- In the mid-nineteenth century, a young Karl Marx wrote, in the form of a published open letter to Arnold Ruge: “But if the designing of the future and the proclamation of ready-made solutions for all time is not our affair, then we realize all the more clearly what we have to accomplish in the present—I am speaking of a ruthless criticism of everything existing, ruthless in two senses: The criticism must not be afraid of its own conclusions, nor of conflict with the powers that be.” In this course, we will explore how Marx developed this “ruthless criticism” over the course of his life as a scholar, journalist, and activist. ...
- Forensic Architecture is both a recent, transdisciplinary research method and a specific research group headed by the method’s originator, the scholar Eyal Weizman. Combining architectural studies of the built environment, forensic investigation, geography, ecology, ethnography and journalism, Forensic Architecture takes up not the traditional architectural task of creating new environments, but rather attempts to understand, methodically and rigorously, how existing environments have been taken apart by violence. ...
- Sodom and Gomorrah, the fourth volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, pivots on the question of desire: what is it to want a form of life, another person, adulation, social success, the destruction of a rival, a glimpse of a painting, the sound of a song? And what happens when these desires are either futile, morally ambiguous, or considered to be evidence of inherent vice? In Sodom and Gomorrah, the question of homosexual desire is, for example, a secret so open it’s barely a secret. Throughout the novel, the strange politics of desire play out against the momentous turning of the “social kaleidoscope” as the decadent society of belle époque France at the turn of the twentieth century starts to confront its imminent extinction. ...
- Love is a perennial philosophical problem. From Plato’s Symposium to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, philosophers and political thinkers have recurrently asked: what is love? From where does it come, what does it do, and what does it demand? For Hannah Arendt, romantic love was apolitical because it turned us away from the world. In Minima Moralia, Theodor Adorno argues that love is the one thing in a consumer society that we consider fated and not a matter of choice. Erich Fromm saw love as an art form, while Herbert Marcuse thought polymorphously perverse love was a means to resistance under capitalism. How can we think about love philosophically, and what, if anything, is its real or potential political significance? ...
- Madwomen, ghosts, witches, monsters—the gothic genre has long been a vehicle for representing female characters deemed too transgressive for inclusion in “respectable” fiction. Indeed, much of what makes the gothic dark and mysterious, what inspires dread, is how it reckons with thwarted female autonomy, repressed desire, and past injustice. It’s no wonder the genre has proved so fruitful for feminist theory: in its tales and archetypes, the Gothic offers a powerful means for exploring key topics in feminist thought, from capitalism, reproduction, and race to sexuality, rage, and freedom. ...
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Podcast for Social Research, Episode 35: Capitalism’s Hidden Crises
American capitalism is frequently contrasted with its European other—namely, the social democratic model that seems, to American eyes, more equitable and less crisis-prone. Yet, according to sociologist Oliver Nachtwey, all is not well in social-democratic Germany, Europe’s largest economy, where stagnant social mobility has led to social fragmentation and a revived nationalist right-wing. In the […]