Part 1, Chapter 3
What are some ways in which Williams's criticism may be said to be Marxist, based on the selections of the latter we have read? Are there any aspects of his method which are quite different?
What does Williams believe have been the limitations of previous and current definitions of "literature"? (1567) Why does he think the appeal to literature's supposed experiential truth cloaks the issue of its composition? (1568)
What does he propose are major features of the history of the term "literature"? (1569) During what period did it start to attain its modern senses?
--What were social implications associated with categories of "taste" and "sensibility"? To whom did these appeal? What factors led to a perceived need for a field of "criticism"?
--What effects were produced by the limitation of the category "literature" to imaginative works? (1571) What social forces prompted an emphasis on human creativity?
What changes have occurred since the Romantic period, with its assertion of saving human qualities in art and literature? (1571)
How has the term 'art' shifted its meaning? How was the notion of imaginative literature narrowed, in Williams's view? How did this latter affect the role and status of criticism?
--What was the purpose of a rising interest in literature as a reflection of a national tradition? What does he see as the limitations of this emphasis? What does he mean by "the absolute ratification of a limited and specializing consensual process"? (1573)
What seems to have been his reaction to notions of "The Great [English] Tradition" as promoted by F. R. Leavis?
What does Williams think of the literary criticism of Marx himself? Of earlier Marxist criticism?
What does he mean by "the attempted assimilation of 'literature' to 'ideology,' and what value does he place on this? (1573)
What are some other strands of Marxist criticism? Of these, which does he believe have made progress in his century? Do you agree?
What have been the contributions, in his view, of recent varieties of Marxist formalism? (1574)
What new varieties of literary production does Williams envision? Will these retain the "active values of literature"? (1575) What processes do they reflect?
Would Marx have approved of the concluding remarks in this chapter? Was Williams accurate in predicting the effect of new media on the nature and concerns of cultural criticism?
selection and page numbers from The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2001