Fall 2021: Phl 800/820 – Marx, Grundrisse

General information


Here is more information about Prof. Lotz

Class Meetings

Days: M
Time: 5:00 PM – 7:50 PM
Place: SK 530 & ZOOM (only in exceptional cases)

Office & Office Hours

Phone: 517.355.4490 [dept.])
Place: SK 500
Hours: M, 3-4pm

Other Contact

E-mail: lotz@msu.edu
Home Phone: please ask
Webpage: http://christianlotz.info


You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department (SK 503)


Block I: Introduction

Sep 6, Labor Day
No class, read some Marx!

Postone, Rethinking Marx’s Critique of Capitalism, in Postone 1993, 3-43 (D2L)

Sep 13, Introduction

Marx, Grundrisse, 81-113

Postone, Rethinking Capital in the Light of the Grundrisse, in Musto 2008, 120-147 (D2L)
Bellofiore, The Grundrisse after Capital, or How to Re-read Marx Backwards, in Bellofiore 2013, 17-43

Sep 20, Introduction

Marx, Grundrisse, 81-113

Hall, Marx’s Notes on Method: A Reading of the 1857 Introduction (D2L)

Protocol 1: Halsne
Presentation 1: Hollingsworth

Block II: Money and Capital

Sep 27, Money

Marx, Grundrisse, 140-174

Carver, Marx’s Conception of Alienation in the Grundrisse, in Musto 2008, 48-67 (D2L)
Lotz, Fiction without Fantasy [link]
Lotz, The transcendental force of money [link]

Protocol 2: Cottone

Oct 4, Money cont. (changed, Sep 27!)

Marx, Grundrisse, 156-165 (repeat); 196-203; 216-238

Protocol 3: Martinez Cruz
Field guide General Contemporary Academic Marx(ism) (Branding)
Field guide Marx(ism) and Continental Philosophy (Kelley)

Oct 11, Money, Circulation, Transition to Capital (changed Oct. 4!)

Marx, Grundrisse, 196-203; 216-238

Bischoff/Lieber, On The Relationship between Money and Capital in the Grundrisse, in Musto 2008, 33-48 (D2L)

Protocol 4: Hollingsworth

Oct 18, The Transformation of Money into Capital (MEW42, 165)

Marx, Grundrisse, 239-274

Presentation 2: Cottone

Oct 25, Break Day
No Class

Nov 1, The Exchange Between Capital and Labor (MEW42, 199)

Marx, Grundrisse, 274-326

Murray, Reflections on Backhaus, in Bellofiore 2013, 121-149 (D2L)
Fineschi, The Four Levels of Abstraction of Marx’s Concept of Capital, in Bellofiore 2013, 71-101 (D2L)
[optional] Dussel, The Discovery of the Category of Surplus Value, in Musto 2008, 67-79 (D2L)

Protocol 5: Halsne
Concept Paper 1 (Money and Capital): Branding
Literature Review 1: Abdal

Block III: Pre-Capitalist Forms

Nov 8, Primitive Accumulation (MEW42, 371)

Marx, Grundrisse, 447-471
Marx, Capital, chapter on primitive accumulation

Protocol 6: Cottone
Concept Paper 2 (Primitive Accumulation): Kelley
Presentation 3: Martinez-Cruz

Nov 15, Pre-Capitalist Forms (MEW42, 383)

Marx, Grundrisse, 471-514

Basso, Social Nexus and Indifference (The Genesis of Individuality and Capitalism in the Grundrisse) (D2L)
Tomba, Pre-Capitalist Forms of Production, in Bellofiore 2013, 393-413 (D2L)
Foster, Marx’s Grundrisse and the Ecological Contradictions of Capitalism, in Musto 2008, 93-107 (D2L)
Wendling, Gender in Marx’s Grundrisse , in Bellofiore 2013, 347-371 (D2L)

Protocol 7: Hollingsworth
Literature Review 2: Branding
Presentation 4: Halsne

Block III: The Machine Fragment

Nov 22, Capital Circulation and The Machine Fragment (MEW, 421)

Marx, Grundrisse, 516-549, 690-714

Protocol 8: Martinez-Cruz
Field guide Marx(ism) and Science (Abdal)

