Cultural Criticism and Aesthetic Theory: Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno|
Fall 2014 not offered
|Certificates: Jewish and Israel Studies, Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory|
This lecture course is designed to provide an introduction to the cultural criticisms and aesthetic theories of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, two of the 20th century's most path-breaking, influential, left-wing thinkers and critics. Our aim will be to illuminate the intimate interconnections between cultural criticism and aesthetic theory in the 20th century. We will study the objectives, intellectual origins, cultural contexts, and methods of Benjamin's and Adorno's uniquely individual yet also closely related practices of cultural criticism. Further, we will examine the assumptions underlying their aesthetic writings and seek to reconstruct their respective contributions to aesthetics. The discourse of cultural criticism relies on political and sociological analytical notions such as revolution and reaction, estrangement and reification, or social antagonism and ideology; the discourse of aesthetic theory relies on canonical concepts of the philosophy of art, such as semblance and imitation or beauty and the sublime, as well as the more properly modernist aesthetic phenomena like distraction, dissonance, and shock. Benjamin and Adorno combine both discourses in a new way, augment them with the vocabularies of psychoanalysis and theology, examine the increasing role of advanced technologies of producing, distributing, and receiving culture, and thus offer an astonishingly comprehensive investigation of modernity's most pressing intellectual questions, artistic practices, social contradictions, and cultural phenomena.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(CSCT)(GRST-MN)(GRST)
Adorno/Benjamin, COMPLETE CORRESPONDENCE 1928-1920 (Harvard UP, 1999)
Adorno, IN SEARCH OF WAGNER (Verso, 2005)
Adorno/Horkheimer, DIALECTIC OF ENLIGHTENMENT: PHILOSOPHICAL FRAGMENTS
(Stanford UP, 2002)
Benjamin, THE WRITER OF MODERN LIFE: ESSAYS ON CHARLES BAUDELAIRE
(Harvard UP, 2006)
Benjamin, THE ORIGIN OF GERMAN TRAGIC DRAMA(Verso, 2003)
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Three analytic papers.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Students with German reading knowledge and German majors are encouraged to read the texts in the original German.
This course applies to the Critical Thought concentration for German Studies majors.
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