By exploring the work of the Frankfurt school today, this book helps to define the very field of cultural studies.
A reexamination of key Frankfurt School thinkers—Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse—in the light of contemporary theory and cultural studies across the disciplines, Rethinking the Frankfurt School asks what consequences such a rethinking might have for study of the Frankfurt School on its own terms. Ironically, contemporary theorists find themselves turning back toward the Frankfurt School precisely for the reasons it was once scorned: for a notion of subjects whose desires are less liberated and multiplied than they are produced and regulated by a far-reaching, very-nearly totalizing global culture industry. Indeed, as new questions concerning globalization and economic redistribution emerge, while analyses of identity politics and subjective transgression become less central to contemporary theory and cultural studies, the future of the Frankfurt School looks as promising and productive as its past has proven to be.
Jeffrey T. Nealon is Professor of English at The Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Alterity Politics: Ethics and Performative Subjectivity and Double Reading: Postmodernism after Deconstruction. Caren Irr is Assistant Professor of English at Brandeis University. She is the author of The Suburb of Dissent: Cultural Politics in the United States and Canada During the 1930s.
"The essays are all very intelligent, clear, and original. They present the Frankfurt School in a new light, in relation to contemporary concerns of the new century. The reinterpretations of the theoretical character of the Frankfurt School in the first part are as rewarding as the applications of it as a method of cultural analysis and critique in the second part. The introduction by Nealon and Irr and the concluding article by Heller provide a nice historical context of both the movement and the need for reinterpretation today. " — David M. Kaplan, Polytechnic University
"This book is important in itself and also central to current debates raging in cultural studies, if not also to the future of the Frankfurt School's legacy in critical social theory. " — David Michael Levin, author of The Philosopher's Gaze: Modernity in the Shadows of Enlightenment