Fredric Jameson born April 14, is an American literary critic , philosopher and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends, particularly his analysis of postmodernity and capitalism.
Jameson was born in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating in from Haverford College , where his professors included Wayne Booth ,  he briefly traveled to Europe, studying at Aix-en-Provence , Munich , and Berlin , where he learned of new developments in continental philosophy , including the rise of structuralism.
He returned to America the following year to pursue a doctoral degree at Yale University , where he studied under Erich Auerbach. Auerbach would prove to be a lasting influence on Jameson's thought. This was already apparent in Jameson's doctoral dissertation , published in as Sartre: the Origins of a Style.
Auerbach's concerns were rooted in the German philological tradition; his works on the history of style analyzed literary form within social history. Jameson would follow in these steps, examining the articulation of poetry , history , philology , and philosophy in the works of Jean-Paul Sartre. Jameson's work focused on the relation between the style of Sartre's writings and the political and ethical positions of his existentialist philosophy.
The occasional Marxian aspects of Sartre's work were glossed over in this book; Jameson would return to them in the following decade. Jameson's dissertation, though it drew on a long tradition of European cultural analysis, differed markedly from the prevailing trends of Anglo-American academia which were empiricism and logical positivism in philosophy and linguistics , and New Critical formalism in literary criticism. It nevertheless earned Jameson a position at Harvard University , where he taught during the first half of the s.
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His interest in Sartre led Jameson to intense study of Marxist literary theory. Even though Karl Marx was becoming an important influence in American social science , partly through the influence of the many European intellectuals who had sought refuge from the Second World War in the United States, such as Theodor Adorno , the literary and critical work of the Western Marxists was still largely unknown in American academia in the late s and early s.
Jameson's shift toward Marxism was also driven by his increasing political connection with the New Left and pacifist movements, as well as by the Cuban Revolution , which Jameson took as a sign that "Marxism was alive and well as a collective movement and a culturally productive force".
This position represented a break with more orthodox Marxism-Leninism , which held a narrow view of historical materialism. While the Orthodox Marxist view of ideology held that the cultural " superstructure " was completely determined by the economic "base" , the Western Marxists critically analyzed culture as a historical and social phenomenon alongside economic production and distribution or political power relationships.
They held that culture must be studied using the Hegelian concept of immanent critique : the theory that adequate description and criticism of a philosophical or cultural text must be carried out in the same terms that text itself employs, in order to develop its internal inconsistencies in a manner that allows intellectual advancement. Marx highlighted immanent critique in his early writings, derived from Hegel's development of a new form of dialectical thinking that would attempt, as Jameson comments, "to lift itself mightily up by its own bootstraps".
History came to play an increasingly central role in Jameson's interpretation of both the reading consumption and writing production of literary texts. Jameson marked his full-fledged commitment to Hegelian-Marxist philosophy with the publication of The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act, the opening slogan of which is "always historicize" The Political Unconscious takes as its object not the literary text itself, but rather the interpretive frameworks by which it is now constructed.
It emerges as a manifesto for new activity concerning literary narrative.
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The book's argument emphasized history as the "ultimate horizon" of literary and cultural analysis. It borrowed notions from the structuralist tradition and from Raymond Williams 's work in cultural studies , and joined them to a largely Marxist view of labor whether blue-collar or intellectual as the focal point of analysis.
Jameson's readings exploited both the explicit formal and thematic choices of the writer and the unconscious framework guiding these. Artistic choices that were ordinarily viewed in purely aesthetic terms were recast in terms of historical literary practices and norms, in an attempt to develop a systematic inventory of the constraints they imposed on the artist as an individual creative subject.
To further this meta-commentary, Jameson described the ideologeme , or "the smallest intelligible unit of the essentially antagonistic collective discourses of social classes", the smallest legible residue of the real-life, ongoing struggles occurring between social classes. Kristeva defined it as "the intersection of a given textual arrangement Jameson's establishment of history as the only pertinent factor in this analysis, which derived the categories governing artistic production from their historical framework, was paired with a bold theoretical claim.
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His book claimed to establish Marxian literary criticism, centered in the notion of an artistic mode of production , as the most all-inclusive and comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding literature.
Leitch, the publication of The Political Unconscious "rendered Jameson the leading Marxist literary critic in America. This controversial article, which Jameson later expanded into a book, was part of a series of analyses of postmodernism from the dialectical perspective Jameson had developed in his earlier work on narrative.
