Bennie Ricardo Brown

Photo of Bennie Brown

Professor Social Science & Cultural Studies 718.399.4599 p 718.399.4575 f Brooklyn Campus, DeKalb Hall 419

Current Course Listing (2)

21/FA-SS-235P-01 Sociology of Music, Sound and Noise

21/FA-SS-245P-01 Listening to the Music of Critical Theory

Personal URL


Bennie Ricardo Brown

B.A., Simon's Rock College of Bard,
Environmental Studies.

Graduate Fellowship in Geography, Syracuse University,
Cultural & Historical Geography.

M.Phil., Ph.D., The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Sociology (with concentration in Cultural Studies).


pratt bio 2 Teaching and Past Courses:
While education contains within it certain assumptions about discipline, education itself should never become a form of punishment and control. There is nothing romantic about seeing college as a moment when one can take time to explore concepts and texts that one may not have after college. This is actually a very practical view of one's brief college experience. Unfortunately, we all recognize that the corporatization of the academy is relentless and the practical value of education is being lost to the finacialization of our everyday lives. So, the goal of my courses is to go somewhat against the grain and allow you some time and space to critically engage concepts and texts that will challenge many of conventional ideas about ourselves and society as a whole.

In my courses we usually read 'primary' or 'original' works rather than commentaries, so that you can begin to come to your own understandings and interpretations. All of my courses are only a semester and so can really only serve as introductions that lay the ground for you to pursue your own interests in what are extensive and varied bodies of work. So the primary purpose here is to allow you to begin an engagement that can fortunately last a lifetime. We examine texts, visual and audio recordings as artifacts in which past and present social relations are crystallized - not because they are 'great works' but because these authors/works mark changes in our systems of knowledge and the limits of truth by raising fundamental problems that the contemporary sciences of life and society seek to address address. We do this not only through texts, but by examining the expressions of social relations through images, sounds, and texts.

In a nutshell, the purpose of my courses is not to make you an expert in a narrow academic field, but to allow you the chance to read, see, and listen to works that you might be curious about, but did not think that you had the time and space to study.

My courses, as with my research, fall under three general headings: Cultural Studies, Sociology, and Critical Theory.

Past Courses:
Cultural Studies
    Introduction to Cultural Studies.
    Controversies in Cultural Theory: Postmodernism, Science Studies and the Social Text Affair.
    Spaces, Movements, Identities (now titled Spaces of Power).
    Star Trek: Technologies (co-taught with Prof. Ivan Zatz).
    Methods of Cultural Analysis.
    Cultural Studies Praxis Course I: From Work to Text.
    Cultural Studies Praxis Course II: Siting Culture.
    Introductory Sociology: The Ends and Uses of Society.
    Sociology and Society: An Introduction to Sociological Theory.
    Sociology of Music/Sound/Noise.
    Perception and Creativity.
    Political Institutions: State, Civil Society, and Community.
Critical Theory
    Science and the Origins of Race.
    From Phrenology to Eugenics and the 'New' Genetics
    Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud.
    Foucault and Critical Theory.
    Societies of Control.
    The Uses of Terror.
    Marx and Nietzsche (co-taught with Prof. Sameetah Agha).

My research can be described as critical explorations of the genealogies of systems of knowledge. The various subjects that I have and am still exploring all have to do with central questions from Critical Theory: How is it that we come to desire our own domination and what is the relation between our domination of nature and our domination of ourselves?
A list of work is available on my site:

This work includes studies of:
    Materialism from Epicurus to Marx and Marxism;
    Sociology of Science: Theories and Systems of Classification of Human Variety in Sociology, Biology, and Ecology;
    Critical Theory on Authority, Power, and Terror;
    Environmental Studies;

Personal Note
I do not write autobiographically, though I am not adverse to remarking in class on various aspects of my past that might be relevant to our discussions. I was once asked about this by students putting together an Institute-wide seminar and wrote this piece for them, which though the passage of time would lead me to slightly modify, I would generally still agree with:
'Diversity and Narrative or Against Autobiography.'

I have use the words 'I' and 'my' more often in this short description than in most of my writings combined!

Blogs and Social Media
Until Darwin:


Introductory Lectures on Cultural Studies:


'Remember that here work is not for work's sake but is only a means.' -- G. I. G.