Next Meeting @ American University in Cairo, 4-5 May


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We are pleased to announce that the 7th annual meeting of the Association for Adorno Studies will be hosted by Surti Singh and the American University in Cairo. The meeting will be held May 4 and 5, 2018 at the downtown Tahrir Square campus of the AUC.

More details will be posted here later this fall.

Previous meetings were held at:

March 24-25, 2017 – Duke University

April 29-30, 2016 – Université de Montréal

October 9-10, 2015 – The New School

March 7-8, 2014 – University College Dublin

March 22-23, 2013 – Temple University

March 2-3, 2012 – Johns Hopkins University

Recap of the 6th Annual Meeting


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The 6th annual meeting of the Association for Adorno Studies was held last weekend at Duke University (March 24-25, 2017). As cherry blossoms were bursting in color on Duke’s gorgeous campus, speakers and participants were gathered in the Fredric Jameson Gallery.

The meeting was opened by remarks from Henry Pickford, Joseph Winters, and Pierre-François Noppen. Unfortunately, the Association’s vice-president, Roger Foster, couldn’t attend this year’s meeting due to the restrictions imposed by CUNY on travels to North Carolina in protest against the sex discrimination laws that the North Carolina State legislature has introduced. The meeting was attended by speakers and participants from the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Germany, and Austria. The high-caliber papers led to very engaging discussions throughout the meeting. This year’s author-meet-critics panel was devoted to Peter Gordon’s new book, Adorno and Existence (Harvard UP, 2016), which addresses an important weakness in the scholarship, namely Adorno’s repeated confrontation with Kierkegaard, Husserl and Heidegger. It made for a very stimulating exchange between the author and his three respondents, Espen Hammer, Gordon Finlayson and Iain Macdonald. The first day ended with a reception to celebrate the publication of the first volume of Adorno Studies: an interdisciplinary journal. It was also the Association’s way of thanking the editors, Martin Shuster and Kathy Kiloh, for their outstanding work on developing this unique platform.

As is our custom, all were invited to discuss questions relative to the journal and the development of the Association in our annual business meeting (day one, at lunch time). Plans were discussed for next year’s meeting (a number of options are being explored). The location of the meeting will be announced on our website at the end of summer. Once again, we held an informal roundtable discussion on the second day (at lunch time), which focused on the shifts and disruptions in the contemporary political landscape.

On behalf of all the members of the Association, we would like to extend our gratitude to Henry Pickford, and to Thomas Manganaro, who assisted Henry in organizing this most productive and successful event.

Here are a few snapshots of the event.


New Book by Peter E. Gordon


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Peter Gordon (Harvard) has a new book on Adorno, which should be of interest to the readers of this blog. We are very happy that Peter will be joining us to discuss his book at the 6th annual meeting of the Association for Adorno Studies (Duke University, see post). The panel (with Espen Hammer, Gordon Finlayson and Iain Macdonald) promises to be very interesting.

Here’s a short blurb and some comments from the page at HUP:

From the beginning to the end of his career, the critical theorist Theodor W. Adorno sustained an uneasy but enduring bond with existentialism. His attitude overall was that of unsparing criticism, verging on polemic. In Kierkegaard he saw an early paragon for the late flowering of bourgeois solipsism; in Heidegger, an impresario for a “jargon of authenticity” cloaking its idealism in an aura of pseudo-concreteness and neo-romantic kitsch. Even in the straitened rationalism of Husserl’s phenomenology Adorno saw a vain attempt to break free from the prison-house of consciousness.

Most scholars of critical theory still regard these philosophical exercises as marginal works—unfortunate lapses of judgment for a thinker otherwise celebrated for dialectical mastery. Yet his persistent fascination with the philosophical canons of existentialism and phenomenology suggests a connection far more productive than mere antipathy. From his first published book on Kierkegaard’s aesthetic to the mature studies in negative dialectics, Adorno was forever returning to the philosophies of bourgeois interiority, seeking the paradoxical relation between their manifest failure and their hidden promise.

Ultimately, Adorno saw in them an instructive if unsuccessful attempt to realize his own ambition: to escape the enchanted circle of idealism so as to grasp “the primacy of the object.” Exercises in “immanent critique,” Adorno’s writings on Kierkegaard, Husserl, and Heidegger present us with a photographic negative—a philosophical portrait of the author himself. In Adorno and Existence, Peter E. Gordon casts new and unfamiliar light on this neglected chapter in the history of Continental philosophy.

