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Frankfurt School

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The Frankfurt School : Its History, Theories, and Political SignificanceThe Frankfurt School : Its History, Theories, and Political Significance by Rolf Wiggerhaus, Michael Robertson (Translator)

From The Boston Book Review, David Weininger gives the following description of the Franfurt School:

In the early part of this century, a loose aggregation of intellectuals known as the "Frankfurt School" produced a body of work which was haunted by exactly such issues. Most of its names have by now become familiar to the academic community: Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm. While they engaged a dazzlingly diverse group of intellectual disciplines and theoretical approaches, the guiding thread of all of their analyses was the diagnosis of the ruined, pathological world of the early 20th century. Under the triumphant twin shadows of full-blown industrial capitalism and National Socialism, the Frankfurt School asked two familiar questions: How did we get here? and Where does salvation lie? What was so tremendously original about their collective responses was that the answers lay not in political activism or in a revolutionary labor movement, but in such abstruse phenomena as avant-garde art, psychoanalysis, dialectical philosophy, and a messianic religious faith. Their studies-which go under the general name of "Critical Theory"-were among the first which can be properly labeled interdisciplinary, encompassing insights from so many different areas. By the time of their mature works-most notably Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment-the members of the Frankfurt School no longer referred to their work as philosophy, sociology, aesthetics or psychology; it was, simply, "Theory."

About Wiggerhaus' book:

"Rolf Wiggershaus's monumental study of the Frankfurt School provides the best overall view of its entire trajectory.... [The book] is an absolute must for anyone interested in contemporary social theory and politics." -- Douglas Kellner "Compulsory reading for anyone wanting to study or write about the Frankfurt School." -- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

This is the definitive study of the history and accomplishments of the Frankfurt School. It offers elegantly written portraits of the major figures in the school's history as well as overviews of the various positions and directions they developed from the founding years just after World War I until the death of Theodor Adorno in 1969. The book is based on documentary and biographical materials that have only recently become available. As the narrative follows the Institute for Social Research from Frankfurt am Main to Geneva, New York, and Los Angeles, and then back to Frankfurt, Wiggershaus continually ties the evolution of the school to the changing intellectual and political contexts in which it operated. He also interweaves these accounts with incisive summaries of substantive works by Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, Fromm, Kirchheimer, Lowenthal, Marcuse, Neumann, Pollock, and Habermas. The book is self-contained and can serve as a general introduction to critical theory, but it also has a wealth of new material to offer those who are familiar with this tradition but would like to learn more about its history and context. Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought.

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Dialectical ImaginationThe Dialectical Imagination : A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research 1923-1950 (Weimar and Now ; 10) by  Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, Franz Neumann, Theodor Adorno, Leo Lowenthal. 

The impact of the Frankfurt School on the sociological, political, and cultural thought of the twentieth century has been profound. The Dialectical Imagination is a major history of this monumental cultural and intellectual enterprise during its early years in Germany and in the United States. Martin Jay has provided a substantial new preface for this edition, in which he reflects on the continuing relevance of the work of the Frankfurt School.

"An important book, full of new material and measured in its judgments, which will do a great deal, not only to make possible the assimilation of the work of the Frankfurt School by the intellectual public but also to clarify the issues to which their work gives rise." -- Fredric Jameson, author of Marxism and Form

Martin Jay is Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley.  Among his books are Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought and, as co-editor, The Weimar Sourcebook, both published by the University of California Press.

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Critical Theory and related fields

Crasis.com aims to combine the best textual and visual resources with the best online resources in Critical Theory, Cultural Theory, Literary Theory, Feminist Theory, Ecocriticism, Post-Feminist Theory, Gender Theory, Music Theory, Queer Theory, Postmodernism, and related subjects.

 

The Frankfurt School

Excerpt:

The Frankfurt School was an academic community composed of, among others: Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, and Walter Benjamin. While they engaged a dazzlingly diverse group of intellectual disciplines and theoretical approaches, the guiding thread of all of their analyses was the diagnosis of the ruined, pathological world of the early 20th century. Under the shadows of full-blown industrial capitalism and National Socialism, the Frankfurt School asked two familiar questions: How did we get here? and Where does salvation lie? What was so tremendously original about their collective responses was that the answers lay not in political activism or in a revolutionary labor movement, but in such abstruse phenomena as avant-garde art, psychoanalysis, dialectical philosophy, and a messianic religious faith. Their studies-which go under the general name of "Critical Theory"-were among the first which can be properly labeled interdisciplinary, encompassing insights from so many different areas. By the time of their mature works-most notably Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment-the members of the Frankfurt School no longer referred to their work as philosophy, sociology, aesthetics or psychology; it was, simply, "Theory"...

 

Introduction to the Frankfurt School

Excerpt:

Picture if you will a smoke filled room in a 19th century Menís only club. The room is the site of an extended conversation. There is a primary conversation where a group of very old men present the questions and set the tone of the discussions. Everyone in the room is in some manner reacting to the old menís ideas. The truly profound, innovative, or outlandish assert their own observations, and attempt to enter into dialogue with the old men. People come in and out of the room. Some gather around their favorite speaker, and some are drawn to particular groups because of shared interest in a particular subject.

The room is the whole of Western philosophy. The old men are classical philosophers such as Socrates and Plato. The profound, innovative and outlandish, are the more modern thinkers such as Hegel and Marx. Finally, the members of the Frankfurt school fit the category of those gathered Ďround their favorite speaker. The Frankfurt school is not a place, but a school of thought, a group of similar theories that focus on the same topic. The thought of the Frankfurt school is a dialogue, that resulted after Karl Marx added his proverbial "two cents" to the ongoing conversation of philosophy.

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Erich Fromm, Feminism,
and the Frankfurt School

Essay by Douglas Kellner

Excerpt:

Erich Fromm is one of the few members of the Frankfurt School who seriously engaged himself with theorizing the problems of gender and the differences between men and women. In certain ways, Fromm anticipated later attempts to produce a feminist Marxism and poststructuralist analyses of the socially constructed nature of gender. Yet Fromm's gender analysis was highly uneven and even contradictory, pointing to the difficulties in the subject matter and perhaps the difficulty in overcoming dominant male perspectives in analyzing the highly charged and conflicted issues of gender and sexuality. In this paper, I shall accordingly sort out the various analyses of gender in Fromm's work and shall point to both his anticipations of contemporary feminist perspectives and the moments of sexism and essentialism in his texts...

 

Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School

This forum is devoted to the discussion and debate of issues concerning Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School.

 

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