Marxist Modernism

Marxist Modernism:Introductory Lectures on Frankfurt School Critical Theory

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Lectures on art, Marxism, and critical theory by the legendary philosopher, collected for the first time

Marxist Modernism is a comprehensive yet concise and conversational introduction to the Frankfurt School. It is also a new resource from one of the twentieth century’s most important philosophers: Gillian Rose.

Her 1979 lectures on the Frankfurt School explore the lives and philosophies of a range of the school’s members and affiliates, including Adorno, Lukács, Brecht, Bloch, Benjamin, and Horkheimer, and outline the way each theorist developed Marx’s theory of commodity fetishism into a Marxist theory of culture.

Edited by Robert Lucas Scott and James Gordon Finlayson


  • This is the best starting place for a new generation of Rose-readers, a reminder of where it all began, when modernists could still be Marxists and theologians belonged to a previous age. A treat for the Roserati.

    Peter Osborne, Director, Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London, author of Crisis as Form
  • To read these lectures is to watch a great mind at work. Animated by her discovery of an incisive and socially relevant left-wing intellectual tradition, Rose approaches teaching by conveying that excitement - precisely the philosophical eros she would later extol. For readers familiar with Rose's rigorous and sometimes forbidding books, these lectures reveal an unexpected, intimate pedagogical side. Alongside her unique and pioneering reception of the Frankfurt School, we can see Rose's own singular contributions to political thought - her meditations on law, violence, the relationship between aesthetic imagination and social order - begin to find their grounds in her readings of, and arguments with, her predecessors.

    James ButlerLondon Review of Books
  • In these early and inviting lectures, written in a high conversational style, Gillian Rose brilliantly reconstructs first generation Critical Theory as "Marxist modernism" by demonstrating how Georg Lukács's generalization of commodity fetishism from a concept belonging to the critique of political economy into dialectics of society enables the development of the critique of culture in Bloch, Adorno, Benjamin, and Brecht. The promise and potential of dereifying critique that Rose demonstrates, of revealing the immediacies of given social reality as the products of 'human sensuous activity, practice," seems more urgent today than ever before. To read these lectures today is a painful reminder of how much we miss and still need to engage with Gillian Rose's fierce intellect.

    J.M. Bernstein, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, New School