Ethan Lin
Research and Bibliography
28 Dec. 1999
Marxist Criticism
  1. Introduction: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
    1. Engels asserts that art has "relative autonomous."
    2. The aim of Marxism is to bring about a class-less society.
      1. Marxism sees the process of "progress" as a process of "class struggle," the driving force of history.
      2. The result of exploitation of workers' labor is "alienation." The process that alienated workers have undergone is "reification." 
      3. The simplest Marxist model of society is constituted by a "base" and a "superstructure."
    1. Marxism is a "materialist" philosophy known as "economic determinism."
      1. "The creation of literature can be viewed as a productive activity on the model of economic production."
      2. "The notion of consumption points suggestively toward reception aesthetics."
      3. Authors are constantly formed by their social contexts. Writers' social class and its prevailing "ideology" have the major influence on authors.
  1. "Leninist" and "Engelsian" Marxist Criticism
    1. A. "Leninist" Marxist Criticism
      1. Lenin imposed a straight realism on writing literature by claiming that literature must become Party literature in order to present the social reality.
      2. A direct cause-effect relationship between literature and economics is assumed as "Vulgar Marxism."
    1. "Engelsian" Marxist Criticism
      1. Marxism and Russian Formalism. 
        1. Formalists' assertion of the need for close formal analysis of literature implies that literature merely mirrors reality in a documentary way. 
        2. Victor Shkovsky's idea of "defamiliarization" or "making strange."
        3. Boris Tomashevsky's distinction between "story" and "plot."
      1. Frankfurt School (Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Jurgen Habermas) rejects realism altogether. 
        1. Art, for Adorno, is set apart from reality; its detachment gives it its special power and significance. 
        2. Walter Benjamin interprets commodity fetishism through an abiding concern with allegory --just as allegory posits an arbitrary relation between meaning and object -- so the commodity is defined by an arbitrary relation between its use and exchange value. 
  1. The Basic Marxist Literary Categories--reification, realism, production, and hegemony. 
    1. Lukacs and Brecht
      1. Georg Lukacs asserts that realism is capable of revealing the underlying movement of history and a "correct" reflection of reality, for Lukacs, involves more than the mere rendering of external appearences.
      2. Bertolt Brecht rejects the formal unity admired by Lukacs. Brecht's view on realism is that by "the alienation effect," the illusion of reality will be presented. 
    1. Mikhail M. Bakhtin stresses the dialogic principle, the multiple social voices that constitute discourse and particularly novelistic discourse.
    2. Antonio Gramsci's central category of hegemony (domination by consent) produces original contributions on ideology, cultural institutions, the function of intellectuals, and the relation between high (dominant) and popular culture (subordinate).
      1. Rule -- the direct political control.
      2. Hegemony -- an internalized form of social control, which makes certain views, seem "natural," or invisible.
  1. The Influence of Louis Althusser.
    1. Louis Althusser's notion of "overdeterminism," "relative autonomy," and "ideology."
      1. Overdeterminism¡Xan effect arise from a variety of causes which acting together rather than from a single (economic) factor. 
      2. Relative autonomy¡Xa view asserts that art has a degree of independence from economic forces. 
      3. Ideology¡X"a system of representations (images, myths, ideas or concepts, according to the case) endowed with an existence and an historical role at the heart of a given society."
      4. Decentering¡Xa term indicates that there is no overall unity: art has a relative autonomy.
      5. State power and ISA¡XState power is maintained by "repressive structure," the external force. However, the state power might also maintained more subtly by Ideological State Apparatus.
V. American "Left" Marxist Criticism
  1. Terry Eagleton involves himself in a process of intricate interaction with post-structuralism and post-modernism. Eagleton argues that criticism must break its "ideological prehistory" and become a science.
  2. C. L. R. James believes that individual can carry out a revolutionary transformation of the world in their interests.
  3. Fredric Jameson tries to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxist criticism. In Jameson's view, literature often tries to repress historical truth, but analysis can reveal its underlying ideology.
    1. Jameson's "Dialectical Criticism" assumes that there are no fixed and unchanging "objects," an "object" is bound up with a large whole. 
    2. In Jameson's The Political Unconscious (1981), he asserts that fragment and alienated condition of human society implies an original state of "collective" life.
    3. "Narrative" for Jameson, is not a mere literary form, and "reality" presents itself to the human mind only in the form of stories.
    4. Jameson in his Political Unconscious raises Freud's concept of repression to the collective level by saying ideology represses "revolution."
    5. Jameson's Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), asserts that postmodernism is not mere style, but a "cultural dominant." 
  1. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak contributes an effort to connect Marxism and deconstruction. 
A Handbook to Literary Research.  Eds. Simon Eliot and W.R. Owens.  NY: Routledge in Association with Open U, 1998.
Redrawing the Boundaries: The Transformation of English and American Literary Studies.
                                                     Ed. Stephen Greenblatt & Gile Gunn.  NY: MLA, 1992.