Carnegie Mellon University

Marx @ 200

Marx at 200 Fall Events

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Kathy M. Newman and David Shumway lecture: "Why Marx Now: 200 Years Later"

Thursday, September 14th

For the last 50 years Karl Marx has been a central figure for the humanities—we have used his work to explain history, to analyze art, to philosophize, and to interpret literature. According to one study Marx is the single most frequently cited scholar in the humanities.

As we look ahead to Marx’s 200th birthday, coming up in May of 2018, we see that Marx and his writings have become increasingly relevant since the global financial collapse of 2008. Marx's book sales are up, and so are articles and events—written by journalists and organized by scholars around the world. Come find out why we think Marx still matters, and learn about the exciting year of speakers, art exhibits and events we have planned.

6:00 pm
Catered reception in Conan room, Cohon University Center

Pittsburgh premiere of feature film, The Young Karl Marx (2017)

Thursday, September 14th
6:45 pm to 8:30 pm
McConomy Auditorium, Cohon University Center

At the age of 26, Karl Marx embarks with his wife Jenny on the road to exile. In Paris in 1844 they meet young Friedrich Engels, son of a factory owner, who’s studied the sordid beginnings of the English proletariat. The three together, Karl, Jenny and Friedrich, between censorship and police raids, riots and political upheavals, preside over the birth of the labor movement, which until then had been mostly makeshift and unorganized. This will grow into the most complete theoretical and political transformation of the world since the Renaissance – driven, against all expectations, by this brilliant, insolent and sharp-witted young trio.

The film’s director, Raoul Peck, the Haitian director who also made I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, explains why he wanted to tell Marx’s story: “A few years back, while the world was going through yet another financial crisis, I felt the need to go back to the basics: The analysis of the violent capitalist society we are still embedded in, through these three young Europeans of wealthy families (Karl, Friedrich and Jenny) who decided to change this utterly unequal world. And they eventually did; though not the way they imagined it.”

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Panel discussion: “Robotics, Pittsburgh and the End of Work”

Thursday, October 19th
4:30 PM
100 Porter Hall

Pittsburgh has been constantly in the news as a futurist tech city since the arrival of Uber’s driverless cars. Some economists predict that robots will outnumber human workers as early as 2040. While many of us at CMU hope to be among the 30% of American humans who still have jobs, in this panel discussion we will talk about how we can plan for this seismic change in our economy and way of life. This event will feature a panel of CMU faculty as well as corporate and city officials.

Kathi Weeks and James Livingston, “The End of Work”

Thursday, October 19th
7:00 PM
Room TBA

At this evening event we welcome two experts on the topic of the end of work and its discontents. In their respective books, Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Anti-work Politics and Postwork Imaginaries, and James Livingston, No More Work: Why Full Employment is a Bad Idea, these engaging scholars offer lessons for us as we go forward in our thinking about policy, politics, and our own careers. As one reviewer wrote about Livingston, he “is bracingly impolite about the cult of capitalistic productivity” as he brazenly suggests that we leisure more and toil less. As for Weeks’ book, one reviewer argues that Weeks “stares back [at the neoliberal cult of market valuation] without blinking and demands something different.” Come hear Weeks and Livingston argue for a universal basic income, and new ways of defining worth in a post-work society.

Jennifer Epps-Addison, “Building Communities of Power and Resistance in the Age of Trump”

Thursday, November 2nd
4:30 PM
Porter Hall 100

One question we’ll be asking this year is this: what would Marx be doing if he were alive today? We’d like to think that he might be working alongside Jennifer Epps-Addison at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD)—a high profile social justice organization focused on progressive policy-making and grassroots organizing. Epps-Addison, currently co-director of the CPD, came from her stint as the Chief Program Officer at the Liberty Hill Foundation, an LA-based social justice foundation that funds grassroots community organizing campaigns for social change. Prior to joining Liberty Hill, Epps-Addison helped coordinate the Fight for $15 campaign with Wisconsin Jobs Now. In 2012 Epps-Addison led a campaign to pass the Milwaukee Jobs Act, which created entry-level construction opportunities for unemployed city residents.

Mary Gabriel and Jonathan Sperber, “Love, Capital, and Writing Marx’s History”

Wednesdsay, November 8th
7:30 PM
Room TBA

In 2011 Mary Gabriel’s best selling biography of Marx, Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution, was nominated for a National Book Award as well as a Pulitzer Prize. With Love and Capital Gabriel gives us a more complete picture of Marx, his family, and the revolutionary movements which Marx and Jenny helped to shape. Jonathan Sperber’s best selling 2013 biography, Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life, was described by The Guardian as a “brilliant embedding of Marx in his times.” Sperber used such texts as Marx’s high school essays as well as dozens of writings produced by Marx’s comrades and mentors to show to what extent Marx was a product of his moment. Ironically, perhaps, Sperber argues that Marx is not relevant to our own time. On the other hand, if Marx were not still relevant would Sperber have appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss his book? Join us for this engaging event in which we will learn what it was like to research and write these biographies, and how two prize-winning historians can see the same person in such radically different ways.