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Cornell University    
 
    
 
  Nov 24, 2017
 
Courses of Study 2017-2018
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GERST 3620 - Introduction to Critical Theory

(crosslisted) COML 3541 , ENGL 3920 , GOVT 3636  
(LA-AS)      
Spring. 4 credits. Student option grading.

Taught in English.

P. Fleming.

Shortly after the last election, The New Yorker published an article entitled ”The Frankfurt School Knew Trump was Coming.” This course examines what the Frankfurt School knew by introducing students to Critical Theory, beginning with its roots in the 19th century (i.e., Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche) and then focusing on its most prominent manifestation in the 20th century, the Frankfurt School (e.g., Kracauer, Adorno, Benjamin, Horkheimer, Marcuse), particularly in its engagement with politics, society, culture, and literature (e.g. Brecht, Kafka, and Beckett).  Established in 1920s at the Institute for Social Research, the assorted circle of scholars comprising the Frankfurt School played a pivotal role in the intellectual developments of post-war American and European social, political, and aesthetic theory: from analyses of authoritarianism and democracy to commentaries on the entertainment industry, high art, commodity fetishism, and mass society. This introduction to Critical Theory explores both the prescience of these diverse thinkers for today’s world (“what they knew”) as well as what they perhaps could not anticipate in the 21st century (e.g., developments in technology, economy, political orders), and thus how to critically address these changes today.



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