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Monday, Oct 26, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
by Adam Kirsch
Tablet (18 August 2009)

“How the fathers of Critical Theory found their way to America… It would be hard to overstate the importance of the Frankfurt School in recent American thought. Philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists like Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, and Max Horkheimer—to name just the best-known members of the group—helped to develop a subtle and powerful way of thinking about the problems of modern society. Critical Theory, as it is usually capitalized, adapted the revolutionary impulse of Marxism to 20th century conditions, in which mass culture and totalitarianism seemed to shut off any real possibility of social transformation. Especially appealing to academics is the way Critical Theory makes the analysis of culture feel like a revolutionary act in and of itself. Reading Adorno on modern music, or Benjamin on literature, it is momentarily possible to believe that criticism is a weapon of liberation, rather than simply a hermetic exercise for intellectuals.”


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