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Michelle Spivak Logan Saltsman Jennifer Gordon Scott Patrick

Table of Contents Fredric Jameson

1. Biography Michelle Spivak

2. Historical Context Michelle Spivak

3. Historical Context Michelle Spivak

4. Key Terms/Ideas Logan Saltsman

5. Key Terms/Ideas Logan Saltsman

6. Works Cited Logan Saltsman

7. Socializing History Jennifer Gordon

8. Hacking the Political Climate Jennifer Gordon


Fredric Jameson is a Marxist literary critic who focuses on developing a

mediatory concept of uniting diverse cultural phenomena, therefore creating a model for analyzing texts. Jameson has published many texts including: Marxism and Form: Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature, The PrisonHouse of Language: A Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism, and many more works. Jameson has passed on his analytical ideas and perspectives through his teachings at prestigious universities such as Harvard and Yale. Currently, Jameson works at Duke University as a professor of Comparative Literature and the director of the Graduate Program in Literature and Theory.

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Historical Context

As a Marxist critic, Fredric Jameson’s literary perspectives derive from Karl Marx. Marx believed: “history is ‘determined’ by changes in the relationship of production and consumption, and consumption is often a product of rhetorical pressures imposed by hidden ideologies. These controlling ideologies create a ‘false consciousness’ full of illusions that should be destroyed. These illusions are created when words are not properly grounded in the social and productive condition” (Smith 268).

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The goal of Marx was to “demystify ideology and to provoke a dialectic that would force a new synthesis ending the false consciousness that prevents the advance of civilization (269). Jameson had a different goal. While Marx focused on bringing power to the lower class, Jameson focused on a sense of unity.

Jameson’s goal was to create a structured model that provides critics with a standard for analysis of cultural texts while obtaining a working system that demonstrates all ideas coming together. He did so by started with comparing modernism to postmodernism turning a generally negative perspective of modernism to a positive outlook. Throughout his works, he develops his own neo-Marxist theoretical position. Fredric Jameson continues to use postmodernism to “transform the historical past.” Spivak 3

Key Terms

Post Modernism- “a new and distinct historical age in the development of western civilization” Defined as a way of dealing with traditional ideas and practices in a non-traditional way that deviates from pre-established modes. Jameson interpreted (from a dialectical point of view) post modernism by using the Marxian theory of capitalism. “Within his analysis, Jameson situates post modern culture in the framework of a theory of stages of society—based on a neo- Marxian model—argues that post modernism is part of a new stage of capitalism” (Kellner). He believes that modern societies have gone through steps of change during the “epoch of capitalism” On Post Modernism... “I found it useful to explore the idea that modernism was a response to a modernization in the last ... it was a response to modernization which was incomplete, and in which the modernized enclaves and forces themselves were still working against a background of older class situations, older forms of agriculture, and in some parts of Europe even older aristocratic strata.” Saltsman 4

More Key Terms

Marxism- “An explanation of social change in terms of economic factors according to the means of production provide the economic base which influences or determines the political and ideological superstructure. Karl Marx predicted the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism by the proletariate and the eventual attainment of a classless communist society.” Jameson first discovered Marxism when he was writing his first book: Sartre: the Origin of Style Neo-Marxism- “Using a Marxist approach to seek, accomodate, or confront modern issues. It de-emphasizes the notion of historical materialism.”

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Key Terms Works Cited Best, Steven, and Kellner, Douglas (1991) _Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations_. London and New York: MacMillan and Guilford Press. “Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years.” Home : Oxford English Dictionary. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <> Jameson, Fredric. “Marxism and the Historicity of Theory: An Interview with Fredric Jameson.” John Hopkins University Press. Interview by Xudong Zhang. 1998. New Literary History. Print. <>. Leitch, Vincent. “Post Modern Culture: The Ambivalence of Fredric Jameson Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism by Fredric Jameson.” College Literature 19.2 (1992): 111-122. JSTOR. Web. 4 Apr 2012. <>. “Presidential Lectures: Fredric Jameson: Interviews.” Welcome! Stanford Presidential Lectures and Symposia. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.

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“Socializing History”

Frederic Jameson’s major contribution to rhetoric centered amongst the influence of social and political change. Jameson further developed Burke’s work by writing about how rhetoric is influenced by cultural history and ideological change (Gale 1994). Addressing rhetoric indirectly, in “The Political Unconscious: Narrative and a Socially Symbolic Act,” Frederic encourages the audience to “always historize,”and that texts are “social functions” and “political responses” to the social and material circumstances of people in a particular time and place. Though his writings, Jameson has encouraged readers and writers to take history and social functions into context when analyzing and writing text. Jameson’s emphasis on history and social functions has left a lasting impression on how rhetoricians analyze text in the context of why and how a text influences the audience.

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“Hacking the Political Climate” Like a computer hacker, who finds ways around road blocks in computers, Frederic Jameson hacked the political climate by creating rhetoric to circumvent the rhetoric of those who opposed his theory. Frederic Jameson’s work in politics and economics is attributed to his lasting influence on rhetoric as a whole. When explaining and developing his own political and economic theories, Jameson focuses on how the free reign of capitalism is detrimental to the economy because of social development. As the needs of people change and the population increases, so does government’s role in increasing control of capitalism. This view of political and economic theory is directly related to his influence on rhetoric because as the needs of people change, and the role of government is contemplated, so does text as a whole. Not only does this change the perspective of modern political rhetoric, but it also explains the use of rhetoric throughout history.

References: Jameson, Frederic. The Political Unconscious: Narrative and a Socially Symbolic Act.

Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1981

Gale, Frederic. Political Literacy: Rhetoric, Ideology, and the Possibility of Justice.

Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994

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Fredric Jameson  

rhetoric project