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Cultural Materialism: Theory and Practice Paperback – November 15, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0631185338 ISBN-10: 063118533X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (November 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 063118533X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631185338
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,727,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wilson focuses each of the three large parts of this book on one of three philosophical areas central to cultural materialism: value, history, and community. He provides excellent theoretical accounts of these areas. However, what makes this book more than an introduction is the author's decision to make each of these three abstract discussions a preface to textual analysis (chiefly of texts by Shakespeare, Middleton and Rowley, and Wilde). Through his textual analysis, he concretely demonstrates many of the strengths and weaknesses of cultural materialism and also suggests the power of his own brand of cultural materialism, which is deeply infused by Foucault, Benjamin, Lacan and Bataille. The book thereby becomes, elegantly, not only a brilliant account of cultural materialism but also a major contribution to its future." (I) Choice (D)

From the Back Cover

In recent years the left has transformed traditional approaches toliterature and culture. Critical movements such as CulturalMaterialism and New Historicism have succeeded to the point wherethey now constitute the new academic order.

Scott Wilson explains and demonstrates the power of these modesof critical enquiry and explores their limitations. His bookprovides a forceful critical engagement with major figures in thefield - Francis Barker, Catherine Belsey, Jonathan Dollimore, TerryEagleton, Jonathan Goldberg, Stephen Greenblatt, Alan Sinfield -whose work represents a broad spectrum of positions from Marxism,which privileges class, to a radical criticism emphasising thepolitics of difference.

Cultural Materialism problematizes a number offundamental Marxist assumptions with recourse to the theories ofGeorges Bataille. The author also shows how cultural materialism isapplied in practice through readings of key Renaissance texts by,among others, Shakespeare and Spenser, and later work by Dollimoreand Sinfield on queer theory, particularly with regard to OscarWilde.


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on May 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Scott Wilson is really weaving together three narratives and three sets of interests here. First, he is interested in telling the story of the rapid rise of Cultural Materialism (known in the US as New Historicism)in the 1980's & 1990's; secondly, he is telling the story of how dominant this new discipline has become in his own field of interest, Shakespeare Studies; and thirdly, he is telling the story of how politicized literary study has become as a result of cultural materialism's success.

Rise of the Discipline:

The seminal figure in the rise of cultural materialism is Raymond Williams, especially the Raymond Williams that was influenced by Althusser's views on the "materiality" of ideology. In fact cultural materialism is an offshoot, or another stage in the ongoing evolution of, cultural studies.
I think one could argue that there is very little difference between Cultural Studies and Cultural Materialism--both are New Left projects interested in the liberatory politics of dissident groups and so the research agendas of both schools are informed by a desire to effect change in society by effecting a change in the way we (scholars, students, citizens) practice culture. One key difference is that while Cultural Studies is informed by a marxist focus on class; Cultural Materialism is a postmarxist discipline that theorizes culture from a number of alternative positions and perspepctives.

The fact that universities are "liberal" is nothing new but the politicizing/radicalizing of the university by the many-tiered front of the New Left has provoked outrage from neo-conservatives who believe the cultural heritage of the west should not be turned into an ideological battleground.
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