HON 394 - Topic: Global Classroom: UFABC (Spring 2021 B-session)
In this course, students from Universidade Federal do ABC in São Paulo and from Arizona State University will work together to better understand the ecological, technological, and political commonalities between the US and Brazil. As both countries face ecological disasters (such as uncontrolled wildfires in California or the Amazon rainforest), the promises and perils of newly advanced scientific technology, and political transformation, the critical theory of social scientists like Herbert Marcuse have gained renewed importance both in the US and Brazil. Marcuse’s theory focuses on the development of advanced industrial society as it undergoes social, political, and technological transformations with particular focus on the perils of ecological disaster. Students will read about how these issues are theorized through the lens of Marcuse’s work, both as a project in comparative studies and as a frame through which to better understand the conditions of the US and Brazil in their own particularities.
2021 IHMS Conference (October 7-10, 2021)
The 2021 Conference of the International Herbert Marcuse Society will be centered around Marcuse’s theorization of technological rationality, broadly construed. Technological rationality is a unique theoretical touchstone to Marcusean thought as it provides the basis not only for the external means of production and how it shapes social relations, but how it explains the stabilizing social forces that register at the level of thought and subjectification. We anticipate a wide range of papers, from neoliberal authoritarianism to psychoanalytic theory, and from one-dimensionality to utopian imagining.
One of the most important social philosophers and critical theorists of the 20th Century, Herbert Marcuse was both a key member of Germany’s Frankfurt School and later a major influence on the American New Left. In the midst of WWII, he introduced the concept of “technological rationality”; in the 1950s and 60s he extended this with studies of the relationship between psychology and society, the impoverishment of human experience narrowed by emphasis on instrumental achievement and consumption, and possibilities for a more liberating politics. He was an early critic of the developing ecological crisis and an advocate for bringing issues of gender, race, and social psychology into relationship with class analysis. This course will explore Marcuse’s work as a key example of critical theory and a basic analytic perspective for study of science, technology, and society. It will situate his work in relation to intellectual sources on which he drew, the historical context of his work, and the ways it has continued to influence analyses and academic disciplines. Students will be invited to explore the relevance of Marcuse’s themes and work for understanding contemporary social issues, including in their own research.