Is Marxism dead? If so, what other forms of critique and imagination can help us think beyond the injustices and unsustainability of global capitalism? What can we learn from the successes and failures of the Marxist project?
The goal of the course is to take stock of the value and legacy of the Marxist critical tradition for contemporary debates about culture and politics. Over the seven weeks, we’ll alternate reading Marx himself with work by theorists engaging his legacy.
Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1
For a hard copy, get the Penguin Classics or Vintage Books edition
Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party
Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Declaration
Also available on Amazon for 99¢
Jodi Dean, The Communist Horizon
Marshall Berman, Adventures in Marxism
Giles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus:Capitalism and Schizophrenia
Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought
In addition to the readings, you will also be required to watch or listen to David Harvey’s series of lectures, Reading Marx’s Capital. It’s available in a variety of streaming and downloadable formats at http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital.
6/13 Marx, Capital, chapters 1-2; Harvey, classes 1-2
Fredric Jameson, “A New Reading of Capital”
Nancy Fraser, “A Triple Movement?” New Left Review 81, May-June 2013.
(you must be logged in to the GSU library for this link to work)
6/18 Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party
Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Declaration
6/20 Capital, chapters 3-6; Harvey, classes 3-4
6/25 Jodi Dean, The Communist Horizon
6/27 Capital, chapters 7-11; Harvey, classes 5-6
7/2 Marshall Berman, Adventures in Marxism
7/4 No Class – July 4 holiday
7/9 Fredric Jameson, “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture”
Fredric Jameson, “Forward,” in A.J. Greimas, On Meaning: Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory
Philip Wegner, “Greimas Avec Lacan: or, From the Symbolic to the Real in Dialectical Criticism”
Assignment: come in with your own semantic square
7/11 Capital, chapters 12-15; Harvey, classes 7-9
7/16 Giles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
7/18 Capital, chapters 16-25; Harvey, classes 10-11
7/23 Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought
7/25 Capital, chapters 26-33; Harvey, classes 12-13
7/29 Research Presentations/Party at Ted’s house
Note: this class is on a Monday
Paper due Friday, August 2
The class assignments add up to total of 100 possible points. Your final grade for the class is determined by adding up your grades for each assignment, adjusting for attendance, then applying the final number to the following scale:
A+ 100-98 B+ 89-88 C+ 79-78 D 69-65
A 97-93 B 87-83 C 77-70 F 64-0
A- 92-90 B- 82-80
I. Reading Discussion – 6160: 20% of final grade; 8690: 15% of final grade
You will sign up to lead, with a group, the discussion of one of the assigned readings (other than Capital). To prepare for the discussion of the reading, research these questions to put the reading in a broader context:
- What is the author’s background? What discipline is the author trained in? What else has s/he written? In which journals has s/he published?
- What was the reception of the book? How was book reviewed? What criticisms have been made of the author’s work? How has the author responded? Whom has the author influenced?
Then, meet with your group to prepare for a class discussion. Don’t bother summarizing the work. Rather, address on these areas:
- Theoretical debates: In what theoretical debates does the work intervene? Where does the author stand? Whom does the author criticize? How does this work move the debate forward?
- Examples: Pick 2-3 media examples that are either directly addressed by the author, or that can be illuminated by applying the author’s ideas. Show a representative sample from the text (any clip should be no more than 5 minutes). Discuss how the author would (or does) interpret the example. What are the strengths and limitations of this interpretation? What alternate interpretations are possible?
Outline the key topics of discussion in a short (1-2 page) handout for the class. There’s no need to include more detail, or to prepare a PowerPoint presentation – the focus should be on presenting material orally and facilitating a good class discussion.
II. Contemporary Capital example – 6160: 20% of grade; 8690: 15% of grade
For one week’s reading in Capital, bring in a relevant contemporary example so that class can assess the applicability and value of Marx’s ideas today. Choose a text to present to the class to get the discussion going, such as a video clip.
