By Paul Lauter
This selection of essays areas concerns vital to literary examine, really the query of the canon, within the context of institutional practices in American faculties and universities. Lauter addresses such the most important issues as what scholars should still learn and learn, how criteria of "quality" are outlined and adjusted, the bounds of theoretical discourse, and the methods race, gender, and sophistication form not just educating, curricula, and study priorities, yet collegiate group of workers activities to boot. The booklet examines seriously the range of modern proposals for "reforming" larger schooling, and it calls into query many practices, like making use of huge numbers of part-timers, now well liked by university managers. providing concrete examples of a "comparative" approach for educating literary texts, and particular circumstances approximately "integrating" curricula, Canons and Contexts proposes real looking rules for developing diverse, lively, and democratic study rooms and schools.
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P. 233). These are sensible and clarifying comments. Unfortunately, they perhaps gloss over the cultural significance of obscurantism in texts of any sort and the real social roles of critics. 12. Cf. Hartman, p. 245: "philosophical criticism . . has its own preferred writers, texts and positions. Nietzsche's emphasis on the will, for example, and Valery's on the act of 'construction' that is common alike to imaginative and scientific thought are important. " 13. The index to Hartman's Criticism in the Wilderness, for example, cites 230 men and seven women—and almost all the women are mentioned casually in the book.
Because of its allusive, dense, intertextual quality, this new ecriture is hermetic rather than open. These charges are based on simplification and historical ignorance. There is no reason why all criticism should be of the reporting or reviewing kind. Even if we prefer plain-style writing, should we reduce critical prose to one pattern or delude ourselves that a purely utilitarian or instrumentalist mode of communication is possible? (p. 236). . criticism is a relatively free, all-purpose genre, and closely related to the personal or familiar essay.
And, of course, a traditional stream of forty-two white male writers dominates each course. Only one woman, Emily Dickinson, and no black men appear among the twenty most popular writers. Mark Twain, for example, figures in thirty of the fifty courses (the other twenty mainly cover a different period); Dickinson in twenty. The next most popular women, Edith Wharton and Kate Chopin, appear in but eight of the fifty courses; the most popular black man, Ralph Ellison, in seven. Of the fifty-three most widely assigned authors, only six are women (in addition to Dickinson, Wharton, and Chopin, Sarah Orne Jewett and Anne Bradstreet show up in six courses and Flannery O'Connor appears in four) and four are black men (Ellison, already mentioned, and Richard Wright, Charles W.