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Marxist Literary Criticism Today

Marxist Literary Criticism Today

by Barbara Foley

A compelling and accessible textbook, by a pre-eminent Marxist literary critic.

*Winner of the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book Prize, 2019*

*Shortlisted for the Isaac Deutscher Prize 2019*

Why Marxism? Why today? In the first introduction to Marxist literary criticism to be published in decades, Barbara Foley argues that Marxism continues to offer the best framework for exploring the relationship between literature and society.

She lays out in clear terms the principal aspects of Marxist methodology - historical materialism, political economy and ideology critique - as well as key debates, among Marxists and non-Marxists alike, about the nature of literature and the goals of literary criticism and pedagogy.

Foley examines through the empowering lens of Marxism a wide range of texts: from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to E. L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey; from Frederick Douglass's 'What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?' to Annie Proulx's 'Brokeback Mountain'; from W.B. Yeats's 'The Second Coming' to Claude McKay's 'If We Must Die'.

Barbara Foley is Distinguished Professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark. She has published widely in the fields of Marxist criticism, US literary radicalism, and African American literature. Her books include Marxist Literary Criticism Today (Pluto, 2019), Wrestling with the Left: The Making of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (Duke University Press, 2010) and Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro (University of Illinois Press, 2003).

'Invigorating and lucid - a fine introduction to Marxism in general and to Marxist literary criticism. Foley has done a superb job writing a book that is useful both for novices and for teachers who wish to show how literature is inescapably connected to the material world'

- Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of 'The Sympathizer'

'Widely surveying contemporary critical theory and practice, Barbara Foley's magisterial book demonstrates the crucial significance of Marxism to our historical moment, and it will be a valuable resource for students, critics, and activists for years to come'

- Robert T. Tally Jr., Texas State University

'Foley deftly sketches the lineaments of traditional Marxism, then some main interests of traditional criticism, and then shows in readings of literary texts what depth of insight comes from conjoining the two traditions. I warmly recommend this book especially for those who want to change the world as well as interpret it'

- Richard Ohmann, Wesleyan University

'This is a book many have longed for. Readers of literature will find Foley's lucid exposition of Marxist criticism an invaluable guide.'

- Rosemary Hennessy, Rice University

Acknowledgements
Prologue
PART I: MARXISM
1. Historical Materialism
Materialism
Production
Dialectics
Class
Base and Superstructure
Relative Autonomy
Mediation
Levels of Generality
2. Political Economy
Commodities
Commodity Fetishism
Labor Power and Exploitation
Surplus Value
Alienation
Capital
3. Ideology
Three Definitions of Ideology in Marx
Dominant Ideology
Relative Autonomy and Mediation Revisited
Ideology as Smorgasbord
Reification
Interpellation
Hegemony and Alternative Hegemony
PART II: LITERATURE
4. Literature and Literary Criticism
Defining Literature
Fictionality
Density
Depth
Concreteness and Particularity
Showing Not Telling
Defamiliarization
Universality
Empathy
Individuality
Group Identity
Formal Unity
Autonomy
Beauty
Greatness
5. Marxist Literary Criticism
Rhetoric and Interpellation
Ideology Critique
Symptomatic Reading
Humanism
Realism
Proletarian Literature and Alternative Hegemony
6. Marxist Pedagogy
Alienation
Rebellion
Nation
War
Money
Race and Racism
Gender and Sexuality
Nature
Mortality
Art
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Published by Pluto Press in Feb 2019
Paperback ISBN: 9780745338835
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745338842
eBook ISBN: 9781786804129

288 pages

150mm x 203mm