9558 - Benjamin and Adorno - This course will explore the parallel and intertwined projects of Benjamin and Adorno with respect to a series of connected issues: politics, history, religion, aesthetics, technology. Starting with their well-known debate, during the 1930s, on the political possibilities of mass culture, we will examine how this dispute both informs and is informed by their respective interpretations of revolution, fascism, aesthetic modernism, and messianism Of particular interest here will be the relationship between "negative dialectic" (Adorno) and "dialectic at a standstill"(Benjamin)-- that is, the way in which both thinkers relate to the Hegelian-Marxist tradition. Some familiarity with this tradition would be an asset, but is not required. For those students with no background in the area, a useful introduction to the historical context of these writers is Susan Buck-Morss, Origin of Negative Dialectics the collected correspondence between Benjamin and Adorno (trans. Harvard, 1999) is also an engaging point of entry.
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