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American Literature and the Culture Wars (Paperback)
  • American Literature and the Culture Wars (Paperback)
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American Literature and the Culture Wars (Paperback)

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£23.99
Paperback 256 Pages / Published: 12/06/1997
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Gregory S. Jay boldly challenges the future of American literary studies. Why pursue the study and teaching of a distinctly American literature? What is the appropriate purpose and scope of such pursuits? Is the notion of a traditional canon of great books out of date? Where does American literature leave off and Mexican or Caribbean or Canadian or postcolonial literature begin? Are today's campus conflicts fueled more by economics or ideology? Jay addresses these questions and others relating to American literary studies to explain why this once arcane academic discipline found itself so often in the news during the culture wars of the 1990s. While asking some skeptical questions about new directions and practices, Jay argues forcefully in favor of opening the borders of American literary and cultural analysis. He relates the struggle for representation in literary theory to a larger cultural clash over the meaning and justice of representation, then shows how this struggle might expand both the contents and the teaching of American literature. In an account of the vexed legacy of the Declaration of Independence, he provides a historical context for the current quarrels over literature and politics. Prominent among these debates are those over multiculturalism, which Jay takes up in an essay on the impasses of identity politics. In closing, he considers how the field of comparative American cultural studies might be constructed.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801484223
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 312 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"A major contribution.... Jay's analyses tacitly provide new alternatives for critical theory. This book is a significant exploration into our different processes of appropriation, validation, and transmission of literary and cultural values, into a field in which pedagogy functions as a primary means of canon formation and revision."

-- Ricardo Miguel Alfonso * The International Fiction Review *

"An unusually smart and commonsensical account of the future of American literature, sketching out what I think is the right path to that future: a comparative, multicultural and realistic American literature."

-- Stanley N. Katz

"Gregory Jay brilliantly confronts the paradox that the country cannot find common ground until we address the inequalities among racial, ethnic and other cultural groups; but society is not likely to address those inequalities until some common ground has been found."

-- Sheldon Hackney, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities

"In addition to approaching the debates in multiculturalism from a theoretical perspective, Jay also addresses pragmatic issues about how to teach the 'struggle for representation' in the classroom. Because Jay is concerned with putting his theories about multiculturalism into action, Culture Wars is ambitious in its diversified approach. Jay's investigation into the 'culture wars' is provocative and persuasive-down to his pragmatic and sometimes radical suggestion for changing our syllabi.... In American Literature and the Culture Wars, Jay convincingly demonstrates how the scholarly and cultural debates about multiculturalism should be addressed in the classroom, where any real change in the curriculum necessarily begins. By problematizing the positions taken on either side, Jay offers an even-handed examination of historical and current debates, offering pragmatic solutions to teaching multiculturalism, not at the expense of complexity for either teacher or student. Because of this, American Literature and the Culture Wars is a valuable tool for understanding and teaching the myriad voices in American literature and American culture."

-- Elaine Arvan Andrews * American Studies International *

"Jay's thorough review of previous studies establishes a context for his advocacy of an intellectual diversity in the university and use of literature (particularly works representing oppressed minorities) to teach social values.... An essential and useful challenge to rethink course approaches."

* Choice *

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