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What is Capitalism? The Theories of Marx and Marxism

ENGL 294.401
crosslisted as: COML 291
instructor(s):
T 1:30-4:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

Today, many around the globe are reflecting on capitalism’s benefits and problems, in the hope of imagining and realizing a better future. This course will trace some of the origins of that inquiry. It will offer an introduction to the works of Marx and some of the varied traditions that have spun out of them; no prior familiarity with that work or those traditions is required. By reading Marx’s own writings as well as social theory influenced by them, and by reading literature and watching film, art, and popular culture from around the globe, we will consider a diverse array of answers to questions like: how does racial, gender, economic, and political inequality emerge and increase variously around the globe? What was the relationship between slavery and capitalism? What are ideology, alienation, and fetishism? How are activism and theory connected? Why does shopping make us feel so much pleasure, pain, or numbness? How might culture help us imagine our way out of the violence and inequality of actually existing social relations?