In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

reviews 125 But the claims for the approach fall short of sustaining the results. At the end of the book the reader remains perplexed by the complex relationship between the two sisters and unsure of what Margaret meant to achieve by writing a biography of her sister that blurred the lines between the two women; neither are we on firmer ground in understanding the larger culture that shaped and gave meaning to such literary and psychological choices. These shortcomings are unfortunate, because it seems that opportunities are missed in providing a more meaningful account of McMillan's time and cultural milieux. On the one hand, some archival and literary omissions are taken too much at face value. On this score, Steedman's relatively untroubled conclusion that because there is no evidence of any active sexual interest on Margaret's part we can thereby assume that she "seems not to have had any sexual relationships at all with either men or women" (236) appears somewhat naive. One wonders if more rigorous analysis of her writings might not reveal more sexual tension and erotic fantasy than is accounted for here. On the other hand, especially for this historian reviewer, in numerous places it seems that closer attention and more contextual historical research would have given readers a better understanding of the ways McMillan was similar to and different from other women. For instance, while there is already some work on the urban radical communities frequented by Margaret and Rachel McMillan, much more remains to be learned. More knowledge about seemingly simple things such as living quarters, weekly routines and budgets, patterns of sociability, differences between cosmopolitan London and industrial Bradford would add greatly to our understanding of late 19th-century "new women" and their involvement in radical politics. Possibly, the sources on both McMillan sisters are indeed silent on these scores, but because Steedman's net is cast so widely, it is not ultimately clear what is and what is not "knowable" about these women. Given that remaining mystery, I, for one, still like to think that less might have been more on this subject , and that further closely focused studies on women such as the McMillans will contribute additional jagged pieces to the jigsaw puzzle that was the tum of the century. DINA M. COPELMAN Universal Abandon? The Politics of Postmodernism, edited by Andrew Ross. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988. 3(K) pp. $14.95 (paper). Politics and Culture: Working Hypothesesfor a Post-Revolutionary Society, by Michael Ryan. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989. 250 pp. $14.95 (cloth). In a recent essay in Cultural Critique entitled, "Marxism in the Poststructuralist Moment: Some Notes on the Problem of Revising Marx," Barbara Foley defends (an) orthodox marxism against its revision by "poststructuralism." These poststructuralists, according to Foley, have launched a full-scale "attack upon ... those cardinal principles of Marxism that distinguish it as a science of historical development and a strategy of revolutionary change" (8). Believing that "if we change Marx, ... we [are not] going to be able ... to change the world," (6) Foley would rather be a Marxist "warts and all" (36) than a poststructuralist. Foley's targets are none other than the revisionaries represented in Universal Abandon? and Politics and Culture. Where Foley wants to 126 reviews defend Marxism as a science and as an adequate explanatory framework, Ryan and the contributors to Universal Abandon? want to question the pretensions of scientific knowledge and the reductionisms of totalizing paradigms. Where Foley sees poststructuralist "discourse" as a "compulsive search ... for novelty ... endemic to the peculiar forms taken by consumerism and careerism in the liberal university," (7) our re-visionaries take consumerism, popular culture, and the politics of consumption quite seriously as a site of ideological contestation. Where Foley considers gender, race, and oppositional movements "apparently unrelated to social class," (9) to be "anomalies" that can be explained by "auxiliary hypotheses" (7) to the original theory, Ryan, Ross, et. al. take these anomalies as the grounds for cultural critique and for theorizing the building of what Ryan calls the good society. Where Foley sees little to distinguish the poststructural critique of Marxism from "bourgeois pluralism," (16) these cultural critics dare to...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 125-132
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.