Feminism and the Frankfurt School
20 Jay St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Despite placing an explicit focus on regressive family structures, patriarchy, masculine domination of nature, and repressive sexuality, the first generation of Frankfurt School critical theorists was notoriously a boys’ club. While this certainly reflected historical norms at the time, it is particularly noteworthy as many of the original contributions of Frankfurt School thinkers seem to point at the gendered and sexual nature of domination in modern society. After all, the critique of patriarchy appears in the pages of Dialectic of Enlightenment as often as the critique of capital. While it is unquestionable that women contributed both directly and indirectly to the original Frankfurt School canon ( for example, the often unacknowledged influence of Gretel Adorno), the question of critical theory and feminism is provoked anew by the fact that many of the most salient, provocative, and influential thinkers to engage the Frankfurt School corpus in recent years are female scholars engaged with feminist work like Nancy Fraser, Seyla Benhabib, Susan Buck-Morss, and Angela Davis. What is the relationship between critical theory, gender, and feminism?
In this class, we will take up this question by reading works by the aforementioned authors and several others. While all of these thinkers are clearly influenced by other traditions as well, why have elements of Frankfurt School critical theory proved so powerful in their hands? How does the canons and concerns of feminism transform critical theory? And how does the legacy of the Frankfurt School look different through the lens of these thinkers?
Course ScheduleWednesday, 6:30-9:30pm
March 07 — March 28, 2018