Monday, July 11, 2005
Theory’s Empire Event Starts Tomorrow
The Valve’s first book event starts tomorrow. Our text is Theory’s Empire. See table of contents here. Amardeep made a handy bibliography, telling you where you can access some contents elsewhere - Project Muse, your local university library & etc.
Originally the plan was to dedicate three days exclusively to the event. We’ve switched to a more logistically relaxed two-week (or so) time frame. Couple days on Theory's Empire, then back to our regularly scheduled para-academic persiflage, interspersed with however much more TE material we get, until everyone is tired; then we declare victory. All contributions will eventually be collected and lightly edited into one handsome, stylish PDF document and released under Creative Commons – an unofficial critical companion to the volume, in effect.>
The contributors to the volume have been invited to participate, and I hope at least a few of them do. I have lined up several non-Valve bloggers who will be holding forth from their respective platforms. So far, Michael Bérubé has a critical response to Mark Bauerlein's B&W article on the volume. John McGowan has just posted a long review. And Jonathan Mayhew has a pair of interesting posts up here (in response to Bérubé) and here.
If you are a blogger who would like to join the discussion, I’m planning to do link round-ups as appropriate. Make sure I know your post exists. Consider the comment box to this post a Theory's Empire open thread.
Finally, let me thank Jennifer Crewe and Meredith Howard, of Columbia UP for their support for our little experiment.>
I was amused by the general agreement with Bérubé’s characterization of Eagleton’s “Literary Theory: An Introduction” as glib and unreliable—including the agreement of Jonathan Goodwin, who recommended the book as a good introduction on John and Belle Have A Blog even though he says that he doesn’t assign it to his own students. I also found it to be glib and unreliable, in the sense that it glibly tries to fit everything into a vulgar Marxist framework, and in the process necessarily misrepresents both Theory and the indivudual literary works that it uses as examples.
Are we going to be looking at essays in Theory’s Empire in any kind of order?
I haven’t had call to assign the book, though I have recommended it to interested students. It’s dated, of course, but one person’s “glib” is another’s “well written.” And unreliability relative to when it was written is distinct from general unreliability--the purported examples being still unknown.
Also a shame that Eagleton doesn’t seem to participate in or be aware of these on-line discussions.
I tried to find Eagleton’s email address, and I noticed that it’s not listed in his departmental directory. Then when I clicked on his name, I saw that after the lists of his specialties, the site reads:
Please contact the department ( ) if you are interested in PhD supervision in any of these areas.
Terry Eagleton prefers conventional mail to email. He can be contacted at English and American Studies, School of Arts, Histories & Cultures, Humanities Lime Grove, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL.
So, not an email kind of guy. Too bad.
Off the subject, but are the comments left by readers going to be in the PDF file? I can see arguments both for and against their inclusion.
I thought that Bérubé’s response wa quite good, although I’m not sure whether to discuss it here yet. Isn’t he going to post a longer version of it here within the next two weeks? It seems worthwhile to wait until then for anything substantive. (Although at a purely anecdotal level, Bérubé’s confirmation via being on the same shuttle bus as Bauerlein’s colleague makes a really great story. I wonder if the person who asked for “erudition” to be spelled will ever volunteer her own version of the story on her blog? I’d guess not, unless she blogs pseudonymously.)
And my apologies to Jonathan Goodwin—there is another Jonathan in literary studies who signs comments with only his first name, Jonathan Mayhew, and the comment that I referred to on Bérubé’s blog was actually his. So the fact that Jonathan Goodwin hasn’t actually assigned the book to students turns out to be only coincidentally correct.
Clancy, I don’t know if reader’s comments will be in the .pdf file (that’s John’s business, not mine), but I know that I’ll be citing them in the revision of what I write and thanking everyone who constructively comments on my contributions.
Boy, that certainly doesn’t answer your question, does it?
Also, if you don’t feel like scrolling down the (now) substantial number of comments on Berube’s page but are desperate to read my response, it’s here.
Also, if everyone who participates off-site could create a “Theory’s Empire” tag (and ping Technorati once they’ve posted their contribution), that’d make it really easy for everyone to keep track of the debate. In fact, all they’d have to do would to click this link.
(It doesn’t work yet, as no one’s but John’s tagged their post with “Theory’s Empire,” and for reasons I’m not too clear on, the Valve doesn’t automatically ping Technorati.)
Because I am a non-combatant, and because I have followed neither the dictates of this event nor my self-imposed rules on what’s Valve-worthy, my response is hosted elsewhere. Feel free to cuss me out here, though.