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Monday, 18 March 2013

Industry in Theory, Friday 22nd March 2013


Industry in Theory, Friday 22nd March 2013,

4-5pm, Lipman 121


This session, led by Sarah Shaw, final year Creative Writing PhD Student, will concentrate on Pierre Macherey’s question about what is absent from the literary work in A Theory of Literary Production.  In particular we will be examining Macherey’s ideas in relation to critiques of industrialised agribusiness produced by Vandana Shiva.

 Sarah has provided the following description of the session:

Pierre Macherey, speculating on what is marginal to the literary work, ‘what it does not say….its relation to what it is not,’ asked, ‘In what relation to that which is other than itself is the work produced?’ He postulated that ground from which the work emerges as ‘not a “natural” empirical reality, but that intricate reality in which men [and women]—both writers and readers—live, that reality which is their ideology’ (A Theory of Literary Production, 1978 [1966] Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, pp154-5). Macherey’s theories have been used to debate the vexed relationship between economic base and ideological superstructure, and also the unconscious of a work. In relation to the topic of industry in theory, I am interested in looking at the necessity of food production to literary production, together with its absence in the literary work.

I am writing a novel in which a fifteen-year-old girl is diagnosed with leukaemia. Advice on preventing cancer includes avoidance of harmful chemicals, for example pesticides used in agriculture. However, whenever one of my characters starts to cook using organic ingredients or feel the wind blowing across the North Sea from the direction of Chernobyl, the narrative begins to sound like propaganda rather than engaging fiction. So I am suggesting we read a couple of extracts from Vandana Shiva’s work that contrasts industrialised agribusiness with small-scale sustainable food production, and discuss how they relate to literature/fiction.


We will be mostly focusing on the quotation used by Sarah in this description, which is taken from page 154 of Macherey’s text.  To view an entire version of Macherey’s text please google ‘Pierre Macherey Theory of Literary Production’ and open the PDF file provided by Routledge (this is the first option on the google search).

We will be discussing these ideas in relation to brief critiques of multinational corporations’ involvement in agribusiness  by Vandana Shiva, focusing particularly on two pieces: ‘Violent Economic “Reforms”, and the Growing Violence against Women’ (Dec 2012) and ‘The Suicide Economy of Corporate Globalisation’ (April 2004).

This looks set to be a very interesting and engaging session.  All welcome!  Refreshments will be provided and the discussion will continue in The Carriage afterwards.

We will look forward to seeing you all then.

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