In Marxist literary criticism—for example, as represented by Fredric Jame-son’s influential study, The Political Unconscious—the interpretation of texts has frequently involved ideology critique, by which the critic attempts to disclose both the ideological content or structural limitations of a given text while also being attuned to the text’s utopian or revolutionary potential. In recent decades, Marxist criticism in particular and what is taken to be the hermeneutics of suspicion more generally have come under attack by literary scholars who favor various forms of postcritique, including surface reading and thin description. This essay suggests that postcritique, and all that it involves, contributes to the radical dismantling of higher education caused by rampant neoliberalism. The vocation of ideology critique and of Marxist criticism is, this essay contends, the most appropriate response to a society so utterly mystified as our own.
Robert T. Tally Jr. is the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities and Professor of English at Texas State University. He is the author of numerous books, including Topophrenia: Place, Narrative, and the Spatial Imagination (2019), Fredric Jameson: The Project of Dialectical Criticism (2014), Poe and the Subversion of American Literature (2014), Utopia in the Age of Globalization (2013), and Spatiality (2013). His edited collections include The Routledge Handbook of Literature and Space (2017), The Geocritical Legacies of Edward W. Said (2015), Literary Cartographies (2014), Geocritical Explorations (2011). Tally is also the editor of “Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies,” a Palgrave Macmillan book series.
Robert T. Tally; Boundless Mystification. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2020; 119 (4): 779–788. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8663687
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