Dilemma one, Between the theoretical concepts and authorial intention -- Dilemma two, Good manners and eristic -- Dilemma three, Between strangeness and familiarity -- Dilemma four, Between scholarly research and faith.
Introduction: Fielding Derrida -- Jacques Derrida's early writings : alongside skepticism, phenomenology -- Analytic philosophy, and literary criticism -- Deconstruction as skepticism -- Derrida, Husserl, and the commentators : a developmental approach -- A transcendental sense of death : Derrida and the philosophy of language -- Literary theory's languages : the deconstruction of sense vs. the deconstruction of reference -- Jacques Derrida and the problem of philosophical and political modernity -- Jacob Klein and Jacques Derrida : the problem of (...) modernity -- Jacob Klein and Jacques Derrida : historicism and history in two interpretations of Husserl's late writings -- Derrida's contribution to phenomenology : a problem of no species -- Foretellese : futures of Derrida and Marx. (shrink)
Joseph P. Fell, Vincent Colapietro, and Michael J. McGandy, eds., The Task of Criticism: Essays on Philosophy, History, and Community , ; and Michael J. McGandy, The Active Life: Miller's Metaphysics of Democracy.
If any emergent historical criticism will tend by its own choice toward inclusiveness and eclecticism, it is also likely to be constrained by more subtle forms of complicity with the theoretical subculture within which it seeks its audience. It is not in principle impossible that we might choose to set going an initiative that is very different indeed from the methods and approaches already in place. But is nonetheless clear that we must be aware, in some propaedeutic way, of (...) the predispositions for or against such change that are latent in the horizons of the field as they are presently conceived and transmitted. An account of these predispositions will take up most of the following essay. Whether or not the particular texts I shall discuss constitute anything as firm as an establishment in the absolute sense does not matter much: they neither sum up the ongoing careers of their particular authors, in the diachronic sense, nor do they represent any simple totality in the critical culture of the late 1960s. All we need here is the weaker assumption: that these writings by Derrida, Paul de Man, Michel Foucault, and Pierre Macherey do offer, by virtue of their very notoriety, evidence of the priorities within the discipline that have afforded them their reputations in the first place. Thus, while they do not in themselves prohibit the emergence of alternatives, they do give us clues about the residual pressures that might constrain those alternatives, and they signal the questions that the historical party must respond to if it is to be recognized as making an important contribution to a debate. My argument will be that the influential critics of the late 1960s have made it very hard indeed to find a place for history, so much so that the avowedly Marxist alternative set forth by Jameson finds itself making disabling concessions to those very influences. I do not claim to describe the entire range of options and alternatives, and indeed offer no discussion of the most excitingly contested field of all, that represented by contemporary feminisms. I mean instead to demonstrate, through a reading of those methodologies that have become authoritative, that the status of historical inquiry has been so eroded that its reactive renaissance, in whatever form, threatens to remain merely gestural and generic. “History” promises thus to function as legitimating any reference to a context beyond literature exclusively conceived, whether it be one of discourse, biography, political or material circumstance. In particular, given the current popularity of discourse analysis, it seems likely that for many practitioners the historical method will remain founded in covertly idealist reconstructions. David Simpson is professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of various books and essays, most recently The Politics of American English, 1776-1850 and Wordsworth’s Historical Imagination: The Poetry of Displacement. (shrink)
Oscar Kenshur’s “Demystifying the Demystifiers: Metaphysical Snares of Ideological Criticism” should go a long way toward convincing most readers that the cure for “ideological” criticism is worse than the disease. His attempt to uncouple ideology and epistemology in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan and Michael Ryan’s Marxism and Deconstruction belongs to an increasingly popular subgenre of metacriticism, the “more-historical-than-thou” offensive against Marxists and new historicists for their alleged essentialist procedures.1 There is no question that Kenshur raises significant issues about the (...) nature of ideological analysis that should be debated. However, he has neither interrogated the basis of his own assumptions about seventeenth-century views of language theory and epistemology nor convincingly demonstrated, to my mind, that Ryan is somehow wrong in his reading of Hobbes. The weakness of Kenshur’s argument is that he seems intent on erecting the windmills at which he wants to tile—most damagingly for his argument a simplistic notion of ideology that he assumes both Hobbes and Ryan share. By accepting a deterministic notion of ideology, Kenshur offers a “corrective” to overzealous claims for the significance of ideological criticism that has the effect not of “sav[ing history] from its friends” but of returning it to the status of “background” or “context” that it had been for a previous generation of New Critics. The terms in which he casts his argument—epistemology and/or ideology—redefine “ideological criticism” in a polemical manner designed, it seems, to discourage anyone from wanting to practice it. His ultimate purpose is not simply to save “history” from the Ryans of the world but to inoculate his versions of literature and philosophy against the ideological virus. To respond fully to the various issues that Kenshur raises would require detailed analyses of seventeenth-century literary and political culture and of the institutionalization of twentieth-century criticism; simply to discuss the differences between Hobbes and Ryan on epistemology or ideology would require a full-length study of the various discourses in which and against which their works are situated. Given the limitations of a critical response, I shall confine my remarks to two suspect areas of Kenshur’s argument: his characterization of seventeenth-century notions of the relationships among language, epistemology, and ideology and his assumptions about the nature of claims currently made for ideological analysis. 1. See, for example, Edward Pechter, “The New Historicism and Its Discontents: Politicizing Renaissance Drama,” PMLA 102 : 292-303. Robert Markley teaches in the English department of the University of Washington and is editor of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation. He is the author of Two-Edg’d Weapons: Style and Ideology in the Comedies of Etherege, Wycherley, and Congreve and coauthor, with Kenneth J. Koespel, of Newton and the Failure of Messianic Science: A Postmodern Inquiry into the Discourses of Natural Philosophy. (shrink)
Benedetto Croce’s influence pervades Anglo-Saxon culture, but, ironically, before Giovanni Gullace heeded the call of his colleagues and provided this urgently needed translation of _La Poesia, _speakers of English had no access to Croce’s major work and final rendering of his esthetic theory.__ __ _Aesthetic, _published in 1902 and translated in 1909, represents most of what the English-speaking world knows about Croce’s theory. It is, asserts Gullace, “no more than a first sketch of a thought that developed, clarified, and corrected (...) itself through new literary experience and more mature reflection.” During the 34 years between _Aesthetic _and _La Poesia _, for example, Croce added a striking new element to his thought: the analysis of prose literature. Gullace’s introduction to _La Poesia _constitutes a major undertaking in its own right. It is aimed at acquainting the reader with the evolution of Croce’s thought and at explaining the relationship between this final work and the philosopher’s previous work in esthetic theory and literary criticism. __ _La Poesia _is divided into two parts, text and postscripts. The text consists of four chapters: Poetry and Literature; The Life of Poetry; Criticism and History of Poetry; and The Formation of the Poet and the Precepts. Croce saw the postscripts “as a relaxed conversation after the tension of theoretical exposition. In Gullace’s translation the text and relevant postscripts appear conveniently side by side in a double column. Gullace has annotated both text and postscripts. (shrink)
More than a century after Guido Adler's appointment to the first chair in musicology at the University of Vienna, Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History provides a first look at the discipline in this earliest period, and at the ideological dilemmas and methodological anxieties that characterized it upon its institutionalization. Author Kevin Karnes contends that some of the most vital questions surrounding musicology's disciplinary identities today-the relationship between musicology and criticism, the role of the subject in (...) analysis and the narration of history, and the responsibilities of the scholar to the listening public-originate in these conflicted and largely forgotten beginnings. Karnes lays bare the nature of music study in the late nineteenth century through insightful readings of long-overlooked contributions by three of musicology's foremost pioneers-Adler, Eduard Hanslick, and Heinrich Schenker. Shaped as much by the skeptical pronouncements of the likes of Nietzsche and Wagner as it was by progressivist ideologies of scientific positivism, the new discipline comprised an array of oft-contested and intensely personal visions of music study, its value, and its future. Karnes introduces readers to a Hanslick who rejected the call of positivist scholarship and dedicated himself to penning an avowedly subjective history of Viennese musical life. He argues that Schenker's analytical experiments had roots in a Wagner-inspired search for a critical alternative to Adler's style-obsessed scholarship. And he illuminates Adler's determined response to Nietzsche's warnings about the vitality of artistic and cultural life in an increasingly scientific age. Through sophisticated and meticulous presentation, Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History demonstrates that the new discipline of musicology was inextricably tied in with the cultural discourse of its time. (shrink)