The symposium was started in 1980 by Reiner Shurmann, the chair of the philosophy department at the time. The purpose was to look at the contemporary issues that were important to Hannah Arendt’s thinking. Reiner chaired the philosophy department for many years, especially during the time when the administration was considering eliminating the program.
It was through his efforts that the philosophy department exists and thrives today.
Nancy Fraser gave the introduction.
Many important thinkers have spoken at this symposium.
Critical Theory Today is the theme for this year. It is narrow in that it is associated with the thinkers of the Frankfurt School (even the New School
there is also a broader meaning of critical theory, which also has connections with the NSSR, that include reflections on what(ever) meanings of emancipation means.
Critical theory, in both senses, is at a crossroads, as it is a time for cross-disciplinary work and dialogue for what critical theory should be. The hard and fast lines between the Frankfurt School and french post-structuralism, and critical theory is becoming much more inter-disciplinary sense–incuding historians and sociologists. To foster this cross-disciplinary and cross-paradigm was to bring together the five most interesting thinkers as people who can be identified with charting a path in critical theory today.
This is thus a symposium to get a glimpse at some possible futures.