The recent past has seen a shift away from more philosophically complex, theoretically dense approaches to literary criticism (psychoanalysis, deconstruction, phenomenology) in favor of more material or “empirical” (historiographical, historical materialist) approaches to interpretation—a shift away from the aesthetic and toward an ascetic model of reading. But this shift is in fact no shift at all, but merely the logical outcome of a historicist and materialist approach to meaning that has always been in thrall to scientific methodologies. Even structuralist and poststructural readings of texts show signs of this scientific longing for material meanings in the world, a longing that art itself, especially theater, has refused to sanction. We are living, it seems, in a postmaterial world, whose very impossibility suggests infinite possibilities of meaning.

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