This page contains a collection of introductory resources on critical theory. If you’re wondering what critical theory is all about, the following resources are a good place to start. The podcasts, videos, and short articles below are all aimed at complete beginners while the encyclopedia entries are more in-depth, academic, and informative. If you are looking for more substantial texts, try looking through the following course syllabi:
- CTSJ186: Introduction to Critical Theory – Occidental College
- CS500A: Introduction to Critical Theory – San Francisco Art Institute
- PHIL4804: Critical Theory – University of Central Florida
- Seminar in Frankfurt School Critical Theory
- PHIL343: Critical Theory: Immanent Critique – University of Oregon
- ENG211: Introduction to Critical Theory and Practice – University of British Columbia
When looking for information on a new topic, some people are looking for a short beginner-friendly overview, others prefer in-depth and more academic articles. Some people prefer to watch videos, others prefer listening to podcasts. This collection of resources aims to make learning about critical theory as easy as possible by allowing each individual to choose the educational resources that are the difficulty, length, and format they like the most.
Podcasts generally offer easy introductions to a subject. Length of episode is shown in brackets.
- The Frankfurt School – In Our Time [45:00]
- Adorno on the Culture Industry (Part One) – Partially Examined Life [55:12]
- Adorno on the Culture Industry (Part Two) – Partially Examined Life [1:18:37]
- The Frankfurt School – Philosophize This! [30:25]
- The Frankfurt School in Exile – New Books Network [1:13:38]
- Always Already – A critical theory podcast
These videos are also generally easy introductions. Length of video also in brackets.
- Rick Roderick on Marcuse – One Dimensional Man [45:22]
- Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School (1977) – Bryan Magee Interview [44:05]
- The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory – Yale Courses [51:36]
- Radical thinkers: Max Horkheimer’s Critique of Instrumental Reason – The Guardian [4:20]
- Sociology – Theodore Adorno – The School of Life [7:36]
- Cultural Marxism and Political Correctness – Philosophy Tube [7:42]
These are short, easy articles. They are for the most part written by academics while being aimed at a general audience.
- Why a forgotten 1930s critique of capitalism is back in fashion – Stuart Jeffries | The Guardian
- The Frankfurt School Knew Trump Was Coming – Alex Ross | The New Yorker
- How the Frankfurt School diagnosed the ills of Western civilisation – Stuart Walton | Aeon
- ‘Cultural Marxism’: a uniting theory for rightwingers who love to play the victim – Jason Wilson | The Guardian
- If you want to understand the age of Trump, you need to read the Frankfurt School – Conversation with Stuart Jeffries | Vox
- Cultural Marxism and our current culture wars: Part 1 – Russell Blackford | The Conversation
- Cultural Marxism and our current culture wars: Part 2 – Russell Blackford | The Conversation
- The philosopher who was too hot for playboy – Christopher Pollard | The Conversation
- The Naysayers – Alex Ross | The New Yorker
- Understanding Critical Theory – Ashley Crossman | ThoughtCo.
These are longer, more academic articles. They are more rigorous and reliable but may be difficult and/or dull for beginners.
- Critical Theory – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Theodore W. Adorno – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Herbert Marcuse – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Max Horkheimer – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Walter Benjamin – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Theodore Adorno – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
For more introductory philosophy resources and reading lists check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.