IIi. Outside reading presentation – 8690 only: 10% of grade
PhD students will read one additional book, and give a 15-20 minute presentation on the work to the class, summarizing the book’s key arguments, the critical response to the book, and how its ideas relate to the themes of the course. A list of eligible books is appended to the syllabus.
III. Final Paper – 60% of final grade
Write a paper on a subject relating to the ideas of the class. 6160: 12-15 pages. 8690: 18-25 pages. Doctoral work will also be expected to meet a higher standard of theoretical sophistication.
- A one-page prospectus is due July 9. I will schedule individual meetings with you to discuss the prospectus.
- You will give a short (10 minute) presentation of your work in progress on July 29.
- The final paper is due August 2.
IV. Attendance Adjustment
As Woody Allen put it, “80 percent of success is showing up.” It’s less than that in this formula, but the bottom line is that you can’t contribute to the class if you’re not there. You’re allowed one unexcused absence for the semester. After that, each unexcused absence subtracts one point from your grade total. Excused absences include medical and family emergencies. You will be expected to schedule any employment responsibilities around this class, or accept the consequences of missed classes for your grade. If you do need to miss a class, please contact me ahead of time, and make arrangements to catch up on missed material.
Office hours are by appointment. I’m usually available to meet before and after every class.
Incompletes may be given only in special hardship cases. Incompletes will not be used merely for extending the time for completion of course requirements.
Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State. Upon completing the course, please take time to fill out the online course evaluation.
Students who wish to request accommodation for a disability may do so by registering with the Office of Disability Services. Students may only be accommodated upon issuance by the Office of Disability Services of a signed Accommodation Plan and are responsible for providing a copy of that plan to instructors of all classes in which accommodations are sought.
Changes to the Syllabus
This syllabus provides a general plan for the course. Deviations may be necessary.
Potential Books for Outside Presenations:
Adorno & Horkheimer, The Dialectic of Enlightenment
Alain Badiou & Bruno Bosteels, The Adventure of French Philosophy
Jean Baudrillard, Simulations
Walter Benjamin, Illuminations
Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism
Jacob Blumenfeld, Chiara Battici & Simon Critchley, The Anarchist Turn
Bruno Bosteels, Marx and Freud in Latin America
Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou, Dispossession: the Performative in the Political
Simon Critchley, Faith of the Faithless: Experiement in Political Theology
Ann Cvetkovich, Depression: a Public Feeling
Jaques Derrida, Spectres of Marx
Neal Faulkner, A Marxist History of the World
Mark Fisher, Capitalist Imperialism: Is There No Alternative?
MIchael Foucault, Discipline and Punich
John Fiske, Understanding Popular Culture
Nancy Fraser, Forces of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis
Gindin and Panich, The Making of Global Capitalism
Alexander Galloway & Eugene Thacker, The Exploit: A Theory of Networks
Chaz Gormley et al, Occupy Pysche: Jungian and Arthetypal Perspectives on a Movement
Antonio Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks
Melissa Greegg & Gregory J Seigworth, The Affect Theory Reader
Staurt Hall, Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies
Graham Harman, Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Thngs
David Harvey, The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism
Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
Fredric Jameson, Marxism and Form
Razmig Keucheyan & Gregory Elliott, Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory
Samuel Kimbles & Thomas Singer, the Cultural Complex: Contemporary Jungian Perspectives on Psyche and Society
Ernesto Laclau & Chantall Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy
Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern
Quentin Mailassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency
Catherine Malabou, The Future of Hegel
Paul Mason, Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere:The New Global Revolutions
Jose Munoz, Cruising Utopia
Karl Polanyi, The Long Twentieth Century
Jacques Ranciere, Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics
Jonathan Sperber, Karl Marx: A Ninetheenth-Century Life
Michael Warner, The Trouble with Normal
Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature
Slavoj Zizek, Less Than Zero
Slavoj Zizek, ed., Mapping Ideology