Marxism and literary history
PublisherHarvard University Press
AffiliationArts: Department of English with Cultural Studies
MetadataShow full item record
CitationFrow, J. A. (1986). Marxism and literary history, Harvard University Press.
Access StatusOpen Access
Copyright © 1986 John Frow. All rights reserved.
In this book I try to theorize the concepts of system and history for a Marxist theory of literary discourse. This theorization is conceived as part of a semiotically oriented intervention in cultural politics. I am not interested in producing a general Marxist theory of literature or in contributing to an aesthetics; and I do not attempt a philosophical purification of these categories. They are difficult categories and I seek to make them more so; but the point is to make them fit tools for critical and political uses. I use the concept of system in the sense of a nontotalized formation which sets epistemological and practical limits to discourse, and which is thereby productive of discourse; it does not have here its speculative or its systems-theoretical sense of a closed and self-regulating totality. In addition, I seek consistently to deploy the concept in counterpoint to its ongoing deconstruction. In the same way, the concept of history does not carry the sense of an enfolding narrative continuum or of the given ground of human action. It is used to theorize the discontinuous, nonteleological dynamic of the literary system and the multiple temporalities of texts within complex sets of intertextual relations. The theoretical framework and intent of the book is a nondogmatic and nonorthodox Marxism which I hope will require no apology. I work within an antihumanist, antihistoricist, and anti-Hegelian tradition, but am also intellectually close to the post-structuralism of Foucault and Derrida. The interplay and sometimes the strain between these traditions will be evident (I hope fruitfully) throughout the book.
KeywordsEnglish Literary Studies; Marxist Criticism; Discourse Analysis
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