Our concerns in this seminar on the relation of the Marxist
tradition to problems in cultural studies will include: the bearing of social
class on cultural production and interpretation; the relation of cultural
production and reception to the production and circulation of commodities; the
theory of ideology and the practice of ideology critique; and the relation of
colonialist-imperialist politics and the world capitalist economy to ideologies
of race and the meaning of place. I expect that the members of the seminar will
bring other topics to bear on the discussion based on their own projects and
interests. The goal is to make the students conversant with Marxist concepts as
they apply to cultural studies and to enable us to reflect together on the way
these concepts can be used or need to be modified in the contemporary world.
The course will begin with the thesis that Marx achieved or
at least made possible a fundamentally new set of interpretive strategies aimed
at the understanding of social life and cultural activity, and will then
proceed to examine the implications of these strategies for contemporary
cultural studies. Reading and discussion of Marxist social theory and cultural
criticism will constitute the bulk of the course.
Students will be required to
prepare synopses of assigned readings and questions for discussion, and each
student will be responsible for leading discussion on one text or group of
texts. Students will also be asked to assign a short text (a poem, a short
story, a set of images, a piece of film, a website) to the class, and to
conduct a discussion of the impact of Marxist theory on the way we understand
and value such a text. I’ll also be asking for term research papers on a writer
or topic covered in or relevant to the course.
The texts listed below will be ordered at Revolution Books:
Louis Althusser, Lenin
Walter Benjamin, Illuminations
Frantz Fanon, The
Wretched of the Earth
Antonio Gramsci, Selections
From The Prison Notebooks
Michael Hardt and
Kathi Weeks, The Jameson Reader
The Marx-Engels Reader,
ed. Robert C. Tucker.
The Idea of Communism, Volume One, ed. Costas Douzinas and Slavoj Žižek.
We will also be readings selections by Raymond Williams,
Stuart Hall, Pierre Bourdieu, Gayatri Spivak, David Harvey, Michael Hardt and Antonio
Negri, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and others.