ENGL 416
Adorno Spring 2010
Division I
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Class Details

Theodor Adorno was one of the twentieth century’s most challenging thinkers–a German Jewish refugee who loathed the United States but ended up in Los Angeles, who had no hope for Germany but returned there after the war. His intellectual contributions are too extensive to list: He produced groundbreaking work in philosophy, musicology, literary criticism, sociology, and political theory. The last book he ever wrote was called Aesthetic Theory and summed up a lifetime of thinking about what had happened to art in the twentieth century. Its questions will be our questions: What is the responsibility of art in the face of suffering? What kind of art is possible in a world reduced to rubble? Is it possible to produce a form of art that does not dominate others, that cannot be put in the service of their domination? A word about the course’s format: Aesthetic Theory is one of those rare books that can change the way you think about nearly everything. You can almost feel your brain shifting into a higher gear as you read it. It is also a book almost impossible to read on your own. So we will be reading Adorno together in class, actually going through the book sentence by sentence. There will therefore be much less homework than is usual in an advanced seminar, but we will have to meet every weekday. If you care about music, literature, or the arts, Adorno will floor you.
The Class: Format: discussion/seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3693
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: students will write a 20-page seminar paper in close consultation with the professor
Prerequisites: a 100-level English course, some background in critical theory or continental philosophy would help, but is not strictly necessary
Enrollment Preferences: none
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
ENGL Criticism Courses

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