Skip to main content

Week 3 - Marxism

Tutor: Mila Milani - Tuesday 17 October, 3-5pm in H4.50

Required reading

1) Lenin's very brief description of the origins of Marxism in his Three Sources and Components of Marxism (1913), available in most collections of Lenin's works and here.

2) Marx's and Engels' Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), available in many different forms, including online here.

3) Terry Eagleton, Marxism and literary criticism (1976), in particular chapters 1 and 2 - available in the Library (or email tutor).

Questions for discussion

1. How should we define 'historical materialism'?

2. How useful is the 'base-superstructure' model?

3. How useful is the idea that class conflict is the 'motor of history'?

4. Should theory and practice be seen as inseparable?

5. How useful is Marxist thought for the analysis of literary and other cultural objects?

6. What is the relationship between literature and ideology?

7. Are there formal laws of literature which serve to distance it from the forms of the material world?

8. Is the primary function of criticism to describe, to explain, to interpret, or to evaluate?

9. To what extent is language separable from society, and is ideology separable from language?

10. To what extent has Marxism, itself a body of theory, been influenced by other modern intellectual currents such as psychoanalysis, existentialism, structuralism, and semiotics?