In his paper "Literature, Ideology and the Imaginary," Marcello Potocco analyses the elusive relation between literature and ideology. The notion of the "social imaginary" -- as developed by Castoriadis -- brings the possibility to reconsider the relation between the literary structure, its reception, and ideology. While ideology is seen as a radical expression of the social imaginary in modern society, it can only manifest itself through the ideological function, which does not necessarily destruct the aesthetic experience. In a literary structure, elements may exist that enable a strong identification with the extra-textual world, but this involves primarily identifications with significations of the social imaginary. In an ideological text, affective elements play a secondary role, while conceptual-rational, and subject-material elements provide the basis for the reader's identification. An ideological structure retains a largely conventional, "pragmatic" relation between the signifiers and the signified, linking them to the social imaginary and, possibly, a uniform interpretative code. Nevertheless, the (non-)realization of the ideological function within a text always depends on the social, extra-textual codes of interpretation, since ideology can only interpellate as a socio-historical force imposed on a text.
"Literature, Ideology, and the Imaginary."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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