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Our Aesthetic Condition

Our Aesthetic Condition JASON GLADSTONE Sianne Ngai, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. 344pp. $39.95. ianne Ngai's important new book, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting, offers a revisionary account of the contemporary. The framework of the account is familiar enough. For Ngai, as for the tradition of Marxist criticism that she engages, the history of the present is the history of the rise of capitalist modernity. That is, while the history of modernity is not reducible to the developments of capital, it is nevertheless underwritten by them. At the core of Ngai's account of the present is Fredric Jameson's claim that the contemporary condition is structured by capitalism's real or total subsumption of the aesthetic. In a well-known passage from Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991)--a passage Ngai both cites and endorses-- Jameson states that the present is characterized by "a prodigious expansion of culture throughout the social realm."1 This expansion represents the "dissolution of an autonomous sphere of culture" (48) and thus the elimination of the aesthetic autonomy definitive of modernism: "What has happened is that aesthetic production today has become integrated into commodity production generally" (4). 1. Fredric Jameson, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Our Aesthetic Condition

Contemporary Literature , Volume 55 (1)

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin.
ISSN
1548-9949
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Abstract

JASON GLADSTONE Sianne Ngai, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. 344pp. $39.95. ianne Ngai's important new book, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting, offers a revisionary account of the contemporary. The framework of the account is familiar enough. For Ngai, as for the tradition of Marxist criticism that she engages, the history of the present is the history of the rise of capitalist modernity. That is, while the history of modernity is not reducible to the developments of capital, it is nevertheless underwritten by them. At the core of Ngai's account of the present is Fredric Jameson's claim that the contemporary condition is structured by capitalism's real or total subsumption of the aesthetic. In a well-known passage from Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991)--a passage Ngai both cites and endorses-- Jameson states that the present is characterized by "a prodigious expansion of culture throughout the social realm."1 This expansion represents the "dissolution of an autonomous sphere of culture" (48) and thus the elimination of the aesthetic autonomy definitive of modernism: "What has happened is that aesthetic production today has become integrated into commodity production generally" (4). 1. Fredric Jameson,

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

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