GERMAN 762 - Critical Theory and Philosophy
Winter 2023, Section 001 - Identity and Difference
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: German (GERMAN)
Department: LSA Germanic Languages & Literatures
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Waitlist Capacity:
May be elected four times for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
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Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/4/23 - 4/18/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
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What resources does Critical Theory offer for the politics of identity and for its critique? Prompted by a resurgence in the culture wars over identity and by the rise of “identitarianism” on the right, this seminar looks to the Frankfurt School for earlier articulations of the dialectic of the particular and the universal. Retracing the apparent negation of identity in Theodor Adorno’s philosophy of “non-identity,” we will ask how Critical Theory has negotiated the relation of identity and difference, how it might help address impasses in current debates, but also what blind spots it perpetuates. Through readings designed to offer an introduction to the work of the Frankfurt School, we will reconstruct notions of identity that Critical Theorists either formulated explicitly or assumed tacitly – from Walter Benjamin’s description of his childhood around 1900 to Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s description of Odysseus as a proto-bourgeois subject in the Dialectic of Enlightenment and the psycho-social analysis of the “potential fascist” in The Authoritarian Personality; from Siegfried Kracauer’s ethnographic study of white-collar workers in the 1930s to Herbert Marcuse’s engaged theorization of the social movements and the new left in the 1960s.

As we work through these primary texts, we will also study the ways in which Critical Theory’s notions of (non-)identity and difference have been taken up and critiqued in more recent work on culture and identity in queer theory, critical race theory, feminism, and political theory. Readings will include texts by Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, the Combahee River Collective, Angela Davis, Mark Lilla, Wendy Brown, José Muñoz, Fumi Okiji, Max Czollek, Mithu Sanyal.


GERMAN 762 - Critical Theory and Philosophy
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
Th 4:00PM - 7:00PM
1/4/23 - 4/18/23

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