George Bernard Shaw's "Big Three" : an althusserian reading of Man and Superman, John Bull's Other Island, and Major Barbara Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/j96022996

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  • Traditional readings of George Bernard Shaw's texts suggest that he is not a pure Marxist socialist because of the spiritual and nationalist aspects of his vision. This thesis attempts to confront Shaw's politics in order to demonstrate that he indeed offers a viable socialist program. Overlaying his socialism with Louis Althusser's concepts of "overdetermination," "structural causality," and "ideology" reveals that Shaw uses relatively autonomous instances of the superstructure toward socialist ends. This reevaluation of Shaw is best achieved through a combined reading of three of his major plays -- John Bull's Other Island, Man and Superman, and Major Barbara. In John Bull, Shaw incorporates the controversy of nationalism into his socialist vision by explaining it as an inevitable step in the development of an oppressed nation toward socialism. Man and Superman discusses the need for spirituality in the form of Shaw's concepts of Creative Evolution and the Life Force, which drive toward the development of a consciousness that recognizes socialism as the only sustainable internationalist program. Major Barbara combines Shaw's socialist and spiritual views by showing that both stand in reciprocal relation to each other; they are equally necessary to the Shavian world, one providing the ideal social system, the other the most enlightened human sensibility. This project demonstrates that Shaw's integration of these elements usually considered contradictory to Marxism becomes a way to understand him as practicing the Althusserian idea that any displacements of the infrastructure are economic in the last instance.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2012-09-14T19:33:24Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 KramerJohannaI1999.pdf: 4333137 bytes, checksum: 5bf88bcdce087f6b744b4779baafb197 (MD5)
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