From the demise of theory to its resurgence. A retrospective on the postmodern turn to rethink the 'desire for narrative' and the sublime untimeliness of emancipation
University College Cork
Cultural Marxist Theory, commonly known as theory, enjoyed a moment of extraordinary success in the 1970s, when the works of leading post-war French philosophers were published in English. After relocating to Anglophone academia, however, theory disavowed its original concerns and lost its ambition to understand the world as a whole, becoming the play of heterogeneities associated with postcolonialism, multiculturalism and identity politics, commonly referred to as postmodern theory. This turn, which took place during a period that seemed to have spelt the death of Marxism, the 1990s, induced many of its supporters to engage in an ongoing funeral wake designating the merits of theory and dreaming its resurgence. According to them, had theory been resurrected in historical circumstances completely different from those which had led to its rise, it would have never reacquired the significance that had originally connoted it. This thesis demonstrates how theory has survived its demise and entirely regained its prominence in our socio-political context marked by the effects of the latest crisis of capitalism and by the global threat of terrorisms rooted in messianic eschatologies. In its current form theory does no longer need to show allegiance to certain intellectual stances or political groupings in order to produce important reformulations of the projects it once gave life to. Though less overtly radical and epistemologically bounded, theory remains a necessary form of enquiry justified by the political commitment which originated it in the first place. Its voice continues to speak to us about justice ‘where it is not yet, not yet there, where it is no longer’ (Derrida, 1993, XVIII).
Theory , Philosophy , Modernism , Postmodernism , Modernity , Narrative , Emancipation
Porfilio, A. 2015. From the demise of theory to its resurgence. A retrospective on the postmodern turn to rethink the 'desire for narrative' and the sublime untimeliness of emancipation. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.