What can today’s higher education student and scholar activists learn from the critical theory tradition? What role can higher education and social movements play in constituting or readying people to participate in the public sphere? How did the critical theory tradition try to balance the need to take a critical distance from the world and the need for revolutionary/transformative movements and struggles? What is the relationship between critical theory and other philosophical traditions within the academy such as pragmatism and anarchism, and other fields such as cultural studies?
In today’s podcast we have the honor of exploring these questions with the eminent intellectual historian of critical theory Martin Jay. He is the Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation was revised into the seminar work on the history of critical theory, The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950. It is now a classic in the field. This work drew on the many personal relationships he developed with key figures in the movement, such as Leo Löwenthal. His research traverses Marxism, socialism, historiography, cultural criticism, visual culture, and post-structuralism/postmodernism. He was the recipient of the 2010/2011 Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin.