In his introduction, Eldridge begins interestingly with reflections on how the representations we make of the world (and ourselves) are themselves products of our interests; he debates the rival merits of naturalism (that our interests are biologically given), linguistic idealism, and cultural materialism
before moving on to the usual editorial task of summarizing the ensuing papers.
While this characterization might be true for some post-structuralist theorists, it ignores the best aspects of Marxism, feminism, and cultural materialism
. In his contribution, A.
The project of cultural materialism
is to examine the political implications of cultural artifacts, particularly their subversive potential.
For the new literary historicism generally see Stephen Greenblatt's "Introduction," in his edited The Forms of Power and the Power of Forms in the Renaissance (Norman, OK, 1982); Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism
(Manchester, Eng, 1985); Jonathan Goldberg, "The Politics of Renaissance Literature: A Review Essay," ELH 49 (1982): 514-42; Louis A.
At a time when new historicism is sometimes ahistoricism, when cultural materialism
is often unrelated to literary analysis, what a splendid book this is to have.
His work therefore makes an interesting comparison with that of the British critics self-identified as "cultural materialists." According to Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, two of its leading exponents, "Cultural materialism
As in his previous work he aligns himself with the tradition of cultural materialism
and the larger Marxian tradition it exemplifies.
Among these advantages, the study highlights the possibility of researching these relationships in different levels of analysis, not only at the individual level, focusing on cultural level, this paper presents Cultural Materialism
as an anthropological proposal for the consideration of these phenomena on the cultural level and based on adaptive principles, besides it discusses the experimental analysis of cultural practices and points out how they can help to understand how people in groups behave such as they are being effective in the control of the surrounding environment (when, sometimes, in fact, they are not).
I was left with a similar thought upon reading two of Sinfield's recent books, Cultural Politics--Queer Reading and Shakespeare, Authority, Sexuality: Unfinished Business in Cultural Materialism
. Despite the pronounced radicalism that one expects from cultural materialism
, the central claims of these two books confirm what left-leaning readers already tend to accept.
The analysis is informed by cultural studies, cultural materialism
, and new historicism and also considers the context of class negotiations at the time, and the influence of Drury Lane manager David Garrick and Thomas Sheridan, the playwright's father.
The point, the obvious point, is that this collection is underpinned by the fantasy that there is, somewhere, a neutral, disinterested, "scholarly" criticism which can stand against the personally and politically motivated horrors of cultural materialism
and modern "theory." It just isn't so, and one might feel that this collection amply demonstrates that the extra-literary investments of critics inevitably--and to my mind perfectly properly--condition and color their work.
These stem not so much from her misprisions of Saussure, New Historicism, Cultural Materialism
, and the like as from an ultimate homogenization of the radical incongruities constituting these necessarily incoherent positions.