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Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
System Requirements:

You will need a reliable Internet connection as well as a computer or device with which you can access your virtual class. We recommend you arrive to class 5-10 minutes early to ensure you're able to set up your device and connection.

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Classes will be held via Zoom.

What you'll learn in this writing class:

From Capitalist Realism to Acid Communism: an Introduction to Mark Fisher

Most of the writings of the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher began their life not as academic papers or monographs or fully wrought essays but as blog posts, online responses, and even internet comments. These writings—including those that would be later collected into his some of his most famous texts—reflect one of the most unique theoretical voices of the early 21st century: personal and scholarly, high modern and popular, “cybernetic” and classically interested all at once. One of the founding members of the interdisciplinary “Cybernetic Cultural Research Unit” at the University of Warwick in the early 2000s, Fisher created work conspicuously public-facing, in constant conversation with practicing musicians, artists, engineers, theorists, and people, in general, looking for something beyond the official culture of what he famously dubbed “capitalist realism”—“the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it.” Examining everything from dystopian cinema to call centers to educational procedures and even toothless paint-by-numbers protest actions, Fisher embraced not only popular culture and forms, but also effortlessly synthesized such forms with bracing theoretical insight, all the while assiduously avoided modes of nostalgia. Combining eclectic interests in music, cinema, politics, ideology critique, mental health, literature, technology, and culture in its broadest sense, Fisher would probe the political, philosophical, and cultural meaning of collective capacities to imagine. Turning Margaret Thatcher on her head, he asked: is there no alternative?

In this class we’ll seek to answer this question through a reading of a broad selection of Fisher’s work. Beginning with the now classic Capitalism Realism, we’ll move to Fisher’s writing on music, literature, internet culture, his perhaps surprising engagement with Jacques Derrida’s “hauntology,” and his return to Marx, Marxism, and the critical theory of Herbert Marcuse. We’ll also explore several of Fisher’s musical, visual, and literary influences while trying to understand how and why Fisher reads these texts, what theoretical work they do for him, and his notion of “popular modernism.” From there, we’ll turn to some of Fisher’s most controversial work on mental health and the political culture of the left, and finally to his unfinished final text “Acid Communism,” which begins to recuperate and reimagine political and cultural roads not taken. In the end, we’ll ask whether Fisher was truly inventing or reanimating a “future” he thought was politically necessary or rather was on the cusp of helping realize a radically different present he did not live to see.

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

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Refund Policy
  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (28)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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