Robyn Marasco

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Research Interests

  • History of Political Thought, Critical Theory, Feminist Theory, Psychoanalysis

Education

  • Ph.D., University of California-Berkeley

Office Hours

Spring 2021 Virtual office hours: By appointment only

Robyn Marasco is Associate Professor of Political Science at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY.  Her research has focused on developing the insights of critical theory, feminism, and psychoanalysis for political theory and interpretive social science.  Her first book, The Highway of Despair: Critical Theory after Hegel (Columbia UP, 2015), reconstructs the emancipatory project of critical theory around the idea of negative dialectics.  Her articles have appeared in leading journals in the humanities and social sciences, including New German Critiqueboundary2Philosophy & Social CriticismConstellations, and Contemporary Political Theory. Professor Marasco was the guest editor of a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly on “The Authoritarian Personality” and guest co-editor, with Banu Bargu, of a special issue of Rethinking Marxism on “The Political Encounter with Louis Althusser”.  She is also the chair of Foundations of Political Theory, the largest professional organization for political theorists and a sub-section of the American Political Science Association. Prior to coming to Hunter and the GC, Professor Marasco taught political theory at Williams College.  More recently, she was a Fellow at the Whitney Center for the Humanities at Yale University.  Her current book project, Critique, Politics, and the Family, explores the distinctly political concept of the family in twentieth-century critical theory.  Professor Marasco is co-editor of Polity, Journal of Political Science [journals.uchicago.edu].

BOOKS AND EDITED VOLUMES

THE POLITICAL ENCOUNTER WITH LOUIS ALTHUSSER (A SPECIAL ISSUE OF RETHINKING MARXISM, 2019)

This special issue presents a collection of essays on the work of Louis Althusser. These essays commemorate Althusser’s centennial and the publication of For Marx and Reading Capital more than fifty years ago.  Contributors: G.M. Goshgarian, Vittorio Morfino, Banu Bargu, Robyn Marasco, Stefano Pippa, and Erdinç Erdem.

THE AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY (A SPECIAL ISSUE OF SOUTH ATLANTIC QUARTERLY, 2018)

In response to the recent rise of neo-fascist movements around the world, the intensification of racist violence against black and brown people, the reactionary backlash against feminism, and the crisis of neoliberal capitalism, contributors to this special issue of SAQ offer a reappraisal of The Authoritarian Personality (1950) that yields fresh insights and new resources for contemporary critique. While arguably the first major contribution to the field of political psychology, the book by Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford has been relegated to the margins of Frankfurt School critical theory, even as an industry of scholarship has formed around Adorno’s philosophical and cultural criticism. By focusing on The Authoritarian Personality and its relevance for contemporary politics, the contributors aim to correct this imbalance and assess the empirical project in early critical theory, including its integration of political sociology and social psychology.

Contributors: Fadi Bardawil, Benjamin Y. Fong, Samantha Hill, Robert Hullot-Kentor, Robyn Marasco, Andrew Poe, Michael Stein, Christian Thorne, Barbara Umrath

 THE HIGHWAY OF DESPAIR: CRITICAL THEORY AFTER HEGEL (COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2015)

Hegel’s “highway of despair,” introduced in his Phenomenology of Spirit, is the tortured path traveled by “natural consciousness” on its way to freedom. Despair, the passionate residue of Hegelian critique, also indicates fugitive opportunities for freedom and preserves the principle of hope against all hope. Analyzing the works of an eclectic cast of thinkers, Robyn Marasco considers the dynamism of despair as a critical passion, reckoning with the forms of historical life forged along Hegel’s highway.

The Highway of Despair follows Theodor Adorno, Georges Bataille, and Frantz Fanon as they each read, resist, and reconfigure a strand of thought in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Confronting the twentieth-century collapse of a certain revolutionary dialectic, these thinkers struggle to revalue critical philosophy and recast Left Hegelianism within the contexts of genocidal racism, world war, and colonial domination. Each thinker also re-centers the role of passion in critique. Arguing against more recent trends in critical theory that promise an escape from despair, Marasco shows how passion frustrates the resolutions of reason and faith. Embracing the extremism of what Marx, in the spirit of Hegel, called the “ruthless critique of everything existing,” she affirms the contemporary purchase of radical critical theory, resulting in a passionate approach to political thought.

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Office Hours

Spring 2021 Virtual office hours: By appointment only