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Reclaiming Utopia: an Introduction to Ernst Bloch

Explore the enduring relevance of Ernst Bloch's vision of concrete utopia and its impact on Marxist praxis in this thought-provoking course. Discover how utopia, hope, and anticipation intersect with political transformation through the works of Bloch, Marx, Adorno, Benjamin, and more. Join us on a journey to reimagine the future.

  • All levels
  • 21 and older
  • $335
  • Online Classroom
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions

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  • $335
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
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Class Description


What you'll learn in this literature class:

The idiosyncratic Marxist philosopher and cultural critic Ernst Bloch is perhaps best known for his attempt to rehabilitate the concept of utopia within Marxist thought. But utopia, he wrote, “is not something like nonsense or absolute fancy; rather it is not yet in the sense of possibility.” Across a wide-ranging and poetic body of work, Bloch elaborated a vision of concrete utopia, grounded not only in hope for and anticipation of a non-alienated future, but also the channeling of that hope into the collective transformation of material conditions. How, he asked, is the “cold stream” of materialist analysis sustained by the “warm stream” of hope and anticipatory consciousness? Which historical experiences and aesthetic objects afford us a glimpse into possible futures latent in the present?

Focused principally on selections from The Spirit of Utopia and The Principle of Hope, as well as Bloch’s shorter writings on art and literature, this course will grapple with the questions that animate Bloch’s work, and its enduring relevance in an age seemingly marked by a retreat from utopian thinking and the proliferation of dystopian imaginaries. What place do utopia and its attendant affective dispositions—hope, imagination, desire, anticipation—have within Marxist praxis? How should the utopian dimensions of art and literature bear on questions of political transformation? On which theories of human nature and temporality does Bloch’s vision of a non-alienated life depend? Beyond Bloch’s writings, readings will draw from the work of Karl Marx, Charles Fourier, Theodor Adorno, György Lukács, Walter Benjamin, and Bertolt Brecht, among others. 

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

Refund Policy

  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

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