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Under Construction
(structure--for structuralist, it is signifying structure, timeless, self-regulating; for Marxist, it is social system, historical, changeable, and fraught with contradictions.)
Starting questions: 
  • How does economy (or money) determine our life, our thought and literary creation?
  • Who should benefit from the increase of labor power made possible by industrial revolution?  Is capitalism an unfair system?  Should it  be gotten rid of?  What are the alternatives?
  • If the school a work place, who are the laborers and who, the capitalist to gain the profits?  How about the students? 
Teaching plan:
Day 1-- materialist determinism (modes of production, literary modes of production, relations of production);  readings: textbook Chap 9-- e.g. Bicycle Thief , "The Rocking-Horse Winner"; "Canadian Experience"; "Lesson"; "My Last Duchess"; 〈兒子的大玩偶〉

Day 2--state formations, ideology and ideological state apparatus; handout (pp. 70-72; 86-90; 91-99)--  e.g. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Day 3--Eagleton's views of ideology; Jameson's three-horizon criticism


I. Important Concepts in Marxist criticism
A. Marxism: 
1. Basic Concepts 

2. Traditional Marxism & sociology of literature: 

    B. Western Marxism, Frankfurt School:
Lukacs on Realism, Adorno on negativity;
Adorno and Iser, Benjamin-Adorno debate

    C. Art and Ideology: to understand the complex, indirect relations between those works and the ideological worlds they inhabit;

Althusser; Gramsci
Eagleton on Ideology; Eagleton's Materialist Marxism)

    D. Jameson's three-horizon criticism

    E. Cultural critique (critique of contemporary capitalist society and its culture)--Jameson on postmodernism

     F. Post-Marxism 

I. Traditional Marxism -- concerned with how novels get published and how they deal with different classes,grasping its forms, styles and meanings as the products of its socio-historico-economic conditions

Tradition of Marxism: 
  1. Marx and Vulgar Marxism--reflectionism, (the failure of the second international 1914)

  2. //Soviet socialist realism 
  3. Hegelian turn (e.g. Lukacs)—relative autonomy, “reflection” of “the full process of life” ((R) Williams)
  4. Frankfurt School—views on modernism and cultural criticism (Adorno, Benjamin, Brecht)
  5. Poststructuralist (scientific) turn—Althusser, ((R) Eagleton)
  6. American (F. Jameson) and British Marxism (R. Williams and T. Eagleton)
  7. Post-Marxist (E. Laclau and C Mouffe)—against its totalizing schema

Two statements by Marx--

Mark: Historical Materialism and The Capital; Hegel's Aesthetics
2. The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various way; the point is to change it.

II. Ideology and art
Althusser; Gramsci
Eagleton on Ideology; Eagleton's Materialist Marxism)
The function of ideology is also to legitimate the power of the ruling class in society
It is the way those class-relations are experienced, legitimized and perpetuated.  Men are not free to choose their social relations; they are constrained into them by material necessity.

Lucien Goldmann--trans-individual mental structures, homology
texts are not creations of individual genius; they are based upon "trans-individual mental structures" belonging to particular groups (0r classes).  These 'world-view' are perpetually being constructed and dissolved by social groups as they adjust their mental image of the world in response to the changing reality before them.
--great writers are able to crystallise world-views in a lucid and coherent form.

the expressive relationship between social class and literary  text was registered not in "reflected" content but in a parallelism of form, or "homology."

Marcherey--the unconscious of the text
the text as a production

The materials of a text ...are not 'free implements' to be used consciously to create a controlled and unified work of art.  Irrespective of prevailing aesthetic norms and authorial intentions, the text, in working the pre-given materials, is never fully 'aware of what it is doing'.  It has, so to speak, an 'unconscious.'

ideology--Once it is worked into a text, all its contradictions and gaps are exposed.  The realist writer intends to unify all the elements in the text, but the work that goes on in the textual process inevitably produces certain lapses and omissions which correspond to the incoherence of the ideological discourse it uses: 'for in order to say something, there are other things which must not be said."

It is by giving ideology a determinate form, fixing it within certain fictional limits, that art is able to distance itself from it, thus revealing to us the limits of that ideology.

Theorists on Ideology: Althusser, Louis

He criticized Hegel's idea of "totality," according to which the essence of the whole is expressed in all its parts.  A avoids terms such as 'social system' and 'order'--a structure with a center

social formation--a decentered structure; unlike a living organism, this structure has no governing principle, no originating seed, no overall unity.--the levels possess a 'relative autonomy', and are ultimately determined by the economic level only 'in the last instance.'
The social formation is a structure in which the various levels exist in complex relations of inner contradictions and mutual conflict; its contradictions are never simple but 'overdetermined.'  This structure of contradictions may be dominated at any given moment by one or other of the levels, but which level it is is itself ultimately determined by the economic level.

Art and ideology-

  • ideology is a system of representation.
  • ideology has a historical role, part of a process of overdetermination
  • Praxis is ideological and only science is theoretical.
  • ideology is both lived and imaginary, it is the lived as imaginary
  • ideology:

    a representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.--helps us make  sense of it, but also mask or represses our real relation to it.
    e.g. ideology of liberal humanism
    Art achieves a 'retreat' (a fictional distance deriving from its formal composition) from the very ideology which feeds it.


