Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Tilottama Rajan


This thesis begins by examining the natural-historical character of Theodor Adorno’s thought and corpus, 1931–1969, by way of engaging the centennial of the October Russian Revolution. In the first three chapters we attempt to read Adorno’s corpus as écriture or writing whereupon unconscious writing of history is transcribed. This literary-driven approach to Adorno’s work highlights the primacy of history for his thought, whence his late-Marxism issues that culminates in what we call a politics of experience. Given the historical experience we seek to make legible heretofore, in chapter four we briefly turn to the hyper-object of ongoing and future anthropogenic global warming and ask how to narrativize the entangled trajectory of environmental politics and countenance its outcome in light of the broader history of the Left stemming from the early 20th century and leading to the present. Throughout we will attend to themes including the inheritance of the ruin of German Idealism as well as the failures of Marxism and the Left; the historical compulsion of a post-Hegelian negative dialectics and its relation to a metacritical engagement with Freudian psychoanalysis; the quandary of late-Marxism’s cul-de-sac and broad turn to aesthetics; the interdisciplinary humanities as a form of critical object-dependence; the constitutive non-identities of history, experience and criticism; the citational disclosure of history and its relation to pedagogy and the demos; a poetics of natural history; and finally, the non-identical claims praxis makes upon theory.