In Professing Literature: An Institutional History (1987), Gerald Graff contends that ‘no text is an island’ (10). We might add that no form of theory or act of criticism is an island either. What critic or theorist can claim to lounge comfortably upon the unblemished sands of some uncharted isle sipping fresh guava juice, somehow untainted and untouched by the interpretive activity of past centuries? Indeed, all theory and criticism must claim its place in an ever-growing family tree. Over the course of the twentieth century — and sadly it appears to have continued into the twenty-first — critics and theorists alike have repeatedly ignored or done battle with their precursors, sometimes to the scholarly equivalent of death. How much richer and, perhaps, more valid might our reading strategies and the various readings they produce be if, instead of ridiculing our theoretical predecessors, we actually listen and examine how their legacy plays a role, albeit a subtle one, in our various acts of interpretation.
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- Introduction: Moving beyond the Politics of Interpretation
Todd F. Davis
- Macmillan Education UK
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