Imagine Fredric Jameson—the world’s foremost Marxist critic—kidnapped and taken on a joyride through the cultural ephemera, generational hype, and Cold War fallout of our post-post-contemporary landscape. In The Jamesonian Unconscious, a book as joyful as it is critical and insightful, Clint Burnham devises unexpected encounters between Jameson and alternative rock groups, new movies, and subcultures. At the same time, Burnham offers an extraordinary analysis of Jameson’s work and career that refines and extends his most important themes.
In an unusual biographical move, Burnham negotiates Jameson’s major works—including Marxism and Form, The Political Unconscious, and Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism—by way of his own working-class, queer-ish, Gen-X background and sensibility. Thus Burnham’s study draws upon an immense range of references familiar to the MTV generation, including Reservoir Dogs, theorists Slavoj Zizek and Pierre Bourdieu, The Satanic Verses, Language poetry, the collapse of state communism in Eastern Europe, and the indie band Killdozer. In the process, Burnham addresses such Jamesonian questions as how to imagine the future, the role of utopianism in capitalist culture, and the continuing relevance of Marxist theory.
Through its redefinition of Jameson’s work and compelling reading of the political present, The Jamesonian Unconscious defines the leading edge of Marxist theory. Written in a style by turns conversational, playful, and academic, this book will appeal to students and scholars of Marxism, critical theory, aesthetics, narratology, and cultural studies, as well as the wide circle of readers who have felt and understood Jameson’s influence.