Read Marx’s “Capital” at Goldsmiths: everybody is welcome (unless your name is David Willetts)

Capitalism and Cultural Studies – Prof John Hutnyk:

tuesday evenings from january 10, 2012 – 5pm-7pm Goldsmiths RHB 309 Free – all welcome.

No fee (unless, sorry, you are doing this for award – and that, friends, is Willetts’ fault – though the Labour Party have a share of the blame too).

This course involves a close reading of Karl Marx’s Capital (Volume One).
The connections between cultural studies and critiques of capitalism are considered in an interdisciplinary context (cinema studies, anthropology, musicology, international relations, and philosophy) which reaches from Marx through to Film Studies, from ethnographic approaches to Heidegger, from anarchism and surrealism to German critical theory and poststructuralism/post-colonialism/post-early-for-christmas. Topics covered include: alienation, commodification, production, technology, education, subsumption, anti-imperialism, anti-war movement and complicity. Using a series of illustrative films (documentary and fiction) and key theoretical texts (read alongside the text of Capital), we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts, changes, lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations – we will look at how cultural studies copes with (or does not cope with) class struggle, anti-colonialism, new subjectivities, cultural politics, media, virtual and corporate worlds.

Email me to get the reading Guide. And please watch Citizen Kane before the first lecture, and read the prefaces if you can.

The lectures/seminars begin on Tuesday 10th January 2011 between 5 and 7pm and will run for 10 weeks (with a week off in the middle) in the Richard Hoggart Building (RHB 309), Goldsmiths College. Students are required to bring their own copy of the Penguin, International Publishers or Progress Press editions of Karl Marx Capital Vol I. Reading about 100 pages a week. (Please don’t get tricked into buying the abridged English edition/nonsense!)

Note: The Centre for Cultual Studies at Goldsmiths took a decision to make as many as possible of its lecture series open to the public without fee. Seminars, essays, library access etc remain for sale. Still, here is a chance to explore cultural studies without getting into debt. The classes are MA level, mostly in the day – though in spring the Capital course is early tuesday evening. We usually run 10 week courses. Reading required will be announced in class, but preliminary reading suggestions can also be found by following the links. RHB means main building of Goldsmiths – Richard Hoggart Building. More info on other free events from CCS here:


Update: Please ise this form to send a course evaluation to Sonia.Ali [at] Here.

Course Gen. evaluation form

17 thoughts on “Read Marx’s “Capital” at Goldsmiths: everybody is welcome (unless your name is David Willetts)

  1. Are you thinking of streaming or capturing any of these sessions? So much provocative thinking needs to be distributed far and wide… Mark


    1. working on it – filmed some of them last year but our camera was a bit far back… so, maybe this year if I can find a volunteer with some skills (sorry S)


  2. We’re doing Capital here in Malmö, Sweden, chapter by chapter, as a self-organized close reading group, beginning January 16. I would certainly be interested in video documentation or streams of the lectures if available, as I’m sure the rest of our group would be. A good complement to David Harvey’s lecture series on Capital, all of which was recorded and made available on-line. Great initiative by the Centre for Cultural Studies, by the way.


  3. Hi John,

    Thanks for the lecture today. If you could email me a copy of the course notes handout, I’d be grateful.

    Regarding Althusser on reading Capital (and not “Reading Capital” – which I haven’t read yet), what you were saying jarred somewhat with my memories – so I checked what I remembered against the “Preface to the 1969 Edition of Capital” in “Lenin and Philosophy”. As I read Althusser there, he advises that one begin a reading of (Volume One of) Capital at Section II, read through to the end “at least once” and then go back and read Section I. So I was wondering if you were referring to a different source to that preface for Althusser’s comments? Also, although Ranciere’s questioning of whether a book such as Capital even exists certainly makes sense, I wonder if it makes sense as a critique of Althusser, or could Althusser’s comments simply be taken to refer to the particular edition of Capital that he wrote the preface for?

    All the best,


    Hi Chris

    Thanks for that on Althusser. I think you are right. I should have referred to the recent talk by one of the Postone group that suggested this versioning of Althusser. Your memory is good.

    The follow on point I should have made was that Marx himself suggests, in a letter to Kugelman, starting with the chapter the Working Day. Actually, this is advice to Kugelman’s wife. I also wonder what it would be like to start the text with the historical material that Marx says he wrote first. Maybe reading the volume backwards would work – primitive accumulation then Australian and Irish colonialism etc… It is a plausible reading, and one that the Federici Leopoldini people might approve (autonomist feminist critique). Could be something. Another year maybe.



    1. The good people at Generation online provide:

      8. The greatest difficulties – theoretical and otherwise – standing in the way of reading Volume I easily are unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) all to be found right at he beginning of Volume I, more precisely in Chapter I of Part I, which deals with ‘commodities and money’. My advice therefore is – begin with reading Part II of Volume I entitled ‘The Transformation of Money into Capital’. It is not possible in my view to begin (and only to begin) to understand Part I without having read and re-read the whole of Volume I from Part II onwards.

      9. This is more than a piece of advice. It is a recommendation, one which I regard as imperative. Everyone can confirm it by practical experience.

      10. If one begins to read Volume I from the beginning, that is, from Part I, one can get bogged down and tend to give up. Or, one can think one understands and this is even worse, for one can end up understanding something completely different from what one is trying to understand.

      11. From Part II (the transformation of money into capital) onwards things are very clear. The reader is now able to get right to the heart and core of Volume I.

      *Translation reprinted from Marxism Today, October 1969, 302-305. Originally appeared (in French) in l’Humanité on April 21st, 1969.


  4. I scrolled this looking for an email address to request this course’s lecture content listing.

    I hope I can pick up on this course by attending from now.

    If this is a published blog- where can I find the Harvey lecture series Ola Stahl refers to?

    I have heard the 10 part youtube series of Harvey at Cornell


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    1. Hi

      I will do a book of them eventually. As twisted literary political anarchic antidote to comrade Harvey. Some of the ‘performances’ were videod and are floating around, but not online yet (if ever!). Doing it all again from January 2013.

      But also a digest version on the bandstand at Clapham Common from 3pm on 5 May, if you are in town?

      (if not in town, I will privately circulate drafts of the lectures on receipt of an email and you swearing in blood (and labour capacity) that they not be posted online yet, they are rough drafts. People who have been several times since I started doing this 14 years ago, say the presentation has improved, for whatever that is worth (value) Lal salaam from Oslo).


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