Contemporary Art and Discontent II from Month to Month

Seminars 1 (November) and 2 (January): Culture, Critique and Critical Theory

In our first seminar, we will spend time revising the first iteration of Contemporary Art and Discontent II. Contemporary Art and Discontent I revolved around trying to frame a set of theoretical, political, and economic critiques of Contemporary Art in light of its co-constitutive relationship to a present economic order. This liberal order expresses itself variously through temporal politics, human rights discourse or the gentrification of cities. Thus, the disjuncture between its claims and what CA enables in reality – which are frequently in line with the latter while centered on disavowal – were investigated. CA and D II will recapitulate this endeavor. What is base and what is superstructure? What is the relation in Marxism and critical theory between culture and economy, between political economy and ideology? In the seminars we will look at texts that address critique and culture within critical theory and Marxist conceptions of base and superstructure, and later move on to Bourdieu’s work on the field of cultural production. 



Adorno, Theodor W. “Critique.” In Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords. Translated by Henry W. Pickford. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. 281-288. 

Adorno, Theodor W. “Culture Industry Reconsidered.” In The Culture Industry. London: Routledge, 2001. 98-106.

Arato, Andrew. “Esthetic Theory and Cultural Criticism: Introduction.” In The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. Edited by Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt. New York: Contiuum, 1982. 185-207. 

Daly, Glyn. “Marxism.” In Routledge Companion to Critical Theory. Edited by Simon Malpas and Paul Wake. London: Routledge, 2006. 28-32. 

Williams, Raymond. “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory.” New Left Review I-82 (November-December 1973): 3-16. 

additional reading:

Bourdieu, Pierre. The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature. Edited and introduced by Randal Johnson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993: Selections. 

Gasché, Rodolphe. “Introduction.” In The Honor of Thinking: Critique, Theory, Philosophy. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007: 2-18.