Antonio Gramsci: Beyond Marxism and Postmodernism (Critics of the Twentieth Century)

Antonio Gramsci: Beyond Marxism and Postmodernism (Critics of the Twentieth Century)

Renate Holub

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0415075106

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book provides the first detailed account of Gramsci's work in the context of present-day critical and socio-cultural debate. Renate Holub argues that Gramsci was far ahead of his time in offering a theory of art, politics and cultural production which engages these issues at a high level of practical and theoretical concern. She takes stock of Gramsci's achievement with particular reference to the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin, Bloch, Habermas) and to Brecht's theoretical writings. She also discusses Gramsci's writing in relation to thinkers in the phenomenological tradition - especially Merleau-Ponty - an angle which has so far received little attention from Anglo-American commentators. She also has some strikingly original points to make about Gramsci's continuing relevance at a time of widespread retreat from Marxist positions among those on the postmodern left. "Differential pragmatics" - in Holub's suggestive phrase - is a theory of cultural production and critique derivable from Gramsci's writings with the benefit of other, more recent ideas, like Habermas's theory of communicative action and the insights of feminist criticism. This book should be of interest to undergraduates and academics; critical theory, political theory, sociology, cultural studies and Italian studies. This book should be of interest to students and teachers of critical theory, cultural studies and Italian studies.

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Paperback 1989), original German edn 1981. 31 See Mark Poster, The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1990). 32 My friend of many years, Ida Jeters, a critical information technology specialist, has instructed me on many occasions as to the democratic potential of information technology. I would like to thank her here for the many hours she has spent with me on these issues. 2 GRAMSCI, LUKÁCS AND MARXIST AESTHETICS 1 Antonio

production of actions or practices but also in their suppression. The symbolic production of practices and their suppression are not necessarily interlaced with the determinations of self-regulative systems. In his theory of communicative action, Habermas distinguishes between system and life-world. Each sphere produces, enables and delimits specific sets of action. Whereas the system produces and enables action contexts which resemble Lyotard’s assessment of self-regulated and integrated

and epistemological status quo, he is somewhat undecided when it comes to a final aesthetic verdict. In the case of the Chiarelli play, for instance, he is unconcerned by its metaphorics of stifling unalterabilities, its failure to propose alternatives to decadent social and moral structures. Its negation of bourgeois decadence and hypocrisy is apparently enough. Yet in many of his reviews of Pirandello, he critiques this contemporary Italian playwright for focusing on the socially

first, Gramsci looks at the molecular processes of hegemonic cultural practices, in particular the reading practices, of many social strata, which allows him to research the differences of cultural production; he then asks what these reading practices reveal in terms of inner drives and needs, what the cultural production responds to or satisfies; and finally he draws up a balance sheet as to what needs to be done for a counter-hegemonic culture. What Gramsci finds is an inordinate number of

aesthetic expectations. Now it is precisely when it comes to the reader, to the importance of the reception of a work of art as opposed to its production, that Lukács and Gramsci chiefly differ, and Gramsci and other modernists meet. Though Gramsci too expects the writer to show colours and take a stand in the world historical drama—Manzoni’s condescending attitude towards the powerless, the marginalized, the poor, the subaltern classes indubitably bespeaks his partiality for those in

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