Abstract

Several theorists, including the Marxist theorists Trevor Ross, Walter Benjamin, and M.H. Abrams, have proposed theories to explain the eighteenth-century shift from functional to aesthetic conceptions of literature. Their explanations attribute the change to an increasingly consumer-based society (and the resulting commoditization of books), the development of the press, the rise of the middle class, and increased access to books. When we apply the cause-effect relationships which these theorists propose to the contexts of nineteenth-century America, Communist East Germany, WWII America, and 9/11 America, however, the causes don't correlate with the effects they theoretically predict. This disjunction suggests a re-examination of these three theories and possibly the Marxist basis which they share. I suggest that by triangulating rhetorical theory with Marxist theory we will gain a more comprehensive understanding of society's valuation of literature.

Degree

MA

College and Department

Humanities; English

Rights

http://lib.byu.edu/about/copyright/

Date Submitted

2004-07-16

Document Type

Thesis

Handle

http://hdl.lib.byu.edu/1877/etd510

Keywords

theory, theorist, Marxism, Marxist, Trevor Ross, Walter Benjamin, M. H. Abrams, nineteenth-century America, WWII, East Germany, GDR, war, communist, 9/11, September 11th, rhetoric, rhetorical theory, Kenneth Burke, literature, literariness, valuation, aesthetic, eighteenth-century England

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