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Critical Theory and FeelingThe Affective Politics of the Early Frankfurt School$
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Simon Mussell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526105707

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526105707.001.0001

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Thinking through feeling: critical theory and the affective turn

Thinking through feeling: critical theory and the affective turn

(p.13) 1 Thinking through feeling: critical theory and the affective turn
Critical Theory and Feeling

Simon Mussell

Manchester University Press

Chapter 1 sets out the theoretical terrain on which the wider project is based. It begins by revisiting some of the founding tenets of critical theory in the context of the establishment of the Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The chapter then discusses contemporary theories of affect that have emerged in the past couple of decades as part of the so-called ‘new materialisms’. Taking on board some of the key findings of this recent work on affect, the author also highlights the potential political deficiencies that accompany such accounts, particularly within a growing ‘post-critical’ context. The chapter closes with suggestions as to how early critical theory – read through an affective lens – might provide the social and political grounding that affect theory often lacks, while at the same time noting how theories of affect are invaluable in shedding light on the efficacy of the pre- or extra-rational, so often sacrificed on the altar of political philosophy.

Keywords:   Critical theory, Frankfurt School, Institute for Social Research, New materialism(s), Affect theory, Post-critical

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