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Literary Primitivism$
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Ben Etherington

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781503602366

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503602366.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Primitivism After Its Poststructural Eclipse

Primitivism After Its Poststructural Eclipse

(p.3) Chapter 1 Primitivism After Its Poststructural Eclipse
Literary Primitivism

Ben Etherington

Stanford University Press

Chapter 1 focuses on the conceptual and theoretical problems that pertain to literary primitivism. It surveys the breadth of previous scholarship and points out that a comprehensive study that proceeded according to received usage would be hopelessly vast owing to the ahistorical presuppositions that have tended to inform its use. It sets out the terms by which the book redefines the term--especially, that primitivism was an aesthetic project specific to the historical moment when the possibility of primitive experience was perceived to be at the point of obsolescence. Transformed thus into an inherently speculative notion, it fell to the capacities of art to revive and reanimate the remnants of “primitive” (i.e., noncapitalist) social realities. The chapter reviews the previous postmodern generation of scholarship on primitivism, arguing that the historical nature of primitivism was obscured when scholars, employing the methods of poststructuralism, restricted their inquiries to questions of representation.

Keywords:   primitivism, neo-primitivism, aesthetic project, imperialism, idealization, poststructuralism, Mariana Torgovnick, Victor Li

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