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date: 15 January 2021

materialist criticism 

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance
Janelle ReineltJanelle Reinelt

A wide umbrella term for forms of criticism which share a concern with the mode of production of the object under scrutiny; an analysis of the socio-historical relationships between the object, its moment of production, and its moment of reception; and a reliance on the material, or concrete, substance and effects of its existence. The term ‘materialism’ comes from philosophy, and denotes the belief that matter is the fundamental reality; it is also associated with Marxist cultural theory, from which materialist criticism derives many of its concepts. In practice, materialist criticism offers an account of how works of art make their meanings in relation to the basic economic conditions of their creation, on the one hand, and to the historico-ideological struggles surrounding the work on the other. In contrast to formalist criticism, which searches for the enduring features of a work unrelated to context, materialist criticism often explores historical change as productive of new meanings and forms of aesthetic practice.... ...

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