Person

Frederic Jameson

Nationality:

American

Born:

1934

Occupation:

Professor, Duke University

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Frederic Jameson is a Marxist political theorist and literary critic and a professor of Romance Studies and Literature at Duke University. Jameson is regarded as a one of the foremost Marxist literary critics in English. 1 2

Education

Frederic Jameson received a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College in 1954, a master’s degree from Yale University in 1956, and a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1959. 3 Jameson began in Romance studies 4 and completed his doctoral dissertation in 1961, which was entitled Satre: The Origins of a Style. His dissertation focused on Jean-Paul Satre’s narrative structures, values, vision of the world, and style. 5

Academic Career

After receiving his Ph.D. from Yale University, Frederic Jameson taught at Harvard, Yale, and the University of California. He was hired at Duke in 1985, where he spent the rest of his career. 6

At Duke University, Jameson began as a professor of Romance Studies and Literature in 1985. He became the Kurt Schmidt Nielson Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature in 2013. 7

At Duke University, Jameson frequently teaches courses on the 19th century novel, modernist literature and film, modern French theory, the Frankfurt School, existentialism, psychoanalysis, and Marxism. 8

Theories

Frederic Jameson is a postmodern theoretician with a particular focus on existentialism and Marxism. Sara Danius, a professor at Sodertorn University in Sweden, stated Jameson “has done more than any contemporary intellectual to rethink and renew the tradition of Marxist cultural theory.” 9

Columbia University professor Douglas Kellner wrote that Jameson is considered “one of the foremost contemporary Marxist literary critics writing in English.” Jameson has also been described as a “neo-Marxist” theoretician. 10

Jameson was influenced by the New Left and antiwar movement of the 1960s and much of his work focuses on introducing neo-Marxist theory into the English-speaking world. 11 He has written on a variety of academic subjects, including architecture, art, film, history, politics, and literature. 12

Jameson conceives of modern history from the early 19th century onward within a historical-materialist framework divided into the phases of realism, modernism, and postmodernism which each respectively correspond to the economic systems of capitalism, imperialist capitalism, and global or late capitalism. 13

Books

Jameson is the author of at least 20 books. 14 Jameson’s book Marxism and Form: 20th Century Dialectical Theories of Literature, published in 1971 by Princeton University Press, 15 uses a Hegelian Marxist framework to analyze the connection between art and historical circumstances through the works of major European Marxists including T.W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Ernst Bloch, Gerg Lukacs, and Jean-Paul Satre. 16

In 1981, Jameson’s book The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act was published by Cornell University Press. In The Political Unconscious, Jameson argues that literary texts should primarily be interpreted politically and that the way to understand literature of other ages that are culturally different is through a Marxist lens. The Political Unconscious has been described as a “masterly introduction to both the method and practice of Marxist criticism. 17

In 1990, Jameson’s book Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism was published by Duke University Press. 18 In Postmodernism, Jameson describes modernity in dystopic terms where the past has been turned into “emptied out stylizations (what Jameson terms pastiche) that can be then commodified and consumed.” This represents the “victory of capitalist thinking over all other forms of thought.” 19

References

  1. “Frederic Jameson.” Duke. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://scholars.duke.edu/person/jameson.
  2. Kellner, Douglas. “Frederic Jameson. GSEIS – UCLA. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/papers/JamesonJH.htm.
  3. “Frederic Jameson.” Duke. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://scholars.duke.edu/person/jameson.
  4. Danius, Sara. “About Frederic R. Jameson.” Hoberg Prize. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://holbergprize.org/en/holberg-prize/about-fredric-r-jameson.
  5. Kellner, Douglas. “Frederic Jameson. GSEIS – UCLA. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/papers/JamesonJH.htm.
  6. “Frederic Jameson.” Duke. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://scholars.duke.edu/person/jameson.
  7. “Frederic Jameson.” Duke. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://scholars.duke.edu/person/jameson.
  8. “Frederic Jameson.” Duke. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://scholars.duke.edu/person/jameson.
  9.  Danius, Sara. “About Frederic R. Jameson.” Hoberg Prize. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://holbergprize.org/en/holberg-prize/about-fredric-r-jameson.
  10. Kellner, Douglas. “Frederic Jameson. GSEIS – UCLA. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/papers/JamesonJH.htm.
  11. Kellner, Douglas. “Frederic Jameson. GSEIS – UCLA. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/papers/JamesonJH.htm.
  12. “Frederic Jameson.” Oxford Reference. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.oxfordreference.com/display/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100017903.
  13. Danius, Sara. “About Frederic R. Jameson.” Hoberg Prize. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://holbergprize.org/en/holberg-prize/about-fredric-r-jameson.
  14.  Danius, Sara. “About Frederic R. Jameson.” Hoberg Prize. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://holbergprize.org/en/holberg-prize/about-fredric-r-jameson.
  15. “Marxism and Form: 20th-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature.” JSTOR. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1ggjkw6.
  16. “Marxism and From: 20th-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature. Princeton. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691013114/marxism-and-form.
  17. “The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act.” Cornell University Press. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/9780801492228/the-political-unconscious/#bookTabs=1.
  18. “Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.” Duke University Press. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.dukeupress.edu/postmodernism-or-the-cultural-logic-of-late-capitalism.
  19. Felluga, Dino. “Modules on Jameson: On Postmodernity.” Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. Purdue University. February 8, 2024. http://www.purdue.edu/guidetotheory/postmodernism/modules/jamesonpostmodernity.html.
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