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Chapter 4: Materialisms

Chapter 4: Materialisms

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Chapter 4: Materialisms

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  1. Chapter 4: Materialisms A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature

  2. Chapter 4 I. Marxism • Economic theory of Karl Marx; Marxist terms; Marxist literary theory • “Old” or “vulgar” Marxism versus American liberals • “Slice of life” (Trotsky) versus “forces” and “reification” (Lukács); hegemony (Gramsci); “cultural capital” (Bourdieu); “political unconscious” (Jameson); working-class sensibility (Williams) II. British Cultural Materialism • Roots in Arnold, Tylor, Lévi-Strauss, Leavis; not all culture is high culture—“culture is ordinary” (Hall)

  3. Chapter 4 III. New Historicism • Differences with “old” historicism • Literature and history influence each other • History as complex and unstable textually as literature • Influence of Foucault, Lyotard, Jameson; Greenblatt • Geertz’s “thick description” • Exchange, negotiation, circulation of ideas in cultural “marketplace” • Example of Gulliver’s Travels

  4. Chapter 4 IV. Ecocriticism • Relationship between literature and the natural environment • Joseph Carroll: “green cultural studies” in a threatened natural world—at forefront of criticism due to urgent environmental problems • Divided between study of nature writers and ecological themes in literature • Native American perspective • Ecofeminism

  5. Chapter 4 VI. Literary Darwinism • Darwin’s theory of evolution based on natural selection • Opposed to prevailing poststructuralist and postmodernist theory, especially the argument that discourse constructs reality—instead, evolution precedes and to some extent determines discourse • humans share a common nature—cf mythological approaches; theories that deny the biological basis of behavior are unsound; evolutionary purposes of literature; evolutionary fitness

  6. Chapter 4 VI. Literary Darwinism (cont’d) • E. O. Wilson as founder (“consilience”); Barah and Barash, Madame Bovary’s Ovaries (Why does literature exist? It tells us about human nature and helps us survive—reading of Othello); McEwan on Darwin’s The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (literature encodes our “cultural and genetic inheritance”); Carroll—role of art is to make sense of human needs and motives, the need “to create cognitive order”