What is the connection between the discourse of postcritique and the material conditions in which it has taken hold? How do privatization, the destruction of the university, and ecocide bend the trajectory of theory and critique in the present? In posing and exploring these questions, this essay endeavors to perform the traditional function of critique: inquiry into the relations around ideas, embedding ideas in their environments, in order to project alternative relations and environments more conducive to flourishing. I argue that theoretical habits of horizontalism and hypercomplexity have undermined the critical force of mapping environments and building the world up, and that critical theory abides at present in environmental activism rather than in ecocriticism.
Anna Kornbluh is Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space (2019), Marxist Film Theory and Fight Club (2019), and Realizing Capital: Financial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form (2014). Her current research concerns impersonality, objectivity, mediation, and abstraction as residual faculties of the literary in end times. She is the founding facilitator of two scholarly cooperatives: V21 Collective and InterCcECT.
Anna Kornbluh; Extinct Critique. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2020; 119 (4): 767–777. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8663675
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