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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

John E Toews
CHID 309
Seattle Campus

Marx and the Marxian Tradition in Western Thought: The Foundations of Modern Cultural Criticism I

Critically examines the formation of modern Western culture, politics, and society through an historical analysis of the work of Karl Marx and the thinkers, artists, and activists who assimilated and transformed Marxian concepts from the late nineteenth century to the present. Offered: jointly with HIST 309.

Class description

A consideration of critical issues in the formation of modern Western culture and society through an historical analysis of the texts of Karl Marx and his 20th century disciples in Europe and America. The class will focus on the relationship between texts and historical contexts of the writings of Marx and various individual Marxists a schools of Marxists that appropriated and transformed his theories in the century after his death. How can a historical reconstruction of the situation within which Marx and Marxists wrote and acted help us to grasp the specific relevance their thought might have for the way we think now? We hope to conjure up their voices from the past so they can enter into our conversations in the present.

Student learning goals

Enhance understanding of the meanings of the texts of Marx and thinkers in the Western Marxist tradition by learning to read and interpret them in their historical contexts.

Develop an understanding of the theoretical foundations of the major strands of secular critique of modern western Culture.

Learn to think historically about thinkers of the past as well as about themselves.

Learn to think critically and analytically about human freedom and how it is shaped by systems of labor and networks of power.

General method of instruction

Lecture / Discussion

Recommended preparation

An introductory course or at least some preliminary reading in nineteenth century European history and social theory.

Class assignments and grading

Students will be asked to submit regular response papers to the readings. The diary of responses will be collected and graded at mid-term and at the end of the course. A 8-10 page research and writing project will also be required. This project may involve a classroom presentation.

Response Papers (Midterm and Final) 60% Research and Writing Project 30% Participation in discussion circles and occasional in-class writing assignments 10%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by John E Toews
Date: 11/13/2009