Skip navigation

Theodor Adorno


*****Call for Papers******

‘The Actuality of Adorno: Theatre, Performance, and the Culture Industry Reconsidered (again)’

The PSi Performance and Philosophy working group

@ Performance Studies international #18

University of Leeds,UK

27 June – 1 July 2012


Invitation to contribute to a panel organised by the ‘Performance and Philosophy Working Group’

‘The Actuality of Adorno: Theatre, Performance, and the Culture Industry Reconsidered (again)’


The aim of this panel is to revisit and interrogate Theodor W. Adorno’s seminal critique of the ‘culture industry’, which he articulated in his collaborative work with Max Horkheimer (Dialectic of Enlightenment) as well as in numerous studies of cultural criticism that explore the status of art in the administered world of advanced capitalism.

We invite paper presentations that pursue Adornian perspectives and compositional stylistics in order to re-engage with his dialectical critique of the culture industry through specific sentences, phrases, and ideas composed by Adorno himself. As such, we ask that those interested in contributing to this panel build a paper around a specific Adorno quotation that deals with the culture industry. Or, in other words, we ask that proposals treat Adorno quotations as fragments through which to re-view the workings of the culture industry as it extends into the realms of theatre and performance in the present.

You may choose from one of the following quotations or select your own from Adorno’s body of work.


From: ‘Culture and Administration’, Adorno: The Culture Industry, trans. Rolf Tiedmann (New York: Routledge, 1991).

‘Through the sacrifice of its possible relation to praxis, the cultural concept itself becomes an instance of organization; that which is so provokingly useless in culture is transformed into tolerated negativity or even into something negatively useful—into a lubricant for the system, into something which exists for something else, into untruth, or into goods of the culture industry calculated for the consumer. All this is registered today in the uncomfortable relation between culture and administration’ (117).


From: ‘Cultural Criticism and Society’, Prisms; Also in Critical Theory: A Reader, ed. Douglas Tallack (1995). The page numbers below refer to this edition:

‘Cultural criticism shares the blindness of its object.’ (291)

‘The dialectical critic of culture must both participate in culture and not participate. Only then does he do justice to his object and to himself.’ (296).


From: Aesthetic Theory, trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor (London: The Athlone Press, 1997):

‘The consumer arbitrarily projects his impulses – mimetic remnants – on whatever is presented to him. Prior to total administration, the subject who viewed, heard, or read a work was to lose himself, forget himself, extinguish himself in the artwork. The identification carried out by the subject was ideally not that of making the artwork like himself, but rather that of making himself like the artwork.

This identification constituted aesthetic sublimation; Hegel named this comportment freedom to the object. He thus paid homage to the subject that becomes subject in spiritual experience through self-relinquishment, the opposite of the philistine demand that the artwork give him something.’ (17)

‘The poles of the artwork’s deaestheticization are that it is made as much a thing among things as a psychological vehicle of the spectator. What the reified artworks are no longer able to say is replaced by the beholder with the standardized echo of himself, to which he hearkens.’ (17)


From: Negative Dialectics, trans. E.B. Ashton (1973): ‘All post-Auschwitz culture, including its urgent critique, is garbage….Whoever pleads for the maintenance of this radically culpable and shabby culture becomes its accomplice, while the man who says no to culture is directly furthering the barbarism which our culture showed itself to be’ (367).

‘The power of the status quo puts up the façades into which our consciousness crashes. It must seek to crash through’ (17).

‘Direct communicability to everyone is not a criterion of truth. We must resist the all but universal compulsion to confuse the communication of knowledge with knowledge itself, and to rate it higher, if possible—whereas at present each communicative step is falsifying truth and selling it out’ (41).


From ‘Culture Industry Reconsidered’ in Adorno: Essays on the Culture Industry (Routledge)

‘The masses are not the measure but the ideology of the culture industry, even though the culture industry itself could scarcely exist without adapting to the masses’ (99).

‘The autonomy of works of art, which of course rarely ever predominated in an entirely pure form, and was always permeated by a constellation of effects, is tendentially eliminated by the culture industry, with or without the conscious will of those in control’ (19).

‘The concept of technique in the culture industry is only in name identical with technique in works of art. In the latter, technique is concerned with the internal organization of the object itself, with its inner logic. In contrast, the technique of the culture industry is, from the beginning, one of distribution and mechanical reproduction, and therefore always remains external to its object’ (101).


Please send a 350-word abstract (including your affiliation and technical requirements) to the session organisers Will Daddario and Karoline Gritzner

Deadline for proposals: Friday 7th October 2011

Please note that, as usual, the panel as a whole will still have to be submitted to the PSi 18 conference organizers – so even if session organizers accept your proposal, this is not a guarantee of participation in PSi 18.


Performance & Philosophy Working Group (PPWG) wiki:

Performance Studies International (PSi) website:




‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)


‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: (recording) and (live, at the Belle View pub, Bangor, north Wales)  


Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Online Publications at:

MySpace Profile:

The Ockress:

Rikowski Point:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: