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Herbert Marcuse:Philosopher of Utopia
April 15, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a little-known German scholar when he became one of the 20th century’s most unlikely pop stars: a celebrity philosopher. In the 1960s, his argument for a “principled utopianism” catalyzed the ideals of a rebellious generation, and Marcuse became an intellectual guide for activists and revolutionaries around the world. The legacy of his contribution to a radical shift of consciousness has resonated in social-change movements ever since.
This comics-format biography brings Marcuse’s life, work, and times to a new generation. From his youth in Weimar Germany and early studies with Martin Heidegger, to his emigration from Nazi Germany along with colleagues of the Frankfurt School, to his rise as one of its major theorists along with Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, to his status as a countercultural icon, readers are introduced to the theories and circumstances that made Marcuse into one of the world’s most influential intellectuals.
Mentor to a young Angela Davis and often referred to as the unofficial faculty advisor to the New Left, Marcuse’s controversial critique of the “comfortable unfreedoms” of post-WWII capitalism entered popular consciousness with the 1964 publication of One-Dimensional Man, which sold over 100,000 copies in its first years in print. His argument for the possibility of a more humane and sustainable world was grounded in a personal knowledge of the violence of authoritarianism, and the risk of its resurgence. Perennially relevant, radical, and inspiring, Marcuse’s concept of the Great Refusal —”the protest against that which is”—is a guide for our times.
“Nick Thorkelson’s exploration of the ideas and personality of Herbert Marcuse is exactly the sort of comic book I have longed to read. It is engaging, artful, and explores the world of revolutionary ideas. Books like this keep the fire going inside.”––Joe Sacco
“I believe that Marcuse’s ideas can be as valuable today as they were fifty years ago.”––Angela Y. Davis, from the foreword
“Thorkelson’s graphic life of Herbert Marcuse is a riotous romp through 20th-century philosophy. The story of a man who exists at the eye of storm of ideas, of movements and of social strategies. With workers and students on the streets of Paris once more, Marcuse’s life and work has never been more relevant.”––Kate Evans, author of Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography
ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS
Nick Thorkelson is a cartoonist living in Boston. He has done cartoons on local politics for The Boston Globe and in support of organizations working on economic justice, peace, and public health. He is the co-author and/or illustrator of The Earth Belongs to the People, The Underhanded History of the USA, The Legal Rights of Union Stewards, The Comic Strip of Neoliberalism, and Economic Meltdown Funnies, and has contributed to a number of nonfiction comics anthologies. He is working on a graphic novel about the end of the Sixties, A Better World Is Possible. Nick also moonlights as a musician, animator, graphic designer, and painter.
Andrew T. Lamas teaches urban studies and critical theory at the University of Pennsylvania, is co-editor of The Great Refusal: Herbert Marcuse and Contemporary Social Movements (Temple University Press, 2017), and serves on the boards of the International Herbert Marcuse Society, the Radical Philosophy Review, and the Bread and Roses Community Fund.