Advanced Study in Critical Theory of Architecture — Karl Marx — The Principal Texts

Permission of instructor

Karl Marx is arguably the most influential writer of the modern era. Over the twentieth century, his texts moved millions, defining the course of history itself as states, governments and popular movements oriented themselves to take measure of—for or against—his thinking. His unfinished magnum opus Das Kapital rivals the Bible and the Quran in terms of its sheer ability to move political movements and fields of knowledge alike. In the liberal universe, Marx’s writing has been (not) read as advocating radically opposed political outlooks, as both prescribing pervasive state controls and radical, anti-political anarchism. Within the ex-socialist world, the ardor for “scientific socialism” left most of its adherents with little appreciation of the considerable imaginativeness, wit and intellectual agility with which Marx addressed the pressing issues of his time: the rise of modern industry and the corresponding labor movements, the nascent complexities of electoral democracies, international affairs and state power, international flows of capital and colonialism. In the process, Marx’s thought would leave an imprint on almost every field that he touched, and then some: postKantian philosophy, political economy, sociology, historiography, and the history of science. Marx’s readings of Shakespeare in itself makes up a subfield of literary criticism. This course will comprise a close reading of the principal Marx texts placed in their nineteenth-century context: from his early critique of postKantian philosophy (the neo-Hegelians), to his turn towards political economy (the Political and Economic Manuscripts), to his collaborative studies, with Engels, of English mill towns (Condition of the Working Classes in England), to the political upheavals of his time (Eighteenth Brumaire, the 1871 Communards and the French Civil War), his critiques of other utopian-socialist movements (The German Ideology), to his involvement with workers’ movements (The Communist Manifesto), to the great unfinished masterwork of his career, Capital/Grundrisse. The course will conclude with a study of Marx’s early confrontation with “underdevelopment” on the “Russian road.”

Supporting texts by the Althusser circle, Lucio Colletti, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jacques Derrida, David Harvey, Ernesto Laclau, Teodor Shanin, Prabhat Patnaik, etc.

Requirements: attendance, presentations, keeping up with readings, final term paper. Term paper has to be drawn out of subject matter covered in class.