Written with elegance and meticulously researched, the book focuses on Adorno’s successive encounters with Kierkegaard, Husserl, and Heidegger over the years as a key to unlock Adorno’s own difficult thinking. A major contribution to Adorno studies and beyond.”—Seyla Benhabib, Yale University

Adorno and Existence struck me as almost inevitable: how is it that no one had thought to write this necessary book previously? With a rare combination of narrative brio and analytic insight, Peter Gordon tracks Adorno’s repeated confrontations with Kierkegaard, Husserl, Heidegger, Kafka, & co. This is a fine, even irreplaceable study with a superb and riveting final chapter.”—Jay Bernstein, The New School

“This extraordinary study is a marvelous interpretation of the whole of Adorno’s philosophical thinking by making convincingly clear to what surprising degree it is dependent on some constitutive ideas of Kierkegaard. Gordon successfully integrates two aims, the systematic re-interpretation of Adorno’s philosophy and the subtle reconstruction of his intellectual development. This is a tour de force for which Peter Gordon deserves highest admiration.”—Axel Honneth, Goethe University Frankfurt and Columbia University

“On first reading Adorno’s early study of Kierkegaard, Walter Benjamin intuited that it was ‘very possible that the author’s later books will spring from this one.’ When Adorno reissued it many years later, he admitted to Ernst Bloch that it had ‘the character of a dream-like anticipation.’ With Peter Gordon’s arresting new interpretation of Adorno’s life-long struggle with Kierkegaard’s legacy, a struggle generating the dynamic force field of theology, aesthetics and social critique he called negative dialectics, we can understand for the first time how right both of these observations actually were.”—Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley


New book: Negativity and Democracy: Marxism and the Critical Theory Tradition


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Vasilis Grollios has written to us asking us to announce the publication of his new book, Negativity and Democracy: Marxism and the Critical Theory Tradition (Routledge, 2017). He has also informed us that if you order directly from Routledge, you can use code FLR40 to get a 20% discount. Here is the publisher’s blurb for what looks to be a timely book:

The current political climate of uncompromising neoliberalism and its social effects means that the need to study the logic of our culture – that is, the logic of the capitalist system – is compelling. This book explores the practical relevance of these notions for a contemporary democratic theory. Grollios offers a unique overview of the key concepts of totality, negativity, fetishization, contradiction, mystification, identity thinking, dialectics and corporeal materialism as they have been employed by the major thinkers of the critical theory tradition – Marx, Engels, Horkheimer, Lukacs, Adorno, Marcuse, E. Bloch and J. Holloway.

New book: Communication and Expression: Adorno’s Philosophy of Language


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Philip Hogh (Institut für Philosophie der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg) has written us letting us know that a translation of his 2015 book, Kommunikation und Ausdruck: Sprachphilosophie nach Adorno (which we’d written about here) is now available in English through Rowman & Littlefield’s Founding Critical Theory series. You can find more information on the book here, and here is the publisher’s blurb for the book: Continue reading

New book: Death and Mastery: Psychoanalytic Drive Theory and the Subject of Late Capitalism



Benjamin Fong has written to us letting us know about the publication of his book, Death and Mastery: Psychoanalytic Drive Theory and the Subject of Capitalism (Columbia University Press, 2016). The book should be of interest to many of our readers as Fong notes that, “the fourth and most important chapter of the book is devoted to Horkheimer and Adorno, and specifically to making sense of the damaged psychic structure of what they call the ‘new anthropological type.'”

Here is the publisher’s blurb:

The first philosophers of the Frankfurt School famously turned to the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud to supplement their Marxist analyses of ideological subjectification. Since the collapse of their proposed “marriage of Marx and Freud,” psychology and social theory have grown apart to the impoverishment of both. Returning to this union, Benjamin Y. Fong reconstructs the psychoanalytic “foundation stone” of critical theory in an effort to once again think together the possibility of psychic and social transformation.

Drawing on the work of Hans Loewald and Jacques Lacan, Fong complicates the famous antagonism between Eros and the death drive in reference to a third term: the woefully undertheorized drive to mastery. Rejuvenating Freudian metapsychology through the lens of this pivotal concept, he then provides fresh perspective on Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse’s critiques of psychic life under the influence of modern cultural and technological change. The result is a novel vision of critical theory that rearticulates the nature of subjection in late capitalism and renews an old project of resistance.