Critique and Postcritique

Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: Published: March 2017

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Now that literary critique's intellectual and political pay-off is no longer quite so self-evident, critics are vigorously debating the functions and futures of critique. The contributors to Critique and Postcritique join this conversation, evaluating critique's structural, methodological, and political potentials and limitations. Following the interventions made by Bruno Latour, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best, and others, the contributors assess the merits of the postcritical turn while exploring a range of alternate methods and critical orientations. Among other topics, the contributors challenge the distinction between surface and deep reading; outline how critique-based theory has shaped the development of the novel; examine Donna Haraway's feminist epistemology and objectivity; advocate for a "hopeful" critical disposition; highlight the difference between reading as method and critique as genre; and question critique's efficacy at attending to the affective dimensions of experience. In these and other essays this volume outlines the state of contemporary literary criticism while pointing to new ways of conducting scholarship that are better suited to the intellectual and political challenges of the present. 

Contributors: Elizabeth S. Anker, Christopher Castiglia, Russ Castronovo, Simon During, Rita Felski, Jennifer L. Fleissner, Eric Hayot, Heather Love, John Michael, Toril Moi, Ellen Rooney, C. Namwali Serpell


"A thorough study that charts the changing landscape of literary studies without throwing out the old maps." — Matthew Mullins, Symploke

"This volume is one of the most convincingly and elegantly argued reflections on the state of—you guessed it—Theory—that have been published in the past two decades. . . . Without doubt, the essays collected in this volume will have a profound and lasting impact on discussions centering on the question of what it means to move beyond critique." — Ulf Schulenberg, Amerikastudien

"This volume will be a crucial reference for scholars in literary studies (especially those in American Studies), cultural studies, and more generally those interested in getting a sense of the state of the humanities." — Maite Marciano, Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature

"Following in the tradition of the great theory collections of the 1980s and '90s, Critique and Postcritique takes a generous, ecumenical, and evenhanded look at a major turn in the practice of critique. By tracing this turn and offering affirmative examples of postcritical reading, there is little doubt as to this volume's timeliness, relevance, and broad interest in the questions it raises." — Stephen M. Best, author of The Fugitive's Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession

“Taking up the most fundamental aspirations and methods in the field, Critique and Postcritique is an important, provocative, and timely volume. It resists onesidedness in order to engage a range of thoughtful responses, providing readers with a great deal to think with here at this moment of methodological upheaval. Critique and Postcritique will be of enormous value and significance across literary and cultural studies.” — Caroline Levine, author of Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Elizabeth S. Anker is Associate Professor of English at Cornell University and the author of Fictions of Dignity: Embodying Human Rights in World Literature.

Rita Felski is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at the University of Virginia and the author of many books, most recently, The Limits of Critique.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Elizabeth S. Anker and Rita Felski  1
Part I. Countertraditions of Critique
1. "Nothing Is Hidden": From Confusion to Clarity; or, Wittgenstein in Critique / Toril Moi  31
2. The Temptations: Donna Haraway, Feminist Objectivity, and the Problem of Critique / Heather Love  50
3. The Eighteenth-Century Origins of Critique / Simon During  73
Part II. Styles of Reading
4. Romancing the Real: Bruno Latour, Ian McEwan, and Postcritical Monism / Jennifer L. Fleissner  99
5. Symptomatic Reading Is a Problem of Form / Ellen Rooney  127
6. A Heap of Cliché / C. Namwali Serpell  153
7. Why We Love Coetzee; or, The Childhood of Jesus and the Funhouse of Critique / Elizabeth S. Anker  183
Part III. Affects, Politics, Institutions
8. Hope for Critique? / Christopher Castiglia  211
9. What Are the Politics of Critique? The Function of Criticism at a Different Time / Russ Castronovo  230
10. Tragedy and Translation: A Future for Critique in a Secular Age / John Michael  252
11. Then and Now / Eric Hayot  279
Bibliography  297
About the Contributors  313
Index  317
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6376-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6361-3
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