English 39A

Freshman and Sophomore Seminar: Reading Marx Now

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2020 Lye, Colleen
Salzinger, Leslie
W 2-5

Book List

Alvar, Mia: In the Country; Marx, Karl: Capital Vol. 1

Other Readings and Media

All other readings made available on bCourses.


Marx is being seriously and widely read again since the financial crisis of 2008, and Capital Vol. 1 in particular is considered his work most appropriate to our times. Reading Capital today, we’ll see why 20th- and 21st- century radical thinkers on questions of gender, race, colonialism and environmental destruction have sought to build on its concepts and methods or, even in moving past them, feel that they must first be confronted and critiqued anew. Co-taught by a professor from the social sciences and one from the humanities, this freshman and sophomore seminar illuminates what interdisciplinary conversations can offer in developing integrative critiques of capitalism. How does the history of capitalism inform our theory of capitalism, and how does our theory of capitalism affect how we write its history? How does grasping the dialectical relation between theory and history allow us to imagine a solidarity politics that can transcend the limitations of intersectional politics? The semester’s theoretical reading will be capped by a sociological case study and a literary case study in which we will compare two kinds of approaches to documenting the traffic in global domestic labor. What aspects of the phenomena are captured by these two kinds of analysis and documentation? This course will be equal parts theoretically oriented and equal parts empirical or historically oriented. Please be sure to buy the Penguin edition of Capital.

This class is cross-listed with GWS 39A.

This course fulfills the Social Behavioral Sciences breadth requirement.


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