Essay by noone April 2005

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From ancient times, literature and the arts have portrayed, and criticism and

theory have discussed, differences in people's social class and history. But

with the spread and maturation of capitalism throughout its various stages,

economic and other disparities have more visibly polarized wealthy and poor

classes, city residents and ghetto dwellers, inhabitants of the first and

third worlds, whites and people of color, men and women. Class formations,

class consciousness, and class tensions form part of the historical experience of

modernization, and theory and criticism have been grappling with these and

related issues for several centuries now. 13 Norton

Many of the current concepts, terms, and issues related to social class derive from Marxist criticism . . . that stems from the work of the nineteenth-century German philosopher and economist Karl Marx. 13

- Even though Marxism generally has been discredited as an economic theory and

as a political philosophy (as recent events in Eastern Europe and what used to be

called the Soviet Union suggest), Marxism still informs the work and dominates

the thinking of large numbers of cultural critics-especially European ones, who

have influenced or shaped the thinking of critics elsewhere.

Many Marxist critics

do not believe that there should be a violent overthrow of the political system in

t heir countries. These Marxists use Marx's philosophical beliefs and concepts to

attack the ills they find . . . in so-called bourgeois capitalist societies. 41 C.C.

- Marxism is not monolithic, and neither is Marxist criticism. There are a number

of different schools of Marxist critics, and all of them base their criticism on

varying and sometimes conflicting interpretations of Marx's theories and how

they can be applied to analyzing culture in general and . . . Literary texts

. . . 41 C.C.

- [T]here were...