MARCUSE SOCIETY Fall Conference / Abstracts Due: May 20, 2015

Upcoming Conference
Fall 2015

Praxis and Critique:

Liberation, Pedagogy, and the University

12-15 November 2015

Salisbury University
Salisbury, Maryland, USA

Marcuse Society Conference 2015

Praxis and Critique:

Liberation, Pedagogy, and the University


International Herbert Marcuse Society

Sixth Biennial Conference


12-15 November 2015


Salisbury University

Salisbury, Maryland, USA


In recent years, the problems and contradictions intrinsic to capitalist society have resulted in a number of manifest, seemingly permanent, crises. Many researchers, academics, and activists have seized on the urgency of recent coalescing crises—from environmental degradation to economic inequality, political instability to social unraveling, and beyond—in an attempt to ameliorate and analyze the consequences of these dilapidated social relations. The work of Herbert Marcuse aims to radically re-envision social relations via critical theory as a way to formulate a praxis of liberation. However, if we live in a society, as Marcuse puts it, “without negation,” how shall this critical rationality be cultivated?


The International Herbert Marcuse Society seeks papers for the 2015 biennial conference, “Praxis and Critique: Liberation, Pedagogy, and the University,” that address the broad pedagogical concerns of cultivating emancipatory rationality. Faculty, independent scholars, activists, artists, and others are invited to submit papers. Papers may want to address, but are certainly not limited to, the following problematics:


     What role can and should critical pedagogy play in today’s institutions of higher education? Given Marcuse’s emphasis on praxis, critical pedagogy cannot be limited to classroom space in universities - how can a critical rationality translate into programs of activism, agitation, and organization?

     How is the work of Marcuse, the Frankfurt School, and/or critical theory generally relevant to the current context of political, social, economic, and cultural struggles?

     What is the meaning of praxis and critique today? Do Marcuse’s contemporary interlocutors help us refine, understand, recast, or critique visions of a critical rationality?

     What can we learn from activists and scholars from a wide range of critical theories, dealing with liberation in areas such as critical race theory, intersectionality, LGBTQIA studies, disability studies, and postcolonial theory?

     How does Marcuse’s critical theory provide a lens through which to assess the current condition of advanced industrial society?


Student participation is also encouraged. The conference organizers are particularly interested in encouraging undergraduate and graduate student participation. To this end, we encourage faculty to teach related or special topics classes in fall 2015 and to bring students of all levels to the conference. Undergraduate students are invited to present papers in special concurrent sessions. Undergraduate and graduate students will also have the opportunity to submit conference papers for publication to special conference editions.


Abstracts due May 20, 2015

This conference is an interdisciplinary, multimedia engagement with the many dimensions of Herbert Marcuse’s work. So, in addition to the presentation of papers, the conference will also present artistic work.

Artistic Presentations:

The Salisbury University Gallery will present two related exhibitions. 

  • The first is “Versprechen, dass es anders sein kann” (Promises that it can be different) by painter Antje Wichtrey. 
  • Salisbury University Gallery Director, Elizabeth Kauffman, will curate the second exhibition.


For more information, contact the conference organizers:

Dr. Sarah Surak (smsurak@salisbury.edu)


Dr. Robert Kirsch (rekirsch@salisbury.edu)


Highly Recommended

Crisis and Commonwealth: Marcuse, Marx, McLaren advances Marcuse scholarship by presenting four hitherto untranslated and unpublished manuscripts by Herbert Marcuse from the Frankfurt University Archive on themes of economic value theory, socialism, and humanism. Contributors to this edited collection, notably Peter Marcuse, Henry Giroux, Peter McLaren, Zvi Tauber, Arnold L. Farr and editor, Charles Reitz, are deeply engaged with the foundational theories of Marcuse and Marx with regard to a future of freedom, equality, and justice. Douglas Dowd furnishes the critical historical context with regard to U.S. foreign and domestic policy, particularly its features of economic imperialism and militarism. Reitz draws these elements together to show that the writings by Herbert Marcuse and these formidable authors can ably assist a global movement toward intercultural commonwealth. 

