||history of criticism--how
criticism serves the dominant power of different historical periods.
e.g. Renaissance humanism, neo-classicism,
Romanticism, liberal humanism
I. Sidney--Apology for Poetry--defends
...an institution inseparable from explicit ideological values--the values
of a courtly classical humanism ...
it is for this reason above all
that it must be protected from the criticisms of an assertive bourgeois
puritanism. Sidney's text marks a fading moment of ideological
buoyancy, an achieved synthesis of courtly and puritan elements. p. 19
becomes a crucial
ideological instrument....in the struggle to stabilise
an ideological formation which compose the hegemonic bloc. In the drive
for order, proportion and propriety, the demand for socially cohesive
categories of Nature and Reason, the need to reduce and systematise social
life to a series of ordered practices, ...criticism as both paradigm and
instrument of such a project... In need to incorporate new classes
and fractions of classes into cultural unity, to establish a consensus
of social taste, construct common traditions and disseminate uniform manners,
criticism becomes one fulcrum of a whole set of ideological institutions:
periodicals, coffee-houses, aesthetic and social treatises, classical translations,
guide-books to manners and morals. ¡@
the task of criticism: . . . to
show the text as it cannot know itself, to manifest those conditions of
its making (inscribed in its very letter) about which it is necessarily
"Categories for a Materialist
Dr. Kate Liu
14 March 2000
In "Categories for a Materialist
Criticism," Terry Eagleton develops a method in order to specify the constituent
structure of the material practice and to examine their precise articulations.
Therefore, Eagleton divides this essay into ten sections of discussions
and presents six major components of Marxist theory of literature:
General Mode of Production, Literary Mode of Production, General Ideology,
Authorial Ideology, Aesthetics Ideology, and text. Eagleton provides specific
examples in order to explain each category and at the same time to discuss
the relations between five major categories.
I. General Mode of Production (GMP)
and Literary Mode of Production (LMP)
GMP, LMP, GI, AuI, AI, Text
The task of criticism is to analyse
the complex historical articulations
of these structures which produce the text.
A. GMP is "a unity of certain forces
and social relations of material production " (45).
B. LMP is "a unity of certain forces
and social relations of literary production in a particular social
1. LMP constructs an "asymmetrical
totality" which the dominant LMP will force others into positions of subordination
and partial exclusion.
C. Relations of LMP and GMP
2. Conflictual LMPs will coexist
within a particular social formation
Ex: Novel vs. Poetry ; Oral LMP
vs Written LMP. (45-6)
to analyse the complex articulations of these various LMPs with
the 'general' mode of production of a social formation. For
instance, how oral LMP can keep its traces in a written text.
3. "Every LMP is constituted by structure
of production, distribution, exchange, and consumption" (47).
Ex: The process or modes of production;
the variety of literary producers in the mode of literary production.
4. We are not merely concerned
here with the sociological outworks of the text; we are concerned rather
with how the text comes to be what it is because of the specific determinations
of its mode of production.
...every literary text in some sense internalises
its social relations of production--that every text intimates
by its very conventions the way it is to be consumed.(p. 48)
dominant LMP of Victorian England--the three guineas subscription of a
consumer to Mudie's circulating library. The libraries...were powerful
determinants in the selection of producers, of the pace of literary production,
and of the literary product itself. The multiple complicated plots, elaborate
digressions and gratuitous interludes of such works were the effect of
the producers ingeniously elongating their material to meet the requirements
of the form.
1. LMP is a particular substructure
II. General Ideology (GI), and Relations
of GI and LMP
Q: Though material / instruments
are produced by GMP, why these materials in some modes of artistic production
have no a significant function within GMP?
2. The relations between GMP and
LMP are dialectical. The function of LMP is situated as the reproduction
and expansion of the GMP.
Ex: the growth of printing -- the
increasing productions of books, and market.
3. The social relations of LMP are
in general determined by the social relations of the GMP.
Ex: the relations of the fili caste
to his kings; the aristocratic poet or haut-bourgeois novelist --petty-bourgeois
producer (50-51). The vernacular literature in the medieval England; the
social relation of borrowing or purchasing books; the establishing the
A. General Ideology is a
dominant ideological formation.
III. Authorial Ideology (AuI) and Aesthetic
B. GI is not an "ideal type of ideology
in general," but the dominated ensemble of ideologies in social formation
C. The deployment of language in
a literary text is related to GI. (54-5).
Ex: the history of English (mutation
of Old English under Norman French influence);
12th century cultural movement in
D. "The inter-determinations of
the linguistic and the political, and their effect on the constituent of
an LMP and the character of its products are thus of central significance
to a materialist criticism" (56)
E. Two incidental points between
the relation of GI and LMP affect the literary text. (57-8)
1. Different LMP may, in
term of the ideological character of their textual products, reproduce
the same ideological formation.
2. The censorship is the involvement
of direct ideological control over the literary text. (58).
A. AuI is the effect of
the author's mode of biographical insertion into GI. (58-60).
IV. Relations of AI, GI, and LMP
B. AI is an internally complex formation.(60).
A. The ideology of LMP constructs
the mutually reproductive relation between GI and LMP.
V. Relations of GI, AI, and AuI
B. "The forces and relations of
literary production, on the basis of their determination by the GMP, produce
possibility of certain distinct
literary genres" (61)
A. The text, as an aesthetic
product, is a multiply articulated structure, determined by the contemporary
VI. Text in the category of a Materialist
Criticism (44-5) (63)
B. Authorial ideology may be an
important determinant of both type of LMP and AI. (63).
Eagleton, Terry. "Categories for
a Materialist Criticism." Criticism and Ideology: A Study in
Marxist Literary Theory. London:
Verso, 1976. 44-63.