The Invention of Capitalism: From Adam Smith to Marx and Engels

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Semester

  • WS 17/18

Course Information

Nr. Kursbezeichnung Typ Zeit Raum DozentIn
154509 The Invention of Capitalism: From Adam Smith to Marx and Engels 2 HS
  • Di 12:15 - 13:45
  • no session on 31 Oct. 17
  • extra session on Wed., 15 Nov., 16:30 - 18:00, R. 3.237
R. 3.208 Sedlmayr

Course Description

The advent of 'modernity' is closely connected to the establishment of a capitalist market society. With The Wealth of Nations (1776), the Scotsman Adam Smith offered a highly influential text that might be considered to be something like the founding document of Western capitalism. At the very least, Smith's bulky tome serves as an indicator of Britain's leading role in instituting a new social and world order characterised by technological progress, global trade, the division of labour, and the 'invisible hand' of the free market. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the leading critics of capitalism in the 19th century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, again and again referred to the situation in Britain to illustrate and support their arguments.

In the seminar, we will have a look at the origins of modern (anti-)capitalist thinking in the 18th and 19th centuries and hence get familiar with the historical becoming of 'ideological' and 'material' concepts that still shape our own market-oriented consumer societies today. On the one hand, this will be done by considering a selection of economic key texts, by the likes of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Friedrich Engels, and Karl Marx. On the other hand, we will examine key historical events and processes during this time: the 'industrial revolution', the coming into being of the working class, reform movements etc.

Please be aware that this is a theory-heavy seminar: be prepared to read a number of texts that are challenging not only because they try to get a grip on complex social processes and economic mechanisms but also because they can only be understood if placed within their historical contexts.

This seminar is particularly, but of course not exclusively, suited for students of Angewandte Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaften.

Reading List

The texts will be made available in a reader, via Moodle, or the library (Semesterapparat). In case I require you to purchase specific scholarly editions of one or more of them, I will inform you in the first session.

Suggested introductory reading: James Fulcher. Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction. 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 2015.

Modules

Modulzuordnungen
Lehramtsstudiengänge: MA BML 2005:
  • 1302, 1303
LPO 2003:
  • GHR:
  • GyGe:
  • SP1. Fach:
  • SP2. Fach:
  • BK:
LABG 2009:
  • G: 703, 704
  • HRG: 601, 1001
  • GyGe/BK: 601, 701, 702, 1001
  • SP: 703
LABG 2016:
  • G: 601, 703, 704
  • HRSGe: 601, 1001
  • GyGe/BK: 601, 701, 702, 1001
  • SP: 703
Angewandte Sprachwissenschaften/

Angewandte Literatur-/Kulturwissenschaften:

  • B.A.ALK: Kern: 6abc, 7ac Komp: 3abc, 4a
  • B.A.AS: Kern: 6bc Komp: 4a
  • M.A.ALK: 1abc, 3bc
  • M.A.AS: 2ab
Angewandte Sprachwissenschaften/

Angewandte Literatur-/Kulturwissenschaften PO ab WS 16/17:

  • B.A.ALK: Kern: 6abc, 7ac Komp: 3abc, 4a
  • B.A.AS: Kern: 6bc Komp: 4a
  • M.A.ALK: 1abd, 3bc
  • M.A.AS: 2ab