By Eve Tavor Bannet
The realm of literary concept and feedback is once more at a crossroads. whereas a lot of the academy has been soaking up and institutionalizing that risky mix of poststructuralism, deconstruction, political critique and materialist historicism that's referred to as cultural conception, a few humans were operating up substitute theories. This publication is set a few of these much less frequent postcultural theories, and concerning the ways that they problem present pondering and open different, optimistic and confident, chances for suggestion and study within the Nineties.
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In its utopian mode, the paradigm loses this claim to truth, while retaining the a priori marking of all past self-representations and all past discourses about the past as false consciousness. In these circumstances, 'true' reconstruction of any kind obviously becomes impossible. All discourses, whether in the past or about it, become equally inadequate as representations of what 'really' occurred; they become equally fictional. But they do so by virtue of the paradigm in use, and as a judgement by its operatives of what that paradigm can yield in the way of 'real' knowledge of the past.
But Febvre knew that 'man' was lost: 'For history' he wrote, 'man does not exist, only men' (1977: 2). And Febvre knew that all passably stable, transhistorical categories and truths were lost. Historians, he wrote, must 'realize . . that the "universe" is no more absolute than the "spirit" or the "individual" but that it is constantly being transformed through the inventions and civilizations produced by human groups' (1973: 10). Both man and his world lost anything that might be considered proper to them.
But he achieved these successes at a further, and this time lethal, cost to the protean subject. His very success in explaining both the existence of plural and decentered subjects and their resistance as effects of social fashioning led him to a reaffirmation of the marxist paradigm in its most extreme and deterministic form. This is all the more noteworthy because Greenblatt is anything but a marxist. To put the plural and decentered subject back into the Renaissance, Greenblatt modified Foucault's view of history as a series of cultural hegemonies by borrowing Althusser's notion of overdetermination.