    For A, historical change is not the product of developments in the economic base reflected in mechanical fashion by the superstructure...like a dream, a give historical moment is the site of a multiplicity of forces, of which the economic is only determining "in the last instance."

    art and ideology p. 89
    art is not simply a form of ideology
    "art makes us see the ideology from which it is born"
    achieves 'a retreat' from the very ideology which feeds it.

    --great authors express the "world-views" of a particular group
     --homology between the structure of modern novel and the structure of modern economy
    e.g. reification in modern novel
    social formation--instead of social system, order
    a de-centered structure
    levels of contradiction which are overdetermined

    Macherey--the contradictions and flaws of an ideology "produced unconsciously" by the text

    Eagleton "ideology is not in the first place a set of doctrines; it signifies the way men live out their roles in class-society, the values, ideas and images which tie them to their social functions and so prevent them from a true knowledge of society as a whole." (16-17)

    ideology--refers not to formulated doctrines but to all those systems of representation (aesthetic, religious, judicial and others) which shape the individual's mental picture of lived experience.   (Eagleton on Ideology)

    Jameson--all ideologies are 'strategies of containment' which allow society to provide an explanation of itself which suppresses the underlying contradictions of History; it is History itself (the brute reality of economic necessity) which imposes this strategy of repression.  Literary texts work in the same way:  the solutions which they offer are merely symptoms of the suppressions of history.  ...Textual strategies of containment present themselves as formal patterns.
    --the function of ideology is to repress 'revolution'.
    --political unconscious, absent cause
    the text--two removes from reality--the meanings and perceptions produced in the text are a reworking of ideology's own working of reality.
    --not a reflection of  other ideological discourses, but a special production of ideology.

    art has a more complex relationship to ideology than law and political theory, which rather more transparently embody the inerests of a ruling class.

    Fredric Jameson
    dialectical criticism--
    does not isolate individual literary works for analysis; an individual is always part of a larger structure (a tradition or a movement) or part of a historical situation.  The dialectical critic has no pre-set categories to apply to literature and will always be aware that his or her chosen categories (style, caharacter, image, etc.) must be understood ultimately as an aspect of the critic's own historical situation.--

    e.g. point of view--a concept which is profoundly modern in its implied relativism and rejection of any fixed or absolute viewpoint or standard of judgment.

    A Marxist dialectical criticism-- will always recognise the historical origins of its own concepts and will never allow the concepts to ossify and become insensitive to  the presuure of reality.
    --will seek to unmask the inner form of a genre or body of texts and will work from the surface of a work inward to the level where literary form is deeply related to the concrete.
    All interpretation is necessarily transcendent and ideological.  In the end, all we can do is use ideological concepts as a means of transcending ideology.
    --three horizons of criticism--a level of immanent analysis, a level of socio-discourse analysis, and an epochal level of Historical reading--
    (History itself is mirrored in the heterogeniety of texts)
    The textual heterogeniety can only be understood only as it relates to social and cultural heterogeniety outside the text.

    Marxist Feminism--

    Shulamith Firestone  The Dialectic of Sex
    substitute sex for class as the prime historical determinant, and to present the 'class struggle' as itself a product of the organisation of the biological family unit.

    Michel Barret--the articulation of patriarchy and capitalism--
    several factors need to be considered:
    the economic organization of households, its accompanying 'familial ideology'; the division of labor in the economic system; the systems of education and the state; the cultural processes in which men and women are differently represented; the nature of gender identity and the relationship between sexuality and biological reproduction.
    1. she agrees with Woolf's materialist argument
    2. the ideology of gender affects the way the writings of men and women are read

    e.g. working-class women --double oppression of the sexual division of labor at work and in the home

    Post-Marxism: Ernesto Laclau: "Politics and the Limits of Modernity" (Outline by Julia Kuo)

    III. Capitalism

    liberal capitalism--imperialist capitalism--transnational capitalism
    the importance of the individuals get diminished;
    reification--the reduction of value to exchange value and the domination of human world by objects.
    In the classical novel, objects only had significance in relation to individuals, but, in the novels of Sartre, Kafka and Robbe-Grillet, the world of objects begins to displace the individual. (Goldmann)

    II. Practice:
      Class relations, economic determinism and literary mode of production
        A.. Pick up a short story or a play and study a) the differences between people from different classes
              and their relations; b) the role money plays in the story. Also, you can discuss how a character's life
              is determined by his socio-economic conditions (his class, his work, and his financial background),
              or how an author's work is determined by his.

       Art and ideology
        B. Study the relation between a text and a certain ideology. (The ideology can be that of the author, of a
             literary mode of production, of the text, and of contemporary society). Try to find out the text's
             "unconscious" (the unsaid) through its contradictions.

        C. Apply Jameson's model of criticism (containing three steps: immanent criticism, social discourse
             analysis, and Historical reading) to a text.

       capitalism and its ideologies
        D. Analyze a cultural phenomenon in Taiwan (for instance, the store names of KTV, the popularity of
       City Hunter, the prevalence of foreign [esp. American] restaurants, soap opera, etc.) to find out the
            ideology(ies) implied in this phenomenon, and/or what it says about Taiwan as a capitalist society.

    III. Texts