cover image Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics

Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics

Michael Berube. Verso, $19 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-86091-678-9

Academic whiz-kid Berube collects seven of his published essays plus bonus cuts into a threefold manifesto which preaches that a) the new-right intelligentsia (think tanks; editors; etc.) is sneaky, smart and out to dismantle liberal academia, and that liberal academia can and must do something to protect itself; b) cultural/literary theory isn't evil at all--it's good for you and tasty as well; and c) this debate and its fallout are happening under our noses. Berube's research is breathtaking and persuasive; by showing how conservative theorists have set up Political Correctness as the amoral opposite of ``values'' (aesthetic, family or otherwise) in part I, he calls thinking liberals to arms against the onslaught of New Right misrepresentation and cultural influence. This decreed, Berube shows his true genius in parts II and III with his own theoretical work. These essays include thumbnail sketches of three major fields in contemporary academia--postmodernism, cultural studies and new historicism--and showcase his gift for translating the tides of theory into either hors d'oeuvres for further study or handy reference points enabling readers to play watch-the-media-theorist at home. Berube critiques political agendas in talkers from Dinesh D'Souza to Allan Bloom, while presenting his own agenda with humor and a keen eye. (July)