From Hegel to Madonna

Towards a General Economy of "Commodity Fetishism"

By Robert Miklitsch

Subjects: Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series in Postmodern Culture
Paperback : 9780791435403, 224 pages, February 1998
Hardcover : 9780791435397, 224 pages, February 1998

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Table of contents


List of Abbreviations

Excursion: Triptik

Introduction: From Adorno to the Clash

"Into the Groove": Dance, Distraction, Reproduction

The Body in Adorno, Adorno's Body

The Body in Dance

After Hegel: From Adorno to Barthes

General Economics

The Work of Affirmation


Vox Pop Theory

Part One:
From Negation to Affirmation

Working in and for the Negative: On Hegel's Dialectic

Late Hegelianism: On Adorno's Negative Dialectics

Affirming Affirmation: On Nietzsche and Deleuze and Guattari

Transit: From Negation/Affirmation to Critical Affirmation

Part Two:
The Commodity-Body-Sign

Turn: From "Affirmative Culture" to the Hysteria of Castration

Freud, Marx, Baudrillard, or That "Surplus" Which Is Sign-Value

Commodity-as-Art, Art-as-Commodity: Warhol's Coca-Cola Bottles, Shoes and Soup Cans

Hard-Core Commodity Aesthetics: Warhol's Sticky Fingers and the Popular-Cultural Phallus

Marx after Baudrillard: The Commodity-Body-Sign

Consumption Redux : Cultural Populism, Consummativity, and the Consumptive "Beast of Burden"

Marx avec Duchamp: Socialized Consumption and De-Commodification

Return: Contradiction, Circulation, and the Production of Sign-Value

Transit: (M)TV, The Art-Commodity in an Age of Electronic Reproduction

Part Three:
The Case of "Madonna Studies"

Corpus Delicti : The Rise of Madonna Studies

Madonna Overdrive: The Star Commodity-Body-Sign

Body of Evidence: The Fatality of Madonna Studies





Moves from the discourses of dialectical negation to cultural-populist affirmation--that is, from Hegel to Madonna Studies--in order to envision a mode of critique that can persuasively describe and explain the cultural contradictions of late capitalism.


From Hegel to Madonna presents a genealogical survey of the discourses of negation and affirmation associated with the work of Hegel, Adorno, Deleuze, and Guattari; then, rotating from the philosophical to the political-economic axis, turns to the problem of a general economy of "commodity-fetishism. " Drawing on the work of Marx and Freud, Miklitsch mobilizes a new, renewed understanding of "commodity fetishism"--what he calls the commodity-body-sign--in order to examine received notions of consumption and commodification. The aim is to envision a dialectical mode of critique, at once critical and affirmative, that can account for the cultural contradictions of late capitalism. The author also analyzes the phenomenon of Madonna Studies, reading the interest in the pop star as a sign of the academic times, a symptomatic figure not only of cultural studies in all its celebratory, cultural-populist excess but of a critical discourse responsive to postmodern culture in all its politically complex mutability.

Robert Miklitsch is Assistant Professor of English at Ohio University.


"Specific readings of other critical arguments, especially the discussion of materials about Madonna, are often brilliantly illuminating in Miklitsch's juxtaposition of multiple angles of analysis. On a larger scale, the informing trajectory of Miklitsch's argument with its ambition to link philosophical, psychoanalytic, semiotic, and economic accounts of 'commodity fetishism'constructs a similarly multifaceted form of understanding. Thus, it's an argument that always requires a reader on the stretch, able to shift suddenly from one discourse to another while still preserving an awareness of where you've just been. " -- Evan Watkins, The Pennsylvania State University