Still no comments on the post about changes to the seminar. I take your silence as complicity in my plan to inculcate you with a virulent hatred of all that is wholesome and good.
In that vein, I would like everyone to read Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ Communist Manifesto. Now is the time. As we proceed through the Machine Age and into what Eric Hobsbawm called the Age of Extremes (1914-1994) we’ll need to understand the nature of capital– how the social contradictions of that propulsive, destructive, dynamic, creative economic system known as capitalism have shaped American culture. The Communist Manifesto remains the best thumbnail sketch of capital’s origins and logic. You can find it any number of places on-line. I recommend marxists.org for convenience’s sake. One caveat, however: you will not need to read Section III: “Socialist and Communist Literature”. This means the reading assignment is quite light. Let’s plan on discussing the manifesto on February 17.
Remember how I asked if you wanted to kick it up a notch? Many if not most people in class that day seemed to vaguely assent to that proposition. What kicking it up means is focusing on our approach to AmCiv– finding useful theoretical tools to apply to the raw material of historical events and primary texts. The Communist Manifesto will help us in this quest as will a number of key terms I will address in class, including culture, ideology, and hegemony.