The Critical Pulse: Thirty-Six Credos by Contemporary Critics

Edited by Jeffrey J. Williams and Heather Steffen. Columbia Univ., $27.50 (304p) ISBN 978-0-231-16115-2
This piquant and welcome volume presents the “credos” of 36 scholars—reflections on why criticism matters, why and how they do the work they do, and what they hope to accomplish. Contributors range from the well established (Michael Bérubé and Andrew Ross) to the just starting out (including co-editor Steffen) and represent a variety of specialties including women’s studies and performance studies. The book is broken into six sections, and editors Williams and Steffen urge the reader to “dip into” the book and skip around. The first section, “A Critic’s Progress” sets the tone, with intensely personal essays that explore each scholar’s intellectual transformation. A number of essays focus on politics, finding connections between criticism and political activism and discourse, but also advocating for the ability to think and evaluate ideas regardless of ideology. Looking at “Academic Labor,” the contributors dissect the problems facing the academic workplace and offer concrete suggestions for achieving change. The final group of essays gives voice to the “rising generation of critics” and new developments, with Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s essay about academic discourse and blogging a particularly timely standout. Though knowledge of literary criticism, its major practitioners, and dominant schools of thought will undoubtedly help, there’s still much for general readers interested in the state of higher education. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-231-53073-6
Hardcover - 276 pages - 978-0-231-16114-5
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