Literary Theory and the Claims of History: Postmodernism, Objectivity, Multicultural Politics

By Satya P. Mohanty | Go to book overview

4 JAMESON'S MARXIST HERMENEUTICS AND THE NEED FOR AN ADEQUATE EPISTEMOLOGY

Althusser's theory of ideology, as we saw, is only partly successful in its attempt to link the political power of institutions with the material practices of everyday life. Its failure lies in its inability to provide a convincing account of subjectivity as multidimensional, and this inability derives from Althusser's unqualified skepticism toward all statements about human needs and capacities, that is, about human nature and welfare. Such skepticism, I suggested, may be based in part on Althusser's suspicion of all normative claims as necessarily tied to an idealist and reductive historical teleology. All these issues are related, of course, and it is in the context of a specifically marxist cultural criticism that the relations among them become clear, for these issues are central to any project of textual interpretation which also attempts to provide a unified account of the social and historical dimensions of texts. In this chapter I choose as my focus the one marxist cultural critic in the United States whose work represents both a systematic hermeneutical project and a theoretical concern with the claims of interpretation. Fredric Jameson's criticism covers a wide range of subjects and texts, from films and popular culture to literary "high" modernism, but central to his theoretical writings has been a concern with the poststructuralist challenge to traditional marxist hermeneutics. I proceed by examining Jameson's synthesis of key poststructuralist insights with marxist hermeneutics.1. After discussing why Jameson's defense of in-

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My main focus, then, is on Jameson, Marxism and Form ( Princeton: Princeton Uni

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