American Critics at Work: Examinations of Contemporary Literary Theories

American Critics at Work: Examinations of Contemporary Literary Theories

American Critics at Work: Examinations of Contemporary Literary Theories

American Critics at Work: Examinations of Contemporary Literary Theories

Synopsis

". . . A valuable anthology of essays that reflect the wide spectrum of critical opinion in American studies today. . . . [It] provides a good survey of contemporary criticism and helps to clarify the relationship of various movements to each other and to literary theory."¿SOUTH ATLANTIC REVIEW

Excerpt

This collection gathers some of the more significant contemporary literary criticism and theory being written in America today. This occurs at a juncture when critical activity frequently appears threatened with both a forgetfulness about the past as well as a fascination with strategies and techniques of the moment. Such appearances are deceptive, however, for cumulatively these essays demonstrate the necessity for critics to remain aware of the past while also taking advantage of the plurality of critical enterprises available at the present time.

The contributions to this book have grown out of my study of, and exchange with, various critics during the past several years. Seven of the essays were originally written for the Studies in the Literary Imagination issue "Critics at Work: Contemporary Literary Theory," published in 1979. That collection was the foundation for this volume. The present book is a natural outgrowth and expansion of the earlier project. When the Studies issue was edited one of the forces determining its contents was the hope to demonstrate that contemporary American critics were pushing "beyond formalism," by a variety of sig- nificant new methods. The earlier collection demonstrated such diversity, and the cooperation of a large number of critics who made suggestions for that venture has contributed to the editing of this considerably revised and expanded collection.

Correspondence, drafts, revision, suggestions, postscripts, and still more revisions have led to the present combination of essays. This book is therefore a genuine collaborative effort. Its final form is the result of many suggestions made by numerous scholars and critics. I am especially appreciative of the assistance which I received from those who commented upon the Studies issue and who also urged expansion. While the present book reflects my interests, it is the result of the encouragement and influence of many different readers, teachers, students . . .

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