Author: Thomas Osborne

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.

The affective politics of the early Frankfurt School
Author: Simon Mussell

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.

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Essays on Film Music
Christopher Wintle and Hans Keller

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 Man).

Film Studies
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Melancholic dispositions and conscious unhappiness
Simon Mussell

the current political economy of emotion that binds happiness and wellbeing to positivity, productivity, and measurable output. Revisiting the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno through a more affective lens can sharpen our understanding of what is at stake when the political and the emotional are thought together, as opposed to being divided into their respective social/​objective and individual/​subjective spheres. In foregrounding the complex and potentially critical aspects of melancholic dispositions and conscious (or wilful) unhappiness, this chapter

in Critical theory and feeling
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Thomas Osborne

Ethics and educationality – Disciplinarity – Principles of reading – Theory and detachment – Problematics – Reconstructing modern cultural theory – Adorno, Foucault, Bourdieu This book is concerned with the scope of cultural theory in its modern – it might even be said in its modernist – form. This introductory chapter considers what this concern might mean, and why it might be of interest. Ethics and educationality The three thinkers under most consideration in the pages that follow – Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault and Pierre

in The structure of modern cultural theory
Jürgen Habermas and the European left
Robert Fine and Philip Spencer

treatment of others. 3 In 1959 Theodor Adorno deployed the term ‘secondary antisemitism’ to conceptualise the opinion he found not uncommon within Germany that the Jewish people were culpable of exploiting German guilt over the Holocaust. 4 It was not only in Germany that Jewish survivors met with indifference and hostility. Some survivors spoke of the reluctance of their fellow human beings to hear the story of their experiences; some told of the hostility they

in Antisemitism and the left
Feminist aesthetics, negativity and semblance
Ewa Plonowska Ziarek

. Toward this end, I will reformulate Theodor Adorno’s social history of mimesis, understood both as an aesthetic means of representation and as a psycho-political term of identification, in light of the influential theories of female masquerade and colonial mimicry proposed by Joan Riviere, Frantz Fanon and Homi Bhabha. This diverse configuration of theorists not only shows the structural intersections between race, gender and sexuality in the formation of modern subjectivities but also reveals a new modality of mimesis as semblance and its ambiguous ideological status

in The new aestheticism
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‘The world of things’: an introduction to mid- century gothic
Lisa Mullen

The new human type cannot be properly understood without awareness of what he is continuously exposed to from the world of things about him, even in his most secret innervations. Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia 1 Monsters and dreams stalked London’s South Bank in 1951. The Festival of Britain site was a gothic space for a gothic time, visited by the sighing spectres of the Blitz, and the chain-rattling ghosts of modernism’s promise of a brand new

in Mid-century gothic
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The echoes of Rome in Julius Caesar
Richard Wilson

English Literature from Sidney to Shakespeare (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), p. 4; Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International , trans. Peggy Kamuf (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 10–11. 13 Theodor Adorno, In Search of Wagner , trans

in Free Will
Robert Fine and Philip Spencer

Marxist tradition, widely conceived, was that developed by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. Their work on antisemitism may usefully be read as an engagement with and critique of the Marxist orthodoxy. Like the rest of their colleagues in the Frankfurt School, they were initially reluctant to make antisemitism a central focus of their research, and even as they deployed new methods of enquiry – designed to integrate insights from psychoanalysis into a Marxist

in Antisemitism and the left