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ABSTRACT. Since the collapse in the early 1970s of the class compromise that had structured labor relations in the United States after the Second World War, the humanities have been undergoing changes that have transformed them into versions of (post)humanities – humanities without humanism. These changes have been necessary in order for the humanities to more effectively teach new reading strategies to the upcoming labor force so they interpret the new (digital) social world in ways that make the workforce ‘look upon the requirements’ of capitalism ‘as self-evident natural laws’ (Marx, Capital, I: 899). A workforce that has only technical expertise but does not instinctively recognize the capitalist system as the ‘Eden of the innate rights of man’ and the ‘exclusive realm of Freedom, Equality’ and ‘Property’ (Marx, Capital, I: 280) is not a proficient work force. The mission of the ‘new’ humanities under capitalism is to develop in working people an up-to-date interpretive unconscious by which they spontaneously grasp the everyday through those cultural meanings and values that naturalize wage labor as the way things are and ought to be. Dominant (post)humanities deploy a variety of angles of interpretation that, in effect, accomplish this process. The hollowing out of cultural texts – erasing their class determination – is done mostly through a subtle mode of reading that focuses on the textualities of the text (the how) and suspends the why. Why a cultural text is what it is and means what it is said to mean. This missing why is the main subject of the essay. pp. 25–54

Keywords: (post)humanities; labor; class; interpretation; critique; Marx

TERESA L. EBERT
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State University of New York at Albany

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