Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics

By Michael Bérubé | Go to book overview

time since American literature became an object of study in America higher education, we are no longer setting our watches to global renaissance time.


Notes
1.
Jürgen Habermas, "Modernity: An Incomplete Project", in Hal Foster, ed., The Anti- Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Port Townsend, Wash.: Bay Press, 1983), pp. 3-15.
2.
For a brilliant neo-Habermasian critique of poststructuralism that also distances itself from Habermas's reliance on reason, see Amanda Anderson, "Cryptonormativism and Double Gestures: Reconceiving Poststructuralist Social Theory", Cultural Critique, no. 21 ( 1992), pp. 63-95.
3.
Eric Sundquist, "Slavery, Revolution, and the American Renaissance", in Walter Benn Michaels and Donald E. Pease, eds, The American Renaissance Reconsidered, Selected Papers from the English Institute, no. 9 ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 6; hereafter cited in the text.
4.
One could also say that the scholars who announced a new American studies just happened to specialize in the American Renaissance, Q.E.D. In some ways it is 'as simple as that', we could say, and yet--as I'll explain below in my reading of Philip Fisher's introduction to The New American Studies--the fact of disciplinary specialization does not (and should not) preclude one from elaborating one's theoretical and historical conditions of possibility.
5.
See Cathy N. Davidson, Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); Philip Fisher, Hard Facts: Setting and Form in the American Novel ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); Amy Kaplan, The Social Construction of American Realism ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988); Walter Berm Michaels, The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism: American Literature at the Turn of the Century ( Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1987); and Michael Warner, The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990).
6.
Jonathan Arac, "F. O. Matthiessen: Authorizing an American Renaissance", in Michaels and Pease, eds, American Renaissance Reconsidered, p. 94.
7.
Donald Pease, "Introduction", in Michaels and Pease, eds, The American Renaissance Reconsidered, p. vii.
8.
Sacvan Bercovitch and Myra Jehlen, eds, Ideology and Classic American Literature ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); Lauren Berlant, The Anatomy of a National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991); Donald Pease , Visionary Compacts: American Renaissance Writings in Cultural Context ( Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987). It is for this reason, accordingly, that Frederick Crews's review of 'New Americanists' is entitled 'Whose American Renaissance?' The essay was originally published in the New York Review of Books, 27 October 1988, pp. 68-81, and is now the lead essay in The Critics Bear It Away: American Fiction and the Academy ( New York: Random House, 1992), pp. 16-46; hereafter cited in the text. Crews's essay does not treat Berlant, needless to say, but does apply the term 'New Americanist' to critics such as Arac, Bercovitch, Fisher, Jehlen, Michaels, Pease, Russell Reising, Richard Slotkin, and Jane Tompkins.
9.
Philip Fisher, "Introduction: The New American Studies", in The New American Studies ( Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1991), p. xv; hereafter cited in the text. For Pease's reply to Frederick Crews, see Donald Pease, "New Americanists: Revisionist Interventions into the Canon", boundary 2, vol. 17, no. 1 ( 1990), pp. 1-37; for an update, see Pease, "National Identities, Postmodern Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives", boundary 2, vol. 19, no. 1 ( 1992), pp. 1-13.

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Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction American Political Culture and Cultural Politics 1
  • Part I - PC and the Humanities 41
  • 1 - Discipline and Theory 43
  • Notes 58
  • 2 - Winning Hearts and Minds 59
  • 3 - Exigencies of Value 87
  • Notes 112
  • Part II - Critical Theory in the Public Sphere 117
  • 4 - Just the Fax, Ma'Am: Or, Postmodernism's Journey to Decenter 119
  • Notes 133
  • 5 - Pop Goes the Academy: Cult Studs Fight the Power 137
  • Notes 159
  • 6 - Bite Size Theory: Popularizing Academic Criticism 161
  • Part III - At the Closing of the American Century 179
  • 7 - Paranoia in a Vacuum: 2001 and the National Security State 181
  • Notes 200
  • 8 - It's Renaissance Time: New Historicism, American Studies, and American Identity 203
  • Notes 222
  • 9 - Disuniting America Again 225
  • Epilogue 243
  • Notes 266
  • Index 269
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