Cultural Criticism, Postmodernism, and the Romanticism of Detail
This chapter criticizes cultural criticism in what can be called its high postmodernist forms: cultural anthropology, the New Cultural History, the New Historicism, the New Pragmatism, the new and/or post-Marxism, and, finally, that side of French theory—overlapping with post-Marxism—that may be labeled French pragmatism. These aggressively new forms of contextualism do not exhaust the field of postmodern cultural criticism, and a fuller study would need to include the different emphases of ethnic, gender, and area studies as well as of British cultural materialism. However, for now we can stay high. “High” distinguishes neither the theoretical from the practical, the high cultural from the populist, nor the neoconservative from the leftist. Rather, it indicates a shared mode of cultural engagement that undercuts all such polemics dividing the field to project an increasingly generic discourse of contextualism. This mode of engagement can be called detached immanence.
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