The relevancy of Adornos Critique of Culture Industry for today

Does Popular Culture Keep Us Stupid?

In this panel discussion on Popular Culture, held at Michigan State University in April 2010, Christian Lotz, David Stowe and Diane Wakoski discuss Adornos theses and how they are to be interpreted today.

Lotz gives a short outline of Adornos Critique of Culture Industry as he unfolded it in the famous chapter of his „Dialectic of Enlightenment“ and the historical background in which he developed it.
David Stowe criticizes some aspects of Adornos argumentation, claiming for example that he didn‘t really try to look at what he experienced as american mass culture in its peculiarity, but rather judged it from the narrow-minded viewpoint of a traditional-educated european (as can be seen in his condemnation of jazz).
Diane Wakoski, a poet, refutes adornos well-known sentence that one should not make art after the Holocaust.

The discussion that follows their statements is particularly interesting, dealing with the question how the internet affects Culture Industry in these days and what Adorno might have thought about this development.
They also talk about some movies that had a big influence on recent Popular Culture, for example „Fight Club“.

Download: via Audioarchiv (technically reworked*, 1:19 h, 27 MB); original file via MSU (72 MB)

* We tried to remove some noise and to adapt the volume, but the sound quality isn‘t that good, though.

Announcement text:

Does Popular Culture Keep Us Stupid?

Please join the students of IAH 241B on April 26th from 3:00 to 4:20 in N101 North Kedzie to hear and participate in a panel/debate/discussion of Theodor Adorno’s attack on popular culture in two articles: „The Culture Industry: Enlightenment or Mass Deception“ and „The Schema of Mass Culture.“

Professor Christian Lotz from the Philosophy Department will present and justify Adorno’s position.

Professor Lotz has written From Affectivity to Subjectivity. Revisiting Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology (Palgrave, 2007/08) and Vom Leib zum Selbst. Kritische Analysen zu Husserl und Heidegger [Lived Body and Self. Critical Investigations in Husserl and Heidegger] (Alber, 2005). He won MSU’s Teacher-Scholar Award in 2009; it is awarded to young faculty members for both teaching excellence and scholarly promise. His website is

Professor David Stowe from the American Studies Program will defend popular culture.

Professor Stowe is the author of How Sweet the Sound: Music in the Spiritual Lives of Americans (Harvard, 2004), which won the Deems Taylor Award from ASCAP and Swing Changes: Big Band Jazz in New Deal America (Harvard, 1994). His website is

University Distinguished Professor Diane Wakoski will take a middle ground in the discussion.

According to Academy of American Poets, Professor Wakoski is the author of over 40 collections of poetry, including four included in a series entitled The Archaelogy of Books and Movies. Her collected poems, Emerald Ice, received the Walt Whitman award from the Poetry Society of America. Just before her appearance on the panel, Professor Wakoski will be a featured speaker at the Associated Writing Programs Conference in Denver. The Poetry Foundation’s website for her is at

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1 Antwort auf “The relevancy of Adornos Critique of Culture Industry for today”

  1. 1 Strix occidentalis 01. Februar 2011 um 22:47 Uhr

    Does delibarately missunderstanding Adorno keeps us stoopit?

    Zis is ze last shit I ever heard about Adorno (and Horkheimer!).
    (Christian Lotz’s part is barely hearable, he speaks so softly zat I have to turn my speakas to ze maximum.)

    I must say zat I learned german in grammar school zo I wos able to read ze Dialektik of ze Aufklärung alzo in ze original languätsch it wos written in and I zink zat Adorno is not ze olternativ Heidegger. Lotz does not ixplain die-alectics at oll, nor does he menstschin Hegel. If he would really know anyzing about Adorno he didn‘t lörn in his first semester of philosophie
    – and forgot two weeks lata so he hat to look up ze Wikipedia and wotsch a film to prepare his lecture – he would have said zat Adorno was not at all against ze Aufklärung.

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