The biopolitical unconscious: Toward an eco-marxist literary theory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


In keeping with Fredric Jameson’s founding claim in The Political Unconscious that Marxism provides not just one more hermeneutics of literature and culture, but a project that integrates all other hermeneutics to their historical determination, this essay will argue that ecocriticism, perhaps the youngest of contemporary literary hermeneutics, likewise can and should be dialectically assimilated to the project of a Marxist literary and cultural criticism. In redescribing ecocriticism as the analysis of modern literature’s determination by the category of the “environment” within the successive iterations of the capitalist mode of production, however, I will also argue that Marxist literary criticism must be inflected in a new way. Insofar as politics, understood in their broadest sense, designate social struggles over how life (human and nonhuman alike) will be used as a means to a collective end that is also life, I will propose that the “absent cause” of history, which in the proverbial last instance determines the form of modern literature and culture, must be understood as a bio political unconscious.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLiterary Materialisms
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781137339959
ISBN (Print)9781137339942
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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