Sunday, July 10, 2011

question about critical theory....

       I find myself in the fairly good position of having my first formal academic publication out today.  Admittedly, it's limited to a short review of a recent book of literary criticism on contemporary science fiction, but I'm still excited.  For those who have access to academic servers, the review is contained in the latest edition of Postmodern Culture.  Another aside, it's nice to be back in Minneapolis, even if briefly, particularly when you can order a mock duck pizza at midnight.

      I've been thinking about academic writing, or perhaps more specifically, about the academic writing produced within the context of critical theory.  Most of the contemporary material that has been produced in the past couple years has struck me as remarkably unimpressive.  I am particularly  uninterested in the work produced by perhaps the most popular academic leftist thinkers, Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou.  Zizek strikes me as neither a radical nor a rigorous thinker, and has always seemed like a bit of a charlatan.  Badiou, on the other hand, doesn't slip into Zizek's obvious faults.  At the same time, his work strikes me as an abandonment of the historical materialist tradition, in its commitment to philosophical idealism and the strange reversion to an obsession with universalism.  Aside from those two figures, there is a larger tendency to refuse the overdetermination of the historical materialist tradition, returning to modes of expressivist causality.  Although it hasn't worked before, I would be curious if there are any contemporary theorists working within the broad historical materialist tradition that are worth exploring.  I'm looking for material that is more contemporary than the material from the 1970's and 1980's that I have been reading.  Please make some suggestions, and also bring up blog suggestions as well....


  1. Congratulations on the publication!

  2. first, where is the mock duck pizza? second, yay, publication! and finally, but i will continue to think and would be interested in your findings--have you read anything by micheal sprinker? he was mentioned to me recently... finally, there is a woman i met at a conference at the U last October, named Rachel Greenwald Smith, who will have something out in Mediations next issue, who I really liked in person (in her talk) and also in other writings. What are your feelings about Peter Hitchcock?

  3. You can get it at Pizza Luce. I'll take a look at your suggestions. I met Hitchcock when he applied for the position that Abbas eventually got, but I never read any of his work. I certainly am interested in Bakhtin, which seems to be a major influence.