Marxism Notes

October 6, 2009

Notes on Karl Marx & Historical Materialism

Base-Superstructure chart (Marx)

Louis Althusser 1970


Foucault and Chomsky

September 26, 2009

Here’s a link to the foucault/ Chomsky debate I attempted to show in class, parts I and II.

For this week’s class, please read the following, as per the syllabus:

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, “Ruling Class and Ruling Ideas”
Marx & Engels, “Base and Superstructure”
Althusser “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”
Gramsci “Hegemony, Intellectuals and the State” – Gramsci

All texts are available on electronic reserve through the Pratt Library. If you have any trouble accessing the files, please speak with a librarian.

Tony Benett, “Popular Culture and the ‘Turn to Gramsci’”
Adorno “On Popular Music”
“German Ideology,” “Critique of Political Economy,” & “Capital” Marx & Engels
“The Problem of Ideology: Marxism without Guarantees,” from Stuart Hall (pgs. 25-46)

Please come to class prepared to discuss these readings and remember also to bring in your show and tell before too late. I will allow a maximum of TWO per day–hence, we are running out of time.

For Tues Sept 22

Required Reading: Excerpts from Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (Bordieu 1987); and Foucault “Method” [fom A HIstory of Sexuality.}

Recommended Reading: Foucault’s “Two Lectures” (1976)

Arlin Campbell will start the discussion on Bordieu’s “Distinction,”Philip Depoala will start the discussion on Foucault’s “Method,” from A History of Sexuality

Articles available through Pratt Library’s electronic reserve system: go to our on-line catalog and click on reserve tab. Enter required information.

Sometime before this class, try do something (or imagine doing something–God forbid you break a law) that resists the disciplinary forms of Power that Foucault writes about. In what spaces–physical or not– can you elude these practices? Or can you? And what status does “art” posess in this reading of culture, discourse, & power?

The “Doing Cultural Studies” packet is currently available in my mailbox, 3rd Floor Dekalb mailroom (under the “social science and cultural studies” dept heading). If you haven’t picked it up, you should do so.

Remember that the “comic” Intro to Cultural Studies that I handed out in class can be read as needed, to aid in your comprehension of the assigned material.

Our first “show and tell” by Mardenza on artist Sandow Birk is an excellent example of a cultural artifact that requires several discourses to be able to discuss it. This is what we hope that cultural studies can do–provide us with strategies of analysis that are specific and yet malleable enough to really engage the object of study: culturally situated, intellectually rigorous, and yet cognizant of a certain guiding “morality” (as the “comic” calls it) that is sensitive to oppression and marginalization of people in the world.

I brought in an article for “show and tell”–for those of you typography junkies–on how IKEA has changed its font from futura to verdana, much to the dismay of many typography artists and fans. Another great example of how everything is culturally loaded–even things “seemingly” invisible font. As Marshall McLuhan notes, “The Medium is the Message.”

Please keep bringing in artifacts for “show and tell” as you find them. This keeps the class interesting and relevant, but also creates possible topics for later work in this class.

Please continue to comment on reading, class discussion, etc., in the blog and do respond to each other’s comments. These comments are a great way of extending class discussion as well as providing another forum for you to add to your class participation

Finally, if you have ideas about further structuring, designing or adding to this blog, please let me know. The goal is to make this space an easy extension of the class, one that helps you. It can be as structured or “loose” as we want it.


Read Raymond Williams, “Culture is Ordinary” for today. Clifton Atkinson will lead class discussion for this essay, as outlined in course syllabus.

Read also excerpts from Doing Cultural Studies edited by du Gay, Hall, Jane, Mackay, & Negus. Victoriya Baskin will lead class discussion for this essay. This packet should be available in my mailbox, 3rd floor Dekalb, Tomorrow by 6pm. I will email you when they are there.

Pratt Students Hard at Work

Pratt Students Hard at Work