Marxism: Theory and Culture - EN914

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
7 30 (15) DR B Abu Manneh







This module critically examines core concepts in Marx and Marxism. These include: materialism; alienation and human flourishing; capital and labour; classes; and ideology. The main objective of the module is to familiarize students with key ideas that distinguish Marxism as a set of theoretical propositions essential for understanding the workings of capitalism. Special emphasis will also be given to the Marxist approach in the study of culture. Here the role of intellectuals and the relationship between capitalism and culture is interrogated through theorists like Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, and Raymond Williams. The question of whether Marxism is Eurocentric is also addressed, as well as whether it has a distinct theory of nationalism and imperialism.
The first half of the module is dedicated to charting core concepts of Marxist theory, with special attention given to how these were formulated and utilized in works of classical Marxism (by Marx and Engels). The aim is to zoom in on core Marxists propositions and show how they have been mobilized to interpret the capitalist social formation. The second half introduces other aspects of Marxist theory, especially critical theory and cultural materialism, and tackles the question of Marxist approaches to nationalism and imperialism.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300


Available spring term 2019/20

Method of assessment

Assignment (5,000 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually

Karl Marx: Selected Writings, ed. by David McLellan (2000)
Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (1977)
Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Retreat from Class (1986)
Theodor W. Adorno, The Culture Industry (1991)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an informed and critical understanding of Marxist concepts;

2 Demonstrate advanced knowledge of core problems of Marxist theory;

3 Demonstrate an advanced sense of different approaches in the study of capitalism and culture;

4 Identify and evaluate post-Marx theoretical developments.

5 Formulate research questions and hypotheses to address problems across a range of Marxist theory

6 Interpret and critically evaluate own research and that of others;

7 Conduct independent research and demonstrate intellectual independence;

8 Construct arguments with regard to different intellectual and historical contexts;

9 Understand how to use constructive informal feedback from staff and peers and assess own progress to enhance performance and personal skills;

10 Work in a self-motived and independent fashion; manage time and workload in order to meet personal targets and imposed deadlines.

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