Miserabilism and hope – Dialectics – Paradoxes – Principles and themes – Counter-heteronomics: an overview – Culture industry – Jazz and jazzness – Dependency – Authoritarianism – High art – Liquidations – Autonomy – Postmodernism – Benjamin – Ethics and educationality
It is commonplace to invoke Theodor Adorno as probably the greatest Marxist cultural theorist of the twentieth century. If there is any reason to read him in the twenty-first century, however, this is as much for ethical as for respectable Marxist reasons.
At one stage of
The last chapter of this introduction to ‘classical’ social theory looks at a short, typically dense text that exemplifies the writing style and theoretical perspective of Theodor W. Adorno, another key figure of the ‘Frankfurt School’ of Critical Theory. The text is entitled ‘Society’ and was initially published as an entry in a social science handbook. This article creates a kind of dialogue between some of the principal positions within sociological theory on one of its key concepts: society. It discusses many of the themes that are constitutive of
Among the musical Hitler Émigrés from Vienna to London, pride of place has often been
accorded to Hans Keller, a psychologically-minded critic (or, as he described
himself, ‘anti-critic’) who dominated the British musical scene for the 40 years that
followed 1945. In the period 1946-1959 he devoted himself assiduously to film music,
on the one hand laying out the topics that a ‘competent film music critic’ would need
to address, and on the other paying scrupulous attention to everything he saw and
heard. He shared with Theodor Adorno a loathing of Hollywood, and championed British
composers above most others. This selection comes in advance of the publication of
his collected writings on film, Film Music and Beyond (London, Plumbago, 2005), and
shows on the one hand his topical writings, dealing with the importance of actually
listening to film-music, ‘noise as leitmotif’, the contribution of psychology to
understanding the function of film music, and classical quotations in film, and on
the other hand his writing on composers, including Arthur Benjamin, Georges Auric,
William Alwyn, Leonard,Bernstein (On the Waterfront) and Anton Karas (The Third
Decolonisation, Globalisation, and International Responsibility
( Manchester : Manchester
University Press ).
( 2015 ), Der Bildakt: Frankfurter Adorno-Vorlesungen
2007 ( Berlin : Klaus
Wagenbach, 2nd edn ).
Critical Theory and Dystopia tracks dystopia as a genre of fiction which occupies the spaces of literature and of politics simultaneously. Using Theodor Adorno’s critique of the situation of writing in the twentieth century, this volume uses the notion of a ‘negative commitment’ to situate the potential and the limits of dystopia. Examining classic dystopias by Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, McManus follows the mutation of the genre in dystopias by Margaret Atwood, J.G. Ballard and William Gibson in the 1980s. A sample of twenty-first-century dystopias are then read for their efforts to break with the politics of the present, and their inability to realise those breaks. Tracing lines of continuity and of discontinuity within the genre, McManus ends by exploring the dystopias of Michel Houellebecq, Lionel Shriver and Gary Shteyngart.
The work of Theodor Adorno, and
more widely of the first generation of the Frankfurt School, has long
been a resource for postcolonial theorists but has, more recently, been
subject to forms of radical rethinking as part of the project of
decolonising critical theory. This scholarship has opened up lines of
possibility for the future of an internationalist
This book is concerned with the scope of cultural theory in its modern, it might even be said in its modernist, form. The three thinkers under most consideration in the book are Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, who might hardly be seen as representatives of cultural theory per se if that enterprise is taken to be what it should often taken to be. The book starts with Adorno (1903-1969) not just because his work is an apt way to introduce further some very basic themes of the book: in particular those of critical autonomy and educationality. Adorno's reflections on art and culture are contributions to the ethical understanding of autonomy, emphasising the importance of the cultivation of critical reflection. The argument here is that he is, rather, an ethico-critical theorist of democracy and a philosopher of hope. The book then situates the work of Michel Foucault (1926-1984), in other ways so different from Adorno, in terms of a broadly, if minimally, parallel agenda in modern cultural theory. It outlines some of the importance of Foucault's notion of an 'aesthetics of existence' in relation to his work as a whole. It further invokes related themes in the work of Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002). Finally, it moves things in a different direction, towards postmodernism, invoking the increasing role of the cultural and aesthetic dimension in contemporary experience that is often taken as a central aspect of the postmodern turn.
This book offers a unique and timely reading of the early Frankfurt School in response to the recent 'affective turn' within the arts and humanities. It revisits some of the founding tenets of critical theory in the context of the establishment of the Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The book focuses on the work of Walter Benjamin, whose varied engagements with the subject of melancholia prove to be far more mobile and complex than traditional accounts. It also looks at how an affective politics underpins critical theory's engagement with the world of objects, exploring the affective politics of hope. Situating the affective turn and the new materialisms within a wider context of the 'post-critical', it explains how critical theory, in its originary form, is primarily associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. The book presents an analysis of Theodor Adorno's form of social critique and 'conscious unhappiness', that is, a wilful rejection of any privatized or individualized notion of happiness in favour of a militant and political discontent. A note on the timely reconstruction of early critical theory's own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis follows. The post-Cold War triumphalism of many on the right, accompanied by claims of the 'end of history', created a sense of fearlessness, righteousness, and unfettered optimism. The book notes how political realism has become the dominant paradigm, banishing utopian impulses and diminishing political hopes to the most myopic of visions.
Aesthetics and politics: between
Adorno and Heidegger
Antinomies of reason
The alignments of T. W. Adorno to the protracted, diﬃcult process of coming to
terms with a broken Marxist inheritance and of Martin Heidegger to the Nazi politics of rethinking the human might seem to leave them at opposite non-communicating poles of political diﬀerence.1 Their views on aesthetics seem similarly starkly
opposed, in terms both of judgements and of the place of aesthetics within the philosophical pantheon. Aesthetic theory for Adorno marks out a domain of
result in an action on the part of the subject of that experience,
it argues that far from persuading anyone, committed, realist, and
political works of art merely ‘preach to the already
converted’ – this was the accusation Adorno levelled
at Brecht’s theatre. For Adorno, the political character of
the artwork must be located not at the level of its message,
intention, or content