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Questions for Weekly Discussions about Tyson's Critical Theory Today (Week 2)  

2018-01-23 11:41:44|  分类: +文论 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-friendly Guide. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006. (洛伊丝·泰森:《当代批评理论实用指南》(第二版),赵国新等译。北京:外研社,2014)

Week 2: Marxism

1. What is more important, the use value of a commodity or its sign-exchange value?

2. How do we understand the role ideology plays in literary criticism and in everyday life?

3. What is the difference between irony and deconstruction? (Detailed discussions about deconstruction in Weeks 5 and 6)

4. The following passages in Tyson may help us understand her reading of deconstruction in her chapters on Marxism and feminism:

Or you may notice that, by revealing the ways in which a literary work covertly reinforces the capitalist values it criticizes, a Marxist critic is engaged in a deconstructive enterprise. Indeed, many Marxist critics are, among other things, feminists, deconstructors, social psychologists, and cultural anthropologists. In every case, however, you will see that concepts overlapping with or borrowed from other fields are put in service of Marxist goals. (65)

And deconstruction can be used to find the ways in which a literary work covertly reinforces the patriarchal ideology it criticizes, which some feminist literary critics were doing in America before the theory of deconstruction reached American shores.

Deconstruction, which is discussed in chapter 8, helps us see, among other things, when our thinking is based on false oppositions, that is, on the belief that two ideas, qualities, or categories are polar opposites—for example, love/hate or good/evil—when, in fact, they are not. So deconstruction is also useful to feminists in helping us see the ways in which patriarchal ideology is often based on false oppositions. For instance, in refuting the sexist belief that men are naturally rational while women are naturally emotional, a feminist might do more than argue, for example, that women have been programmed to be more emotional or that both categories apply equally to both genders. Using deconstructive principles, she might argue that we are mistaken to separate the rational and the emotional into such diametrically opposed categories. Aren’t our rational reasons for subscribing to a particular philosophical view or theoretical framework based, consciously or unconsciously, on how that viewpoint or framework makes us feel? Don’t the rational and the emotional, properly understood, often work in tandem in our lives? (94)

5.   How would you evaluate Tyson’s Marxist argument about The Great Gatsby in the chapter? See the following passages. (For later use: Is it a deconstructive reading?)

The following Marxist reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is offered as an example of what a Marxist interpretation of that novel might yield. It focuses on what I will argue is the novel’s critique of American capitalist ideology. In addition, I will try to show the ways in which the novel fails to push its critique far enough, becoming the unwitting prey of the capitalist ideology it attacks. (68)

The Great Gatsby, however, does not celebrate the heady capitalist culture it portrays but, as a Marxist interpretation of the novel makes especially clear, reveals its dark underbelly instead. Through its unflattering characterization of those at the top of the economic heap and its trenchant examination of the ways in which the American dream not only fails to fulfill its promise but also contributes to the decay of personal values, Fitzgerald’s novel stands as a scathing critique of American capitalist culture and the ideology that promotes it. In addition, we will see how a Marxist perspective shows us the ways in which the novel fails to push its critique of capitalism far enough, falling an unwitting prey to the very ideology it tries to undermine. (69)

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