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Chapter 4 - Marxist Ecology and Shakespeare

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2022

Colleen Lye
University of California, Berkeley
Christopher Nealon
Johns Hopkins University
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When read in light of Adorno’s “preponderance of the object,” The Tempest can be seen as bearing the marks of “primitive accumulation” in ways that can be made to challenge the ecologically catastrophic present. The unusual physical presence of wood in Shakespeare’s play in performance – especially given the play’s lavish display of suffering – opens it to serving as a critique of the reduction of the nonhuman world to mere “raw material” for human use, through which the subordination of some humans to others is also effected. In its physical form wood can be interruptive. Attentiveness to its refusal to reduce to human purposes in the excess of its seeming quiddity can open viewers to a “change of perspective” that, in turn, might lead to enhanced struggle for transformed conditions of existence – without the domination property relations establish – for humans and nonhumans alike: the goal of a properly Marxist ecology.

After Marx
Literature, Theory, and Value in the Twenty-First Century
, pp. 71 - 85
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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