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UfSO Vs. Goldsmiths: Cultural Studies and Capitalism

December 20, 2010

The University For Strategic Optimism, in conjunction with the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths College, is pleased to announce a semester long course on Vol I of Karl Marx’s Capital. The course will be led by Professor John Hutnyk (Goldsmiths) and our very own visiting lecturer Dr. Theolonius Weisengrund (UfSO). The course is free and open to all – opening the university to the public and freeing up the discursive possibilities within the university. Students who wish to take part in this course through the UfSO will be asked to create their own project for assessment that will give credits towards a UfSO degree – this could take the form of a lecture to be given at one of our upcoming events.

The lectures/seminars begin on Tuesday 18th January 2011 between 4 and 7pm and will run for 10 weeks (with a week off in the middle) in the Ben Pimlott Lecture Theatre, Goldsmiths College. Students are required to bring their own copy of the Penguin, International Publishers or Progress Press editions of Karl Marx Capital Vol I. (French and German editions are fine also but students should be advised that Dr. Weisengrund has shown particular hostility towards the abridged English edition.) There is likely to be a parallel reading/discussion group, held upstairs at the Amersham Arms, that will look to relate the week’s reading to the current crisis of capital, and neo-liberalism’s slash-happy response. Related movies will also be shown in the Richard Hoggart Building Cinema from 6pm on Mondays.

For those not familiar with Goldsmiths, a map can be found here.

Course outline and indicative reading list is given below:

Cultural Studies and Capitalism

This course involves a close reading of Karl Marx’s Capital (Volume One). The connections between cultural studies and critiques of capitalism are considered in an interdisciplinary context (cinema studies, anthropology, musicology, international relations, and philosophy) which reaches from Marx through to Film Studies, from ethnographic approaches to Heidegger, from anarchism and surrealism to German critical theory and poststructuralism/post-colonialism/post-early-for-christmas. Topics covered include: alienation, commodification, production, technology, education, subsumption, anti-imperialism, anti-war movement and complicity. Using a series of illustrative films (documentary and fiction) and key theoretical texts (read alongside the text of Capital), we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts, changes, lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations – we will look at how cultural studies copes with (or does not cope with) class struggle, anti-colonialism, new subjectivities, cultural politics, media, virtual and corporate worlds.

Indicative reading:

The main reading will be the relevant chapter or chapters of Capital each week. Do also read the footnotes, they are sometimes quite entertaining (attacks on ‘moneybags’, comments on Shakespeare, notes on bamboo ‘thrashings’, and celebrations of the work of Leonard Horner, factory inspector).

K Marx, Capital: Volume One
T Adorno, The Culture Industry
A Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures
M. Taussig My Cocaine Museum
G Bataille, The Accursed Share
Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto
G Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason
S Zizek, Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917
S Lotringer (ed), Hatred of Capitalism: A Reader

31 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2010 11:18 pm

    Will the lectures be podcast? Please do!

    I would like to enroll from oversees. For my project I will create a DIY version of “Capital” That others can download, print from any standard inkjet printer, and easily handbind using standard household materials.

    • flashbank permalink*
      December 20, 2010 11:30 pm

      Thanks Thomas, we will certainly look into podcasting the lectures and look forward to receiving DIY Das Kapital. Congratulations on your enrollment!

  2. Akkas Al-Ali permalink
    December 20, 2010 11:32 pm

    Count me in. Why is Dr. Weisengrund so hostile towards the English edn?

    • flashbank permalink*
      December 20, 2010 11:36 pm

      The other editions mentioned are in English – it is the ‘abridged’ part that angers him, I believe.

  3. James permalink
    December 22, 2010 3:31 pm

    Looks great, but the course is clearly not “free and open to all” those who have to work later than 4pm i.e. most people.

  4. December 22, 2010 5:47 pm

    Using a series of illustrative films documentary and fiction and key theoretical texts read alongside the text of Capital we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts changes lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations we will look at how cultural studies copes with or does not cope with class struggle anti-colonialism new subjectivities cultural politics media virtual and corporate worlds.. Taussig My Cocaine Museum.G Bataille The Accursed Share.K Marx Capital Volume One.Marx and Engels The Communist Manifesto.G Spivak A Critique of Postcolonial Reason.S Zizek Revolution at the Gates Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917.S Lotringer ed Hatred of Capitalism A Reader.Many of the lectures will include visual material.

