English 203

Graduate Readings: Marx and Marxism Today: Re-Reading the Grundrisse

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2022 Lye, Colleen
Wednesday 2-5 Wheeler 300

Book List

Althusser, Louis: Reading Capital; Boggs, James: The American Revolution; Marx, Karl: Capital, Vols. 1-3; Marx, Karl: The Grundrisse

Other Readings and Media

Additional course readings will be made available through bCourse.


The 1960s’ return to Marx centered on the 1857-8 manuscripts, or The Grundrisse, which were then made widely available in the West for the first time. The Grundrisse inspired diverse interpretations of Marx’s critique of political economy—ranging from (post)structuralist readings such as Louis Althusser’s Reading Capital, (post)workerist readings such as Antonio Negri’s Marx Beyond Marx, and “value-form” readings by Hans-Georg Backhaus and Helmut Reichelt. Over the next forty years, versions of these differing interpretations would exercise competing influence in the Anglophone academy at different times, but they all sought to rescue the author of The Grundrisse from the author of Capital—to rupture method from content. Since 2008, or the felt sense of the fundamental crisis tendency of capitalism, the return to Marx has centered on Capital. What if we return to The Grundrisse in light of the most developed version of Marx’s dialectical presentation of capitalist form contained in Capital? This course’s aims are twofold. First, to ask: is the Marx of the 60s the Marx we need today? Second, to undertake a (at least partial) reconstruction of the forking paths traveled by French, Italian and German Marxist theory since the start of the Long Crisis in the early 1970s. Depending in part on the needs of the group, this course may emphasize a slow reading of Marx, or move more quickly from Marx to Marx’s 60s and 70s reception, including in the US and UK at the time. To aid with course planning, those intending to take this course are encouraged to communicate with the instructor before the end of the Fall semester about their prior background in Marx and Marxism. The book list will not be finalized till the start of the spring semester (when book orders will be set up through East Wind Books in Berkeley). However, should anyone wish to go ahead and procure the titles listed here, you can be assured that whatever happens these are worth having. Be sure, in that case, to obtain the Penguin editions of the Marx volumes.

This course fulfills CT240 in the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory.

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