The Actuality of Adorno

Critical Essays on Adorno and the Postmodern

Edited by Max Pensky

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791433324, 199 pages, April 1997
Hardcover : 9780791433317, 199 pages, April 1997

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Editor's Introduction: Adorno's Actuality
Max Pensky

1. Reason—A Different Reason—Something Different Than Reason? Wondering about the Concept of a Different Reason in Adorno, Lyotard, and a Sloterdijk
Ute Guzzoni

2. Irreconcilable Modernity: Adorno's Aesthetic Experimentalism and the Transgression Theorem
Hauke Brunkhorst

3. Adorno: The Discourse of Philosophy and the Problem of Language
Peter Uwe Hohendahl

4. Mass Culture as Hieroglyphic Writing: Adorno, Derrida, Kracauer
Miriam Bratu Hansen

5. Adorno, Modernity, and the Sublime
Albrecht Wellmer

6. Kantian Snapshot of Adorno: Modernity Standing Still
Wilhelm S. Wurzer

7. Fragment, Fascination, Damaged Life: "The Truth about Hedda Gabler"
J. M. Bernstein

8. Theodor Adorno on Tradition
Eva Geulen



Brings together some of the most prominent and influential contemporary interpreters of Adorno's work in a wide-ranging collection of essays that explores Adorno's relation to themes and problems in postmodern thought.


Always resistant to classification, the work of Theodor Adorno ranged from biting criticism of the emergent popular culture in the United States and Europe, through theories of contemporary music and literature, and sociological analyses of the rise of fascism and antisemitism in Germany and elsewhere, to careful readings of modern Continental philosophers. As a leading member of the famous Frankfurt School of critical social theory, Adorno influenced current discussions in cultural studies and Continental philosophy. However, the various dimensions of Adorno's significance for the range of contemporary postmodern theory remained unclear. This book demonstrates the relevance and power of Adorno's work for the state of critical social theory today.

Max Pensky is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Binghamton University.


"The Actuality of Adorno offers a brilliant collection of essays on aspects of Adorno's work relevant to the fundamental themes of postmodernism. Max Pensky has assembled a group of foremost Continental scholars—Albrecht Wellmer, Hauke Brunkhorst, Ute Guzzoni, Peter Uwe Hohendahl, Miriam Hansen, Eva Geulen, and Wilhelm Wurzer—whose work constitutes the best of Adorno scholarship.

"Adorno is not only popular currently, but his relationship to postmodernity, which Pensky's collection explores, opens up an entirely new area of Adorno scholarship that brings together those interested in critical theory and poststructuralism." — David M. Rasmussen, Boston College

"Adorno is one of the most productive and seminal writers of our century. For a time, his work was somewhat pushed aside by Continental intellectual fashions. However, there are indications that the true stature of Adorno only now is beginning to emerge and to be recognized in its importance. This recognition could not have been done better than in Pensky's volume which assembles some of the leading experts on Adorno. Pensky's own introduction is a masterpiece of perceptive analysis and critical exegesis.

"I often was stunned by the creative new insights generated. Although I am fairly familiar with Adorno's opus, I constantly found myself turning new corners and learning about new dimensions and vistas." — Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame