Startpage (AccessKey: 1)
Startpage / Theodor W Adorno: Aesthetic Theory and Negative Dialectics

Theodor W Adorno: Aesthetic Theory and Negative Dialectics

Conference, Friday 29 November – Sunday 1 December

Plats: The project room, Konstnärsnämnden, Mariaskolgata 83, Stockholm
adorno piano
With regard to the ongoing Swedish translations of Theodor W. Adorno’s two key works, Negative Dialectics and Aesthetic Theory, an international conference will highlight Adorno’s relevance for contemporary aesthetics and philosophy.

The main topic of the conference is to explore the relationship between the two works as well as the domains they represent: aesthetics and negative dialectics.
The question of the possibilities of critical theory and of the relevance and boundaries of utopias and artistic practices in late-capitalist society was addressed by Adorno in a systematic fashion, and in his final two key works he connected these themes with the question of whether philosophy was at all possible in the modern world. For Adorno the issue of modern art and philosophy was thus essentially related to the understanding of society as a whole, and his thinking has exerted an almost immeasurable influence on modern philosophy and aesthetic theory.

The conference will gather younger and more established researchers from Sweden, Germany, the UK and the United States, and will provide a prismatic picture of Adorno’s thinking in full with the point of departure in his aesthetic and negative-dialectic thinking.

Arranged by Anders Bartonek and Sven-Olov Wallenstein of Södertörn University, the conference is a collaboration between Södertörn University, Iaspis and the Goethe Institute.


6:00-7:00 pm Jay Bernstein (New York), Suffering - Nature - Reason: On the Moral Necessity of Modernism

11:00-12:00 am Ulrich Müller, Dialectics as Enlightenment

12:00-1:00 pm Lunch

1:00-2:30 pm System and Singularity (moderator Hans Ruin)

Sven-Olov Wallenstein
(Stockholm), The Enigma of Truth

Anders Bartonek
(Stockholm), The Common Quest of Negative Dialectics and Aesthetic Theory: Saving and Mobilizing Nonidentity

2:30-3:00 pm Break

3:00-4:30 pm Nature and Ethics (moderator Anna-Karin Selberg)

Camilla Flodin (Uppsala), The ‘More’ of Natural Beauty vs. Nature as Productivity: Adorno and Schelling

Anders Ramsay (Örebro/Lund), Impossibility of Ethics? Ethics and Moral Philosophy in Adorno and Bauman

11:00-12:00 am Max Paddison (Durham), Adorno and the Problem of Aesthetic Autonomy

12:00-1:00 pm Lunch

1:00-2:30 pm Culture Industry and Fetishism (moderator Staffan Ericson)

Anders Johansson (Umeå), The Subject Dissolved: Adorno on Art, Culture Industry, and Subjectivity

Cecilia Sjöholm (Stockholm), Preponderance of the object? On Adorno and Commodity Fetishism

2:30-3:00 pm Break

3.00-4.30 pm Performing Thought (moderator Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback)

Carl Filip Brück (Stockholm), Seeing/Hearing: Adorno on the Specificity of Music

Mattias Martinsson (Uppsala), What is Adorno Doing? Immanent Critique as Philosophical Performance

Concluding discussion

For more information please contact Iaspis project coordinator Jonatan Habib Engqvist,

Updated: 2013-12-01 Tell a friend


Anders Bartonek has a PhD in Philosophy from Södertörn University, where he teaches at the Department of Culture and Education. His publications include: Philosophie im Konjunktiv: Nichtidentität als Ort der Möglichkeit des Utopischen in der negativen Dialektik Theodor W. Adornos (2011), Att läsa Hegel (2012, co-edited with Anders Burman), and articles on Adorno, Agamben and political philosophy.

Jay Bernstein is Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. His publications include: Art and Aesthetics after Adorno (2010), Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting (2005), Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics (2001), and The Fate of Art: Aesthetic Alienation from Kant to Derrida and Adorno (1993).

Carl Filip Brück is a PhD student in theoretical philosophy at Stockholm University, working on a dissertation on Adorno.
Camilla Flodin has a PhD in Aesthetics from Uppsala University, and teaches aesthetics at Södertörn University. Her publications include: Att uttrycka det undanträngda: Theodor W. Adorno om konst, natur och sanning (2009), and articles on Adorno, aesthetics and philosophy of nature.

Anders Johansson is Associate Senior Lecturer of Culture and Media Studies at Umeå University. His publications include: Avhandling i litteraturvetenskap: Adorno, Deleuze och litteraturens möjligheter (2003), Efter Adorno (2003, co-edited with Mattias Martinssson), and Göra ont: Litterär metafysik (2010).

Mattias Martinsson is Professor of Systematic Theology at Uppsala University. His publications include: Perseverance Without Doctrine: Adorno, Self-critique, and the Ends of Academic Theology (2000), Postkristen teologi: Experiment och tydningsförsök (2007), and Katedralen mitt i staden: Om ateism och teologi (2010).

Ulrich Müller teaches Philosophy at the Hans-Carossa-Gymnasium in Berlin. His publications include: Erkenntniskritik und negative Metaphysik bei Adorno: Eine Philosophie der dritten Reflektiertheit (1988), Kunst und Rationalität: Zur Konstruktion ästhetisch-kreativen Handelns (2001), Theodor W. Adorno’s Negative Dialektik (2006), and Frieden und Freiheit: Kritik der sozialen Vernunft (2013).

Max Paddison is Professor of Music Aesthetics at Durham University. His publications include: Adorno’s Aesthetics of Music (1993), Adorno, Modernism and Mass Culture: Essays on Critical Theory and Music (1996), and Order and Disorder: Music-Theoretical Strategies in Twentieth-Century Music (2004).

Anders Ramsay is Lecturer in Sociology at Örebro University. His publications include: Upplysningens självreflexion: Aspekter av Theodor W. Adornos kritiska teori (2005), and articles on Marx, Freud and Castoriadis.

Cecilia Sjöholm is Professor of Aesthetics at Södertörn University. Her publications include: Aisthesis: Estetikens historia del 1 (2012, co-edited with Sara Danius and Sven-Olov Wallenstein), Kristeva and the Political (2005), and The Antigone Complex: Ethics and the Invention of Feminine Desire (2004).

Sven-Olov Wallenstein is Professor of Philosophy at Södertörn University, and editor-in-chief of Site. His publications include: Aisthesis: Estetikens historia del 1 (2012, co-edited with Sara Danius and Cecilia Sjöholm), Translating Hegel: The Phenomenology of Spirit and Modern Philosophy (2012, co-edited with Brian Manning Delaney), Foucault, Biopolitics and Govenmentality (2013, co-edited with Jakob Nilsson), and Heidegger, språket och poesin (2013, co-edited with Ola Nilsson). He is currently working on the translations of Adorno’s Negative Dialectics and Aesthetic Theory.
  • Address: Iaspis, Maria skolgata 83, 2nd floor
  • Phone: +46 8 - 50 65 50 00
  • E-mail: