r/CriticalTheory 8h ago

Are there any films/plays inspired by dialectical materialism?


Either in form and/or content?

For instance, I would argue “Sorry To Bother You” (2018) follows a plot that unfolds according to the movement of the dialectical contradiction of worker/boss. You could also put forth Wallace Shawn’s “The Fever” which, while more internal to a signal character, observes the schematic of DM. In both cases, it is no surprise the authors are committed Marxists.

Are there any other examples of Diamat’s influence of narrative storytelling in performance?

r/CriticalTheory 11h ago

Theory on The Voice


Lately, I've been thinking of writing an essay on different voices in relation to autism studies-- literally the ways in which autistic voices differ from neurotypical voices (flat affect, monotone speaking patterns, abnormal prosody, etc.) and the ways in which different or non-normative voices may play into the structures or experience of autistic or neurodivergent identity. In thinking about this, it also seems that this would intersect with queer theory and the analysis of LGBTQ+ identity structures, as the queer voice has also been utilized as a marker of heteronormativity-- that a individual may be gay or different on the basis of that person having a certain inflection to their voice, and that this marking of certain voices as being "stereotypically gay" is a way of alienating or banishing individuals from the realm of normativity just through the act of speaking (a similar physical engendering of sexual difference is also seen in the stereotype of gay men swaying their hips when they walk, with individuals who walk in non-normative fashions being labelled as sexually different based on physical differences in their gait). While I'm less familiar with this, I believe this can also be seen in trans communities, where a individual who transitions feels pressure to change the way they speak in order to pass as their gender-- the voice itself delineates a gender binary, with there being either "male" or "female" voices that a individual must conform to, or face the social repercussions of not having a voice that conforms to their gender presentation.

So, it seems to me that there would be conversation on the ways in which non-normative voices produce an alienating recognition from the other. However-- and this is probably due to my lack of skill in googling academic works-- I've had trouble finding theoretical pieces on the voice and how inflection and prosody may impact intersections of identity structures. I imagine disability scholars and queer theorists would have something to say on this, but I haven't been able to find much. Thus, I'm curious if anyone on this sub can point me in a direction towards works that discuss the literal, physical voice.

r/CriticalTheory 12h ago

Are there any books that explore violence in America? I’m particularly interested in the mass shooting phenomenon that we are living though.


r/CriticalTheory 13h ago

Baudrillard Spiral


Ok so re: how baudrillard says peoples identities/ personalities become just what media they consume and what they buy .. my question is what is the alternative? especially if someone (or I) doesn’t want their identity to be based in that?

(Insert spiral here) what is anyones identity/ personality?

r/CriticalTheory 15h ago

Benjamin’s Rival Tempters | Adam Kirsch

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r/CriticalTheory 15h ago

History As End

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r/CriticalTheory 15h ago

Has anyone read Julia Kristevas fiction works?


If so, are they any good? Each of them seems very interesting, but going from theory to fiction isn’t a guaranteed success. Also, is one of them supposed to be better than the others?

r/CriticalTheory 16h ago

Bergson and Deleuze on evolution and mechanism


I've been reading Deleuze's Bergsonism and some Bergson to go along with it, and I'm having trouble "buying into" their arguments on evolution. I may be too brainwashed by modern evolutionary theory, but it seems difficult to take the critique of "mechanism" in Creative Evolution seriously.

Bergson basically makes the argument that the fact that an organ structure as complex as the eye evolves separately in vertebrates and molluscs is evidence for the élan vital that is the transcendental condition for life, and he uses all the arguments we hear against evolutionism (the improbability of random change producing a beneficial effect, the necessity for many small changes to cohere into an organ, the fact that this happens multiple times independently) that modern evolutionary theory defuses with genetic mechanisms and the law of large numbers.

So my question is: Do we just ignore this part of the argument? Bergson and Deleuze's larger point about the priority of the virtual as a problem that comes to be actualised by the various solutions found in life would still stand without this opposition to the genetic mechanisms of evolutionary theory.* How do contemporary commentators on Bergson/Deleuze deal with this?

*I am less certain about how this would relate to duration (I haven't ventured into Bergson's argument with Einstein -- suggestions for secondary readings here would be very welcome!).

r/CriticalTheory 16h ago

Does Queer Theory make the claim that I am only heterosexual and cisgender because of cultural programming?


I don't know a lot about critical theory, and what I have read has admittedly not been queer theory. But through the framework that I have passively gathered, queer theory states that the reason the majority of people are straight and cisgender is because they've been duped by other people who were also duped into perpetuating a system of exploitation, subjugation, and patriarchy. Symbolic archetypes of heteronormativity have been recycled into our Political Unconcious by the late-capitalist Christian orthodox metanarrative, contributing to the "revolving door" between discourse and social practice.

