Social Theory Workshop Co-sponsored Event: November 10

The Social Theory and American Literature and Cultures workshops, in collaboration with

Exile on Mainstreet: Fascism, Emigration, and the European Imagination in America, presents:

A workshop and discussion with Shannon Mariotti, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Southwestern University, and author of Thoreau’s Democratic Withdrawal: Alienation, Participation, and Modernity (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010)

Please join us Thursday, November 10th at 4:30pm in Social Sciences 401, where we will be discussing Professor Mariotti’s paper, entitled “Adorno on American Democracy: Countertendencies, Immanent Critique, and Democratic Pedagogy,” a chapter from her present book project:

Adorno on Democracy in America

“This project explores the American roots and contemporary relevance of the German critical social theorist Theodor W. Adorno’s critique of existing democracy as well as his normative ideal of democracy. Illuminating how Adorno’s thoughts reflect the context of their genesis, I also show how his theory can inform and guide contemporary democratic politics. Drawing from newly published essays, radio addresses, and lectures that Adorno originally composed in English during his time in the U.S., my manuscript revises the traditional understanding of Adorno as a high modernist aesthete, a cultural elitist, and a notoriously inaccessible theorist. I show how Adorno’s project is deeply democratic at its core while also exploring moments where he speaks in a different register, to the demos that lies at the heart of his theoretical concerns. Writing about democracy in America, in English, while in the U.S., Adorno translates and introduces his ideas to a broader public in ways that reflect a desire to understand and inform the problems and possibilities of democracy as they are enacted at the level of the everyday customs, conventions, and habits of citizens. Reframing our image of Adorno in the process of drawing out the lessons of these newly available writings composed in the U.S., I also use Adorno’s thought to intervene in, and inform, key debates in contemporary American democratic theory and practice: Adorno’s unconventional perspectives can revitalize our democratic politics, add conceptual rigor to democratic theory, and remind us of the normative promise that used to attach more closely to the concept of ‘democracy.'”

A copy of the paper is now available. Please email Stacie Hanneman,

More information on the conference is available here:


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