Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, shaking hands

Critical Theory and the Now: a Contemporary Introduction to the Frankfurt School

Instructor: Ajay Singh Chaudhary
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

In 1930, Max Horkheimer became the director of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany. Along with his colleagues and a broader orbit of external scholars, he inaugurated the first wave of what came to be called “critical theory.” This course is an introduction to some of the key works and concepts of the Frankfurt School, including thinkers like Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Walter Benjamin, in the context of a comparative analysis of the cultural and political landscape of the mid-twentieth century and that of today. What is historical materialism? What is the “dialectic of enlightenment”? How does the “culture industry” work? What, if any, are the connections and boundaries between philosophy, sociology, aesthetics, art, history, and religion? Drawing on readings from several Frankfurt School texts, particularly Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment, we will attempt to read, understand, and evaluate these questions and link them to the contemporary world.

“Critical Theory and the Now” will also run in-person in Chicago at Twelve Ten Gallery, starting Thursday, November 16th. For more information, please visit the course page.

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
November 14 — December 12, 2023
4 sessions over 5 weeks
Class will not meet Tuesday, November 21st


Course enrollment is currently only open for waitlisted students. Please email us to be placed on the waiting list.

If you have been offered a space from the waiting list, please enter your password here:

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