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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.

Thomas Osborne

Culturalisms – Truth – Enlightenment and autonomy – Reason – Norms of modernism – Culture, creativity and reflexivity – Institutionalisation versus reflexivity – Simmel: an excursus – The antinomy of culture This chapter seeks to get clear of – if hardly to refute – various understandings of culture so as to make way for the conception of the scope of modern cultural theory which is to animate our treatment here. The first section – Culturalisms – is, then, largely about what modern cultural theory is not. It attempts only to lay the basic

in The structure of modern cultural theory
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Thomas Osborne

Ethics and educationality again – Politics – The status of modern cultural theory – Modernism and anti-romanticism – Theory and empiricism This book has claimed that there is – or was – such a thing as modern cultural theory and argued that there is – or was – something ultimately ethical about it. It would no doubt be an understatement to observe that a great many issues and problems remain. Of the many, perhaps four stand out in particular. There is still, naggingly, the question of the exact status of this entity, modern cultural theory

in The structure of modern cultural theory
Thomas Osborne

Modernism and postmodernism – Aestheticisation and the death of art – Resistance and aesthetic redundancy – After autonomy – Postmodern morality – After educationality – Culture is everywhere Much has been made in this book of the idea of modern cultural theory being ultimately ethical in its aims and outlook. Or at least, our principles of reading in relation to Adorno, Bourdieu and Foucault have been, in effect, ethico-critical ones; emphasising that these thinkers are best read not simply in ‘positive’ or epistemic terms but as contributing to

in The structure of modern cultural theory
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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
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Drugs in theory
Dave Boothroyd

the course of which she presents meditations on the relationship between philosophy, literature and addiction in the context of a reading of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. I have adapted and deployed the strategy of ‘narcotics-centred’ critique here to my own ends, in order to reveal how decisive elements of modern cultural theory and philosophy can be illuminated on the basis of the theme and the effects of drugs. Of course, various species of what could be called ‘narcocultural studies’ have been around for some time, if one understands the term to refer to all

in Culture on drugs
Laura Chrisman

Formalist trap: that an autonomous text, in the very emphasis on its specificity, is … a work in a language that is undeniably social … It is then precisely in this real work on language, including the language of works marked as temporarily independent and autonomous, that modern cultural theory can be centred: a systematic and dynamic social language, as distinct from the ‘language paradigm’. 11 I want to suggest that South African cultural critics and theorists are exceptionally well placed to develop this kind of ‘real work’, a cultural studies grounded in the

in Postcolonial contraventions
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David Geiringer

of ‘discursive Christianity’, with its attendant emphasis on language, ideas and words. 33 For Brown, ‘discursive Christianity’ constitutes a corrective to the statistical methodologies employed by ‘traditional’ sociologists. 34 He claims his ‘modern cultural theory’ approach to oral history allows him to get beyond dry church attendance figures and access the ‘personal

in The Pope and the pill
Beyond ‘ghettos’ and ‘golden ages’
Alana Harris

Here he challenged a statistically and institutionally focused approach and instead used insights gleaned liberally from modern cultural theory to establish his overarching category of ‘discursive Christianity’, defined as self-subscription to protocols of personal identity deriving from Christian expectations or ‘discourses’.101 Analysing rituals, dress, popular fiction, newspapers and film, Brown convincingly demonstrated the persistence of a Christian cultural framework or ‘salvation economy’ well into the late 1950s, taking account of the spike in church

in Faith in the family
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Thomas Osborne

. With his obsessive and uncorruptible dialectical rigour, his peculiarly liberated dogmatism, his very ludicrousness on occasion, Adorno cuts us off from the ties that might otherwise have bound us to him. Adorno is genuinely inimitable: in effect setting us free whilst providing an example of what critical freedom might look like. He is – in a manner that would be entirely consistent with his own doctrine of maturity – forbidding us to follow. But that is absolutely why he is important. It is what gives him his peculiar status as a ‘classic’ of modern cultural theory

in The structure of modern cultural theory