Entries tagged with Marxism

Barrett Watten, “The Poet/Critic:
Transvaluations of Value after Modernism”
MSA, 20 November 2015

I continue my discussion of the poetics of value in modernism (Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams) in taking up political economy and poetics as twin forms of historically specific making, twin discourses of the determination of value. For poetics as value making, let me advance that the thirty-six individual essays in our recent Guide to Poetics Journal, along with the editorial and publication work involved in soliciting, editing, rethinking, and repurposing their content, counts as such. Each essay in our Guide—for example, Ron Silliman on “the parsimony principle,” George Lakoff on avant-garde framing, Susan Howe on Emily Dickinson, Lyn Hejinian on “the rejection of closure,” in the volume’s first section—demonstrates how poetry is a value-making activity, in giving value to it. … More

Transvaluations of Value: Poetics and Political Economy
Session P28, 8:30–10:00 A.M., Friday, 20 November 2015
Modernist Studies Association

Herman Rapaport, “Transvaluations of Value: Fredric Jameson, Jackson Mac Low”
Barrett Watten, “The Poet/Critic: Transvaluations of Value After Modernism”
Tyrone Williams, “‘The Changing Same’: Value in Marx and Amiri Baraka”

This panel takes up debates between poetics and political economy after the recent turn to Marxist political economy as a materialist interpretive strategy for poetry and poetics. In a contrary move, a return to the aesthetic as a construction of value, sited in a more classical reading of modernist form by Charles Altieri, appropriates the concept of “value” for self-reflexive poetic forms. The three presenters will develop approaches to the concept of value that are irreducible either to economism, especially the commodity form, or to the aesthetic, e.g. modernism, and will seek to articulate more inclusive accounts of value that extend political economy to other value-producing registers in the horizons of art, history, ethics, and politics. [See next post.]

Modernism and the Abstraction of Value:
Poetry and Political Economy in transition (1927-38)

During this recent era, linguistic understandings of political economy found purchase for a wealth of reasons, many of which have a grounding in actual conditions. Nonetheless [. . .] the literarity of such conceptions ended up participating in, and sometimes generating, serious analytic errors . . . . The misrecognitions of value engendered by modes of literarity thus pose a radical limit to the history of the present. —Joshua Clover, “Value/Theory/Crisis” (107, 109)


In my lecture at the Poetry of the 70s conference at University of Maine (under the rubric “Late Capitalism and Language Writing”; 2008), I made a strong claim that the “turn to language” in poetry must be seen as simultaneously a response to the emergent horizon of neo­liberalism after 1973 along with an anticipatory illumination, undertaken at the level of form, of what the new order of intensified commodification and mobility of capital would look like—and how it might be comprehended and opposed. … More