Critical theory has had an extraordinarily productive reception in the United States, most notably in journals like Telos and New German Critique. The article, based on a larger study, sketches the American reception of the Frankfurt School as (1) an attempt to come to grips with the political failure of the New Left and the student movement and (2) an unconscious encounter with the American particularity vis-à-vis Europe. As such, the article advances an understanding of what it means to speak of critical theory's “temporal core.” The notion of “afterlife,” the article argues, serves as a meaningful concept with which to study the historical transmission of the writings of first-generation critical theory.

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