State power matters: power, the state and political struggle in the post-war American novel

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This article is concerned with resituating the state at the centre of the analytical stage and, concomitantly, with drawing attention to the dangers of losing sight of the state as a locus of power. It seeks to uncover the relationship between two related lines of critical inquiry: Marxist and Foucauldian theories of the state; and the attempts by three postwar American novelist (Ken Kesey, William Burroughs and E.L. Doctorow) to determine the nature and extent of this power and to consider under what conditions political struggle might be possible. It argues that such a move is needed because recent critical analysis has been too preoccupied by corporeal micropolitics and global macropolitics, and that the postwar American novel can help us in this move because it is centrally concerned with the repressive potentiality of the US state. It maintains that the resuscitation of Marxist state theories in early 1970s and a debate between Poulantzas and Foucault is intriguingly foreshadowed and even critiqued by these novels. Consequently, it concludes that these novels constitute an unrecognized pre-history of what would become one of the key intellectual debates of the late twentieth century: an engagement between Marxist and post-structuralist conceptions of the power and resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-491
Number of pages25
JournalTextual Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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