This article proposes for the figure or cipher of “essayism” three critical homologies: (a) as a name for the effect or intensity of “theory” in US literary-critical and scholarly research practice; (b) as the object of a sometimes sincere and sometimes malicious mourning, in pronouncements of theory’s death; (c) as a mark of the indiscipline of “creative writing,” understood as a space into which English studies and US literary studies have diverted the disruptively writerly energies of imported Continental thought.


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