Cultural Politics in the 1790s: Literature, Radicalism and by Andrew McCann (auth.)

By Andrew McCann (auth.)

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Whereas the bourgeois revolution initially makes a thoroughgoing attempt to overcome the limits of the capitalist mode of production, the forms - for instance, the forced separation of powers, the division between public and private, between politics and production, between everyday language and authentic social expression, between education, science, and art on the one hand and the interests and expressions of the masses on the other - prevent even the mere expressions of social criticism, of a counterpublic sphere, and of the emancipation of the majority of the popula- Literature and the Public Sphere in the 1790s 21 tion.

The critical utility of doing so is that it makes the potentials and dynamics of modernity, conceptualized as the Western drive towards regulated and disciplined sociability within the infrastructures of developing capitalism, intelligible in a way that they would not be were we simply to assume a series of disparate and local publics. When I began this project I imagined it as an attempt to contextualize literary production (and by extension the notion of 'Literature' itself) in terms of historically tangible forms of discursive practice and, relatedly, as an examination of the power relations inherent in these practices.

3) For Negt and Kluge the everyday experiences of the proletariat conceived empirically are prevented from achieving the clarity of 'proletarian experience' because they are mediated through the 'totality of the context of mystification', and thereby constituted in alienation from the real interests that motivate them. 38 Accordingly the worker 'would have to be a philosopher to understand how his experience is produced, an experience that is at once preorganized and unorganized and simultaneously moulds and merely accompanies his empirical life' (PSE, p.

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