Tony Smith, “Red Innovation”: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/03/socialism-innovation-capitalism-smith

Nov 29, The Machine Fragment (MEW42, 590)

Marx, Grundrisse, 690-714

Smith, The General Intellect in the Grundrisse and Beyond, in Belliofore 2013, 213-233 (D2L)
Tomba/Basso, The Fragment on Machines and the Grundrisse (D2L)
Fetcher, Marx’s Sketch of Post-Capitalist Society in the Grundrisse, in Musto 2008, 107-120 (D2L)
Hudis, Post-Capitalism in the Grundrisse, in Hudis 2012, 100-133 (D2L)

Literature Review 3: Kelley
Concept Paper 3 (General Intellect): Abdal

Draft of final papers due

Dec 6, No class

Block IV: Workshop

Dec 11 (Saturday), ProSem & Mini-Conference

ProSem Workshop: 8:30am-1pm
Mini-Conference (with all students, presentation of paper drafts): 1:45pm-6pm
Schedule tbd

Dec 17, Final Paper
Final paper due via email by Dec 17 at 11:59pm

Course Description

In this seminar we will read one of Marx’s mature later works. In only 4 months Marx feverishly produced around 1000 pages, now entitled Grundrisse (1858). The Grundrisse deviate in important respects from Capital (1867), but they are, overall, more philosophical and contain famous sections, such as the introduction in which Marx outlines methodological considerations and the “machine fragment” which is one of the most often cited passage in contemporary receptions of Marx’s philosophy, such as accelerationism, postoperaism (Negri) and critical theory (Postone). We will closely read the Grundrisse, paying less attention to its extensive economist reflections (narrowly conceived), and read major essays about the Grundrisse by contemporary philosophers.

Course Goals

This course should make you familiar with the main issues in Marx’s Grundrisse and contemporary receptions of the text. It should also help you read a major text in the history of social-political philosophy.


This graduate seminar is not based on a set of fixed knowledge and, as such, is not based on a behavioral idea of education; rather, we will try to learn together and critically examine the material. The material is the absolute center of this class. Free floating discussions about things unrelated to the material are to be avoided.

Required Texts

  • Marx, Grundrisse, Penguin
  • Secondary sources (via pdf on D2L)
  • Rosdolsky, Roman, The Making of Marx’s Capital (London: Pluto 1977)
  • Negri, Marx Beyond Marx, tr. H. Cleaver and others (London: Pluto 1991)
  • Choat, A Reader’s Guide to the Grundrisse (London: Bloomsbury 2016)
  • Lectures by David Harvey: https://davidharvey.org/2020/01/reading-marxs-grundrisse/

Basic Secondary Literature We Work With (on D2L)

  • Bellofiore, R, Starosta, G, and Thomas, P.D (eds.), In Marx’s Laboratory (Leiden: Brill 2013)
  • Musto, Marcello (ed.), Karl Marx’s Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy 150 Years Later (London: Routledge 2008)
  • Postone, Moishe, Time, Labor, and Social Domination (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1993) [the classic text for contemporary Marxism in the US]


Course Requirements (Traditional)

  • 2 protocols, write-up, up to 900 words, take questions in class
  • 1 oral presentation + brief write-up, 30 minutes, leading class discussion
  • Final paper, conference style, 4500 words
  • Presentation of final paper in mini-conference & brief discussion.
  • Regular participation, you are expected to attend every week, except in cases of reasonable excuses

Course Requirements (ProSem)

  • 1 literature review of secondary literature, write-up, up to 1500 words, 15 minutes+take questions in class
  • 1 field guide on contemporary Marxist philosophy (main academic journals, main handbooks&dictionaries, main public journals, main figures, databases, helpful webpages, main topics in contemporary debates, basic bibliography), up to 1200 words, distributed to class; this assignment should help you get oriented in a field that is new to you
  • 1 concept paper, up to 600 words, take questions in class
  • Final paper, conference style, 3000 words, draft of paper due 5 days before mini-conference (I will return paper with comments)
  • Presentation of final paper in mini-conference & brief discussion.
  • Regular participation, you are expected to attend every week, except in cases of reasonable excuses

