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PH967 Benjamin, Brecht, Lukacs, Adorno: The search for a revolutionary aesthetics

Tutor: Dr Helmut Schmitz
Spring Term: Monday 5-7

The module will explore the aesthetic answers of four key Marxist thinkers to the problems of modernity. The literary work of Bertolt Brecht will provide the focal point. Beginning with the mutually influential relationship between Walter Benjamin and Brecht, the module will examine their attempts to develop a political aesthetics both in their theoretical writings as well as in Brecht's plays and poems. This will be followed up by a discussion of Georg Lukács's concept of realism and the 'realism debate' with Brecht. Finally, Adorno's essay On Enlightenment, that deals critically with both Brecht and Lukács, will close the module.

Reading for the module will include:

Brecht: On Theatre; Essays on Lukács; Threepenny Opera; The Measure Taken; Svendborg Poems;
Benjamin: Understanding Brecht; Illuminations
Lucáks: Essays on Realism;
Adorno: On Engagement