marxism and marxist literary criticism n.
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Marxism and Marxist Literary Criticism

Marxism and Marxist Literary Criticism

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Marxism and Marxist Literary Criticism

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  1. Marxism and Marxist Literary Criticism Literature in English ASL

  2. Introduction • Any political practice or theory based on an interpretation of the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels • Including Communist Parties and Communist states

  3. Characteristics of Marxism • Attention to the material conditions of people's lives, and lived relations among people • People’s consciousness of the conditions of their lives reflects these material conditions and relations • “Social class" = differing relations to production (a particular position within such relations)

  4. Characteristics of Marxism • Material conditions and social relations: historically malleable • View of history: class struggle (evolving conflict between classes with opposing interests) structures each historical period • A sympathy for the working class • The ultimate interests of workers best match those of humanity in general

  5. Characteristics of Marxism • Workers' revolution: the means of achieving human emancipation and enlightenment • The actual mechanism through which such a revolution might occur and succeed

  6. Main Ideas in Marxism • Means of production: • A combination of the means of labor and the subject of labor used by workers to make products • Means of labor = machines, tools, equipment, infrastructure, and "all those things with the aid of which man acts upon the subject of labor, and transforms it" • Subject of labor = raw materials and materials directly taken from nature • Means of production produce nothing • Labor power is needed for production to take place.

  7. Main Ideas in Marxism • Base and superstructure: • Base: people with regard to “the social production of their existence” forms the economic basis • Superstructure: political + legal institutions + religious, philosophical, and other ideas • The base conditions the superstructure and the social consciousness • Reflexive: changes in one group often influence the other

  8. Main Ideas in Marxism • Class consciousness: • The self-awareness of a social class • Its capacity to act in its own rational interests

  9. Main Ideas in Marxism • Ideology: • Consciousness and perceptions within a society • Often controlled by the ruling class • Determined according to what is in the ruling class's best interests • Confuses the alienated groups • Creates false consciousness • Example: commodity fetishism (perceiving labor as capital ~ a degradation of human life)

  10. Main Ideas in Marxism • Exploitation: • Exploitation of an entire segment or class of society by another • An inherent feature and key element of capitalism and free markets • Profit gained by the capitalist = the value of the product made by the worker + the actual wage that the worker receives • Paying workers less than the full value of their labour • To enable the capitalist class to turn a profit

  11. Class System in Marxism • Identity of a social class: derived from its relationship to the means of production • As opposed to the notion that class is determined by wealth alone

  12. Class System in Marxism • The proletariat • Individuals who sell their labour power • The bourgeoisie • Owns the means of production" • Buys labour power from the proletariat (recompensed by a salary) • Exploits the proletariat

  13. Class System in Marxism • The lumpenproletariat • Social scum: criminals, vagabonds, beggars • People with no stake in the economic system • Selling themselves to the highest bidder • The Landlords • Wealthy people owning pieces of land • Retaining their wealth and power • The Peasantry and Farmers • Disorganized • Incapable of carrying out change • Disappearing: most becoming proletariat but some becoming landowners •

  14. Marxist Literary Criticism • A loose term describing literary criticism informed by the philosophy or the politics of Marxism • Terry Eagleton (Marxism and Literary Criticism, 1976) • Not merely a 'sociology of literature', concerned with how novels get published and whether they mention the working class • Aim: • To explain the literary work more fully • A ensitive attention to its forms, styles and meanings • Grasping those forms, styles and meanings as the product of a particular history

  15. Marxist Literary Criticism • Goals: • An assessment of the political "tendency" of a literary work (determining whether its social content or its literary form are "progressive“) • Applying lessons drawn from the realm of aesthetics to the realm of politics

  16. Marxist Film Theory • Expressing ideas of Marxism through film in terms of film editing, such as montage • Employing radical choice of subject matter, as well as subversive parody, to heighten class consciousness and promote Marxist ideas

  17. Marxist Film Theory • Sergei Eisenstein: • Shunning narrative structure by eliminating the individual protagonist • Telling stories where the action is moved by the group • Story told through a clash of one image against the next (whether in composition, motion, or idea) • The audience is never lulled into believing that they are watching something that has not been worked over • Important works: • Can dialectics break bricks? (1973) •

  18. Thanks for your struggle of attention!