The collection extends the critical theories of Marcuse and Marx to an analysis of the intensifying inequalities symptomatic of our current economic distress. It presents a collection of essays by radical scholars working in the public interest to develop a critical analysis of recent global economic dislocations. Reitz presents a new foundation for emancipatory practice—a labor theory of ethics and commonwealth, and the collection breaks new ground by constructing a critical theory of wealth and work. A central focus is building a new critical vision for labor, including academic labor. Lessons are drawn to inform transformative political action, as well as the practice of a critical, multicultural pedagogy, supporting a new manifesto for radical educators contributed by Peter McLaren. The collection is intended especially to appeal to contemporary interests of college students and teachers in several interrelated social science disciplines: sociology, social problems, economics, ethics, business ethics, labor education, history, political philosophy, multicultural education, and critical pedagogy.

Editorial Reviews


No one knows better than Charles Reitz that critical theory—at its best—is a three-legged stool, constructed with great care and attention to political economy, aesthetics, and pedagogy. When any one of these radical elements is missing, critical praxis is impoverished; however, when they are carefully fused together by a scholar and editor of Reitz's stature, then the intellectual legacy of Marx and Marcuse is renewed to work again in our time for projects of resistance, refusal, and liberation. I highly recommend Crisis and Commonwealth: Marcuse, Marx, McLaren. 
--Andrew T. Lamas, University of Pennsylvania
The numerous social, economic, and military global crises of the last decades not only provoked protest movements throughout the world; they also brought about socio-critical analyses that offer astute examinations of the threats and turmoil in the global economy. Crisis and Commonwealth, edited by Charles Reitz, gathers such radical analyses in the critical intellectual tradition inspired by Marx and Marcuse. In the first chapter, Reitz and his chapter co-editor Stephan Spartan prove that Marcuse’s dialectical method of radical thinking, with its political principle of “liberation”, is still a radical weapon to analyze the crises of today. 
Reitz has established himself as one of the finest translators of German critical theorists including Habermas, Honneth, and Marcuse. His translation here of Marcuse's previously quite unknown Humanism and Humanity is a key contribution to Marcuse scholarship. It is particularly valuable in the context of Reitz's effort to explicate Marcuse's unique approach to socialist humanism as well as his own critical theoretical perspective.
--Peter-Erwin Jansen, editor of Herbert Marcuse’s and Leo Löwenthal’s intellectual estate in Germany; professor, University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz
I wholeheartedly embrace this book as a part of the Marcuse Renaissance now underway. In an age where the 99% must struggle needlessly through longer working years and ever more tedious jobs, Marcuse’s call for “a life that is no longer spent in making a living” is more relevant today than ever. These essays help us not only glimpse the horizon of liberation, but move us concretely toward that historical moment when human beings will become masters of their own destiny. 
--George Katsiaficas, activist and author of "Asia’s Unknown Uprisings"

About the Author

Charles Reitz retired in 2006 as professor of philosophy and social science at Kansas City Kansas Community College, where he also served as Director of Intercultural Education and President of the Faculty Association (KNEA). He has co-edited a Special Edition of the Radical Philosophy Review on Herbert Marcuse (with Andrew Lamas, Arnold L. Farr, and Douglas Kellner, 2013), and is the author of several publications on the educational and political philosophy of Herbert Marcuse: Art, Alienation, and the Humanities: A Critical Engagement with Herbert Marcuse (SUNY Press, 2000); “Herbert Marcuse and the Humanities: Emancipatory Education and Predatory Culture,” and “Herbert Marcuse and the New Culture Wars,” in Douglas Kellner, Tyson Lewis, Clayton Pierce, K. Daniel Cho, Marcuse’s Challenge to Education (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009).