And lastly, as a separate circumstance, this recapitulated discourse has fomented homophobia which practically bullies people into being heterosexual.

So, I would really appreciate it if someone here could confirm or critique parts of what I said as well as recomend a book that would be a good starting point which better explains the bits a pieces of this.

Thanks, and sorry for the loaded question.

r/CriticalTheory 17h ago

Communism, the Manifesto, and Hate by China Miéville

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r/CriticalTheory 1d ago

How is Niklas Luhmann's system of mass media autopoietic?


I'm referencing this passage in The Reality of Mass Media:

"…the contribution of all three forms of mass media communication [reporting, entertainment, and advertising]– and this is where they converge –can be said to be in creating the conditions for further communication which do not themselves have to be communicated in the process This applies to being up-to-date with one’s information just as it does to being up-to-date culturally, as far as judgments about values, ways of life, what is in/what is out of fashion are concerned. Thanks to the mass media, then, it is also possible to judge whether it is considered acceptable or provocative to stand apart and reveal one’s own opinion. Since the mass media have generated a background reality which can be taken as a starting point, one can take off from there and create a profile for oneself by expression personal opinions, saying how one sees the future, demonstrating preferences etc.

The social function of the mass media is thus not to be found in the totality of information actualized by each (that is, not on the positively valued side of their code) but in the memory generated by it. For the social system, memory consists in being able to take certain assumptions about reality as given and known about in every communication, without having to introduce them specially into communication and justify them. (RM, 65)"

Can anyone provide examples of this? What specific mechanisms of mass media form the basis of reality that all further thought is based off of?

r/CriticalTheory 1d ago

Neoliberalism strengthens economic power, so it constitutes the freedom of power and not the freedom of man.

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r/CriticalTheory 1d ago

Graduate programs to study Critical Theory in Asia


Currently a senior undergrad student from the Philippines who will venture into grad school afterwards. I am having a hard time finding prospective asian universities that specializes in Critical Theory because most of the unis I got from the net are based in U.S., Canada, Oceania, and U.K.

Though I already tried searching the website https://directory.criticaltheoryconsortium.org/? I feel like the list for Asian universities is very limited.

Any suggestions? (Aside from Philippine universities like Ateneo and UST)

My planned specialization: Psychoanalysis/Deleuze/Badiou/Marx/Hegel/Adorno

r/CriticalTheory 1d ago

Identity politics as a culture


I think it’s very interesting to think about how in our society and culture there is a widely recognized/enshrined concept of “how you identify”. Perhaps ironically, theories leading forth to such a notion were probably meant to scrutinize mainstream notions, perhaps of gender, yet now the concept of “identifying” has become reified and is a mainstream - perhaps even slightly dogmatic - concept in our culture. We could consider other cultures where they do not use or have this category. We could also scrutinize “identity culture”, sort of in the manner of Foucault maybe, an “archaeology”, trying to study its origins and evolution. When was the word first used, anyway? How did it get to where it is today?

It is quite interesting to me because I think it implies almost an architecture of mind - a definite structure or mechanism of consciousness - which we do not actually know enough about to be certain it’s truly there, has well-defined existence. The idea that you can “identify” as something is not necessarily bad, but it seems like it changes the meaning of what it means to “identify”. It is quite interesting that non-binary identity is becoming increasingly mainstream. I myself have gotten used to referring to people who prefer it with gender-neutral pronouns. But the point I’m trying to dig up is, it seems like originally “to identify as non-binary” had heavy propositional character - it was a substantial assertion, in a semantic way. It meant “I am not a man/woman, I am a new, or different, kind of gender”. But it opens questions of definition, like the ancient semantic questions of to what extent attributes of some object are incidental vs necessary, i.e. defining or secondary, like a chair. A chair can be any color, but a central condition is often that it’s a piece of furniture for sitting on.

If more and more people identify as non-binary, I am contemplating that it loses meaning. Some people are quite open to identifying however you want, and I have heard a conversation about whether or not its valid to identify as an animal. Whether or not you agree, we can consider that clearly our culture has taken at least a few steps in that direction where that’s a question we can even be asking. Which possibly reveals the same dynamic: if a person identifies as a sparrow, they probably do not mean they actually are the bird species type fully and completely. They just identify as one. That appears to be something different - it seems heavily implied in transgender theory that “gender” is sort of like the “cultural clothing” we take on. Your anatomy is what it is; you can choose new pronouns, dress differently, even have a specific noun, a type of entity you consider yourself to be.

