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In 1984 Fredric Jameson wrote that “everything in our social life—from economic value and state power to practices and to the very structure of the psyche itself—can be said to have become ‘cultural’ in some original and yet untheorized sense.” The essays in this special issue track the status of this claim some thirty years later, inquiring into the relationship of art, aesthetics, and cultural production to political economy today. At a moment when interpretation (including “ideology critique” and “symptomatic reading”) has been variously supplanted by descriptivism, empiricism, and the return of metaphysics, contributors here pursue the possibilities for an engaged cultural criticism that is attentive to form while rejecting a depoliticized formalism. Spanning a wide range of cultural sites—from recent Hollywood cinema to post-broadcast television, manufactured landscape photography, contemporary West African art, and “new materialism” in philosophy—they ask what the “formal tendencies” of contemporary cultural production (including theory itself) can tell us about the cultural logic of contemporary capitalism. The collection includes a new interview with Jameson conducted by the editors.
Nico Baumbach is an assistant professor at the Columbia University School of the Arts.Damon R. Young is an assistant professor of French and Film/Media at the University of California, Berkeley.Genevieve Yue is an assistant professor of culture and media at The New School.
Contributors: Jennifer Bajorek, Nico Baumbach, Jonathan Beller, Alexander R. Galloway, Fredric Jameson, Sulgi Lie, Alberto Toscano, Amy Villarejo, Damon R. Young, Genevieve Yue