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Local TranscendenceEssays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database$
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Alan Liu

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226486956

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226486970.001.0001

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Trying Cultural Criticism

Trying Cultural Criticism

Wordsworth and Subversion

(p.71) 2 Trying Cultural Criticism
Local Transcendence

Alan Liu

University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers two concurrent investigations, the first of which is a reexplanation, by means of the subversion/containment analytic, of William Wordsworth's turn from radicalism in the aftermath of the 1789 Revolution. The second is an examination of the revolution manqué expressed in the subversion/containment analytic itself, specifically as spoken by cultural criticism in its American New Historicist or Representations inflection. In an age when absolute knowledge and/or dialectical materialism has become the “interpretation of cultures,” with its exclusive attention to symbol, display, and representation, the dynamics of lordship/bondage is itself bound. It is “décor, gadget culturel” contained within a room of larger interpretive possibilities. The chapter's thesis is this: if there is a cultural fallacy, pace the New Critical biographical fallacy, it lies in the constrictive interpretation of social representations empowered by the notion of the subject.

Keywords:   subversion, William Wordsworth, radicalism, 1789 Revolution, revolution manqué, cultural criticism, Representations, dialectical materialism, cultural fallacy

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