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Postmodernism and Politics

Postmodernism and Politics

Edited and Introduced by Jonathan Arac
Volume: 28
Copyright Date: 1986
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Postmodernism and Politics
    Book Description:

    Eight essays on postmodernism with a focus on intellectual, artistic and social concerns.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8235-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction
    (pp. ix-2)
    Jonathan Arac

    In the two decades since it first consciously began to define itself, postmodern criticism has chosen to be worldy. Not that it is urbane; this is not a world in which one can or should too easily be at home. Yet the struggle against received forms of reading, writing, and public discourse has not been mundane either. Philosophy, and its difficulties, served a necessary function in countering the technicist emphases of New Criticism and structuralism alike, as well as in marking the difference between a simple quest for relevance and a movement that was willing to wield the weapons of...

  2. Chapter 1 The Ineluctability of Difference: Scientific Pluralism and the Critical Intelligence
    (pp. 3-25)
    Paul A. Bové

    The idea that there is a postmodern literature different from and often opposed to modernism gradually gained acceptance by scholars, critics, and teachers through the 1960s and 1970s with the result that the term itself and the variety of often-conflicting concepts it designates have become awkwardly legitimate. A detailed genealogy of this process of legitimation which described the intersections of discourses and practices from literature, art, and political philosophy would itself tell a great deal about how the institutions for producing and circulating cultural representations work in our society and also how certain parts of the intellectual elite understand our...

  3. Chapter 2 Interpretive Strategies/Strategic Interpretations: On Anglo-American Reader-Response Criticism
    (pp. 26-54)
    Mary Louise Pratt

    When the call for self-justification goes out, reader-response criticism often presents itself as a corrective to formalist or intrinsic criticism. This explanation, though undoubtedly true, does not seem altogether adequate. On the one hand, formalism and New Criticism are already so discredited in theoretical circles that there seems little need for another round of abuse. On the other hand, much reader-response criticism turns out to be a notational variant of that very formalism so roundly rejected. An antiformalist theoretical stance invoked to uphold a neoor covertly formalist practice is a contradiction not altogether unfamiliar these days, and one which suggests...

  4. Chapter 3 “Above All Else to Make You See”: Cinema and the Ideology of Spectacle
    (pp. 55-69)
    Dana B. Polan

    Two scenes from films:

    Early inGive a Girl a Break(1953), Bob Dowdy (Bob Fosse) goes for a walk with Suzie Doolittle (Debbie Reynolds), a girl he has just met and with whom, as is inevitable in a musical, he has fallen in love. Singing that their unity in love matters more than any other kind of unity—especially political and social—he begins to dance through the park, in a frenetic display of leaps, somersaults, and spins. As he moves through the obviously studio-set park, one sees across the river the United Nations building, here also obviously a...

  5. Chapter 4 Ezra Pound and the “Economy” of Anti-Semitism
    (pp. 70-90)
    Andrew Parker

    Despite his currently canonical status as a “great American poet,”¹ Ezra Pound remains the name of a persistently embarrassing problem for the institution of literary criticism.Anyreading of Pound, even one that intends to steer clear from ideological issues by treating his poetry in isolation, ultimately finds itself confronted by the seemingly intractable questions posed by his work—questions concerning the relationship between the language of economy and the economy of language, between political conviction and rhetorical form, between the moment of fascism and the poetics of modernism. Although raised explicitly in both Pound’s poetry and his theoretical writings,...

  6. Chapter 5 The Scene of the Other: Theodor W. Adorno’s Negative Dialectic in the Context of Poststructuralism
    (pp. 91-111)
    Rainer Nägele

    When in the summer of 1979 a group of people, mainly connected withNew German Critiqueand the newly foundedSocial Text, met in Madison, Wisconsin, for a three-day discussion centered on problems of cultural theories, somebody jokingly called it an assembly of Frankfurters and French fries. To the gourmet of culinary and intellectual subtleties, such a menu must raise all the horror clichés about products from the American kitchen and culture industry. Thus the constellation indicated by the title of this chapter might suggest an eclectic concoction of ill-suited ingredients or, to use an Adornian phrase, a forced reconciliation...

  7. Chapter 6 Raymond Williams and the Problem of Ideology
    (pp. 112-122)
    John Higgins

    The last time I saw Raymond Williams speak was in a social-history seminar given at King’s College, Cambridge. His topic seemed at first ironic in that context: the Bloomsbury group, in the college most associated with them; but the transformation of that irony into something more serious is what I want to record here as a way of introducing the seriousness of Williams’s work. His voice was remarkable; the voice of an authority. It was conversational, almost to the point of dullness, but sustained throughout by that curiously academic power, the intellectually cautious assertion of the radical. His final judgment...

  8. Chapter 7 Ethics and Action in Fredric Jameson’s Marxist Hermeneutics
    (pp. 123-144)
    Cornel West

    Fredric Jameson is the most challenging American Marxist hermeneutic thinker on the present scene. His ingenious interpretations (prior to accessible translations) of major figures of the Frankfurt school, Russian formalism, French structuralism, and poststructuralism as well as of Georg Lukács, Jean-Paul Sartre, Louis Althusser, Max Weber, and Louis Marin are significant contributions to the intellectual history of twentieth-century Marxist and European thought. Jameson’s treatments of the development of the novel, the surrealist movement, of Continental writers such as Honoré de Balzac, Marcel Proust, Alessandro Manzoni, and Alain Robbe-Grillet, and of American writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Kenneth Burke, and Ursula Le...

  9. Chapter 8 Feeling Global: John Berger and Experience
    (pp. 145-161)
    Bruce Robbins

    Much of John Berger’s writing in the past decade has had to do with peasants. What Berger calls “peasant experience” is the explicit subject of the short fictions ofPig Earth(1979); it is the point of departure and social counterweight of his essay on European migrant workers,A Seventh Man(1975); it provides the privileged field of instances drawn upon by the art criticism ofAbout Looking(1980), the volume of and about photographic narration,Another Way of Telling(1982)—likeA Seventh Man, a collaboration with the photographer Jean Mohr—and even the looser, less located reflections on...