Jameson viewed the postmodern "skepticism towards metanarratives " as a "mode of experience" stemming from the conditions of intellectual labor imposed by the late capitalist mode of production.
Postmodernists claimed that the complex differentiation between "spheres" or fields of life such as the political, the social, the cultural, the commercial , and between distinct social classes and roles within each field, had been overcome by the crisis of foundationalism and the consequent relativization of truth-claims. Jameson argued against this, asserting that these phenomena had or could have been understood successfully within a modernist framework; the postmodern failure to achieve this understanding implied an abrupt break in the dialectical refinement of thought.
In his view, postmodernity's merging of all discourse into an undifferentiated whole was the result of the colonization of the cultural sphere, which had retained at least partial autonomy during the prior modernist era, by a newly organized corporate capitalism. Following Adorno and Horkheimer 's analysis of the culture industry , Jameson discussed this phenomenon in his critical discussion of architecture , film , narrative, and visual arts , as well as in his strictly philosophical work.
Two of Jameson's best-known claims from Postmodernism are that postmodernity is characterized by pastiche and a crisis in historicity. Jameson argued that parody which implies a moral judgment or a comparison with societal norms was replaced by pastiche collage and other forms of juxtaposition without a normative grounding.
Relatedly, Jameson argued that the postmodern era suffers from a crisis in historicity: "there no longer does seem to be any organic relationship between the American history we learn from schoolbooks and the lived experience of the current, multinational, high-rise, stagflated city of the newspapers and of our own everyday life".
Jameson's analysis of postmodernism attempted to view it as historically grounded; he therefore explicitly rejected any moralistic opposition to postmodernity as a cultural phenomenon, and continued to insist upon a Hegelian immanent critique that would "think the cultural evolution of late capitalism dialectically, as catastrophe and progress all together".
Jameson's later writings include Archaeologies of the Future , a study of utopia and science fiction , launched at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, in December , and The Modernist Papers , a collection of essays on modernism that is meant to accompany the theoretical A Singular Modernity as a "source-book". These books, along with Postmodernism and The Antinomies of Realism ,  form part of an ongoing study entitled The Poetics of Social Forms , which attempts, in Sara Danius 's words, to "provide a general history of aesthetic forms, at the same time seeking to show how this history can be read in tandem with a history of social and economic formations".
In , Jameson was awarded the annual Holberg International Memorial Prize in recognition of his career-long research "on the relation between social formations and cultural forms". Jameson has had influence, on the theorization of the postmodern in China. In mid, shortly after the beginning of the cultural fever early to June Fourth, —a period in Chinese intellectual history characterized in part by intense interest in Western critical theory , literary theory , and related disciplines  —Jameson discussed the idea of postmodernism in China in lectures at Peking University and the newly founded Shenzhen University.
Although the Chinese intelligentsia's engagement with postmodernism would not begin in earnest until the nineties, Postmodernism and Cultural Theories was to become a keystone text in that engagement; as scholar Wang Ning writes, its influence on Chinese thinkers would be impossible to overestimate.
The caustic edge of Jameson's theory, which had described postmodernism as "the cultural logic of late capitalism," was abandoned for a contented or even enthusiastic endorsement of mass culture, which [a certain group of Chinese critics] saw as a new space of popular freedom.
According to these critics, intellectuals, who conceived of themselves as the bearers of modernity, were reacting with shock and anxiety at their loss of control with the arrival of postmodern consumer society, uttering cries of "quixotic hysteria," panic-stricken by the realization of what they had once called for during the eighties. The debate fueled by Jameson, and specifically Postmodernism and Cultural Theories , over postmodernism was at its most intense from to , carried on by Chinese intellectuals both inside and outside the mainland; particularly important contributions came from Zhao Yiheng in London, Xu Ben in the United States, and Zhang Xudong, also in the United States, who had gone on to study under Jameson as a doctoral student at Duke.
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Ithaca: Cornell University Press, , pp. Retrieved 2 October Hardt and Weeks, Oxford: Blackwell, , p.
Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
Archived from the original on Retrieved Leon S. New York: Columbia UP, Jameson awarded Holberg Prize ".
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Duke University Press. Arif Dirlik and Xudong Zhang. Durham: Duke University Press, Previously published, in an earlier version, as Hui, Wang November—December New Left Review.
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