1) According to Benjamin, what is the power of film and how might it mobilize the masses in acts of resistance? How does Adorn respond to Benjamin’s argument? How might these understandings of the significance of film correlate with the Feminist critique of film?
2) Both Benjamin and Adorn employ the dialectical method of Marx (Hegel) for their projects, but in their correspondence, Adorn accuses Benjamin of falling prey to a kind of naïve romanticism with his belief in the trans formative potential of mechanical reproduction as a forwarding agent in the political project of the proletariat. Adorn responds to the draft of “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” with the injunction for “more dialectics” (529). What precisely is in tension between them and how might their approaches help us to navigate today’s culture and media manipulations?
3) In the age of mechanical reproduction, art was separated from tradition giving artists a new sense of freedom. But with that freedom, Adorn explains in “Art, Society, and Aesthetics,” “what looked at first like expansion of art turned out to be its contraction” (1). Rather then embrace this new found freedom, artists everywhere searched to put themselves back in the box (1). Taking into consideration Spivs essay, “Supplementing Marxism,” what do you think would be a Marxian analysis, in regards to why this contradiction occurred?
4) In “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Benjamin discusses what occurs to the authenticity of the art object as “the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning.” When an art object is reproduced by technological means, he claims that “the historical testimony is affected,” which thereby affects the authority of the object itself (521). Do you think that, in today’s technology-entrenched society, we are experiencing this lack of authenticity? Or do you think it is, instead, possible for authenticity to still occur? How does the utilization of technology for reproduction change our understanding of authenticity? Please provide some examples of artists that you think are or are not doing this effectively.
5) In the two excerpts we read, Edward Said identifies not only a European cultural tradition of universalism and ‘superiority’ but also accuses academia of the same insular notions. Spiv shares these concerns. Said introduces a methodology of discourse as a remedial measure to the rigidity of history and philosophical difference. In the current firmly globalized (yet simultaneously nationalistic and divided) geopolitical experience, what might discourse offer that is similar/different/ other than dialectic? And is ‘giving voice’ enough considering the shadow of traditional power structures?