Media and Critical Theory
This course examines distinctive and highly controversial accounts of the media developed by the early members of the Frankfurt School, assessing their relevance to the understanding of contemporary media culture. This semester, we focus on the work of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Siegfried Kracauer. We explore their critical analyses of the multi-dimensional development of the various media, and the shift from print to electronic media (radio, film, and TV), which was interwoven in complex ways with mass culture and politics. We explore their original accounts of the spectacle of commodity culture and the growth of the media and entertainment industries in nineteenth century Europe. Throughout, we critically approach substantive debates that form the background of these analyses concerning the crisis of democracy and the emergence of fascism, the aestheticization of politics, and the transformation of the public sphere.