Critical Issues

Critical Issues in the Cultural Industries is a core course of the  Critical Studies in Art and Culture  programme, taught every two years and centred upon the appearance, role and influence of present-day popular culture, or what in the mid-twentieth century the philosophers Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer referred to as the ‘culture industry’. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, does the culture of the masses still present a threat to High Art, as Adorno and Horkheimer then feared? Or have the arts today completely lost out in the battle against standardisation, leveling, commercialisation and popularisation? Has art finally become a lucrative business in the modern economy, a mere component of the entertainment sector, or can it still operate autonomously and critically? And if so, what are the visual and discursive, material and conceptual strategies at hand? Or has the picture never been as pessimistic as Adorno and Horkheimer painted it? Is there still a division to be drawn between elite and popular, bourgeois and everyday culture, or do we need other terms to assess present-day developments and events in the art world and the cultural sphere at large?

During the course,  Critical Studies in Art and Culture  students tackle such questions and structure their discussions around four main themes: the museum, the studio, the exhibition and the market. The outcome is a collection of short but critical essays, written and edited by the students and presented in a format of their choice. Students of the 2009-2010 course, as well as those of the 2011-2012 edition have opted to collect their essays on a website. You can find their contributions via the following two url’s.


Critical Issues in the Cultural Industries 2009-2010:

Critical Issues in the Cultural Industries 2011-2012:


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