Raymond Williams (novelist and critic) discusses Marxism and materialism--especially as they pertain to literature/language.  In his works (such as Marxism and Literature) does Williams offer us a...

Raymond Williams (novelist and critic) discusses Marxism and materialism--especially as they pertain to literature/language.  In his works (such as Marxism and Literature) does Williams offer us a commentary about the materiality of the human body?  Of course, Judith Butler discusses this topic in detail.  I am hoping to learn what Williams might say or suggest on this topic.  So far, I can't find anything. Thanks!

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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I've done some database searches, and looked over some of Williams' essays, and also haven't really be able to find anything. I think the main issue here is dates. Williams was born in 1921 and died in 1988. Discussions of "the body" didn't really become an academic fad until the mid- to late 1990s and took place in literary studies at the intersection of gender and cultural studies. Williams' own sense of materialism is more strongly based in economics and class struggle than in the materiality of the body. 

If you are writing a paper on Raymond Williams and the body, one possible way into an analysis of his work would be through a feminist critique. Many of the feminist scholars of the late 1990s and early 2000s critiqued high theory and classical Marxism precisely on the basis of the way it ignored the materiality of the human body. Thus you could write about the absence of the body from Williams by making your essay a critique of male privilege, arguing that Williams' cultural critique is inherently flawed by the absence of gender from its treatment of class struggle. 

In addition to Judith Butler, you might want to look at Julia Kristeva, who was one of the key figures in developing arguments about the role of the body and the female in theory. Much of gender theory, in fact, can be read as a critique of the absence of the gendered body from an earlier generation of high theory. 

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