Market Value and Victorian Hybrids Dickens and Marx Against Latour

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Zachary Tavlin


When Bruno Latour says that “we have never been modern,” he means only to recognize that the ‘actually living’ of modernity (or the temporal duration we’ve often categorized as ‘modernity’) is something altogether different (and far more complicated) than the theoretical apparatus by which academic intellectuals use to describe and categorize it. The modern condition, then, involves a separation between the socio-economic creation of ‘hybrid objects’ and theoretical reflection on society. This reflection takes the form of ‘purification,’ or a clear distinction between nature and culture, science and politics. Drawing upon Charles Dickens’ last completed novel, Our Mutual Friend, as well as Marx, I will argue that already in Victorian England we can find coherent representations of modernity that defy Latour’s high standard of actualized purification (or a visible ‘reality’ that conforms to our purified categorizations). That is, in Dickens and Marx we can find a literary-economic discourse of ‘modernity’ (which may also be Victorian post-humanism) that already recognized the failure of ‘purification’ as the result of expansive capitalism.


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Tavlin, Z. (2014). Market Value and Victorian Hybrids Dickens and Marx Against Latour. Praktyka Teoretyczna, 13(3), 23-37.
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Zachary Tavlin, Zachary Tavlin University of Washington 5024 Sand Point Place Seattle, WA 98105

Zachary Tavlin is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Washington. His areas of research include the history of philosophy, Marxism and German Idealism, film, and 19th and 20th century American literature. He has published on Augustine and Lacan’s philosophies of language and the films of David Lynch and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Forthcoming publications include essays and book chapters on the fiction of Don DeLillo, the films of Hal Hartley, Heidegger and Cormac McCarthy, and Spinoza and Borges.


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