Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Stephen Turner


Ideology, Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Social Theory, Structuralism


This dissertation traces the post-Marxist and materialist positions of two leading contemporary European thinkers: Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou. These thinkers, I argue, collectively offer a way between the traditional Hegelian Marxist's overarching meta-narrative of a necessary evolution from worse to better, and the post-modern pessimism of a lack of possibility for such a social evolution. It is this middle path, offered by these two thinkers, that this dissertation seeks to explore and further explain. The focal point of this dissertation is the type of philosophical materialism that is collectively offered by Badiou and Zizek, what I call the "New Materialism." I first explain the origins of this materialist position as it emerges in the thought of Louis Althusser, then I discuss how Badiou and Zizek, each in their own way, seek to correct the remaining problems that exist for the Althusserian position, while refusing to reject its core materialist insights. Finally, I assess the ways in which both Badiou and Zizek attempt to overcome the Althusserian problems, arguing that ultimately Zizek's corrective succeeds in remaining within the materialist paradigm laid out by Althusser, whereas Badiou's method brings him dangerously close to a kind of philosophical idealism that he wishes to avoid.