Title

Toward a Theory of Musical Production

Authors

Max Read

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Abstract

Pierrey Macherey began his 1966 book A Theory of Literary Production by asking a question: ?what is literary criticism?? Macherey argues that even the word ?criticism? is ambiguous?implying at once ?a gesture of refusal, a denunciation, a hostile judgment? and a ?positive knowledge of limits, the study of the conditions and possibilities of an activity??leaving us with two different attitudes, which Macherey calls ?criticism-as-condemnation? and ?criticism-as-explanation,? or ?criticism as appreciation? and ?criticism as knowledge?. We may move between these two attitudes quite freely, but they are fundamentally quite different: ?criticism as appreciation? is normative while ?criticism as knowledge? is speculative; one ?invokes rules,? the other ?formulates laws?; the first is an art and the second a science. The question for Macherey, then, is whether or not the two can be practiced simultaneously, and what each method might mean. A Theory of Literary Production endeavors to identify the ways conventional criticism fails and looks toward the articulation of a new model of criticism that accounts for those failures. In the spirit of Macherey?s fascinating book, I, too, want to pose a question with my research: ?what is music criticism?? Is it different from literary criticism? My research considers the ways in which TLP might move beyond the question of purely ?literary? criticism to inform music-critical discourse, through a close reading of TLP and an examination of contemporary music criticism, both in the ways in which it succeeds and the way it fails.

Advisor

Warren Montag

Department

ecls

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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