farocki. All texts are in English translation.

Comparative Literature C221/ Rhetoric 221
Marxian Aesthetics, Literary Theory & Criticism: Some Classic Texts

Robert Kaufman
Tuesdays, 2-5 pm, 233 Dwinelle

Though Marxian theory will inevitably be one of its chief concerns, this seminar will not be primarily a course in Marxian theory’s relations to aesthetics, literary theory, and/or criticism—much less a course in Marxian theory itself. Rather, the seminar will reconsider in a very sustained manner some classic, highly influential texts within Marxian thought that virtually take for granted—or at least take extraordinarily seriously—the existence, and the importance to cognition (and therefore to critical thought and agency), of a distinct mode of human experience and activity known as aesthetic (with a particularly crucial version of aesthetic experience being found in the literary). The classic texts we’ll read will likely include writings by Kant, Hegel, Marx and Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Lukacs, Korsch, Brecht, Bloch, Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, Sartre, Beauvoir, Williams, and Jameson.

Sociology 202B
Practice And Symbolic Power In Pierre Bourdieu

Loic Wacquant