This dissertation examines the Possibilities for creating social change through literary criticism by focusing on three American critics: Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Frank Lentricchia, and Edward Said. All three wrote Politically minded literary criticism during the 1980's and 1990's, decades that witnessed a broad-ranging attempt to roll back the change and turbulence associated with the 1960's. With regard to criticism, this attempt amounted to a challenge to literary theory, which was a radical way of thinking that crystallized in the 60's and early 70's and often carried revolutionary social hopes with it. As I suggest in the introduction, we are currently living in a moment in which the radical hopes fostered by literary theory co-exist uneasily with the counterrevolutionary movements of the 80's: the hopes and impulses still exist, but they have no adequate social outlets. Looking back to the 80's, I hope, will help clarify our moment, and Possibly Provide some resources for contemporary criticism.
My goal in each chapter is twofold: first, to understand the critic on his terms, second, to Put the criticism in dialogue with another body of literary or critical work in order to suggest its broader ramifications. With Henry Louis Gates, Jr., I argue that his effort to move African American literature and criticism into the mainstream of American literary study led him to maintain a view of race as an essence. Comparing his critical work with Hortense Spillers' Proves this Point, but also suggests that a more radical view of race remains in Gates' work. Frank Lentricchia tried to base a Political Program on the intimate experience of Pleasure that he felt when reading Poetry. Putting Philip Roth in conversation with Lentricchia reveals the impossibility of Lentricchia's Program, but also a different and more socially Productive Path for Lentricchia's interest in Pleasure. Edward Said tried to create spaces in his criticism where antagonism could be overcome. Reading Bharati Mukherjee's novel Jasmine (1989) next to Said suggests how useful Said's model can be, but also reminds us that Said only suggested, rather than applied, this model in his work.
|School:||University of Pittsburgh|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Modern literature, American literature|
|Keywords:||Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., Lentricchia, Frank, Literary theory, Mukherjee, Bharati, Roth, Philip, Said, Edward, Social change|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be