Difference Traditional vs. ProSem

2 protocols, up to 900 words, taking questionsliterature review, up to 1500 words, taking questions
class presentation+leading classconcept paper+taking questions
field guide
final paper (4500 words)draft & final paper (3000 words)
mini-conference presentationmini-conference presentation
ProSem workshop

Protocol (traditional)

The class protocol should cover our discussion in class. Protocols should have a length of 2-3 pages (no more than 900 words), and they will in and outside of the classroom force us to have an ongoing reflection on our texts that we study for class. They can also include problems or questions that the writers had either with our class discussion or with the texts itself, but above all protocols should cover what we lectured about and what we discussed afterwards. Protocols should clarify and discuss selected issues in question. Protocols have to be sent out to everyone by Sunday at noon. Everyone will read the protocol before class. Please avoid late turn ins. The student who wrote the protocol will address questions during the first 15-20 minutes of the next class meeting.

Literature Review (ProSem)

The literature review should make the seminar participants familiar with the secondary literature assigned for class. The review should cover the assigned readings. Reviews should have a length of 4-5 pages (no more than 1500 words), and they will in and outside of the classroom force us to have an ongoing reflection on our texts that we study for class. They can also include problems or questions that the writers had with the secondary literature. Reviews have to be sent out to everyone by Sunday at noon. Everyone will read the review before class. Please avoid late turn ins. The student who wrote the review will address questions during the first 15-20 minutes of class.

Presentation & Write-Up (Traditional)

Each student will be responsible for one class and for working out an introductory presentation, which should function as a platform for our discussions. Please focus on selected aspects of the readings; desired length of presentations: around 20-25 minutes. Please distribute a brief write-up/overview of what you will be talking about by Sunday morning. Your write-up should have a length of up to 3 pages. A write-up differs from a handout (used during a presentation); i.e., the write-up should consists of a coherent text that either interprets, reflects on, or explains the primary material. Let’s call it a “miniature-paper” that everyone reads before class. Note: the reading material should be the absolute focus of your presentation. Free floating discussions that are completely unrelated to the readings are to be avoided by all means.

Concept Paper (ProSem)

Every student must prepare 1 brief – precise – 2-page paper about a concept selected from the reading assignments (around 600 words), which has to be sent out by email before class. Students take questions about the concept paper in class. Topics: the concept of money in Marx, the concept of capital in Marx, the concept of the “general intellect” in Marx.

General Remark

Given that this is a graduate seminar, I expect self-motivation, autonomy, civility, as well as self-responsibility. The attendance requires the willingness to intensively study the texts selected for class.

Final Paper

The class essay should be well researched and should present a substantial reflection on some parts of the material discussed in class. I expect excellent papers in regard to research, form, and content. The paper should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 150 words. The paper should be “conference style,” i.e., it should have a length of around 15 pages (traditional) or 10 pages (ProSem) and, ideally, could be presented at a conference.

Mini-Conference (all)

All students are expected to present their final papers during our mini-conference. You should not simply read your papers. Please talk through them. You can work with PowerPoint if you think that this is helpful for your presentation.

Workshop (ProSem)

We will review helpful research tools, discuss ways of improve your professional standing, discuss the role of social media, how to give good conference presentations, the peer review process, comps examples, and (perhaps) alternatives to academic work.


I will refuse giving DFs in this class, unless you find yourself in a real emergency situation (hospitalization, etc.)

Course Evaluation

Assignments (traditional)

2 protocols + class discussion20 points
oral presentation + handout20 points
mini-conference presentation10 points
final paper50 points
   100 points

Assignments (ProSem)

literature review+discussion15 points
academic field guide10 points
concept paper+discussion15 points
mini-conference presentation20 points
final paper40 points
   100 points


4.0 (=A)100 – 93
3.592 – 87
3 (=B)86 – 82
2.581 – 77
2 (=C)76 – 72
1.571 – 65
1.0 (=D)64 – 60
0.0< 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Laptop/Cell Phone/Tablet Policy

You are not permitted to use laptops or cell phones in class, unless needed for medical reasons. Flat devices, such as tablets, are permitted  if you have purchased the literature required for class electronically. Please do not text under the table. Cell phones should be removed from tables. Failure to follow this policy will lead to unannounced assignments in class or loss of points (at the digression of the instructor).

Class Attendance

As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target. Time in office hours will not be used to repeat the class lectures.

