Bakhtin and Cultural Theory

Editors:
Ken Hirschkop
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David Shepherd
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The book acquires a new resonance in the intellectual context which they played a part in creating, for they were distinguished, then as now, by their insistence on placing Bakhtin in a larger intellectual world and probing his weaknesses. Rather than take Bakhtin's worship of the public festive culture at face value, Wills showed that concepts of publicity and privacy were shaped by the facts of gender difference, such that women writers might find gestures towards privacy, in form and content, more politically compelling than the simple act of going public. David Shepherd's discussion of Bakhtin and theories of reading was one of the first to put Bakhtin where he belongs: in the middle of an ongoing intellectual debate, where at best he might assume the role of primus, or even secondus inter pares. The final two chapters of the book focus on the status of the body and embodiment in Bakhtin, a strikingly proleptic theme in 1989, but here treated with a care and shrewdness usually missing from analyses on this topic. The thesis that Bakhtin's work consists of a sociological outside and a philosophical or theological inside is one such forcing apart. It reduces the ambiguities by insisting that the philosophical meaning of each term (dialogism, responsibility, chronotope) is the real one and the historical derivation of it mere window dressing for the Soviet censor.

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