Dr. Antonia Hofstätter, guest lecturer from Brighton University, will give a lecture with the title "Under the Skin of Modernity: Adorno and the Notion of the Subcutaneous". The presentation will be in English.


The aim of this work-in-progress-paper is to illuminate Adorno’s notion of the ‘subcutaneous’ in the context of his philosophy of history. ‘Subcutaneous’, which means literally ‘under the skin’, is borrowed from Schönberg and figures as a key term in Adorno’s philosophy of music: it is theorised the latent polyphonic texture of music which Adorno regards as originating with Bach and as subsequently repressed by classic and romantic music. According to this narrative, the ‘event’ of Schönberg’s compositions sets it free. In my presentation, I will attempt to lend precision to the notion of the subcutaneous and to show the ways in which its conception is entwined with Adorno’s dialectical understanding of modernity as both a time of emancipation and a time of loss. Crucially, the ‘surfacing’ of the subcutaneous in modernity, the return of the repressed, becomes a model for Adorno’s rethinking of tradition at the very moment at which tradition itself is put into question.

Antonia Hofstätter completed her PhD on the significance of art and aesthetics to Adorno’s philosophy at the University of Brighton in 2017. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics, and Ethics at the University of Brighton.