Employment of English: Theory, Jobs, and the Future of Literary Studies [NOOK Book]

Overview

What sorts of cultural criticism are teachers and scholars to produce, and how can that criticism be "employed" in the culture at large?

In recent years, debates about the role and direction of English departments have mushroomed into a broader controversy over the public legitimacy of literary criticism. At first glance this might seem odd: few taxpayers and legislators care whether the nation's English professors are doing justice to the project of identifying the beautiful ...

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Employment of English: Theory, Jobs, and the Future of Literary Studies

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Overview

What sorts of cultural criticism are teachers and scholars to produce, and how can that criticism be "employed" in the culture at large?

In recent years, debates about the role and direction of English departments have mushroomed into a broader controversy over the public legitimacy of literary criticism. At first glance this might seem odd: few taxpayers and legislators care whether the nation's English professors are doing justice to the project of identifying the beautiful and the sublime. But in the context of the legitimation crisis in American higher education, the image of English departments has in fact played a major role in determining public attitudes toward colleges and college faculty. Similarly, the changing economic conditions of universities have prompted many English professors to rethink their relations to their "clients," asking how literary study can serve the American public.

What sorts of cultural criticism are teachers and scholars to produce, and how can that criticism be "employed" in the culture at large? In The Employment of English, Michael Bérubé, one of our most eloquent and gifted critics, examines the cultural legitimacy of literary study. In witty, engaging prose, Bérubé asserts that we must situate these questions in a context in which nearly half of all college professors are part-time labor and in which English departments are torn between their traditional mission of defining movements of literary history and protocols of textual interpretation, and their newer tasks of interrogating wider systems of signification under rubrics like "gender," "hegemony," "rhetoric," "textuality" (including film and video), and "culture."

Are these new roles a betrayal of the field's founding principles, in effect a short-sighted sell-out of the discipline? Do they represent little more that an attempt to shore up the status of--and student enrollments in--English? Or are they legitimate objects of literary study, in need of public support? Simultaneously investigating the economic and the intellectual ramifications of current debates, The Employment of English provides the clearest and most condensed account of this controversy to date.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814786147
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1997
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 259
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Michael Bérubé is Paterno Family Professor in Literature at Pennsylvania State University, and the author of several books, including What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts, The Employment of English, and Life As We Know It, which was a New York Times notable book and NPR book of the year. He is general editor of NYU Press’s Cultural Front series, has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers, and writes a popular blog, American Airspace, at michaelberube.com.

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Table of Contents

Preface
I Employment in English 1
1 Cultural Studies and Cultural Capital 3
2 The Blessed of the Earth 37
3 Professional Obligations and Academic Standards 65
4 Peer Pressure: Political Tensions in the Bear Market 90
5 Straight Outta Normal: Nonprofit Fiction Publishing on the Margins 112
II Employing English 141
6 English for Employment 143
7 Professional Advocates: When Is "Advocacy" Part of One's Vocation? 170
8 Free Speech and Discipline: The Boundaries of the Multiversity 183
9 Extreme Prejudice: The Coarsening of American Conservatism 204
10 Cultural Criticism and the Politics of Selling Out 216
Works Cited 243
Index 253
About Tne Author 260
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