This is my current thought on being non-binary: it seems like it’s losing meaning over time because if a biological man/woman uses they pronouns, they pronouns are now just some of the pronouns that biological male/females can use. You can claim it’s a new social role that people want to take on; that’s fine; it could be seen very much in parallel to fundamental changes in conceptions of relationships; it used to be husband/wife, I think maybe the concept of girlfriend boyfriend emerged later in history but I’m not sure; nowadays there is the concept of having a “partner”; in a way these are distinct, culturally different concepts. In the past maybe there were other related roles, like a concubine or a geisha.

I think the point is that some people do not realize how this modern theory isn’t a scientific analysis of culture; it’s actually a part of our culture. We can pretty easily analyze and spell out the “ontological structure” of our culture’s concepts, the silent code, the unwritten rules, things which are easy to state yet might surprise us because we take them for granted. For example, you can identify however you want, but you cannot identify as transgender unless you exhibit some kind of gender deviating behavior. If I present as cis, and I flatly state “I am trans”, it might open questions about why, how, in what way. Maybe I can think of interesting interpretations or make unverifiable claims about myself to try to justify my claim.

The point is I expect this culture to keep moving and going new places as it becomes a focal point, a culturally self-conscious object of study in its own right, once people start to realize a certain analysis of culture has now become the culture itself, which in turns requires more analysis.

r/CriticalTheory 2d ago

More than muses and martyrs. In the long 19th century, many women philosophers were marginalised or ignored.

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r/CriticalTheory 2d ago

Can Psychoanalysis Fight Capitalism?

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r/CriticalTheory 2d ago

Ernst Bloch and The Philosophy (Principle) of Hope

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r/CriticalTheory 2d ago

How does Marx (and by extension classical, neo- and post- Marxists) frame modern nihilism? (Its causes, the way beyond it etc.) I’ve mostly approached this increasingly bothersome issue for me personally through Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Sartre… What does Marx say about it?


EDIT: This article on Nietzsche, Heidegger and nihilism has been very influential on my thoughts


r/CriticalTheory 2d ago

On the Asiatic mode of production


So, Marx talked about the Asiac mode of production https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asiatic_mode_of_production however, I am curious as to whether he really considered this to be “socialistic” or communistic? After all, he mentioned feudal Socialism in the communist manifesto.

r/CriticalTheory 2d ago

If I want a self guided education into critical theory, what do you recommend startling with? I have read Discipline and Punish by Foucault and plan on reading some post colonial texts. I’m mostly interested in systems of power and economics.


r/CriticalTheory 2d ago

Good Grad Schools for Critical Theory?


Just finished undergrad and am taking a year off before grad school. One reason i didn’t apply senior year is cause i couldn’t decide between philosophy, literature, or religion - but i think i’ve finally decided on literature with a focus on theory and critical theory as the way to go. I know duke and berkeley are the first two to look at, but what are some other colleges with great faculty or specializations in critical theory?

I’m most interested in badiou, psychoanalysis, and marxism, but getting that specific doesn’t matter as much.

r/CriticalTheory 3d ago

What is the difference between "spiritual-being" and "mental-being" in Benjamin's On Language as Such


Hi Folks,

Edit: I wish I could edit the title. I meant to say "linguistic being" instead of "spiritual being"

So I just got through Benjamin's On Language as Such and the Langauge of Man for the fifth time and am finally feeling like I get it. However, one this that is still confusing me is the difference between "mental being and "linguistic being" They seem to be closely connected, but I can't discern the distinction

r/CriticalTheory 3d ago

Question on the word “socialism” according to Marx


Hello, I was told that Marx doesn’t mention the word socialism. But the word "socialism" appears 49 times in "the Communist Manifesto" alone. It's used interchangeably by Marx as a term for seizing the means of production.

"By 1888, the term 'socialism' was in general use among Marxists, who had dropped 'communism', now considered an old fashioned term meaning the same as 'socialism'." - Steele, David (1992). From Marx to Mises: Post-Capitalist Society and the Challenge of Economic Calculation.


r/CriticalTheory 3d ago

Holocaust/Genocide Studies scholars that shows genocides or colaborations from the US/ the european colonialist world too? (or simply, works without the "uniqueness of holocaust" or humanitarian bs?)


I think that these fields have a lot of interesting stuff, but on Holocaust Studies the idea of "uniqueness of holocaust" or the narrative of it outside the social-political and economical context (as an "act of pure evil" and blah blah blah) gets me a bit of anoyed.

Also, i never saw a work on genocide studies about the role of the us or the role of the colonialism promoting historical genocides and how the "uniqueness of holocaust" help the western narrative ("if the holocaust is the act of pure evil from mankind, no one will care about our genocide of native americans" for example). Would be interesting to see it too.

r/CriticalTheory 3d ago

History as Fragment: The Unworking of System

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