‘Realism and Utopia in The Wire’ by Fredric Jameson

Jameson, F. (2010). Realism and Utopia in The Wire. Criticism, 52(3-4), 359–372.

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“Generic classifications are indispensable to mass or commercial culture at the same time that their practice in postmodernity grows more and more complex or hybrid. Is The Wire a police procedural, for example? No doubt, but it is also a version of the organized crime story. The majority of its actors and characters are black, which nonetheless does not exactly make it a black film (a film for black audiences). There is a political drama going on here, as well, but its nature as local politics reminds us that it is also very much a local series, one framed in Baltimore and very much about Baltimore (something not always to the liking of Baltimore’s elites). . . ”


Fredric R. Jameson received his doctorate from Yale University in 1959 and taught at Harvard, Yale, and the University of California before coming to Duke in 1985. His books include Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991; which won the Modern Language Association’s Lowell Award), Seeds of Time (1994), Brecht and Method (1998), The Cultural Turn (1998), A Singular Modernity (2002), Archaeologies of the Future (2005), The Modernist Papers (2007), Valences of the Dialectic (2009), and The Hegel Variations (2010). He received the Holberg Prize in 2008.

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