This first lecture on social theories of art and artistic production examines the Frankfurt School. The theoretical writings of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin are explored in historical and political contexts, including Marxism, socialist realism, and late capitalism. The concept of mechanical reproduction, specifically the relationship between labor and art, is explained at some length. Adorno's opposition to this argument, and his own position, are explained. The lecture concludes with a discussion of Benjamin's perspective on the use of distraction and shock in the process of aesthetic revelation.
Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." In The Critical Tradition, pp. 1233-48
Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. "The Culture Industry." In The Critical Tradition, pp. 1255-62
In this course, Prof. Paul H. Fry gives 26 video lectures on Theory of Literature. This is a survey of the main trends in twentieth-century literary theory. Lectures will provide background for the readings and explicate them where appropriate, while attempting to develop a coherent overall context that incorporates philosophical and social perspectives on the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose?