Instrumental Reason/Constellational Form: The Frankfurt School Now

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SAMLA (Atlanta, Nov. 8-10, 2013)

In "The Essay as Form," Theodor Adorno writes that the essay (in Montaigne's sense of an 'attempt') presupposes a reader who "does not think, but rather transforms himself into an arena of intellectual experience."

Frankfurt School critical theory is often regarded as incompatible with contemporary literary and cultural studies, with the latter's emphasis on sensation, remediation, politicized identities and social networks. We are seeking panels that reimagine Adorno and Benjamin's work in light of recent scholarly and pedagogical trends. For instance, what can Frankfurt theory contribute to the return of experience as a critical keyword? How does "constellation" compare to other terms for complex compositions (network, assemblage, field, etc.)? Can we still justify reading and teaching literature as a challenge to instrumental reason and the "unconditional priority of 'method,'" or should new theories and technologies make us rethink the instrumental?

Please send an abstract of about 250 words, along with a 1-3 sentence bio, to Claire Laville ( and Elizabeth Bishop ( by June 21, 2013.

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