This in-depth discussion of several canonical theorists — Fredric Jameson, Jean Baudrillard, and Michel Foucault — traces the trajectory of their ideas from one text to the next. It focuses on how these theorists attempt to avoid the problem of representation, as well as humanist subjectivity, even as they imagine the external situations that shape individual identity. Although the author offers in-depth overviews, he does not simply rehearse the theories, such as many introductions to theory do. Instead, he excavates the topographical imagination that results from seeking to constitute the subject from without, from its external situation. He draws forth the organizing figure of each theorist’s spatial thinking—Jameson’s Marxist dialectical levels, Baudrillard’s double spiral of the symbolic and the semiotic, and Foucault’s dual bar of exclusion—which provides readers an innovative way to approach complex ideas.
From the Back Cover
The Topographical Imagination of Jameson, Baudrillard, and Foucault is indeed, as Michael James Rizza argues, a collection of several tapestries: a study of three of the most important theorists of the postmodern period, whose individual trajectories are traced over the course of their careers; an exploration of the subject as it evolves from an original Enlightenment model; a consideration of the various organizing figures–system of levels, double-spiral, dual caesura–by which today’s projected worlds are imagined. In the end, readers are provided with an intellectual history that is as wide-ranging–from Spinoza and Kant to Debord and Lefebvre–as it is incisive. And because the theoretical is always informed by a command of literature that is breathtaking in its scope–from Cervantes to Milosz to Borges to Pynchon–the discussions are certain to appeal to an audience of quite varied tastes. Integrating all of this into a seamless whole is not the easiest of tasks, and it is to the book’s great credit that it does so and in such a way as to join clarity with acuity beautifully.
Stacey Olster, Professor of English, Stony Brook University
About the Author
Michael James Rizza (PhD, American Literature) is the author of the award-winning novel Cartilage and Skin, short fiction, and various academic articles. He teaches at Kean University in New Jersey.