Literary Theory: The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory (Lecture 17 of 26)

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Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300) This first lecture on social theories of art and artistic production examines the Frankfurt School. The theoretical writings of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin are explored in historical and political contexts, including Marxism, socialist realism, and late capitalism. The concept of mechanical reproduction, specifically the relationship between labor and art, is explained at some length. Adorno's opposition to this argument, and his own position, are explained. The lecture concludes with a discussion of Benjamin's perspective on the use of distraction and shock in the process of aesthetic revelation. 00:00 - Chapter 1. Marx, Engels, and Ideology 09:46 - Chapter 2. The Aesthetics of Marxist Criticism 19:58 - Chapter 3. Adorno, the Work of Art, and Collectivity 27:54 - Chapter 4. Bloch's Principle of Hope 31:09 - Chapter 5. Benjamin and Mechanical Reproduction 37:54 - Chapter 6. Adorno and Conformism 41:01 - Chapter 7. Benjamin, the Spectator, and Distraction Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: This course was recorded in Spring 2009.
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