Language, Literature and Critical Practice was commissioned by Ronald Carter, the general editor of this series, to be a survey of the academic work that has been carried out at the everbroadening interface of language and literary studies. Whilst I have attempted to write to that brief, I have also been conscious of the impossibility of the task.
Years ago, there may only have been one interface to handle, though I doubt it. Today, interfaces are legion-and that presents something of a dilemma. On the one hand, the very diversity of interests that inform contemporary critical practice is what makes text analysis such an exciting and dynamic occupation, on the other, no one individual can ever hope to be expert in all that diversity. With that in mind, then, Language, Literature and Critical Practice is my reading of how some of the major twentieth-century theoretical, philosophical, and critical/political positions have influenced textual analysis. Other positions, other assumptions, may preoccupy other people to greater or lesser extents.