Grading Criteria + Paper Writing Tips

Check out this page for grading criteria, example of assignments, etc.

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn’t very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU’s library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU’s writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at http://writing.msu.edu for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to writing@msu.edu.

Grief Absence Policy

I follow MSU’s general grief absence policy, which can be found here.

Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (Plagiarism)

The following statement of University policy addresses principles and procedures to be used in instances of academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records, herein after referred to as academic misconduct. [See General Student Regulation 1.00, Protection of Scholarship and Grades.]

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: www.msu.edu) Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also https://www.msu.edu/~ombud/)

Plagiarism, from the Ombudsman’s page

Plagiarism (from the Latin plagiarius, an abductor, and plagiare, to steal) is defined by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Misconduct in Research (take that!) as “ . . . the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.”

Accidental or Unintentional
One may not even know that they are plagiarizing.  It is the student’s responsibility to make certain that they understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, as well as the proper way to cite material.

Here, students are well aware that they are plagiarizing.  Purposefully using someone else’s ideas or work without proper acknowledgment is plagiarism.  This includes turning in borrowed or bought research papers as one’s own.

Turning in the same term paper (or substantially the same paper) for two courses without getting permission from one’s instructor is plagiarism.

The Spartan Code of Honor

Student leaders have recognized the challenging task of discouraging plagiarism from the academic community. The Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) is proud to be launching the Spartan Code of Honor academic pledge, focused on valuing academic integrity and honest work ethics at Michigan State University. The pledge reads as follows:

“As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do.”

The Spartan Code of Honor academic pledge embodies the principles of integrity that every Spartan is required to uphold in their time as a student, and beyond. The academic pledge was crafted with inspiration of existing individual college honor codes, establishing an overarching statement for the entire university. It was formally adopted by ASMSU on March 3, 2016, endorsed by Academic Governance on March 22, 2016, and recognized by the Provost, President, and Board of Trustees on April 15, 2016.

SIRS Evaluations

Michigan State University takes seriously the opinion of students in the evaluation of the effectiveness of instruction and has implemented the Student Instructional Rating System (SIRS) to gather student feedback (https://sirsonline.msu.edu). This course utilizes the online SIRS system, and you will receive an e-mail during the last two weeks of class asking you to fill out the SIRS web form at your convenience. In addition, participation in the online SIRS system involves grade sequestration, which means that the final grade for this course will not be accessible on STUINFO during the week following the submission of grades for this course unless the SIRS online form has been completed. Alternatively, you have the option on the SIRS website to decline to participate in the evaluation of the course. We hope, however, that you will be willing to give us your frank and constructive feedback so that we may instruct students even better in the future. If you access the online SIRS website and complete the online SIRS form or decline to participate, you will receive the final grade in this course as usual once final grades are submitted.

Social Media and Sharing of Course Materials

As members of a learning community, students are expected to respect the intellectual property of course instructors. All course materials presented to students are the copyrighted property of the course instructor and are subject to the following conditions of use:

  • Students may record lectures or any other classroom activities and use the recordings only for their own course-related purposes.
  • Students may share the recordings with other students enrolled in the class. Sharing is limited to using the recordings only for their own course-related purposes.
  • Students may post the recordings or other course materials online or distribute them to anyone not enrolled in the class with the advance written permission of the course instructor and, if applicable, any students whose voice or image is included in the recordings.
  • Any student violating the conditions described above may face academic disciplinary sanctions.

Student Support Program (SSP)

Michigan State University is offering all MSU students access to counseling support 24/7/365 through My SSP: Student Support Program. My SSP is free to all MSU students. My SSP is confidential, and can help with:

  • Adapting to new challenges
  • Being successful at school
  • Relationships with friends and family
  • Practical issues with studying
  • Stress, sadness, loneliness, and more

The My SSP professional counselors are available to help anytime, anywhere with:

  • Immediate support by phone and chat
  • Ongoing support by appointment via phone and video
  • In addition, culturally relevant support is available in the language of the caller’s choice.

There are multiple options for connecting with a My SSP counselor:

  • Download the free My SSP app on Google Play or iTunes
  • Chat online at http://us.myissp.com
  • Call 1-866-743-7732
  • From outside North America, call 001.416.380.657

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY)

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.