PSCI 430 Fall 2014 Senior Seminar: Critical Theory

This course explores two major themes emerging from the work of theorists associated with the Frankfurt School: the critique of progress, Enlightenment and modernity, and the recuperation of certain Enlightenment ideals and hopes for progress in new, aesthetic forms. The first part of the course looks at Karl Marx's critique of alienation and reification, asking how Marx's ideas are picked up and modified in the writings of Georg Lukacs, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. We will also pay attention to the influence of Freud on Herbert Marcuse's critique of civilization. The second part of the course turns to the writings of Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch, whose efforts to reconstruct emancipatory ideals in Marxist thought after the collapse of communist and socialist teleologies have been described as "maverick" and "utopian." Among our questions: What is the price of progress? What are the prospects for freedom in modern societies, where individuality, down to the very structure of our instincts and drives, is shaped by mass culture and social institutions? Can agency and subjectivity be recovered within a "totally administered society?" What may we hope?
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: regular class participation, short (1 pg) response memos, and drafts leading up to a 15-page final essay
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Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and prior coursework in political theory, cultural theory, philosophy; or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preference: Senior Political Science majors with concentration in Political Theory, then other Political Science majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: PSCI Research Courses,PSCI Political Theory Courses
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 1699
PSCI 430 - 01 (F) SEM Sr Sem: Critical Theory Division 2: Social Studies Nimu Njoya
M 7:00 PM-9:40 PM Stetson 501 1699
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