  5. Terry Wassall permalink
    December 23, 2010 4:46 pm

    It would be great if lectures could be pod or videocasts and some sort of on-line discussion could be set up for each lecture. Subscibers to this course may also be interested in the no doubt far less entertaining one provided by David Harvey –

  6. give-it permalink
    December 23, 2010 4:52 pm

    Yes, you’re right James. It should say “this course is free and open to all those who do not have prior engagements.”

    • James permalink
      December 23, 2010 6:29 pm

      Thanks for the clarification give-it, but, as I’m sure you realise, my point is not really about the wording. Having to work is not exactly what I’d call a prior engagement, although I guess it’s all about “choices” these days – right?

  7. nosnilwar permalink
    December 23, 2010 5:58 pm

    Terry Wassall is right. This is ripe for podcasting. Do a sound test to check you’ve got the levels right!

  8. December 24, 2010 11:08 am

    Hey – loving the UfSO so far. I work for a University making elearning stuff. I’d like to contribute in some way, as I too have prior commitments and a certain geographical commitment as well (i.e i live too far away).

    Also can other people organise UfSO courses?

    And finally OER? OCW? (a bit like podcasting).

  9. whittington permalink
    December 30, 2010 8:11 pm

    James is right regarding the time. The WEA and Birkbeck are both excellent models of education for working people. Perhaps there are other constraints for this course but I think you should consider this issue for future courses.

  10. tonyman permalink
    January 19, 2011 12:27 am

    I tried to attend the event today but the lecture hall was full to bursting point. In fact, it proved so popular that every book shop I visited had sold out of volume 1! If it is not possible to arrange for larger accommodation it would be wonderful if the lecture were podcast. I love the idea of a truly free university and am willing to volunteer my services to deliver lectures on History.

    • January 20, 2011 12:46 pm


      I am keen to do this (perhaps electronically) – perhaps this appeals – comment on my blog and we could chat?


      • tonyman permalink
        January 20, 2011 1:01 pm

        Hi Pat,

        I am a little inept electronically but yes it appeals! Give me a better idea of what you were thinking about and we will work from there.


      • Pat permalink
        January 21, 2011 8:08 pm

        I would think an independent itunesu sort of site for education content

      • tonyman permalink
        January 21, 2011 11:05 pm

        sounds like a great idea and i am very interested; please send more details. however there are already many good lectures available online (even on itunes) but the element of USO i like most is that it provides accreditation.

      • January 22, 2011 1:30 am

        The UfSO provides accreditation? How does that work? I’m very interested in setting up an alternative accreditation agency to accredit courses like those at the UfSO or the Public School ( or the Art School in the Art School (

        Such an accreditation agency would have to be clearly different from “accreditation mills” and would need to keep high standards, but there really ought to be a way to formally recognized the very real education that is taking place outside of corporate universities.

  11. tonyman permalink
    January 19, 2011 12:28 am

    and documentary film.

  12. flashbank permalink*
    January 20, 2011 12:50 pm

    The first lecture has been recorded and will be available to watch when we have sorted out a few technical difficulties. The rest of the lectures will all be videocasted for those who can not make it for whatever reason. For those who can not make it due to wage slavery, rather than geographical constraints, there will be a parallel reading/discussion group held in the evenings. The day of the week it is held will depend on the availability of the venue but feel free to reply with preferences for the day and start time to give us an idea of what suits. Otherwise, watch the blog for more info.

  13. Pat permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:02 am

    Well a national ufso standard could be made? Lots of places abroad could really use free learning materials

  14. January 25, 2011 2:45 pm

    Will the recordings of the lecture be posted here on this site? And when will that be, during or after the whole course?

    • flashbank permalink*
      January 26, 2011 2:42 pm

      They will be linked to here and will be available as soon as we get a chance to sort them out. I can’t say exactly when this will be as things are reasonably hectic for all at the moment. Cheers.

  15. Biswadip Dasgupta permalink
    February 8, 2011 11:06 am

    Yes I am one of the waged unfree I am afraid hence unable to make it to the lectures but I would love to come along to the discussions – please let me know where.

    On a related note – I belong to a Capital Reading Group which meets in Birkbeck every two weeks. On Friday 18 February at 6.30 pm we have a special event with an address given to us by Nicole Pepperell of RMIT Melbourne, author of a forthcoming book on Marx’s Capital and the blogger behind Nicole will be speaking on the narrative structure of the first four chapters of Capital and the implications for how Marx understands the reproduction of emancipatory possibilities as an integral aspect of the reproduction of capital. All welcome – please email for room info etc.

  16. Biswadip Dasgupta permalink
    May 16, 2011 11:03 am

    Is there a a parallel reading/discussion group held in the evenings and how do I get further information about this?


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