political unconscious

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A concept created by Fredric Jameson to articulate the implicit political dimension of creative works. First proposed in The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (1981), the political unconscious draws on and adapts Freud's notion of wish-fulfilment and Lévi-Strauss's notion of the savage mind (‘pensée sauvage’) to construct the hypothesis that artistic works can be seen as symbolic solutions to real but unconsciously felt social and cultural problems. The task of the cultural critic is then to find the means of reconstructing the original problem for which the text as symbolic act is a solution. This approach to textual criticism turns not so much on the question of what does a particular text mean as why it exists in the form that it does.

Further Reading:

I. Buchanan Fredric Jameson: Live Theory (2006).S. Homer Fredric Jameson (1998).C. Irr and I. Buchanan On Jameson (2006).F. Jameson Jameson on Jameson: Conversations on Cultural Marxism (2007).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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