The Emperor Redressed: Critiquing Critical Theory

By Dwight Eddins | Go to book overview

totle to Sidney, from Shelley to Matthew Arnold, from Tolstoy to Lionel Trilling. Given the social and political realities of our moment--when literature, art, and belles lettres are under pressure in the marketplace and under intense scrutiny in governmental offices--it is the right time, I think, for critics and theorists to address themselves to the defense of literature and to define the function of literary criticism in relation to this pressing and abiding concern.


NOTES

This chapter appeared in an earlier form in the AWP Chronicle 25, 3 ( December 1992): 1-8, copyright © 1992 by David Lehman.

1.
Zeman and Howard, "Deconstruction"14. Using very similar logic, a linguist at the University of New Hampshire named Rochelle Lieber decided that the literal meaning of the verb "to deconstruct" is "take something to pieces." In the preface of her book Deconstructing Morphology: Word Formation in Syntactic Theory, Lieber advises her readers that she does not intend "any similarity here to the use of the term 'deconstruction' by contemporary literary critics such as Derrida" (vii).
2.
It was the first time in twenty-nine years that a candidate for an honorary degree had met with such a response at the venerable institution. In the end, the anti-Derrida insurrectionists failed by a vote of 336-204, but the episode spurred the Wall Street Journal to declare, "Cambridge Deconstructs Derrida." Michael Miller, "A Mazy Grace: Cambridge Deconstructs Derrida."
3.
Minor Prophecies, 123-48. Note especially Hartman's suggestion that the "American reaction" to the de Man affair may have had as one of its components "an opportunistic whittling down of deconstruction's reputation" (125).
4.
Reconsider Jean François Revel's comments on the case of Martin Heidegger: "There are only two alternatives. Either Heidegger's political commitment is derived from his philosophy, and if so, that challenges the meaning of this philosophy; or it is not derived from it, and if a philosopher can make such a grave choice without any relation to his thinking, this can only prove the futility of philosophy itself" ( Revel371).
5.
A new book, The Missiles of October. The Declassified Story of John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis by Robert Smith Thompson, makes this argument. "Secretary of StateDean Rusk claimed that we and the Soviets had stood eyeball to eyeball, and that they had blinked first; yet, as now declassified documents show, President Kennedy offered the Soviets a pledge not only to refrain from an invasion of Cuba but also to remove from Turkey American missiles that Moscow said it found frightening" (15).
6.
When I made this argument at the School of Criticism and Theory at Dartmouth last summer, Barbara Johnson asked how I could know whether Fish made his remarks on Pride and Prejudice "for effect" or whether he meant them. Thus for the

-147-

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The Emperor Redressed: Critiquing Critical Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • What is a Humanistic Criticism? 13
  • Notes 38
  • The End Of The Poststructuralist Era 45
  • The Current Polarization Of Literary Studies 62
  • Notes 77
  • Time and the Intelligentsia - A Patchwork in Nine Parts, with Loopholes 81
  • Notes 99
  • The Agony of Feminism - Why Feminist Theory is Necessary After All 101
  • Works Cited 116
  • Confessions of a Reluctant Critic Or, the Resistance to Literature 118
  • Deconstruction After the Fall 132
  • Notes 147
  • The Poetic Fallacy 150
  • Works Cited 165
  • Literary Theory And Its Discontents 166
  • Notes 198
  • Panel Discussion 199
  • Contributors 221
  • Index 223
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