On Friday and Saturday, July 14th and 15th, renowned scholars and critics will join Goethe-Institut New York, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, n+1 magazine, and Brooklyn Institute for Social Research for 100 Years Later: the Frankfurt School and the Now — a Symposium. Across a series of panels and learning sessions, we will ask: How can we understand the varied legacies, across multiple domains, of Frankfurt School critical theory? And to what extent, 100 years later, can it help us make sense of the problems of the present?
The schedule of events is below. Participant biographies will be shortly forthcoming. Frankfurt School and the Now will take place at Goethe-Institut New York, and is free to attend and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, please visit the event page.
Friday, July 14th
6:30pm: Welcome and Opening Remarks
6:45-8:30pm: Opening Panel: What is Critical Theory?
Featuring Aaron Benanav, Seyla Benhabib, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, and Rebecca Ariel Porte
Saturday, July 15th
10:30am: Coffee and Bagels
11:00am-1:00pm: Panel: Critical Theory from Below: Race, Gender, and the Frankfurt School
Featuring Nathan Duford, Eduardo Mendieta, Paul North, Fumi Okiji, William Paris, and Rebecca Ariel Porte
1:00-2:00pm: Learning Session 1: Max Horkheimer: “Traditional and Critical Theory”
Led by Michael Stevenson
1:30-3:30pm: Panel: The Worst of Times? The Frankfurt School and Contemporary Culture
Featuring Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Isi Litke, Adam Shatz, Nathan Shields, and Kate Wagner
2-3:00pm: Learning Session 2: Adorno and Freud
Led by Loren Dent
3:30-4pm: Coffee Break
4:00-6:00pm: Panel: Future School: Critical Theory and the 21st Century
Featuring Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Jodi Dean, Samantha Hill, Barnaby Raine, Moira Weigel
6:30pm: Object Lesson
7:00pm: Closing Reception
Aaron Benanav is a sociologist, economic historian, and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Syracuse University. He also serves as a senior research associate at SU’s Autonomous Systems Policy Institute. Benanav first book, Automation and the Future of Work, appeared with Verso in 2020. His writing has been featured in the Nation, Guardian, New Statesman, Boston Review, New Left Review, and Dissent. Benanav’s research interests include automation and the future of work, unemployment and underemployment, economic growth and development, critical theory, and alternative economic systems. Currently, Benanav is working on two further book projects. One concerns the idea of a “post-scarcity” economics. The other examines the global history of unemployment since 1940. Before joining Syracuse University, Benanav was a member of the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago. He holds a PhD and an MA in History from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a BA in History from the University of Chicago. Benanav serves on the editorial boards of New Left Review and International Labor and Working Class History.
Seyla Benhabib is the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy Emerita at Yale University and Senior Research Scholar and Professor Adjunct of Law at Columbia University. She is also an Affiliate Professor of Philosophy and Senior Fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Contemporary Critical Thought. She has previously taught at Boston University, the New School for Social Research and Harvard University (1996-2001) where she chaired Harvard’s program Committee for the Degree in Social Studies.
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Benhabib studied at Brandeis and Yale Universities, where she obtained her Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1977.
She has written and co-edited over 15 books on German social thought from Hegel to Habermas; Hannah Arendt; discourse ethics, feminist theory and human rights and her work has been translated into 12 languages. Her most recent book is, Exile, Statelessness, and Migration. Playing Chess with History from Hannah Arendt to Isaiah Berlin (Princeton University Press, 2018).
She has written articles and contributions for the New York Times, The Washington Post, Project Syndicate, Foreign Policy as well as Die Neue Zuricher Zeitung; Die Zeit and Die Frankfurter Rundschau.
Ajay Singh Chaudhary
Ajay Singh Chaudhary is the executive director of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and a core faculty member specializing in social and political theory. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics. His research focuses on social and political theory
Jodi Dean teaches political theory at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. She has written or edited 14 books, including Crowds and Party (2016) and Comrade: An Essay on Political Belonging (2019), both published by Verso.
Loren Dent is a psychologist practicing in New York City. He received his doctorate and masters degrees from the New School for Social Research, and his bachelors in cultural anthropology from the University of Texas. In addition to teaching at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, Loren’s clinical work has included private practice, hospitals, community clinics and college counseling settings.
Nathan Rochelle Duford
Nathan Rochelle DuFord is an Assistant Professor of Government at Smith College and the author of Solidarity in Conflict: A Democratic Theory (2022). They’re currently working on a project about the sexual politics of the Frankfurt School.
Samantha Hill is Associate Faculty at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and the author of Hannah Arendt (2021, Reaktion Books) and Hannah Arendt’s Poems (forthcoming 2023, Liveright). I am currently writing a book on loneliness for Yale University Press. You can find her writing in Aeon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Seminar, OpenDemocracy, Theory & Event, Contemporary Political Theory, and The South Atlantic Quarterly, among other publications.
Isi Litke teaches at the intersection of politics and aesthetics, with particular interests in 20th century avant-garde movements, critical theory, visual studies, and the politics of memory. She is currently working on several writing and curatorial projects related to the sculptor Jacques Jarrige and the architect and filmmaker László Rajk Jr. She holds an MA in Political Theory from Princeton University and an MSc from the Oxford Internet Institute.
