Originally published in 1984, this study deals with a number of influential figures in the European tradition of Marxist theories of aesthetics, ranging from Lukacs to Benjamin, through the Frankfurt School, to Brecht and the Althusserians. Pauline Johnson shows that, despite the great diversity in these theories about art, they all formulate a common problem, and she argues that an adequate response to this problem must be based on account of the practical foundations within the recipient's own experience for a changed consciousness.
Part One Luckac: reification and its overcoming 1. History and class consciousness 2. Luckac's theory of realism 3. Die Eigenart des Aesthetischen (the specificity of the Aesthetic) Part Two The role of modern capitalism 4. Benjamin 5. Brecht 6. Adorno 7. Marcuse Part Three Althusserian Marxism and the problem of ideological struggle 8. Althusser on ideology 9. Macherey and Eagleton Conclusion