Theodor Adorno (1903 – 1969)

  1. Date/Time

  2. Location

    Center for Jewish History

    15 W. 16th St.
    New York, NY 10011


  3. Admission

    Members: $5
    Non-members: $10
  4. Tickets

Co-presented with Deutsches Haus at NYU

In a post-election essay for the New Yorker, the critic Alex Ross wrote that the “combination of economic inequality and pop-cultural frivolity” in current American life were precisely the fertile ground for an American catastrophe that the Jewish intellectuals of the Frankfurt School anticipated in their studies of antisemitism, mass culture, and the “authoritarian personality”. Jack Jacobs (CUNY), Jonathon Catlin (Princeton), and Liliane Weissberg (Penn) discuss how the Frankfurt School’s analysis of antisemitism in particular sheds light on the racism undergirding contemporary right-wing populist movements.

Jack Jacobs is a professor of political science at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. In The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives and Antisemitism (2014), he examined how the Jewish family backgrounds of figures like Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Erich Fromm, Leo Lowenthal and Herbert Marcuse influenced their lives and philosophies, especially their analysis of antisemitism. Jacobs is also the author or editor of On Socialists and “the Jewish Question” after Marx (1992), Bundist Counterculture in Interwar Poland (2009), and Jews and Leftist Politics Judaism, Israel, Antisemitism, and Gender (2017).

Jonathon Catlin is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Princeton University. He studies modern European intellectual and cultural life, with an emphasis on twentieth-century German and Jewish philosophy and social theory. His work traces the concept of “catastrophe” in humanistic reflection from biblical texts up through intellectual responses to contemporary events such as 9/11. Catlin’s project considers the Holocaust as a point of rupture with philosophical tradition in German-Jewish thought, with particular attention to the writings of the Frankfurt School.

Liliane Weissberg is Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Her interests focus on late eighteenth-century to early twentieth-century German literature and philosophy. Among her book publications are a critical edition of Hannah Arendt’s Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess (1997), Cultural Memory and the Construction of Identity (with Dan Ben-Amos, 1999), Affinität wider Willen? Hannah Arendt, Theodor W. Adorno und die Frankfurter Schule (2011), Über Haschisch und Kabbalah: Gershom Scholem, Siegfried Unseld und das Werk von Walter Benjamin (2012), and Writing with Photography (with Karen Beckman, 2013).

Co-presented with Deutsches Haus at NYU

This event is part of LBI’s fall 2017 series exploring the contemporary relevance of German-Jewish history.