Eduardo Mendieta is a professor of philosophy, affiliated faculty at the School of International Affairs, and the Bioethics Program at Penn State University. In the spring of 2020, he was a visiting fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg, Germany. He is the author of The Adventures of Transcendental Philosophy(Rowman & Littlefield, 2002) and Global Fragments: Globalizations, Latinamericanisms, and Critical Theory (SUNY Press, 2007). He is also co-editor with Jonathan VanAntwerpen of The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (Columbia University Press, 2011), and with Craig Calhoun and Jonathan VanAntwerpen of Habermas and Religion (Polity, 2013), and with Amy Allen, From Alienation to Forms of Life: The Critical Theory of Rahel Jaeggi(Penn State University Press, 2018), The Cambridge Habermas Lexicon (Cambridge University Press, 2019), and Justification and Emancipation: The Critical Theory of Rainer Forst (Penn State University Press, 2019). He is the 2017 recipient of the Frantz Fanon Outstanding Achievements Award.
Paul North writes and teaches on literature and other media, continental philosophy, literary and critical theory. His last book, The Yield: Kafka’s Atheological Reformation (Stanford) came out in 2015. A new book, The Logic of Likeness: On Homeotics (Zone Books), will appear in 2020. He runs an interdisciplinary workshop on critical theory and is researcher on the Mellon Foundation grant, “Critical Theory in the Global South.” Currently he is co-editing with Paul Reitter of OSU an updated edition of Marx’s Capital in a new translation.
Fumi Okiji works across black study, critical theory, and sound and music studies. Her research and teaching looks to black expression for ways to understand modern and contemporary life, which is to say, she explores works and practices for what they can provide by way of social theory. Her book Jazz as Critique: Adorno and Black Expression Revisited (Stanford University Press, 2018) is a sustained engagement with Theodor Adorno’s and the critical potential of art. She proposes that the socio-musical play of jazz is not representative of the individualistic and democratic values, the music is most readily associated with. The book centers blackness as a more appropriate analytic through which to understand its social significance.
Deepening the engagement established in her first book, Okiji’s current project, Billie’s Bent Elbow: Unthinkable Nonsense and/or Toward (a) Gathering-Work, explores the features of a genre of socio-political gathering that does not rely on (non)identity nor on an insistence on a universalist project. In augmentation of conversations taking place in black theory, and drawing from Adorno and Walter Benjamin on aesthetics, music, dialectics, mimesis, the work also explores the modal anomaly of black life, its subjunctive comportment, and relative ease with contradiction. Music from Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Nina Simone, among others, not so much provide example as a further area of theoretical resource.
William Paris is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is also an Associate Editor for the journal Critical Philosophy of Race. His research focuses on History of African American Philosophy, 20th century continental philosophy, and Political Philosophy. He has published on Frantz Fanon and Gender, Sylvia Wynter’s phenomenology of imagination, and C.L.R. James and Hannah Arendt. He is also at work on his book manuscript Racial Justice and Forms of Life: Towards a Critical Theory of Utopia (under contract with Oxford University Press) that aims to provide a novel theory of racial justice that goes beyond the political freedom of the state and towards a broader social freedom of time.
Barnaby Raine is an intellectual historian writing his PhD at Columbia University. His doctoral research seeks to explain the decline of thinking about the end of capitalism from Marx through to debates in twentieth century Britain, amid the end of formal empire. He holds a Masters in History from Columbia and a BA in History and Politics from Oxford. He has broad interests in the history of social theory and modern political thought, the history of the political left and methodological questions in intellectual history, as well as theories of contemporary antisemitism. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, n+1, and numerous other venues.
Adam Shatz is the US editor of the London Review of Books, a visiting professor at Bard College, and the author of Writers and Missionaries: Essays on the Radical Imagination. His book The Rebel’s Clinic: The Revolutionary Lives of Frantz Fanon will be published in January by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Nathan Shields received his doctorate in Composition from the Juilliard School, where he also served for several years on the Music History faculty. His research interests include Romantic and Modernist music, with an emphasis on Wagner and fin-de-siècle Vienna; sacred music of the late medieval and early modern eras; and music’s relation to the history of philosophy and religious thought. As a composer he has received fellowships and commissions from Tanglewood, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Fromm Foundation, and his musicological writing has been supported by grants from Juilliard and the Presser Foundation. He has written for Mosaic magazine and Perspectives of New Music, and his music has been performed by the JACK and Jupiter String Quartets, Metropolis Ensemble, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, among others.
Michael Stevenson received his BA in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD in philosophy from Columbia University, having begun his post-graduate study at Cornell University. He has taught at Columbia University as a Core Lecturer, and at Barnard College and Hunter College, City University of New York. He specializes in the German philosophical tradition, particularly Kant, German Idealism, Phenomenology and Existentialism.
Kate Wagner is the creator of the viral blog McMansionHell, which roasts the world’s ugliest houses from top to bottom, all while teaching about architecture and design. Outside of McMansion Hell, Kate has written for Curbed, 99 Percent Invisible, The Baffler, The Atlantic, Architectural Digest and more. She recently graduated from Johns Hopkins with a Masters of Arts in Audio Science, specializing in architectural acoustics. Her thesis project examined intersections of acoustics, urbanism and Late Modern architecture.