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Fredric Jameson, in The Political Unconscious, opposes the view that literary creation can take place in isolation from its political context. He asserts the priority of the political interpretation of literary texts, claiming it to be at the center of all reading and understanding, not just a supplement or auxiliary to other methods current today. Jameson supports his thesis by looking closely at the nature of interpretation. Our understanding, he says, is colored by the concepts and categories that we inherit from our culture's interpretive tradition and that we use to comprehend what we read. How then can the literature of other ages be understood by readers from a present that is culturally so different from the past? Marxism lies at the foundation of Jameson's answer, because it conceives of history as a single collective narrative that links past and present; Marxist literary criticism reveals the unity of that uninterrupted narrative. Jameson applies his interpretive theory to nineteenth- and twentieth-century texts, including the works of Balzac, Gissing, and Conrad. Throughout, he considers other interpretive approaches to the works he discusses, assessing the importance and limitations of methods as different as Lacanian psychoanalysis, semiotics, dialectical analysis, and allegorical readings. The book as a whole raises directly issues that have been only implicit in Jameson's earlier work, namely the relationship between dialectics and structuralism, and the tension between the German and the French aesthetic traditions.
Political philosopher Noëlle McAfee proposes a powerful new political theory for our post-9/11 world, in which an old pathology-the repetition compulsion-has manifested itself in a seemingly endless war on terror. McAfee argues that the quintessentially human desire to participate in a world with others is the key to understanding the public sphere and to creating a more democratic society, a world that all members can have a hand in shaping. But when some are effectively denied this participation, whether through trauma or terror, instead of democratic politics, there arises a political unconscious, an effect of desires unarticulated, failures to sublimate, voices kept silent, and repression reenacted. Not only is this condition undemocratic and unjust, it may lead to further trauma. Unless its troubles are worked through, a political community risks continual repetition and even self-destruction. McAfee deftly weaves together her experience as an observer of democratic life with an array of intellectual schemas, from poststructural psychoanalysis to Rawlsian and Habermasian democratic theories, as well as semiotics, civic republicanism, and American pragmatism. She begins with an analysis of the traumatic effects of silencing members of a political community. Then she explores the potential of deliberative dialogue and other "talking cures" and public testimonies, such as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to help societies work through, rather than continually act out, their conflicts. Democracy and the Political Unconscious is rich in theoretical insights, but it is also grounded in the practical problems of those who are trying to process the traumas of oppression, terror, and brutality and create more decent and democratic societies. Drawing on a breathtaking range of theoretical frameworks and empirical observations, Democracy and the Political Unconscious charts a course for democratic transformation in a world sorely lacking in democratic practice.
Thirty years have passed since eminent cultural and literary critic Fredric Jameson wrote his classic work, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act, in which he insisted that 'there is nothing that is not social and historical - indeed, that everything is "in the last analysis" political'. Bringing together a team of leading scholars including Slavoj Zizek, Joan Ockman, Jane Rendell, and Kojin Karatani, this book critically examines the important contribution made by Jameson to the radical critique of architecture over this period, highlighting its continued importance to contemporary architecture discourse. Jameson's notion of the 'political unconscious' represents one of the most powerful notions in the link between aesthetics and politics in contemporary discourse. Taking this, along with other key concepts from Jameson, as the basis for its chapters, this anthology asks questions such as: Is architecture a place to stage 'class struggle'?, How can architecture act against the conditions that 'affirmatively' produce it? What does 'the critical', and 'the negative', mean in the discourse of architecture? and, How do we prevent architecture from participating in the reproduction of the cultural logic of late capitalism? This book breaks new ground in architectural criticism and offers insights into the interrelationships between politics, culture, space, and architecture and, in doing so, it acts as a counter-balast to the current trend in architectural research where a general aestheticization dominates the discourse.
This work examines the social and historical contexts of the influential stories: The Wood Beyond the World; The Lord of the Rings; and The Mists of Avalon. It argues that all stories are the product of their historical, political, and cultural moments, and in seeking to prove this conviction the author provides such a context for fantasy itself, situating its roots in the medieval romance form and tracing the form's development. The book provides a revisionary examination of modern fantasy that demonstrates the genre's ongoing political and social relevance even (or especially) in the face of contemporary Western culture's technological reality.
First published in 2005. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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